Ready to get swept up in the spring season? I know I am! And one of the best ways to wash away the winter is with a little spring cleaning that gets the whole family involved. There’s just something so satisfying about opening all the windows, tearing your house apart, and putting it back together again, all while enjoying each other’s company.
To help you in your quest, here are a few ideas compiled from various sources about spring cleaning. The suggestions include some pointers about attitude and approach, and which tasks make the most sense for youngsters. I hope you find them helpful!
It's downright lonely to be sentenced to clean a bathroom on your own, but paired with a parent, even a five-year-old can work safely and happily. While Dad wields the bowl cleaner and the tile brush, his helper can scrub the sink, polish the fixtures, empty the trash, and trundle towels and rugs to the laundry room. Working as a team involves kids in the cleaning process, helps them learn cleaning skills, and most important, models both the attitude and the job standard you're trying to teach.
(or) Think competition
Turn spring cleaning into a competition. Divide your family members into teams and assign tasks that take about the same time to complete. Award a prize to the team that gets their chores done first. Make sure you inspect the work to ensure fairness.
Take your voice out of the process
Children have an innate ability to “tune out” parents, when the subject is chores. What parent wants to spend a Saturday nagging, threatening and hollering, “You get back here and finish the vacuuming!”?
Instead, post a list of the day’s jobs, or write them out on index cards. Divvy the jobs up between the teams, or let each team choose one until the work is done. Putting the work on paper removes the tussle of wills.
Make time fly with media motivators
Playing upbeat music or an exciting audiobook keeps spirits high—and dust cloths moving. For maximum motivation, let each helper choose his or her tunes throughout the day.
Keep cleaning sessions short
A five or ten minute cleanup session, accompanied by upbeat music, is something the whole family can get into. You'll be done in no time, and it's painless enough that kids won't mind doing another round every so often.
Assign animal attributes
Make a joke about each person's cleaning style, likening it to the behavior of a particular animal: jackrabbit (fastest), turtle (slow and steady), squirrel (stores things away), bat (fast and fearless), and slug (goes to sleep when chores are mentioned).
Delegate "big jobs" to teens
Once adolescence hits, working with a parent loses it's appeal. Solution? Delegate big—but safe—jobs to teen children. Whether they clean and organize the garage, shampoo the living room carpet, or restore order to a jumbled linen closet, they’ll take pride in their work IF you truly let them own the job. Ignore all bleating and moaning, and praise their solutions to the skies. In spite of their complaints, they won't let you down.
Reward hard work
Spring cleaning is nobody’s idea of a good time, so plan for a reward for your workers. When the chores are done, schedule a family treat. Whether it’s pizza for lunch or an evening film-fest, you’ll get better results—and sweeten attitudes—if there's a payoff at the end of the day.
Preschoolers enjoy helping with cleanup, and can easily dust lampshades, books and tabletops, line up CDs, and sweep with a little broom. Armed with the proper (nontoxic) cleaning solution, soft rags, and gloves—kid-sized rubber garden gloves work well—elementary-age children are experts at polishing mirrors, brass knobs, door knockers, outdoor house numbers, and chrome car bumpers and trim. Teens can wipe car interiors clean. Indoors, give them fine steel wool to shine your stainless-steel sinks and faucets, for instant results!
Have a cleaning-product treasure hunt. Do you have half-full bottles of cleanser stashed upstairs, downstairs, and in the garage? Save money and help protect the environment by using them up before you buy more. Have the kids take inventory, pitting them against one another to see who can find the most.
Ask your children to try on last summer's clothing so you can see whether or not the items no longer fit them. If they don't, have your children place the clothes in bags to take to a donation drop-off center. Also, have your kids select toys and books they no longer use so you can de-clutter your house and donate these as well.
Give your child a broom, and ask him to sweep off the porch, patio or deck. If he's able to do a thorough job, have him sweep the rooms inside the house as well.
Send your children on a mission to pick up all the sticks in your yard before it's mowed for the first time in the new year. Have them gather the sticks in a big pile or garbage can so you can take them to the curb for pickup.
Fill a bucket with warm water and a mild soap and allow your children to clean off their bicycles, which are likely dusty or dirty from being stored over the winter months.
Hand your child a dust cloth and instruct him to dust all furniture surfaces. Remove any breakable items before he starts, and tell him not to try and dust surfaces he cannot reach.
Spray and wash! Your teenager, a garden hose, and a bottle of window cleaner designed to be attached to the hose can make your outdoor windows sparkle in no time — even those on the second floor. Who doesn't enjoy messing around with water?