Spring Cleaning: Lessons Learned Celebrating Spring
It may seem hard to believe, but …
One spring day, decades from now, your grown children will catch the first scent of clover and fresh-mowed grass. Suddenly, they will be struck with an irresistible urge to … wash windows, clean out the garage, or weed the garden. Reaching across time, they’ll connect with you and the lessons you taught them about spring cleaning and maybe even life.
With that day in mind, here are some thoughts about what and how parents are really teaching their kids during annual spring cleaning rituals.
Celebrating spring. Making transitions.
After a long, dark winter, aren’t we all ready to just go out and play? Like “decking the halls” in preparation for the winter holidays, you can model a celebratory attitude about spring cleaning by first focusing on the fun tasks ahead. You can let your children:
- Set the mood by creating individual playlists of “music to clean by” and allowing them to “crank it up” during cleaning sessions.
- Get in gear by focusing on the first tasks of organizing and maintaining seasonal toys and sports equipment—packing away the ice skates and sprucing up the bicycles.
- Get outside, working with them in the yard or garden where they can enjoy the sun and see the immediate impact of their work. (First time gardening with your children? Check out this kid-friendly site from the University of Illinois.)
As the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” During spring cleaning, you can demonstrate how large projects can be broken down into manageable, bite-size chunks. With some adjustments for different ages and stages, spring cleaning can help kids apply the following principles to schoolwork:
- Step back to see the “big picture,” looking at their learning and living spaces to see what works, what doesn’t, and what will make their daily lives easier.
- Identify the tasks, tools, and order for getting their spaces in shape. You can also teach them to recognize and prioritize tasks that will have the greatest impact.
- Develop techniques for making large projects bearable, such as 30-minute blitz-cleaning sessions (set to their favorite music, of course!) or tackling a space one square foot or zone at a time.
Sharing and caring for the planet.
As you help your children sort through no-longer-used clothes, books, and toys, you can demonstrate how to care for others and our planet. You can teach them to:
- Donate clothes and toys to worthwhile organizations.
- Spread the joy of reading by swapping books with fellow students.
- Recycle electronics equipment responsibly and upcycle unwanted materials creatively.
- Reduce landfill waste by donating, sharing, or selling the things they no longer need.
Once the “decks are cleared” of unwanted stuff, you can teach your children about cleaning by using methods and products that are safe for them and the environment.
Reorganizing learning spaces.
As online students, our kids face a double whammy when it comes to the disadvantages of disorganized learning spaces. Those home classroom areas that you organized so beautifully in the fall typically show signs of wear and tear by spring. That’s okay! Spring is a great time to help your kids:
- Reorganize their learning areas in eight simple steps.
- Replenish their inventory of school supplies.
- Understand how “clutter happens” and how clearing the clutter also clears the path for new adventures.
So, decades from now, what lessons do you want your kids to remember about spring cleaning?