How We: Spring Clean/Organize

It’s How We…Wednesday!  Once a month, Erika and I host a link up where we talk about how we (fill in the blank).  We’ll share and then we’re hoping you’ll link up and share too…because I LOVE learning new things from you ladies!  So far this year, we’ve discussed…

JANUARY: Our New Year’s Resolutions.
FEBRUARY: How we take care of ourselves
MARCH: How we mom fail and live to talk about it


Oh my gosh!  I am obsessed with spring cleaning and organizing.  My kids would probably say that I love it too much because I’m constantly going through their stuff/making them do it, so that we can purge, donate, share items.

I’m super pumped about today’s post because I’m hoping you girls give me some other good ideas/efficient ways to spring clean and organize.  I’m going to share my list of ways/ideas, but I totally covet any new ones you have too.  First…I must say, this is sooooooo the hardest part about getting up the energy to clean…

Right?!?!  I mean…YES!  As much as I love to do it, the build up is almost always the hardest part for me.  Here is tip #1 that helped me with this…I do a little bit every day instead of all at once.  I used to legit write “spring clean” down on my calendar and block out like an entire day for it, but that was just too hard.  Between kids, the phone ringing, work, shuffling kids to after school stuff, etc…it was just not easy for me.  So, about two or three years ago, I started writing a list of everything I needed to “spring clean” and then just do one a day.  Yes, it now takes me all month to get it organized, but on busy days, some of the things on my list (like clean out medicine cabinet) can be done in five minutes which makes me feel a little accomplished.  Here is my actual list…

…you will see that I marked off and then re-added things.  I started this list back in January and now that we are moving from winter clothes to spring/summer, I need to do some of the closets and drawers once more.  Looking at it now, I need to add a few things to it as well like clean out fridge, clean out under stairs closet and such.  So, that’s my first tip.

My second tip is this: bring a pad and pen with you while you’re cleaning.  I used to get delayed/sidetracked/distracted because as I cleaned and organized, I would realize that a light bulb needed to be changed, sheets needed to be washed, a new trashcan needed to be bought, hand soap needed to be replaced in a bathroom, etc, and I would waste time handling that stuff instead of focusing on cleaning.  Now, I just write myself some notes and then when I’m done, I go back and handle that kind of stuff.

My third tip is this: bring bags with you to sort stuff as you clean.  I always drag around a big trash bag for trash, a sack for clothes I want to donate, a sack for clothes I want to pass down/give to friends and a big bag for items/toys to be donated.  It helps me so much to sort as I go.  When I’m done, I don’t have piles anywhere…everything is already neatly sorted and ready to go downstairs.

Last year, I read this book…

…and LOVED IT!!  I even did a whole post just on Unstuffed that you can read HERE.  There are so many practical ideas for spring cleaning and organizing in this book.  You will LOVE it!!

So, those are a few of my ideas…what are some of yours?!?!  I am always so excited to get in there and get my house sorted out.  I would love some new tips and tricks!  Please comment and share!

And if you blogged How We…Wednesday too, please link up below!  Next month our topic is…how we transition our wardrobes.

Happy Wednesday, friends!  Time for me to go clean something 🙂 .

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  • Erika Slaughter April 11, 2018 at 4:58 am

    That Oreo meme is my favorite!! YYYYEEESSS!!!!!! I couldn’t agree more!

  • Nicole April 11, 2018 at 4:59 am

    I know you’ve said before that you and Andrew are both neat people, but with kids and toys…what’s your general rule for toys in your house? Do you just keep picking up? Having your kids clean up? I always struggle with allowing our kids to play and keep their toys out and then wanting it all put away. The struggle is REAL. 😉

    • Mix and Match Mama April 11, 2018 at 5:34 am

      The struggle is real!! After they’re done playing with something, they clean it up. Sometimes, they remember on their own…and sometimes I have to remind them a time or two. Or twelve. Ha! We always clean up before we leave the house and/or go to bed.

