The Zen of Cleaning: 2013 365 Challenge #192

My lovely clean kitchen

My lovely clean kitchen

I very much subscribe to the view that life’s too short for housework. Certainly life’s too precious, time is too precious, to be wasted on housework when there are more enjoyable or creative things to do.

Like writing, or designing book covers.

Unless it can be done when the children are playing in the garden, cleaning doesn’t happen. It certainly doesn’t take place when my children are at nursery. Paying ten pounds an hour for them to be looked after, just for me to hoover, is plain silly when I could hire a cleaner for £8 an hour*.

However, when I signed them up for a morning at preschool a week (much cheaper than nursery and too short a time-slot to really get into writing) it was meant to be designated house time. So far it hasn’t. I’ve been catching up on the blog or editing Baby Blues.

Today, though, I spent the morning cleaning and sorting. I have to admit, I feel refreshed even though I didn’t get much done. Two hours wasn’t going to make a dent in the carnage that is my home. However we no longer have a nursing chair in the middle of the kitchen. The dog hair tumbleweed has been sucked from the corners of the hallway, and the dolls house relocated to my daughter’s room, instead of behind the clutter under the stairs.

I confess to spending twenty minutes cleaning and arranging the dolls house furniture. What can I say? It was hot and I needed a breather.

Daughter's new hideyhole under the stairs

Daughter’s new hideyhole under the stairs

As if in some karmic reward, the children gave me 90 minutes to read my book and another hour to clean the kitchen when we got home. My daughter curled up on the nursing chair in it’s new location under the stairs (I can’t quite bring myself to sell it yet) and my son fell asleep in the tidy lounge.

Hubbie even noticed the unprecedented cleanliness when he got home. Brownie points all round. I’m amazed at how calm I feel, just knowing tomorrow’s writing day can be done in a (mostly) clean house. As long as I don’t go near the playroom or our bedroom!

I’d like to say this zen of calm will encourage me to become house proud and tidy but, sadly, I know myself too well. I shall just enjoy it while it lasts.

*We did have a cleaner, but we lasted three weeks before splitting by mutual consent. I couldn’t cope with the two hours pre-tidy that had to take place every Tuesday and she couldn’t cope with my overly high expectations of what could be achieved in two hours!


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


“Are you coming to the May Day Fete at my school, Auntie Claire?”

Claire looked up from her coffee cup and gazed at Sky until her words penetrated the sleepy fog in her mind. After two nights of little or no sleep, all she wanted to do was go back to bed.

“Yes, do come, Claire. You can write about it on the blog. It’ll be fun. There’s an obstacle course for the children and craft and stuff.”

Sounds like torture, Claire thought. Out loud she said, “Sure, honey. What time?” Her sister’s words registered, and she added, “I don’t have to do the obstacle race, do I?”

Ruth and Sky laughed and shook their heads, the likeness between them emphasised by their matching smiles.

“No, it’s just for the little ones. Your role will be cheering from the side-lines. Although, having read about your space-hopper race, I would have thought you’d romp through an obstacle course.”

“Blimey, sis, you really have read all my blog, haven’t you?”

Ruth flushed. “I told you, it’s my only escape. I follow a few others, too. People further afield. There’s one woman who is travelling across America, hitch-hiking and staying on people’s sofas. I’m glad you’re not doing that, it would terrify me.”

She patted Claire’s hand, then rose from the table.

“Come on Sky, let’s let Auntie Claire have a moment’s peace while we get dressed. We don’t have to leave for half an hour.”

Claire sat in the silent kitchen with emotions roiling in her stomach. Even though she’d opted not to take up Roger’s offer, the idea wouldn’t leave her alone. Deciding she needed to focus on the next leg of her UK journey, Claire pulled the iPad out of her bag and loaded the YHA website.


“Come on, Sky, throw your heart over it, you can do it.” Ruth’s voice carried on the wind, along with those of the other cheering parents.

Claire looked across at her and was pleased to see the colour flooding her sister’s cheeks. It was good for her to be outside in the fresh air. Although it wasn’t warm, the sun was shining and there was little wind.

The May Day celebration was being held in a school playing field surrounded by a stone wall and cherry trees, coming into their pink blossom. It was a picturesque English scene, and Claire was surprised at how comforting it was. She realised she had been unconsciously comparing it to how she imagined New Zealand might look.

Stop it! Leave it be, brain, for goodness sake. I am not going.

Sky ran over and wrapped herself round Claire’s knees. “Did you see, Auntie Claire, did you see? I came second!”

Claire forced herself back to the present. Dropping to her haunches, she wrapped her arms around Sky and gave the girl a quick hug.

“Eugh, you’re all sweaty, Sky!” She laughed, to take the sting from her words.

“I’m hot, too. Can I have an ice cream, Claire, pleeeaassee?” She opened her eyes wide and hopped up and down.

“If your Mummy says you may, yes.”

Ruth nodded, and Claire led Sky towards the ice cream van parked in the corner. Sky’s hand warm in hers.

I’ll call Roger tomorrow. Tell him thanks, but no thanks.

With a sigh, Claire joined the queue for ice cream.


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