Spring has officially sprung! For many families, that means tackling a winter's worth of snow shoes, dust, and broken toys in the annual practice of "Spring Cleaning."
At New Jammies, we're huge fans of spring cleaning in an effective and eco-conscious way. With the tips below, your family can tackle spring cleaning together--and take care of the planet, while you're at it!
- Don't try to do it all at once. Kids aren't the only ones who get overwhelmed by a full day of cleaning! Take some stress out of the process by breaking up your spring cleaning into more manageable chunks. Set daily tasks for kids and parents alike on a shared calendar, and tackle spring cleaning together!
- Start by setting up systems for donation, trash, and storage. Especially if you're getting your cleaning done over days or weeks, setting up an organization system is critical. Cut down on waste by designating specific bags and boxes for donation, trash, and storage. Keep them in an obvious place, and let kids add to the piles on their own.
- Use this as a learning opportunity. Spring cleaning is a great segue into educational opportunities, like environmental issues, good hygiene practices, and conversations about mental health. While you're wiping down windows and sorting through toys, find time to make sure your kids understand the "why" behind the practice.
- Get rid of anything past its expiration date. This holds true for things like medications and toiletries as well as food and drinks. Take a close look at anything your kids use on a regular basis (like medications and art supplies), and anything you only bust out during certain seasons (like sun block and bug repellents).
- Find ways to improve your energy efficiency. While you're changing light bulbs and batteries, see if you can cut down on your family's energy use. Swapping to eco-friendly light bulbs, unplugging and storing any electronics you're not using, and limiting TV and computer time can all make a difference.
- Learn how to properly recycle. This is another opportunity for kids to learn more about their environment. Did you know most recycling centers can process pizza boxes, but ONLY if they're free from grease and cheese? As a family, find out what items around your house can go in the recycling bin--and more importantly, what can't.
- Focus on cleaning practices that boost your home's health. Dust, mold, and animal dander are some of the most common contributors to seasonal allergies and colds. You can boost your home's health by opening the windows to let in fresh air, letting in more natural light, and keeping common surfaces clean.
- Clean paper-free. Clothes and towels that are too worn out to donate to charity can be donated instead to a "rag collection." Use absorbent cloth to wipe up spills, polish windows, and dust bookshelves instead of paper towels. You can wash and reuse rags, or recycle them when they're too worn out to keep using.
- DIY or green-ify your cleaning supplies. Many common household cleaners can be made at home with a mix of easy ingredients, like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. For a fun family activity, find a new cleaning recipe online and make some batches together! Use your favorite essential oils and extracts to add your favorite scents.
- Reduce your water consumption. How long does it take your kids to shower? Teach the importance of smart water consumption by trying to reduce the amount you use while spring cleaning. Be sure not to leave the water running while washing dishes or mopping, and find creative ways to reduce water use around the house.
- Find fun ways to "upcycle" decor and tools. "Upcycling" is a DIY trend the whole family can enjoy! "Upcycling" involves taking old or unused items and turning them into new, improved objects. This can be as simple as using an old toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach areas, or as creative as these gorgeous upcycled Mason Jar suncatchers.
- Start a new green practice, like composting or home gardening. Do your kids have untapped green thumbs? Get the whole family thinking green by setting up a new "green routine" around the house. A vegetable garden can be a great tool to get kids outside, working hard, and learning more about the environment. Composting your kitchen scraps can be a fascinating lesson on decomposition--and an easy way to help out the environment!
- Make it fun for the whole family! As a final tip, finding the fun in spring cleaning is the best way to make it go by quickly--and make some memories, while you're at it. Friendly competitions, impromptu dance parties, and rewards for finishing big tasks can all be fun ways to get the whole family invested in spring cleaning. Whether that means a fashion show with clothes destined for the donation bin or a race to see who can sort their toys the fastest, it's up to you!
When taken at face value, "Spring Cleaning" can seem like a daunting, time-consuming task for kids and parents. However, you can mix up your family's green routine and teach valuable lessons about conservation at the same time. Happy cleaning!