We're selling our house. I don't know where we'll go when someone buys it but, unless someone buys it, well, we'll have no place to go! That, I suppose, is the the true conundrum of the second time home buyer. Another is what to do with all the crap (did I say that? I meant "stuff"!) one naturally accumulates as the years pass by; in our case, this "stuff" includes a whole lot of baby gear, preschool paintings, kindergarten homework, naked dolls and trucks without wheels. I thought I'd been good about weeding through it but, the cleaning frenzy of the past week has proven me wrong. Fortunately, I have some great friends with great ideas for keeping a clutter free home... and, as it turns out, you don't need to be planning a move (or even the Open House that is keeping me up at night!) to get your house in order. Spring is the perfect time for sprucing up and with these tips in mind, your home just might be neat and tidy all year long.
- Don't be sentimental about your "stuff." I have a client who has a real knack for keeping things neat. We had the pleasure of having lunch a few weeks ago and she shared some of her tips for keeping her home and kids organized. In a nutshell, don't get emotionally attached -- whether it's Junior's first math homework or that sweater you "just know is coming back", it's time to let it go. Junior will have many more math assignments and the odds are good that the sweater will never be "in" again... and if it is, well, go splurge on a new one!
- Have a charity of choice and give generously. Big Brothers, Big Sisters happens to be one of mine and, since they send a pick up crew if I call in advance, it makes giving a piece of cake. They visit our humble abode several times a year and are happy to cart away the clothes, toys, books and household items that are gently used and, no longer used. Giving is twice as nice when helping others leads to a clutter-free home. In thinking of your charity of choice, consider local hospitals, women's shelters, daycare centers and even school fundraisers.
- Have a large supply of trash bags and fill frequently. I thought we were good at this but the items unearthed in our basement and on our back porch would suggest otherwise. Broken strollers, games with missing pieces, books with missing pages, stuffed animals that have long been forgotten and are too "loved" to be accepted by any charity of choice. All of these belong in a trash bag on the curb. And now, that's where they are!
- Save selectively. Let's face it, you can't throw it ALL away. So, create a smart system for saving just a few things each year. My tough-love pal who encourages routine purging and discourages an emotional attachment to "stuff" admits there are some things you just need to hold onto... report cards, class pictures, those first handprints, a few prized pieces of "art." Every year, she creates a folder for each of her children and, like the finest of curators, she keeps only the most prime pieces. When the kids are grown, they will each have about a dozen neatly organized folders full of gems to look back on... and, I suspect they will be feel extremely sentimental when they do!
- Organize stylishly. If you must have some clutter (and let's admit it, we all do!), why not make it look good? I have an array of "Memory Boxes" from Exposures that look great and store easily; there's one for each kid and they are already finding joy in their walks down memory lane. I also like to use pretty file folders -- somehow putting the bills in a pretty paisley file that says "Pay Me" makes the task slightly less daunting. For more great ideas on keeping clutter controlled (and possibly even cute!), visit Buttoned Up. I just did and was quite pleased to find an article on getting organized for a move. So, should we actually sell our house, I will know what to do next!