Spring Cleaning

Nothing like an organized garage...

Nothing like an organized garage...

Although it was 93 degrees this week in Austin, the calendar says it's Spring. We've suffered through the dreaded time change. Can someone tell me why we still do that? Oh well, time to do some Spring cleaning!

Several years ago, when I decided to change careers, I briefly entertained the idea of becoming a professional organizer. I imagined helping others experience the joy of cleaning out and organizing. It was an exciting idea, plus it seemed like a lot of people really needed help.

I walk down the street in our neighborhood and see garages stuffed full of cardboard boxes. People leave their $40,000 cars in the driveway, reserving their garage for stuff that won't fit in their houses. There are self-storage places everywhere. 

I ended up choosing a different career, but my love of being organized remains.

For so many years, our house overflowed with all the things the six of us needed. I assumed our house was too small. But now I think we misjudged what we actually needed. Somehow, when you're not paying attention, you end up with too much stuff.

My daughter was surprised that I only had one whisk. She has a bunch. "It was cheaper to get the multi-pack," she said. That's how it starts. Then we can't get rid of things because we imagine that one day we might need them.

With each closet I cleaned out, I got a burst of happiness. It spurred me on to do more. I never realized how good it would make me feel. I imagined all those unused items getting a new chance at life. 

Whether you realize it or not, all that stuff is dragging you down. I only want what I love and use. But not only do I want less stuff, I want what I have, to be organized. That's where my label maker comes in. If you designate a place for what you have, it's easy to put things away. 

We bought a new fridge. It's one of the french door types. I loved how much space it had, all at eye level. But it was soon a mess. We couldn't find anything. I pulled out my label maker and proceeded to label the areas where things should go. I suffered the ridicule of my family and friends every time they opened the fridge, but they knew exactly where to find the pudding cups. You can't leave it to chance; it will end in chaos.

My husband and I don't always see eye-to-eye on these things. I wanted to get rid of our children's old crib, but my husband refused to let it go. It has been in our attic for more than 20 years. Every time I went up to get the Christmas decorations, there it was. He thinks I'm trying to throw everything away.

I explained to him that it's not just about getting rid of stuff. If it passes the "love and use" test, I'll keep it. I still have my hot curlers from the 80's. I use them to tame the craziness after having gone to bed with wet hair.

The day we found out we were going to become grandparents, my husband felt vindicated. 

"Now we'll have a crib for the baby when they come over," he said, smugly.

Guess what? Our crib, the one we kept all these years, the one that saw our children through their infancies, was now considered a death trap. We ended up buying a new one. 

I'm not completely insensitive to my husband's tendency to want to hang on to things. We still have the crib. It's in the same spot in the attic. Who knows, maybe some day we'll use it for firewood. See, I can compromise.

But there's one thing he insists on keeping that's making me bonkers. It might look innocuous, but it's the bane of my existence. It's a small, repurposed, eclipse gum container in my kitchen. It's the one sitting right there on the counter. The one next to the stove. The one that makes my eye twitch every time I see it. He says he's not keeping it to make me crazy. He swears it's a necessity. It's where he keeps the twist ties he's saving. You know, the ones from the bread bags, just in case we need them...

Darci McIntyreComment