Spring Cleaning are two words that inspire dread like no others. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the clutter in your closet. Or perhaps you can’t bear to rid yourself of items that tug at your heartstrings, whether it’s your great-aunt Lydia’s linens or your son’s baby clothes—even though he’s college-age and has long since outgrown those precious little jumpers! Here are seven spring cleaning tips for the whole family.
1. Take A Deep Breath
You can do this—and spring is the perfect time to get your life in order. “We use spring as a timeframe for organizing because we can throw open our windows and let in the good, purifying air,” says Jeni Aron, a Professional Organizer based in New York. “Spring cleaning is a valuable way to enter into a new stage of the year.” You can’t really be your best self if you know your living space is a disaster area, so take a deep breath, set some time aside, and commit to making your home a beautiful place to live, eat, work, and love in!
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2. Make Time
You may be worried that your spring cleaning will take all spring. And with that beautiful weather outside, wouldn’t your time be better spent outdoors instead of inside? Luckily, you can do both. Jeni Aron works with her clients in three hour increments. “That way we get a bunch done but it’s not overkill,” she explains. Put aside three hours of concentrated cleaning and decluttering with no distractions (no phone calls, Internet, or television) and stick to it. That way your precious time off won’t be spent entirely indoors and you won’t suffer from burnout.
3. Make It A Family Affair
Spring cleaning and organizing isn’t just mami’s job. The whole family benefits from it, and the whole family needs to participate, too. “Make it a fun project for your family where everyone is responsible for their own belongings and decisions,” advises Aron. Stick to the three hour rule, and make sure the kids don’t sneak in screen time or other distractions while they deal with their own clutter. But by all means, put on some music and make it a festive occasion—which will also make it much more likely to become a rewarding family tradition.
4. Say Goodbye To Sentimentality
This is one of the trickier spring cleaning tips. It can be tremendously difficult to throw away items that come with precious memories. This can be particularly difficult if the memories in question are about a loved one who is no longer with you. But if clutter is dominating your household—and your life—then you need to prioritize your family’s wellness and figure out a different way of preserving these memories. “Just remember that honoring someone you love should not come at the cost of your own well-being,” says Aron. “They wouldn’t want that for you.” Aron suggests photographing items before getting rid of them or rotating them with other family members (for example, letting your brother use your mother’s china). Compromise can also come into play: hold on to one of Abuela’s Hummel figures instead of the whole collection.
5. Just Say “NO” To Storage Space
It seems sensible enough—taking the clutter that’s consuming your life and sticking it far away into a storage space, right? Wrong. “Storage is expensive and it’s an ‘out of sight out of mind’ situation,” warns Aron. “It’s a holding pattern for making decisions and it’ll cost you in the long run.” By sticking your stuff in storage, you’re not really dealing with the problem of clutter, you’re just shoving it on the back burner. You also need to set an example for your kids by teaching them how to deal with the issue. By working to really conquer clutter, your family will benefit immediately and in the long run, too.
6. Get Help
If you can’t seem to make progress with your spring cleaning because you’re truly overwhelmed or simply too busy for the task, seek help from a professional. This can be in the form of a Professional Organizer (ask friends or colleagues for recommendations), or help that’s available online (Jeni Aron offers tips on Twitter @cluttercowgirl).
7. Maintenance Is Key
So you’ve put aside time, worked hard as a family, and maybe even brought in an expert—and you’ve conquered your clutter and completed a successful spring cleaning. It should be a done deal, but it’s not. Maintenance is key to keeping your home clutter-free. Making sure that you—and your family—stays up-to-date with keeping things clean is just as important as that one big spring cleaning. “Systems only work when they are up-to-date and fit our life in the present moment,” says Aron. “When our lifestyle changes, our systems have to change with it.”