Fight the Frump ed. #6

It’s time to talk about CLEANING! Wait, don’t go! Okay, whew. Here’s the thing, most of us have WAY too much stuff. We do, we buy things we don’t need, or we buy something for convenience when we’re out somewhere even if we might have the same thing at home.

In my neck of the woods, a robin showed up the past 2 days, and to me, that means that spring is on the way. So… spring cleaning! There’s nothing frumpier than a messy house.

Here’s the thing, I’d like for all of us frump fighters to make our house spring cleaning free. Yup, follow along with me here. If you take time throughout the year to get rid of things periodically that you don’t use or need anymore, put other items in storage for long term, and take the time to declutter your house before things can get lost in the heaps of laundry on your floor, on your desk or under your couch, then your annual purge will take much less time and will be routine.

Step 1: Purge mail and otherwise create long term organizing systems for items that come into your house, front door or back. Invest in a personal shredder to shred those credit card offers, junk mail and etc. as soon as you bring in the mail. Shred personal documents or bank statements if you dont file them in a filing cabinet. Or, go green and have your statements sent to you in your personal email account. Don’t forget to recycle those shreds! For the other items that come into your house on a daily basis, this is where organization is key. Something like this mail organizer (Target, $15) can help with organizing bills, important school papers for your kids (they can each have a slot) or other catchall things like a pen for signing those permission slips, stamps and envelopes, and a spare checkbook for lunch money. You could put this on a desk in a central location, or on a table that everyone checks before they leave for the morning, and where they put anything that needs taken care of, etc. when they come home at night. You could do the same thing with an on the wall organizer such as a magazine rack you might see in a doctor’s office as well. Another handy item would be either a charging station or simply a valet for spare change, cell phones, and keys. Again, it’s a one stop shop for all the items you need to drop/ pick up on your way in and out. One more thing, your kids and your spouse need a place to put their briefcase/laptop/bookbag/winter jacket/boots. Especially if you don’t have a mudroom, catching those items before they are strewn all across the house and lost in the morning rush is important. Assign a cubbyhole, hook, or closet space to each child. If you have to, take all the junk out of your front closet and leave that for them. Invest in a small table, shoe racks, baskets for seasonal items (mittens, etc) and a good setup for your children to be self sufficient in putting away their stuff. If you do have a mudroom, a laundry room or other such area, installing some permanent solutions is a good idea, especially if you use an entrance off of that room. For a few dollars, you have a neat, compact way to organize the ‘stuff’ that takes over your house!

Step 2- Now that you’ve taken care of what goes INTO your house every day, you need to handle what goes OUT of your house. Where do you store your recyclables? In the garage? Kitchen? How about the means to get rid of your recyclables or trash? Do you have the bags WITH the items or are they in a random closet? Worse, are they in plain view because you change them so often? If necessary, put your box of trash bags in the bottom of your trash can and put the current bag on top of it. Voila, you’ve hidden the bags, shortened the time it takes to change the trash out, and organized all in one simple move. Look around and see what ELSE you can do to make your life easier.

Step 3- The big purge. I know you’re dreading it, but don’t! Take it one step at a time. Take empty bags or boxes with you for the purge. How’s this for encouragement? Start with your closet. Pull out everything. Put back items you wear all year round. Be ruthless! If you haven’t worn something in a year, it’s too big or too small, leave it on the bed or chair. If you’re done with wearing sweaters or long sleeves for the year, pack them away however you usually do this (suitcases, sweater box under the bed, etc)– I suggest putting short sleeves away in the winter in the same place that you put your sweaters in the spring, that way you just ‘trade’ out those clothes from hanger to box, etc. If you have duplicate items, stained items or items with holes in them, make a decision on whether you really need them, or if they can be fixed. Be sure to note which winter items you haven’t used this year and put them in the donation pile. By this time, you should have spring clothes and year round clothes in your closet, winter clothes packed away, and an amount of wrong -sized or unwanted clothing laying around. Basically, you will have only what you need. Grab your boxes or bags, fold clothes neatly and put aside for donation. Make note of the items you have to replace due to damage or wear. This means shopping! But only in moderation! Now put the destroyed items in the trash or rag bag (tshirts and holey socks make good cleaning cloths and save paper towelling) and take the donations out to your car, so you won’t forget to drop them off at your local charity. Frump free closet!

Repeat with the rest of your closets, rooms in your house, junk drawers, medicine cabinet, and storage space. Done having kids? Pass on those onesies, have a yard sale, or donate them. I do NOT recommend having a yard sale of your own clothes, if you think they would sell, take them to a resale shop for commission, but don’t let them back in your house! Otherwise, you’ll stick them back in your closet. That, my friends, is frumpy! If your kids are overflowing with toys they can’t use, follow the same procedure and install organizers that they can follow to put their own toys away. Something as simple as a clear file folder glued to the front of a box, and slipping in a printed picture or later, a word ‘ball’ or ‘teddy bear’ — any category that your kids might use.

What’s left? Do one drawer at a time, one nook or cranny at a time. Pretty soon, you’ll have a frump free household.

By the way, I noticed that the Today show is doing a segment very similar to what I’m telling you! They have great websites that you can follow to find places to donate an old prom or bridesmaid dress, Nike recycles sneakers etc. Go check them out and see what you can recycle and have someone else get some use out of! De-clutter, de-frumpify and simplify!


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