How kids can help with spring cleaning, more or less

by ParentCo. March 25, 2015

At least where I live, there’s no switch that suddenly flips on spring. The soul sucking cold lets up for a few days and my kid whines that “IT’S TOO HOT FOR A COAT” despite being the same temperature that only 6 months earlier caused ugly crying at the apple orchard. Then it once again descends into Hoth.

This volley goes on for six weeks or so until one day you turn around and for a solid three months it feels like the inside of someone’s mouth. This slow start affords us one perk: a decent excuse to drag out the tedium of "spring cleaning." And since the people with the shortest attention spans in our homes are the ones that cause the most spring cleaning, they should help out, at least in fits and starts. (You have full permission to approach it this same way, regardless of weather.) Here are some areas the kids can try their hand at being helpful. It’s hard to nail down the exact day that their wardrobe suddenly changes from jeans and long sleeves to shorts and tank tops. However, it’s never the wrong time to clear out clothes that don’t fit, certainly won’t fit next year, or that they’ve simply stopped wearing. Once it’s clearly warmed up for good, set aside a chunk of time to go through the drawer change over together. Yard sales are good motivators to get rid of toys. Set ground rules ahead of time: anything they take out of the house won't go back in, whether it sells or not. If it doesn't sell, it's donated. And because your kid will inevitably agree to sell their collection of Beyblades or Polly Pockets for a crisp Benjamin (or a crumpled Washington, more likely), this is also a good time to teach your kids about how to determine what things are worth. Help them scour Ebay and Craigslist for similar items and price them accordingly. Another easy way to get the masters of grime involved is enlisting them to help wash walls and doors. The shortest can even conquer the baseboards. My spindly 9-year-old occasionally has the sort of energy that makes him literally climb the walls in our narrow hallway. After making him clean his nasty smudge prints off the walls and door frames enough times, he now does it preemptively. (Perhaps that’s because I very lovingly threatened to turn his hands into hooks if he left them there one more time.) Assign them the task of cleaning out and organizing their "one thing" that's always a disaster. The bookshelf, the top of their dresser, their art supplies, the entertainment area. Bookshelf- Take off books and pull out anything they’ve outgrown or no longer wish to keep. Dust each shelf. Replace in alphabetical order or by color if you don’t have anything better to do. (You know, day drinking, full body waxing, recreational dental work, stuff like that.) Art supplies- Dump any dried out markers and pens. Recycle the artwork you can pry away from them. Consolidate the four bags of pompoms you’ve amassed. (Reorganizing things like this in easy to view glass mason jars is a decent tip that I didn’t think of myself.) Entertainment area- Put each DVD and video game in its proper case. Donate or add to the yard sale pile the ones they’ve outgrown or grown weary of. Wrap up cords and store them away neatly. Remove everything from the outside of the refrigerator, scrub it down and decide what should be recycled. This is the one eyesore of my kitchen that I crop out of photos because it makes it look like we live in a flophouse. Have each kid empty their coat pockets (EVERY. POCKET.) and backpack. Throw the coat into the wash, then pack it away if it will fit next year or can be handed down. Toss the backpack in, too, if that’s an option. Either way, shake the gross out. Or, burn it. Depending on the horrors they uncover. Shake out the cushions and pillows outside. If your kids are not the type to devolve into an all out war on the lawn, they can each hold one and take turns bumping into one another. I have not personally tested this, but it seems like a good idea while I sit here eating pistachios. Feel free to report back with personal experience, but please refrain from calling me names that will make my mother mad. Scrub window screens with warm water and dish soap. Once it’s warm enough, send them outside with brushes and a bucket of soapy water and let them go to town on the dusty screens. Hose them all down afterward.



Also in Conversations

Couple sitting in a park holding umbrella
9 Ways to Breathe New Life into Your Empty Nest

by ParentCo.

One minute you’re changing diapers and wiping noses, the next you’re dropping kids off in their college dorm rooms. Here's how to fill the space they leave.

Continue Reading

A girl standing with a mask and a backpack
Families Face a Weird Back to School Year: Here are Four Ways to Cope

by Hannah Howard

This is undoubtedly an unusual back-to-school season for both kids and parents. Here are three ways to make this transition just a little smoother. 

Continue Reading

family in kitchen
Want to Reduce Your Mental Load? Stop Delegating and Start Specializing

by ParentCo.

If you and your partner are committed to sharing the chores of parenthood equitably, check out the tips below to move towards specialization.

Continue Reading