The Spring Clean Along: Battling Clutter (& a Giveaway)

It would appear that many of us have cleaning on the brain these days. I find it interesting that our nature is to clean and organize once the weather has turned for the better and we should be outside enjoying it.

Why wasn’t I cleaning during the dreary rainy days of January?

For our grandmothers, it was “spring” cleaning because once the weather warmed up, the coal-fired furnace wouldn’t be needed 24/7 and the dirty soot it created would start to subside. It was better for the mothers of yesteryear to wait until Spring before they started cleaning.

I’m not sure what my excuse is.

But, I’m so glad that I’ve got company as I set about tackling some of the trouble areas in our home. Our foyer, school room, and linen closet have been three locations that drift toward disorder, so I am making attempts to change some of that.

Decluttering is half the battle.

Wouldn’t you agree that the accumulation of “stuff” contributes to a large portion of the messes? It does at our house, most definitely. I find that I am constantly moving stuff around. The actual cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, washing) takes very little time. But, it’s the finding a place for everything and putting it all there that takes so much time.

As you approach an area to be cleaned, consider reducing the amount of stuff in that particular area. Chances are you have more than you need, want, or use. Now is the ideal time to lose some excess baggage. Less stuff means less to lose, less to maintain, less to clean.

FishMama says, Amen!

There are some basic rules to decluttering, or dejunking as I like to call it. I didn’t invent these rules. In fact, I borrow heavily from these folks. These rules aren’t biblical mandates or anything. But, they are definitely helpful guidelines to consider if you want to live a simpler, and quite possibly, happier life.

Ready to go to battle?

The Rules of Engagement

Arm yourself with three bags or boxes labelled “Give Away,” “Put Away,” and “Trash.” Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you use it? If you haven’t worn it or used it in the past year, it may not be a necessary player in your life. I recently went through my little boys’ clothes. Seeing as there are two girls after FishBoy5 and no new baby in sight, it seems a little too much to hold onto clothes that we aren’t going to use any time soon. It was difficult to say goodbye, but I feel freed up. I know that it doesn’t make sense to keep things you won’t use.
  • Do you like it? In her e-book, Spring Clean Whenever, Simple Mom Tsh Oxenreider expounds on the wise William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” It’s a wonderful saying to keep in mind. If you don’t like it, then why do you have it?
  • Can someone else benefit from this item instead of it taking up space in my closet? This helps me to part with “stuff.” If I know of a better home for something, I can focus on the blessing rather than the hoarding. The first time this occurred to me, I was passing on a costume dress that I had made. It was an historical piece that I was sentimentally attached to. But, our babysitter really wanted a dress like that. It felt so good to make her happy, much better than any sentiments I might feel if I saw it hanging in the closet.

Behind Closed Doors

This past week, I dejunked the linen closet I told you about last week. I even vlogged it. Yes, yes, I did. If you’d like to see it live and in process, well, here it is:

I ended up with two boxes of stuff to give away, including:

  • hand lotions that I know we won’t use
  • brand new breast milk storage bags
  • clothes the kids have outgrown
  • flannel sheets that we haven’t used since we lived in Kansas City 2 winters ago

It feels great to be able to unload that much stuff. Feels like I lost ten pounds. What feels even better is to go to the linen closet now. All the sheets are folded neatly. Our toiletries are organized and easy to find. The swim diapers are neatly corralled in a basket. It just makes me smile to open the door.

Got cleaning on the radar?

I’m not the only one with cleaning in my sights! The entire blogosphere has exploded with Spring Cleaning! Money Saving MomThe Happy HousewifeThe Finer Things in Life, and Simple Mom have all posted some great ideas about how to get your nest in order by decluttering.

So, what have YOU been doing to get your nest in order?

It’s always so encouraging to read about the progress that other people are making in their own homes. I look at it as inspiration to keep moving forward in my own efforts. Share with us what you’ve done lately to get things ship-shape. Either leave a comment or, if you’ve blogged about it, leave the link to your post below.

