By Cammie Jones


Spring is in the air! Open the windows and let in the fresh breeze (before the pollen arrives!). Spring is a great time of year for cleaning, decluttering and organizing your home. As challenging as this may be with little ones at your feet, there are some creative ways to get them to help while having fun.

1. Artwork. What to keep and what to throw away? It’s an age-old dilemma. There are only so many macaroni-pasted-on-construction-paper masterpieces you can store. Provide each child with a large plastic bin. Let them make a sign with their name and glue or tape it to the side. Then, have them help decide which art pieces to keep. I used to save anything with handprints, photos or footprints. Help your child date the artwork with the year on the back or their age at the time they created it.

Pick out a few of your favorite pieces to frame at a local arts and craft store that your child can display on their walls or place in easel frames around their room or playroom.

2. Toys. Post-holiday months are convenient times to streamline toy collections. “Start with the easy items— broken toys, puzzles with missing pieces, games the kids have outgrown. It’s a good time to play doctor to damaged boxes, too, so the toys they love stay together,” says Clare Kumar, Spring Cleaning with Kids at Designate specific locations like a bedroom or playroom for toys. Line up toy trucks and cars in one corner of the room. Keep Lego pieces together using large bins. Bins, baskets and toy boxes are functional tools for organizing.

Stuffed animals and knick-knack collections are also in need of tidying. Limit the number of dolls or stuffed animals and let kids focus on a few favorite ones. Treasured collections like rocks, costume jewelry or books may also need “pruning”.  “Managing collections provides early lessons on personal responsibility and organizing. Take an interest in what your child is collecting and find a way to honor the collection while respecting the space available to store it,” suggests Kumar. As for the rejects, plan to donate them to a local charity. This teaches kids the importance of helping those less fortunate.

3. Clothes. As seasons change, drawers and closets accumulate unnecessary clothes and shoes. Have your child make three piles: donate, pass down and sell. The donate pile can be old t-shirts or items that have seen better days.  The pass down pile is things your child has outgrown but might still be in good shape for younger siblings, cousins or friends.  The sell pile can contain anything that is still wearable and can be resold to local or online stores. Use the money you make from the sale to purchase new clothes for your child, or to donate to a local charity.

4. Junk Rooms. The garage, basement or storage room can quickly become the dumping room. Don’t know what to do with an old chair?  Put it in the garage.  Can’t decide what to do with old books? Store them in the basement. Kids can help clean out these large areas.  Give each child a task. For example, one can focus on the sports equipment, tossing out broken balls and throwing out or donating old cleats that no longer fit. Another child can oversee outdoor toys like old beach boards, bubbles, sand toys, etc. While they concentrate on their job, you can be purging old tools, garden items, miscellaneous furniture or yard equipment that has seen better days.

5. Food Staples. Spring is a fabulous time to get rid of expired food staples. Assign a pantry shelf to each child. Let them search the expiration dates for old pasta, canned goods or salad dressings throwing away any that are expired. This will also work for the refrigerator. Afterward, each child can wipe down their assigned shelf with a cleaning rag before putting food items back.

There are many ways to incorporate children with spring cleaning at your home. Use your own judgment about their abilities and give them the satisfaction of being part of the household as a participating member. A little incentive is also helpful— like a trip to a local ice cream store after cleaning may be just the thing to get them motivated to help!

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This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine. Did you like what you read here?