It’s March and that means one thing: SPRING CLEANING.
Now if you are like most people those two words send shivers up the spine far worse than anything our recent mild winter produced. You may be thinking of this mountain of work and indeed depending on your household, spring cleaning may involve anything from simply tidying every room (including scrubbing the shower, toilet, and every sink in the home) to something much more drastic.
For me, spring cleaning is the first of two yearly household purges where I look through everything in every cupboard and closet and decide what to keep and what to throw out or donate. It’s been this way for the last two years as I anticipate moving overseas. Because let’s face it: the more stuff you have, the more it costs to move it. When it comes to a long distance move, that becomes prohibitively expensive!
So here’s the standard I’ve adopted:
- Anything expired gets tossed. Some people argue that food, medicine, and cosmetics are still good past expiration dates. I refuse to risk that. My health is worth more than whatever the replacement cost is. To help prevent food loss implement better storage plans where fresher items are at the back and older items are at the front of your shelves and cupboards.
- Anything that is not worn or enjoyed at least ten minutes straight in the last two years gets tossed, donated, or downsized. For example chinaware. Keep only the number of place settings used in the last two to five years. A family of four which rarely entertains using chinaware does NOT need twelve place settings. Purge it to one to two place settings above the number of people who live in hour household and/or you entertain regularly. Likewise if you sew or enjoy crafts, go through your supplies and only keep the items or colours you actually use on a regular basis. Remember that unused supplies often degrade with time. Keep your stash fresh!
- Throw out or recycle any electronics or small household appliances that no longer work — including holiday lights.
- Digitize vital records (birth certificates, passports, etc.) and keep copies in a safe place. Mementos should also be digitally copied so you can preserve them against loss (storms, moving, etc.).
Most of the things you think you need and cherish you actually DON’T. Does it really matter what your daughter got on a test in the third grade? Do you really care how much money you spent on a pair of eyeglasses in 1992? These sorts of things seem important when you file them away, but lose most of their importance as time goes on. Don’t be afraid to take a hard look at your stuff. For example, I used to sew. I don’t now and I don’t particularly enjoy it; it was my mother’s thing and not mine. So I recently gave away my overlock machine. I don’t need it and it was taking up a lot of precious space while being too heavy to move easily. Same with fabric. If you don’t have a project for it, either designate it to a project with a set deadline for completion or get rid of it.
Remember that space is expensive in both time and money. Take this opportunity to purge your home of what you do not need. You’ll be happier, healthier, more organized, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of your home.