Spring has nearly sprung and people everywhere are cleaning—windows, closets, rugs, and even lives. Yes, lives.
It's called "life cleaning" and according to Laura Wellington, founder of THREAD MB, it should be done every spring.
"As a parent, life cleaning eliminated unnecessary waste in time, energy, and mental stress that I could now devote to my kids," says the Madison, Connecticut mom. "It made me a calmer and happier woman and, in that, parent."
The mom of five was inspired to life clean, she says, after ending an "exhausting" relationship. "The positive impact of this decision compelled me to take a closer look at my entire life with the same approach," says Wellington.
Among her top mental health spring cleaning tips?
- Toss out people in life that drain you
- Shut down conversations that are not constructive
- Remove negativity in your life to make room for inspiration
- Let go of guilt and remember the things you do right as a parent
"With so much negativity going around, decluttering my life in this regard has been extremely therapeutic," says Wellington.
Of all of Wellington's life cleaning tips, there's one she said that's particularly important for parents: letting go of guilt. She said it's a hard one for every parent.
"None of us want to make mistakes with our kids. We strive to be perfect and feel awful when we aren't. Many times, we compare ourselves to other parents whom we look up to, then berate ourselves for not being them," Wellington said.
Ultimately, she said, we are hard on ourselves as parents because we love our kids so much.
"We need to pat ourselves on the backs now and again. Parenting is truly the toughest job in the world and there is no real script to follow. We make it up as we go along and with each new kid, comes a completely new challenge. You can't forget that."
Taking care of your mental health, experts agree, is a crucial part of positive parenting.
"A parent who prioritizes her mental health is less overwhelmed and much better equipped to be present and engaged with her child," says Nitzia Logothetis, licensed psychotherapist and founder of the Seleni Institute. "Many new mothers I work with operate from the perspective that their children's needs 'should' always come first. At Seleni, we encourage mothers to identify and take care of their own needs first so that they can better care for their families."
What that looks like, however, varies from person to person.
"For some, this means evaluating friendships and establishing better boundaries," says Logothetis. "For others it may mean seeking therapy as a means of support, and for others still it may mean learning how to live with challenging family members and taking actions to mitigate the negative feelings that are triggered by taking care of oneself—whether that means taking regular walks, listening to music, or getting together with a friend to blow off some steam."