28 June 2012

Making the bed - REVISITED

This post is from March 2011

Can you remember back to when you had babies to care for and how careful you were with their bedding? You'd make sure the sheets were clean and straight, you'd make the little bed several times a day and as soon as there was a wet sheet, into the washing machine it would go. You did those things, and more, because you knew how important that bed was to your baby. Well, I might be reverting to babyhood because I tend my bed as carefully as I would a cot or crib and I do it because sleep is important. Now let me declare my bias here up front. I LOVE my bed, always have, always will. I am a good sleeper. I'm rarely in bed more than ten minutes before I'm sound asleep. But I also do a lot of my thinking in bed in the cool dark hours of the morning and being in an uncomfortable bed would not be conducive to my sleeping or thinking. If I want to get the most out of every day, I need to sleep well.

Yesterday - our bed in the late afternoon sun.

I can almost hear the sighs from readers who just want to leave their bed untouched until they get into it again at night, but having a clean wrinkle-free place to sleep is one of the things that will make a difference to your day and how well you get through your work. You are mindful of your diet and exercise, you shower every day - or most days, you clean your teeth, make sure you store your food properly so it remains safe and healthy; your bed, my friends, is in that category. It matters. If you're just going to pull up the sheets during the day, why not give yourself another two minutes and make the bed. 

You don't need expensive sheets, blankets or doonas/duvets. It doesn't matter if nothing matches, what matters is that your sheets are clean and fresh, are tucked in properly and that nothing in your bed makes you uncomfortable or causes you to wake up. Of course, the best bed is the one you sleep in the first night after your change the bedding. The smell of sunshine on those newly laundered sheets remind me every single time that a simple bed, well made every day, has a power beyond what you think is possible.

My sister Tricia made these red worked pouches. They are for holding a nightie or PJs during the day and sit on the bed like little pillows.

I change our bedding every week, wash the sheets in cold water using home made laundry liquid. Everything is hung in the sun to dry and brought in that evening. Nothing fancy, just very simple. That first night the sheets are pulled tight and tucked in and, depending on the season, covered with a doona/duvet and a quilt, or what we have now that we're moving to Autumn, cool cotton sheets, a blanket and a quilt. Soon we move further towards our winter bed - an electric blanket on Hanno's side, fluffy flannel sheets and a few thick and cosy layers to cover us.

Every morning after that first night, I strip the bed down to the bottom sheet, smooth out that sheet with my hands, then make the bed by tightening the bottom sheet, making sure the corners are anchored and the sheet won't slip during the night. The top sheet, pillows and blankets are removed and shaken, then replaced. The same applies to each top layer. During the day the windows are left open to allow fresh air to circulate. The windows are closed when it's very cold, late in the afternoon. Every so often I leave the pillows outside in the sun for the day, and hang the quilts and blankets on the line. It's also a good idea to use a mattress protector and to vacuum the bed every couple of months.

Never matching or fancy, but clean and simple. That's all you need.

Simple clean cotton sheets and a homemade quilt can nurture the soul as well as aching bones and a stressed mind. Allow your bed to do what it's there for - to keep you warm, safe and secure until you wake. When you think about it, sleep is a strange concept. We go about our every day activities and once a day, we get tired, lay down flat and lose consciousness. Weird! No one knows why we do that, but all animals, birds and reptiles do. 

It is easy to believe it's too simple to be an important part of the day but those two or three minutes you spend smoothing, tucking and folding back, care for you during the eight hours you sleep. The time-expended-to-benefits-created ratio is in your favour. If you've never thought about this, or don't think it's worth while, make your bed every morning for a week and I think you'll quickly slip into the made bed camp. Beds are more important than we think. We're usually born in one and we will probably die in one. All that time in between that you spend in bed sets you up for your active life by allowing you to relax into sleep, to dream and to wake refreshed and ready for the busy day. Those three minutes are a sound investment.


  1. Hi Rhonda,
    Quick pop-by to ask a question:
    I would like to make some jam and since we have an abundant supply of limes at the moment, I was wondering if I could use this to get my pectin instead of lemons and also if I could make jars of lime pectin for future use?

    Trinidad & Tobago

  2. Hi Vicki. You can easily substitute limes for lemons in jam making but I have never made lime pectin. You can freeze lime juice for later use but for anything else, you'll need to get a preserving book or google it.

  3. I've only ever heard of using apples to make pectin. Can it be made from citrus fruit?

    And I love my bed to be fresh, clean and ready and waiting for me.

