This winter hasn't been particularly harsh, but for some reason I've had the itch to kick off spring cleaning for a while now. Maybe it's just because our kids seem to have amassed a ridiculous amount of stuff this winter or because we've all had a never-ending cold, but I'm ready to whip our house into shape. In years past, I've let the cleaning impulse simmer only to lose my mind finally and start upending closets willy-nilly. Since then, I've become much better about preparing for spring cleaning, and I have a few tips to share.
Plan in Stages
I break down any real cleaning effort into three stages: purge, organize, and clean. Going through these sequentially seems like a lot of work, but I find that it really saves time in the end. There is no sense cleaning toys you end up giving away. I like to start on a level of our home and go through one stage at a time for all the rooms on a floor.
Involve the Entire Family
I always loop our kids into a cleaning effort. It helps teach them to be responsible, to take care of their things, and to appreciate the daily efforts of maintaining a household. If they balk, I let them know that they can help make the purging decisions or that I can ruthlessly do it for them. Think of some ways to make it fun for them, too. Whip up a silly product like cleaning slime or turn making labels for their stuff into an art project.
Take Stock of Supplies
Go through your cleaning and organizing supplies and make a list of what you have and what you need. Planning ahead ensures that you have whatever you need to get the job done once you get started. I also find that buying supplies in bulk makes the effort more cost-effective.
There are several home maintenance items that you'll likely need to outsource to the pros. Plan ahead for things like sprinkler system, pool, and air conditioner maintenance. Service providers book up quickly, and you don't want to wait until you really need these systems.
Make a Schedule
It's easy to let all of this slide, so I like to make a schedule to hold myself accountable. It doesn't need to be a Martha Stewart-worthy calendar, although Martha has a great checklist that I use as a starting point. Making a simple list with dates for each stage is enough. I always like to give everyone a reward for crossing items off the schedule. Let the kids pick a small prize for doing a good job organizing their rooms. You don't want to go overboard, since a big part is of spring cleaning getting rid of excess things. A little incentive never hurts, though!
This might seem like a lot, but with a little bit of planning, I find these to be effective tips that get me started on spring cleaning. Now I just have to tell the kids.
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