Spring cleaning had me feeling a mental urgency at ALL THE THINGS I needed to get cleaned in my home. I am sharing how I am approaching that overwhelm. Also sharing how organization and inventory of your stuff can save you money and reduce clutter (starting with the freezer!)
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The main points covered in this episode
- My cleaning goals for last weekend and how I was derailed by spring cleaning mental drama
- My spring cleaning list and closet jenga
- Operating from a sense of urgency and how it can lead to shame/resent
- Paying attention to our thoughts and which thoughts we will ‘hop on and run off with’
- Cleaning out the freezer
- The hidden costs of stockpiling and having all of the options on hand, scarcity minset
- How to do a food inventory (and save money on groceries!)
- Organizing things in a way that makes them accessible and visible
- Doing an inventory of things to prevent you from doubling up by buying more because you don’t realize you have it at home
All the fun links you might like
A quick video about thought trains by Russ Harris
A post I shared on IG, four years go, about using the notes app to do storage inventory
FULL TRANSCRIPT (unedited)
Welcome to the simple purpose podcast. Around here, we talk about ways that you can simplify your home, your heaart your life. So you can show up right now in whatever season you’re in and show up for it on purpose with intention about what you want, and how you want to act and what you want more of and what you want less of. Today, I want to talk about some recent decluttering and cleaning that I was doing the other weekend. And some realizations I came to while I was doing it. And I share this stuff not because I think it’s something you’ve never heard, or maybe don’t even know because often, I think I share things that we do know deep down inside, but I share it because it’s a good reminder, it was a good reminder to me and so I want to share it with here here with you. And maybe you will find something from it. So Spring is here, spring is here in Canada. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed as my kids are getting older, and we’re like in this family home, that wshen spring comes along, I kind of lose my blinders. I’ve got blinders on either side of my head, of all of the areas of my home that have built up with grime and clutter over the winter months. And I started also thinking that maybe spring cleaning was invented by Canadian parents who had paid very little attention to their homes for the hockey season. And now they’re just faced with realities of unmapped floors and chaotic mushrooms. So Saturday is our joy morning here. It’s a routine that we have so that rooms are just getting picked up for the most part on a regular basis. I’m going to link an episode where I talk about Saturday morning chores, how we started our kids doing it and also an episode about me, life coaching myself to doing the dishes. It’s a very underrated episode. So I think it’s worth sharing. So I was rolling into the Saturday and I felt this freedom that you have when you don’t have any plans, no hockey, no plans, I put on my sneakers, I put on a good playlist and I was ready to get some cleaning done. The other weekend I intended to break up them up and also help at least one kid dredge under their bed for their last library books. Side note, we found it buried under hockey cards and Legos on the desk, not under the bed. That’s where all his socks apparently were every sock I’ve ever bought him. So as I was walking through the house, though, working on these different things around the house and mopping whatever, I started to notice I was becoming overwhelmed. I realized I started to get into this process where I was drafting up this mental list of all the places that I needed a Go clean crew dedicated to them. I was looking at the basement linen closet, a towel even fell out at me when I critiqued it, hoping to get something I was looking at the mudroom, we’ve still got snow boots, we’ve got bins in there with mitts and took spilling out of them. I was looking at the kids closets, because in their top shelf in their closet. That’s where I store the clothes they have outgrown. And I’m playing a very precarious clothing Jenga game in one particular closet, where I’m chucking things up and hoping it doesn’t topple the whole pile down. I know how to deal with that, just like kids clothes in general, I need to address them because they never stopped growing. So my list goes on. And I noticed the sense of urgency, join up forces with the part of me that says you’re not doing enough. And I just had to pause because I know operating from that place, it’s going to be exhausting. I’m either gonna end up feeling shame, or resent or a super fun mix of both. And it’s pretty easy then to run away with those stories, right.
And running away with stories is kind of a term that we talked a lot about in the life on purpose Academy. It was a 2020 group that I ran for group coaching. And we talked a lot about this concept that our thoughts are like trains, you are the train station, and you have these trains coming in and out with all of your automatic thoughts. And you get to actually pick which train you jump on. But we don’t we think every train that comes in, we kind of got a jump on it and write it to the end of the tracks. And then we’re not being very mindful, right. We’re not being very intentional about choosing which thought train we jump on. So that was a real big concept that we talked about a lot. It’s a concept from acceptance, Commitment Therapy. And I think it’s really helpful because it reminds you that wait a minute, I’m in the station. I get to watch the trains coming in and out and choose which thought I’m going to run away with and so I paused it I found myself doing that I decided I’m not going to jump on the urgency train. I’m not going to jump on that train where I’m not doing enough. And I did what I tell my clients to do. I decided to pick one thing and just do one thing right now. And I picked mopping so a marked and you know what else I did? Because I was like Oh, I’m just gonna mop today and find those library books. I went all in, I mopped every hard floor in the house. I even carried around a little scrub brush with me to scrape off, you know, those mystery stains. I even shared one of those mystery stains in my Instagram stories. It was the stain of unknown origin. That was all my stairs. I was passing it for months, just just looking at me like, what is that. And now I finally cleaned it, I finally made the point of cleaning it. And I know most people won’t notice this. I know my kids aren’t like, look at our sparkling floors. You’re so great mom. But I noticed I felt proud of me. So my takeaway there is know what you want in the big picture. Like I know there’s going to be a lot of spring cleaning projects on my list. But just start with one thing at a time. Don’t buy into your own perceived sense of urgency, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on you that isn’t actually going to help you.
