Spring is in the air and it’s time to once again begin the ritual of spring cleaning, but it’s always a little more difficult to work on spring cleaning for homeschooling moms because there are always children at home. “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shovelling the walk before it stops snowing,” to quote Phyllis Diller, and more so when homeschooling, in my opinion! But don’t despair, I have a few tips for you to get things under control!
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Before you begin, be sure to get the children on board. Depending on their abilities, you may want them to be fully involved so they can learn the important skills associated with spring cleaning. Of course, it will inevitably take longer this way, but lessons will be learned. You may want to have the children do independent work as you work your way through the house, or you may want to send the kids off with hubby, grandparents, or a friend while you power through with a grand sweep of the house.
I tend to do a mix of the first two – for places the children are responsible for, it’s good to go through things with them and explain how to do things the ‘right’ way. For my own spaces, I just go through them as quickly as possible on my own while the kids are doing lessons on the PC or working on an art project that will keep them busy.
Start with the closets
I don’t know about you, but I need orderliness around me to feel calm, and my mind always rests better when I know the closets are clean and organised (even if the rest of the house isn’t). Personally, I don’t see the sense in attempting to spring clean the rest of the house and shoving things into closets that are bulging, and then having to pull everything out and do them later – that’s really doing the job twice.
Yes, I pull everything out of the closets (one closet at a time – actually doing to worst one first is a good plan), dust and scrub back into those corners and up on the shelves.
Make a plan about how to organise the closet and what you will be keeping in there. Have a place for everything and everything in its place. Then begin to put things back into the closet, going through them and deciding if each piece is something that you really need, or does it bring you joy? What do you need to keep, what can you sell, what can you donate or pass on to someone else, and what should simply go for recycling or to the landfill? Do this for clothes, curricula, those million mismatched plastic containers….
And don’t forget not to pack your closet full again – you’re going to need extra space to contain the items you find elsewhere in the house that will need a home, and you’re sure to acquire items over the next year, too.
Spring Cleaning Cupboards
Do the same thing with your cupboards as you do with your closets, going through each item and having a home for everything.
Go through your spices and tins and packets and check the best before and expiry dates of food and medicine, too. Get rid of what cannot be used and take the old medications to your pharmacist to be disposed of safely.
Remember that best before dates are not the same as use by or expiry dates. If you’re comfortable using food past the best before dates, then do. I write down the items I need to use up quickly and plan my next month’s meals around those items. It’s fun to come up with different variations on meals when needed and try something new from the cookbook when you can’t remember why you purchased an ingredient you never use in the first place! My favourite go-to for great meals is MyFreezEasy (read our MyFreezEasy review here)
Go through all of your clothes – throw out those holey socks, unless you are going to darn them immediately. Underwear that’s seen better days – toss them. Check your shirts and other items for holes, stains, and fit. Don’t keep anything that isn’t suitable (expect maybe your absolute favourite one item that’s great for painting and home repair).
If you’ve watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, give her KonMari method of folding a try! It’s not far off the way I’ve organised my own drawers for years. After watching her show with the kids when we didn’t have heat, I did Phil’s drawers in her method and believe it or not, they’ve stayed much tidier than usual – score!
Get some shoe boxes, or those pretty gift boxes and store ties, belts, and other hard-to-fold items in them. The same goes for that gadget drawer we all have that’s filled with chargers and spare electrical cords for phones, tablets, etc. Tidy them all up and keep them lined up in a box – it’s awesome! I did this with our camera battery chargers and it made such a difference! I’ll work my way through the drawer as I come across suitable boxes.
Don’t forget about spring cleaning your bookshelves! Clearing bookshelves are difficult for me as I simply cannot part with books! I’ve had to in the past when moving between countries or living in a ‘box room’ in Belfast, but we simply cannot keep everything! Very recently the children’s bookshelf (that’s less than a year old) looked a little funny and I realised the shelves were already falling down. So the children and I went through their books and attempted to thin them out. A few books they chose to go in our donation pile. Many books we may sell on to other homeschoolers, some will be moved up to the attic for future use, and some are staying on the shelf. We filled three boxes of books and somehow the bookshelf is still full! I don’t know how that happens (okay, I may be guilty of double-layering a few small books).
The kids went through their games and toys and also decided which ones they want to use now, which ones they will store in the attic and come back to, and which ones can go in our donation boxes.
If your shelves are full of nick-nacks, again, go through them and think about whether they really do hold happiness for you. Letting go is hard, but just because something was expensive or was a gift, doesn’t mean it’s still suitable for you at this point in life. The less you have sitting out, the easier it will be to keep things clean!
One option for both books and nick-nacks are to display seasonal items. Books dealing with spring, a vase with fresh spring flowers, and things like that. Then the next season, swap out your books and trinkets for summer-themed items. We often do things like this for Christmas, but why not year-round? We may appreciate our possessions more this way and give them more attention as we re-remember our memories as we bring out new items each season.
Before you begin, have some boxes and bags ready and pre-labelled so you know what will go in each one – things to sell, things to donate, or things to store. Label your boxes even more specifically, if you can now, rather than have to re-do it again later. Curricula to sell, kids’ homeschool samples year xyz, sentimental items for Autumn, holiday photographs, etc. If you’re extra-super-organised, then feel free to inventory each box you’re keeping and have a running master list so you know exactly what you have in the basement/attic/garage! This is my ultimate nerdy goal, but it won’t be happening this decade.
This is my crazy method of spring cleaning. It doesn’t get done in a day; sometimes only one kitchen cupboard a week, but at least once a year (sometimes more if needed) this is how I clean and organise our home. After this is completed this year, my next job will be to go up and clear out the attic and get it all organised by section, too! It’s been a couple of years since that’s been done, and I’m positive we will have a lot to sell, pass on to others, and donate to charity!
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What is your secret to successful spring cleaning (or any cleaning) while having young people around all the time? Share your tips below in the comments so we can all do better!