I always feel a bit antsy during the late winter/early spring time of year. Maybe it’s the lack of vitamin D, but come March I’m a bit down in the dumps and ready for change. It’s like, come on winter – take the hint and get lost already! Your snowflakes aren’t quaint anymore. They’re just annoying.
One thing I’ve found helps dampen the winter doldrums is cleaning and organizing the house. Last month I did an intense session of spring cleaning to make room for our new floors. It was quite the chore but I felt much better after. More positive and optimistic, like a weight had been lifted.
This post is a bit different than what I usually write about around here, but as much as nutritious eating is important for overall wellness, so is keeping a balanced mental state.
If you’re looking for some fresh perspective to help you power through these last few weeks of winter, give good old de-cluttering a try. Here are a few simple steps that you can take to clear away the clutter and brush up your living space in time for spring:
1. Make a checklist of what you want to accomplish room by room. Aim for tasks that are significant but still doable over the course of one weekend, otherwise it could seem daunting and unachievable. To combat boredom, have a few good songs, podcasts or audiobooks ready to play while you clean (I like to stream TED Talks on Netflix).
2. Grab a bag (for trash – things that aren’t in good enough shape to donate) and a cardboard box (for donation – stuff in decent shape that others could use) and walk through each room one by one.
3. Go through clothes, shoes, coats, costume jewelry and accessories and separate out what you don’t wear. Toss unpaired socks, ripped tights and anything else that looks overly worn or damaged.
4. Tidy up your bedside tables, get rid of any unnecessary clutter around the room and put everything else away in drawers or baskets.
5. Inspect your linens (bedding, towels, pillows, etc.) and toss anything that is in questionable shape. Old cloths and tea towels can be turned into rags.
6. Get rid of any expired (or just plain old) products such as meds, creams and lotions, hair products, makeup and other toiletries. My favourite toss was dozens of bottles of nail polish that I had inexplicably kept from my early university days. Yes, that was about a decade ago now, so there’s absolutely no reason why I still had them! My new rule is one or two bottles per season tops.
7. Audit your supply of kitchen tools, dishware, utensils and small appliances and donate what you haven’t used in two years or simply don’t need (this was a very hard one for me but it is possible!
8. If space is an issue, donate any dishes, cups or cutlery that don’t go with your set or that you’ve had for years but don’t match your style anymore.
9. Go through your under-the-sink stash of cleaning supplies to make sure there are no empty bottles or doubles of anything.
10. Tackle that “everything” drawer–you know, that drawer full of little things you don’t know what else to do with–and throw out anything you don’t use regularly or doesn’t have a clear purpose. Gather like items (rubber bands, paper clips, markers, batteries, etc.) in small containers, plastic bags or an organizer tray.
11. Take a look in your kitchen cupboards, pantry and spice rack. Discard any old herbs and spices that are past their prime (they won’t have much flavour after a few months anyway). For other odds and ends like small amounts of pasta, noodles or rice, either make a point of using them up that same week–combining pasta shapes is perfectly fine if your primary goal is to eat the stuff up already!–or toss them.
12. If you’re a magazine fiend like me, you’ll want to organize and save only the mags you will want to reference in the future and recycle the rest. If needed, clip out the part you want to keep and file it away before tossing out the full issue. Organize any books you have lying around and choose ones you won’t read again to donate (the avid reader and literature lover in me I didn’t like this one either. Can you see a pattern here?)
13. Gather any outdated electronics, like old cell phones (wiped of your data), chargers and miscellaneous cables and bring to your nearest electronics recycling station (stores like FutureShop have bins you can put stuff in for free). Same goes for CDs and DVDs. I was tempted to keep some of my old TV box sets and movies in case I wanted to watch them again one day, but as my tech-savvy husband pointed out, I can stream, download, PVR or watch “on demand” just about anything I want at any time at the click of a button. Plus, DVDs aren’t in HD and you can really notice the difference on a big LED screen.
14. If you tend to collect knickknacks, do a sweep of your house and aim to clear away at least half of it. It’s shocking how much little keepsakes can accumulate over the years and really clutter up the home. I’ve always been a collector of little trinkets (this post makes me sound like a hoarder, but I promise I’m not!). During my spring cleaning I eliminated lots of small things that were collecting dust around my house.
15. Put any remaining living room stuff (like spare remotes, video game consoles and controllers, coasters, extra blankets, throw pillows or whatever else you have lying around) into decorative bins, an ottoman or baskets for a more organized look.
16. After you’ve gone from room to room removing clutter, go through that circuit again to actually clean. Dust, wipe down surfaces, vacuum and/or sweep to get everything back in ship shape. Bring the donation boxes and garbage bags by the front door.
17. Do a thrift store and garbage facility run (if needed) to get rid of those donation items and any trash you collected. If ever I feel bad parting with something, whether it’s an appliance I used to use or a vintage bowl I like but don’t need, it’s nice to think that someone out there will get to enjoy it and put it to good use.
Last but not least, bask in the glow of your efforts. Spring will be here in no time!