      • Sarah April 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm

        With my oldest kids (6 and 8), we tie cleaning up messes to allowance and it has worked wonders. They get paid twice and month and with that, they have certain responsibilities, including cleaning up after themselves. If we are leaving the house, going to bed, going to school etc., the kids know they have to clean up or else we dock their allowance (something small, between 25 and 50 cents). I keep all of their allowance info in the app bankaroo, and it allows me to do one time deductions. You can even add a picture of the mess to show them what they forgot to do. The rationale for docking them is that when they forget to clean up, I have to then do work that I’m not responsible for. There is zero nagging, yelling, or complaining in my house now. It only took docking them a couple of times for them to clean up without me asking or reminding. It’s been so wonderful not just for my own sanity (because I can’t function in a cluttered, messy home), but also for the peace that comes with not having to nag my kids.

        • Karen April 11, 2018 at 5:17 pm

          Thanks for the tip and app suggestion! We give our kids an allowance every month but just mentioned needing to do it twice a month so it’s more fresh on their minds. I just downloaded bankaroo to my phone. Can’t wait to start sending them pictures of what they need to clean up!

    • Stephanie April 11, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      Hello, my name is Stephanie and I believe everything has a place. 🙂 We allow play to happen anywhere in our home, but I require that toys are removed from our living room and put away either when play is over or nightly before bed. Our foyer opens directly into our living room, so I want it to look picked-up should anyone ring the doorbell. Our upstairs family room/TV room often has toys all over the floor, which I struggle with. However, now that we’ve lived in our home two years, I’ve relaxed about everything being neat and tidy up there since its just our fun space. I’ve also relaxed on my daughter cleaning her room nightly before bedtime. She currently cleans up three or four nights a week, when the mess gets so bad that we can’t stand it. She’s 6, and does the majority of the cleaning by herself. If she needs help, we assist, but we don’t do it for her.

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog April 11, 2018 at 5:02 am

    Thank you for your tips, Shay! Cleaning and decluttering are my worst enemies. Hopefully this helps with spring cleaning! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Nicole April 11, 2018 at 5:05 am

    I do everything you do! Lists help so much because some days you have 15 mins, and others an hour. Keeping up on daily maintenance and cleaning helps too! We have a daily schedule, so everyday there’s cleaning to do and usually one day a week is dedicated to purging/organizing one area in the house. The best way to be productive is being intentional with your time! You’ve helped me with that! 😊 Side question, what kind of air fresheners do you use? Thanks!

  • Tina April 11, 2018 at 5:23 am

    Great idea about bringing note pad when cleaning. I always get side tracked because I stop to do all the things I notice while I am in the room!

  • Elspeth Mizner April 11, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Great tips! Try reading The Simplfied Life by a Emily Ley, is great for organizing and cleaning!

  • Lesley McFarland April 11, 2018 at 5:53 am

    Last year when blogged about unstuffed I ordered it. We were moving and well it was just greatness. I think I threw away, gave away or donated 75% of our house. It was so nice to move into our house without the clutter and randomness.

  • Sheaffer Sims April 11, 2018 at 6:03 am

    This is just the kick in the pants I’ve needed. I’ve been building up to cleaning out our 2 junk drawers in the kitchen for like 6 months now! I’M GOING TO DO IT TODAY! I mean, maybe I’m going to do it today.

    • Allison Ferrell April 11, 2018 at 7:19 am

      This really made me LOL!

  • Narci Dreffs April 11, 2018 at 6:04 am

    You really are the best at organizing and spring cleaning! I love your tip about bringing the pen and notepad with you when you declutter ! So smart!

  • Jessica April 11, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Have you ever shown how you organize kitchen d shoes in the garage?

    • Jessica April 11, 2018 at 6:05 am

      *kid shoes in the garage

    • Mix and Match Mama April 11, 2018 at 6:05 am

      I haven’t, but I should!

  • Kelly Sites April 11, 2018 at 6:12 am

    I love decluttering and organizing. Like you, I do a little each day and that keeps me on top of things, and makes it not so overwhelming. My tips are: As I’m packing for a trip, I use that time to go through my drawers and de-hoard, straighten and clean. I mean, you are already sifting through everything to decide what to pack, it’s a great time to go through things. I go through and clean up my bedside nightstands at night when we are watching a movie (I can’t sit still, and have to always be doing something). I go through my nail polish container when we are watching a movie, clean out my purse at night, clean out the spice cabinet and de-hoard when I’m waiting for water to boil, clean out the fridge and pantry right before I go grocery shopping, and each day I do one big project (like clean ceiling fans, or clean the top of the fridge, or clean showers, along with the usual daily little jobs. If you think of your house in one big swoop, it’s way way overwhelming. But to break it down to little things each day, it is really easy and manageable.

