Healthy Families

Family Focus: Spring Cleaning is a Family Job

Family Focus: Spring Cleaning is a Family Job

Spring is in the air and nothing feels quite as good as getting the house in order. This year, why not make spring cleaning a family project? Get everyone involved. Ask each family member what changes or improvements they'd like to see in the house, and then work out a plan to have everyone work on the projects together.

It's important that you just pick one area for each family member. Don't try to conquer the world just yet. By choosing one space, you can focus on that space until it's under control. Then you can tackle another project. Have a family meeting and designate duties that are age appropriate for each member. The mere act of writing down a goal makes you more likely to achieve it. Designate a time and have all your cleaning products available and ready to go. Also, make sure to turn off phones, computers, and TVs. No one needs a distraction!

Make chores age appropriate. Don't expect children who are too young to participate in heavy cleaning and organizing. Have work that they can do available or create alternate activities that still help. Sorting safe items can be good for preschool and school age children, and they'll feel good about being a part of the project.

Give kids their own cleaning tools. Don't expect kids to use adult tools to clean. Instead, create supplies that are kid-friendly. Use a sand pail for mopping chores or shorten an old mop handle or broom to make it kid-sized. Or put together a kid-size "cleaning tote." Fill it with kid-sized cleaning tools: a cleaning cloth, gloves, a small scrub brush, a little sponge, and mini spray bottles of kid-safe cleaner. Or, use squirt guns, not spray bottles. Think they can resist spraying each other long enough to get some cleaning done? Fill a squirt gun from a solution of one gallon of water and a drop of dish soap. Let kids squirt empty drawers, baseboards, windows, and mirrors and wipe dry with paper towels.

Make sure your goals are realistic. Don't tell the kids "We'll get the whole house done in a weekend," if there's a possibility that it won't happen. There's no reason to add stress to this activity that's intended to be fun. Do a room at a time, or even a section of a room: "Let's get this corner of the basement cleaned up!"-and then work on it till it's done before setting the next goal.

And don't forget to offer some enticements to motivate your cleaning crew. Have healthy snacks available and play your family's favorite music to make the cleaning experience a little more fun. Have a contest or promise them special treats for a job well done. Take pictures and encourage silliness. It'll be great fun to look at the photo collection after everyone's done and it may motivate them to work a little faster. Reward everyone for a job well done with a family activity. You will be spending quality time together and helping to build a work ethic and pride of accomplishment in your children.

By Carol Boughner