The sun is shining, the snowdrops are out and children are casting off school jumpers with merry abandon. I think spring may well be here. (Not that that rules out snow flurries next week….) But just in case these seasonal stirrings are turning your attention to housework, I thought I’d repost my musings on spring cleaning from this time last year;
If you’re even remotely considering a spot of Spring Cleaning – just hold that thought!
Though spring may undoubtedly have sprung and you may be keen to revitalise your home after the dark days of winter, before you do…
I have a tip that will help make this seasonal maintenance work much easier. In fact, this simple step may even bring wondrous benefits to you, your home and your life, long after you hang up your marigolds.
For all the joy and magic of this festive season, there’s no doubt that Christmas brings with it a good deal of extra work and things to do. There are the parties and visits to and from friends and family… Then there’s all that present planning and buying, wrapping and giving… There’s all that extra food shopping and cooking and baking… And on top of all that, there’s also a considerable seasonal serving of extra housework.
Now, before I get all Ebenezer on you, let me just stress that I am a huge fan of Christmas. I absolutely love it. I think I enjoy it even more now than I did when I was a child. Having two small children of my own definitely adds to the magic and sense of excitement and wonder, but even in the quiet moments of planning and organising, the Christmas season always makes me smile.
This is in spite of the extra work, though, rather than because of it.
So, in my attempt to get maximum enjoyment from the festivities with minimum amounts of stress and frantic frenzies, I have a few ideas for a Calmer Christmas Karma. These are lessons I’ve learnt about what makes for a happier time for all concerned – not least, myself. (And why not, Christmas is for grown-ups, too!)
Any regular readers will no doubt be aware that I have a natural aversion to housework. This is not to say I don’t do it – I want to live in a pleasant and comforting home, so needs must etc… But generally speaking it’s not top of my list of things I want to do.
So you probably won’t be too surprised to discover that when I do eventually shift my gears into housework mode, I race about at a frenzied pace, trying to get the jobs done and dusted (literally) as quickly as possible.
Now there is nothing wrong with working quickly, if that’s how you work happiest. Also, there may be times when a brisk pace is essential (ie impending guests are looming). Quite often, though, I have no need to rush the housework, other than my in-built urge to get it over with. And I have also noticed that these domestic frenzies don’t leave me feeling satisfied and competent, instead they actually they wind me up. They make me anxious and tense. So not only do I begrudge the work as I’m tearing through it, but when it’s over, I feel slightly glum or more than a little snappish. Hardly domestic bliss.
Looking after a home and family is physically demanding work. Without health, energy and emotional calm, it can be an uphill struggle. So it makes sense to prioritise your well-being, make it non-negotiable. Looking after No1 needs to be Job #1.
However, the life of a House Slave is a busy one and there may be times when what should, in theory, be top of your To Do list, can drift and slide to the nether regions of your Things That Get Neglected list.
So what to do?
Much as I love the summer, and much as I love my children, I have been known to feel the strain of the summer school holidays. I take my hat off to all the mums who manage to enjoy, rather than endure, the long break. However, I will admit, it does have its perks – my favourite being: time to read.
I’m a big reader all year but I seem to get through more books than usual during those endless summer days. So I thought I would share with you some of the valuable things I learned this summer, as I tried to escape the mess, noise and chaos surrounding me and saught sanctuary in my books….
Possibly the most effective read of the summer was Karen Rauch Carter’s, Move your stuff, change your life. It’s a guide to the Black Hat school of Feng Shui.
By popular request, today’s post is a bit of an odd one for this blog…
It’s a recipe.
Not being your average domestic goddess, there are unlikely to be many more but since I was asked to post this, here it is.
It’s my method of producing that vital essential to domestic life – the flapjack.
I recently wrote a guest blog post for my Twitter friend Jo Belfield on the subject of photography, (Jo creates beautiful photos for a living).
I believe that having your favourite photos on display in your home can be a great antidote to the housework blues.
So, here’s the blog post again in case you didn’t catch it:
I recently embarked upon a full day of housework.
This is not something I do very often. Not because I don’t enjoy a clean and tidy home – I do, I love it. However, I find that Great Big Cleaning Efforts mess with my head. There’s a very real danger that all the mindless domestic activity will result in a head-space of frustration, despair or low-level fury. (Or on a bad day, all three.) Admittedly there are far worse ordeals to be facing, but I don’t think I’m alone in occasionally feeling the strain of home and family maintenance.
In Housework Blues, I describe the many wonderful benefits of The Housework-out, (ie using housework as a form of exercise). Yet I’m not the first to suggest this idea. In fact, if you search for ‘housework’ on Amazon, one of the top results is the Housework Workout DVD*.
It’s a well-documented theory that the physical, aerobic nature of housework can reap rewards for your figure, especially when you carry out the work with an intention to trim/tone and you tweak your movements for maximum benefit. (For some quick tips on this check out this article from the NHS.)
Perhaps less well-known, however, are the invisible, ‘knock-on’ benefits that also occur when housework is your exercise of choice. So, if the prospect of thinner thighs is not quite enough to motivate you mop-wards, consider the following favourable, yet often unrecognised advantages of The Housework-out…
As a person, it is irritating when people don’t do their fair share, but if you are at all feminist, it’s much more complicated. There are principles at stake.
There is often the unspoken question: is it being left to me because I am the female? This incurs a wrath born of social inequities, turning a personal situation into a political one. It becomes less of a question about whether you should always have to clean the floor and transmutes into whether women should always have to clean the floor.
Could it be true? (again)
Now I am a self-confessed Undomestic Goddess. I am not naturally inclined to clean and tidy. I am a million miles away from the Perfect Housewife. And yet…
The other day, I had a few precious minutes of un-spoken-for time on my hands and what did I choose to do with it? Well, believe it or not, I actually went looking for some housework!
Admittedly, I didn’t have to look very far…but the point is, I was motivated to do housework. Now what strange magic was at work? What could this new driving force possibly be? What awesome power could be behind such a freak occurrence?
Well, the good news is, the answer is a simple one. The even better news is, you can quite easily get your hands on it, too!
Let’s play Spot the Difference.
Woman A arrives home. She hangs up her coat, bag and keys. She looks around her tidy home, smiles and decides she’s got time to relax in her beautiful sitting room with a cuppa and a magazine.
A flustered Woman B heaves the door open, pushing aside the debris blocking the entrance. She throws her coat on the pile – one more won’t make a difference. As she enters the kitchen, her heart sinks at the sight. Then, though she is surrounded by a million chores that need doing, she collapses, overwhelmed and exhausted on the sofa. She emits a small yelp as the hard plastic toy digs into her back.
So, then. What’s the difference between these two women?
…to help with the housework!
I recently wrote a chapter about motivation in the domestic realm, for my new book, Housework Blues.
It lead to the following spin-off idea which I think you may find very useful and effective. The idea is to utilise a powerful technique that deploys your subconscious mind – requiring less conscious (and begrudging) effort from you.