Reflections on spring cleaning during the pandemic
Last Monday we cleaned the house. After three months of juggling between the bed, the sofa and the one table in the house to work from home, my partner and I got my little IKEA desk from the office to set up a workspace for me.
The only issue was that the desk, brought in to accommodate the expected months of work from home, no longer felt that small in our little 1BHK. Gone was the space to roll out a yoga mat and the prime real estate that in the husband’s words was ‘where the TV is supposed to go’.
And while I did enjoy having prime estate to myself, there was no getting around the fact that the current arrangement left very little space to do anything else in the room.
And so we cleaned. We dusted and decluttered and threw things out like our lives depended on it.
We banished the former solo desk to the far end of the room, stacking the several bags of luggage within themselves so there was space in the closet to fit a small shelf, the laundry bag and our little Henry. (Full credit to my better half for the idea and implementation.)
In went all the knick-knacks that had been lounging homeless in the living room, and out went dozens of plastic bags and cardboard boxes kept ‘just in case’. Out went all the unused batteries, the fluff behind the sofa, and the keepsake champagne bottle we brought back from our honeymoon.
And suddenly, there was so much of space.
It was a warm sunny afternoon when we began, and by the time we were done, the sunlight had paled and the birdsong had disappeared. It felt quiet, both inside and out; like there was space to think new thoughts, to bring to life new dreams.
A few days later I came across a quote that resonated deeply: “You cannot bring something new into your lives if you don’t make space for it.”
And by clearing the mental space clutter takes up, it felt like we had expanded our horizon of possibilities.
I finally had a desk of my own to write.
I could look around the drawing room and enjoy the newfound light and space, I could sit by the windowside and enjoy the bird song. And I finally started to feel at home.
A lot of home improvement articles, and indeed the entire #homespo movement, tend to focus on people with already perfect homes.
But what if you are someone juggling three kids in a small flat, or one among the thousands sharing workspace with family or housemates due to COVID-19? Do you just accept that ‘that perfect home’ is several pay checks away, or do you find your oasis with what you’ve got? I’m happy to report that with what we had, a little creativity and a decent amount of hard work, we were able to turn our little flat into a haven of our own.
We’ve got to let space in to our lives, or else we keep replying, responding, reacting — never feeling. And we’ve got to do it now, instead of waiting for an imaginary time in the future when everything will fall into place. As someone wisely said, if you wait for everything to be perfect until you are happy, you’ll wait forever.
And so, my friends, my advice to you as we move out of lockdown and back to a ‘new normal’ is to take the time to engage in some good old spring cleaning. Clear out the cobwebs, wipe down the table tops. Throw out those paper streamers you’ve kept for forever. Stuff anything that doesn’t fit behind closed doors, if you’re able to. You’ll get there eventually, and the feeling of satisfaction at the end will make everything worth the effort. You deserve a home that lets you breathe – even if it’s not perfect yet.
Of course, the magic died a bit when the very next day we had to tackle a mountain of dishes, and knowing me, it is quite possible the spotless table tops will soon be taken over by invisible minions. But I think I will be better knowing it’s just one good spring clean away.