No Time to Sew: The Big Cleanup

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the end of the school year marks the end of my sewing season. It doesn’t mark the end of work, though. In fact, I find summer to be a great time to catch up on many otherwise-neglected projects.

My creative work process seems to require a mess. Despite my many efforts to rearrange and clean up my studio, I just can’t seem to keep my work space tidy. It takes hours (days!) to put everything away. However, when I start new projects, items just naturally find their way out all over again… Different-colored thread spools start accumulating near my machine. Fabrics in different stages of cutting and sewing sort themselves into different piles on the bed or carpet, each waiting for the next stage. Metal hardware boxes lie open, waiting to be incorporated into bags. And on it goes. Here, for example, is a recent photo of my sewing table:

The truth is, that in order to feel at peace, I actually need my surroundings to be reasonably tidy. By “my surroundings” I mean my house, an almost impossible goal with three kids as roommates.

Hence, a few years ago we started a new summer-vacation tradition: “The Big Cleanup.” The Big Cleanup is just what it sounds like. It’s a thorough cleaning/organizing/rearranging of every single room in the house.

This is how it works: after the last day of school the kids and I give ourselves a couple of days to unwind and relax. We make no plans and set no rules. Everyone has time to do whatever they want to do, be it stay in pajamas all day, read on the sofa uninterrupted, or disappear behind a screen.

Then we start working. We work every day for about two weeks. Every couple of hours we take breaks for snacks, meals and the occasional rest. We set reasonable daily goals, and bribe ourselves with fun things to do in the afternoons (if we finish everything on time). The actual work is long and tedious. We get cranky, we have difficulty parting with some things. We fight, we grumble. But when the day’s work is done everyone feels great (or at least I do). The room we just worked on looks nice. The drawers and cabinets are all clean and tidy. We feel like we really earned that relaxed stroll downtown, or that tasty ice cream, or the coffee-house visit with its drinks and cakes:

And when the Big Cleanup is all over we celebrate by doing something fun together. This makes us forget the ordeal we endured over the last couple of weeks.

(For more on kids and cleaning read this post).

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