Like many women I know, there are many other things I would rather do than housework. Yet for some reason, now the days are warmer and brighter I feel the urge to declutter and Spring Clean! It seems that we are hard-wired to do it, whether we like it or not.
Records of Spring Cleaning go back thousands of years and there are religious and cultural practices connected to this annual rite. But there are practical reasons too.
In the colder, Northern latitudes we shut our houses up in Winter, trying to retain the heat by keeping windows and doors closed for months on end. With poor ventilation the dust settles, but we can’t see it so easily because light levels are low. In the days of open coal fires, soot accumulated inside the house on floors, walls, ceilings and furnishing. My grandparents always had dark green or brown woodwork in their house, because it didn’t show the soot so much. Winter also makes humans more sluggish, so we don’t have the energy to keep on top of housework. Darker, shorter days mean we have more melatonin in our brain, the hormone that triggers sleepiness.
So once the days start to get longer and the light brighter, we start to notice the dust and dirt. We feel more energetic and positive with the arrival of Spring, so have the impetus to clean. We want to open doors and windows to let in fresh air and warm air. In order to do an effective Spring Clean we need to move things, reorganise and declutter, so it becomes much more of a project than just cleaning. Decluttering and cleaning will improve the air quality and energy in your home, which in turn improves your mood.
Spring Cleaning Traditions
Some researchers trace the origin of Spring Cleaning to the Iranian festival of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of Spring, around 21 March. Celebrations traditionally last thirteen days and involve cleaning the house or ‘shaking the house’, buying new clothes and spending time with friends and family.
Spring Cleaning is linked to the celebration of Passover in Jewish custom, which falls in March or April, and marks the release of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. The home is thoroughly cleaned in advance, particularly to ensure that all traces of leavened bread (made with yeast) are removed from the house. Unleavened bread, which was fed to slaves, became a symbol of their survival.
Greek Orthodox Christians clean their houses for a week leading up to the period of Lent. It is traditional to clean the house thoroughly either right before or during the first week of Great Lent, which is referred to as Clean Week. The Christian festival of Easter falls close to Passover, also in March or April, and Catholics clean the church altar the day before Good Friday.
Chinese New Year falls earlier in the year, usually in February, but also has Spring Cleaning traditions. It is traditional for families to clean their houses and surrounding areas before the start of the new year. The word ‘dust’ in Chinese sounds the same as the word for ‘old’, so cleaning the house represents clearing out the bad luck of the old year to make way for fresh energy and a new start.
Get In the Mood
One of the downsides of decluttering and cleaning can be that you feel worse before you feel better. It stirs things up that you might rather let lie. Going through your ‘stuff’ can bring back memories and feelings that might be difficult to cope with. And letting go can be harder than you expected. Don’t be put off by this though. Allow yourself to acknowledge those feelings and let go with love and appreciation.
You may need to wait until you are in the right mood. I get much more done when I’m feeling ready and willing. I have blocked a week off in a couple of weeks time in order to sort the house out…let’s hope I don’t feel more like gardening that week!
Remember I do have some tools and techniques that will help with motivation, focus, letting go and coping with difficult feelings. Get in touch if you feel I might be able to help or take a look at my web page https://louisecardon.com/how-i-help/