Part 1: The Spring Cleaning Pre-Clean
Spring is here! It’s time to start planning my spring cleaning and I’ll let you in on exactly how I make the job efficient, inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and–dare I say?–FUN!
The calendar tells me it’s spring, but with the daytime temperatures hovering around freezing and the persistent snow on the ground (it’s actually snowing pretty hard as I type this), I’m pretty convinced that it’s still winter. For now, anyway. Before we know it, though,”mud season” will be here. Once we’re through that, I can get down to cleaning.
The next two weeks we tackle clutter. Keep reading for tips, tricks, and ideas to turn a chore into a piece of cake. You might even find a helpful downloadable!
Mud Season Madness
Every Vermonter knows what mud season means: roads so muddy that cars risk getting stuck in them, squishy lawns that can quickly resemble the roads if you walk on them too much, and shoes, pant legs, and dogs that come back from walks absolutely covered in mud. When it’s mud season, there’s no way to keep the outdoors outside–you bring it in to the house every time you venture out. Our very long-haired Leonberger is especially adept at bringing the road into the house!
Work Your Way up to the Nitty Gritty
Deep cleaning before the roads dry out is pretty much a waste of time and energy. But that doesn’t mean I will just sit and wait it out. This is the perfect opportunity for me to “pre-clean”. Pre-cleaning is the process of decluttering and organizing. It’s a great time to go through books, clothes, craft supplies, etc. and thin them out. Once I’ve got the house free of clutter, it’s so much easier to get down to the nitty gritty.
The most cluttered areas in my house tend to be the kitchen island and my craft table. Those are two areas I don’t have a long-term organization plan for. I’m going to do that this spring so that they don’t become a clutter problem again. I also lost 20 pounds since last year, so I have a bunch of clothes to go through and thin out.
First Things First
Make a list. Write down all the areas of the house where there is clutter. For me that would be the island, my bedroom/craft table, the mudroom, and the family room. For each area of the house, write specific things that you want gone and what you intend to do with them. For instance, I would write: “Family Room–>Go through each board game and set aside games to donate to Goodwill”. Criteria that I use when deciding on things to get rid of are: ‘Have I used it in the last year?’ and, ‘Do I expect to use it again?’ For the board games, I look for games that we haven’t used in a year or more and games that are too young for the kids now.
Do the same for things you want to keep: write down what you intend to do with them. Where is their home? How are you going to control future clutter of that particular thing? For instance, if it means setting up a basket system on a shelf in your closet to tame an accessory problem, then head to Bed, Bath, and Beyond (and don’t forget your 20% off coupon!).
Get Paid for Your Hard Work
Keep two bags going: one for garbage and one for donation/yard sale/selling online. I mostly donate items to Goodwill because it’s so easy to just get rid of everything all at once, but I really should consider selling some of my things and at least get a little cash in return for all my hard work. The other day, Bronwen went through her vast clothing collection and was able to pull out four grocery bags full of clothing in good condition that she wants to take to a local consignment shop. She has inspired me to do the same!
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Don’t try and tackle everything in one day or you’ll burn yourself out and you’ll dread the job. Be methodical. Take one room at a time and don’t expect to finish it in one day if you have a lot to go through. Work on it for an hour, then take a break and do something else. Play some Candy Crush or go for a walk. Then go back to it.
Make it Fun!
Here’s a trick that I use to help me get through it without realizing how much time has gone by: listen to an audio book while you work. You get sucked into the book while you work and the time will just fly! Another trick I use to make the job super fun is to play dance music loud and have a declutter dance party with myself. Works like a charm!
Start with the PRE-CLEAN:
- Write down every area of the house where you have clutter
- Note specific things you want to go through and what you will do with each thing
- Get paid for your hard work by taking clothing to consignment shops and selling other items at a yard sale or online
- Tame future clutter by making a plan for how to control it–and then follow through on that plan
- Tackle one room at a time and let it take as many days as it needs to–slow and steady wins the race
- Take breaks from your pre-cleaning and, again, don’t try and finish it all in one day if it means you’re going to burn yourself out
- Listen to an audio book or get your heartrate up by dancing to fun music while you declutter
- In two weeks I’ll get into deep cleaning room by room. This DOES NOT mean that you have to finish your pre-clean in two weeks. Take as long as you need to. This isn’t a competition or a race. The deep clean posts will be here when you’re ready for them. =)
The Best Audiobooks and Music to listen to while Pre-Cleaning
I have the Audible app and Alexa (Amazon Echo) can play my books for me (I always get unabridged versions). I also use Alexa to play my own music collection, my Pandora stations, or Amazon or Spotify playlists.
- “Alexa, play dance disco” “Here’s a playlist for dance disco: 70’s Dance Party Mix”
- The Moulin Rouge soundtrack (some slower songs but lots of very danceable songs, too)
- The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (my dad used to play this album loud every Sunday when we all cleaned the house together)
- The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
- Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
- Any Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly (I love police procedural mysteries. I listened to each of them in order and am so sad I finished the last one!)
- Any Liane Moriarty book (She’s the one who wrote Big Little Lies–I highly recommend listening to it, even if you’ve seen the show)
Alright, ready, set, GO! Remember, take your time. You’ll be amazed at how calming a decluttered house feels. It’s also a major accomplishment and accomplishing things feels great and motivates you to keep going to the next step! Give yourself a pat on the back with each area that you finish. =)
Next up in this spring cleaning series is environmentally friendly cleaning products. I’ll review some and I’ll also share recipes for your very own homemade cleaning formulas. We’ll also begin our room by room spring cleaning with the kitchen and the bathroom. Until then, happy spring and happy pre-cleaning!