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Coping: A spring refresh is good for the mind and the home

Cori-Lynn Lemaitre says a spring declutter will benefit all, especially if you focus on better, not perfect

It’s that time of year again, the moment to emerge from our dens and take in the spring air once more. It’s also the time of year when you step back into your home and see just what the den looks like after so much time inside; and really, it’s been two years inside.

So if you are feeling the need to change up your life, to declutter and get rid of the old to make room for what you love, just in time for you to begin showing off again — or at least, having people at your home.

And though this may sound like the dreaded spring ‘cleaning,’ Cori-Lynn Lemaitre, certified organization specialist and owner of Organize Your Space, told Sudbury.com that a better word for it is “refresh.”

“Sometimes just calling it something different makes people feel better,” she said. “Don't call it clean, don't put so much pressure on that ‘clean’, just look to freshen up your space.”

And the best way to refresh your home is with three other words in mind: planning, preparation, and imperfection.

“Often our own environments can leave us to feel overwhelmed with negative emotions, it can be challenging to get started,” said Lemaitre. “Always start with a plan. Like any project, you need to be prepared.”

She recommends putting dates in a calendar, spreading the work out into available time and then using the time available to determine the to-do list. If you only have a few minutes, maybe don’t try the kitchen.

“Once you've selected some dates, you have to create a task list right for each day and no more than three to five tasks per list,” she said. “You have to make it attainable, and you want to be able to have a reward by checking off those things. Most people love to make a list and check it all off.”

Lemaitre has printable task lists on her website, and plans to offer more in the future. 

When creating your task list, Lemaitre advises concentrating on one room at a time, especially “You don't want to get distracted by going room to room and losing your focus. And, you want it to be visually rewarding when you're done.”

She even recommends taking a picture before the refresh begins so you can see just how much progress you made. 

She also advises having a bin with you specifically for items that need to be moved to other rooms to be put away when you are finished.  

That’s part of being prepared, said Lemaitre, and recommends not only having a bin for other rooms, but also for donations and garbage and recycling. 

As well, get any supplies ready you might need, cleaners and cloths, for example, before you begin. Then, when it is time to get started, be sure you’re dressed the part, and doing your best to enjoy the experience as much as possible. 

“You want to have comfy clothes and shoes,” she said.  and you want to make sure you open a window and breathe in some fresh air, have a few deep breaths and some positive thinking right? She said it helps to turn on favourite music or a podcast, review your task list and your supplies - planning and preparedness - and then, set a timer. “You've allocated the time, be true to yourself,” she said. “If you've given yourself two hours, set the timer, hit it and go.”

Start by removing the clutter, putting it in the appropriate bins and in Lemaitre’s words, “be ruthless.”

Once the clutter is gone, use your remaining time for the cleaning routine and go “from top to bottom,” as you clean. Dust before you vacuum, etc.  “Then just stay on task and reward yourself by checking things off.” 

Once the timer goes off, said Lemaitre, reflect. “Look at the space, be proud of what you've done. If you've checked off all your tasks, take a picture and reward yourself.”

And during the reflection, remember, “when the timer goes off, it's better, not perfect,  that's what we're aiming for,” said Lemaitre. She said waiting for perfection can often prevent people from even starting, mostly for the time commitment it requires. “But if you allocate for better, rather than perfect, you will have time. Giving yourself 30 minutes, or an hour, two hours, whatever, it will always be better than when you started.”

If you have the time, head into the kitchen, but if you only have 15 minutes to spare, Lemaitre recommends going for something that will look better, quickly, and better yet, be seen by others. 

“Just look at the entranceway,” said Lemaitre, “Because there's no emotional connection - it’s usually mostly seasonal items to be put away - you can move through that at a fairly good pace and have such a reward. And then it's also in a public space, right? So that if someone's popping over, it’s going to look great.”

In order to get your home back the way you want it, especially in time to welcome others to your home, or even just make it a more welcoming place for you and your family, focus on perfect imperfection. 

“It's better than it was when you started,” said Lemaitre. “Even if you only did 15 minutes, It's always better after. Even if you just ended up removing the clutter and getting the garbage and donations out, you're still ahead. Even if you didn't start the cleaning, you're moving the dial forward.” 

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter at Sudbury.com. Coping is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.


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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with Sudbury.com. She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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