Friday, 30 March 2012

Spring Cleaning

I took some vacation time this week. Two days. Although I had planned from the outset to use the time to do some spring cleaning and organising, I also thought excitedly about some of the other things I might be able to do: get a hair cut and colour, maybe a pedicure, see a movie, finally get my orientation at the gym and maybe take a fitness class...

It probably won't come as a surprise when I confess that I often make my to-do lists impossibly long to complete. Not just on big errand-doing days, but even on a regular evening, or routine shopping trip, I try to do way more things than are realistically feasible. So, even though I had booked off two whole days, I was proud of myself for recognising the need to prioritise. I made a real attempt to reduce my list, lower my expectations, and to focus my efforts on some projects from the Never-Gets-Done list.

My abbreviated plans looked something like this:

Things to do on my days off:
sort through the children’s clothes: remove clothes from drawers that never get worn, have persistent stains or holes,
- sort through books, children’s books, toys, movies, stuffed animals, and donate some to charity
- dust
- reorganise the laundry/storage room, including hanging a couple of shelves and sorting through ‘stuff’ for charity or disposal
- build storage unit and hang medicine cabinet in bathroom
Cooper, our Walker Hound, after his visit to the groomer.
 I am proud to say that I did pretty well at accomplishing my goals.  Day 1 started by going for a run, taking Cooper to the groomer for his quarterly bath, and then tackling the children's clothes.  Between the nanny putting clothes away in the wrong drawers (I acknowledge that it can be challenging to distinguish between size 2 and size 3 and size 4 pink leggings, but I don't understand putting dresses in the pyjama drawer), and children rummaging around for their favourite sparkly shirt, their dresser drawers are just a jumbled mess.  It gave me great pleasure and satisfaction to put properly folded shirts, pants, dresses, socks and underwear in their proper places.  Even if it only lasts for 2 weeks.  (I'm optimistic.)  I also sorted through my dresser and closet.  I'm hoping that these will last a little longer.
Next, I grabbed a snack and tried to sneak out of the house before the nanny and the girls came in for lunch.  I was unsuccessful.  It's hard to explain to the children that I'm not 'working', but that I'm working in the house.  I'm not sure the nanny really appreciated it either.  There were a few tears, but I was focused.  I was heading out for a shopping trip to IKEA.  How could I properly organise the basement without storage containers?  I also picked up a new picture frame, pillow, curtains, the aforementioned medicine cabinet for the bathroom.  (Why does a trip to IKEA always cost me more than I planned?)
For Day 2, I knew I needed to start with the laundry/storage room or else it might never happen.  I was somewhat successful at hanging a new shelf.  (The screws are at least halfway into the studs.  I really should learn how to use the drill).  I cleared out a lot of junk.  I sorted lots of odds and ends.  I made space.  I wish I had taken before and after pictures.  For an unfinished basement laundry room, I think it's beautiful. Maybe not suitable for, but I actually feel happy when I go in there now.  Even if it is to do laundry.
My cabinet building project was the frustrating low-point of my day.  We live in a small, three bedroom, one bathroom semi-detached house.  Our one bathroom is tiny.  Until littlest sister was born, we kept towels in a chest of drawers in the spare bedroom.  Now there is no spare chest of drawers, so finding a place to store towels has been a problem.  I finally found a not ideal, but not bad storage cabinet for the bathroom.  After at least three weeks in the box, I spent about 2 hours building our IKEA bathroom cabinet.  (I actually enjoy putting together IKEA furniture.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.)  Then, I proudly carted it into the bathroom where I discovered that it's too big.  Sigh.  It's fits, but it takes up too much space.  When placed on the wall opposite to the toilet, the cabinet is so deep that I nearly knocked my head on it when getting up.  Sigh again.  Back to the wicker chest of drawers which is barely suitable for holding 2 towels, let alone a whole set.  And now what do I do with this extra piece of furniture.  Sigh.  I was too discouraged to build the medicine cabinet.
Overall, however, I had a successful spring cleaning vacation.  Never mind that I didn't really do any spring cleaning, such as dusting (still on the Never-Gets-Done list), just lots of therapeutic sorting and organising.  While organising might not be how everyone would choose to spend their time off work, for me it was something I needed, and actually wanted to do.  If I could organise my house, could organise my life?
Actual spring cleaning, including dusting, will have to wait for another set of vacation days.  Just remind me to book an extra day for a spa and pedicure.

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