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Your Spring Questions
answered by Jill Ellen Shankar

Q. Now that Spring has arrived, we need to store our winter coats (and boots, gloves, hats and so on). Right now we use trash bags and toss them in a corner of the basement. Not a pretty site but it works. What would you suggest?

A. Great, you already have the most important part down, forming the habit!

To hold your coats and other winter gear, I love the plastic storage containers that you can get at your local discounter. They have lots of sizes depending on how much you have. Here are two other elements to consider:

1. If you have the space, it makes sense to give each person his own container. If you have kids, this is a nice to way to show them how to fold up, pack up and store their belongings-be sure you work with them if they're little, and don't do too much for them if they're big.

Individual containers invoke a sense of ownership and responsibility that a communal container doesn't. Be sure to label each container well, on at least two sides, for easy identification.

2. Build layers in your containers according to when you will need each piece of gear come winter. For example, boots and extra cold weather clothing can go at the bottom, since those will probably be the last items out (though in Cleveland, you never know!).

Light weight coats and gloves can go at the top. This makes it easier to reach the jackets when the first cool snap hits.

Again depending upon the composition of your family, you may prefer to keep all the gloves and hats in a small container, separate from boots, and so on.

Either way, use clothes pins to clip gloves together-this is your perfect solution to mateless mittens-and you can store your boots inside the crinkly grocery store bags if they have mud or dirt on them.

The bags take up no extra room and protect the other items in the container.

So don't agonize, organize!

Q. I always dread my annual spring cleaning but it has to be done. It is such an overwhelming project (cleaning everything from top to bottom) that I put it off as long as possible. There has got to be a better way. Help!

A. You're not alone, but there is a better way than cramming all that work into such a short period of time. Spread it out and tackle it bit by bit.

Start planning after New Year's, when all of the holiday decorations have been packed up and stored, and you have recovered from the pressure of it all.

Begin by making a list of the jobs you want to complete. Then label each job as Indoor or Outdoor, designating whether it can be done in or out side.

Next, prioritize the indoor jobs, giving each one a number starting with # 1. Do the same for your outdoor projects, also starting with # 1. Then, while it's still cold, work on your indoor tasks one or two per weekend, or every other weekend, until your they are complete and the warmer weather arrives. This is your indication that it's time to move on to the outdoor task list.

Your key to success is effective planning. Set up your schedule according to the amount of time you have relative to the number and complexity of projects.

Difficult or large jobs can be daunting, leading to the unproductive habit of procrastination. To avoid this, break them up into small and manageable mini-projects.

Also, involve the rest of the family with age appropriate responsibilities. Everyone should pitch in, because housework is just no fun!



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Jill Ellen Shankar
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