|Courtesy of Jon Trefzger|
Now, you can do deep cleaning and reorganization like your mother and grandmother did, or you can use this opportunity to do several other great things by decluttering.
- Learn about yourself. Cleaning and rearranging may cause you to look at each of your possessions, but they don't require that you evaluate them, especially if you're just putting them in boxes and closing the lids. In contrast, actually removing stuff from your home forces you to decide what is truly important to you.
- Control your urge to shop. A fresh start is wonderful, but do you really need to greet the new season with a trip to the big box décor store? Maybe paring down will provide the lighter look you crave.
- Benefit others. The possessions you rarely use sit on shelves or tables, or in a garage or closet or drawer, gathering dust. Before you buy even one more storage container, consider donating your excess.
- Inspire gratitude. Cleaning and organizing provide a temporary lift to your mood. They tidy a room, but rarely lead to a new outlook on life. You may still feel your house is too small and your income too little. But clutter is evidence that you have more than you need. When you start to remove excess possessions, you realize how prosperous you actually are.
Decluttering is an essential step on the road to satisfaction and self-discovery.
As you decide what to keep and what to release, you can be thankful for, yet move on from, past versions of yourself (the mother of young children, for example, or the college athlete). You can begin to see who you are now.
You decide what is right for you. Your uncluttered home will welcome you, your family, and guests. It will hold some treasured items and memories, but nothing bought on a whim, or just to fill an empty space, or merely because it was trendy or on sale. It will be simple, but beautiful. It will be a haven than supports you. It won't steal your time, money, or energy.
Why not try a different method of spring cleaning this year? Choose any room, and try this:
- Clear everything from flat surfaces, including magazines, plants, lamps, candles, photos, figurines, dirty dishes, junk mail....
- Clear everything from the floor, including furniture, rugs, baskets, clothing, backpacks, cases of whatever bought on sale and shoved into corners....
- Clear everything from the windows and walls.
Use white vinegar and baking soda to clean carpets and windows, then sweep or vacuum. Now you have a clean, fresh, empty space, and you can decide exactly what you want to put into it. Return items slowly, one at a time, as you ponder the answers to these questions:
- What is the purpose of this room? This will help you decide which furniture is necessary.
- Would I like to have more empty space? Do you want room to do yoga? For your kids to play? To set up a music stand and practice an instrument?
- How can I arrange furniture to best use this space? You might decide to add or leave out some pieces.
- How do I want to feel in this room? This will help you decide to add or leave out rugs, curtains, pillows, throws, lamps, color, electronics.
- What do I already own that could be used regularly rather than stored? The things we store in the back of a closet are stagnant, but the things we use every day are alive with character. Why not use your nice stoneware and declutter the plastic dishes? Or your grandmother's quilt and donate the Walmart comforter? (Or, if you've only kept Grandma's bedding out of guilt, find another family member who wants it, or sell it to a collector.)
- What do I already own that can personalize this room? Examples include the hand-painted vase you bought on your honeymoon in Mexico, your kids' art, a photograph or painting of your favorite place, or the dresser you creatively refurbished. Display just a few items to give them the spotlight they deserve.
- How can I bring a bit of nature into this room? Maybe you have a couple of favorite potted plants, or you'd like to have a vase of daffodils or flowering branches, a tray of seashells you've collected over time, or even a prism to hang in a sunny window. What do you love about our beautiful world?
Look at everything else you removed from the room that you did not choose to return. Why was it there in the first place? Does it belong in another room, or can you declutter it?
Once you're ready, enjoy being in your space. Use it according to its purpose, or simply relax with a hot or cool drink. Don't you feel lighter, energized, and ready for spring?
Please share in the comments if there's something you've been storing that you've decided to use regularly instead, the biggest item you've decluttered to make your home feel brighter or more spacious, or your favorite way to bring nature inside.