As the summer winds down and fall rolls in, it will soon be time for the kids to head off to school. Before your nights become swamped with PTA meetings and sports practice, set aside some time for the whole family to clean and declutter the house. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Set the timer for 30 minutes. Then have every family member go through their things and find items to donate or throw away. Box up the donations and drop them off right away. Then take everyone out for an ice cream reward!
- Ask yourself three questions when trying to decide whether or not to keep an item: Do I love it? Do I use it? (Note: the question is not could you use it, but do you use it.) Could someone else use it?
- Be specific. To a kid, “Go clean your room,” sometimes translates into “Shove everything under the bed or in the closet.” Try to be specific when you give your kids instructions, such as “Put all your dirty clothes in the hamper,” “Put all your toys in the toy box,” or “Make your bed.”
- Make cleaning a game. Write down cleaning tasks on ping pong balls. Each person chooses a ball, completes the task, and then chooses another one. Whoever has the most balls after 30 minutes wins a prize (like an extra hour of TV or their favorite food for dinner). Don’t have ping pong balls handy? Write tasks down on strips of paper and put them inside a hat.
- Make storage space. Attics, basements, and garages tend to be the “catch all” places for a lot of stuff: Christmas decorations, old clothes and toys, etc. Oftentimes, we store items we really don’t need to keep. Start your cleaning process by going through these areas to get rid of all the junk. Then, when you finally organize your living areas, you’ll have storage space waiting.
- Contain your stuff! Sometimes, it’s not that you have too much stuff, you just need an organized place to put it. Before you get started, make a trip to the local store and pick up a few plastic bins and wire baskets. Then use them to help you sort through all the stuff. Put all the laundry items (the lint rollers, the spot removers) in one basket, put all the tools (the hammer, the screwdriver, the tape measure) in another.