The way some feel about a ‘Spring Clean’, is mirrored in my own sentiments. Except my preference is toward the ‘Autumn/Winter’ preparations. Suffice it to say, this is well and truly my season.
There is something far more ritualistic and methodical in regards to prepping for the darker months as opposed to the summer ones. A slowness and heaviness to it; but not a weighted burden, more that of a plump and expansive eiderdown to secure cosy feet and deter any mischievous draughts.
When my children were younger, I would dread the thought of it all.
As is the case with infants and toddlers, your time is not your own and therefore the notion of an uninterrupted reprieve, seldom though they were, would lend itself to collapsing on the sofa as the entrails of our house spilled from every corner. But now they are older and more independent, the pre-winter organisation has become considerably more favoured than previous years.
Whilst I might never pick up a hoover, I look forward to turning out wardrobes, readying drawers and adding the weightier duvets to beds. It appears I’m not alone in my thinking.
One only has to look at the myriad of accounts across socials to see the feverish grip which domestic cleaning has taken upon individuals. That aspect, the chemical laden sprays and the relentless scouring of pristine surfaces may not float my boat, but I can see the lure of the physical aspect of it all.
Because, in recent years, when my mind is a bit disquieted, I love nothing more than the element of some chore and instant gratification at seeing immediate results.
A study conducted last year by the British Journal of Sports Medicine proved that just twenty minutes of physical activity was sufficient to decrease stress levels, while a comparative Scottish Health Survey proved that the activity did not have to necessarily be a workout. Over 3,000 people surveyed reported that household chores contributed to reducing their stress and anxiety.
Now, while the thought of excessive cleaning leaves me cold, the organising aspect of which I have taken quite a shine to, caught me somewhat by surprise.
I am not ruthless in my approach, I still like a degree of clutter and once I commence a task, it may well take me days to complete it. But the physical doing is the clincher for me. Whereas before, I may have started something only to half complete the task before abandoning it, now I see it through until the bitter end.
Case in point; the dreaded wardrobe clear-out. It took me three days to finally sort through years of accumulation.
As is the case, the situation will look significantly worse during the process. The piles began to mount; for donation, hand-me-downs, ones which had not made it into the laundry basket and ones which had seen better times. Upon seeing me scurry past the kitchen, Himself hollered,
“Are you already done?”
The answer was in the negative. What I was in the process of doing was vying for Calor Housewife status by collecting the last of the lavender from the garden to sew sachets filled with same to stuff into drawers and wardrobes to deter musty odours amongst garments.
This turn of events came about due to the discovery of several vests of toddler size still lurking in the drawers in my daughter’s room.
Well past the salvageable state, I cut them into squares and with some questionable sewing skills, and a few pinprick drops of blood upon several, I cobbled them into uneven, four-sided shapes.
As I proudly tucked them beneath hats and scarves, my husband enquired as to the sleeping arrangements for the foreseeable future: “Will we actually be able to get into the bed tonight or will we just sleep on top of the piles?”
While he may have had to share space with some items for a day or two, he too was nevertheless incredulous when I finished the task. “Look! You can open the wardrobe and see stuff.”
The sense of satisfaction I felt at the results would have been impossible to quantify. The act of doing instead of ruminating spurred me on immensely. It is the same feeling I get when lighting the candle at dinner; even if everyone is out of sorts, it signifies a sense of calm and a respite from the bickering. It is these instances of ordinary, clearing wardrobes, lighting a candle, tidying a little corner which now no longer feel like a chore. That said, I may have spurred myself on a tad too much.
“Answer me why there is an open tin of paint in the hall? I thought you were tidying wardrobes?”