What can you do to make spring cleaning fun?
After a long and cold winter, spring cleaning is not the favourite thing everyone wants to do. The urge to go outdoors and enjoy the spring air is more inviting than scrubbing windows and cleaning carpets. Or the lure of shopping for new home decor seems more inviting. But a fresh and clean home doesn't happen by itself in a regular household. If you had one, a wave of a magic wand or a team of hired cleaning ladies could do all the work for you. But for all of us mere mortals, a bit of creativity and smart planning will do the trick. Like Tom Sawyer, you can make them willing volunteers yet.
Step #1 - The first step is to accept the fact that you cannot clean everything in your house at the same time and all by yourself. You do need time and your family's help. Cleaning can be fun and a family bonding experience.
Tip: Make a mental list or better yet, write a list on a sheet of paper or your white board of all the chores you want done. Let your family know that you need their help too.
Step #2 – Prioritize the chores and assign target dates to get it done. Assign people in your household to a task. Don't ask for the impossible. Give each one a job they can handle easily or in pairs.
Tip: To add fun, think up a funny name for the major cleaning days. For example, devote one weekend morning to cleaning windows. Call it Wishy Washy Window Day. A day to spruce up the family room or redecorate a child's room can be Home Improvement: (Your Family Name) Edition.
Step #3 – Communicate and give instructions. Tell each one what they have to do and ask if they have questions. You are in charge of this team so make sure your members know what to do.
Tip: Demonstrate to your partner or children what you want done. Remember this is also a good opportunity to teach your children some new skills but don't expect them to be perfect. Make sure your partner understands clearly what you want done or you might end up with an ugly hole in the wall.
Step #4 – Stay focused on the planned cleaning job. Budget your time and energy. You might be sidetracked by another chore but you can save that for another day.
Tip: If you are cleaning windows, just concentrate on tasks related to it. Your helpers don't want to clean all day and so do you.
Step #5 – Make the task fun and involve everyone. Have a pleasant and cheerful attitude so the work doesn't seem like work at all. Take the time to laugh and enjoy with them.
Tip: Play some music while you work. Assign a task to everyone, even little children, according to their abilities. Have a friendly competition among the children on who has the cleanest window or something like that. Children enjoy painting walls, so let them paint with primer and you finish up with the top coat of paint.
Step #6 – Be more efficient and effective. There are new cleaning products and supplies you can find in the market today. Some can get the job done faster and better. Jobs like carpet cleaning can be done more efficiently by renting a carpet cleaning machine like the Rug Doctor or similar machine.
Tip: Get some new cleaning supplies or new gadget. You might be surprised your partner will also enjoy a new vacuum to clean carpets like a power toy. Or dress up like a queen of clean and get everyone colourful rubber gloves from the dollar store. Remind children to wear old clothes specially for messy jobs like painting or washing windows.
Step #7 – Be realistic. Things can get broken by accident or end up not as clean as you wanted. Don't panic. Just think that cleaning it will be easier next time around. And yes, replacing a broken item means shopping!
Tip: Put away valuable breakable items yourself before cleaning the area. Check your supplies and equipment if they are old and need replacement. You might need to pre-clean something before assigning the task to a child.
Step #8 – Practice safety. Accidents can happen anywhere but they can also be prevented. Working with cleaning chemicals and solutions are harmful to children. Consider switching to eco-friendly cleaning supplies and be kind to our environment.
Tip: Explain to young children why they are not allowed on the ladder or why they cannot use the electric drill. Little children are curious but do understand if we explain. Avoid high risk jobs when around kids. Instead, think of another task.
Step #9 – Reward all cleaning efforts. Be sure to thank everyone who helped and praise the extra efforts of your children.
Tip: Have a small snack or treat at the end of the job. You can also teach children the value of money and hard work by paying them a small amount. Don't forget to reward your partner and yourself. Put your feet up and have a cold drink. Take a short nap.
Step #10 – Enjoy the fruits of your labour. Now that the job is done, sit back and enjoy.
Tip: After the winter grime has been cleaned, this is the best time to think of your redecorating projects or shopping trip or have a party.
You may not have a future queen or king of clean in the making, but spring cleaning or any kind of job shared with your family has its virtues. Cleaning with them is a way to teach good lessons and values to your children when they are young. They find out that their chores grow when they neglect to do the smaller ones. They will know that a team effort finishes the job faster and can be fun too. They learn to take pride and ownership of a job well done. Partners too, learn to communicate and depend on each other's skills and practice patience with each other.
When work becomes fun, it is no longer work!