  • Lori April 11, 2018 at 6:23 am

    I would also be interested in tips on dealing with SHOES. They are the worst.

    Also, in a smart house, it’s fun to yell, “Alexa, add trash can to ‘buy’ list!,” or other assorted options while cooking, cleaning, etc. I have different lists set up for grocery, errands, gifts, travel ideas, etc. No paper list to misplace!

  • Christina April 11, 2018 at 6:25 am

    This post is encouraging me to start a list and tackle some cleaning/organizing around the house! Could you give some tips or share how you organize kids’ toys, specifically the common places in the first floor of your house? I am always fighting the little forces from all the toys sneaking up from the playroom and staying in the living room everyday! 😩 P.s. I live your blog, and enjoy reading it daily!

  • Sharon April 11, 2018 at 6:51 am

    A huge game changer for us was simply not buying as much….. I realized that I was giving away toys/shoes/clothes that had never been worn or played with and it seemed so wasteful. I now get my kids experiences instead of things for birthdays an holidays and they both have a capsule wardrobe. I do the same with my clothes and shoes as well as household appliances. It has been liberating. I still do some spring cleaning as we do outgrow things but there aren’t bags and bags of things to throw out or give away. I cannot recommend it enough!

  • Dani April 11, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Love this! Question- where do you get your family stationery?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 11, 2018 at 7:37 am

      Erin Condren!!! Her website is amazing!

  • Emily April 11, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Have you read a simplified life?! Life changing! Emily Ley m, the author is doing a ruthless de clutter challenge to get us all ready for spring! It’s amazing!

    • Allie April 11, 2018 at 8:19 am

      I wholeheartedly agree! I love Emily Ley’s tips on practical simplicity, plus the message behind it: to simplify so that you can more easily enjoy the aspects of life that really matter!

  • Allison Ferrell April 11, 2018 at 7:20 am

    Love the tips, Shay! I read Unstuffed in January and boy did we go to town!! On to spring cleaning now, thanks!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt April 11, 2018 at 7:22 am

    I’m a big list maker, too! Otherwise, it wouldn’t get done because I’d forget!

  • Cathy April 11, 2018 at 7:22 am

    I always keep a donate bin in the closets and add to it as my kids outgrew things – then when the bin was full I would drop it off to the donation place.
    I echo small things every day.
    But my BIGGEST rule of thumb is not to buy too much stuff – the less you bring in to your house – the less you have to clean, organize and eventually donate or throw out.

  • Alyssa April 11, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Someone already mentioned Emily Ley’s book, and right now she’s doing a ruthless home decluttering project that hundreds of people are participating in. It has been so motivating to see other people’s before and after photos, and Emily usually gets on InstaStories to share how her room for the day is progressing and to remind us to only keep what is best, favorite, or necessary.

  • Laci April 11, 2018 at 7:49 am

    My mornings would go so much smoother if I were more organized!

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams April 11, 2018 at 7:49 am

    The pen and paper tip is brilliant! I always get sidetracked and do 7 things at once and forget to keep going through my clothes! Can’t wait to read more of everyones tips! My best one is taking 10 mins a day to do one task (cleaning or fixing). Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project enlightened me with that tip.

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Debbie K April 11, 2018 at 7:52 am

    I’m bad about remembering something when I walk past and say to myself, “I need to… when I get home from work/this weekend.” I’ve always been a list maker but have gotten away from it a tad. Well, this morning, I started my cleaning/organizing list and have 7 things listed already. I know what I’m starting with tonight when I get home!

  • Linda Grubbs April 11, 2018 at 7:53 am

    I, like many others needed this little push to get some much needed spring cleaning taken care of.
    Thanks for the tips! Here I go!!!

  • Amanda Wilson April 11, 2018 at 7:55 am

    I legit was just telling my friend yesterday that I am so disorganized compared to you. I read these tips and think….I would lose the list…I can’t even find a pen half the the time to write something down. I feel like he Oreo meme hard core!!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 11, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Hahahahaha! This made me laugh!

