Spring cleaning with kids

Clare Kumar shares kid-friendly clutter busting tips to help make the most of spring cleaning.

Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

As light increases this time of year, energy levels climb and many of us get the urge to clean and refresh our spaces. Don’t miss this opportunity to inspire kids to get involved too. Spring cleaning with kids can be an annual ritual that will serve them for life.

Here are a few things kids can do:

1. Curate artwork
Kids are prolific creators, but let’s face it, not all works are masterpieces. Encourage kids to review their own artwork and choose the standouts to showcase or store. You might rotate art in picture frames in the kitchen or family room. To keep treasures in tip top condition consider buying an acid free clear pocket portfolio. As with much memorabilia, your camera can be your best friend. Check out the app Artkive  to keep and share images online and even create art books.

2. Tame toys
Birthdays are the perfect excuse to edit toys. In our home, we cull the toy collection to make room for new favourites. 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.

3. Cull Clothing
Often harder for parents than kids (who is it that’s really attached to the clothing?), season switches are the perfect time to take a good look at your kids’ wardrobes and determine what can live on for next year or would better be passed on. This is much easier said than done if your kids are also sentimental and slow growers. I once wrote about my daughter, who self-diagnosed with “letting go phobia” at age 9, yet made me proud when she looked at a well-loved pair of capris, hugged them and thanked them before letting them go. Donating to a charity is an easy option, but it can be even more rewarding to find an appreciative family in your circle. There is a special joy that comes from seeing other kids in clothes that your children have loved.

Read more: 10 helpful tips to transform your home

4. Collections
Kids are natural collectors, motivated by their desire to learn about something, to acquire special items as an indication of their uniqueness and sometimes simply to have more of something than someone else! They may be amassing pricey collectible cards or simply scavenging stickers, but even the most mundane collections may be valuable. Managing collections provide early lessons personal responsibility and organizing. Take an interest in what your child is collecting and find a way to honour the collection while respecting the space available to store it. It’s enriching for children to learn about limits and become comfortable making decisions to live within them. We have had collections of mini erasers, pencil leads, clothing label stickers and even collectible card wrapper collections!

5. Stuffed animals
There are veritable zoos in most kids’ rooms. As a child I remember having five special animals. I’m not sure what the average number of animals a child has today, but I’ll bet it’s ten times as many. Challenging to edit because they are often adorable to look at and even more exquisite to hold, it may be best to treasure hunt for favourite friends rather than think of culling the herd. Determine the number of animals you can store safely and have your child point at those they wish to keep without touching them. This strategy works just as well for adults who are trying to right size their possessions. If extremely challenging, consider making a visible display of the characters on a fabric shelf in a high corner of the room or even slipping smaller pets into an over the door organizer.

Read more: 16 of our best storage ideas for kids’ stuff

6. Dress up clothes
Costumes seem to have a long shelf life. Put some music on and have kids try on all the items in their collection. Pass on the pieces that have been outgrown. You might find a daycare or kinder classroom near you that would be thrilled to accept them. Look for bins that accept fabrics for recycling to avoid adding to landfill. Did you know the average Canadian disposes of 14kg of textile waste a year? Textiles can be turned into recycled cloths or reprocessed into fibres.

7. Art and craft supplies
Have you got bins full of broken crayons, dried up markers and pens that don’t work? This might be the most fun craft project yet. Grab a doodle pad and bring all the supplies to a table. Have fun drawing whimsically while making quick decisions about what’s worth keeping and what’s not. If you haven’t got one, consider creating a travel pack of supplies for use in transit. Extras in great shape can be donated. Use for birthday party decorations and activities.

Read more: 30 days to an organized home

8. Sports equipment
Most equipment is used for one season and may still be in great condition afterwards. Take time to clean the gear and store it in a bin until the beginning of next season. Early the next season, take your items to a local consignment shop to recoup some value or provide another child with an opportunity to play. You will able to kit up in nearly new wear at much reduced prices. Consider rewarding your kids’ efforts in spring clearing with a memorable experience.

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