Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring Cleaning

So, we are about a month into spring. How is your spring cleaning going? Have you even started?

Unfortunately, it isn't one of those things that does itself. Too bad really as spring cleaning can be a lot of work.

When I was a kid, we used to do a really thorough cleaning that including moving all the furniture and washing all the walls. We also sorted the clothes of the seasons to see what still fit or needed mending before being stored, given away or taken out for the upcoming season.

Spring cleaning is one of those necessary evils. It helps to get rid of unnecessary clutter and freshens up the place after the confinement of winter.

The problem is finding the time and the energy to even attempt a half assed attempt at the whole thing. Doing a basic cleaning is relatively easy and done on a regular basis - like when the dust bunnies start building condos under the coffee table.

The hardest thing about any kind of cleaning is actually starting. I find that it is one of those things that you have to be in the mood for. Not easy. To do a proper spring cleaning, you should actually be willing to part with items that no longer fit, are of no use or are broken beyond repair.

That isn’t always easy either– especially if the item is even remotely of sentimental value. You also want to keep things that may come back into fashion or will fit if you lose that extra weight you’ve been trying to shed. Even if we haven’t used something in years, odds are that within weeks or months of parting with something we will need it! It’s just the way that life works!

We all have that area(s) that we use to stash the things we don’t know what else to do with or that we just don’t want to get rid of – yet!

Come on, if we are honest, pretty much all of us have a space like Fibber McGee and Molly’s hall closet...

Some people have a rule that if it isn’t used for a certain amount of time then it either gets thrown out, recycled or given away. The time limit on how long to keep things varies greatly. Some say a couple years, but that seems awfully short to me. I think ten is far more reasonable.

As you age, ten years is even more reasonable as the odds are, by the time you get around to cleaning out that decade, you may not still be around to do it yourself. It might be your family and friends going through your belongings instead. Not always a great scenario for them - but at least you didn’t have to clean it!

Many years ago, I helped some of my family go through my grandma’s home after she moved into an assisted care facility. She wasn’t well enough to help. She wasn’t a pack rat – at least not in the sense of huge amounts of clutter in the home. Hers was more confined to a full, floor to ceiling wall of drawers and cupboards and a couple of storage closets. Years earlier, she used to have a basement full of things too, but a few spring floods in the town where she lived got rid of most of that! Even so, she still had a lot more stuff than any of us realized until we actually started going through it! Grandma had made a list of many of her belongings and stated who had given them to her and who should receive them after she was gone but it sure didn’t cover everything!

Anyways, going through her stuff was a little overwhelming after awhile as we were also sorting it for various family members to take home with them. It got to the point that if you looked at something for more than a few seconds or commented that item looked interesting then there was a chorus of “it’s yours!” from the other family members!

My mom and I still laugh about all those days we spent sorting. The problem is that, mom also has years of stuff saved. The majority of what she has, still has sentimental value to her so she doesn’t want to part with it. Like my grandma, she has also made a list of many of the items and who is to receive them, but that sure isn’t going to cover everything. I’ve already told my sister that when we have to go through mom’s stuff that I’m busy that year!

Okay maybe it isn’t quite that bad, but getting rid of stuff is hard! You have to be in the right frame of mind when you are cleaning. It is one thing to dust and clean but quite another to actually get rid of things.

I don’t live in nearly as big a space as my mom does or as my grandmother did. I don’t have nearly as much as they have had, but I do have items that I don’t need or use anymore.

This past winter, I actually got that oh so rare urge to clean AND throw things out! Granted there was a bit of incentive as there was work being done in my building that required tenants to move things in our apartments for worker access, but I still had the urge to get rid of things! I knew I had to move on this before it disappeared for at least another decade.

Over several weeks, I slowly and methodically went through pretty much every closet, drawer, cupboard, box and file. I did a little bit every day. I found items that I had no idea that I still had. There were things I had no idea why I had even saved in the first place! I made several trips to the garbage and recycling bins. I even had the guys from Good Will come and pick up a big pile of my previously prized possessions.

It felt really good to get rid of all that “Stuff”! Sure there was also a lot that I wasn’t willing to part with yet, but it was a start. My home wasn’t cluttered to the point of not being able to move, it was more behind the doors and such. But it was “my stuff”. It was a LOT of work, but I’m glad I did it!

I was telling a friend about all the cleaning I’d been doing and how much I’d gotten rid of. They said: “so you’re actually a pack rat!”

I said: “No – I just have a lot of stuff...”

Oh my, did I say that?



iasa said...

Once every couple of months, I decide I need to have a big clean. But something always distracts me, ooo look at the kitty.

The last time i tried, I got two drawers and a closet cleaned out. At this rate I should be cleared out 15 years. Lucky for me I don't have a lot of stuff.

dnsyl57 said...

LOL! I know what you mean - it is so easy to talk yourself out of doing those big jobs. What if I'm in the middle of it and run out of energy to finish or what if someone drops by unexpectedly and actaually sees how much stuff I had tucked behind doors and in drawers?

Oh well, I'm done now for another ten years!