It might only be February, but if you get a head start on spring cleaning now, guess what you won’t have to do once the snow melts? Staying organized isn’t actually all that difficult once you’ve established systems to help you do so. It’s getting there that presents challenges, but if the whole family pitches in, your house will be ready for unannounced guests any day of the week.
If the thought of getting started overwhelms you, it’s likely your family feels the same way. Keep your expectations low when you’re first starting out, and encourage your kids to help you clean up in just 10 or 15-minute increments. Remember to tackle the problems behind the clutter, too, and not just the mess itself.
For example, if your children always leave their shoes in a muddy pile by the back door, don’t just ask them to line up their shoes day after day. Get a small wicker basket (or cubbies if they’ll fit), and encourage your kids to put their shoes in the basket, instead. You’d be surprised what a big difference the little changes can make.
Give Everyone a Heads up
Kids thrive on predictability and routine, and no one wants to wake up on Saturday morning to hear Mom say that they’re going to spend all day cleaning. Give your kids a heads up if you want their help on the weekends so they’re prepared when the time comes. Better Homes and Gardens even encourages busy moms to add cleaning tasks to the family calendar.
You shouldn’t have to bribe your kids to help around the house, but they will be far more agreeable if they have something to look forward to once they’re done. Let them know you appreciate their help by getting frozen yogurt or seeing a movie after you’ve finished for the day, so you can still salvage some of that weekend fun.
Make It Fun
Okay, so maybe cleaning and organizing isn’t exactly “fun,” but there are steps you can take to make it a bit more enjoyable. Put on some music, come up with silly timed events–who can pair the most socks in 2 minutes?–and just try to keep things light. You may feel like you’re on a tight deadline, but in reality, whatever you don’t finish this weekend can always wait until next weekend. Plus, your family will be far more inclined to help out in the future if they feel like they have a little wiggle room.
Take the Lead
You can’t expect your family to stay organized if you don’t make an active effort to do so yourself. Take the lead on spring cleaning this year, and remember: Even the little things count. For example, make sure all your paperwork is squared away before your ask your kids to clear their art supplies off the table for dinner.
At the end of the day, keeping the house organized is going to be a group effort. Have a family meeting and talk about the ways everyone will benefit from staying tidy. Then discuss the steps you’ll need to take to get there.
When kids feel like they actually have a say in the decision-making process, they tend to be more eager to help. Give your kids a chance to show just how proactive they can be, and tackle the clutter together this spring.