Another big aha moment I had on that cleaning day was when I happened to just clean out the freezer for something totally unrelated. You know how you have one thing on the go and you’re like, Well, no, I have to do that other thing. And that other thing. They’re all interrelated. Because I was hydrating beans for chili. Pam, don’t think I’m a pioneer or anything, I soaked them on the counter and then run them through the Insta pot, you know, not doing it the hard way. But I decided to hydrate a big batch. I’m going to put some in the freezer for later. And once I said to myself, I’m going to put them in the freezer for later. I instantly felt some dread inside because I know what my freezer looks like right now. And it is smashed full of bags, frozen bananas, stumps of gluten free bread, ice packs, and half bags of just random things. So I had mopped, I had helped my son clean up his room. And you know what I was feeling momentum. I felt like I had momentum to keep doing things which I think that’s what we need to also consider when we want to be productive is that often initiating the first step helps get momentum, objects in motion, stay in motion. So I thought I’m going to do myself the favor of cleaning out the freezer, I got some time right now, I’m going to tell you quickly my strategy because you know what just seeing people clean or listening to how they clean, it just helps me mentally prepare all of the steps that I would need to do to clean something. So I’ll let you know I brought out two laundry baskets. And I stood in front of the freezer and I filled up these laundry baskets full of all the frozen everything, just put it in there doesn’t matter what it is. Like there was random stuff in there, there was some, like game pieces, some shocks, some rocks, like it just all went in there. And then I wiped down the freezer with hot, soapy water. It’s surprising how gross freezers get you think things are just frozen and they just stay in there. But no, it gets pretty funky. So I had my two baskets full of all of the frozen stuff. And I put it on the counter kept the freezer door open. And I just sorted it right in that spot. So I was putting things away in the freezer that I was keeping, I was throwing out things that had gotten freezer burned. And then I had another spot to decide where I was going to put stuff in the basement freezer. And this is always a disappointing part when I’m decluttering for me is the things that I find myself ready to throw out. And I looked at this full garbage bag of food that I was getting rid of. And I felt really disappointed in that waste. For one reason, just earlier that morning, my kids and I were discussing hunger in the world. And here I am throwing out a garbage bag of food that I just didn’t even take care of. So that’s frustrating for me, it was once valuable food. And then it became a waste because of how I managed or mismanaged it right. It got freezer burned, it just was never used in time. It’s opening my up my eyes to the mindset that I think I’ve had that things in the freezer last forever. I kind of thought that things in the freezer are good forever. But they get freezer burn burned, right? They they do go bad in the freezer. And it was a reminder to me that freezer is not a perpetual food cache. You know, we’re storing things up for another round of isolations or floods or whatever. And sometimes we can approach our food with some scarcity mindset. We can fill up our shelves and fill up our freezers with all of the options. And if we look at everything we have on hand, we might see that it’s a lot. And I also think it’s a lot of money to write. It’s a lot of money we have stored in our cupboards in our freezers right now. And I’m I’m not saying don’t be prepared. I’m all on board for having things on hand. But I think I forget to still use these things. There does have to be a turnover. One way that I was making that turnover happen and I realized I had just stopped doing this for some reason was I wasn’t doing a food inventory anymore. I used to do this before grocery shopping every week. So I would go through the pantries, the fridge the freezer, I would write down everything we had on hand that we could use for a main meal. So if we had tomatoes, I’d write down something like two cans of tomatoes, a pack of ground beef and the free user two cups of rice, half a bag of frozen kale. And even if you’re listening to kind of this list that I’m making, you can probably already think of a meal you can make from that, right? It’s kind of like a black box challenge in your own kitchen every week, which I personally enjoyed at the time, like being on chopped, it got me making some really creative things with just what I had, I felt resourceful, and I felt creative. It also helps save a lot of money because rather than going to the grocery store, and shopping for seven meals, I was using what we already had and filling the gaps with what we had on hand, I am being mindful that it does cost us money to stockpile food. And if we’re constantly doing our grocery shopping, buying everything fresh. And just for the week, we’re not using up what we already have, that stuff is going to go expired or stale or freezer burnt, and then we have to discard it. So I am mindful that sometimes it does cost us money to stockpile things. So takeaway for me was to get back to doing that food inventory. And I’m trying to be more mindful of not also stuffing my freezer full because this wasn’t just an inventory problem. This was also an organization problem in my freezer. If we organize things in a way that makes them hard to access, we stop xx, we stop accessing them. It’s hard to say. So things in my freezer were just stepped in there, things were stuck