Attention! Spring clean

Spring has sprung and that means it’s time to do those cleaning and clearing jobs that have been conveniently ignored throughout the winter.

We know from your letters and experience that the best way to tackle the task is through a family social day – but with military-like discipline. Organise and arm the troops with fluffy feather dusters, top secret cleaning agents, buckets of elbow grease, rubbish bags, boxes, and most of all a positive attitude as they fight grime and clutter on all fronts. Write down the Mission Impossible task for each trooper, and have them report back to HQ at regular intervals. Remember that wars are won through inspired leadership – and a full tummy – so reward the troops with bucket loads of praise and batches of home-made scones and pikelets.

Break the tasks down into small and simple steps. A formal inspection of the guard followed by regimented marching to the sound of rousing music is the best way to begin. A good plan is to fight the battle one room at a time. Work in pairs if needs be and keep the communications short, sharp and snappy – something like Question: “What about this?” Answer: “Rubbish”. Reply: “Ten-four roger.”

Assign one or more persons the rank of Captain de Clutter with the special forces assignment of de-cluttering the house. Remember that the military is now gender neutral and ACC compliant so make sure the tasks tick all of the regulatory boxes – and don’t forget to put up scaffold and safety barriers when working at heights greater than one metre!

Start by rummaging through forgotten places – including the deep recesses of cupboards – tossing out stuff that has been kept because “it may come in handy one day”. There’s likely to be lots of trash that you can turn into cash. Golf clubs (the old ones, not the new ones!), unwanted household appliances (old TVs before 60 inch flat-screens became the minimum standard for sport loving dads), furniture, CD’s, books (the ones where pages turn rather than swipe)… they can all be sold, swapped, or given away to create space.

Cancel subscriptions to magazines that are no longer read or enjoyed. Sort though the old stacks of magazines that will invariably be cluttering up closets and mounting up in ever taller piles on coffee tables – so much so that discussions have to be through the piles rather than over them! Take them to a second hand book shop or sell them at your garage sale.

In the bathroom check medications for their ‘use by’ date. Destroy anything that’s a bit dubious – it’s especially dangerous having medicine lying around if there are littlies in the household who think colourful pills look like M & M’s! Get out the torch and have a good snoop at the back of the bathroom cabinet.

The kitchen is one of the big battlegrounds. Start by removing everything out of the cupboards, pantry and fridge. Toss out anything that’s been forgotten – especially stuff with long green hair or a use-by-date referring to last century! Keep everything that needs to be used in the near future at the front so you can adapt your menus to suit.

While you are at it put on your snow goggles and check out the depths of the deep freeze for fossilised food.

In the wardrobe, if you haven’t worn it for years, you are not likely to need it – unless you plan to go to a retro theme fancy dress party … which is not a bad idea for a BBQ evening! Sort everything into one of three piles:

• Stuff that you wear,
• Good stuff that you would wear if you could fit into it (!), and
• Stuff that should be thrown out or used as rags.

Give away the good stuff that you don’t wear, drop it into one of the charitable thrift shops, or sell it at your garage sale. When putting the clothing back to wear again, try sorting by type, keeping all the shirts together for example, or by use – best, work, casual and so on. The better organised your stuff is, the more efficiently you will use it!

Good luck, and once done, don’t forget the victory parade for the battle-worn troopers!