I never understood the point of making a bed.
“I’m just going to mess it up again!” I would shout at my parents as they walked away in frustration from my messy room.
I don’t enjoy sleeping under a smooth layer of covers, I despise being tucked in; if I’m going to be confined by my bedding, it’s going to be burrito-style. Mostly, though, I don’t like confinement. I like my legs to be bare, blankets bunched up at my throat. I dangle a foot off the edge of the bed. I toss and turn and land in strange positions.
Basically, I sleep like a child.
Well–in an ideal world, I do. I share a bed with a tucked-in, smooth-covers kind of guy, and I have done so for something like eleven years. It’s difficult sleeping next to someone whose style is so unlike your own, who tends to lie in the same position from night till morning, who has a different inner thermostat and prefers his mattress marshmallow soft when you’d rather lie on the ground. You both end up compromising. The bed is a little too soft for you, a little too firm for him. You need an extra cover while he has his thrown off. His side is tucked, your side is loose, and whenever you get into perfect burrito wrapping, he yanks on the blanket because his side is bare.
So you learn to be still. You learn who should sleep closer to the fan and which way it should be angled, you buy a mattress somewhere in the soft-ish zone, you keep an extra blanket nearby in case he’s not ready to switch to the down comforter and you’re freezing under the summer bedspread.
The most important lesson I’ve learned, however, is one I never thought I would. I’ve learned how important it is for myself, my husband, and our marriage, that I make the bed every day.
I make the bed every day.
This is not a sexist thing. It’s not even because I get up later than he does (which I do).
It’s partly an act of love and consideration on my part, but it’s also selfish. As messy as I am, as much as I actually enjoy a certain amount of clutter, I find it very soothing to walk into a room with a perfectly made bed, just the right amount of pillows to prop me up when I read, all of them lovely, soothing colors that help me feel relaxed in the oasis of my bedroom.
My husband likes the bed made, but he’s quite utilitarian. He uses one pillow, he does not care about the colors of the sheets, and he just wants the bedding crisp and ready for him to sleep in each night. He has a hard time remembering how I like the pillows and he thinks the giant ones I made for both decoration and lounging are a little ridiculous. He doesn’t know my system for arranging the covers; I don’t think he even realizes I do it.
It comes down to the old cliché: If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.
I discovered my bed-making system by accident. I was only making the bed because we were going to have company who might catch a glimpse of our room on the way to the bathroom. In the night, the sheet had slid over toward his side and the soft blanket had slid over to mine. I was lazy and I didn’t correct this; I just tucked the long ends of the sheet and blanket under the mattress so no one would see them, smoothed the bedspread, and went on my way.
The sheet reached my side, the blanket reached his–but barely. That night when I got into bed, I untucked the soft blanket with my foot and pulled a large swath of it up around my throat, enjoying its fuzzy texture while remaining just cool enough on a summer night with my legs catching the breeze from the fan. My husband did not seem to notice my blanket hogging, since he had the bulk of the sheet and would not have to wrestle it away from me. He kept his covers tucked, and though he didn’t mention whether or not he was comfortable, he fell asleep exceptionally quickly. Come to think of it, so did I.
So now I make the bed that way intentionally. It looks nice, with the hanging edges tucked in and my decorative pillows sprucing up the headboard. It inspired me to declutter the rest of the room, to bring in the French blue vanity I’d kept in my daughter’s room because it didn’t match the rest of the furniture, along with a few other decorative items that I’d thought would make the room too frilly for my husband’s taste. Suddenly, the room felt a million times more inviting. It felt calm. I finally understood what the designers on HGTV are always blathering on about.
Knowing how nice my room can be, it’s been a lot easier to add bed-making to my morning routine. I’ve been doing it just about every day for a few weeks and it’s encouraging me to continue my adventure in creating routines. Something I never did, never wanted to do, has become important and natural enough to me that I feel like I need to make my bed before I go out in the morning.
More than that: I want to.