Autumn Audit – home for hibernation and successful decluttering
Autumn is the time when fans move out and heaters move in. Cosy blankets are gently folded over the beds and are rolled into a basket next to the couch. If you have already seen the Clutter Box Autumn Audit – Wardrobe Wizz, then you are probably ready to move into the rest of your home in preparation for a decluttered, cosy winter.
As with jerseys, blankets sometimes also look a little more worn when brought back into the light than we remembered them looking, so this is a good time to donate those that you would not like to be seen in public! Whilst in this cupboard, have a quick look at your towels too. There are many causes needing blankets, towels, bath mats and sheets over Winter – don’t overlook any animal sanctuaries in your area too!Depending on where you store these items, also check:
- Bath mats
- Old hot water bottles – bean bags, animal huggies, plain old rubber with a veld cover…check them all!
- Kids’ facecloths that are faded and barely recognisable
- Tablecloths/napkins/table runners that have not been used in summer or were stained over great lazy lunches
When repacking your linen cupboard, there are numerous options to organise easily and taking maximum advantage of this space. For neatness: try to have as few folds visible as possible on sheets and towels (eg. only one edge of the towel visible as opposed to four); stack largest items at the bottom and smaller ones on top (eg. duvet, sheet, pillowcases); place items needed regularly on easy to reach shelves and consider packing summer linen in storage bags and placing them at the back of top shelves. For some ideas on organising linen cupboards, have a look at ‘Sheets and Linen’ under https://za.pinterest.com/clutter_box/
I love food and so, fortunately, I like to be in my kitchen and to cook; I am often sourcing various ingredients from my pantry and spice rack. In cooler months, I love to cook soups, casseroles, and various other warming meals which means my larger, heavier pots move to the front of my cupboards for easier access. We also tend to use different tablecloths, napkins, etc. (no white if eating a curry with some red wine!).Follow the same advice to empty all cupboards, clean and only repack what will be used. Here is a list of things I also take a moment to take stock of in the kitchen during seasonal changes:
- The pantry and fridge: for any expired tins/bottles – take all items out and give the fridge a good clean. Group all similar items together when replacing and place taller items at the back for easy viewing. I stack new tins/sauces behind/under older ones in a system whereby the older item will be used first. I have also placed stepped shelves in some cupboards to make items easier to see. Check for boxes that contain very little product and consider decanting into appropriate storage items such as Tupperware or glassware.
- Pots and pans: any that are damaged or are simply not used? Donate!
- Crockery and cutlery: decide whether you like the eclectic look or if you prefer your sets to be uniform. Make a note of what needs replacing or donating……remember that anything chipped is a germ trap.
- Tupperware: lost its lid? One clip broken? You know what to do…
- Recipes: recipe books that are not used, pieces of paper with recipes scribbled on them, pages torn from magazines – that’s right…..bin or donate.
- Deep freeze: get a coolbox and use it to store items while you also give this a good defrosting and clean. Check that items have not expired, changed consistency (think ice creams), changed appearance (think freezer burn). Cold air needs to circulate around items properly in order to keep them evenly frozen so try not to overstack. Plan your menu around items that need to be used before expiration.
- Cleaning products: even these can become grotty. Check for multiple bottles of the same product being open simultaneously; decant washing powder into lidded containers for neater dispensing. For some ideas on organising kitchen cupboards, have a look at ‘Kitchens’ under https://za.pinterest.com/clutter_box/
- Larger unused equipment and utensils: bread maker that has lost its appeal? Chef whizz that you thought would transform your cooking from mediocre to professional but hasn’t? Donate or consider selling online.
This is the perfect time to check for expired medication (both pharmaceutical AND homeopathic) and to perhaps top up on Winter essentials in order to keep colds and flu at bay. You may also be holding onto medication that your children have outgrown and therefore the incorrect dosage may be given, thereby not having the desired effect. Expired medicine should not be thrown out – rather take it to your local pharmacy and they can discard of it safely.
Kids’ toys and crafts
Sunset happens sooner, the weather is cooler, there is a natural shift for children indoors, albeit probably a little later than adults! As families might spend more time indoors over Winter, it is a great time to address toy creep. Here you will need and extra box – one for broken toys, not just toys for donation.
- Toys: it is important to give your child some agency here – let them identify their 10 favourite toys that will remain. Use your knowledge of what they like to play with to sort through the rest – when did you last see them use it? You might consider a ‘Maybe’ box here too. Store like items together and label – if your child is too young to read, use picture labels instead.
- Puzzles and Board games:which have been outgrown and which have lost pieces? It is difficult as an adult to choose one if there are a sea of options before you; imagine being a four-year-old trying to choose.
- Arts and crafts: separate like items into Tupperware / buckets/ shelves/drawers. Try and keep this system so that children know where to find what they need, keeping them inspired to keep creating instead of fed up from not finding what they are looking for.This is always a difficult area but take heart: every home is different. How much storage space do you have? Do you have a playroom or not? Is there a younger sibling that you can save the toy for?
If you are really struggling to reduce the number of toys in the house but are not ready to do a big donation, consider the rotational system, as with seasonal clothes. Pack a variety of toys away into storage (a cupboard/garage) for a month before bringing it out again. Repeat with different toys. You will soon see what your children miss and what they have lost interest in. Here is a great article from Denaye Barahona PH.D. from Simple Families on decluttering toys: https://www.simplefamilies.com/how-to-declutter-the-toys/
Magazines and books
I love what my books say about me and my interests but it is very liberating for me to donate the books that I feel no longer interest or represent anything about me. Books and magazines can be passed along to friends (ask first!) or donated. You might also keep a few magazines for children to cut from, just make sure the content is appropriate 😊. Have you thought of old age homes, doctor’s rooms, public libraries, book drives at schools, NGO’s?Finally, keep the area next to your bed and couch (most likely reading areas) as clear as possible. If you have finished a book, move it to a shelf with your book collection – don’t clutter up the space needed for rest and sleep.Hold your end goal in mind in order to stay focussed. You may need to address these areas over two weekends but sure to prioritise these categories and set a clear timeframe for each to be completed within.