Less is More: Spring Cleaning, Kinsa-Style
Between the holiday influx of “stuff,” layering weather, the beginning of soccer season, and 6 months of school projects, our house has seen better days. Luckily, it’s also around this time that the clutter starts to bug me enough to actually DO something about it. Here are a few happening-right-now-at-my-house tips for Spring Cleaning that have worked for me over the years.
By far, the best way I’ve found to keep out house clean is to make sure there are well organized bins in every room. The bedrooms hold the dress-up bin, stuffy bin, puzzle bin, craft bin and lego bin (plus each kid gets one bonus bin where they can chuck anything they don’t have a place for). Each kid gets a coat bin and activity bin (soccer, gymnastics, swim gear) in the downstairs closet (after many attempts at hooks and hangers, this actually lasts). And we even have one small basket per kid on the stairs so that they can “put away” things that belong upstairs as soon as they are done with them, but carry them up at the end of the day. It’s taken me 9 years of parenting to realize that bins are truly the ONLY failsafe way of getting kids to put away their own things and not being disappointed with the result. Trust me when I tell you to give up on everything else. Your sanity will thank you when you move entirely to bins!
The Gift of Giving
See things that you know your kid has outgrown, but they’re having trouble letting go? Name the person you are giving it to - even if you make that person up! When I ask my little diva if she’s ready to give up a two-sizes-too-small dress, she balks. But if I tell her about a little girl that doesn’t have any nice dresses and it makes her feel bad when she’s invited to fancy parties, she shows me her inner empath and usually throws in a few extras. Same goes for toys - hearing about a kid with no toys is just about the saddest tale you can tell some children. As a byproduct of this exercise, you get to warm the cockles of your heart with the knowledge that your children really are caring and generous humans.
Label of Love
Want your kids to keep things organized? Buy a label maker. It’ll be the best $10 you’ve ever spent. You’ll have no trouble getting your kids to help you type, print and stick the labels on shelves to show where everything should go - and depending on their ages, the inventive spelling will make you chuckle every time you put away a “bole” or their “markrs.” Our P-Touch has helped with reading and spelling AND has made it so the kids can (correctly) put the clean dishes away for me! Be warned, though - the tape cartridges and batteries will very quickly pass the label maker in investment. Also be warned that you may find yourself at a business meeting wearing a sticker on your back that says, hypothetically, “mamawilyuobisumiscreme” (bonus points if you can read “5-year-old”).
Do your kids leave things around even after you’ve lectured them a thousand times? Recently when I was on the brink of death-by-socks-on-the-living-room-floor I sat my very reasonable 8 year old down. We talked about how it drives me crazy that I pick up her socks (or yell at her to pick them up) Literally. Every. Day. I asked her what kind of punishment she thought would finally teach her not to leave her socks around. We discussed her paying me a dollar every time I find them (but me paying her back after a week of non-sock-leaving). We discussed her not being allowed to wear socks. We discussed a lot of things till she decided she’d have to forego dessert (we always end with a little sweet) every day she left her socks out. She still occasionally has to miss dessert but it’s such a simple consequence when it happens that I don’t get riled up anymore. Which is the only thing better than not having socks on the floor.
“Present” your Present
This past month as I was in the throes of organization, I lamented what to do for Valentine’s Day - a holiday where we don’t usually spend a lot, but do manage to bring a fair amount of unnecessary pink clutter into the house. At the same time, my husband and I were planning our Spring Break - a road trip to visit my brother with lots of neat stops along the way. We kept our plans under wraps and then while my husband took the girls out to a matinee, I decorated the house with heart-shaped clues and wrapped hints that led to each other, slowly revealing our Spring Break Trip. Poems unveiled our stop at a National Park, a day with old friends, and a “star party” at an observatory. These clues and a handful of festive jelly beans (and a heart shaped pizza for dinner) were all it took to create an incredibly memorable but no-clutter holiday.
Anyone with kids can attest to the feeling of being buried under a mountain of macaroni necklaces, hand print birds, glittery photo frames and brilliant holiday related signage. Some people scan and file this priceless art. I save the best of the best for the kids’ bulletin boards and packages to Grandma. The rest I put in a box that I go through a few times a year, which my husband has dubbed “Artwork Purgatory.” When I do sit down and go through (which is fun in and of itself), I toss 98% of this work, putting a choice few final pieces (with names and dates) into the cedar chest that holds our most precious keepsakes. Pro Tip - when you throw out the rest, do it in the OUTSIDE garbage. There’s no feeling worse than being busted by your little girl, wondering why her masterpieces are crumpled in the trash.
What are your best Spring Cleaning tips? Email email@example.com to share and you may just get yourself a free Kinsa Smart Thermometer!