Saturday, 21 April 2012

Spring Cleaning

Things have been really busy here at JANIE CROW lately, what with the crochet club, workshops and some other new ventures which I will tell you about soon, so with all the activity of the past few months I decided it was time I took a couple of days off to give myself a chance to recharge my batteries and get my head in a good place ready to start again with all the things that need to be done next week. It was a spur of the moment decision yesterday morning to add an extra day to my weekend and put all things work related to the back of my mind and spend the day officially ‘off’!

tidy shelves
Usually when I have some time off, over the weekend for example, I plan what I am going to do. I make plans for haircuts, cleaning, shopping, visiting, decorating – all those things that don’t fit into my working week. I will invariably have a lie in on a Saturday morning and go for a swim session on a Sunday morning. I will always try to schedule in a family meal – where we all sit down and eat at the table TOGETHER and AT THE SAME TIME, usually polishing off Sunday evening with a movie on the TV and a few glasses of wine. Weekends are busy and filled with things to do, its not that I don’t enjoy them, but they are never particularly restful, not really what I would class as ‘me time’ or ‘time off’.

So there I was yesterday morning, feeling a bit like a naughty child who had bunked off school. I spent the morning feeling a bit smug – I went back to bed for a bit, caught up with the Sunday supplements which had been piling up for a while, even reading the reviews of TV programmes I had missed, cursing myself for not setting Sky to record them even though I rarely get time to watch them (I have the whole 3rd series of 6 feet under taking up a stupid amount of space on the hard drive because one day I might watch it). I took a rather long leisurely shower, had breakfast/lunch then sat and contemplated the day ahead of me – all 12 hours of it - what to do, what to do, what to do….?

Having an unexpected day off meant that I had no plans to fall back on and had to come up with something that was going to fill my day. I made a decision that the ‘thing’ that I was going to do should not involve the computer (Facebook, Pinterest, surfing etc.), was not to involve yarn, a crochet hook or a knitting needle, was not to involve cooking or washing and was not to involve spending money! Easy! Dressed and ready for my day, I wondered about my little house thinking about what to do, absent mindedly picking up bits of dirty washing from bedroom floors, clearing up coffee cups and empty crisp packets (why cant kids put packaging of any description in the bin?), running the duster along the picture rails, bleaching the sink, I ran the vacuum cleaner over the carpets, cleaned the mirrors and did the recycling; all this whilst still thinking about what I was going to do for the day.

no piles of paper here
I came up with a few ideas; I could go into town and see an exhibition, I could take the dog for an extra long walk, I could ring a friend and go for a coffee, I could start a new painting. All these options appealed to me and just as I had made the decision to take myself into town for a few hours (after all there is only so long that a girl can keep herself away from the lure of John Lewis Oxford Street and Anthropologie on Regent Street even if the trip was bound to involve spending money) the key turned in the front door and Summer was home from school! How could this have happened? How could doing silly little jobs like dusting, bleaching and sweeping have frittered the day that had stretched ahead of me away? 4pm! Blooming 4pm!

‘Crestfallen’, ‘disappointed’ and ‘cheated’ are all words that spring to mind and so very ‘annoyed’ at myself for letting the chance of a day ‘off’ slip through my fingers. There I was – 4pm in the afternoon, certainly not in a cheery frame of mind, snappy and irritable with yet another dilemma - it was now too late to do any of the things I had considered, the galleries would be shutting, the tubes would be full of people coming home from work, the friends who might have gone for coffee where probably beginning to think about Friday night dips and glasses of white wine and it was definitely not an option to start a painting as the light was beginning to dip from the back of the house. By 5pm my daughter Summer had left the house once more for a sleep over and since I was now alone again I still had a few hours of time ‘off’ to decide what to do with.

everything all put away
By 5.30 I had made my decision at long last. I would spend what few hours I had left of my ‘off’ time finishing off the jobs I had kind of started whilst contemplating my day earlier on, but instead of fiddling about with a little bit of dusting and titivating I would do my full blown spring clean – how exciting! What a marvellous decision!I moved beds and scrubbed down the walls, cleaned the architraves and paintwork and even managed to move the chest of drawers in our bedroom and re-organise the drawers. I washed the windows and rearranged my shelves; I packed away some yarn and changed the duvets. By 8pm I’d had enough so I made some soup, watched the movie ‘Captain America’ (absolutely awful by the way) and got myself ready for bed.

I am not the world’s greatest sleeper; I tend to over think things and spend lots of time wakeful in the night. This used to worry me, but over the past few years I have learnt to accept it. I have periods where I feel really tired and have to do a ‘long haul’ sleep, but mostly I use my wakeful time in the night to good advantage and often think about design work, planning and logistics. So, as I lay there last night thinking about my day, I recalled a conversation I had with a few of the ladies at last week’s crochet club workshop where the guilt factor of our knitting and crochet habits was discussed. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people say that they only sit down and crochet or knit once all their other chores are done, others that have said they allocate a certain allotted time of the day to work on their projects, and even those who don’t do it whilst their partners are around due to the ‘guilt’ factor. I looked back on the last 10 hours and realised that the decisions I had made (or not made) about my day were also subconsciously based not only on the guilt factor, but on the necessity of me completing a job which at some point, be it sooner or later, would have to be done (because of course the world would stop turning if we didn’t all do our spring cleaning).

This made me think - WHY do we do this to ourselves? Why do we constantly feel the need to do stuff? Bet your bottom dollar that if a man had a day ‘off’ he wouldn’t spend most of it agonizing over what to do. He wouldn’t find himself categorising ‘things to do’ by necessity or have a guilt trip about following his hobby. I know that if Andy (the lovely Mr C) was planning a day off he wouldn’t think twice about doing what he would call ‘nothing’ – this surmounts to watching TV, reading his book and drinking a few bottles of cider. So why do I beat myself up about always having something to tick off the mental (in my case also physical) list of ‘things to do’?
new bunting

I don’t have an answer. I am resigned to the fact that I will live my life according to lists and timetables and that there will always be something that needs to be done. That time ‘off’ is in fact a figment of my imagination and that next time I even contemplate ‘bunking off’ I should think long and hard about the decision. Whether this is a common trait in females or just a personality thing is not the point, I have to accept that I am unlikely to change - there will always for me be this conflict over the fact that I believe ‘time off’ only exists if we physically take ourselves away from home. For now I have a clean house and perhaps the therapeutic benefits that went along with doing a really good cleaning session. I have a sparkling sink and neat shelves, clean duvets and less dust, my domestic efforts of yesterday have physical proof – the family can see what I did with my day ‘off’ and I can sit back a bit today and enjoy the fact that we can see through the windows properly and there aren’t wafts of dust when the dog wags her tail enthusiastically against the rug!

Now I’m off to get on with the rest of today. What to do, what to do, what to do…?