More organization, less stress

Spring cleaning in four steps helps make home more enjoyable



More than half of Americans dread spring cleaning more than taxes, according to a recent study by SpareFoot.com. Getting organized might be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that bad.

If you are in the majority who aren’t fond of cleaning out the basement, closet or kids’ room, Chelsey Lauer with JLB Simplify, a Kansas City-based organization business, recommends breaking down the process into four steps.

First is the functional step of organizing. This involves going into a basement, child’s room, closet or other out-of-control area with two trash bags: a black bag for trash and a white bag for donations. In this stage, Lauer says, it’s not necessary to make any hard decisions about what to keep and what to purge. You simply clear out things that are clearly trash or definitely donations. This helps create more space and makes the rest of the process less overwhelming.

Next is the decision-making stage. Lauer recommends putting all like items together to see exactly what you have. Then take time to make harder decisions about which items stay and which items go. 

“This is the part where you want to be honest with yourself,” Lauer says.  She encourages people to ask themselves whether they are really going to take the time and effort fix a broken toy or other item or whether purging the item is the better idea. 

Lauer also recommends getting the kids involved in the decision-making related to their toys and possessions. Give kids a set amount of space, such as an assortment of bins, for their belongings. Tell them anything that doesn’t fit in that space needs to go, and let the child be the one who determines what stays and what goes.

Shawna Childers with Organizing Solutions KC agrees kids should be part of the process and says this is an opportunity to talk to youngsters about the less fortunate. “Once they realize you aren’t throwing away the items, they are generally willing and wanting to donate,” she says.

Once final decisions have been made about what you will keep, it’s time to organize Lauer says to invest in clear organizing tubs from Walmart and label them.  She also suggests getting storage shelves to hold the tubs.  Organization breaks down easily if tubs are labeled clearly. Label every toy bin appropriately, putting pictures on tubs for younger children.

Childers recommends having a rotating storage system for seasonal items, similar to the way a grocery store stocks its shelves.  This results in storing the current season’s items in front with the out-of-season items behind.

The final step is personalization. This stage is optional and involves putting your unique decorative touch to the home. Now that the home is organized, feel free to have fun on Pinterest getting ideas for how to make your place reflect your personality and creativity.

Instead of always making it a big process, Childers also says cleaning and organizing can be done as you go, one room or quadrant of a room at a time. For example, she suggests when you are putting away Christmas decorations to go through old Christmas items and purge.  Use whenever you have to get something out of a specific area of the basement or closet as an opportunity to purge. Simply stay in that subject area of the room and find what needs to be purged and organized, she says.

The results of such organization can make a positive impact on a family. Lee’s Summit mom Bailey Murphy and her two children now have room to play and move in their basement, but it wasn’t always that way.

“My basement was insanely chaotic and messy,” Murphy says. “I would literally avoid looking at the rest of my basement when I went down there to do laundry.”

About a year ago, she took everything out of her basement and with Lauer’s help sorted it into trash, donate and keep piles. She estimates she kept about 65 percent of her things, but now has space left over after categorizing items by types and creating spots for these categorized items.

Wondering what to do with your “donate” pile?  Here are a few ideas:

Thredup.com. This business allows you to send in “like-new clothes” and earn cash for them.  Items that are sent in but don’t meet their specifications are then donated.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, the Community Services League and the Salvation Army all will come to your house and pick up donations for free.
If you have many large and difficult-to-transport items, the Junkluggers will come to your home for a cost and haul away old things, donating whatever possible.

Looking to do a garage sale?  Childers says doing the following helps make for a successful sale:

  • Have accurate signage with arrows.
  • Have items organized and clothes hung up.
  • Advertise the sale.
  • Be open early.

Allison Gibeson is a Lee’s Summit writer and mom who stopped in the middle of working on this article to gather up several trash bags for Goodwill.  

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