Dear Barb – Spring Cleaning

Dear Barb:

I need help! Every spring I attempt to do “spring cleaning” but I never seen to get anywhere. My closets are a mess and my kitchen cupboards are even worse. Every time I go downstairs to the basement all I can do is look at the boxes and boxes of stuff. I just don’t seem to know where to begin. I’m afraid to get rid of something and then realize I should have kept it. People tell me I’m a pack rat. Do you have any tips to help me tackle this seemingly insurmountable job?

Amy in Waterloo

Hi Amy. What you are describing is a very common dilemma for many of us. We keep things just in case we may need them someday and as the years go by we end up collecting more and more stuff. Eventually, we have cupboards and basements full of stuff. Consequently sorting through these things can be an overwhelming undertaking.

You may find it helpful to look at the situation from a different perspective. For example, rather than looking at the big picture, break it down into chunks. Tackle one closet or cupboard at a time. Decide you are going to do only this one cupboard. Don’t even think about the basement and the rest of the house, or you will only become discouraged. Begin your task with a garbage bag close by. As you come across an item you haven’t used for the past year, ask yourself if you really need to keep it, if not toss it in the garbage.

Exclude items that have sentimental value. You don’t want to throw away pictures, letters or your three-year-old’s special paintings. Besides, when your kids are adults, you can lovingly return their stuff to them so they can in turn give the stuff to their children.

Items that have no sentimental value, or for other reasons you decide not to keep them, could possibly be included in a garage sale. This way, you can make some money, clean up the clutter, and provide others with the opportunity to enjoy things that they may not otherwise have been able to.

However, you may still end up with some things that do not fit into any of the above categories. Why not consider donating these to a local charity?

Finally, congratulate yourself for a job well done and remember it is important not to allow yourself to get into this predicament again. Before you shove those papers in that drawer, ask yourself if you really need to keep them. Remember Amy, de-cluttering at the source will prevent a lot of frustration in the long run.

Good luck Amy, I hope I was able to help with your spring-cleaning.

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