Spring Cleaning: How to Purge with Pleasure!


Two years ago, my husband and I decided to double the size of our family and half the size of our house.  We downsized into a condominium.  It was one of the best decisions we have ever made. (A post dedicated specifically to this later. I know the suspense is killing you!) Whether you are looking to downsize, you have the urge to purge, or are just in the mood for a good spring cleaning, the season is changing and here are some practical tips on how to lighten your load:

  1. Invest in a portable storage container. If you cannot afford one, designate an area of the house for sorting, staging, and listing, outgoing items. This is a huge help.  It prevents remorse (out of sight, out of mind, right?) It eliminates the chaos of having a little one climb through all of your dangerous or fragile belongings.  Most importantly, it preserves your sanity by containing the purge to a designated area verses it sprawling throughout your entire house.
  2. Start in the room that is least sentimental. For us, this was the kitchen.  We love to cook but let’s face it, the kitchen is full of rarely to never used items.  Ditch those out of shape hand me downs that are not worth using. It is the same as not having them at all.  In this room, you get your rhythm.  Now, you are ready to tackle the tougher spaces!  
  3. Sort, but agree on the parameters first. For example, in advance of starting the purge and spring cleaning, my husband and I set limits.  We had the traditional trash, keep, and donate  We also had a sell pile.  The only things that went into this pile were items that we could sell for $100 or more. This was objective.  We could easily look it up on a sale site—Facebook Market Place, Craigslist, etc.  and know what similar items were selling for.  The threshold may be different for your family but the key is to set and agree on that threshold in advance.  This method was helpful for us in a number of ways.  Essentially, it provided our purge “budget.”  We used the money raised from the sell pile to pay for our portable storage container, get take out for the nights we were trying to tackle this mess, pay for a babysitter, or rent the kids a movie during that time.  We even had enough left over to refresh our nest a bit! The last pile was lend.
  4. That’s right, I said lend. I realize this violates traditional “rules” set by other organizers but sometimes, you just cannot make your mind up.  Are you going to have another baby?  Maybe you will start that yoga or tutoring business next year.  This stuff is expensive.  You don’t want to just get rid of it! There are categories of things, mostly children’s items, tools, and some sporting equipment where this is well suited.  Find a reliable friend or colleague in need of this equipment.  Lend it to them and get it back in good condition.  Win/win.  It is out of your house for at least a season (of life or of the year) but you get it back. By this time, you will likely have decided if you need these items or not.  Bonus, the best types of items to loan are typically the must cumbersome to lug into the attic or out of the basement—car seats, baby swings, bicycles, large bins of clothing etc.
  5. Make a list of things you may want to repurchase. Capture them all in one comprehensive place.  This relieves the immediate anxiety you may have about ditching “valuable” items. Once your spring cleaning is complete, you will always have this list.  As you live with your edited belongings, you see what you may need to add back in. Over the last two years, our family has only repurchased one item—a kitchen strainer. 

Other than that, our instincts were right. 

Yours are too! 

Trust them and purge with pleasure!

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Kristi Howard-Shultz
Kristi grew up in Danville, Indiana where she met her childhood sweetheart and now husband Elliott. After years of living apart including graduate school in New York City and military tours abroad, they resettled and started a family in Indianapolis. Together, they are raising two bright and busy boys—Henry and George. She has a Master's Degree in Social work from New York University and is a RYT 200 Yoga Teacher. In her “spare” time, she enjoys reading memoirs, chasing her boys, and listening to her husband, the funniest person she knows.