at the back at the bottom, I forgot what was in there really out of sight out of mind. So I would go buy more when I already had some on hand. I think this is the most true for like out of sight out of mind for the bathroom, going out and buying more toothpaste or conditioner or face lotion when I already have enough on hand somewhere in the cupboard to probably last me a good month at least. And do I ever go back and use that half bottle of lotion in the cupboard? Or do I just go to the store and buy more and then eventually toss that half full one out? When I declutter, I don’t really think that buying things ahead of time and stockpiling things you know, you’re going to need as a problem. For me, I’m feeling like the problem is not organizing them in a way that prompts you to use them. Perhaps having a set place where you store these items, keeping the toothpaste all in one place, or rather than random cupboards throughout the house, being able to open up a drawer or cupboard and see what is in there and access it. And I’m not sharing this because I do it. So well. I’m sharing this because I know the struggle of it. And I know that when we are organizing our things to make them accessible and visible, then we aren’t able to use them. As we’re talking about this storage and inventory and spring cleaning, I’m also going to share one other thing that’s helped us in the spring that I think is worth sharing, I share it most every spring. And that is how we’re managing the stuff especially if you have kids, let’s say it’s spring, you’re going to pack up the winter stuff and pull out the summer stuff. For us. That means we kind of pull these bins out of our storage room in the basement. And we pack up storage bins of what’s gonna go back in for next season. Now I get myself into a quandary because I go to the store to buy them snow boots or sandals or whatever. And I forget what we have at home, I forget what’s in storage if we haven’t pulled it out yet. And the season is just beginning. So what I have found helpful is when we put things back in the storage room, we do two things. The first is we try everything on or just ask the kid, does this still fit you? Are we getting rid of it and putting that aside? And then what does still fit? Or what will fit next year?
I need to write in my phone in the Notes app. What’s in storage? Who does it fit in? What is it so I know that next season, I’m not going to go buy everyone all new stuff. When we’ve got stuff in storage, just because I am not able to organize it and see it visually see it without rummaging through everything doesn’t mean that I can’t still use the benefit of inventory. Digital inventory look, then it’s with me everywhere I go at every store. Alright friends, I know that sharing these kinds of things. Sometimes I feel a little bit silly, I feel vulnerable. Because I feel like sometimes I’m sharing things that an adult should just know and I should have this figured out already. So it’s one thing to talk about it, let alone make a podcast episode about it. But here’s what I’m reminding myself if this is true for me if I needed these reminders at 39. Again, then maybe it’s probably true for at least one more person. And if this episode has helped one person, this episode is for you, my friend. Enjoy. Go forth, take inventory, organize, and do it at your own pace. Don’t buy into perceived sense of urgency. You are right where you need to be. You’ve got it just take the next step. Let’s wrap up with a simple pleasure. Haven’t done one in a while. And this is something I’ve been enjoying at night so I wish I was a person who enjoyed tea. I feel a little bit like Ted last Oh feels about it. I feel like it is just garbage and it’s a week And every time I drink tea, I just wish it was coffee the whole time, I just want it to be coffee. So I’m sorry, tea, I can’t give you unconditional love because I’m just wishing you or something else the entire time. But I love on TV when you see someone in their sweats and they’re holding that cup and it looks warm, and their hands was probably just like empty or whatever. And they’re drinking their tea and their Gozi. And I’m just like, oh, I want to be a person who likes tea, but I don’t like tea. So maybe I just want to be a person who enjoys that sentiment at the end of the night of getting cozy with something. And I find it really helpful for me to think outside the box beyond alcohol, because I don’t want that to become my nightly habit. That’s the trap I fell into a few years back and something I’ve worked my way out of. And so I’m being really mindful of bringing in different things into the end of my night. That still give me that sense of ritual and reward. And one thing I’ve really enjoyed is sparkling water. We have a Soda Stream, but whatever sparkling water from the grocery store and adding some bitters to it, bitters, you might have heard the term they usually add them into drinks, a couple of drops or some dashes. And they they are an alcohol infused with different herbs and spices and fruits. And it’s really condensed, it’s considered an herbal alcoholic preparation, but they are quite condensed and dark. And you just need a couple drops to flavor change the flavor of something. So I really enjoy have a peach bitters and a regular bitters. And I really enjoy putting that in my sparkling water. I’m going to link in the show notes, the types of bitters I have because there’s so many different options you can get. And if you are someone who likes things a bit sweeter, add a bit of juice, try some different combinations. It’s a simple pleasure that I’ve been enjoying. Maybe you’ll enjoy it too. All right, friends, have a great week.
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