It's amazing where your sense of smell can take you. One whiff of someone's perfume can bring to mind a special friend who used to wear the same fragrance. The smell of cookies baking will take you back to when you were grade-school age sitting in your grandmother's kitchen. Or the fragrance of fresh flowers can cause you to remember the first bouquet delivered to your door.

However, scents not only cause us to reminisce. The aromatherapy experts will tell you that certain smells aid in emotional wellness. For instance, lavender is supposed to ease anxiety, jasmine boosts confidence, and ginger fights fatigue.

I don't know that I completely buy into all the claims of aromatherapy.

However, as a mother I have come to understand what smells in our home mean to my family and friends.

When the kids come home from school and smell cookies baking in the oven, they feel nurtured and cared for. No matter what challenges the school day brought, it fades at the smell of fresh-baked cookies.

When my husband comes home from work and dinner is cooking, he immediately feels that home is a safe place. A refuge. A place where he is cared for. Whatever stress was experienced at work begins to melt as he walks in and knows that food and comfort go hand in hand.

When a friend stops by and smells a pot of coffee brewing she knows that someone was anticipating her arrival. She feels welcome. There is relational warmth extended to her.

When my family comes home to the smell of Pledge or Lysol they know that someone has been caring for the home they live in. There's something about the smell of cleaning products that says "everything's OK at home."

Our home is designed to be a place where we can relax, find comfort, feel safe, and receive love. Smells can never substitute for quality conversation, physical affection or words of encouragement. But they can have a powerful effect on our emotions and sense of security in the family unit.

 Several years ago I heard author and speaker Elise Arndt, a mother of five, share some of the things she had learned about homemaking. One of the things she talked about was aromatherapy for the family. She shared her secret of boiling an onion on the stove even when she didn't know what was for dinner. The smell of the onion soothed her and spoke volumes to the family because it said, "Everything's OK at home. Dinner is cooking. Mom's got it under control. Life is OK." And it bought her time to figure out what to add to that onion to feed her family of six!

When I first heard her talk about spraying Pledge as an air freshener or boiling an onion I thought it was a bit deceitful. Then I thought about the fragrance of a burning "sugar cookie" candle, or the smell of potpourri or melted wax chips. Many of us intentionally fill our home with the fragrance of our favorite candle or air freshener. Elise was simply creating her own scents to speak to the specific needs of her family.

One of the reasons I'm at home is to provide a home environment my family wants to come home to. As best I can, I can create a welcoming, soothing atmosphere to speak love to my family. If you've never considered being intentional about creating a welcoming environment with fragrance, give it a try and see if it affects the mood of your family.

Personally, I really don't know if peppermint improves concentration but what I do know is that occasionally the smell of a boiling onion does wonders for my mindset and has an incredible calming effect upon our home.

And it buys me time to figure out what's for dinner!

Adapted from: My Heart’s At Home. Copyright © 2007 by Jill Savage. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR.  Used by permission.


Jill Savage (http://www.jillsavage.org/) is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (http://www.hearts-at-home.org/), an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood.  She is the author of five books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her newest release My Heart’s At Home.  Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.