by Hollie McAfee

It’s March, so articles are showing up on my various news feeds, and in magazines in my mailbox, about Spring cleaning and getting rid of clutter.  By this time of year, I’m tired of looking at the inside of my house and start to really want to make some changes.  After being holed up all winter with a husband, two teenagers (along with their friends) and two cats, I love to go on a cleaning spree and just start tossing stuff out.  I’m not a natural-born housekeeper, and I spent ten years at home with my children and babysitting my two nephews, so I had to pick up some de-cluttering tips in order to save my sanity.

When my kids were little, a friend introduced me to Flylady.  You can check her out at  What a live-saver!  She not only gives you tips about cleaning, but helps give you a whole new, positive outlook on housekeeping.  During this process, and from my own “A-ha” moments, I have some philosophies on clutter.

When you buy something new, get rid of something old.
 When I buy a new shirt, I get rid of an old shirt I never wear.  When I buy my son new shoes, I toss out his old ones (trust me, no one wants them handed down to them.)  Before I buy groceries, I go through the fridge and cupboards to toss out something that is expired.  I encouraged my kids to do the same thing with their toys before each birthday and Christmas.  This reduces the need to spend an entire afternoon digging around in your dresser drawers to get rid of the clothes you shoved to the back when you bought new stuff.

Sort your mail immediately.
 If it’s junk, it goes straight from the mailbox to the trash.  If it’s a bill, it goes straight to the designated bill place (not the kitchen counter!)  With today’s online world, you don’t really need to keep much on file.  I toss my bank statements after I balance my checkbook.  I don’t keep bill stubs.  I keep important documents only.  Insurance policies, wills, birth certificates, deeds and titles, etc.

Only keep the kids’ most amazing creations
.  I know, it’s almost painful to throw away something your child made.  But if you keep everything, you will never be able to appreciate the truly special things.  I put two or three awesome things from each school year into a box.  The rest of it is thrown out, after consulting with the kids.  They know that I value THEM more than their work.

De-clutter in short bursts of time.
 This is a great tip from Flylady.  Set a timer for 15 minutes and concentrate on one job, for instance, your hall closet.  Sort things out into “toss,” “give” and “keep” bins or bags.  When the timer stops, you stop.  Take your “toss” stuff to the trash, put your “give” stuff in your car and vow to drop it off at a charity or a friend’s house the next time you’re out.  Put your “keep” stuff back in the closet and tackle it again another time.

While you’re packing up your old clothes, remember that we at F.A. Peabody are still taking clothing donations for the Catholic Charities of Maine.  You can drop off your nice clothing, purses and belts at our office.

And, Spring cleaning is a good time to take a home inventory.  Take a video of your belongings, or make a list and store it in a fire-proof location.  This may seem tedious, but it’s much easier to do now than in a crisis.

Enjoy your clean(er) house and look forward to Summer!