As the days get longer (YAY!!) and the weather turns a little warmer, many of our thoughts begin to turn to sprucing up our homes a little bit, cleaning things up and changing things around. Covid worries have begun to wane and we possibly may be thinking of entertaining and resuming a little bit more normal lifestyle. Many of us turn to Spring Cleaning. Whether its a habit you learned from your parents or just a desire for something fresh and clean, Spring Cleaning is a definite habit many of us have picked up. But it doesn't have to be dreaded.
The idea of Spring Cleaning has many origins. Back in the pioneer days of the 1800’s the biggest annual housecleaning took place in the spring because the winter left homes coated with "a layer of soot and grime in every room." Lamps of the time were lit with whale oil or kerosene, which had to be heated with coal or wood, so you can just imagine that mess. Proper cleaning required opening windows to let the soot out, which, of course, could only be done during warmer weather. Aren't we glad we don't have to clean soot from the walls and windows any more?
Religious and Cultural Norms support the idea too: In Jewish custom, spring cleaning is linked to Passover in March or April, which marks the liberation of Jews from slavery in Egypt. Before the start of the holiday, a general cleaning takes place in order to remove any yeast bread, or chametz, from the home. (Egyptian slaves were fed unleavened bread, which the Jews later adopted as a symbol of their survival. Thus, having any leaven or bread made with yeast, even crumbs, in the house symbolized sin, and they were encouraged to get rid of it.
In Christian custom, the Catholics clean the church altar the day before Good Friday, also normally in March or April, prior to Easter. . Members of the Greek Orthodox church clean house for a week leading up to Lent. In Iran, the holiday Norway, or Persian New Year, coincides with the first day of spring. The 13-day celebration traditionally involves cleaning (or "shaking the house"), buying new clothes, and spending time with family and friends.
Spring cleaning often starts out to be a great idea until you get into it and are easily overwhelmed. Like anything else, thinking the process through ahead of time saves a lot of frustration. The easiest way to do accomplish the task is to remember the Roman Empire method: Divide and Conquer. Start with a goal for each area, break it down into manageable bites, (maybe 4 or 5 tasks per area is plenty), then figure out how to get each “bite” done. A simple checklist keeps everyone on the same page, keeps the end goal in mind, and makes it a lot less daunting.
Speaking of help…..
As your professional organizer, I want to encourage you that this time of year is a good time to reach out for a little help. Maybe your garage needs organizing ("where did I put those outdoor cushions again and where is that fire pit we bought last year? Do the kids REALLY need 6 basketballs?"). Maybe your kitchen needs re-inventing (" Do I really plan on using tat 11 piece holiday spatula set Aunt Maude gave me for Christmas? How many of these knives actually cut anything? Have these 3 frying pans seen better days?") or maybe even just a pantry clean out ("now that it's 75 degrees outside do we really plan to drink this 14 kinds of spiced cider the neighbors gave us?"). And of course maybe your closet needs a refresh, ("how many pairs of jeans still fit me?" These boots look a little ratty after this winter"), getting a fresh pair of eyes on the project always makes it go faster.
Above all, don’t overthink this! Enlist help if you can, either tread time with a friend or get the family involved as a project with a fun incentive to finish. The old adage of “many hands make light work” really is true. And as always, we’re here to help.