Ever so slowly, these workless days and weeks have started to take on a recognisable shape. Monday and Tuesday are the days I spend time with my parents and help out with the grandkids (theirs, of course, not mine); Friday to Sunday tend to be the days when all you normal people are free to come out and play, so they tend to be busy-ish with socialising and catching up. Which leaves Wednesday and Thursday. Or, my new favourite days of the week.
I’ve come to love this unglamorous, midweek pair in a way my old working self would have found frankly bonkers. Because these are my days, the days that take care of themselves. On Wednesdays and Thursdays there tends to be no particular plan. I get up when I feel like it, potter a bit, perhaps do a bit of copy writing, head out for a cycle, or to the park, or an exhibition (ok, so maybe I did all of these things precisely once. And perhaps all on the same day). Whatever whimsy dictates, in fact. And it is delicious. I’ve worked out, however, that the overall weekly routine matters – it’s important to feel on your days off that you’re having a break from something, even if what you’re breaking from is going to the park and playing on the swings.
This mid-week freedom is a unique, never-to-be-repeated privilege, I realise. But – and you knew this was coming, didn’t you? – there is a downside. On my days off, when there’s no-one except the neighbours across the street around to see, I become somewhat detached from normal rules of, well, let’s call it maintenance, of house and self. When Mr Nasty Ukip recently made his comments about women who were less than thorough with the housework, I did check to see if my webcam had been on and broadcasting without me realising. But no, he must’ve been talking about someone else. Rather than sluttishness, I like to think of this relaxed position on looking after home and self as representative of a more chilled-out, contemplative approach to life in general. And that the piece of cooked onion I found in the turn up of my jeans the other day could happen to anyone.
Anyway, to keep myself from being lifted for vagrancy, I’ve devised a few simple rules which should keep me shipshape on the year off. Viz, the Notplanning Guide to Healthy Living and Keeping Up Appearances.
1. Don’t let yourself go just because you’re no longer getting dressed for the office. Make a point of getting changed out your jammies every day. Even if its just to put on a fresh pair of jammies.
2. Keep up your make-up regime, however simple. Trying to get another day’s wear out of last night’s won’t work.
3. A colourful range of foods can help ensure a healthy, balanced diet. Soup, once it’s turned pink, does not count as colourful. Ditto blue bread.
4. A smelly top draped over the end of the bed will not self-clean. It’ll still be smelly, even after two days of ‘airing’. Wash. Similarly, Febreeze-ing a less than fresh woolly jumper will work once or twice. Beyond that it’s just a dirty, woolly jumper which smells of old couch. Wash.
5. It doesn’t matter how long you go out for, the dishes will still be there when you get back. See advice for #4.
6. Before leaving the house, make sure all bits of cooked food have been removed from clothes, face and hair.
So, here’s to a well-groomed year. Just as soon as I get this rice out my hair.