Mar 012017


Anyone who has suffered through a dreary Philadelphia winter knows the eager anticipation of spring.  Philly in the winter most closely resembles Dorothy Gale’s Kansas—gray, bland, and monotonous.  Here, we wait like eager Munchkins to be returned to the color of Oz.

I couldn’t wait for the release of spring when I was young, with one gigantic and glaring exception: spring was also synonymous with spring cleaning, part of the twice annual ritual when my tiny, four foot-eleven-inch mother took on the demeanor of a four-star general on the attack.

No surface, no item, unless bolted down, was safe from moving, possible disassembly and scrubbing, including all beds, dressers, dining room cabinets, sofas, chairs, draperies, blinds, shades, and walls.  She never actually took down the walls, but I know she would have if she could have.

Every family member participated, and to we kids, it was like forced labor in Siberia, only without the cold.  Turns out, little Italian women on a cleaning mission are scary.  We did what we were told.

But, although I never admitted it to my mother, there was great comfort derived from climbing into bed after the purge, knowing that not a single creepy crawly could have survived banishment, and indoor cobwebs were simply the stuff of scary movies.

I confess my own spring cleaning rituals are far less arduous, but I’ve also adapted the practice to a part of my life that didn’t apply to my mother’s version of the chore—a spring cleaning of my work life.

Spring cleaning offers the perfect opportunity to clear out the cobwebs in your business, getting rid of things that aren’t working, taking a fresh look at your online presence, and revising your marketing plan.  (Check out similar advice from Forbes.)  And let’s not forget the practical aspects.  Your desk or workspace, which I’d guess needs a thorough purging, if my own is any indication.  A recent survey of files on my desk revealed things I hadn’t used in years, despite hanging onto them while thinking, “I might need this someday.”  This year, OUT!

Painful as it may be, I’d also recommend a definitive time period in which to accomplish your spring cleaning, say, a day or weekend for the physical space, and two days to look over your business practices.  Set a time frame and stick to it.  Use the adage we ladies use for our wardrobes, ”If you haven’t worn (utilized) it in a year, get rid of it!”

Spring cleaning your work life is freeing, and clearing out the mental cobwebs will allow room for new ideas and practices that can help your business grow.  The discipline necessary to look without sentiment at what you’re doing at work (see aforementioned four-star general reference), is a tool we women need to keep sharpened in our business toolbox as well.

As far as the physical spring cleaning ritual of my home, let’s just say that since my dear dogs have moved onto that great fire hydrant in the sky, I’ve adopted the dust bunnies that have taken up residence under my sofa.

They eat nothing, they never wake me up at four in the morning to wander around the back yard for 45 minutes, and they’re quiet. Pretty much the perfect pets, if you ask me.  My mother would not be proud, but even at 57, I’m not above a little teen-aged rebellion.  So there, Mom!

The flowers will soon be blooming here in Philadelphia.  It’s getting warm, the birds are singing, and believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to my version of spring cleaning.

Award winning author, speaker, humorist, and teacher, Mary Fran Bontempo has been writing for and about women for over 25 years.  Her latest book, “The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words,” is available on Amazon and, along with “Not Ready For Granny Panties—The 11 Commandments for Avoiding Granny Panties,” published in 2012, and her first book, “Everyday Adventures or, As My Husband Says, ‘Lies, Lies and More Lies.’”  ContactWebsiteBooks

Photo Credit – PublicDomainPictures