School starts in five weeks, and I cannot believe how fast the summer is sailing by for my family. The disastrous state of my house, however would disagree. There is constant clutter throughout our home due to all the kiddos being home during the day, and I am in need of some deep cleaning housework. So since I am over a month behind the seasonal spring cleaning deadline, I have decided to try a few other options known as: “Summer Spruce Up!”
The Decluttering Process
Out with the old and in with the new is a great concept, but when it comes to my household there are more elements at stake. Sentimental value, monetary investments, and an item’s potential can make categorizing anything as clutter an unbearable task. Plus my daughters are in love with every single possession we own, such as: damaged Tupperware containers, old barbie dolls, shoes that are too small to wear, seeds from apples (I am not kidding), and the list could continue for eternity.
I have found the easiest way to declutter is to start small and go for the bedrooms. Screen time or while my daughters are with friends or grandparents is really my only opportunity to declutter. My children often hoard old cereal boxes that have a cool maze on the back-side or coloring books with only a few unmarked pages. These types of souvenirs are easy to pitch and go a long way in getting me ready to tackle tougher organizational decisions. Throwing away a crinkled art project from three years ago or a torn book mark is an easy verdict and a stepping stone for saying good-bye to bigger items like old toys, clothes that no longer fit, and rarely used sports gear.
According to an article by HGTV, “Marriage counselors and doctors who treat sleep disorders tell us that clean, uncluttered bedrooms make for happy homes and a good night’s rest — but you wouldn’t know it, judging by the clutter in a typical master bedroom, which for many families becomes a second-level storage area.”
For decluttering purposes, HGTV experts go on to suggest that setting a timer and sorting for a specified amount of time will yield the best results, and this is definitely true for an annual chore event or just a typical cleaning routine. It is good to set time limits and avoid getting bogged down in one bedroom for too long.
To kick it up a notch, I have considered rearranging the furniture in one or more bedrooms. By moving a bed and dresser around, lost or forgotten items that have been hiding behind these big furniture pieces can be easily discovered and tossed. Flooring that gets missed by the vacuum, will also see the light of day, while the heavy lifting of bookcases or night stands can offer me better clarity as to what is really needed in one’s bedroom.
Skip the Windows
Washing windows in the spring is a time-honored tradition for some people. It can also take a lot of hours and involve dusty screens and glassware that gets re-smudged within 24 hours. My simple solution is to always skip the window washing (I can almost hear my mom cringing as I write this sentence!), make peace with the always present finger prints, and instead take a look at the drapes. An extra laundry load or two of just the curtains, can add a crisp edge, nice scent, and a strong feeling of achievement to my cleaning vitae.
While the window treatments are washing or at the dry cleaners, I sometimes try to tackle the shades or blinds with a good dusting. This simple task lets the sun shine in my home better and adds a more illuminated context to multiple room spaces (It also one time got a “wow, it’s bright in here” comment from my husband).
Do Less Dishes
My husband does the majority of the dishes at our house, but no matter how we split the household duties there is always work to be done in the kitchen. I have learned that one way to alleviate stress in the kitchen is to do more with less stuff. Just as HGTV mentioned using a timer to declutter bedrooms, this technique can work just as well in a kitchen. Once or twice a year I will grab a box (or two), set the oven timer for 20 minutes, and methodically check the cupboards and drawers for dishes or utensils that have a layer of dust, or worse still boast a price tag sticker from never being used.
The box(es) tend to fill up quickly because no person or household needs more than two roasting pans or two cookie sheets, unless that person is Gordon Ramsey, Emeril Lagasse, or consistently feeding a family of ten or more individuals. It felt so good to downsize to just a few pots and pans, plus I was able to rediscover a signature set of margarita glasses that included a serving pitcher and salt dish. By paring down the kitchen, my family uses less during the cooking process, and ultimately we wash less in terms of dishes, rags, and towels.
There is no denying that deep cleaning takes effort (be it springtime cleaning, or my running behind “Summer Spruce Up”), but by making it manageable, a person may find the comfort and clarity they need to tackle bigger projects. For me having a deep cleaning plan in place that consists of smaller and quicker tasks tends to leave more time for me to enjoy family, warm weather, and my rediscovered margarita glasses.