The law of diminishing returns as it applies to bed making

There is something magical about a made bed. It creates a sense of accomplishment, tidiness, and organization. It means that you are a doer, an achiever, someone who knows how to tuck in the sheets and fluff the pillows.

Then, there are those who argue that it’s a waste of time. This is because (unless something goes terribly wrong … or maybe right), you will just unmake it again at night when you go to bed. So what’s the point?

For most my life, I’ve identified with both sides of the debate. I love it when the bed is made. It’s like the whole room sparkles.

bedroom

Imagine fancy sparkles all around the bed.

Of course, this requires effort and motivation, both things I don’t always have a lot of.

Sometimes, I rationalize that I shouldn’t waste precious hours (okay, minutes) on something so fleeting and meaningless (in the overall scheme of things). I could spend those minutes editing my book, or posting comments on Art’s epic comment thread. (As an aside, Art from Pouring My Art Out has been working tirelessly to break the record of number of comments on a blog post. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over there in my kitty cat pajamas and zebra slippers. As of now, his post has over 15,000 comments. You should check it out).

So, on these days, I leave the bed as is: no tucking, no straightening, and no folding.

DSC05923

Day 1 of no bed making. (Don’t mind the cat, she’s always looking for attention)

Sometimes the bed goes unmade for days and it begins to look like we sleep in a vortex of sorts.

DSC05928

You can see the mattress pad has slipped off the corner – this always happens on my husband’s side. I think it’s because he spins like a hotdog on one of those roller things. I, on the other hand, am the blanket stealer.

Then after a few more days it looks like this:

DSC05930

Now, this is after about a week of no bed making. The mattress pad is off both corners, the comforter is completely sideways, and after a little digging I found the book I lost two days ago.

So, you might start to think that I just randomly decide whether or not to make the bed, depending on my mood, or very busy blogging schedule. Well, it’s not really true. I’m about to confess to something big here: I use bed making to keep my husband’s expectations low. And it’s a very calculated process.

You see, I work from home on a very part time basis and my husband works full time at an office job.  We haven’t set any expectations about who is responsible for what around the house, but I like to do a little cleaning here and there, so the house isn’t a disaster when he comes home.

And, as I pointed out the beginning of the post, there is something magical about a made bed. And when he comes home and sees the bed is made, it looks like I did something with my day. I was accomplished and organized. I achieved something amazing, even if the rest of the house is still in ruins. I can say, “Look, honey, I made the bed.” And his eyes light up and he lavishes me with various sentiments of approval, “it looks amazing” or “yes! I love it when the bed is made.”

Now, the one caveat with this is you can’t go and make the bed every day. More bed making does not equal more awe and praise. It is the law of diminishing returns. More bed making will eventually result in diminished wonder and awe. Worse, bed making will no longer be seen as an amazing accomplishment. It will no longer be seen as special. It will become the expectation.

So, if you ever come to my house and see the bed is unmade, you now know why.

And if you come by tomorrow, the bed will be made. Because, based on my calculations, tomorrow might be bed making day.

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90 thoughts on “The law of diminishing returns as it applies to bed making

  1. April says:

    You make me laugh, I have the same bed making problem. The thing I perform to make my husband think I did something magical, is iron a couple of his shirts. I receive lots of praise.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Oh, my husband would probably collapse from sheer shock. I never iron and I’m pretty sure I’ve never ironed anything of his.

      Maybe I should do it like once a month. It would be like the super, super, super, ultimate achievement and then I could sit and do nothing for days!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Ha! I love your way of thinking! But sadly, I know I could never do it. Making my bed’s been ingrained in me since day one. Plus, a crumpled bed would throw off the Feng Shui, right? Not that I have any of that in my house. I’m suspect I have everything opposite of where it should be!

  3. navigator1965 says:

    “Someone” thought that since I have been to military basic training (30 years ago), that my bed making is subject to inspection for perfect hospital corners.

    This misconception has since been addressed.

  4. Trent Lewin says:

    In my experience, it’s good policy to force your very young children to make your bed for you. But beware, as they will probably throw some soiled undergarments under your pillow. The sweet scent of rotting underwear often guides me through my dreams… which of late have largely been of Art and his sunglasses. Where does one stop and the other start?

    We have a no bed making rule in the house. But I do remember how sweet it was… kind of like that thrill when you walk into a hotel room and stare at the made-up bed, all pretty and inviting.

    By the way, I started switching “bed making” for “bed wetting” in the last three paragraphs of your post. And I laughed like it was no one’s business.

    Also, yay Jennifer!

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Um, where to begin.

      Soiled undergarments: ew, thanks for upsetting everyone who reads this.

      Art: what’s up with the sunglasses anyway?

      A no bed making rule: what a wonderful house to be raised in.

      The whole bed wetting thing: I’m glad I could amuse you without even trying. Another win for me!

      Yay, Jennifer: why yay me? Did I win something?

  5. librarylady says:

    Unfortunately I am incapable of leaving the house if there’s an unmade bed on the premises. Which equals an annoying daily chore and less shock and awe from the spouse when completed. On the good side it’s not always me that has to do it. We have an unspoken agreement that the last one in the bed is the one who makes it. This resorts in occasional competitions where person A tries to trap peson B in the bed while person A scrambles out. Alas, person B is usually me, but – weird little quirk alert – I like making the bed and getting all the corners straight and just so. By the way, Your bedroom is really cute.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Wow, that is great motivation to get out of bed before 10 a.m.! Sadly, my husband is always out of bed before me, especially on work days, but I like the competition idea. Maybe we could try something similar for all the other chores no one wants to do.

