Maybe it was the first day of spring. Maybe it was the sunshine. Or maybe it was the cherry water ice spill all over the backseat that finally made me do it. But yesterday when we unloaded backpacks from the backseat, I started a car cleaning overhaul.
I dug out old Party Muffin packages, half-eaten cheddar Goldfish heads, broken crayons, and dried lollipop sticks. I also found my favorite long lost necklace from 4 years ago. Honestly, I have purged the car since then but maybe our new Shopvac has strength that sucked that jewel from the car crack depths.
Something about getting tidy makes an afternoon fun too. My 6- and 4-year-old girls played “car” in the driveway, arranging their booster seats strategically and making a backrow for their baby dolls. They begged for soapy washrags and scrubbed dried drips off their respective backseat spots. We all felt better climbing in a fresh car this morning.
With how well that went, I think that’s just our first of many spring cleaning afternoons. If you’d like to join the spring freshening fun, here are a few ways to get your kids involved. It’ll feel less like a chore if you do it together.
1. Make it fun. Turn up the music. Dance around while you’re doing it. Sing into the crusty old lollipop stick. Shriek at how loud the vacuum is. Get in a Windex spray fight. Invite imaginative play. Cleaning is a chore but it can be an enjoyable time together too.
2. Give enough time. A hurried clean sweep is great for 5 minutes before the dinner company rings the doorbell. But when you have the winter season mess to sort through you don’t have to hurry. If you allow an open ended time then you’ll be more willing to include your children too. Their “help” can sometimes feel like added work, but it’s good that they learn how to contribute.
3. Assign jobs. Your mess, your job is a good way to start. Even little children can help if this is the understanding. Help each child work though her own closet. Divvy up the stacks of snowsuits. Each snowsuit owner folds away and stores his own gear.
4. Affirm their effort. Recognize your children for the help they are. “Wow! You are such a big helper!” Or try telling them how much you like doing the tasks together. “Chores are much better when we’re doing them side by side.” Compliment their progress along the way. “Look at those shoes all organized! You’re a hard worker.” In our home, the compliments are the biggest motivation to keep going. I learned too many years into motherhood that they work much better than my nagging.
5. Offer a reward. Inevitably as they sort, clean, and organize there will be outgrown pieces, out of season pieces, and unused items. Don’t pile these away under the stairs or in the basement. Turn these into money for something you and your kids like. These are the perfect items to consign at a local Rhea Lana’s event. Then let your kids use the money for a special local outing or add on to a summer vacation.
Okay so now I’m headed into the basement to sort through hats, mittens, and snow boots that stacked up through the winter. We’re ready to swap them out for sandals and sunny days!