Don’t make the bed.


One of the many things I don’t understand is my culture’s rabid obsession with making beds.

Of course linens sales people or decorating professionals being hipped on it, that makes sense.

I can even work up a rationale for the average person being sucked in: we are creatures of habit, socio-environmental sheep, and some of us  grew up in fancy show homes.

But one specific subculture that has gotten the bug really confuses me: Minimalists.

I like a lot of the Minimalist concept; I have reluctantly decided it probably isn’t for me, but still, it’s pretty cool.

If you are not familiar with Minimalism, my very, very stripped-down, only semi-knowledgable concept of it is that you eliminate extraneous things from your life to free up time, energy, money, etc.

Minimalists are big on ditching clutter, and downsizing their possessions. Some even downsize their houses, ditching the huge Buyer’s Remorse Mausoleums in favour of small apartments, or other innovative home options.

Some Minimalists go a year without buying new items, others quit their jobs after they pare down so much that that don’t need a big pay check anymore.

But pretty nearly all of them also say that decluttering should not just be about physical stuff, but about every aspect of our lives – 

  • don’t commit the 6-year-old to ten after-school obligations,
  • don’t take on commitments you’d rather not have,
  • don’t spend all your time organising the garage or washing the car instead of playing with the kids or running in the park or travelling the world.
Do not, in short, fill your one wild and precious life with trivialities.

Yet over and over I see even Minimalists write, sometimes ardently,  about how the first thing you should do every single day is make your bed!!

Now, let me be clear: while making your bed is a bit unsanitary, we‘re definitely not talking public health crisis levels, so if you just live for hospital corners and plumped pillows, by all means go for it.

However, if you are old enough to be reading Minimalist blogs and you still need a writer urging you to make the bed, then, going out a limb here, I’m guess this is not something you’re doing out of love!

And if this unnecessary, unhealthy, DAILY chore isn’t something that really matters to you, why on earth would Minimalists, of all people, be pushing you to add it to your life?!?!

For me,  the bed gets made when I’m going to have people in who are new to the house and merit a tour of it. If you’ve been here before, odds are good: no bed making for you.

And no amount of ‘minimalism’ is likely to change that: I have FAR better things to do with my morning than make beds! Even if I didn’t think it was icky. 

I have pretty enough blankets and sheets, but they are not showpieces, their main value is in being deliciously soft and cozy. And they do that just as well after being pushed to the other side of the bed as they do after the rare Made Bed Occasion. (I’ve checked.)

This isn’t to pick on Minimalists, who, as I said, I respect in many ways.

But it is one of those key areas where I see us building into our lives  – or worse, trying to build into others’  lives – rituals that serve no intrinsic purpose, even as we struggle to build lives of purpose.

And EVEN those of us who have made a life commitment divest ourselves of the meaningless!

I am certain that those writers who harp on bed making truly find value in it; they mean well.

I just want to make the case for investing your one wild and precious life even more carefully.

For not taking ANY custom or ritual for granted, but instead learning, or relearning, what brings value to your own day.

Maybe it will be making the bed! If so, make it with delight! 

But if not, if your highest priority for the morning is a long walk, or a slow cup of coffee, the Times crossword puzzle, more sleep, a Boot Camp class, or just defying arbitrary cultural norms, then let the bed alone and squander those first precious moments of your day on something else. 

With abandon.


2 Replies to “Don’t make the bed.”

  1. Speaking as hugely lazy person, I find making my bed after an hour of airing helps me kick start my day, that being said, a made bed to me looks much more inviting than a messy one.

    1. I LOVE THAT! Thank you for taking the time to comment! Though we are nearly opposites on bed making, to me the important thing is to be thinking about the things we do, and using our time for real value. And you are a perfect example: you know every investment in bed making brings blessing to your life!

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