When your home stresses you out, it might be easy to fantasize about moving or renovating. Remodeling may seem like the answer to a fresh clean living space, but keep in mind that 35% of remodeling projects end up involving the entire house. That’s a large, expensive project to pursue. Perhaps your house simply needs a good spring cleaning. Clutter and dirt buildup around the home can feel suffocating, so empower your family to tackle it as a team (and have some fun while you’re at it).
Start With a Family Meeting
Have a family meeting to talk about the task at hand. Plan your spring cleaning together, discussing options and opinions so everyone feels included. With a carefully mapped out plan, everyone knows where, when, and what they should be cleaning.
Begin by talking about goals. What areas of the home are cleaning priorities? What kind of change would everyone like to see and feel within the home? Together, choose one main goal to tackle as a family. More importantly, choose a reward for when that goal is met. By setting your goal and creating a reward to look forward to in the beginning, everyone will feel motivated together.
Make a List
If you create a cleaning list as a family, it helps everyone collaborate and think together — which can be quite motivating. There are lots of ways to create cleaning lists. One way is to break the house into chunks, listing all the cleaning steps involved for each room in their own separate lists.
For instance, list everything that needs to be cleaned in the kitchen. This area is so intimidating that in 2018, 14% of homeowners planned kitchen renovations. Your list of steps for the kitchen (like doing the dishes, wiping up countertops, cleaning the fridge, and more) should help simplify the task and make cleaning more doable.
Kids love creating their own lists, depending on their reading and writing level. Help them come up with easy cleaning ideas they can achieve and cross off (e.g. pick up toys, wipe mirrors, put away clothes, etc.). This will put them in charge of their cleaning responsibilities and guide them when they feel lost.
Turn a Chore Into a Game
Use games and fun strategies to make cleaning fun for the whole family. It might help to set aside an entire “family day” to eliminate feelings of rush and other distractions. You may even plan a fun “family cleaning party,” complete with music, dancing, and scrubbing.
Create an “Easter egg hunt” type game by hiding treats (or tokens for rewards) under clutter items. Tell your kids they’re hunting for treasure, but that they have to clean up the messy items to find the hidden treats. Another fun strategy is to have each kid fill a box with toys they want to donate. Offer an incentive like a new toy if they can fill the whole box.
Make cleaning the house into a race. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and have everyone clean as much as they can before it beeps. You can compete to see who can do more or simply use the timer as motivation to work hard, looking forward to the break that’s coming when it beeps. When the timer goes off, make sure everyone really does take a good 15-minute rest. Then, repeat the process until the tasks are complete.
Give Kids Decision-Making Power
When kids are allowed to make their own decisions about decluttering and cleaning, they’re more likely to feel good about it. Plus, they’ll learn valuable skills in the process. Knowing how to declutter is much cheaper than being tied down to their stuff throughout their lives, even when that stuff is in storage. After all, the storage unit industry rakes in $22 billion per year. Kids can gain a lot by practicing the skills now.
Let your kids manage how their schoolwork and artwork is saved by allowing them to choose their favorites and back up the rest by taking photos before recycling. Children can sort through other cluttered areas like art supply collections, stuffed animals, and toys. By playing a part in what happens to their items, they’ll be less afraid to see them go.
Knowing that all kids are unique, it might take more creativity to get more stubborn kids excited about cleaning. The best way to get their attention is by using fun. If a dance party or cleaning games haven’t worked yet, there’s still more you can try.
It could be small things that excite your kids, like seeing the way vinegar and baking soda foam up when they react during cleaning. Another idea is to give kids fuzzy socks for their hands and feet and tell them to clean up dust bunnies. Perhaps your kid needs the promise of a new toy or super-motivating activity. Every kid is different. Figure out what motivates yours.
Stay flexible to encourage your kids’ cooperation, allowing them to suggest alternative cleaning tasks or ways of performing them. Play music they like to help them get in the cleaning zone. Make cleaning tasks into learning activities or ways to be creative. There are even chore apps available for kids who crave a digital connection.
Take Action When You Get the Cleaning Blues
- Listen to an audiobook or podcast
- Plan a party and use it as an incentive
- Try out natural cleaning ingredients or buy some that have smells you love
- Think of it as a workout
- Learn new tips and hacks
- Reward yourself by opening windows or getting some fresh air between tasks
You don’t have to go straight to renovation if your house is overwhelming. While there are times renovation and remodeling are suitable (basement remodels often reward homeowners with a 70% return on their investment), it’s a good idea to do a family spring cleaning blitz first. Just remember to make it a family event, make it achievable and make it fun.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be in a great position to embrace spring cleaning and get everyone in the house involved. Before too long, your home will sparkle as if it’s brand new — and you’ll all feel better about working together to keep it that way.