Two Birds/One Stone: Moving & Spring Cleaning

April 2, 2010

Contributed by celebrity guest blogger and home organizer extraordinaire Melissa Martin.

Taking the big leap into home purchasing for the first time (or third time!) can be trying — as trying as getting your current space in tip top shape to sell. Add to this the daunting task of packing up all your belongings, hiring movers… well, you know what I mean. Let’s face it — moving is hard.

But instead of thinking about packing up your home as overwhelming, what if you tried thinking of it as a great opportunity to purge? Look at your move as a great motivator — the kick in the pants you need to finally donate the clothes you never wear, throw out your ancient back issues of National Geographic, sell those three bikes that never get ridden.

There’s much to say on this opportunity to purge and re-set, but here are my top tips for packing up and moving on:

1) When in doubt…THROW IT OUT! Instead of saving every art project your son, daughter, niece or nephew ever made, pick a handful of favorites to frame as artwork in your new home and throw the rest out. If you struggle with this, take pictures first, then throw them out. Or better yet, have your kids pick their ten favorites and get rid of the rest.

2) If you haven’t worn something in a year, donate it to charity. Don’t move clothes that you think you “maybe will wear someday.” Trust me, if you haven’t worn something in a year, chances are you are not going to. This includes those skinny jeans you fit into five years ago before having kids and the LL Bean sweater you wore all through college. Clothes are clothes. Don’t attach sentimental value to them — unless of course it is your great, great, great, grandmother’s christening gown that has been passed down for generations. That one’s a keeper.

3) Food, cleaning supplies, medicines, make-up: Moving is a great opportunity to clear out all these items that have expired. Yes, make-up does expire! Think of this as a great excuse to go on that Target run to get new items for your new home. Pay special attention to items you keep in your medicine cabinet. Most over-the-counter medicines and first aid items have expiration dates. Check them and if they’ve expired DO NOT move them to your new home.

4) Still-packed boxes from your last move: When you explore your storage areas, take special note of boxes you put there after your last move and said “I’ll get to this.” If you haven’t unpacked a box since your last move, DO NOT bring it along again. Whatever is inside, you haven’t missed. Obviously if it contains priceless family photos, don’t throw it out. But more than likely this box contains random electronics from old cell phones, VCRs and other items that are no longer needed. Get rid of them!

5) Donations from family and friends: When I moved into my condo, I looked around and realized that every piece of furniture I was about to move had come from a donation… or IKEA. I couldn’t see moving things that weren’t good solid pieces. There were some antiques I took, but the couch that had belonged to a roommate — three roommates ago… GONE! Purge those items that are lingering from college dorm rooms, first apartments, and impulse buys at IKEA. If you can swing it, consider investing in some new pieces. If that’s not an option right away, enjoy the space and freedom of living with less — you might find you like it!

6) Random things: I always have my clients take a good hard look at trinkets, souveniers, tchatkis and other dust collectors and ask themselves, “How much do I love it?” Set up a few boxes — Box 1: Absolutely can’t live without; Box 2: Donate or Sell; Box 3: Trash. You’ll be surprised at what you won’t miss.

Moving is a chance to clean house, to spring clean, whichever season you find yourself packing up in. Use this opportunity to simplify. You will find that when you arrive in your new home, finding where things belong will be so much more obvious when there are fewer “things” to place.

I heard three Danish women on a talk show discuss how they live in such small spaces and with so few items. There response was so simple and so true: Less stuff. Less stress. More living! I think that sums it up.

~~~~~

Melissa Martin is a television documentary producer who finds great fun in her downtime by helping friends, family and clients purge and make room for simple, joyful stress-free living spaces. If you think you could use her help packing up and purging, she can be reached at: melissamartin@fastmail.fm.

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