    • Patty April 11, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      A suggestion…I keep a running to-do list on my phone since I always have it on me. Easy to add to or delete as I go and I don’t have to remember where my list is. I keep a running grocery list, too.

  • Alexis deZayas April 11, 2018 at 8:10 am

    I love the way you organize this!! I have Unstuffed on my kindle and need to get to reading it!

  • Bea April 11, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I am all about the KonMari method. I’m the opposite of you, I like to get stuck into everything in one go and get it all done ASAP. The KonMari method is perfect for this, because if I aim to do little bits each day I tend to put it all off and before I know it I’m drowning in clutter. Marie Kondo’s books have literally been life changing for me.

  • Hanna Funderburk April 11, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I started following Allie Casazzas (allie_thatsme) on Instagram and Facebook this year. She is a minimalist who stands for being an intentional Mama! She is all about decluttering so you aren’t spending your time picking up after your kids but rather spending time with and enjoying them. I am a pretty organized person myself but her ideas about having set daily cleaning routines and how to declutter your home has changed my life! A little dramatic? Probably! 😆 Either way, I HIGHLY recommend her!

  • Tausha Manis April 11, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Hi Shay!! Here are a couple tips that help me!

    1. When tackling a room I bring a box (usually an empty laundry basket) with me. Then when I find things in that room that don’t go in there, I toss it in the laundry basket. I used to get side tracked too… by taking each random item and putting it away instead of cleaning that specific room. Then when I’m all done cleaning/organizing that space I carry the laundry basket around and put those random odds and ends in their homes!

    2. When really deep cleaning my entire home I try and work in zones? (I had no other way to describe it). Like… kids rooms I will make bed first, tackle clutter second, and go through closets and drawers…..then do the same in the next bedroom. (This is of course if I have a couple hours). When the three bedrooms are done with the above mentioned tasks. THEN I will dust and vacuum. All at once! All the rooms. I can fly through dusting and vacuuming all three bedrooms then after the clutter is mastered!

  • Mallory Fitzgerald April 11, 2018 at 9:04 am

    I like using the lawn/leaf paper trash bags when I’m going through my closet. They stand up on there own, so it’s easy to throw things in there. Also, once it’s in the bag, you’re not going to see it again and wonder, “Oh, maybe I would wear that again..”.

  • Jenn April 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

    What about actual deep cleaning like window sills, baseboards, and under the refrigerator? Do you have a method for those?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 11, 2018 at 11:37 am

      I add that stuff to my list too! I pretty much keep a list year around of “to clean” stuff and try to mark things off as I go.

  • Lisa D April 11, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I do weekly de-cluttering. I nick-name this “ten things on Tuesday” and I literally find 10 items every Tues. to throw away, give away to friends and family, or donate. I keep a box of items to donate in my closet and every 3-4 months I run by a donation drop. I do something every day… cleaning, thinking about how I want to live my life simply, de-cluttering, etc, and that’s what keeps the home clean and organized. I’m an empty-nester and it’s definitely a lot easier now that we don’t have kid clutter! But I am guilty of paper clutter and I’m emotionally attached to far too many “things”. So for me, it’s an awareness of what is important and then making an effort to live that way.

  • Kelley April 11, 2018 at 9:41 am

    I love the idea of writing down the other items that I can fix later, because like you I get distracted in fixing those items and don’t get my cleaning accomplished first!

  • Tami April 11, 2018 at 9:48 am

    I need to read Ruth’s book! In the meantime, something that has really helped me is to keep a shopping bag in the laundry room for items that need to be donated to the thrift store. In between major cleanings if I come across something that can go I toss it in the bag. Once, it’s full, I drop it off.
    Someone mentioned shoes in a comment, As our guys grew up, I suddenly had four guys with size 12 shoes. Baby shoes are cute, but they get bigger and so does the problem. My guys are out of the house now so it’s not a problem any more but boy, it was a huge problem. One I never really solved.

