Glorious warm weather, lounging by the pool, bike rides to the park, and picnics with the family. Summer is finally here! After a loooooong winter hunkered down inside, you know the time is right to give your home a freshening up.
But, you hesitate. For many, the prospect of cleaning can be daunting at the best times. This year, we’ve been spending more time at home—working in the spare room, pouring over schoolwork at the kitchen table, binge-watching TV, receiving online shopping deliveries, and preparing and eating every meal at home. This might just mean that you’re finding there is more “stuff” than usual to organize before your home can shake off its winter doldrums and let the sun shine in.
Here are 5 tips to de-clutter the house this Summer
The tips will not only get your home summer-ready, but they will help you put a plan in place to keep the clutter at bay all year round.
1. Look at the big picture
Every year, it’s helpful to evaluate if you are using your space the best way you can to meet your needs. Especially if you are experiencing any life transitions, maybe you need to change it up and reimagine your home. Are the kids needing more privacy or moving out soon? Are you working more at home? Are you entertaining less? Spending more social times outdoors? Maybe the spare room can be turned into an office, the formal dining room can be transformed into an area for games and puzzles. Could a much-needed desk—or painter’s easel or craft table—be tucked into an alcove? Perhaps some more formal work and “going-out” clothes and shoes can be stored (or given away) to create more closet space for household supplies (or comfy clothes!). Perhaps a room divider is needed to create private spaces. Pretend you are moving in to your house for the first time—how would you use the space?
Next, consider your biggest organizational problem areas. For example, does your front hall seem to attract clutter? Is your home office a magnet for paper? Do you have jam-packed junk drawers or cluttered, disorganized closets? Most individuals and families have organizational problem areas. Reflect (but don’t get bogged down!) on what those areas are, and write it down. Tackle those first: They will be the hardest, but getting them done will inspire you to keep going—the rest will be a breeze.
Also, this is the time to consider getting help—either from inspirational books or blogs on the joy of decluttering, or from professional organizers. Especially if you are experiencing a life transition, like kids moving out, expanding your outdoor living space or setting up a home office, an outside view (even if it’s just from a friend) can shed new light and be a source of fresh ideas.
If your “big picture” exercise above made you realize you need more storage, pick up baskets, containers or anything else you will need before starting in on summer organization.
2. Call in the team
When it comes to summer decluttering, there’s no reason to go it alone! Gather around the kitchen table and have a family meeting over lunch! Check out some Country Harvest™ sandwich recipes here for some further inspiration! Get everyone’s input and buy-in so they feel included. Ask which chores they prefer.
Schedule a big weekend organizing blitz—and plan to keep your place organized all year round (See how in our next tip). Ask youngsters what will help keep them motivated and on-track every week—A white board? A gold-star system? An allowance? Other rewards? Even smaller children will want to help and will have ideas for how they can best keep their rooms organized and their toys and belongings tucked away.
3. Get organized in 15-minute bursts
One reason our homes can become far-from-organized is because it can seem too time-consuming and, let’s face it, completely overwhelming to keep on top of the clutter. Besides, with the weather getting better, who wants to spend time inside tidying?
The 15-minute organizing plan is an all-year-round maintenance plan. And it works for your initial big clean, too. For your initial blitz, do all rooms over the course of the weekend. For this initial sweep, it might take longer than 15 minutes for your organizational problem areas. That’s OK! The idea is to get everything into shape this summer, so that all year round, you (and family members) will keep the house organized by doing 15-minute passes through just one or two rooms a day, covering all rooms every week. Simple.
After all, it’s usually easy to find 15 minutes, and it’s less daunting than planning an afternoon of cleaning. Plus, knowing you’ve only got 15 minutes makes you focus and stay on task.
How do you do it?
- Gather a garbage bag, a recycling bin, and a catch-all container. (For your initial summer clean, you might want to add a bin for what you want to donate or give away.)
- Set a timer. This helps you keep focused and on task, and ensures the task doesn’t expand to take more time.
For most rooms:
- Pass through the room for items than don’t belong there and put them in your catch-all container.
- Pick up any papers, catalogues or magazines that haven’t been used for a month or more and put them in the recycling bin. Throw away any unneeded non-recyclable items.
- Straighten any books or other items on surfaces that need rearranging. (With books, consider whether you need to keep them. Libraries or shelters often take books.)
