It’s the weekend and if the first thing out of your mouth isn’t, “Who wants pancakes for breakfast?” but rather, “Who’s up for Spring Cleaning?,” chances are you’ll see the family scatter faster than ants at the end of a picnic. So here are three ways to get your kids involved in Spring Cleaning without shouting or pouting—AND get some serious work accomplished!
Set a timer for anywhere from 30 – 90 minutes and then send your kids out into the yard. Have them pick up sticks and gather them into either the compost, fireplace/bonfire, or trash pile. Likewise they should pick up any toys that have been lying around the yard and bring them to a central location, ideally near a source of water. With a sponge or brush, a bucket of sudsy water and a hose, let them wash the “winter” off of whatever they find BEFORE bringing it back into the house or storing in the garage or shed. At the end of this exercise, the person who has gathered the most of anything wins an edible treat.
Even small children can tell the difference between shoes, boots, and sneakers. Have them first match up all footwear into pairs, then separate out all the pairs of winter boots and deposit them into a container for storage until next year. All remaining pairs of shoes should be delivered to wherever the shoes live in your home. Bonus points for dusting them inside and out for any stray bunnies that may have accumulated since last wearing. Have them sort their toys on the shelves and put aside any that can be donated. It will serve you well and free up the space for the new holiday gifts later this year.
SORTING THE CLOTHES
This activity doesn’t have an easy parallel with a known game but is rewarding nonetheless. Create three piles in your child’s room: donate, keep, and trash. Be prepared for the fact that some things will no longer fit, some will be just this side of destroyed and some will have been outgrown or certainly will be by next year.
Set a timer for 30 minutes and then start going through every closet, chest and drawer. Make every item “radioactive” so that once it’s touched, you must make a decision about it before you let it go. Reward yourself and your little ones with a treat when the timer goes off. Repeat as necessary until everything has been sorted and decided on—then load in the Spring and Summer clothes.
Bring everything that’s destined for the thrift store or a friend’s into the car or by the front door immediately, and don’t forget to swing by the coat closet on your way past—no need to wait until next year to find out your son has outgrown his winter coat by two sizes!
Add the delivery or drop off of the clothes to your calendar so you’re sure to finish the project and won’t find yourself tripping over bags and bags of clothing for weeks before they leave.