Spring Cleaning Challenge

Spring is officially upon us! Which means that Spring Cleaning shall commence… ish. It takes a lot these days for me to gear up for a heavy-duty deep cleaning. Since our living quarters expanded from a 2-bedroom apartment to a 4-bedroom/3-bath house last year, I find myself approaching cleaning from a much more piecemeal perspective. One bathroom at a time is good. One clean bathroom plus vacuuming one level is great. And that’s about where I run out of time. With a clamoring 1-year-old and a never-ending list of work projects (not complaining on either fronts, just prioritizing), cleaning usually gets shoved to the end of the line.

And I’m really OK with that. I want my home to be clean(ish) and (mostly) presentable, but I don’t need it to look like a magazine. Although sometimes I daydream about living in a home that looks like a Pottery Bar catalog, I’d rather my guests know that our home is lived in. But there are definitely ways to make keeping it clean/presentable a little easier on a daily basis. Enter: The De-Clutter Challenge. I’m not a neat-freak, by any means, so clutter does tend to accumulate. Usually papers, magazines, bits of marketing collateral that I want to save for future reference… things that, in this digital age, don’t really need to be retained. I do have a sentimental streak and find that some things are harder to part with than others. But, at the end of the day, if it’s not getting used or making my life easier… it probably needs to go.

So, here’s my challenge: take the next 30 days to de-clutter our house, one room at a time. Find a place for everything and put everything in its place. I’ve put together an outline of the rooms/sections of our home that will be addressed. Some portions of the house will definitely take longer (read: kitchen), so although the list only includes 20 items, I’m pretty sure it will take me the full 30 days. I’ve actually already started the challenge (I’m about 5 days in) and have made quick work of some of the smaller areas of our home. Here are some guidelines I’m giving myself for the challenge…

1. Start small.

Work in small, manageable sections and stop when you feel overwhelmed. I usually only have 20-30 minutes to spare at any given time, so it may take a day or two to finish certain rooms on my list (read: Kitchen! when did we get so many random cooking utensils?)

2. Be prepared (see graphic above)

For each room, have a trash bag handy as well as a basket or box for items that need to be sold/donated, sorted, or placed in another location. Part of the de-cluttering process involves determined the purpose/use of an object and assigning it a “home” within your house. Once you’ve decided where that item should live, you just have to make sure it stays there or gets returned after each use (remember: a place for everything and everything in its place). And don’t rule out the possibility of selling an item you don’t use! Just because it doesn’t fit into your life, doesn’t mean it has to be donated. You might be able to make a little $$ on this de-cluttering process.

3. When in doubt: take a photo, then toss it.

This primarily refers to items that I may feel sentimental about. I used this technique a little bit when we were moving out of our Chicago apartment. I find a stash of childhood toys with vivid memories which I had obviously kept for sentimental value. But I didn’t use them, they were dirty and probably wouldn’t get used by my children… so I snapped some photos on my iPhone and bid them a fond farewell. This way, the memories live on but the clutter does not. Maybe one of these days I’ll post some of these photos… there may have been an old My Little Pony involved. 😉

I’v create a custom list to reference for de-cluttering my own home (sorted by various rooms), but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, check out this 30-day list from PopSugar. So far, I’ve been pretty good about taking on a single room per day…once I get to the kitchen/pantry/refrigerator it might be a full weekend project. I’m actually enjoying the process and looking forward to having a cleaner, clutter-free home once it’s done!

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