Spring Cleaning: You probably either love it or hate it. Either way, it can be a daunting item on your busy to-do list. The hardest part can be knowing where or how to start. If you haven't cleaned or organized in a while (or ever) or recently moved into your home, getting started can be especially hard for even the most intense Type-A personalities. Here are some tips on how to get started, make the most of your time, and stay motivated.
Looking at pictures of clean and organized (although real ones; no one's home looks like a catalog shot) homes can be inspiring and a great motivator. Visualization can also be a strong motivator. For example: That deck space with the great patio furniture could be a great place to hang out, but somehow outdoor junk has been piled around it, the surfaces are really dirty, and the chair cushions need some TLC. So, imagine sitting outside with your family on a cool summer's evening, serving a nice homemade meal with candlelight, and sipping a glass of iced tea or wine as the sun goes down and the kids play. Sometimes all it takes is imagining a space's potential to get up the motivation to make it happen--give it a shot.
Get motivated! Visualize the end goal of a clean, organized home.
Be realistic and make sure you have no interruptions
Set aside some protected time, while baby is napping or a time when the kids can occupy themselves. Remove all distractions, turn off your cell phone, and shut down your computer so you can make the most of your time. Don't plan a weekend-long cleaning marathon, unless you know you can and will get it done. Instead, spread larger projects and tasks (such as cleaning out the closet) across multiple days or weekends to avoid getting burnt out.
Grab a few garbage bags and do a walk through of each room. Gather up stuff to be tossed, such as junk mail, packaging, and other trash. Don't be tempted to start organizing things or to take misplaced items back to their homes. Concentrate on just getting trash out of the way. Lastly, take a quick look in the fridge and toss expired foods or ones that won't get eaten.
Gather up papers, mail, bills, and purge any junk that was missed earlier. Set aside for filing later.
Sort your stuff
For each room, set out 3 boxes or bins: one for items that belong in another room, one for donation, and one for the trash. You can use plain old cardboard boxes or plastic storage bins. Collapsible hampers and bins are also a great way to sort items. Sort accordingly. After you're finished with the first room, take the designated trash bin out to empty it, and put anything for donation in your car. Repeat with the next room.
Get the kids involved and make it fun
Play some music and make cleaning fun. Give children small tasks to do such as putting their toys in bins and make them feel like a part of the process. Consider starting some fun traditions that they will look forward to every year. Older kids can go through their toys to donate what they don't play with, then maybe get a new toy. Have kids put on a "fashion show" when it comes to cleaning out the closets to see what fits and what doesn't anymore.
Divide and conquer
One thing that makes spring cleaning or deep cleaning of any kind seem like a time consuming task is mixing cleaning and organizing. If any room is particularly chaotic, or just has stuff that doesn't have a permanent home, it can be hard to clean around it. Take some bins and throw homeless items inside for organizing later. Putting stuff temporarily in boxes makes it easier to concentrate on clearing off surfaces to clean and easy to move when you're ready to clean the floors.
Make it a goal to clear surfaces and get clutter out of the way before cleaning; even if that means tossing things into a box and organizing it later.
When you are ready to put in some elbow grease, follow the "top to bottom rule". Vacuum cobwebs from the ceilings, dust your ceiling fan, dust surfaces, vacuum the couch, wipe down baseboards, and finally do the floors.
It's easier to organize and put things back in their proper places after all the nitty gritty cleaning is done. Plus, if you don't have one long block of time to clean and organize, you can save organizing for another day or just tackle one box at a time when you feel like it.
Reward yourself each step of the way with little treats. Light your favorite scented candle when you finish a room, have a photo session with your toddler in the playroom after it's cleaned and straightened, do a fun DIY project, or buy a little something special for the house. Start traditions with your kids like baking cookies together or watching a movie after cleaning is done.
Reward yourself with small treats along the way. Fresh flowers for your home are a perfect touch for Spring.
Ready to get started? Here are just a few of our favorite cleaning products and accessories:
Check out some of these articles on Daily Mom to help with spring cleaning.
Title photo credit: thewhimsicalphotographer.com; Real estate photos courtesy of The Art of Making a Baby