Organizing and spring cleaning can get overwhelming. As a parent, this adds the additional clutter and complication on an entirely new level. You aren't just responsible for your clutter with or without the assistance of a spouse, but also your child's or children's clutter to a certain degree. It is often a chore for anyone other than certain types of personalities and mentalities to organize, clean, and declutter a space. I have met people like those who thrive performing those tasks, but I will guarantee you they are not me. I found that following a rewarding, small paced step-by-step, day-by-day system helps motivate and encourage me to organize, clean, and prepare for Spring better.
My first tip and step in motivation is to clean your sheets. Personally, changing my bedding is a step I have always taken when I feel the need to start fresh or change direction in my life. Maybe you'd be excited about picking out a new bedding set, sheets, comforter, quilt, pillows, and all. After all, it can be inspiring to have a fresh start into any season. If you don't have the money to buy what you like or simply like the current style of your bedding, you don't have to change; just simply wash and put on your same sheets and bedspread. Who doesn't like going to bed with fresh, clean, sheets; even more so when the bedspread just came out of the dryer! There is a cozy, creature comfort about bedding and sleep. Vacation Air B&Bs, hotels, motels, and the like will often advertise on the premise of bedding comfort and clean sheets. While more eco-friendly practices are being implemented in some of those, most people prefer to sleep and wake up in fresh sheets while vacationing. If it is such an important factor for vacationing, why not bring a little bit of that home? As an added bonus, many studies have shown that clean sheets actually help increase intimacy with your partner. As far as spring cleaning goes, this is an easy and rewarding first step in the right direction.
My next recommendation is to be aware and comfortable in your behavior patterns before committing to any large organizational products or storage solutions. What works best for one of your friends who appears to be an organizational wizard or guru, may not work best for you. It is okay to have a different organizational style from those you see on social media, your friend groups, or your family. Everyone has a different mind and personality, so organizing should not be a "one-size-fits-all" standard. Just because someone you know has a home that never looks cluttered, and you have open shelf pantries and cabinets does not make you any less organized. Be confident and comfortable with how you work. Remember that you don't have to be anyone else's picture of perfection when it comes to organizing.
Once you identify some things that work for you, build off of those things. Chances are, there is a system you use every day that is likely working for you. Think of the places in your home or office that you feel calmer in. My family and friends used to make jokes about our pantry being organized like a grocery store, but having all of our canned items, cereals, etc. in an easily accessible place where we could see everything really helped my husband and me. We use our items by their best by dates, can easily see when we are running low on certain items, and easily know what can be added to the shopping list or used for meal planning. It was something that we felt created order in our lives, even though we have to look at the food items instead of various cabinetry. It encouraged us to be neater with our item placement, and it is a system that works for us.
I've seen both excellent and poor examples of the ways people use closed storage solutions. My friend Kelly brilliantly organizes everything in her home. She can pull out a drawer full of organizational sections and every item has its own specific place. She is what I consider one of those organizational gurus. Even if you stop by short notice or randomly, everything looks impeccable, even her photographs and pictures are like a gallery wall.
By contrast, I remember growing up in a home where my mother was rarely able to find the things she needed when she needed them. Before visitors came over, she would shove everything into a cabinet or drawer and forget about the items within. It appeared organized on the surface, but if you opened a drawer you never knew what collection of items would be there. If she couldn't find something, we would go out and buy another only for it to get lost again somewhere shortly thereafter. When we moved into a new home, we found several copies of various items, and even broken or damaged items from them being thrown about. It seemed to waste time, money, and all-around resources. It was a system that obviously did not work for her. My point is, people organize differently. Go with what naturally works for you or else it won't be beneficial and may cause more frustration in the long run. Other people don't live in your home or work in your personal office space; you do.
Investing in storage solutions after learning what works for you is the next step in the organizational fresh start. There are various products of different price ranges and styles that can help just about everyone organize. This doesn't mean that you won't have flops on occasion, but it can also be an opportunity to learn more about what works for you. I have found that the more I like a piece of furniture, the more likely I am to keep it clean, neat, and organized. My husband and I found an entertainment center we both really adored. It had a mix of open and closed shelving, glass and wood, but it was a true statement piece that assisted us in sectioning off our oddly shaped living room just the way we wanted it. It was an item we budgeted for, and was a bit more costly than many organizational systems due to the quality of the furniture piece. However, this piece has added a great deal of storage, function, and style to our living room. We found it was truly worth the cost. When you've committed the funds, you're more likely to commit to the system. Regardless of funds though, the main factor to success is that you like what you are using as your storage solution. When you like it, you value it.
We all know that Spring cleaning means getting rid of your excess items. Many people follow a "one year rule" for this. The "one year" rule, if you are unfamiliar, is that if you do not use or wear an item for over one year, you should get rid of it. I, however, tend to have a slight disagreement with this system. If you truly like an item, keep it. I'm not saying you shouldn't get rid of your abundance of items, but I am trying to save you money, time, and headache. We all have that size too big or size too small pair of pants or shirt we once loved to wear that previously looked great on us. I do not encourage keeping a whole wardrobe of items that do not fit properly, but I do encourage keeping a small number of items in each of those sizes in case life events happen. While people encourage others not to keep items that are larger than their current size for those who have lost weight, it is very discouraging to have to buy clothing all over again and find something you feel suits you. You are likely already in a depressed state having to look for clothes all over again, and no one needs a reminder for them to recognize they've gained weight. If you have a few items you felt confident in laying in your wardrobe it isn't as discouraging. It is a wakeup call. "Oh, I've gained weight and these are the last size up pants I own. I need to be aware, but I feel like I can still do this." Life happens. It is likely you will gain and lose weight multiple times throughout your life. A handful of these items make great transition clothes whether you've gained weight from pregnancy or dropped it because of morning sickness. They help ease one more small burden if you lose a loved one and gain weight from overeating or lose it from depression. Everyone handles life stresses differently, and it doesn't hurt to have a handful of just-in-case items, particularly clothing. That said, keep the items to a few and get rid of the items you don't particularly like or bought just because you needed to fit the dress code. Professional clothing items I like, I keep on hand because they are usually costly to rebuy. If you've ever invested in maternity clothing, that is also the same. I personally store my transitional items in space bags. The transitional professional clothing I own is on a hanging space bag in my closet easily accessible but still out of the way.
Overall, ensure you treat yourself during the Spring-cleaning process. Organizing isn't an easy job and it is easy to get overwhelmed. My last piece of advice is to take things step-by-step and day-by-day. Through the work week, I set my home tasks to one task each day. If I accomplish one task on my to do list board, no matter how small, it has been an accomplished day for my Spring goals. Ensure that the task you choose suits the allotted time you have to accomplish your task. My sample work night task list is something like "do the dishes, clean off the dresser, meal plan for tomorrow, cut and freeze vegetables, clean out fridge, clean bathroom, etc." Some tasks I may not get around to until the weekend, like the task "sort my youngest child's clothing." Those types of tasks still wind up on my to do board, but as long as I accomplish one of my "to do" tasks, I give myself a pat on the back. If I accomplish more, even better, but I have the choice to only do one manageable task each day. I find that when organizing does not come naturally, it is better to celebrate your small successes. No one ever accomplished much by beating themselves up over what they didn't get done. It is a waste of energy that usually discourages in the long run more than it encourages. If you find yourself discouraged with organizing and Spring cleaning, I have this advice for you. First, change your sheets, know and have confidence in yourself and how you work, celebrate your successes, and enjoy what Spring has to offer you for your fresh start. Remember, the long winter is over.