Welcome back to . . .
"I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again."
— Joan Rivers
Today's the day we roll up our sleeves and get to work!
Okay. I know that there are some people out there who just love to clean -- and spring cleaning is a fun time of year for them. But . . . they are not me. Oh, I love the idea of a clean house - top to bottom - but I am overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. I take one look at the detailed “spring cleaning checklists” you can find online with a simple Google search . . . and I’m tired before I even begin! It seems so . . . Sisyphean.
In days gone by, when I was working full time and had a busy family, I hired a cleaning person to help me stay on top of things around the house. Now that I’m not working, and it’s just Tom and I at home (and we’re pretty neat, generally, but dust still accumulates), I can’t really justify hiring someone to come in and clean for me anymore. So . . . I’m IT! I do love a clean and tidy space. It makes me feel lighter and happier. And I’m all in for sprucing up my house and doing some spring cleaning this year. So on I go.
I’m certain that spring cleaning . . . is one of those cases where it’s best to Know Thyself before beginning -- even before planning your strategy. Some people love having a very thorough, very thoughtful spring cleaning checklist to direct their efforts as they begin. And for you, I offer this: A few of the best spring cleaning checklists I saw online as I was poking around for these blog posts:
- Taste of Home’s Ultimate Room-by-Room Spring Cleaning Checklist is just that: a very thorough, very detailed (you might say . . . the ultimate!) checklist of chores and tasks. It’s organized by room, and there is a printable version of the checklist on the website.
- Imperfect Homemaking has slightly different (and perhaps even more detailed) Thorough Spring Cleaning Checklist, also organized by room. There is a link to a printable version of this list on the site, as well.
- The Spruce offers a slightly different take on the spring cleaning list. Rather than organize tasks and chores by room, their strategy is to organize the chores by day -- 30 days, in fact. Their 30-Day Spring Cleaning Checklist has you moving all over the place, but focusing on one main type of chore each day.
If you like the idea of working from a checklist, or if you’re looking for a room-by-room strategy, one of these lists might be perfect for you. For me, though? Not so much. These lists are just . . . daunting to me. I want to do some spring cleaning. But not . . . All That.
So I am getting inspiration from a different source. I’m looking to advice from Melissa Maker, owner of Clean My Space and author Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster, and Loving Your Home Every Day. Melissa advocates a five-step plan to reduce spring-cleaning overwhelm.
- Step 1: Choose Your MIAs (Most Important Areas)
- Melissa explains that spring cleaning can be a choose-your-own-adventure type of job. She reminds us that there is no rule book on spring cleaning and that “the spring-cleaning authority isn’t coming by to inspect and leave a seal of approval on your door.”
- The key, according to Melissa, is flexibility. She encourages us to design our spring cleaning plan by first figuring out our MIAs (Most Important Areas) . . . the “hot spots” in your home that you dread looking at, the ones that make you grumpy . . . that cause you shame, frustration, or embarrassment. She says the first step should be to walk around your house with a notepad and see what really sticks out to you, what gives you that visceral reaction and makes your inner alarm bells go off. Maybe you’re fine with dusty floorboards . . . but you really are disgusted by your back hall closet, for example. That gives you a starting point - your own, personalized checklist -- and a place to focus your efforts.
- Even with just the MIAs, our list may still be overwhelming. But Melissa assures us that having a plan makes it - at least - possible. “Even if you shoot for the moon and only see the stars, you’re way ahead of where you’d be otherwise,” she tells us.
- Step 2: Get everyone involved
- The key step here, according to Melissa, is to make sure that the tasks are assigned appropriate to age and ability (and I would add interest).
- This is a very nice idea. But . . . I don’t have a cadre of helpers anywhere in my house. (And I would argue that my kids were always less-than-enthusiastic helpers anyway.) AND . . . my primary helper (that would be Tom) has his own list of MIAs that don’t necessarily line up with mine. So this one? Not a real helpful or relevant piece of advice for me at this stage of my life. Instead of getting Tom involved in MY plan (and I do want to add . . . he does help me, and he does his own spring cleaning besides; I am not complaining one bit!), I look for where I can enlist the help of professionals. Carpet cleaning services, for example. (But not until after the pandemic settles a little bit more.)
- Step 3: Time block for success
- Melissa makes an excellent point here: What gets scheduled gets done. She recommends putting chunks of time directly into your calendar for completing tasks. I have found this to be especially true -- if I don’t schedule the time, I don’t just “find” time just laying around in my schedule, and things don’t get done.
- Melissa says . . . When you’ve drawn up your MIA list, look at your calendar and block in the time to accomplish your tasks. (And it doesn't have to be all in one day -- or weekend.) Also figure out what supplies and tools you’ll need to have ready -- so you can just dig right in when the time comes.
- She also suggests removing all distractions during your time block -- getting your phone out of sight, not checking emails, turning off the TV. You need to focus on your mission. (I find it helpful to plug in a good audiobook, or some energizing music while I work.)
- Step 4: Have your ducks in a row
- Make sure you’re prepared for the task at hand before you begin. If you don’t have sponges or garbage bags, you’re not going to be able to complete your task! So, just like when you check your ingredients before cooking, check to make sure you have all your cleaning supplies and tools ready before you begin.
- Also know how to dispose of things you’re purging before you begin: where to dispose of toxic materials (old paint, batteries, computer equipment, etc.), the hours of your nearest Goodwill drop-off center, organizations that will pick up big donations from your home, the date of your city’s “spring cleaning” pickup, etc. This is all good to know ahead of time because once you clear your “stuff” . . . you don’t want to have it sitting in your car trunk or garage for months.
- Step 5: Celebrate
- This one needs no explanation!
- (And if you’re like me, you’ll keep opening up your freshly cleaned closet or refrigerator every now and then . . . just to look at your handiwork -- and to get that freshly-cleaned and organized feeling all over again.)
What do you think? Are you feeling more ready to tackle your spring cleaning chores?
Spring Cleaning Tip of the Day
Use Old T-Shirts to Wipe Down Mirrors. When sorting clothes, set aside any old cotton T-shirts—they are excellent for giving mirrors a streak- and lint-free clean. For a chemical-free clean, mix white vinegar, distilled water, and a few drops of an essential oil. Shake, spritz, then wipe dry. (Today’s tip is from Oprah Magazine.)
Have a good spring cleaning tip of your own - or some spring cleaning advice you'd like to share? Please pass it along in the comments -- and I'll share in my post on Friday!
If you haven't already, be sure to check out Monday's Spring Cleaning Week post to find out why I'm doing this series in the first place, and to learn a little bit about the history of spring cleaning.