Guilt-free spring cleaning

It’s been a looong winter, but with March finally here, we not only see a light at the end of the cold, snowy tunnel, but can also start to plan for spring. For many, that means spring cleaning. I’m afraid I will run into the same issue I do each and every year. I have too much “stuff” — entirely too much. From old notebooks and worn-out clothes, to broken toys and odd screws and nails. It’s not like I want all of this stuff either. In fact, I have a dream in which I only own a bed, a table, an iPod, and a computer. Because I often think that’s all I need.

I embark on periodic cleaning binges where I will go through the various boxes and bins that contain all this stuff. I pile and sort just like super clutter expert Peter Walsh instructs us all to do. I throw some of it out, but I mostly end up just repackaging and organizing the stuff and putting it back where it came from. Sorry, Peter.

But I think I know why I do it …

Back when I was young, I would clean my room and actually throw stuff out that I didn’t want. Invariably, a few hours later, my mother would find me. Then with the very garbage bag that I had thrown out earlier in one hand and a piece of stuff in the other, she would point out how Aunt so-and-so gave me that mangled teddy bear with its stuffing falling out, and Uncle this-and-that gave me the ill-fitted and downright hideous turtleneck sweater that made me itch, so how could I possibly have thrown those things away? To this day, when my mother is visiting, I will make sure to cover my garbage bins in case she sees a piece of stuff hanging out.

But with spring right around the corner, I have one goal: to get rid of all the stuff I don’t want. Kid’s books are being sent to my local library. Old (or just plain ugly) clothes are going to St. Mary’s, and junk or any unusable items are going right in the trash! I will not feel guilty for making our home less filled with stuff. In fact, it’s mentally healthy, because I will feel calmer with less stuff. And since I am giving away the stuff rather than throwing it away (well, most of it anyway), I have no reason to feel guilty, right?

So excuse me while I go tackle my bins and give the Sanitation fellas something to talk about. I promise not to pick up any item and recall who gave it to me or how long I’ve had it. It’s cutthroat sorting from here on out, and as I’m dragging the filled-to-the-rim garbage cans to the curb tonight and out of sight (because my husband — AKA Sanford and Son — might also have an urge to retrieve something we can use one day!), I will feel content.

Just don’t tell my mother …

Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Find Sullivan on her blogs, Just Write Mom and Some Puppy To Love.