Odds are if you are reading this article and you are a part of the Armed Forces family in any way you have moved a time or two, right? If I were to refer to “that box” in your attic/garage/storage room that has not been unpacked in several moves, we would all know the exact one we are talking about. Whether it is a box of trophies from our childhood or a box full of old planners or notebooks that we simply cannot part with, the fact remains that it is likely never going to be used nor thrown away. So when I say “Spring Cleaning” that box is safe so you can relax. Giving yourself a fresh start does not have to involve an attic or a basement if you do not want it to.
For me, I know Spring Cleaning is upon me when I get to the point to where I feel like the walls are caving in on me, my clothes no longer fit into the drawers and yet I “have nothing to wear”. The urge to just throw everything away fills every fiber of my being and I know something has to give.
I believe the urge circles around this time of year because we have been cooped up all winter and at the first sign of pretty weather we want to get up, get out & be productive. That delicious Vitamin D streams in the windows of our home and fills us with joy and determination.
Let’s go over some of the best Spring Cleaning Tips for those of you PCS’ing or staying put this year.
Do it BEFORE you PCS
If you happen to have a PCS on the horizon try to clean now versus later. You will be more streamlined heading into your next duty station and there will be less to unpack! (Insert Praise Hands!) At your current location you already know “the lay of the land” which makes it much easier to re-home usable items to friends and easier to donate to your favorite local charity. The danger of trying to organize and spring clean on the other side of your PCS is that when you are exhausted and living in a sea of boxes and packing paper it makes it ever so easy to just shove things you know you do not need into a closet or drawer just to get it out of the way.
Get the Family Involved
If you plan to do the bulk of your cleaning over a weekend put a cardboard box or plastic bin in each bedroom and any other main rooms the weekend before. Use that week as a prep for you and your family. Let everyone know to put anything they are ready to part with into those containers… outgrown clothes, random single flip-flops, decor they have outgrown, etc. Anything you longer want – out it goes! Best year round tip: Leave a labeled donation box in your garage or laundry room for the same reason. When the bin fills up, bag it up & donate. This will help you avoid the endless cycle of continuing to wash a pair of pants for your child that keeps trying them on, realizing they don’t fit, throwing them in the floor only to end up in the laundry over and over and over but never being worn.
It Must Get Worse Before It Gets Better
Sometimes you have to create a bigger mess before you can actually clean it. Don’t be afraid of this. For instance, the easiest, quickest and more efficient way to clean a garage or your junk drawer is to unload the whole darn thing and then move it back in, piece by piece into the correct place while leaving out the things that do not belong or you no longer need.
Create separate areas for things to donate and things to throw away.
If you are organizing an office, create a bin for “Stuff to Shred” and one for “Stuff to File”. This allows you to be able to toss a bill or a tax document into the correct bin to file or shred at a later time all while cutting down on desk clutter. Win/Win!
Don’t Try To Eat The Whole Elephant
You have heard “An Apple a Day keeps the Dr Away”. Well, the Spring Cleaning version is “One Room, not Ten keeps you out of the Looney Bin” Ok fine, maybe I made that up but you know what I mean. If you start in the bathroom, then move to the garage and then back to the kitchen you will only be making a bigger mess and run out of time to get things back where they belong. Resist the urge to jump around and simply focus on one room at a time.
Last but not least, pump up the jams, make it a family affair, take your time, enjoy the walk down memory lane that inevitably comes with cleaning out any drawer, closet, box or room. We are all so blessed by the mess around us and sometimes we forget that our mess is someone else’s dream. Heck, if you are feeling really froggy pull down “the box” and see what the heck is actually in there. 😉
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