Father and daughter cleaning the kitchen

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Spring is here! The days are getting longer and the sun is shining more brightly. It’s time for us to crawl out from under our winter rocks and take on the season of new beginnings with a smile.

Part of embracing spring for our family is setting aside time for a deep clean of the entire house. Although tedious and difficult to accomplish, having a truly clean home in the spring is a cathartic experience. If you have small kids like we do, your home can take quite a beating in the winter. The deep clean is a must for our family.

Since we have a 6-year old and a 3-year old, we had to get quite crafty with this year’s spring cleaning. Usually, we do this when our kids are out of the house (God bless Grandma).

Revealing the good, bad and the ugly, here’s how we approached our big house cleanse with two small humans in tow.

Set a Date and Time 

With our busy family schedule, nothing important gets completed if we don’t put it on our calendar. My wife and I sync our iPhone calendars together (through iCal) so we’re always aware of what’s happening each day.

For our big clean day, we set a date a few weeks in advance so we didn’t miss it. Blocking out an entire Sunday can be tricky, so I’d highly recommend doing it as soon as possible.  We blocked off 9:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m. for this family cleaning adventure.

Divide and Conquer

With two adults and two children, we decided to split up. My wife and son took on the upstairs while my daughter and I focused on the kitchen and first floor.

This helped in two areas:

  1. Splitting up our kids so there would be fewer fights that we’d have to break up
  2. Created focused one-on-one time (father and daughter, mother and son) made the process a little more special for all

Assign Age Appropriate Chores for the Kids

When it comes to kids and chores, it’s important not to overdo it. The last thing you want is a trip to the emergency room on spring cleaning day.

With my daughter being slightly older, she could help with some slightly more complicated tasks like wiping the counters, washing windows and emptying the garbage cans. My 3-year-old son pretty much moved dirt from one spot to another with a broom. It was hilarious.

We eventually found a sweet spot for him with our small vacuum. He was able to do a chore that he liked, and it was actually helpful!

Having the kids performing their tasks nearby was the best way to go for us. That way we could support them with the tougher chores if needed. This decreased the likelihood of temper tantrums tenfold.

Include Break Time

When we got tired from cleaning, we took breaks. The kids’ breaks were much longer and more frequent than our breaks, but that gave my wife and I some time to get some major cleaning done.

Kids aside, when you’re doing any physically strenuous activity, you need to hydrate and to take a load off. If you keep pushing hard for too long, you may not be able to complete the big spring clean in one day. Two days of this kid-wrangling and deep-cleaning would be just too much.

Create “Do Not Enter” Zones

Right when we were nearly finished with a room, our kids (still on break) would come and start creating messes where we had just cleaned. It was beyond frustrating.

To remedy this, I decided to put up a sign that said, “Kitchen Closed: Do Not Enter for 1 Hour.” This communication tactic came from the book, How to Talk So You’re Kids Will Listen & Listen So Your Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It essentially reduces the amount of yelling happening on Spring Cleaning Day, letting the sign do most of the work.

Surprisingly, the sign was met with curiosity and respect. It kept my 6-year old at bay for a decent period of time. 30 minutes later, there was a bag of chips dropped all over the kitchen floor… c’est la vie.

Make It Fun

Let’s face it. Spring cleaning and chores can be really boring especially for kids. That’s why it’s our job as parents to spice it up a little bit and make it fun.

Now some of these tricks might only work because my kids are younger, but I’m going to keep using them until they fail me.

  1. Play fun music for the kids: My daughter likes to jam out to The Descendants and Moana soundtracks, while my son prefers Muse. Go with whatever makes your kids happy and motivated to keep cleaning.
  2. Incorporate games into the house cleaning: The old counting trick always works. “Let’s see how fast you can put away your dirty laundry! I’ll count. Go! 1-2-3-4…”
  3. Laugh and have fun with technology: Earlier this year, we got an Amazon Echo. While we were cleaning, we’d ask Alexa to tell us jokes. She’s got a wicked sense of humor.

Both my wife and I listened to audiobooks during our focused cleaning time without the kids (they were taking more breaks). Time flies when you’re into a really good book.

Realize You’re Going to Redo Your Kids Work…and That’s Okay

When all was said and done, my wife and I had to redo about half of the “work” that was done by our kids.

Would it have been a lot easier if they were at Grandma’s house again? Definitely.

Honestly, I still preferred it the way we did it. Although we really wanted a sparkling clean house, it was much more important that we spent the day together doing something for the betterment of our family.

After all, our kids will only be young and wild for so long. We better enjoy these beautiful and memorable spring days together while we still can.

What are your spring cleaning tactics? How do you involve the kids? Let us know in the comments below.

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