Thursday, 13 May 2010

back to the kitchen cabinet

There is a line, in the Winnie the Pooh book with which my son is currently obssessed, about Kanga suddenly feeling 'motherly, and wanting to count things', like vests for Roo and clean spots on Tigger's feeder. It must have been on my mind, because this week - when I was planning to do absolutely nothing, after a month working flat out - I've found myself mostly wanting to count things instead.
Or not so much count as sort. There is a great, underrated pleasure in sorting: ruthlessly chucking out old paperwork, tangles of chargers whose phones are long gone, laddered pairs of tights. It's an almost physical relief.
And the great bonus of being mostly slatternly is that on the rare occasions you do spring clean, there are so many surprises. Who knew there was sunlight outside, once the windows were washed? Or that I'll never actually need to buy another biro in this lifetime, given how many were lying around the house?
There is a secret, retro pleasure in this bringing (if briefly) of domestic order to chaos. The urge doesn't strike me very often but it tends to come after an intense period of work: I think there's an element of wresting back control, reasserting yourself in the domestic world you've become disconnected from.
And this time, maybe some displacement activity too. A new government has formed, and for the first time in four elections I don't have a ringside seat next to it.
Perhaps what I'm really doing is confronting the fact that, after a month embroiled in my old world during the election, it's time to move on. It's Cabinet reshuffles for them, and reshuffling kitchen cupboards for me.
Oh well. I still don't quite know what the future holds: but at least now I've chucked all the jars long past their sell-by dates, it's less likely to hold salmonella.


  1. hmm, sure there's not another little Somebody on the way? Sounds like NESTING to me!

  2. I do this too. It's calming, somehow, to bring order back to my life after a huge rush of busyness. It's like preparing for the next barrage.

  3. There's probably a bit of this going on in number 10 too...with Cameron banning mobiles in cabinet, I can see him issuing edicts about paper clips before long...

    Funnily enough I've been doing the same. There's a horrendous american book called something like "start by cleaning the kitchen sink" and advising stay at home mums not to be tempted by the evils of email before other more mundane jobs like cleaning the sink are done. I can sort of see the point, sort of...if there's absolutely nothing more pressing to do.

    Sorting out the post basket has been a pressing matter in our house this week, because a number of important document were lurking in it, or rumoured to be lurking in it. Everything goes in there, is taken out and read and then put back in there (that's our basic mistake isn't it?). School fetes are now on the calendar, bills are ready to be paid (if only there was money to pay them with) and other stuff has been recycled or put in the "filing tray". That's next week...

  4. 人不可以求其備,必捨其所短,取其所長...............................................................

  5. I'm in the midst of a major sort and declutter - its incredibly therapeutic! Also nice discovering how much space we have once its all cleared away

  6. Well, now you're all making me feel guilty about sitting here checking emails and blogging (and eating liquorice allsorts) when I should be cleaning the kitchen sink and ironing... what would my husband say?! Enjoy your order while it lasts ;o) xox

  7. i wish i HAD had a nesting instinct when pregnant - would've been v useful way to get some housework done - alas, all i had was an overwhelming urge to eat doughnuts.
    gwyneth are you thinking of the Fly Lady thing? sure she goes on about cleaning your kitchen sink (on the grounds that if you don't know where to start, just start somewhere). I find it quite restful reading her website ( if anyone's interested )and then not bothering to do any of it.
    quite like the idea of a post basket tho. we just have a kitchen worktop, which post inevitably slides off and get lost/trampled/eaten by dog.

  8. I am in the middle of a total fridge blitz. Where you are with biros oddly we are with jam. I am still trying to marry my heavy duty minimalist tendencies with the small continent load of stuff that comes along with three children. We must have more Lego than the place where Lego is made.

    It is oddly pleasing though and I can't sew or knit or bake cakes - it is the only retro pastime I can do. I'm also expecting a Malaysian architect to knock on my door and ask for the blueprints for my paperwork tower.

  9. Term time is manic in our house (both teachers) but in the school holidays I enjoy a good clear out with frequent trips to the clothes bank. Sadly, no-one else in the household shares my enthusiasm so as I cleanse, they re-clutter.

  10. I love your post, it really struck a chord. I only every de-clutter when I need serious distraction - it becomes a very cathartic exercise, purging all signs of grime from a sink! However, more often than not, I end up abandoning it half way through, to wipe a child's bottom, answer the phone, or to something more interesting....... hope you find something new to get your teeth into soon..

  11. The Grazia article brought me to your blog, which is very enjoyable! Good for you - life is too short to just spend it working.

  12. Excellent read. I like your style...have a good one!/Nice blog! Keep it up!
    Kitchen Cupboards