Now that it's almost Spring, it means one thing: Cleaning! Of course, it takes a bit of time to get motivated. But thankfully the bright weather and birds chirping are the best motivation to start dusting the cobwebs and scrubbing the house.
This annual chore used to be a pretty painless Saturday event, but since becoming a mom tackling all cleaning and sorting in one day isn't an option anymore. With two toddlers who want in on the action (and the mess), I've learned how to make the process relatively efficient, fun, and easy to manage.
Here are my top five tips for clearing clutter and making your living space feel fresh for the season:
1. Take on one room per day and thoroughly clean it, rather than trying to tackle the whole home with children under foot. Even in small apartments, it's best to section off certain spaces to clean one by one so they can truly be dusted, organized, and made immaculate…at least for a moment. Once I complete a room, I keep kids away from that area until the rest of the house is in order. For this reason, it's best to save the kids' rooms and play areas for last.
2. Try non-toxic and natural cleaning products that are safe for the whole family, so your kids can be a part of the process. Children love pushing the vacuum, tossing clothes in the washer, sweeping the floor.... If you haven’t made the switch to eco-friendly products, consider swapping out conventional cleaning ones for non-toxic alternatives in support of Earth Hour 2013.
3. Use chore charts to get the kids involved in small tasks and teach responsibility. My kids love having goals and feel a great sense of pride in accomplishing them every day. After a couple of weeks of enjoying their bright colored chore chart, my children asked to help with clean up as part of their routine. We also make cleaning a game. We try to put all toys of a certain type where they belong in 30 seconds to "win" and then move on to the next one. The race against time makes it fun. By cleaning with my children and making it a positive (and often silly) experience, I’ve found that it encourages good habits, saves time due to teamwork, and eventually inspires them to tackle the task on their own.
4. One thing that usually derails my cleaning efforts is a lack of boxes and attractive storage solutions to hide things. This year, rather than purchasing new items, I'm using shoeboxes, Honest boxes, and any other box we've collected since Christmas. If you like your cabinets to look cohesive, try painting the boxes with VOC-free paints in one solid color, or covering them in pretty patterned paper or fabric to add bright appeal. For me, the most important part of being organized is labeling every container so I always know what belongs on that very top shelf or which toy to put in each box. You can even attach a photo of what belongs in each toy box so your preschooler can participate in sorting things in her space. Or check out these stylish eco-friendly storage options.
5. The most important part after the big job is done: Maintaining it! Create a to-do list of your weekly chores and instead of leaving them all for the weekend, try do one activity each day. For example, wipe all counters in your house on Monday. Take out the trash on Tuesday. Do the laundry on Wednesday. Fold the clothes the next day. And so on…
What are your favorite spring cleaning tips and tricks?
~ Kate Brightbill of Style Smaller