About two years ago I was having a really rough day. I was exhausted from caring for a 2-year-old and an 8-month old. I felt like nothing was going right and no matter how hard I worked, nothing was getting accomplished on any of my "to-do" lists. After arriving home one day and finding me in tears, my husband decided to take charge. Have I mentioned yet that he is perfect? Anyway, he packed a pair of comfy jammies, some books and all my fancy toiletries in a bag, put me in the car, and told me I had a two-night reservation at the Hilton in Sacramento. Well who was I to argue? I made the 45 minute drive and checked in. The room was serene and tidy, and deliciously clean in contrast to the disaster I had left at home. The first thing I do in any hotel is check the bathroom to see what little bottles of stuff they had, and after I did that I took off my sandals and stretched out on the bed.
That bed was heaven.
King-sized with a foot-thick fluffy comforter in a gold duvet cover, half a dozen marshmallow-like puffy pillows, densely woven white sheets pulled tightly over the mattress, and the exquisite feeling of fresh, clean linens surrounding me.
It could have been the bed, or maybe just the 2 straight years of interrupted nights :) but I had never slept better.
I have always loved a nicely made up bed. In my mind, there is nothing like the feeling of freshly washed sheets with crisp fold lines still visible. In fact, during my single days when I had all the time in the world, I changed my linens every other day to ensure my bed stayed clean and crisp constantly.
My sweetie and I got married, and he could not believe a bed could be so comfortable, but then again he had been a bachelor so long; a ratty quilt on a bare mattress seemed perfectly adequate to him! Ugh, boys are so yucky sometimes!
So we got married, and enjoyed our bed for nine months. Then we had a baby and our sheets began to resemble an abstract work of art. Every bodily fluid known to man, from spit up to milk to alarmingly yellow poo made an appearance on our formally clean sheets. We were both so sleepy we didn't have the energy to change them as often as we needed. But when we went to bed we found it awfully hard to sleep on crusty patches of baby drool, so we didn't sleep as well as we could have. It was a horrible cycle.
It took a few weeks, but I was finally able to get into a routine that worked for us and once I did our nights were so much nicer. Over the years I have perfected the art of making a heavenly bed, and I'd love to share my secrets with you!
Begin with your mattress. Has it been flipped lately? If not, turn it over so it will wear evenly. Is it a little stale? Buy some Fabreeze or other fabric refreshing spray and give it a good spritz. Alternately, sprinkle liberally with baking soda, let it sit, and then vacuum it all up. If you don't have a mattress cover, go out to Wal-Mart right this minute and buy one! It is essential for keeping the mattress clean, and also helps with that "hard" feeling that comes through the sheets if you've been sleeping without one.
Is your bed soft enough? If it isn't, don't worry about buying a whole new mattress. There are so many products on the market you can place on top to make things squishy. My mother uses a piece of memory foam which is lovely, but my favorite is a down-filled mattress pad. So delicious to sink into after a long day!
Next, let's mention sheets. This is a case where if you do your research, you generally get what you pay for. Cheap sheets will almost always be rough and scratchy. It usually costs a little more, but sheets with a 300 or higher thread count will be so much softer and smoother. Make sure to launder them frequently in hot water (to kill dust mites) and don't skimp on detergent or fabric softener. These days they make products that smell so nice; why shouldn't you get something yummy like lavender or jasmine?
After laundering, if you don't put the sheets directly on your bed, fold them neatly. Martha Stewart has good instructions for this on her website. I would link directly to them, but I don't know how yet! Patience, people! I also love to spray a little perfume or sprinkle a little scented powder in the folds before I put them in the closet. Just a nice little touch that makes the task so much sweeter.
As for pillows, make sure they are less than five years old. Nothing is more disgusting than a stained, lumpy, old pillow. Do yourself (and your husband) a favor and pick up some new ones while you're at Wal-Mart buying the mattress cover.
Now that you have the sheets and pillows on the bed, you are free to use whatever additional coverings you like. Maybe Grandma's antique quilt, maybe something down with a cover, maybe just something pretty you found while shopping. Either way, make sure it's clean and wrinkle-free. You may also want to have an additional blanket you keep folded at the foot of the bed in case you want to take a quick nap during the day without mussing the sheets.
There now, isn't that nice? Feel free to slip your shoes off, fold back the covers and insert yourself into your heavenly bed.
All together now: "aaahhhhhhhh."