“Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a dreaded list of chores. It can be a rewarding experience that helps provide some structure and organization in your life.”
— Peter Walsh
Ah spring. The days get longer, the sun gets warmer. Spring is traditionally that time of year to give your home a cleansing scrub after being cooped up all winter, but it’s also a good time to assess your home and belongings to clear out the clutter – especially as you get older.
Chances are, if you have lived in your home for a long time, you have amassed a lot of “stuff.” While some of it may be in plain view, more likely it has accumulated in basements, attics or tucked away on high shelves. Such places become safety hazards as we age. Basement stairs can be uneven and narrow. Attics or sheds can be dimly lit. Top shelves may require ladders for access. The annual ritual of spring cleaning gives you an opportunity to not only purge items that you no longer need, but lessen risk of injury in the future.
How do you start?
Take a good look around your house with an eye to remove:
- Items that you no longer have a need for. Do you entertain as much as you used to? Have your children long flown the nest? Do you have a cache of old video tapes or CDs?
- Items that are outgrown, outdated or broken. Are you hanging on to clothes you wore “back in the day”? Are you ever really going to repair that broken lamp? Do you still need that old lawn mower even though you have had a yard service for years?
- Items that you want to keep, but could store in a safer, more accessible place. Consider how and where to house photos, family heirlooms and personal keepsakes to preserve them, but keep them more easily accessible to you.
Once you have taken inventory, you’ll need to decide what to do with the extraneous “stuff.” You then have the option to:
- Perhaps you no longer need your great-grandmother’s china set, but would like to keep it in the family. Maybe your husband’s coin collection has been collecting dust, but is valuable. Identify who in the family may want these items and approach them, keeping in mind that, as much value as they hold for you, your family members may or may not want your things.
- With technology today, it is much easier to find a marketplace for your items. Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, even Craig’s List. But, keep in mind that while you may make money on the sale, there is often an inherent cost of your time – i.e. the effort to research market value of the items and photograph and post, and then delivery/mailing of the items.
- There is no end to how you can re-purpose items. Some organizations will retrieve your items from you. Others have drop-off locations. Many have rules for what they will and will not accept.
- Some things you own will have simply outworn their value or usefulness. What you cannot assimilate in your normal trash collection, you can take to a refuse station, or there are companies that will come and do the hauling for you – likely for a cost.
Benefits of reducing the number of your possessions today
Beyond just the safety factor, there are a number of reasons why “downsizing” your home inventory while you can make the choices yourself is beneficial.
- You are removing a burden from your heirs. Once you are no longer involved in the decision of what to do with your stuff, your family will have to make the decisions. They may not know your intentions. They may be facing the decisions at an emotional time. They may not agree on what to do with all your things.
- You have the opportunity to pass down heirlooms to family members who will actually appreciate them. Younger generations may be living in smaller spaces, and/or embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. Having conversations earlier will allow you make better gifting decisions.
- There are many studies that show a de-cluttered home promotes better overall health. Potential allergens are removed. Mental health is bolstered. Your sleep even improves!
Taking the time and effort today can remove unnecessary stress from your loved ones tomorrow. And, the added bonus is that it’s more than likely going to feel incredibly freeing for you.
No need to go it alone
If all of this sounds overwhelming – the sheer amount of stuff, the logistics of what to do with it – it doesn’t have to be. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything all at once. Pick a space and work through it over time. If even that is too much, there are professionals that can help. At Life Managers, we can help you create a strategy and then reach out to our vast network to help you distribute the items.
The important thing is to use this spring-cleaning cycle to just get started.