Traditionally New Year and the advent of Spring tend to stimulate a good tidy up and a thorough Spring clean, but for me September has felt like a new beginning. Children off to meet their new teacher with crisp uniforms and clean lunchboxes, a new academic year (husband is a university lecturer), and a nice new tan from the summer holiday. A taste of outdoor life and sunshine over summer has topped up my energy and positivity levels.
Hence the September clear-out. The feeling I get when I have a good sort out at home is wonderful. I feel cleansed, revitalised, ordered and veryin control. Old clothes that haven’t been worn for several seasons get the charity shop treatment; drawers that store that ‘just in case’ screw get emptied; and the children’s cuddly toy collection gets mysteriously edited. It feels cathartic and liberating.
The downside is that my enthusiasm to maintain order has me hovering around the children’s bedrooms and discretely filling my pockets like a criminal. Bits of cut up paper, the odd sticker, a prize conker, a treasured shell, a special twig, all mysteriously disappear, destined for the bin. My eye is on my goal; a clean and tidy bedroom which is easy to hoover and feels neat and minimal.
Something stops me. A sudden realisation that I’m being horribly controlling and deceitful for my own ends. My own desire to gain some control at home has led to me ‘stealing’ my children’s prized finds: the wonderful memories of acquiring those treasured shells, twigs and conkers, and the joy of saving them as a prize possession.
I empty my pockets. We find a special box and my daughter rearranges her delights with such pride. In my warped world, objects that I’ve paid for take presidence over ‘free’ objects from the natural world; a sad affair when we are trying to teach our children that the best things in life really are free.