Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Ahhhh, spring… the sun is still shining when I leave the library, robins are returning from their winter quarters, trees are beginning to bloom, daffodils and crocus are popping up all over and youngsters are walking around in shorts and tank tops (no matter that the weather is still too chilly for that- the calendar says it’s spring, by gosh!). It’s that time of year when the sparkling sunshine makes me realize how dirty my windows are and the extra daylight means I notice the dust building up on the floorboards and in the corners. Time for spring cleaning!
Lucky for me, I live in a smallish apartment that requires only one day for a thorough spring cleaning. I remember my teen years, though, when my sister and I would help our grandmother with some of her spring cleaning chores. It seemed endless because there were three floors of row house to be dusted and scrubbed, lots of windows and their screens to be washed before they went in the windows (back when screens weren’t permanent and the windows didn’t tilt in for easy cleaning) and china cabinets full of quirky dish and glass sets that were never used but which still got a thorough wipedown each spring.
Nowadays, in families with both parents working full-time or multiple jobs and children’s activities consuming evening and weekend hours, there just doesn’t seem to be as much time to fit in spring cleaning. Cleaning services can come to the rescue! Even if you don’t have the extra cash to hire a weekly or monthly cleaning service, hiring someone to do the heavy work once or twice a year might be worth saving for.
Want to tackle the job on your own? Here are some resources to help you get organized and tackle the tasks efficiently:
1. Start with a cleaning checklist from household diva Martha Stewart
2. Find ideas for getting the whole family involved in the book Help! Around the House: A Mother’s Guide to Getting the Family to Pitch In and Clean Up.
3. Studies are showing that all the anti-bacterial products we are using more and more often may actually be doing more harm than good. Consider going green in your cleaning with help from books like Organic Housekeeping and Naturally Clean.
4. Keep your home looking great by organizing and creating better storage (or by getting rid of things, if you tend to be a hoarder). Books like Clutter Diet and Room by Room Storage Solutions offer suggestions that will get you started. There are lots of other books on house cleaning and organizing your home available from the libraries. You can even find instructional videos on youtube.
5. Don’t forget to turn up your favorite music to give you energy for the tasks! Or sing the happy working song along with Princess Giselle from the Disney movie Enchanted.
Remember that spring cleaning isn’t just about the house! Maybe you need to organize your digital life, which may include getting rid of some of your less desirable facebook friends. Still have mementos tucked away from an ex? Do some spiritual cleaning and toss ‘em!
Perhaps your finances are in a tangle and you need to get them organized? We have many books on personal finance in the library. There are some useful online tools also: planning tools from the Smart Cookies investing website, comprehensive money tracking and planning tools from Mint.com (easy to use and FREE!) or from Quicken (also easy to use but you pay to download online or buy from your local office supply store). While you’re at it, take the time to check your credit reports. (I do this each year around the same time I file my taxes.) Many websites and companies advertise that they offer free credit reports, but there is only one website that lets you do this free: AnnualCreditReport.com. Other sites will charge fees somehow or another. Note that the *reports* are free but you do get charged if you want to know your actual *score*.
You could also take some financial advice from the original Domestic Goddess (but I really wouldn't recommend it).
If you’re more in the mood for living vicariously through someone else’s housework, look for Barbara Colley’s mysteries featuring New Orleans super sleuth/cleaning lady Charlotte LaRue or Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us, which explores the intimate and yet formal bond that develops between a housemaid and her abused employer in contemporary Bombay. Opt out of cleaning for a movie like Sunshine Cleaning or Spanglish or episodes of the BBC series Upstairs Downstairs.
All this talk of cleaning wearing you down? Do you hate cleaning? You aren’t alone! You might want to take a look at the case AGAINST spring cleaning or get yourself a magnet to show everyone how you feel. Maxine, the cranky silver-haired star of her own line of greeting cards, puts it this way, “My idea of housekeeping is to sweep the room with my eyes.”