I had always thought that ‘Spring Cleaning’ was a universal term, but recently, I overheard somebody asking what it was, and realised that it isn’t something that everybody does.
Doing a quick search online has informed me that historical researchers trace the term back to the Iranian ‘Nowruz’, or Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. The practice there being referred to as ‘khaneh tekani’ or literally ‘shaking the house’ – which I love!
In general use, we often refer to giving the house ‘a good spring clean’ when the days begin to get longer and lighter, which happened this past weekend when the clocks were put forward by one hour for British Summer Time to begin in the UK.
I thought it would be interesting to talk about spring cleaning because I often like to take this ritual into other areas of my life. Let’s be honest, cleaning isn’t the most exciting of activities (at least not for me anyway) but I don’t think anybody can deny that once your house is in order (and that means both physically and mentally for me), you feel so much better, fresher, and ready for new challenges.
Where to begin…
I usually like to start a physical spring clean with a decluttering of the home first. I’ve spoken before about how I like to keep things simple, and I think each change of season is a great time to have a look at what you’ve accumulated and discard anything you really don’t need in your life. (I’m talking about physical clutter here, but we’ll get onto other areas later).
As the weather is (hopefully!) getting sunnier and warmer, I take this opportunity to let go of items that may have served me throughout winter, but that won’t necessarily make it through the next one. There is no point in hanging on to gloves with a hole in or boots that leak, only to realise they are useless when next winter comes.
During my spring clean declutter, I found one pair of leaky boots, two pairs of threadbare winter socks and a coat that had seen better days. I also emptied out the kitchen cupboards and cleared out a couple of chipped and broken items and a couple of unused duplicates. The bathrooms also saw me shedding any out of date medication and broken hair ties.
Once all the unwanted clutter was taken care of, I could clean the areas more easily. So whilst the kitchen cupboards were empty, a good wipe of the insides of the cupboards, the doors, and the surrounding tiles was done. After putting everything neatly back inside, the whole kitchen felt fresh and looked bigger somehow! This was repeated throughout the home, but because I already live quite minimally, it wasn’t a huge job. I think that is key: if you downsize or minimise what you bring into your life in the first place, it takes much less time to clean.
Spring Cleaning Non-Physical Spaces
This can be an altogether more tricky area to spring clean – but just as worthy of attention.
I’m thinking here of things like the amount of apps on your smartphone, the number of ‘must-do’s’ on your to-do list, or the commitments on your calendar.
Going through and dealing with digital clutter is always an easy way to relieve stress for me. Unsubscribing from email lists and websites is a good one; as is deleting anything from my inbox that I am never going to respond to. You know the thing: that email invite to an event you thought you might like, but are never actually going to attend. Or that writing competition you could enter, but most likely won’t. That kind of stuff gets in the way of me actually doing creative work I love, such as writing for the blog or guest posting for other bloggers. My attitude this year is to only commit to the types of creative work I really enjoy.
Other non-physical spaces might include a clearing out of your desktop computer or laptop or saying no to commitments in your diary that you really don’t want to attend. I would also put reading material under this category. I often hear about a brilliant book, online essay or story that I feel I should read. These can begin to pile up either physically on my bedside to be read pile, or digitally on my laptop or ‘phone, making me feel guilty every time I see them. Often during a spring clean, I will delete these or take the books back to the library, realising that if I ever want to read them, I can generally find them again. The chances are though that if I have had them a while and not read them, I probably never will.
Spring Clean Your Ideas
This may sound a bit strange, but I often think we hold on to accepted ideas about ourselves that we should learn to question every now and then.
As an example, I have been thinking of changing my work around recently. For anyone who doesn’t know, I work part-time as an administrator within the NHS, as well as writing for the blog and other places and currently studying for a Masters in English Studies (I hate to get bored…)
About 6 months ago, I started to feel like I might want to find a new work role, and began to look around at other work opportunities. But I found that many of the opportunities that I saw were not really more interesting to me or as flexible as my current role, which allows me to work mornings during the week, leaving me afternoons and weekends to work on my writing.
After reading Jessica Rose Williams’ book ‘Enough’ at the beginning of the year, I decided to do a few of the exercises in it and found that many of the values I had around work and creativity were being met by both my current work role and writing primarily for this blog. I made a decision to try and cultivate more job satisfaction within my work role, as well as apply for promotion within the same team I enjoyed working with.
This has allowed me to clear my head and focus on what I really want to do. I am pleased to say that I was successful with my work role, and have felt much more invigorated to create on the blog, as well as apply for other opportunities for guest posts* and writing gigs because I have ‘spring cleaned’ the ideas fighting it out in my brain!
These are just a few examples from my own life to show how using the idea of the traditional spring clean can help to motivate you to not just clear your living space (though that does feel good) but on a deeper level, to also clear out your non-physical and emotional spaces.
I hope you found something that resonates with you here – I’d love to hear in the comments what you might be spring cleaning this springtime! : )
*If you are a blogger looking for someone to write a blog post, and you feel you resonate with my work, please get in touch via my contact page.
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