Do you even have your own clutter? If you have more than one toddler, the majority of your clutter is probably kid-related. Toddlers do not care too care much about a baby rattle until you throw it in a box for a garden sale, so de-cluttering is easier said than done. You don’t have to become a toy ninja to expunge old toys. Get the tots involved. Have your kids sort their toys, collect their favorite toys and prepare old toys for a grand sale.
Guide your little ones to get all the pieces to their favorite toys together to make their room look fancy. Say that. Let them know you’re going to make their room look fancy. Let them know that if you can sell old toys you’ll get money that you can use for brand new toys. It’s not a lie. It’s true, and some toddlers will be ever eager to help you ditch old toys if it means the chance to get new ones. At the end, you’ll have gotten rid of a bunch of toys to replace them with one cool toy.
Sell old clothes or donate them. If you have nice baby or younger toddler clothes that fit none of your kids, you can get some money back on them from consignment shops and yard sales. Online shops such as Thred-up.com may even send you a free bag with shipping included to send off your clothing (including your own clothes) to get money. Don’t worry about the money. Your mission is to de-clutter. Whatever dollars you get will be the spring-flower icing on your cake.
Go Top to Bottom
The beauty of cleaning top to bottom is that your toddlers can’t mess up what you need a step stool to clean. Daily cleaning can feel a little like the game of Whack-a-Mole when a three year old spills sticky grape juice on the wooden play table you just cleaned to perfection. Starting with light fixtures, ceiling fans, vents, and ceiling dust alleviates that initial, “but I just cleaned that” frustration that could easily deflate your cleaning mood. Arianna Cohen from Woman’s Day suggests that task cleaning, rather than cleaning room to room, is a more effective approach to overall cleaning. So, if you clean the top of the whole house first, without regard for rooms, you’ll get much more cleaning done in your initial spring cleaning spree than if you tried to go one room at a time.
Create a Spring Cleaning Event
For the big bang of spring cleaning, get the toddlers involved by turning the chore into a holiday. Find a day that you can do it and tell them, “Saturday is Spring Clean Day! We’re going to have music, treats, flowers, and fun, all while we make the house pretty and new for spring!” Get them excited. Make some special spring snacks the day before the big day (so you don’t have to mess up your kitchen or slow your roll on the cleaning day). Many kids like fruit, and fruit is a colorful spring-time treat for the big day. So when you need a little break from cleaning, you can whip out the strawberries, kiwi and apricots for a sweet treat.
Get your kids to tell you what they like to do and let them do it on the big day, even if it isn’t very effective. That’s right, your toddler might like sweeping or wiping things down, but even if she’s not very good at it, let her do it. You’ll be able to work on your chores while you see your tot doing something. If you’re extra creative, you can design cleaning games for the kids in which you can give them some spring-related reward. If there’s clutter, you can play a game of “Throw it in the basket,” then give them stickers (I know, you might not want stickers on the fridge) or inexpensive toys for their effort.
Dr. Bill Maier, with Focus on the Family, explains that age is really important in determining what type of tasks children can do well. Dr. Maier explains that parents should be very specific when giving tasks to children, incorporating time-limits with kitchen timers and explanations as to why things need to be picked up and put away. For that reason, use games for specific tasks such as sorting laundry, picking up toys, and putting random items where they belong.
Get a Sitter or Plan Distractions
Your little ones will have a hard time doing everything with you and you’ll have an even more difficult time completing major tasks while the toddlers are following you. To complete major tasks such as cleaning behind your appliances, try scheduling those chores while your toddlers are taking a nap. You can orchestrate distraction activities for your toddlers such as coloring pictures of spring flowers. You could also go to a local dollar-only shop to buy different color synthetic flowers and vases. Ask your toddlers to separate the flowers by color and to put them into the different vases so that you can decorate the house for spring. Not only might you find them to be distracted while you are busy, but the kids will be working on organizational and fine motor skills. Sorting activities will be complimentary to your spring cleaning escapade with your children, and sorting is an important skill for toddlers to develop.
Just have fun and relax. Get help from older kids and your spouse. Make it a family event with happy music playing and activities that will distract and entertain your toddlers. Finally, there’s no harm in finding a sitter so you can complete your spring cleaning. One way to spice up the prospect of finding a sitter is to offer to help clean their house if they watch your kids while you clean yours.