The sun is shining, the windows are finally cracked open and my winter malaise is lifting. I'm pretty sure that means it's spring cleaning and organizing time! And I gotta say I love it. Well, sort of. I'd rather be Samantha and twinkle my nose to get it all done. But, that not being an option, I love the satisfaction of finishing up with refreshed, clean spaces...and less stuff.
I've been looking for some inspiration to kick my spring tidy into gear. Aliya from Penguin Random House (who just did an office purge in preparation for a move herself) was kind enough to send me a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
I've heard a lot of buzz about this book, by Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo. Let me just say up front that I think we have more stuff in North America than people do in Japan. For one thing, there is no section on toys in the book. Toys, as we North American parents know, are a MAJOR part of the problem of excess stuff in our homes. Kondo does, however, focus on books, clothing and papers, all of which are also clutter issues in my home.
|Ants on the windowsill!|
She talks about her own desire to keep a clean home as a teenager and the difficulties she had getting her family on board. I'm pretty sure my mom would tell you that my siblings and I had zero desire to clean up. I am now in the mom position myself - trying to get the kids involved with the cleaning and organizing and finding it near impossible. Payback is a you-know-what.
Kondo recommends focusing your efforts on "eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time." She believes a thorough clean-up will ensure that you don't become a repeat clutter offender. At first I confess I found her wording frightening. A short span of time? But I'm too tired to do that much work. I'm sure to become overwhelmed and discouraged. Perhaps she doesn't understand how much stuff one North American family can accumulate.
As I read on, though, I discovered that she simply meant that we should make tidying a "special event" rather than a daily chore. In other words, we need to put our houses in order and then maintain them. In fact, Kondo says it takes average of six months for her clients to rid their homes of excess stuff.
Despite a mountain-size portion of stuff in this house, I'm giving myself four months. Why the tighter schedule? That brings us to the end of summer - how great would it be to start a fresh school year feeling that our home is cleaner, more functional and all around easier to live in? I haven't finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up yet, but I'll be reading that and some other books as I go along for inspiration. In the meantime, I'm keeping front of mind Kondo's criterion for selecting which items to keep - Does it spark joy? If an item isn't useful and it doesn't give me pleasure, off it goes!
Baby Steps - The Kitchen Windowsill
The first step in my spring/summer purge was ridding my kitchen windowsill of various vintage dishes. That one came about suddenly and out of necessity when I woke up to find the windowsill covered with ants one day. It sort of makes it difficult to rid a space of ants if there are all sorts of things for them to crawl on. I'm aiming to keep the windowsill and the counter as clutter-free as possible. I guess this is sort of cheating, but I boxed those little dishes up for now. I'm going to put them with all the other dishes that don't have a home and tackle them together later. Kondo recommends collecting all like items in one spot before attempting to purge any category. For example, when purging clothing, ensure you collect it from all areas of the house, including front hall closets and storage bins before beginning.
My Closet - The Jeans
My closet is up next - it's not in the worst condition it's ever been in. (There were points in the past when it was so cluttered I couldn't step into it.) That will make it much easier to head straight to purging unneeded clothing. I am starting with jeans. I have held onto really old pairs of jeans like they have some sort of sentimental value. I also have a couple of never-worn pairs that I ordered off the Internet and didn't return when they turned out to be too small. I have so many pairs, but I would say I only wear about five of them. Out they must go - off to Goodwill. Then I think I'll turn to tops. Too-short tops, too-tight tops, too-long tops and tops I'm simply tired of - I've got them all taking up valuable closet space at the moment.
My Magazine Addiction
This particular clean-up has been going on all winter actually. I love magazines with a passion (but hey, I studied magazine journalism so it makes sense right?). I have been phasing out my magazine subscriptions - O, The Oprah Magazine was the last one to go - and I am starting to recycle all of the many back issues I have kept for years. I have successfully resisted the urge to browse through each and every copy before tossing them. I now read most magazines on my iPad and, while I do miss the glossy physical copies, I am happier with fewer piles of magazines around.
Although my 4-Month Purge is in the early stages, I'm confident I'll be able to stay on track - I have you to keep me accountable. I'll be reporting back again when I have some progress to show you. I'm snapping pics on my cellphone as I go. I figure hauling out the DSLR could be a deterrent to getting things done. I have several areas that I will need to focus on in my home - the dining room table, the fruit cellar, a couple of closets in the basement, the laundry room, the garage, my bedroom closet, my office and, the biggest hurdle of all, our basement storage room. I'll also be attempting to unclutter my email in-boxes and my computer and portable hard drives as well. I think that will be an important step in removing "mental clutter."
Could your home do with a spring purge?