Gorgeous balmy days, gentle breezes, and warmer temps can only mean one thing. Spring is coming, mama bears! Time to stock up on your favorite OTC allergy meds and declutter your household with some spring cleaning!
I’m counting on this year’s spring cleaning session to be the best yet and not just because I have a compulsive drive to organize and sort the things we use and toss the things we don’t. This year, my little chickadees will be old enough to help with the spring cleaning and mama calls that the dawn of a new season and a new era.
For some of us, the best way for our kids to “help” with spring cleaning is for them to sit through an entire movie without needing anything once while we bust the clutter out of that hall closet in record time. And I applaud that method. I am certain to employ it a time or two this season myself. But given their age and interest in helping out with new projects, I’m going to give it a go and see if I can get my kids to put the clean in spring cleaning!
If only it were as simple as saying, “Hey kids, what do you say we bust up this clutter that’s been building all year?” As we all know, very little in the world of parenting can be described as “simple.” However, with a little planning, patience, and support from you, your cubs will be able to lend a hand with the task while you begin laying the foundation for chores-a-plenty in the years to come.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Before you do anything make sure you set yourself up for success by having appropriate expectations. The real goal in this exercise is to give your kids some experience that will translate into life skills they will use in your household and beyond. With that as the measure for success, any amount of work from them will be a win.
Make a Plan
Pick 2-3 areas in which you want to enlist the help of your kids and set a timeline. Commit to spending an hour (or 30 or 15 minutes) a day for 1-3 days and see what progress can be made. Their own possessions make great areas of focus. Work on small sections at a time, such as clothes, the bookshelf, or one type or area of toys. If you’re anything like us, the entire playroom may be a bit much to tackle at once. Instead, I plan to just focus on cars, dinosaurs, and board games to start. You can also have them assist with your personal and household items. You do the picking, they do the packing/throwing things haphazardly in a box.
Give Them a Carrot
Of course you’re going to have to load them with praise and encouragement basically the entire time they are on the family clock. Going beyond that, my kids will do almost anything for extra screen time or a special dessert. Promise that you will all go out for ice cream when the work is done as a reward for working together on a job well-done. Let them watch a movie instead of a 30 minute show. Whatever bribes your kids respond to, now is a great time to offer it up in spades.
Make it Fun
Jam your favorite music, let them drink a fizzy water or juice box, let them wear a silly costume, give them a Swiffer to dust to their heart’s content…whatever will lighten the mood and make them realize that working together as a family can be really rewarding and really fun!
Give Them a Break
Let’s be real. They are going to bore and tucker out WAY sooner than you expect. Know that is going to happen and when it does, tell them to take 5 and get back at it. If 5 doesn’t work and they are just done, let them be done and let that movie roll. Like I said before, the real goal here is to lay the foundation for helping out around the house, not checking off to-do items.
Any other tips or time-honored approaches to getting the kids involved in spring cleaning? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!