I am a tidy person. It’s just the way I am. Being tidy clears both the air and my head. Even if I may achieve nothing else in a day, then at least I know the toys will be packed away, the cushions will be straightened, the counters wiped clean and the throws folded before bed. My home offers me the chance to feel orderly even if my thoughts are far from it.
I am fascinated in a strange, curious sort of way, by everyone else’s tidying up habits. I have read Marie Kondo but I don’t prescribe to the all-at-once, intensive clear out she advocates because, honestly, it feels a little overwhelming. Also, I suppose our general tidiness - which is not too austere - does not yet require such a dramatic overhaul. So I prefer, instead, to tidy up steadily, little and often, following the seasons. A change of weather reminds me that, as ever, there is work to be done.
This year’s spring cleaning has been tapping on my shoulder since sometime in early February, when a chilly spot of sunlight found its way through our windows again. The crispness caused me to reconsider the household jobs that desperately needed to be dealt with but which I had deliberately overlooked, pushed aside into dark corners under gloomy skies. And so, with the arrival of a new spring, I have been quietly productive. I have worked through drawers, packing clothes up to pass along, and I have fixed loose buttons on small people’s pyjamas and sewn flailing pockets back on. I have left books out by the gate for my neighbours to help themselves and I have moved baskets and boxes and picture frames that were never quite in the right place. I have felt useful, working through the things on my to-do list.
Sometime before Christmas, I had misguidedly turned my hand to some do-it-myself. I am notoriously not good at this, and so it follows that I left a trail of small badly drilled holes in a wall in my children’s bedroom while attempting to put up some book shelves. At the time, disheartened by my defeat with the drill, I could not contemplate doing anything about them and so merely masked them over with white washi tape instead. I am ashamed of this. But not so long ago, I forced myself to set aside a few minutes to fill them up. They still need painting over, but this small lesson served as a handy reminder that almost always, the satisfaction of a task completed in merely a handful of minutes far outweighs leaving it neglected for so long in the first place.
The promise of spring cleaning also, I find, offers a way to consider our everyday surroundings with fresh eyes, almost as if coming home after a long spell away. Last year, I took down at least nine wall prints which made my head ache from their busyness. For over a year now we have had mostly blank walls but this spring I am itching to breathe some life into them again, without resorting to filling gaps for just the sake of it. We happen to keep a small box of our favourite photos printed in miniature and it occurred to me that there is more joy for those photos to be seen than to be boxed up on a shelf. And so up they have gone, cheering up a blank corner in their wake.
Cheer; that’s the word! That’s what the start of spring reminds me of. Cheer, yes, as I step out with my ankle hems rolled just a little higher (all the easier to roll back down when the chill strikes). Cheer, too, as we see in the evenings with lit candles that make our home smell like almonds and oranges. Cheer, then, in the satisfaction of washed-down windows. Spring then, to me, is these little scraps of cheer, holding up hope and brightness like umbrellas in between the showers of rain.
Small, easy ways to spring clean
Blitz the little jobs that have been in the background for months. Hang up those hooks, fix the broken chair, clear out the paperwork bulging out of your box file. It’s surprising how quickly you can work through the jobs you loathe, but which really take no time at all. We all need reminding of this from time to time!
Shuffle things around The open shelves in our living space were, as ever, starting to give me a headache, a sure sign something in the organising of them had gone wrong, again. I used to toss all office supplies with the kids’ craft supplies - tapes, glue, my pens, their pens, string - in one basket upon a shelf and it was a silly way to store it all. A simple solution, one basket for my desk supplies, another for their craft ones, and the hassle has quickly and significantly reduced. Store like with like and switch and shuffle things around - it’s productive and little tweaks here and there can suddenly set your home to rights again.
Natural cleaning products I’ve been using castile soap to wash down toddler smudges on walls and floors and even to wash our clothes (it works a treat; pour a capful or two straight into the drum with a full load). Almond is my favourite, eucalyptus a close second too.
An easy way to clear your wardrobe I am in the habit of frequently donating clothes the kids have outgrown to our local charity shops but with my own wardrobe, it’s been a little trickier. Since having my third child eighteen-months ago, I’m still discovering pieces I thought would last forever but don’t fit me the way they ought to. I’ve been sending parcels of the clothes that no longer work for me to Manifesto Woman, an online sustainable fashion store which sells clothes on one’s behalf, taking the headache of packaging and posting out of my hands in one clean swoop.
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