One benefit of being a mom is that you get to dole out unasked for advice. It goes with the job. The same is true for home design columnists. As the mom of two, stepmom of three, “glamma” to five and a home and lifestyle columnist, I am a virtual font of unasked-for opinions.
You know where this is going. I am going to abuse my position and the occasion of Mother’s Day to tell you what I’ve learned — mostly the hard and painful way — over the decades, so just maybe you can avoid the same trouble.
After I jotted down a few of my maxims for this column, I asked my two 20-something daughters to recall advice I had baked into them. They delivered. The exercise proved a) they did hear me, b) their memories are superior to mine and c) whatever goes wrong in their lives is my fault.
As the list grew, I was surprised — though why should I be? — to see how much of my advice about life, love and work also applies to home design. But then, I never could see the line between where home design stops and home life begins, because there isn’t one.
So, this Mother’s Day, please indulge my advice-dispensing nature, and see if any of the following unsolicited advice is worth heeding.
Make up your mind up in a moment of strength; don’t change it in a moment of weakness. When deciding to do something difficult, like leave a job, move to a new city or choose bathroom tile, think it through when you’re calm and clear headed. Consider the options and ramifications. Then, once you’ve made up your mind, go. Don’t chicken out or revisit the decision when you get that acid feeling in your stomach. It’s okay to be afraid, but trust yourself and keep moving.
The right thing and the easy thing are rarely the same thing. The right thing is passing up that third brownie. The right thing is listening politely to an older relative share political views you disagree with and keeping quiet. The right thing is also cleaning out what’s accumulated in your closet or garage. Make getting rid of stuff that’s taking up space and congesting your life a habit. I know, it’s easier to close the door on the mess and binge watch “Yellowstone” or eat ice cream out of the carton. But do the hard thing. It builds character.
You will always find someone who is faster, skinnier or richer or who has a fancier car or a better house. That only matters if you let it matter, so don’t. Compete where it counts, perhaps in school or at work, but not where it doesn’t. Make your home beautiful for you and those you live with, not to impress anyone else.
Whether you’re talking fashion or home decor, exercise moderation. In home design, every room needs a little eye candy, like a pop of color, against a backdrop of restraint. When everything in a room says look at me, the room loses its allure.
Make your bed every day. We’ve been over this, but this single habit lets you start every day with a small achievement. It builds discipline and creates a sense of accomplishment that will spill over into the rest of your life. Trust me. While you’re at it, pick up your clothes.
Take charge of your time, because a task will expand to fill the amount of time you have. Don’t let a project eat up more time than it warrants. Define your priorities and put your efforts where they matter. Yes, keep house, but don’t spend all your time fixing up your house, or all your time working to pay for your house. Your house is supposed to serve you, not vice versa. Spend your time wisely. It’s all you have.
Your job is to figure out your gifts and use them to make the world better. I’ve told my kids this as long as they can remember. And, by gosh, they heard me. Apparently, my gift is doling out unwanted advice. And so if over the years — and perhaps today — I’ve led you to live a little better and a little more beautifully, hey, I’m just doing my job.
Oh, and here’s one last bit of advice: Listen to your Mother.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go.” Reach her at www.marnijameson.com.