Happy Spring! Along with March’s warm up, April’s showers, and May’s blooming flowers, comes “spring cleaning”. A favorite American past time, well for me at least! For those who have put off de-cluttering and organizing all year, this is usually the time they start. Soon we will see yard and garage sale signs popping up everywhere. So, in anticipation of that, I have put together a list of 9 simple organizing and tidying tips. These are not just once in a moment tips, these are small changes you can make now that can help you to reduce the clutter, stay organized and minimize your housework on an ongoing basis!
1) Make your bed every morning. And teach your kids to as well. Ever since I can remember, my mom had us make our bed as soon as we got up in the morning, (she even taught us to do “hospital corners”, but I have to admit, mine are not that great). Now as an adult I can't leave the room with out it being done. This small act sets the tone for your day as organized and efficient and will be ingrained in your children’s routine as well. Then when you retire to your bedroom at the end of the day, you will be welcomed by the sight; helping you to feel relaxed and calm.
2) Take a few minutes each day to straighten up. This can be extended to your nightstand, couch pillows, coffee table and kitchen table after using them. This may sound seems silly, but think about how much of your cleaning housework is actually tidying up first. And if you teach your kids to mind a few of their personal spaces in the same way they must clean up their toys, they and you will feel less overwhelmed at the number “chores” to do.
3) Have a clear, defined, uncluttered entry space. If you have a mudroom or foyer and kids, set up a backpack and shoe station. At the very least you want a small entry table with a bowl/plate/basket for keys, purses and wallets. Maybe even a separate container or drawer for mail. If you don’t have a coat closet, you may want to put hooks on the wall, but try not to overwhelm the space. Just as your bed sets the tone for your day, this sets the tone for your return home and guests’ arrival. A space cluttered with everything and anything dropped at the door will invoke disarray and stress (and probably raise your blood pressure as your walk in the door), while a clean space will give you a sense of welcoming calm. Think of the welcome desk as your favorite hotel - a nice flower, bowl of candy maybe, not much else.
4) Break down cleaning into manageable tasks. Similarly to straightening up, the goal here is to reduce your stress. Maybe you clean the bathroom one day, then the kitchen another. Or even smaller; tackle the toilets one day, the shower/bathtub another. If you have a one story, cleaning like items is very efficient too. I often vacuum one day because I don’t want to have to start and stop in each room while I am doing other things. What ever way you decide is best for you, by breaking up your cleaning tasks, cleaning will seem less overwhelming. Therefore you will be more likely to complete them instead of waiting to schedule a whole house deep clean day.
5) Plan out your meals. Many of my friends with children plan out their weekly meals so that they can buy the ingredients on the weekend or when the kids are at school in order to avoid the terrible after school question, "Mom/ Dad what's for dinner?!" My friends that follow paleo/keto/whole30 or other eating routines plan out their meals to make sure they always have the right ingredients and are not tempted by ordering out or grabbing pre made meals. But what about the rest of us that don’t have to plan? Well I plan too. Because even if I'm only making dinner for one or two, life is so much easier when the ingredients for pot roast are all in your fridge and that's on the schedule for Monday night. I don't have to think. I just chop and throw it all in the pot. Sure if Tuesday comes and we want to go out for Thai instead of having what’s on the schedule, we can. But it’s our choice. And when we are tired from work, the last thing we want to do is open the fridge and be creative. Bottom line, meal planning is for everyone!
6) Organize your pantry, cabinets and refrigerator by like item in easy to distinguish containers and on different sehlves or drawers. Marie Kondo says that “You should be able to tell at a glance where everything is” This avoids over or under buying of items. My freezer has protein (meat and fish) on one shelf, veggies and fruit on another, and misc (frozen bagels and ice cream on another). My pantry has different shelves for rice and pasta, canned food, oatmeal and pancake flour, and protein powder and bars for my workouts. That way at any given time I know what I do or don’t have and I am not over stocking on chicken or marinara sauce. The same goes for your cleaning supplies, hair supplies, makeup, etc. When it's time to clean you don’t want to find out you have 4 bottles of Tilex but not windex.
7) Keep a notepad in your most frequented /convenient space. For me, there’s a magnet notepad on my refrigerator. Every time I think of a grocery item, cleaning supply or other reminder, I write it down on that paper. If there’s a recipe I want to try, i check the ingredients and my pantry and write down what I don’t have. Then when it comes time to do our errands I have my whole list ready to go and with my organized shelves, I can take a quick look to see if there’s anything else I am low on. This avoid scrambling to remember what I want while standing in the middle of the produce section, or worse getting home having forgot the potatoes for shepherds pie.
8) Get e-statements for as many documents as you can. These days 80% of filed papers are never looked at again, so why bother getting them and filing them? If you don’t file them, then there really is no point to wasting the paper and mailing. By receiving statements online, they are in your inbox waiting and available to review, print out, etc. and you can always request pdf. or hard copy if you need to.
Last but not least – 9) Address things as they come – This is my summary statement. In order to prevent stress and the sense of overwhelming tasks, don’t let them pile up. Whether it’s the laundry, cleaning, groceries, shredding mail, home repairs, sewing the button back onto that shirt, for one client it was just breaking down delivery boxes , if you take half an hour to do it now, you will feel better than the constant feeling that its hanging over your head until its 5 hours worth of work.
I hope these tips are helpful and that you can apply them to your life. Next blog will review some of my favorite items that can help you get and stay organized! But if you feel like you don’t know where to start and it is all too overwhelming, that's OK. Give me a call or email and I would be happy to help you start or finish down the road to a more organized, relaxed, and healthy home.