Everyone talks about spring cleaning, but what about the underrated fall tidy? While fall is my favorite season for many reasons — I mean, who can beat New England in the fall — it also comes with a lot of newness: new schedules, new routines, and new stuff.

Whenever I get into a “must organize” mindset, my ideal scenario is always to take a workday off when no one else will be home and go ham for eight hours. So. Satisfying. But, that is not often realistic, and I still feel drawn to tame the chaos in other ways. I am by no means a cleaning guru, but here are a few relatively easy, relatively quick things you can do to decrease the clutter and increase the calm.

1. Empty your silverware drawer

Have you ever looked at your silverware organizer and wondered how those crumbs got in there? I only put clean utensils in there… I am so confused! The other day, I decided the crumbs needed to go. I removed the organizers out of my utensil drawers (for both silverware and large utensils) and put those, along with the utensils themselves, right into the dishwasher. I vacuumed the drawer, wiped it down, and then returned everything sparkly clean into it a few hours later. It felt lovely.

2. Audit the kid clothes

I try to do this seasonally, but we are in that weird point in Boston where it is both fake fall and fake summer. One day is a gorgeous crisp 70, the next is a balmy 85. Nevertheless, it is a good time to look through the kids’ clothes. What do they never wear? What is ripped, stained beyond repair, or frayed? What will not be worn again this year and will definitely not fit next summer? My favorite thing ever is to clean out the dresser and separate out items to donate, give to friends, or put away in storage for the little one to wear next year. And, it’s easier to keep the closet and dresser neat when they’re not stuffed to oblivion!

3. Clean the washer/dryer

I am positive I should do this more often, but I try to do it at least seasonally. We have a front-loading washer, so the rubber around the drum often needs cleaning. I wipe down the inside and outside of both machines and run an empty wash on the clean cycle. And then, after wiping down the drum seal to get any gunk, I make a bleach/water solution, soak some rags and then tuck them all around the drum. After sitting for a while, it is super clean and almost back to new!

4. Rotate the toys

OK, so, I didn’t know toy rotation was an actual “thing,” I just started doing it based on having 402,194,943 toys and only so many places to put them.

Every time we have a birthday or holiday, I spend some time gathering things that are no longer used or have been grown out of to make space for the new items. I also have a bin in the kids’ closet called “toys to open later.” Once they’ve unwrapped what has been gifted, we let them open whatever their immediate favorites are and then pack away a bunch of others. This comes in clutch on rainy or just emotional days when something fresh is needed.

I don’t have a time frame for toy rotation per se; I just do it when things seem stale. We don’t have a playroom (cue me dreaming of a future state), so we have four toy locations: a shelving unit in the living room, a storage ottoman in my mom’s room, a bin in the basement, and lots of things in the kids’ room. I start by sorting for items with missing pieces, then I take out stuff that hasn’t been used in months, then I take out the rotation bin from storage to put things out that had been hidden away. The end result is simply some things in a different place, some being donated, some broken items in the trash/recycle, and some stored to be brought out again at a later date. Every single time, the kids play with stuff they haven’t touched just because it is located somewhere else and it feels new!

5. Cups!

Tell me I am not the only person who feels like they could own a kids’ cup store? How exactly we accumulate so many cups, I am not positive. But every few months, I get rid of cups that the kids have aged out of, cups with missing or chewed straws, and cups we no longer use. There is no reason my two children need more than 15 cup options, but alas, we had at least that many in the cabinet.

You could do one of these tasks per day or per week, or bang it all out in one shot. After a few tasks I feel lighter, calmer, and more prepared to handle all that this season is going to throw at us. I hope this inspires a little fall tidy for you!

Colleen Lubin
Colleen Lubin grew up in Arlington, MA and dragged her Yankees-loving New Yorker husband back to the Boston area after years of splitting the difference in Connecticut. After getting her master's degree at UMASS Amherst, she worked for 15 years in higher education across New England. Recently, she made a career change into the Learning & Engagement world within Human Resources. Colleen is most passionate about supporting women and families navigating infertility, pregnancy loss and the postpartum experience. Colleen's most used coping mechanism is laughter, so she utilizes honesty, authenticity, and humor to talk about tough subjects including grief, loss and mental health. Colleen is a mom of two miracles, Liam and Logan, born in 2018 and 2020, and is therefore very tired all the time. When not "momming so hard" you can find her at the beach in York, ME, riding her Peloton, taking a dance class or sleeping whenever humanly possible.