***This article originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It has been preprinted with permission.***
Every year, people all over the country start talking about spring cleaning. A holdover from when everyone used to heat with wood, people took advantage of the fact that they no longer need to use their woodstoves to clean the soot and dust from the house.
Since most people don’t use wood heat anymore, I take advantage of this time of year to organize and purge instead. A blogger (Clover Lane) used to host a 40 bags in 40 days challenge for Lent. While we are most of the way through Lent already, it’s a great time of year to remove things that aren’t necessary. Who wants to spend their summer days cleaning when you could be at the beach? Not me!
First, come up with how long you can realistically spend going through your house cleaning and purging. Are your kids in school that you can work all day everyday for a week or so? Do you need a long lead time because you have a houseful of very small children who need your help with everything? I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old at home and set my schedule up over 6 weeks.
Next, consider the spaces in your home. Think about where your house is the most cluttered and unorganized as well as what would make the biggest impact. Schedule the most time for those areas. Maybe your bathroom is pretty spartan and doesn’t need to be dealt with – ignore it. Maybe you have a spot where you throw everything – schedule some extra time for that! I scheduled two weeks for random boxes of stuff behind the couch in my TV room.
Not storage supplies. First, you need supplies to help you categorize the crud. I like big shipping boxes for unneeded items because I can take the unneeded but still good items to charity without needing to do anything else. Some people use empty plastic totes. Since I do such a little work per day, I use plastic grocery bags – one for donate, one for trash and one for recycle.
I also add a box for things that don’t belong in whatever room you discover them. Every day, the contents of that box should be put away. Alternately, you can lump them up and deal with it at the end. I don’t recommend that though. From experience you will have a pile of boxes behind the couch that need to be dealt with and put away. For years. Ahem.
After you have gotten rid of all the trash, misplaced items and extra stuff you don’t use, take some time to review what is left. You can do this after the purge or during depending on how quickly it’s going. Is there some container you could use to make things easier to find? A utensil jar by the stove, maybe? Or a hanging fruit basket for bananas, potatoes and things? Create a list of things that aren’t working and think about ways to fix the problem. Maybe even check Pinterest for pretty DIY solutions; some of them can be pretty affordable!