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JOURNAL

Is Fall Cleaning the New Spring Cleaning?

September 8, 2021

Cooler temps, shorter days and crisp air have many of us eager to welcome the fall season into our lives. Whether we’re unabashedly pro-pumpkin spice or simply huge fans of fall foliage, ushering in a new season brings fresh energy and joy. Many of us are taking a look at our homes – which have become a mix of workspace, creative studios, and restful sanctuaries – and feeling the desire to shake loose the dust from the long, hot summer. So, here are few tips to keep in mind before we welcome our favorite season.

The Right of Passage

If it feels like setting up for fall is slightly ritualistic, that’s because marking the passing of time is deeply human. And, deeply important. At the start of the pandemic, when the initial lockdown closed the doors on churches, organizations, and workplaces, it wasn’t just the economy that suffered. Many of us lost touch with the traditions and rituals that fulfilled a very real, very sacred spot in our lives. As Casper ter Kuile, author of The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices, writes, “It’s easy to think of rituals as something nice to have, something simply pleasant or decorative, but in fact, rituals help us become the kind of person we want to be.” Building new traditions has become a practice of celebrating the passage of time together with loved ones, acknowledging how far we’ve come, and welcoming in new seasons. When we lost the ability to come together – in person, to worship or to witness births, to mourn deaths and to celebrate holidays, graduations and, yes, even new seasons – we lost an important connection to our community. As Casper explains, “These rituals shape us and the world around us so that we are not just a cog in a productivity machine, but sacred, beloved beings, perfect in our imperfection.” So that special, seasonal latte that we tease our friends about? Or setting out new decorations for the season? There’s something else going on there. 

Getting Started: Easy Does It

Before we begin our fall cleaning spree – and to avoid overwhelming ourselves – experts agree that a good first step is to take stock of our space. When we're moving throughout our homes, we begin to notice areas for potential improvement. Projects get added to a list. And clutter calls out for cleaning. But the best advice we’ve found is to give ourselves some grace. Remember: there really is no rush to get it right. Projects will get done in time and when they need to. Start by taking a mental inventory (and ditch the heavy-handed to-do lists). And take a queue from Mother Nature: fall happens gradually. Spring might explode onto the scene, with a buzz and bright-eyed energy. But, fall is a bit more graceful – it's a sign to take it easy. 

Out with the Old (Energy)

Before we began spending so much time at home (whether we’re back in an office or still working remotely), it may have been easier to overlook the stack of old books at the base of the stairs. And we might have ignored the overstocked pantry and the coat closet filled to the brim with the kids’ jackets that no longer fit. All of this excess adds up to stagnant energy. And when we purge it (by recycling or donating), we clear space for new energy. A simple session of decluttering or organizing can be a fascinating energy boost to the household this season. 

To Everything - Turn, Turn, Turn…

When we were little, there was nothing quite as exhilarating as rearranging the furniture in our bedrooms. (Ok, maybe the Scholastic Book Fair.) Moving the bed to a new corner, updating the lighting, and opening new ways for light (and energy) to flow into the room was like a breath of fresh air. That’s because we were literally taking full ownership and mastery of our space. The same nostalgic influx can be attained merely by rearranging our space today. Here are a few simple ways:

  • At-home office and Zoom spaces: refresh with updated ring lighting, new backgrounds, and decor.
  • Wardrobe: prioritize with fall-specific pieces, boot-season favorites and accessory updates simply by stashing summer clothing in a bin.
  • Cosmetics: go ahead and toss out the junk over three months old taking up space in the drawer.

Be Mindful of What Matters

Now that we have fall cleaning on the brain, it’s important to remember what matters. Yes, purging the excess is invigorating, and cleaning out clutter feels empowering. But our priorities have shifted. Taking stock of our surroundings does bring to mind that what matters most lives within our walls: Our family, furkids included (of course). Looking at photos, we’re reminded of the friends and loved ones miles away as well as our safety and the safety of our community. We could spend hours and days on a deep fall cleaning spree, but it’s also ok to stash clutter away in totes (for later), or do the best we can and call it good. Creating a safe space for what matters most may look and feel imperfect. However, under our roof, simply keeping our loved ones safe and close is more than enough.

Fall is the season of harvest; the time when the days get shorter and the air turns crisp. Our clothing gets cozier and the colors turn to deep hues of red, rich gold and brown. It’s magical. As we freshen up our spaces, ready to welcome the change that this season brings, we also welcome new energy into our homes. Renewed and invigorated, we become ready to face the days ahead. 

"Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower." – Albert Camus