spring cleaning, 2012 style

It’s that time of year again, folks. That’s right… spring cleaning (insert dramatic music here – dun, dun, duuuun….).

We’re throwing ourselves in to things full force. After bringing home about ten boxes of stuff from my parents garage a few weeks ago, and subsequently sorting through them to discover all sorts of miscellaneous stuff, it prompted me to expand the cleaning and organizing project a bit more. One might even put it in “frenzy” territory.

Given an extra fifteen hours a week (while C is in preschool), I’ve managed to make pretty good progress on sorting and planning things out. This past weekend was the big push. We pairing down the play room to essentials (although I’m not certain you can really consider toys “essentials”), getting rid of the things we don’t use in there (namely, the tv & tv stand) and moving our office stuff in to the space. This will give us our guest room back, something we’ve missed having. I doubt we’ll have a permanent bed in there, given how infrequently we have guests, but having private quarters with room for an air mattress (and a nice one, at that!) will satisfy our needs. It’s been disappointing to have to put people up various places throughout the house (the playroom, the living room, we even blew up the air mattress in C’s room once – before she was born). Even though our overnight guests are few and far between, we like them to feel comfortable when they stay! We’ve entertained the idea of a futon or pull out sofa, but really, the air mattress is a more comfortable and cheaper (considering we already own one) option anyway.

So, what’s my process for spring cleaning? Let me lay it out for you. When I’m going through closets, boxes, whatnot, I ask myself a few simple questions, which will ultimately determine the fate of the item in question.

1. Have I used it in the past year? AND, will I use it again in the next year?

  • If both are yes, and it’s something I want to save, go no further. Put this one in the “keepers” pile.
  • If either of those questions is no, keep going…

2. Is it special/useful enough to save? (will it bring me value? – be it joy, time savings or money)

  • If no, get rid of it.
  • If yes, keep going…

3. Do I have space to put/store it?

  • If yes, put in “keepers” pile.
  • If no, grab a photo of it for nostalgia purposes and consider if I really need to keep it.

4. Is it really special/useful enough to save?

  • If I’m still pondering this question at this point, I’ll usually put whatever it is in to a “come back to it later” pile. Then, if I find I have done a great job of sorting through other things, and have cleared out enough space to find a home for this item easily, it stays (yay!). BUT, it’s subject to the same scrutiny next year. It’s the worst feeling to come back across something that I ultimately decided to keep a year or two before, only to realize it’s done nothing but sit since I last looked at it.

I have certain nostalgic items that will almost always pass the test. I’ll always find room for my Beatles stuff, a few trinkets from dear friends, photos, special things from family. That’s what should make up the majority of my stored belongings. It should be things that make me smile when I rediscover them. That bring back old memories. Sometimes having a photo of them is enough to do that, but sometimes having that item, whatever it might be, means so much more. Those ones? I will find a place for. The things that are easy to toss are the ones that hold little value to me, the things I feel are wasting space, and should have been cleared out ages ago. Paperwork, old receipts, owners manuals for things I don’t own anymore… you know, junk.

A few more tips:
Books and Magazines
I have, in the past, just given books and magazines to thrift stores. However, I realized today that a much better solution is to donate them to the local public library. That way, you can check them out in the future (ideally), but allow others the joy of reading them, too. It’s a win-win! Old magazines? Same solution. My library sells the excess magazines, and I’m not sure how long they keep the old ones, but they generally have a good supply to both check out and purchase. I have a bag half full waiting to go to them already.

Clothes
Clothes are a touchy subject. I have “favorites” that I have trouble parting with. Even if they don’t fit anymore. Even if they haven’t fit in years. But, I came up with a solution for that during my pregnancy… I had hope that some of my old favorites would eventually fit again, so I got a plastic storage container and labeled it “Too Small”. I actually got two containers – one for tops, one for bottoms. Then, I went through my clothes, still doing the same “Do I love/need/have space for it?” analysis above. Anything that I couldn’t part with went in to the “Too Small” box, with hopes of rekindling that love again in the future. Anything that was lukewarm for me went in to a goodwill bag.

Now that I’m diving back in to those “Too Small” boxes, it’s time to make some “Too Big” boxes, which will (sigh) inevitably be necessary during and after my next pregnancy. I have maternity clothes set aside separately, but being realistic, fitting back into single digit sizes probably won’t happen for a while again after pregnancy. So, not wanting to completely dispose of those comfortable post pregnancy clothes, I’ll stash them away in boxes marked “Too Big” and hope I never have to pull them out. :)

On to other stuff…

We’re streamlining or tupperware collection, moving to a standard set of bpa free gladware and mason jars for food storage. I mainly use glass for things I plan to reheat, plastic for cold stuff. Oh, yeah, the plastic is also nice to have for C, given that we mostly have tile and wood floors. Mason jars are sturdy, but they’re not toddler proof!

I’m always amazed at how much stuff I can stash away in to a tiny space. Nesting one thing into another, then tetrising it all together. For example, when I started pulling out vases from the back of our cabinet, I was shocked at how many we had. It had to be at least a dozen. Tell me, when do you ever need to have a dozen vases on hand? I kept a few favorites and put the rest in the goodwill/craigslist/garage sale pile. Currently that pile takes up nearly half of our two car garage. Insanity.

The next step? Figure out how to get rid of it all. Anyone want to join in on a garage sale?

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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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