Spring is my favorite time of year. The flowers are in bloom, the grass is turning green, and the weather is just perfect to clean up and clean out!
By nature, I am a very clean and organized person. I never leave my bedroom without first making my bed, my counters in the bathroom have to be wiped down and I can’t start breakfast in a dirty kitchen. I am a little OCD. In the first several years of our marriage, I would clean up and clean out twice a year. I would just throw out everything we had not used in six months, everything! Needless to say, my husband and kids weren’t too fond of that method. On the other hand, I never considered myself to be a hoarder either; apparently my family says that when it comes to event supplies and decor, I am a hoarder. I am embarrassed to say, I have a whole shed full of my event supplies and decor- its not even seasonal decor; that’s what the attic is for! So, you can imagine the amount of stuff we’ve collected over the past 23 years of marriage.
My first real clean up and clean out came after our decision to move to Texas. I had exactly eight months to get it together. I had to fit our families entire life into a 27 ft. semi trailer. WHAT?? My shed was half of that!! I mean, come on, how do you fit a 3,000 sq.ft. house and a shed into a 27 ft. trailer?? Apparently, very carefully! When Spring rolled around, I got the whole family together and we wore our dingiest clothes and tore it up. There was stuff e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e! I learned a lot from that day- most importantly, what not to do! Since we got nowhere, I decide I needed to come up with a method that would work for me and try again.
For weeks, I scoured the internet and picked my friends’ brains and came up with a plan that worked for me. Here are some things I learned in my quest to be more balanced in my clean up and clean out approach. If this is your first time, take it easy. Don’t be too ambitious. It will only frustrate you. I urge you to find what works for you and your family. Some of the articles I read, put me into bondage rather then set me free. I hope you will find freedom in my suggestions. With that being said, let’s get started!
Before the big day
Make a plan. To accomplish what you want, your family should not only know what they are doing, but how and why. What is your goal of this clean up and clean out? Write it out on your plan so everyone can see. My husband needs to know why, how long and what exactly what he is going to be doing; it helps him to cope with the day. So if your family needs that, help them and you out and show them exactly what needs to be done and how long you expect to take on each area.
Keep your plan doable. You probably have a good 6-8 hours to accomplish what is on your plan. If you are one who likes to do it over the whole weekend, more power to you. That means you can spread it out over two days rather than one. I get distracted and end up throwing stuff in places it doesn’t belong and never really finish; so I am a one-day-er.
So what does a plan look like? Answer these main questions: Decide what is important- Clear the clutter, a good deep clean, organizing areas, reorganizing areas or selling stuff? The list can go on and on. How much time are you going to devote to each area?
2017 Goal: I would like everything uniformed into the round trip totes and all totes labeled, on shelves and easily accessible. If we have not used it in a year, we need to sell or donate. I would like only tools, and home improvement items in the garage. All other items stored in the shed, not the attic.
Remove all trash. Reorganize round trip totes in shed and attic. Move items from cardboard boxes to round trip totes or appropriate color coded boxes -label. Downsize Christmas decor. Purge duplicate items. Gather items for sale.
Order of importance:
Garage 2 hrs.
Attic 1 hr.
Shed 2 hrs.
Kitchen 2 hrs.
Personal spaces 1 hr.
You will notice I do not have deep cleaning on my list. That is because I like to do that the following day or weekend when everything is in its place. It’s just a personal preference.
Make a List. I am a list girl. I love to make detailed lists. They help me keep focused and not get distracted. After your plan, your lists are the next important thing when getting ready to clean up and clean out. List in detail what exactly needs to be done in that particular area. I like to have them on separate sheets of paper, taped up in the area that they belong for me to check off as I go.
Rolling tool chest purged and trash thrown out.
Wood bin organized:
All wood smaller than 2 ft.,throw out.
Sort wood according to size and material.
All round trip totes returned to shelving and labeled accordingly.
Refrigerator cleaned out and interior cleaned.
Blow off all Power tool stations, floors and shelving.
Keep up with your daily duties. Do yourself a favor: In the days leading up to your big day, don’t neglect the daily duties. The tendency is to just do it all in one day. Don’t make that mistake. The kitchen, laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, taking out the trash etc. will just add time to the day. You don’t have to deep clean, just maintain your daily duties. It just makes it much easier if all you are doing that day is making your bed and putting away a couple of things you took out the night before.
Get your family involved. Ask them what area they want to tackle. My husband prefers the garage and attic, he is very familiar and knows what can stay and what goes, whereas I can deal with the shed and kitchen. Those are my areas I deal with all the time. The kids will typically tackle the smaller areas like the closets and bathrooms so they can see results in smaller time frames and not get distracted. When everyone is done in their area, they move to the next area on their list or help another family member.
Getting started. Start early, we typically start at 8 am. Sit down together as a family and have a good healthy breakfast, lunch might come later and you want enough fuel to keep you moving. Make sure you have a water bottle with you at all times. You want to stay hydrated.
Where to start? People typically start with bedrooms and personal spaces- don’t make that mistake. Stick to your plan. What is your order of importance? People who start with clothes closets or offices inevitably get caught up with trying clothes on or you look at every piece of paper on your desk and now they have spent half the day on that personal space. Start wherever your priority is. In our case its our garage. Our family has teenagers and they are more then capable of clearing an area on their own, of course there is always questions that come up, but if you detailed your plan out they will know exactly what to keep, sell or donate. Like I said earlier, when they were younger, I would have them start in the closets and bathrooms.
Deciding what to Keep, Sell or Donate. The most common question I get when sharing my methods is how will you know rather to keep, sell or donate items?
I ask myself these 8 questions:
Should I KEEP this item…
Have I used it in the last 6 month? If it is seasonal, did I use it during the last season? Is this sentimental*? Is this an heirloom? If I needed to buy this again, would it be more then $50 to by again?
If the answers are no, then you need to decide to sell or donate.
*Sometimes everything can become sentimental and you will never throw anything out. Ask other family members and get a consensus. And be okay with it if they don’t agree.
Which brings us to the next group of questions:
Is it rare or a collectors item? Can I get $20 for this? Is it worth the trouble to post, and wait for a buyer?
If the answers are yes, up for sell it goes.
Craigslist and Facebook Swap and Shop Groups are always good places to post your unwanted goods. East Texas also has two awesome consignment sales, CCC Sale twice a year (April and September) and Just Between Friends (March and August). The key with that is, you need to be willing to keep those items in a corner where they await pickup or the next sale. A general rule of thumb: if you haven’t gotten rid of them within a week, it’s donation time- except if you are waiting for the next sale.
Everything else gets donated.
When choosing a donation center, think before you donate. I personally donate to a local organization, Hangers for Hope.
Finishing your day. Well, hopefully you completed your lists and accomplished your plan and have a clean and organized home. I know after a hard days work, no one in our family really wants to cook. We go out for dinner and celebrate. So take your family out for a fun dinner and if your up for it, maybe a movie. If you have another day ahead of you, that’s okay. Clean up and go out too.
I hope this was helpful to you. I love administration, organization, cleaning up and cleaning out; they are passions of mine. I understand if all this can be overwhelming. Take your time; I encourage you to take what works for you and your family and make your own plan. It doesn’t hurt to try different methods or even mix and match. I am always trying to improve on my method. I would love to hear yours. Who knows? You could have exactly what I am looking for.
Please feel free to comment with your clean up and clean out days plans.
In case you were wondering how I got all of our belongings into the moving trailer, I didn’t. My dining room chairs didn’t make the move, but my entire party shed did! Priorities people.