  4. Mmmh I love my bed too after a long day of work.

  5. I love my bed too and actually enjoy the ritual of making it every morning ...........and after seeing your gorgeous handmade quilt on your bed, I feel inspired to have a go at making one of my own for this coming winter.

    Fab blog, some interesting viewpoints and homemaking info.

  6. Rhonda,
    So far this is what I found:
    You can freeze it for later use too.
    Also found this great site in the process:
    Trinidad & Tobago

  7. One of the simple pleasures I enjoy is getting into my fresh well-made bed at the end of the day. Usually I even think the words " I love my bed" as I am snuggling in.

  8. This revisited post has come in a timely manner for me! It was not long ago my nan was telling me how important it is to make your bed everyday, and I disagreed saying it didn't bother me at all never making my bed. But I must have started thinking about it since then, and in the last 3 days I have made my bed every morning and decided its going to be my new habit. And it really does make a difference at hte end of the day, getting into a neatly made bed!

  9. I love a freshly made bed. My husband teases me because he thought that my habit of making my bed every morning was due to my military background. However,it was due to my upbringing of Panamanian grandparents who have Jamaican roots.

    As an adult, I recognize that the "love of home" my grandparents instilled in me allows me to place value to the words, "home sweet home" in everything I do.

  10. I started making my bed all because of you and this post, Rhonda. I'd never go back now. Thanks again!

  11. This is funny in a way because I had never thought about it. But interesting (as always!) because before my husband and I lived together, his bed would always be unmade. I was appalled and didn't know why. Maybe for the reasons you suggest.

    I don't tuck in every day, though. My feet always get hot in the night and I wake myself up if I have to pull the sheets and blankets out. Oh, we all have our quirks, don't we?

    And one final note, we splashed out on a really expensive mattress - which we thought was the same as our daughter had - and it's been terrible. We feel a bit down about it.

    Hope Hanno is doing well. Take care of yourselves (the carer and cared for - sometimes it's just as exhausting being the carer!)


  12. Ah, bed! Rhonda,you are so right on this one. Our quality of sleep affects almost every function in our body, including hormonal balance and immunity.
    My bed has gone unmade this week due to too much on my plate - but I'm going to strip and remake it right now and remember how much that effort wil pay me back with health and comfort.
    Have a beautiful day everyone, Madeleine

  13. What a great post. I have restarted making my bed and yes oh yes I love crawling into line dried sheets.

  14. Day'DAY,

    It is great to make your bed, I like to wash my sheets on a hot sunny day and make the bed in early arvo when the sheets are still warm and later when you hop into bed they are still slightly warm and the sun smell is wonderful.

    I made a 4 poster bed once and it was great to make my bed everyday as you are looking after what you make. I have some 100 year old shed support timber, slightly termite eaten(looks fantastic when varnished up, brings out the natural colour of the bush) and am looking forward to making my wife and I a new bed and also learning to make our own quilt.

    Have a Great day,

  15. Ahhhhhh I am so with you on this. I changed our sheets yesterday. I normally rotate the sheets with the spare set in the linen cupboard but things got away from me yesterday and I popped the freshly washed sheets back on the bed after their air dry on the line.
    I slept so soundly last night. As you have said that first night after washing the sheets is THE BEST sleep you'll ever have.
    I like to pull my quilt and top sheet back to air the bottom sheet for an hour or so before I make it.
    During that time I pop on the computer, get breakfast for everyone, dress the kids and make their beds.
    I love to pull everything nice and tight, give the sheets and bit of a brush down with my hands and make it all new again. Brian doesn't see the need for all that so on the days that he happens to make the bed I do it anyways before I get into it at night :)

  16. Talk about serendipity: I'm typing this on my half day off work while the Flanders and Swann song about Bed (in which they sing the praises of hot water bottles, etc.) plays in the background =) Actually my partner is by far the better bed-maker; I have to admit that when I try, it's less about tucking in the sheets and more about yanking them up and rushing out the door. Then again, I work 9-5 and he didn't until recently.

    Our compromise? FITTED sheets! Oh, they are a nine-to-fiver's best friend; so easy to use, and ours have kept their elastic for a long time.


  17. There are few things worse than an unmade bed, I think. I always shake out the bedding when I change the sheets, and put the pillows in the dryer for a while, but I never thought of hanging them on the line!

