Spring cleaning has, for most of us, been an exercise in what “must” be done. More daylight and warmer weather means outdoor cleaning, vehicle detailing, and in general airing out our domiciles to try and renew our dwellings and spirits. It can be far more than that. It can be an opportunity to not only clean up but “right size” our living.
The Stuff We Use…And Don’t
Most of us find ourselves living solo or in pairs at various stages throughout our life. At the very least we begin our adult lives in small family units and end the same way. What is interesting is not how we get to these times in our life but that our kitchens and households tend to be stocked with the same stuff, things that don’t fit our lifestyle.
When we first move out on our own we get a slew of “re-purposed” items from generous and well meaning family members and friends. Much of what we receive, especially in our kitchen, is either too large or starting to wear. The same is true when our children are moving on. Much of our kitchen was geared, rightly, in their direction. Large pans, spoons and spatulas way past their useful life, and storage containers that no longer clean, are too big, or don’t have lids in the first place.
There is nothing wrong, of course, with being thrifty. Using and reusing items from our past is cost effective and thoughtful…if we actual use the items. For most of of us when we truly look through our kitchen we will find that much of what we see we don’t actually use. It either doesn’t suit our purpose or is no longer effective at doing what it was originally bought to do.
Not Just in a Kitchen
This concept goes way beyond the kitchen. What no longer fits in your lifestyle? First and foremost, check you cupboards and pantry. How old are those spices? Are there things you bought that are out of date? Are their can goods that,at the time were a good idea but now are just a space occupier? And check the freezer. What is hiding in the back?
Don’t stop at the pantry. Check your laundry area. Did you buy some miracle cleaning product that you have used...once? Same is true for all cleaning products. How about the bathroom? Were you convinced you would do a foot soak once a week but haven’t touched the soak solution in a year? (Ladies this applies to makeup as well). Clothing is always a good thing to go through. Check your towels and linen. What are you “saving” those towels for anyway? How many sheet sets do you need?
Check your office and bookshelves. Did you really need 100 Number Two pencils? Are you done with that magazine? Is it time to pack up or shred old bank stuff? For that matter, is it time to go paperless? How about electronics? Are there movies you will never return to? Video games? Do you have VCR tapes but no VCR player (I did for years…just in case)? How many “old” cell phones do you have around?
Right Sizing, Not Down Sizing
No one wants to think about downsizing, throwing away, or “trashing” our stuff. That is the problem with spring cleaning. We look at it with the eye of negativity, fear of change, and above all anxiety over if we will “need” something. That is what “cleaning” and “downsizing” denote.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can use the early spring to take a positive look at our homes and ask what we will use, what want to use, and above all, what will make us comfortable and feel at home. This isn’t about clutter, cleaning, or consolidating. It is about expanding our space and embracing our lifestyle. By getting rid of what we don’t use and filling our lives with what we do we greatly enhance our living area, from studio apartment to four bedroom house.
Some Rules of Thumb
Here are a few rules for getting our homes right sized. This is by no means a comprehensive list:
- Spices over a year old are finished. Throw them out.
- For solo or small sized kitchens, ONE large pan of each type (frying, stock, roaster, etc) is usually enough. Multiple smaller pans are fine (small pans are easy to store, after all).
- Lots small storage containers are fine if they have lids and are clean. Throw out miss matched and larger containers except for one or two (we don’t normally store large items).
- If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in a year it is time to donate it.
- If you can’t remember using an product (cleaning, laundry, or health and beauty) then you don’t use it. Why store it?
- Most of us only need, maximum, two sets of sheets for our bed and one set of sheets for guest beds (if you have little kids who “visit” it is a good idea to keep a second set for their bed).
- For all electronics and office stuff, if you haven’t used it, looked at it, or even thought about it for a year (or can’t ever remember using, looking or thinking about it) then it is a space occupier.
There are, of course, many other areas of our homes and other rules to apply. These are just a few suggestions. However, spring is the perfect time to look around our house, donate what we can, and pitch was we must. The goal is to get our kitchens, bathrooms, and everywhere in-between to a size that is more than just manageable. The goal is to make our place livable, enjoyable…in a word, home.’
Photo credit: tdlucas5000 via Foter.com / CC BY