  • Tish Ferry April 11, 2018 at 10:04 am

    YESSSS on the lists! You are speaking my language! And cute notepads/stationary make it more fun! 😉 Simply Tish

  • Kayla Bruce April 11, 2018 at 10:14 am

    I would also recommend A Simplified Life! I think it would be right up your alley. I read in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up about how important is to do one huge tidy, but I’m more like you, where I do a little everyday. I actually love to organize and purge, so this is right up my alley! I do keep one bag (or box) on a shelf that is for donations, so anytime of the year I just stick stuff in it and then take drop it off once it gets too full.

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick April 11, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Bring a pen and pad with me would help so much when I clean out stuff!! Definitely stealing that idea for next time!! That Inspired Chick

  • Katie Hernandez April 11, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Love your tips Shay!!I really take your tips to heart and use them throughout my daily life. You are an inspiration in so many ways! Side note: Every since you introduced us to Erin Condren I have bought her Life Planner as well as note pads. Recently, I ran out of note pads and went to buy a new note pad at Tj Maxx. I am already waiting to run out of that one because I really miss my Erin Condren note pads. I don’t know what it is but I feel more organized when I’m using Erin Condren lol. Have a great day!

  • Gail Young April 11, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Oh, this is so helpful and encouraging!! We are empty nesters and have now inherited our parents stuff ( when thy passed away) . As if our own stuff isnt enough, now we have the emotional attatchment of going through all of their things. We have decided we are not going to do that to our kids so this is the year to get rid of things at our house. Ouch, it is HARD! First we gave ourselves permission to be ruthless and to know that there are going to be some things we wished we had kept. Just part of the process, right? Second, I start my timer for just one hour. No interruptions allowed of any kind. Then I race from room to room putting things away, throwing things in the trash or in the donate box. Usually at the end of the hour I am so enthused that I just keep going. The hard part for me is deciding where the donated stuff is going. So once every few years my girlfriends and I have a give away night where we trade our very favorite things and the leftovers go to charity.

  • Rachel April 11, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Shay-love this!! Strange question-but what air fresheners do you use?? I’m searching for some new ones for my house! Thanks!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 11, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      I love those Bath & Body Works plug in ones!

      • Christine April 12, 2018 at 10:44 am

        What scents do you use?

        • Mix and Match Mama April 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm

          I like the warm/vanilla scents 🙂 .

  • Tonra Walsh Riehl April 11, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    1. Would love to see a linen closet because like you we have themed sheets for different holidays/seasons!
    2. And a mud room photo- (garage/shoes/coats,etc)
    I realize northern Texas is not Vermont but our mud room gets trashed with coats, boots, gloves, hats, shoes, slippers and all our winter activities- ice skating, skiing, sledding! We easily have 3 coats each and 2 pair of snow pants (one is always wet!) and llbean tote bags monogrammed (my favorite!) for each activity— ski, skate, swim, etc. The clutter is “Riehl”.
    Help this VT mom of active boys stay organized! Because my stylist is making a killing on my grey hairs! And my Starbucks barista knows my cats name!!! 😂

  • Emily April 11, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Question…do you do your regular cleaning or do you hire someone to come regularly? I’m struggling with keeping up with just weekly cleaning now that I have a 4 mo old and I have hired someone but I feel like they should do a better job at it than I do. I guess nobody will ever be as ocd about my own house as me but I have to dream there’s is someone out there for me ha.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 12, 2018 at 5:34 am

      Girl, you have a four month old! I don’t remember cleaning anything when I had a four month old 😉 . I do have someone who comes in and helps me, but because I like things really neat and tidy, I do find myself cleaning all the time. And I couldn’t agree more…no one will ever clean my house like me. Hahahaha!

  • Ashley April 12, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Can you do a post on organizing papers (like bills you need to keep, kids pictures, etc.) And also how you organize pictures on your computer and how you do photo albums. I would LOVE a post on this stuff! These are things I can never figure out a good way to do on my own! 🙂

  • Kira April 13, 2018 at 8:07 am

    I am okay about going through stuff but have always had an issue getting it out of the house once it sorted. I found an organization, Go Green Drop, where they will come to your house, pick up items for donation, and deliver them to your selected charity. And it’s free! You can schedule your pick up day and time online and they also have a list of charities to select from, as well as a list of items they do and do not accept. It’s been life changing for me. Here’s the website: