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.

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

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 cleaning products 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.”

Smells calm me. When I light my favorite candle it’s one way I take care of myself. When I smell dinner cooking in the oven—even though I made it—it causes me to breathe deep and relax for just a few minutes.

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.

As a mom, I want to 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 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!



Jill SavageJill Savage speaks to audiences of thousands and is the author of twelve books including Better TogetherNo More Perfect Moms and No More Perfect Kids. She’s the founder of Hearts at Home (, a ministry for moms. Her biggest accomplishment? Being a mom to five beautiful children and Nana to three precious grandbabies. Jill Savage encourages tens of thousands each year through her speaking and writing. Why is she so successful? Because she’s just one of us — a mother trying to make it through each day with the challenges life can present to us. Jill and her family live in an old farmhouse in Normal, IL, where she admits that she burns bacon on a regular basis. You can learn more about Jill at

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