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.
This 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 to spring affords us one perk: a decent excuse to drag out the tedium of "spring cleaning."
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, any season.) Here are some ways your little ones can try their hands, to the best of their ability.
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 can be 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. If they're old enough, 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 have the time and inclination.
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: 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.
Living areas: 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.
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.
Feel free to report back with personal experience, but please refrain from calling me names that will make my mother mad. Happy springtime!
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