Yesterday was a difficult day. I spent much of it feeling overwhelmed and ‘out of sorts’.
It was a day of rushing around trying to give my family what they needed – some time and attention here, some food and drink there, a past paper for this week’s impending Chemistry exam – you get the picture. But somehow I still felt like I wasn’t really meeting anyone’s needs.
Half way through the afternoon it dawned on me – a big part of the problem was my scattered mind. I really was trying to be present and attentive but kept being distracted by my internal dialogue ‘this place is a mess’, ‘I really need to be tidying up’, ‘I should be able to keep on top of things more’.
My sense of failure was made worse by the fact that I had slept later than usual. After feeling ill the day before I had turned off my alarm and so hadn’t got my usual head-start on the day, missing out much of my usual morning routine.
As the nature of the problem revealed itself so an opportunity arose, as my littlest lovely headed upstairs to ‘talk teddies’ with her big sister.
I set the timer for 15 minutes and embarked upon a Sunday surface run. A big fan of alliteration, I came up with this name a few weeks ago while I was rushing around on a Sunday afternoon trying to get the house in some state of order for the week ahead.
A surface run is just what the name implies –
clearing all surfaces (including the floor)
returning stray items to their proper home
straightening up the items that do live on those surfaces
wiping down said surfaces
preparing the floors for hoovering and sweeping
collecting any washing up to be done and depositing it tidily by the sink (don’t interrupt the run to do any washing up, it’s time will come!).
focusing energy and effort on the communal/family areas only (everywhere that isn’t someone’s bedroom), and…
it’s all about the run. Well, maybe don’t actually run, but do work fast. This is a quick tidy up, not a deep clean – we are aiming to get as much done as possible before the timer goes off, we are not aiming for perfection.
Once my 15 minutes was up I listened out for sounds of fun upstairs, and sensing all was well, headed into the kitchen to tackle that pile of washing up. Setting the timer for 5 minutes this time I worked flat out, super-speedy, trying not to break anything, of course.
After a little break to help set up various fun projects (new Star Wars computer game, an exercise class in the newly tidied lounge…) I managed to get in 15 minutes of hoovering – the lounge first (couldn’t hold up the exercise class), the stairs and hallway – and a quick sweep of the kitchen floor – a job well done!
Suddenly I noticed it – the sense of calm and peace that had settled over the house, and then the lovely comments.. ‘the front room looks great Mum’, ‘it’s lovely in here, thanks for tidying up’.
Such a lovely feeling, refreshing the house and my mood, all in just over half an hour.
Then back to the really important stuff, spending time with the ones I love.