Everyone who participates this week will be entered in a giveaway.

Up for grabs? A copy of Don Aslett’s Clutter’s Last Stand. Rather apropos, don’t ya think? Giveaway will be open until Sunday night, April 18th, at 8  pm PST. Winner to be chosen at random.  The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Lisa.

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Comments

  1. I haven’t blogged about it yet. Mostly because I’m too busy staring at the heaps of garbage, dishes and laundry I need to get a handle on. I’m devoted to getting a start this week on spring cleaning, though I doubt I’ll be done with it even by the end of the month let alone the week!

  2. Jennifer Kasprzak says:

    I have been participating in the Money Saving Mom Clear out the clutter challenge
    I posted a link to day one, there is also day 2
    Cant wait for her to post Day 3

  3. Your linen closet looks great! If you can get into the habit of taking an extra 3 seconds every time, whenever you put something back in there, to put it in the correct pile/section, it will stay looking tidy effortlessly!

  4. I really felt behind in getting my “nest” in order, between working and helping others, going out for lunch for birthdays etc! But last week I felt like I really made some headways, cleaned windows, washed curtains, washed cabinets, spring cleaned the kitchen, family room and bathroom. I even cleaned my cabinets in the bathroom. My plans this week are to declutter some closets, but my daughter is also due to have a baby any day, so we’ll see. Plans could change quickly!

  5. We painted a couple weeks ago. This week was some more spring cleaning:-)

  6. I am a “cleanie” by nature, so I think that helps me when I dig in to annual cleaning/purging of our house, but this spring, I am also 6 1/2 to 7 months pregnant, and I am feeling the “nesting” urge big time! This has really ramped up my ambitions for purging and cleaning! The fact that we are looking at a cross country move when this baby is about 6 weeks old may have something to do with that, too… Anyways, I cleaned out and straightened our hall and linen closets this week, packed/purged my 2 year old son’s winter clothes for storage from his closet and dresser, and straightened up our backyard shed with all of its yard implements. I made around $8 at Once Upon a Child trading in some of my son’s winter clothes that I didn’t think I would likely use as hand-me-downs!:) The backyard shed put me into “trouble” with my husband, though, because strictly speaking I have had some complications with this pregnancy and I am not supposed to be lifting more than 20 lbs…so now I have had to promise not to touch anything in the garage, to leave it to him. I guess I can handle that!:)

    I also started a garage sale box this week–it’ll be the first garage sale that my husband and I have ever held. But what better time than right before a cross-country move–even if we will have a newborn!:)

  7. After being out of commission last week due to the entire family being sick, I’m getting back in the saddle again this week by focusing on Fly Lady’s missions: cleaning the bathroom & laundry room. I’m amazed at what is stashed in my laundry room! Also, we are planning a community yard sale for the first Saturday of May, so the unused and unwanted items are being organized. I called one of our local charities this morning to pick up the items that do not sell. One way or another, the excess has to go!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Aimee, great reminder about FlyLady. I don’t know much about her, but the year I really got things in shape was thanks to (a few too many) daily emails from her. ;)

  8. I hear you! I have the emails sent in a daily digest so my Inbox isn’t flooded with several emails a day. I had made progress, but thanks to illness and a couple of other things, lost steam. I’m feeling excited about getting back in the groove. She’s a great lady… a Christian who really really has a heart for overwhelmed mommas, be they stay at home moms or working outside the home mommas.

    Also, I completely agree with you; clutter is my biggest enemy when it comes to housekeeping. There’s just too much stuff!

  9. This is a little off-topic I guess, but just had to say you are so CUTE! :) Thanks for sharing your videos… so fun to see! :)

  10. We are moving this month, so I am “killing 2 birds with one stone” so to speak, packing and spring cleaning all at once. We have been living in temporary housing for almost 3 years, so many of our household items were put away in storage for that time. Now that I’m unpacking those boxes, I’m wondering WHY I kept some of the things that I kept. Many items will be given to a couple at our church that works with a ministry to the Appalachian people. My wonderful hubby said he is going to hire someone to come wash the windows on the outside at the new place (3 story townhouse) so that will be a huge spring cleaning project we don’t have to tackle. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. You are doing a great job on your spring cleaning!

  11. When I saw the beginning of this post I had to smile because I started my spring cleaning right after Christmas.It took me until February to get done.This was the first time I have done this and it will not be the last.We homeschool so of course the children would rather be outside after they complete their lessons instead of in the house and so do I.Of course I did not do our windows yet but I think that should take about a day.I really recommend doing spring cleaning early.

  12. I did not get pictures, but because we are moving next week (we only accepted the offer 2 weeks ago for a job in a different state) I was asked by my sweet husband to please go through the boxes of books and get rid of those we will not use anymore.

    I have 4 huge boxes of books to give to either the Church library or the Friends of the Library. Not counting the stacks I gave to friends!

  13. We cleaned out our garage yesterday! It looks great now. I wish I had taken before pictures so that I could blog about it. *Sigh*

    Aslett’s book is great! I already have a copy, so please don’t send me another one (if I should win).

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I think a duplicate copy would count as clutter. BUT, if you win, I’ll send you next week’s book instead. ;)

  14. Oh oh! If you still have the BF bags, could you send them my way? I’m running low and can’t get more yet… Worth asking.. :) I can send you a SASE ? :)

    The blog was great. Your daughter is so silly, creeping into the video as though you wouldn’t notice. I’m glad to see that oter families font have 50 million extra sheets. Each kiddo has 1 set and we have 2 twin set backups. This keeps my closet bare so I can keep other useful things like games etc

    Allie

  15. Thanks for the inspiration! I just linked my blog re: my closet cleanout. Yikes, it was terrible but I LOVE LOVE LOVE it now. Now I need to tackle THREE more closets…but one at a time, right? Thanks!

  16. Hi! I found a link to your blog over at My Blessed Life and I’m so glad I visited. You have a great site :) I too am currently doing a “Spring clean” of my home and agree that clutter tends to be the biggest issue in our home as well. Thanks for the great tips and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  17. I posted pics of my sons room cleaning and my kitchen. I still plan to hit our bedroom this week and then the playroom…..eghads!

  18. We have huge issues with clutter. My husband and I both come from a family of pack rats. We recently inherited all my father in law’s stuff as well when he passed away. I didn’t want my husband to get rid of everything when he was so emotional. I also used to Ebay things for other people. I no longer have time for that. I have been told by them its okay to donate the leftovers. I do not have time to have a garage sale.

    I have a house full of clutter. My new goal, and I started this today, is each week to take 5 boxes or bags of things we don’t need/won’t use/others can use and bring them to the thrift store to donate. When I get to the point where I can get through more of the clutter, I will call the domestic violence shelter and have them pick up the masses that are left.

    It is hard to get started but I am trying. I know I will feel so much better when we “declutter” and can move around!

  19. kathleen says:

    I started today going with my photos. I have them throw in boxes and a lot still on the computer. Awhile back I list a lot of photos do. To computer crash. So I am working on getting a hard copy of each pic. So now my task is to get them in order. Also get the rest of photos in hard copy. Got so much done today so happy!

  20. Great post! I disagree with you on one thing, though. Decluttering is not half the battle. In my house, it’s at least two-thirds!

  21. I’m so enjoying decluttering along with you. We’re planning to move soon so that’s offered additional motivation to junk most of my house. :-) So far I have 2 large rubbermaid boxes full for a garage sale and have had severl trashcans-full to dump. So far my favorite room has been the bathroom where all closets, shelves and medicinal items have been sorted or tossed out. Yay!

  22. Rochelle says:

    I have a question for you about clutter. My spices are taking over and I have searched for ideas endlessly about how to organize the spice cabinet. I have ALOT of spices that I do use frequently because I love to cook. Can anyone give me ideas about how to organize probably close to 50 spices? (I include items like small baking materials in mmy spice cabinet, too like baking powder, buttermilk powder, cornstarch, etc in my spice cabinet.)

    • @Rochelle,

      I thought I would take a shot at spice organization…that is one area that I feel good about my “system”. We have two magnetic panels that are attached to the wall under the kitchen counter that have small round spice containers with magnets so they stick up on the panel. Each panel holds 12 round spice containers. We have these (http://remodelista.com/products/soho-magnetic-spice-rack), but I found a site where you can make your own here (http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/how-to-make-a-wallmounted-magnetic-spice-rack-great-ideas-from-our-readers-101525). Pick your favorite spices that are your “go-tos” and put them on that wall rack. Next, we have a plastic basket that I bought for $1 that has two sides and and a handle in the middle. In that I put the extra of those often used spices, as well as the less used spices (mustard seeds, cloves, saffron, cream of tartar, etc). That basket goes in the cabinet under the seating area of my kitchen island. Most of the time, I just don’t need it, but know where to find it. Then in my pantry I have a baking shelf – all my flours, sugars, shortning, salts, baking soda/powder, chips, etc. All in one place when I want to bake. That is where you would put cornstarch, etc. That works really well for me and I don’t have to pull out all the spices in cabinet to find the ones I want.

  23. You know, it was a ton easier to declutter a few months ago when my daughter was smaller. Now, she is into everything and wants to turn everything into a toy! We’re progressing…but, slowly. At least there is progress though!

  24. We took at least half the books and stuffed animals from the kids’ rooms boxed them up and put them in the shed. Then we can rotate them when needed and have less clutter.

  25. Kristina says:

    I try to do a little each day. Some days it’s laundry and some days it’s bathroom
    .. I alternate which works well and means that I’m not cleaning all weekend!

  26. I have been decluttering the basement this week. I like sharing because it is always fun to feel like you have company and your not the only one.

  27. I meant to do some Spring Cleaning this week, but just got too busy. Next week, I will dive in deep. I have a big sale on the 1st, so I will start with those items. Then I plan to do windows and closets first. Thanks!

  28. I just wanted to say that I’ve really been enjoying reading your blog. It’s one of the few I make time to read fairly regularly. I don’t even have time to post on my own regularly! (Ok, posting takes a lot more time than reading.) I particularly liked this question “Can someone else benefit from this item instead of it taking up space in my closet?” I think that will really help me and my husband because our house would feel a lot bigger if we just decluttered more!

  29. I haven’t seen the surface of my desk in I don’t know how long. It’s been a dumping ground for all paperwork that seems to make it into my house. I finally got around to cleaning up most of my clutter and I’m happy to say I can see the surface of my desk. Once I finish my filing then I’m off to start on my closet.

  30. One of my goals for this year has been to take a bag of unused stuff to Goodwill or Salvation Army every month. Two bags to Goodwill so far and a 3rd one nearly full, plus passed on a huge garbage bag full of clothes my son doesn’t wear any more to his younger cousin. I’m picking a specific area to organize each month – kitchen linen/junk drawers last month and the bathroom cabinets this month – and that helps, to break it up into more managable pieces. Like it’s been said, though, maintenance is the key!

  31. Loving this post. We live in temporary housing right now. 500 miles from our “real” house, and 900 to our next new town. Decluttering is essential for us now. We’ll be taking a trip home soon to go through the house and get it listed. Living without most of your “stuff” for a few months is a real eye opener. So many things I hung onto that we just don’t need.

  32. My recent de-cluttering project has been to go through my stacks of old magazines and cut out any pages (mostly either recipes or craft ideas) and throw the rest. They take up way too much space, and I’m never going to re-read them.

  33. ive been trying to do everything but keep getting frustrated…i need to focus on one room andget it done before moving on…

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