      Thanks! It rarely looks that clean.

  6. Kate Loveton says:

    I have to make the bed – it’s the first thing I do in the morning. Drives me nuts if it is unmade. Even if I’m running late, I gotta make the bed. I even straighten up the bed in the hotel rooms I stay in prior to housekeeping’s arrival.

    Sometimes I threaten to make up the bed with my husband in it if he doesn’t get up in timely fashion.

    I am insane.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Oh, I do the straightening of the hotel room thing. I don’t actually make the bed, but I pull the comforter up and fix the pillows. I figure they’re just going to strip the bed anyway. And my husband leaves trash all over the room and go and clean up after him. I don’t want the housekeeper to think we are pigs. Plus, I figure they have to deal with a lot of gross stuff, I should at least try to make my room tolerable.

      Making the bed with him in it might be fun. We do that with our cats sometimes and then there is this lump in the middle of the bed and it’s fun to watch it try to find the way out. Although, your husband is probably bigger than a cat, so it probably wouldn’t be the same.

  7. gpeynon says:

    Great post on a topic I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years. I really enjoy some of the ‘out of leftfield’ topics you discuss.
    Keep it up 🙂

  8. fudgeandpoppy says:

    It reminds me very much of our bed. Most mornings I try to at least pull the duvet back up to the pillows and keep it looking vaguely tidy and inviting for bedtime later on. But most of the time it looks like a pack of hounds have been dossing on it. We have a foam topper on ours which means our fitted sheets (originally typed shits) have to cling on to the topper rather than fitting properly so usually pings off on my corner as I am the tosser (so to speak). But then the end of our bed is usually strewn with clothes which then fall off either onto the bed or the floor. Really need a bigger house with a bigger bedroom and more storage! But having been a chamber maid in a hotel I’ve done my fair share of bed making, hospital corners and pillow plumping! Most of the time I am falling out of bed in a groggy haze in the mornings so making the bed is usually left till later on when I am a bit more with it!

    • jennifer Windram says:

      I used to do the pull the duvet thing back, but even that got too hard 🙂 And, I figured, who am I kidding, right?

      The foam topper sounds like a recipe for disaster. How can you sleep knowing the fitted sheet is clinging so perilously to the topper??

      Yes, more storage would be nice. Our house is really small too. A maid or housekeeper would also be helpful. Maybe one day….

      • fudgeandpoppy says:

        Simple answer – I don’t sleep! I’ve had awful insomnia for 16 years now. Most nights (if I am having to get up for work when I am doing an office job) I might get a couple of hours sleep tops – getting up at 6am. These days I’ve been able to sleep in a bit in the mornings but it’s not great.
        As much as I enjoy sleeping when it does happen, I sometimes really loathe going to bed, or just being in bed and not sleeping. Listening to my husband z’ding away next to me while I toss and turn and think about a million and one things, none of which are vaguely important or interesting!

  9. Marcy says:

    I make the bed every day. I can’t get something my Aunt Dorothy said to me about 50 years ago, ‘a messy bed makes for a messy room’. And Dr Oz puts it this way,
    1. De-clutter Your Mind

    There’s truth to the old adage, “The state of your bed is the state of your head.” Research shows that people who make their bed every morning tend to be more productive in general. Making the bed or cleaning up small messes, like the bills on your desk or the dishes in the sink, contributes to happiness because these acts represent “small wins” in the willpower department. In sum, good habits, both large and small, can make life easier, happier and more meaningful.

    Sorry!

  10. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    My wife makes the bed. I am terrible at it. It gets made every day. But if for some reason she is away, it looks like a pack of wolves nested in it for a few days.

    I am a manager at a hotel and I can and will do anything, but the housekeeping manager will NEVER let me make a bed, because I am terrible at.

  11. Nicole Roder says:

    I do the same thing, but with folding the laundry. I let it sit in a laundry basket for 4 or 5 days, then when I finally get around to folding it, it looks like I really accomplished something that day! My husband is always super impressed. LOL! But our beds are pretty much always made. It’s the rest of the house that’s a disaster.

  12. M. C. Dulac says:

    Another fascinating post which certainly triggered some interesting comments! (I like the thought of self making beds 😉 )It’s been so hot here since November that my bed currently only has one sheet on top. So I don’t really have an excuse for not making my bed – pulling back the sheet, straightening everything and putting the sheet back is hardly arduous!

  13. Daniel Nest says:

    See? I use the same approach when I always leave the toilet seat up, but then, when it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ll put it back down and go “Tadaaaaa, you’re welcome!”

    Anyways, long story short: I sleep on the floor in the kitchen and am endlessly miserable.

  14. Bre Faucheux says:

    That is SO true. There is something truly magical about a made bed. I tend to make mine maybe 5 days out of the week. When I lived alone it was everyday because I couldn’t stand looking at it otherwise. And when you live in a studio, a made bed really makes all the difference in the world for it looking like a tidy living space, you know?
    Sorry I’ve dropped off the radar recently. Should be back in full swing of blogging now.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Hi Bre,
      I’ve been off the radar too. No worries.

      Yes, a unmade bed in a studio would be annoying. It’s a lot easier to ignore when you only have to look at when you’re in the bedroom 🙂

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