What better time of year to pick a few areas to refresh? Here are my annual simple household updates.
(Note: I’ve included links to stuff I’d like to try when budget allows; I haven’t tried all of them, and there are no affiliate links.)
1. Get new towels! Any worn, faded, or stained kitchen towels can be retired. Depending on their condition, they can be donated, re purposed as cleaning cloths, used as padding to pack away seasonal decorations, or recycled. Replace with matched or color-coordinated towels.
2. Take inventory. Cull damaged or duplicate gadgets, utensils, oven mitts, and baking supplies. Replace supplies used up in holiday preparations. Maybe get a new dish brush. Use up miscellaneous pantry items. Re-stock baking supplies and dry goods and refill soap dispensers and cleaning solutions.
Main living area
3. Tidy up… Take down and store seasonal decorations, setting aside any to be donated or discarded. Straighten up the furniture and accessories, water and trim any houseplants, dust, vacuum.
4. Then curate. There is often an influx of stuff this time of year between others’ generosity in gift-giving and our own exposure to shopping with social obligations. Once stuff is organized, it is easier to identify which items should stay and which need to be re-homed. This might be a space to declutter, or if you were already happy with the amount of items, to employ a one item in, one item out approach.
5. Flip the mattress. Regular flipping and rotating helps to prevent moisture build-up and all the dust mites, mold, and allergies that can go along with it. It’s the same rationale as airing out the bed before making it. Go ahead and wash all the bedding in the meantime. If your pillows or mattress are a few years old, or discomfort is interfering with your sleep, it might be time to consider a change.
6. Discard old toiletries. Give this essential room a good cleaning, then cast a critical eye on towels and other accessories. In the last year, we’ve used up some of our plastic-packaged stuff and streamlined a more low-waste routine.
7. Consider a system overhaul. I know, not the most glamorous. But hear me out… The reduce, reuse, recycle approach does not have to mean a lot of extra work.
- Where I live, trash (going to landfill) is picked up weekly, but recycling is only picked up monthly. After some research, we identified a local junkyard where we could take larger metal items, and a recycling facility where we can take cardboard boxes.
- By taking this on ourselves, we found that the regular recycling bin could easily accommodate the less bulky glass, plastics, and cans.
- While we do some composting, an outdoor compost bin attracted forest critters, and my attempt at vermi-composting failed.
- We are able to use some cardboard for sheet mulching, and some paper for fire-starting with the wood burner. It’s not perfect, but overall I feel better about it compared to sending everything straight to landfill.
8. Identify any new storage needs. Here again, holiday gift-giving may bring new stuff into your home… Decide what you will keep, then where you will keep it.
9. Declutter! Possibly my favorite part of the new year refresh. This step also does the most to make spring cleaning fast and easy.
Self care: the best refresh
10. Reward yourself. Starting the new year can be a bit of a let down after the holiday season, but I like to think of January and February as a blank slate.
- Take time to yourself. In the now-tidy living area, take five minutes for a cup of tea or a breathing exercise. If you can, get outside for some fresh air. Or go for a drive. Allow yourself time for a favorite song, a comedy clip, or a bath. Or a more extensive workout than usual. Whatever you find refreshing.
- Catch up on sleep. This is under-rated. Sleep is as important to well-being as nutrition and exercise. If your schedule doesn’t always allow for adequate rest, catching up when you can is even more important.
- Celebrate the victories. Reflecting on the past year, for many of us, it wasn’t the greatest. Find even the smallest personal successes and own them. Write them down. And celebrate in some way that is meaningful.