Whoever said many hands make light work obviously never tried organizing a room with a four year old or trying to interest a teen in a big window washing project. That’s why many moms treat spring cleaning as a solo job, scrubbing a toilet or getting a donation bag ready when they have a few moments to spare.
But should spring cleaning be exclusively a job for moms and dads? I say no, even if logic says that kids are more likely to make a mess than clean one up. Teamwork should be the name of the game in families when it comes to any big cleanup job – after all your kids are part of the household, too, and should be a part of keeping said household livable.
Here are just a few ways I’ve found that I can make spring cleaning bearable for kids – maybe these tricks will work in your house, too!
Make spring cleaning with kids a group effort from start to finish. While it might seem easier to assign every member of your family a room each, tackling every room as a group is one way to keep kids on task. You get a chance to supervise, the family can chat while scrubbing, and no one feels like they’ve been sentenced to solitary.
Lower your standards when spring cleaning with kids. Look, I’m not saying you can’t go back over the bathroom counter with a wet wipe to grab the toothpaste left behind after your kids’ best efforts, but try to be happy they’re cleaning at all. Don’t nag unless they’re obviously doing a half-a$$ed job.
Make spring cleaning with kids a game. Have members of your family pull specific tasks out of a hat and then race to see who can finish first. Turn room organization into a treasure hunt – you’ll probably find some surprising stuff no matter what.
Use media to motivate when spring cleaning with kids. Provided your littles don’t go all zombie in front of the boob tube, I won’t fault you for putting on a movie while you de-clutter the family room. Or if TV isn’t your thing, put on some booty shaking tunes and turn dusting into a dance party.
Teens can tackle big jobs – and opt out of too much togetherness. Giving teenagers little jobs may actually backfire. Give them a big job, on the other hand, especially one with equipment involved, and you may be surprised by the enthusiasm. I would have been psyched to use a pressure washer to clean moss off the siding!
Let spring cleaning with kids get messy. You know how things always get worse before they get better when you’re tackling a big cleaning job? Let kids handle the ‘worse’… like pulling everything out of the coat closet or shaking out area rugs. Messy outside jobs (like pulling up last year’s marigold bushes) seem to be extra appealing at my house.
When spring cleaning with kids, don’t be above bribery. Okay, maybe you can’t bribe kids into showing enthusiasm for closet de-cluttering, but knowing that the whole family will enjoy a reward at the end of the day can lessen the amount of complaining you have to put up with while you’re scrubbing. What does the whole family love? Going to the movies? Eating out? Do it!
Still dubious? I promise that spring cleaning can be a family affair – and with a minimum of grousing, too – if you make the effort to make it fun. Well, maybe not fun, but bearable for everyone involved and faster than it would be if you just did it all yourself!