Ah spring. Finally! The sun shines more often, drawing attention to surprising quantities of dirt that secretly accumulated in winter’s gloom. Time to Marie Kondo the place up, don’t you think?
Only . . . I haven’t read her bestseller yet, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Nor watched the highly acclaimed Netflix series. Have you?
Do you think you’re – now be totally honest – able to touch, or at least hold in your short little span of attention, every item in your house and decide if it might “spark joy”? Well, there’s the obvious first issue here. The task of cleaning and the word joy. Do they match up for you? If they do, then you’re a rare gem, like my one friend who loves to clean, happily referring to herself as the “Ukrainian cleaning lady”.
Oh, now that I think of it, my two kids who live out west, Randelle and Jay, are rare gems too! They do seem to enjoy cleaning. But they’re also minimalists, so when they set out to clean there is absolutely no extraneous stuff hanging around gathering dust. Cleaning’s a breeze for them. Hence, I guess, why I should figure out how to Marie Kondo the place up.
But, I’m the kind of person who just can’t decide. Were you around for Monty Python’s Life of Brian? Remember the bridge of death scene? “What is your favourite colour?” And Sir Galahad says, “Blue. No yel—” And off he flies, screaming, from the bridge to his violent death because he didn’t answer the question correctly. Do I like the blue or yellow top? I really dig that hot pink one and the green dress is cool, except for when I think about the lyrics to that Barenaked Ladies song, “but not a real green dress that’s cruel”. And I have a lot of black. You can never go wrong with black, yes? Except for when you’re looking for a specific black top among several black tops. So hard to find.
Also, it’s tax season. Which means paperwork. Which has to be kept for what? Seven years? Those ugly boxes of paid bills sparking any joy for you? Okay, I’m an old school accountant, still manually filing things away. Randy and Jay probably have everything on their phone or laptop. Hmmm.
Since I don’t do the cooking for us (my husband B loves to cook, finds it “relaxing”, if you can believe and also, I recently hung with one of my Jazzercise friends on a bus trip and she said her husband finds cooking “relaxing” too, so it must be a real thing for some people) I would not have one itsy-bitsy bit of a problem cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, getting rid of everything there that doesn’t spark joy, which is pretty much . . . all of B’s crazy kitchen gadgets that I don’t know how to use, nor how to put back together after he washes them. Of course, there would be hell to pay when he got home – and the quality of my meals would significantly decline. No joy in that.
Seriously, though. Who has the time to clean? And when one does have the time, does one want to?
But what if you never attempt to “spark joy”? Ever? Then what? You start heading into some pretty scary territory (hoarding?) and friends stop visiting on account of the lack of places to sit and the number of cats skulking around.
So, to help inspire you to spark some joy in your household this spring, here are seven tricks that have worked for me over the years:
*Get someone else to do it. As previously pointed out, there are rare gems who love to clean and either work for, or have cleaning companies. If you absolutely despise cleaning, hire them on a regular basis and, at the very least, you will most likely do a pick up of the miscellaneous stuff that has gathered on surfaces since their last visit. For more detailed cleaning of personal items, like clothing or other clutter, there are also companies for that. Google “professional home organizing”. Windows? Try College Pro. They clean siding and eaves too.
*Use the Box Method. Fed up with the piles? (Hard for me to ask this with a straight face, because a friend once said, “I have piles”, laughing, meaning this kind of piles and not the other, literal pain-in-the-butt kind of piles she was laughing about.) Grab a box and shove it in. Too much stuff? Get more boxes. Stack them out of sight, a closet, a garage, a basement, and if you’re lucky, like me, you’ll have a basement flood and get to chuck everything, guilt-free. But, it is said, if you haven’t looked at it in a year, you don’t need it. However, I don’t think this applies to sentimental stuff, like pictures, videos, or other memorabilia, which is going to have to be painstakingly dealt with (digitize?) at some point. Or not. Which means your kids or whoever inherits your estate will curse you, but you won’t care.
*Use the Bag Method. I’ve tried this a few times. Get three garbage bags and enter the room in question. One bag is for Kijiji, one for donations, one for garbage (does the women’s shelter really want your saggy baggy old pajamas?). Go! (I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to do this on B’s side of the closet where his comic book collection hides behind his clothes.) I just find the idea of three categories helpful, and maybe your bank balance will allow the purchase of, say, a new lamp, to replace the one you just Kijijid, and what could be better than a new lamp to spark some joy in your life?
*Do it in bits and pieces. Sure, maybe the house never gets fully done, but the big picture can be daunting. Marie Kondo does suggest doing the whole house in one day, but for me? Not humanly possible. She does have alternative suggestions, so you’d have to read her book and/or watch the series. One great suggestion she does make is to “Tidy in Order”, rather than by location, and this is the order she gives:
- Komono (Miscellaneous stuff)
I love books and have three beautiful book shelves on which to store them. A friend of mine recently got rid of several boxes of books, choosing instead to frequent the library, a great idea which would completely eliminate a category (and save a lot of dough)! And if we can get Randy and Jay to share what they do with all of their papers, maybe we can eliminate another whole category!
*Use the 30-day Challenge Method. Come on! Who doesn’t love – and can’t commit to – a 30-day challenge? You can apply it to any new thing you want to add to your life – photography, art, writing – but it could also work well for spring cleaning. Pick a shelf, a box, a drawer a day and go for it. Or, simply just commit to putting things back where they belong every day for 30 days.
*Use the Environmental Method. Do you really need another black top? Pair of jeans? I mean – and this comes to mind after reading about a wealthy executive who pared down to just a couple pairs of jeans and six dress shirts – there are only seven days a week in which to wear things and most of us wash clothes once a week. This is why purging your clothes, I think, is a good idea, seasonally, or at least twice a year. We also have preferences and when we buy clothes we often pick out similar items, as I’ve discovered when going through my wardrobe. If we all cut back, plan, think seriously about the items we bring into our homes, the world will be better off, yes?
*Plan a dinner or some other festivity at your house. I like this idea for a couple of reasons. It’s social and we’re social creatures, so it’s really healthy (unless you drink too much!). But, it also provides a deadline, which I find is a surefire way to get impressive amounts of cleaning and repairs done on your home.
Website Photo: As you can see, I have several black band tees, so I sure don’t need any more, although I don’t see Led Zeppelin there . . .