Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Family of Spring Cleaners

Maybe it’s the lonely, irrelevant Santa statue that’s been perched on our TV stand since December.   Maybe it’s the overflow of toys that came from an abundant holiday season.  Maybe it’s my brain waking up after a winter’s worth of new-baby-distraction.
Whatever the inspiration, I’m telling you: our house is in need of spring cleaning. 
When our family keeps going and doing without looking too closely at our surroundings, glaring clutter becomes part of the landscape.  Somehow, an ancient pile of junk looks completely appropriate, because it’s been there too long for any of us to remember what the space is supposed to look like.
Yes, we need to buckle down and clean-up before spring. 
Only, the prospect of a weekend – a day, an hour – devoted to nothing but cleaning and organization fills me with doubt.  How can we possibly get anything worthwhile accomplished with three small children around?  Their playing, I imagine, will automatically undo any progress towards a fresh, clean house. 
Unless I embrace their energy and enlist their help to get the job done.
Very small children can actually be helpful with chores and cleaning, especially when the whole family is on board.  Here’s my plan for making use of the kids and their growing abilities as we approach spring cleaning together.  Maybe these easy ideas will help your family do the same.
We’ll make it playful.  There will certainly be upbeat music involved, as we dance our way through the chores.  Daddy’s socks on kindergarten-sized feet would make perfect dust-mops, and the background beats of our favorite music will keep us all motivated.  We’ll also add a little bit of friendly competition to keep the tasks entertaining.  Think, ‘Daddy and the preschooler against Mommy and the kindergartner in the battle of the sorted laundry.’ 
We’ll assign jobs that work with each child’s strengths.  One girl is very particular about things being just right, so she’ll be asked to carefully sweep every bit of floor debris into a small masking-taped square on the kitchen laminate.  She’ll have a child-sized broom to facilitate independence.  Another girl is especially enthusiastic about making faces in the mirror, so she’ll be given a vinegar-soaked rag and asked to wash all the mirrors.
The day will include breaks for the kids with no-mess activities like movies or coloring pages.  This will allow mom and dad time to tackle more labor-intensive work without worrying about new messes cropping up. 
We’ll modify chores that are typically out of their skill set.  Our preschooler, for example, is too small to push the heavy vacuum around, but she can definitely run the hand-held attachment over the couch cushions without much difficulty. 
We’ll expect distractions from our own tasks.  I have a bad habit of not being at my most gracious when my focus is interrupted.  So if I’m in the middle of sorting through a closet full of toddler clothes and a little one disturbs my flow, I’ll take a deep breath and show her how she can help. 
When the kids are included in our spring cleaning, my hope is that we’ll be able to get some work done while also learning the merits of teamwork.  Something I’ve realized while contemplating the state of our sloth is that if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth showing your children how to do, too.


  1. Sock-dusting! Why haven't I thought of that before?!

    And a tape-square for sweeping -- brilliant!

    This is chock-full of great ideas; thanks for all the tips, Sarah!

  2. That tape-square-for-sweeping idea really is brilliant. Really. BRILLIANT.

    You somehow just made me want to start cleaning!

  3. I wish I could take credit for the tape-square idea -- I heard it some-mysterious-where that I can't remember. Anyway, it works perfectly to motivate the kids and make it a little bit more interesting!

  4. Oh! I was so caught up in the tape-square tip I forgot to tell you how much I LOVE where your new blog design is going. It looks great, Sarah!


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