As the calendar clicks past August, we know that spring has arrived - even if the warmer weather arrived early this year. Spring means newborn lambs, but it also means it's time to do those cleaning and clearing-out jobs that have been ignored through winter.
The best way to tackle the task is as a family social day, but with military-like discipline. Organise and arm the troops with feather dusters, top-secret cleaning agents, rubbish bags, boxes and, most of all, a positive attitude. Write down the Mission Impossible task for each trooper and have them report to HQ at regular intervals. Reward them with lots of praise and a batch of home-made scones or pikelets if their efforts have taken the house to frontiers where no man has gone before.
Break the tasks down into small and simple steps - and a formal inspection of the guard, with regimented marching to the sound of marching music, is always a good way to begin. Work out the battle plan one room at a time. Set the teams to work in pairs if necessary and remember to keep communications short, sharp and snappy.
Start by rummaging through forgotten places. There may be lots of trash that can be turned into cash. Old golf clubs, unwanted household appliances (old TVs before 52-inch flat-screens became the minimum standard) furniture, books ... they can all be sold online, at a garage sale, swapped, or given away to create space.
In the bathroom, check medicines for their use-by date. Destroy anything that looks dubious; it's dangerous having them lying around, especially if there are littlies in the house. Get out the torch and have a good look at the back of the bathroom cabinet. Apply the rule: if you haven't used it for a long time, you probably don't need it.
The kitchen is one of the bigger tasks.
Start by removing everything out of the cupboards, pantry and fridge. Toss out those forgotten things in the back of storage bins (the things that have grown long green hair) and toss out stuff past its use-by date.
Make sure everything in the pantry is visible and easy to access. Place the goods you need to use in the near future at the front so you can adapt your menus to suit.
Don't forget to spring clean the deep freeze. Make room for bargain buys and baked goodies for school lunches.
In the wardrobe, if you haven't worn it for years, you are not likely to need it. Sort everything into three piles:
* Stuff you wear
* Good stuff that you would wear if you could fit into it
* Stuff that should be thrown out or used as rags.
Give away the good stuff you don't wear, drop it into one of the charitable thrift shops, or sell it online or at a garage sale.
When putting the remaining clothing back, try sorting it by items (all the shirts together, for example) or by use (best, casual, work and so on). The better organised your stuff is, the more efficiently you will use it. You may even discover shirts that have been lost in decades of chaos in the wardrobe.
Cancel subscriptions to magazines that are no longer read or enjoyed. Sort though old stacks of magazines cluttering up closets and mounting up into ever-taller piles on coffee tables. Take them to a second-hand book shop and turn them into cash.
A spring clean can mean much less clutter and lots of dollars in your pocket.
Loads of avenues are available to sell those unwanted goods - everything from classified ads in your local newspaper, a garage sale, car book sales, or online.
Do you have a favourite winter tip you would like to share? Send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz or write to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei