It’s that time of year: open the windows, dust off the cobwebs, and get ready for spring. Many people still enjoy the tradition of a big spring-cleaning and it can be a great time to catch up on undone tasks.
With most people in Canada staying close to home in the coming weeks, now may be an ideal time to do a few extra chores around the house to help keep everyone feeling cozy and comfortable. Since the kids are home, too, they can be corralled into the activities, making it a perfect opportunity to teach them a few new skills while decluttering the house at the same time.
Arts and Crafts
Most of us have a cupboard, desk, rubbermaid bin or drawer full of art supplies: paper, stickers, paint, brushes, crayons. Take everything out, and spend some time organizing it all so that it’s tidy, which will make it easier to use it in the coming weeks, too. Get rid of glue that’s old and dry, give the paint brushes a cleaning, and sort the paper into type and size.
Task for the kids: separate broken and full crayons (you can melt down the broken ones to make new ones); sharpen pencil crayons and test the markers.
Tidy up Toy Town
This can be one of the toughest areas to spring clean because most kids will insist they still play with everything – even if they don’t! Start by organizing into categories – all the Lego in one bin, all the Hot Wheels in another, and so on. Get rid of anything that’s broken.
Task for the kids: ask them to find five items – no more, no less – than they would be happy to donate to a thrift store or to hand on to younger friends and family. Talk to them about sharing and and why it can be valuable to donate toys that are still in good condition.
Chasing Dust Bunnies
Spring is a great time to tackle the big jobs: clean out the hallway closet, pull out the refrigerator and clean behind and under, re-organize the garage or pantry. Most of these jobs are definitely “grown-up” skills but the kids can help out – or do kid-size activities at the same time.
Task for the kids: ask them to help you by moving items, fireman style, from a hall closet to a space nearby where you can sort through and organize. While you do a big job, like cleaning the oven, give the kids some paper towel and spray cleaner for mirrors and windows. You might have to re-do the job, but it’s a good task to start learning. For older kids, they can help with bigger jobs, like vacuuming or cleaning out under couch cushions.
Cull the Clothes
Most parents do a size-check a few times a year, cleaning out the drawers of items that have become too small or worn out. Spring is a great time to do this, swapping out cold-weather items for warm-weather. Tuck away winter boots and jackets (if it’s warm enough where you live) and figure out if you’ll need new light jackets, rain boots, or sandals for summer.
Task for the kids: ask them to do a fashion show by trying on items that may be borderline in sizing, and to help you identify items they already know don’t fit well (or they don’t like). They can help bag or box everything up, ready for donation, or to hand off to cousins and friends for hand-me-downs.
This is a great time to clean out, organize, and get rid of that big paperwork pile that most of us have somewhere in the house. Figure out what’s important and get it filed and shred or recycle the rest. Consider scanning or taking pictures of paperwork and then getting rid of the hard copies, if they’re not critical documents. Do you have a drawer full of instruction manuals? Go through them and recycle the ones for things you no longer have – and check online if the instruction manual is easily available
Task for the kids: ask an older child to use a staple remover to pull out staples before recycling paper. Don’t let little ones use a paper shredder, but your teens may not mind being in charge of this job.
Pull out the lawn chairs, patio sets, and all the outdoor toys – wagons, bikes, soccer balls – and get your outdoor living space ready to go (if the weather is complying). Give your gear a once-over to see what needs oiling, fixing, or tightening, and check to see if your patio furniture is any worse for wear over winter. If everyone is homebound for a while, our patios and backyards might soon become a precious extra space to get some fresh air and fun.
Task for the kids: get them set up like a “car wash” with a bucket of soapy water and some scrub brushes and sponges. Pull the wagon, bicycles, and other outdoor toys through the “wash” and let them help scrub and hose everything off.
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