Spring has sprung for a few weeks for sure. The pollen count is up and the tissues are everywhere! Must be time to clean. Ugh. Really, again? It seems every magazine I have opened or passed by in the store recently is pointing out the annoying reminder to deep clean everything from our closets to our over-scheduled lives. One thing I noticed is that most of the articles and tips are geared towards women or a woman, as in the singular, you clean by yourself lady. Why not make it a family affair if you can?
1) Assemble the Team– Whether husbands, wives, and/or kids, gather the team, give a pep talk, and assign tasks. You DON’T have to do it all by yourself. Remind your family that a clean and organized home is better for everyone.
2) Keep Tasks Kid-Sized– It isn’t reasonable or realistic to expect a toddler to scrub all the windows, or even for your tween to terminate all the dust bunnies by their self. Creating small zones and setting time limits is a great way to keep older kids on task without overwhelming them. Include younger kids and help them feel useful by keeping their capabilities in mind and putting their likes and strengths to good use. Have a speedy, non-stop preschooler? Give them a rag spritzed with a safe cleaner, and then tell them you will time them to see how well and quickly they can clean the windowsills. Have a kiddo that loves to organize? Have them check the pantry and cabinets for past-date food items.
3) Set Goals & Rewards– If stickers make your little one happy, keep some handy to pass out as each task is completed. Entice your crew with the reward of a trip for ice-cream or some other sweet treat if they tackle their tasks. Or, get a roll of tickets and assign a number to each task, say 2 tickets per clean window or 5 for a spotless bedroom. Then decide if the tickets can be redeemed for cash, prizes, or rewards such as a later bedtime. 10 tickets? Step right up and claim your $5 iTunes gift card! 8 tickets you say? How about an extra 30 minutes before bed?!
4) Treasure Hunt– Tell yourself and your kids (especially if they are young) that deep cleaning usually means uncovering lost treasures. Make it fun and create a “Lost Treasure Chest” out of a box or even a laundry hamper and then place recovered loot in it as it is discovered. At the end, gather together to count and divvy up the spoils, sharing a few laughs at just how many pairs of socks had been MIA. You might just unearth a few gold doubloons as well!
5) Generate Teachable Moments– Spring cleaning is a great time to teach kids a few life lessons, from generosity to teamwork. Having your child sort and count exactly how many Matchbox cars he has or how many Barbies are in residence in your daughter’s room, helps them see all the things they DO have. Remind them (and yourself) to be grateful for the abundance in your lives. You can also focus on the importance of giving from the abundance. Set the example by creating a “Give” bin and then add a few of your own items, and challenge them to match or exceed your generosity. Help younger kids understand that what they give will find a good home with another little girl or boy who might not have as much. You can choose as a family where to donate your items, whether to the local Goodwill or even a local church ministry.
6) Crank it up DJ– Music moves the soul and it can often get the feet moving as well. Why not jam out and whistle while you work? Whether you turn on the stereo, iPod, or satellite station, take turns playing DJ. Can’t stand your tween’s love of Justin Bieber? At least take a majority wins vote on what’s played and then switch it up after a while. Remind everyone that the idea is to pump up the adrenaline, so steering clear of the slow stuff is a good idea.
7) Clear the Clutter– Either set a pre-cleaning day to tackle clutter or make that your first task. Nothing slows down a good cleaning flow like having to step over and around ten pairs of shoes or move trash and stacks of paper to dust. Even taking 15-30 minutes for a few nights will help clear the clutter and make deep cleaning much quicker and easier. The trick is to make it habit and stay on top of the clutter bugs. Setting up bins for trash, garage sale items and the “Give Items” during the de-clutter stage helps to keep things tidy. Even a child as young as two is capable of taking their shoes to their bedroom, and so are all the husbands!
8) Evaluate the House– As you and your family clean, keep an eye out for things that may not be working quite right, need some sprucing up, or are just plain broken. No one likes the animal border in the bathroom anymore? Maybe it’s time to paint. If you are unearthing mounds of unfiled or scattered papers, you might need to re-think your organization for family files and create a “command center” as a later project. Discovering injured toys in need of repair or even burial? Set up a “Toy Clinic” (red and black magic marker and a cardboard box work great) and encourage your child or kids to bring sick or injured patients to be evaluated at the end of the day. They can then play the role of nurse to your doctor as you evaluate together the toy’s diagnosis. Whatever you discover, keep a running project list (perhaps on the fridge or a bulletin board) and then you can discuss and prioritize as a family what to tackle next.
9) Perspective Please– Remember to keep a positive perspective. Anytime you tackle a big job and enlist others to help, not everything will be done as quickly or as perfectly as you would like. That’s okay! Finding ways to encourage your team as you work will keep spirits up, including yours. Look for the positives and point them out. When your usually grumpy teenager is caught singing as he scrubs the toilet, smile and tell him it has never looked shinier; hold off on posting the video to Facebook. Remember to have fun and take your time if you can. Make a weekend of it if possible and give lots of fist bumps and hugs for jobs well done.
10) Celebrate Together– After the cleansing suds have subsided and you are surrounded by sparkle, remember to celebrate your accomplishments together. Talk about how good everything looks and what was fun or maybe not so fun about cleaning. List the benefits of spring cleaning. Take time to thank each other for pitching in and working as a team. Open the windows and let the sweet spring air in, and cook a favorite family meal together, and then share it in your shiny dining room. Don’t worry; the dishes will be no match for your lean, mean, family cleaning machine!
I hope these 10 tips help you and your family fling some fun into spring cleaning this year!