Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Spring Cleaning (For Real This Time)
By: Elizabeth Strolle of Creating Peaceful Spaces
It is no wonder that the term “spring cleaning” typically brings about anxious, overwhelming and exhausting feelings. There are unreasonable expectations associated with Spring Cleaning. Most of us envision that we are to magically clean and declutter our entire accumulation of a life’s worth of “stuff” in one sitting, or one weekend, or even one season. These expectations are bound to alienate us, and incidentally, set us up for failure.
The number 1 question I receive upon initial visits with clients is “Is my house the worst you’ve ever seen?” I look over at them with their faces scrunched like my favorite emoji (you know, the nervous one with the teeth stretched ear to ear) and the answer is always no, my friend, not at all.
In making a generalization, we love to compare our lives with others’ and the truth is that we all have our own completely different set of things and we all approach challenges differently, so why are we so hard on ourselves? If you figure out that answer to this question, please let me know.
So here it is, the best plan of attack for Spring Cleaning; start small. Instead of looking at a whole (house), only focus on a whole (closet). Let’s say, for blog’s sake, that we’re going to start with a linen closet. Take a before picture and then visualize how you would like it to look. If your vision involves new baskets or sorters, you may need to purchase these ahead of time. Perhaps you don’t need any additional organizers and you’re able to work with what you already have. Set aside some time for yourself, blast some Bon Jovi (or insert other favorite 80s musician here) and begin. If you have children with you, see if you can involve them in some way and make a game out of it.
1. Begin first by emptying ALL contents of said closet, including every last bobby pin and miscellaneous cotton swab.
2. Once everything has been emptied, use the floor or an empty space nearby, and begin grouping like with like. Should you find any items that are ruined, torn, expired, excessive or unnecessary, set those aside for later.
3. Clean the newly emptied shelves with a duster, vacuum, or preferred method of cleaning. If the shelves need new liners or need any repairs, now would be a good time to address this.
4. Implement any organizers, baskets or sorters.
5. Make sure that the items you use daily are placed front and center for easy access. Consider what items you’re working with that can perhaps be relocated to a more appropriate area (for instance, why is Bob’s fishing tackle mixed in with my travel toiletries?).
6. A good rule of thumb to have while organizing is – “if you can’t see it, it may as well not exist”. Make sure you can see and easily access every item in this closet, within reason. Items you may not use as much, like the heavy winter comforter that you don’t need in the summer (or ever, if you live in Tucson) can go on the very top shelf in a space saver bag. Continue to fill each shelf with intent. If possible, leave some empty areas and do not overfill.
7. Donate, recycle, or discard whatever leftover items that you’re willing to part with. If you haven’t used an item within the last year then chances are, you can part with it. If you’re stuck on an item, ask a friend for their thoughts.
8. This is the most important step of all. Celebrate your victory! Even the smallest victories are worth celebrating. Take an after picture and then pat yourself on the back and take notice of your accomplishments. Even if you have the energy to tackle another area, I would recommend taking the rest of the day off. Take some time to reflect and feel the liberating rewards of creating a more peaceful space. You may find that you’ll approach your next project in a more lighthearted way. Happy Spring!