There's nothing quite like walking into an empty space and having to start the nesting process all over again to bring the harsh realities of divorce to the surface.
For most couples, finances are an issue and often the new place isn't as comfortable, spacious or elegant as what you've been used to.
When you first move in, it's likely to feel like it's just not "you". You wouldn't be the first person who sat on the floor in the middle of the empty room and had a cry ... trust me!
That's OK. A bit of cry can be good for you but don't wallow in it. You have an opportunity here to create a sanctury for yourself ... without having to consider anyone else's taste or needs.
Now, it's all about you.
Here are nine tips for making an empty shell into a harmonious living space that makes you feel calm and uplifted, and reflects the person you want to become.
1. Photos and ornaments
Display pictures of family and friends in happy times; the ones that make you smile every time you look at them. I know that's difficult when so many of your photos represent what you've just lost so you may have to dig deeper. Perhaps back to a time when you were younger ... and wrinkle-free?
Photos of your children if you are a parent can be a great inspiration to be the best you can be. Choose a few where they are doing something cooky or a special time you shared together. The idea is to remember the joy. No one can take memories from you.
Focus on what you still have, rather than what you have lost. If you have done something particularly empowering like jumping out of a plane, include that too.
Choose a few quirky items of significance that make you happy or feel proud or inspired and arrange them as a feature on a sideboard or shelf. Perhaps you won’t win any décor design awards with your display, but they will lift your spirits when you walk past.
Actually physically touch these items as you pass and know that you can, and will, bring happiness back into your life.
2. Don’t be a décor bore – Done is better than perfect
So you’ve had to change your living space, and maybe it’s not quite as comfortable, stylish or “you” as your old place. Seize the opportunity to try out different styles with colours and patterns you may not have used in the past knowing that it is all only temporary.
You have changed it once, and so you can change it again.
Done is better than perfect, so make it as comfortable as you can fairly soon after moving in.
Don’t sit and wallow amongst unpacked boxes and hastily stuffed garbage bags or suitcases.
3. Tackle one job at a time
Make a list of all the things that need to be done and just work through them steadily. A lot of the tasks will be tedious, like changing your address with government departments and other service providers, but do go through the list and get it all done. At a time when so much has changed, and life is a bit chaotic, it’s helpful to manage the areas of your life that you do still have control over.
The things that have to be done are dull, time-consuming and can be frustrating but in essence, it is a list of simple tasks, so just start crossing them off.
If you don’t, you are behaving like a victim and knowingly adding to your frustrations.
4. View in person but order online
It’s quite tempting to hide away from the world while you lick your wounds and do as much as you can online from the comfort of your little den. If you need to change mailing addresses or stock your new home with groceries, of course, online is convenient; perhaps more expensive, but you’re not going to have too much buyers' remorse. That’s not the case for many other items so beware of buying online and always check the returns policy to save yourself time, money and a closet full of useless items that you don't like, need or use.
5. Call in the troops
Ask your friends or family for help. It can be much easier to unpack boxes with the company of family or friends.
Actually, sometimes it's not the unpacking, it just the getting started bit that is tricky.
Having company can help you to get going without stalling for hours by bawling your eyes out looking through all the family photo albums.
Unpack your own kitchen, though - that's just a rule.
6. Know your limits
Separation and divorce are mentally exhausting and this, in turn, can affect you physically as well. Take a break if you feel like it is all too much for you. It’s OK to go to sleep in an unmade bed, with half unpacked boxes strewn throughout the house.
It is OK!
Get some rest or close the door on it and go out for a while to do something more enjoyable. Be kind to yourself.
7. Incorporate nature
Nature is energising.
If you have a garden, spend some time in it watering, weeding and pruning. Bring the outdoors inside when you can, open the curtains and the windows. Pots work well in small spaces, and there is a joy to be derived from nurturing a seedling and watching it flourish.
If you can’t have a garden, consider indoor plants and failing that, just the imagery of nature in your living space will be calming and uplifting.
8. Watch your budget
It’s tempting to replace the old with the new when there's so much change and emotional turmoil going on.
Make sure you don’t add to your worries by blowing your budget on unnecessary items. Shop around for good deals.
Consider repurposing old items. A lick of paint or a new cover can give an old piece a whole new lease of life. If you have your furniture sorted but feel like you need a change, update with small accent items like cushion covers, a throw, a lampshade or an ornament.
Op shops and second-hand markets are a great way of giving your place a makeover without breaking the bank.
It’s therapeutic to declutter your life. If you are clearing out your wardrobe or household items, consider selling them on a Buy/Swap/Sell site online and treating yourself with the loot you make.
9. Make positivity and humour a habit
It is so important to cultivate a positive attitude.
Find quotes, humour and affirmations which inspire you and serve to remind you daily to find the laughter and to be grateful. Put them around the house where you and anyone else in your home will see them often.
For a full five years, I had a stream of inspirational quotes, poems and affirmations under the clock in the kitchen. You'd be amazed how often my teenaged boys or their friends would let me know which ones resonated with them or if one had been there for too long. Often, they brought their own contributions.
Try it for yourself. It does make a difference. Whatever you put into your mind and whatever you do the most of will determine your results.
Let that be thinking positively and laughing!
It takes time and a concerted effort to adapt to the changes of separation and divorce. Embrace the changes as an opportunity for growth towards a happier you sooner rather than later.
If you have children, making a comfortable, secure place for them to spend time with you is going to help their transition. Involve your children in decorating their own space. Don't fret that it isn't what they are used to or not as comfortable as your family home. Children are resilient and they will take their lead from you. Perhaps with a new relaxed home environment, you can take the opportunity to lighten up on some of the house rules or create new routines.
Your home is one of the few places where you can make all the decisions.
Make it your own.
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