    Your quilt is beautiful, and I admire your sister's embroidery skills.

  18. Hello Rhonda
    This does not in any way related to today's post but just had to tell you this. My daughter was visiting for a few days and while I was at work she found your Down to Earth book which I keep in a special red and white striped book bag in the sunroom. She actually read, digested and approved of all your simple and frugal ways! I have been trying to teach her this for years to no avail. So, thank you for converting her. Something I could not do!
    I suppose I have now lost my book and will have to get another one but I am so delighted!

  19. So glad to hear there is someone else who understands the importance of making a bed properly. My five year old currently gets very cross with me for stripping the bed down to get her to make it from scratch but I've been explaining it is important she do it properly.
    I clearly remember a teacher I had once telling us about the Zen monks who start their day with a meditative exercise that is just folding up their blanket. They do it over and over until they get it just perfect.

  20. Lizzy, by hook or by crook eh. It doesn't matter how we get them, as long as we get them. I hope your daughter embraces what she's discovered and tells her friends about it. Thanks for letting me know. It's put a smile on my face.

  21. I loved this post the first time I read it, and it didn't disappoint the second time, either! My bed is my sanctuary, I feel ruffled all day if it isn't made in the morning. I like to turn the covers down over the be foot for a good hour or so before I do actually make it, it gets rid of all the stinky man smell! Lol

    Did you know giraffes only sleep for a few seconds (about 20) at a time? Just micro sleeps, and they can happen any time. The keeper was feeding one at the zoo and it just zoned out for a sec, so that's how I learnt. Crazy!

  22. I love my bed.
    I have always had to make my bed from a young age and now I'm in my own house I still do! At the moment with the cold nights here in Melbourne I have actually taken one of my woollen blankets (from the opshop of course!) as an underlay as well as one in my winter set of blankets. Has changed my life! Well, my sleep at least :D

  23. Each night, as I lay down in my bed, for some reason I always think to myself or sometimes say out loud 'hello bed, it's me'. I don't sleep well if my blankets/sheets are twisted or not tucked in at the bottom.

  24. A good post and so true, nothing is nicer or more refreshing than climbing into a bed with fresh sheets that have not long since been on the line.

    I simply use a duvet inside a cover as our top layer, as neither of us like loose sheets to entangle us as we sleep, the duvet goes out for a day on the line whenever possible, you can't always do it in Winter, although a good day out in the frost is brilliant at killing off any dust mites that might be there.

    Each day the bed is left unmade but folded back to allow the mattress to breathe with the window open, and then after lunch it is tidied, shaken and made afresh ready for night time and that blissful moment when you sink back into it, sleep is never far away these days, living simply uses energy and helps you sleep.

    Sue xx
    Our New Life in the Country

  25. I tottaly love a fresh clean bed and the smell of clean sheets

  26. One of life's pleasures is to hop into a clean, sheeted bed and I also change our sheets once a week. I feel very untidy if my bed or the children's beds are not made in the morning and once we are all up I will air the beds while breakfast is being eaten and open up all the windows, even on the coldest of days and let the air in to clear out the night stuffiness and then make the beds. It gives me a sense of order to the house before I tackle getting the kids dressed and then cleaning up the breakfast dishes!

  27. I thought everyone made their bed every day. Is this an Oz thing to not make your bed?

  28. I always feel my day has a better start when I make my bed. I seem to be more productive during the day also.

  29. Rhonda, I have always thought this was your best post EVER. I sure have trouble finding bottom sheets that fit the mattress tight - a must for me. Thank you for bringing up this post again. Pat/Texas

  30. This is a great post, Rhonda - I enjoyed it just as much "second time around"! I always make the bed properly, but I tend, in the summer, to leave it to air most of the day to get it as fresh as possible after a hot, sweaty night. I change the sheets once a week, and line dry except when the weather is wet. Starched pillow cases are a must for me, too. Our sheets are cotton, but I hate fitted ones, as we have a deep mattress, and they never fit properly! I like light colours (white or cream) or very dark blue, with lighter pillowcases.

  31. I agree, Rhonda...there's nothing like falling into crisp, clean sheets and a homemade quilt! Making the bed is one task that I never skip!

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  33. an unmade bed has always been one of my pet peeves! the only time I leave my bed unmade is on laundry day when I will be stripping it later. Of course,once the sheets are in the washing machine, I'm remaking the bed with fresh sheets!
    PS...I love your quilt! I will be making one of my own very soon!


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