Many of us grew up in households where spring cleaning was an annual ritual. Personally, I always dreaded being dragged into the process. Once I owned my own home, though, there was some comfort in knowing that at least once a year, certain things were sure to get done. Now that I’m an empty nester looking forward to the prospect of selling my home, it has occurred to me that spring cleaning might serve a dual purpose: the much-needed cleaning and clearing out as well as “right-sizing” for myself and readying my home for sale. With that in mind, I’ve come up with several ideas to move this process along:

1. View your main living spaces from a fresh perspective, with the objectives of eliminating clutter, and simplifying the spaces for visual appeal and ease of care. Do you have too many chairs, small tables or bookshelves? Too many small area rugs and decorative items scattered about that collect dust? We have all accumulated them. Any and all of these items can be easily donated to a local charity, with many organizations coming to pick up at your home.

2. Next up is the much-needed dusting of your books and shelving. This is a good time to remove books you won’t be taking to your next home. See if your adult children want any, give them to the library, or box them up for a charity.

3. My house is filled with framed photos. I’ve continually added to them year after year, graduation after graduation. Now, every nook and cranny is filled with oversized photos that my kids hate! Someone suggested that I take all the pictures out, put them in an album and donate the frames. Consider going through your collections of photos and home movies. Decide which should be kept, converted to digital albums, or passed along to other family members.

4. Clean window treatments. Think about whether it’s time to retire them for lightweight semi-transparent curtains that let in more sunlight.

5. In tidying up the pantry, remove expired items. Also, take a look at things you’ve always kept for the time that you “might” use them – and get rid of them. This includes small appliances like rice cookers, blenders, smoothie machines, coffee grinders. If you don’t use it, lose it. For me, it’s the holiday cookie cutters and the George Foreman grill.

6. Heading to the bathroom and hall closet, discard expired medications, cosmetics and beauty products. Still need that curling iron or hot rollers? Probably not! Pare down your linen closet to the essentials: two to three sets of sheets – don’t need those twin sets anymore, and It’s also time to get rid of those graying towels you’ve had for 20 years. Send them to the pet shelter.

7. Organize your files. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an organizer for this one. We’ve all been dragging around way too much paper. It’s truly liberating to see most of it go into the shredder.

8. Swap winter weather clothing for your spring and summer ones. Weed out what you no longer wear. Local charities may even pick up from you, and the donation receipt comes in handy at tax time.

9. If you find you still have energy after this, head to your attic and basement. I am sure you will find some items to part with there. This task may be too much to do at one time. Separate items into piles: keep, donate and discard. Throw away a few things from the “discard” pile each week.

Most importantly, get started. The clean and clear process can be invigorating. If it gets to be too much, hire help to coordinate the project or to handle some of the physical work. You will thank yourself in the long run. Time to let the sun shine in!

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Paula Meighan is co-owner of Changing Places, LLC, a senior move management company operating in Westchester, Metro NY and Fairfield County, CT. With a background in nursing and social work, Paula has a profound commitment to connecting with older adults and providing personalized and client-centered services in the emotional and physical aspects of relocation or “aging in place”.