Monday, March 21, 2011

Marvelous Monday: Spring (cleaning) Fever

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know about or have experienced the Nesting Phase. For many, in some trimester or another, you get a sudden urge to clean anything and everything. Baseboards? Bathrooms? Cabinets? Sky is the limit to your Cinderella cleaning abilities. Scrub, scour and straighten!

Well I have given birth to two sons now ages four and almost 2 and the Nesting Phase never even remotely hit me. Quite the opposite. I want to hang on to everything for sentimental reasons. I also stockpile groceries and household items through good sales and careful couponing. I’m not a hoarder, so don’t put in an application for a TLC show for me anytime soon, but cleaning and straightening and being a neat freak just aren’t part of my vocabulary.

I was recently talking to a good friend who was putting her house on the market. When selling a house, you have to give the appearance of lots of space by de-cluttering and having your home look pristine and perfect. She told me that she, like me, was very sentimental in wanting to hang on to things, but once she started de-cluttering, it was actually liberating. Liberating? Seriously? I can’t part with the 87 thousand crafts my kids bring home from school, the cork from the bottle of champagne at my wedding – it was our first toast! I can’t get rid of the 47 pair of Christmas socks I never wear (nevermind that I only wear socks about 3 days out of the whole year). I can’t get rid of the mountain of stuffed animals sitting in a garbage bag in storage. I just can’t! What if, when my sons are grown and married, have kids of their own and I have nothing for them to play with? And what about grandma’s sewing machine that is broken and I’m hanging onto it even though I can’t sew more than a button on a shirt? I have to keep it, right? Let’s also not forget the 3 pounds of peppermints I have had in the pantry since my 30th birthday. Surely there is a dessert needing this lifetime supply that will pop up soon? That was several years ago…hmmm.

Well, I told my hubby about this liberation and the Nesting Phase hit him (and we are not pregnant). I woke up Saturday morning to find our linen closet bare and the contents on the floor in stacks in piles. He told me it needed to be done and he didn’t want to throw anything away without asking me first (bless him!). So I began helping him sort – we didn’t need the 15 receiving blankets, Mexican themed table cloth (don’t ask), and variety of other crazy linens. So some went to a ministry involving babies, some went to my mom (she loved the raw silk pillow covers) and the rest went to Goodwill (Hello, tax write-off! Be sure to get a receipt).

I was resistant at first, but once I started finding uses for the items, I began to really get into the spirit of de-cluttering. I don’t always want to give everything to Goodwill (gasp if you wish), it helps me to put a face to the item I need to get rid of. I don’t have time to put together a yard sale right now and so finding others, or specific ministries that could benefit got me charged up. Suddenly, I was expanding past the linen closet to my bedroom, then the basement. I was feeling LIBERATED! Now I know exactly what my friend was talking about. As for the kids crafts, some will definitely go in the ‘mementos’ box, but others will be photographed and take up less space as a picture for the memory than the 2 foot robot decorated with spare parts and my old clip-on earrings.

I am getting rid of things I didn’t want or need, de-cluttering and here’s a fun twist…making a bit of money? There were a few items that I decided to try to put on - I told my husband that we’d post them for one week and if nothing sold, I’d call for a large trash pickup or donate them to charity. Well within 20 minutes of posting one item, I had an email and made a sale! I’m still waiting on the second posting, but wow! I can clean, make money and feel liberated all at once. This is a great feeling.

As I compared notes with others, a few helpful de-cluttering suggestions below might help give you the kick in the pants that I needed:

- Too many toys? Put half in storage bins in the attic and rotate them once or twice a year so the kids don’t tire of them.
- Lots of toiletries? Put some in shoe boxes, neatly stacked and categorized so it doesn’t look like Walgreens or CVS blew up under your sink.
- Closet so stuffed you don’t know what you’ve got? Pull things out of season and put them in bins out of site…or better yet, force yourself to give some clothes AWAY! You could bless someone else with those cute capris and skirts or tanks or dresses that don't fit or you haven't worn in ages.
- Memento madness? If you are extremely sentimental but don’t have tons of space like me, consider taking pictures of your child holding that priceless artwork – the bluebird made out of construction paper sitting in the Styrofoam cup nest will look even better in a photo of your cutie pie holding it in the years to come. Pitch the craft when you’ve admired it for awhile and make room for the new stuff…they are in school for 12+ years…
- Kids clothes…look into area consignment sales or shops to get a return (albeit small) on your investment, or find friends with children younger / smaller than yours who could use the gently used clothes. I’m always heartbroken when my son grows out of something and has only worn it twice. I don’t need to hang onto it though!
- Pantry crammed beyond recognition? Face it, you landed a few amazing sales and really won’t use the 47 packets of steak seasoning, Tabasco sauce or black eyed peas. There are food banks that would welcome these items! Be realistic in what you will and won’t use and donate accordingly.

So now all I have to do is figure out what to do with 3 pounds of mints and some Christmas socks. Any takers?


Nitheesh said...

What an exciting experience!/Hilarious! Delightful! True!/wonderful stuff! thank you!

Kids Clothes

brooke b said...

this made me laugh out loud. i too am insanely sentimental and keep so much. i do love those freeing moments/afternoons {maybe a couple of times a year?} of a clean sweep too. i'm sure mike wishes i'd have them more often. haha

AmyA said...

If you have some extra dollars, it is well worth it to go to IKEA (or Target or the dollar store) and get some storage boxes, crates, or bins to organize certain areas. I took a few canvas bins and filled them with lots of things that were in the top of my son't closet (after purging LOTS, of course!). I lined them up neatly and now it's a dispay of colorful bins instead of a jumble of . . . stuff. I did this in several closets (think purses, toiletries, etc.) and it is so much better to look at!
If you don't have extra money to spend, shoe boxes work great, like you mentioned. It truly is a freeing feeling! Thanks for posting!

Ashlie Miller said...

haha....I think we were cut from the same fabric ;-) De-cluttering is a goal, but not something I like doing. Too much sentimentality in this area, too. As for your socks? OCC shoebox gifts maybe (seeing they're like new!) ;-D Mints? Oh, wow. I think there are recipes for smashing them up into powder for Christmas candy bark or something like that. But who really wants THAT much of it?!