- Return items from catch-all to where they belong. Or, place them all in a predetermined common area for family members to retrieve and put away.
- Fold any blankets and straighten any pillows or cushions.
- Organize remotes in one place and return them there. Unwind and tuck away any stray electronics cords and put away any electronics into their designated home.
For bedrooms and bathrooms: To the above, add a laundry hamper at the doorway to toss dirty clothes. Grab some hangers to hang up clean clothes.
For kitchens: Focus on countertops where out-of-place items seem to migrate. Open the fridge, toss what is out-of-date and put items in their proper storage area. In the pantry or cabinets, straighten items so cans, jars and spices are easy to quickly find.
For cleaning: Take the 15-minute approach to cleaning tasks, too. If you’re keeping the clutter under control, then vacuuming several rooms can easily be done in 15 minutes. Same with dusting or mopping the floor.
As you go about your 15-minute routine, establish that every item has a place, a spot in a drawer, on a shelf, in a cupboard. If an item keeps turning up in the wrong spot, maybe it needs a new home.
4. Take breaks and fuel and up!
Come cleaning weekend, make sure you are well-rested and have set aside the time you need. Turn on your favourite music and get moving! Keep energy and spirits high by taking breaks and fueling up with wholesome and healthy meals. It will keep you and any helpers energized and on-task.
Help seize the day with a hearty breakfast of avocado toast made with Country Harvest™ Ancient Grains topped with romaine lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, avocado and poached eggs. Delish. Or kick start the morning with your favourite slice of Country Harvest™ toast. Top it with spinach, scrambled eggs, tomato, goat cheese—and a drizzle of sriracha for a burst of flavour.
Do the troops need a reward for a job well-done? Layer Country Harvest™ Ancient Grains toast with natural peanut butter and banana slices dipped in dark chocolate for a delicious and wholesome sweet treat.
For lunch, try a healthy bagel sandwich. Or, opt for our Veggie & Hummus Sandwich on our Sunflower, Flax and Hemp Country Harvest™ Grains+ Energy loaf. Here’s the recipe.
Veggie & Hummus Sandwich
- 2 slices Country Harvest ™ Grains+ Sunflower, Flax & Hemp Loaf
- 2-3 Tablespoons hummus
- A handful of fresh baby spinach
- 1 Sliced tomato
- 1 Sliced Avocado
- 1 Thinly sliced red onion
- 1 Thinly sliced carrot
- Toast slice of loaf if desired.
- Spread both slices with hummus, then layer on baby spinach, sliced avocado, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, and sliced carrots.
- Slice sandwich in half and serve.
5. Don’t forget the outdoors
You’ll be spending a lot of time outside this summer. Whether you have an extensive back yard, a deck or a balcony, it’s an extension of your living space. Turn it into a low-stress, low-clutter oasis by giving it a summer tune up.
• Think ahead about how you will be using your outdoor space and organize accordingly. Keep everything you need for outdoor living close together. For example, keep garden tools and BBQ utensils in a shed or part of the garage. Keep a colourful container by the door for rubber boots or flipflops. Hang hats and tuck sunscreen, bug spray and citronella candles in a cupboard near the back door. Stash a blanket or two if you or your guests are planning on lingering outside in the evenings.
• Decide which dinnerware, glasses and cutlery can go outside and keep them together. Choose where any cushions that need to come in from the rain will be stashed for easy access.
• Survey your yard and patio (and shed and garage, if you have them) for clutter. Use a garbage bag and a recycling bin and decide to toss, recycle, repurpose or donate items in your yard: old hoses, toys, planters, pots, birdhouses, lighting, furniture, tools, rakes, etc. Get rid of any dead branches and rake up any leftover leaves.
• Sweep and wash down your walkways, deck, patio or balcony.
• Wash cushions for outdoor furniture and put them outside to dry. Wipe down your patio umbrella.
• Make sure yard equipment, like the lawn mower and garden tools, are tuned up, clean and ready for duty.
• Don’t forget the windows and sliding glass doors. Bring the outside in with crystal-clear windows. Wipe down window sills as well and dust and clean blinds, curtains and screens.
• Wipe down any other surfaces.
• Voila! You now have a clean slate to add some decorative plants and flowers and plan for a summer of outdoor living activities.