If you’re anything like me, you’ve read dozens of blogs, books and articles dedicated to cleaning and organizing over the years. (What’s one more?) There comes a time when the student needs to stop absorbing and start applying.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Bliss At Home’s 5 Steps to the Perfect Linen Closet by Kristin Cadwallader (if you aren’t following her IG, you must!) are a couple of inspirations for this post.
Whenever I read about cleaning and organizing, I take what makes the most sense at the time, pay close attention to tips that I can apply and hope for immediate results. It should be life changing, right? Wrong. Unless you’re ready.
Whether it’s Spring cleaning or an urge to re-evaluate your wardrobe, you’ve got to think of it like a marathon. It’s not going to happen overnight. If it does, the results will be fleeting.
A few things have to come into play.
- State of mind. Are you ready for a
lifestylehabit change? Even if it’s as small as dropping the keys on your tray instead of flopping them on a chair, these types of things make the biggest impact in the long run. The lifestyle part is a wonderful after effect.
- Time. For Spring cleaning, dedicate a few hours/weekend to tackle the steps one by one. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint. For daily cleaning, set aside 30 minutes everyday or even every-other day to divide and conquer your weekly list. This will be huge in making sure you have a weekend left to enjoy!
- Motivation. Are you okay with the mess you’re in now? It really has to hit the tipping point for things to change. In my case, it was about the kids. Think of how your life will improve when you’re done and visualize it everyday. Getting out of the house faster without forgetting anything, coming home to a beautiful neat, inspiring space after a long crazy work day, maintaining a healthy environment for your kids, adding value to your current belongings, and surrounding yourself with your favorite things are just a few.
- Focus inward. If you stop expecting others to help out, because ‘hey! I’m over here breaking my back to clean up your mess’, amazing things will happen. Your negative thoughts and stress related to cleaning will go away and people around you will start changing their habits naturally. No more nagging. Just focus on yourself.
- Commit. You have to be ready to commit to being a different person. A priority shift has to happen and be your new normal.
- Be okay with less than perfect. Once I wrapped my head around the fact that having two kids would be life altering, I accepted that my house wouldn’t be in IG-worthy condition at all times. And guess what? Relieving that pressure from myself has had opposite effects and my house has never been cleaner. Cluttered, yes. But never cleaner. A daily checklist (see below) has helped tremendously.
- If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. Marie Kondo of got rid of a screwdriver that didn’t bring her joy and ended up breaking a ruler to screw something in LOL. I get it, you have to be all-in and over the top for people to take notice. But I’m not getting rid of any tools anytime soon. The point that can be taken is the only things I’ve regretted getting rid of were the ones that brought joy, even if I didn’t fit them anymore now I realize my daughters would someday. So this is really a valuable mindset to have when deciding what to toss. The other caveat is although something doesn’t bring you joy, it might have the potential to bring you joy if you pair it with other complementary items. In this case, the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. So think about it. Does it spark joy? Could it spark joy?
- If you haven’t worn it in 6 months, get rid of it. If you stick to #1, you won’t have to even bother with this one. However, anything else BUT clothes are great for this rule. Ie. hair products, cosmetics that didn’t work out, that piece of furniture you’ve been meaning to re-purpose and that crimping tool for your hair from high school.
- Keeping a daily check list is GOLD. This one here from Kristin Cadwallader is a fantastic reference point. Edit according to your lifestyle. Even if you skip a day, when you concentrate on the items you do check off, it feels like quite an accomplishment.
- Love your stuff. Iron, hand wash as directed, splurge on the best shoe cleaner, dust. It shows and they’ll last longer. Keeping this in mind really helps when shopping for new things as well. Will you love it in 2 years? Is it worth committing to and handling the responsibility that comes along with it?
- Is the fit as flattering as it can be for your body? If not, hem it, taper it, bring it in or lose it.
- Did it serve its purpose? This was a huge takeaway from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. When people would get caught up in getting rid of a piece of clothing that has been left unworn with tags attached, Marie would say it’s not a waste. You haven’t worn it because it doesn’t look as good as it did in the store. Take it as a learning experience – you won’t buy something in this fit again – and it actually serves greater value than what that piece of clothing cost. So don’t get hung up on brand new items. They’ve served their purpose and you’ve learned. Now let go.
- Make room for QUALITY. Get rid of hand-me-down towels and sheets and invest in quality white ones. White is classic clean and can go with any splash of color. They won’t fade either. Save colored towels and linens for guests. You know those clothes (mostly F21) that have been demoted and free giveaway shirts that take up tons of space in your drawers as “house” clothes or pj’s? Toss them and make room for luxurious gorgeous made for the occasion loungewear. You deserve it and you’ll feel fabulous.
Steps to Spring clean:
- Gather all like items in one place. Ie., clothes for one session, cleaning supplies for one session, shoes for one session, etc.
- Does it spark joy or does it serve a purpose? If the answer is YES, straight to the Keep pile.
- Categorize and take inventory
- Make a shopping list of what you might need to organize, ie. boxes, more pant hangers, another shoe rack, etc. If you’re like me, splurging on something like a canvas or nice looking box over a plastic one to store items like sweaters just makes the space more pleasant and adds instant value to the items being stored in them.
- Shop! Amazon has some fantastic deals on hangers, The Container Store has good looking storage bins, Bed Bath Beyond for utensil, shelving storage. You can also flex some creativity and think of non-traditional ways to repurpose furniture and items you already have.
- Organize like with like items and then according to color.
- Re-evaluate the whole process. How many weeks did it take you? What would you do differently? Take note and apply it to next Spring.
Happy cleaning, happy living.
Still not convinced? It might be time to hire a maid.