by Jenna Jonaitis, Contributing writer
Spring comes at a great time to deep clean, reorganize, and get ready for summer fun. After spending extra time inside this winter — especially amidst the pandemic — it’s likely that some family clutter has accumulated (don’t worry: it’s happened to all of us).
A pristine home isn’t everything — not to mention it’s close to impossible when you’re raising a family. But chronic clutter can lead to increased stress. Disorganization can also make it harder for us to focus, relax, or even sleep. Decluttering can be good for your health, and the health of your whole family.
And while we might logically know the benefits of an organized, clean space, finding the time and energy to keep things tidy as a busy parent can be as hard as getting your toddler to sit down at the dinner table.
But even the smallest improvements — like finally getting under that rug and sweeping — can breathe fresh life into your space. Rejuvenate your home this spring with some of these cleaning and organizing tips designed for busy parents.
Find a little motivation
Do you dream of a neater entryway? A kitchen cupboard that isn’t so packed? Or a living room window free of tiny handprint smudges? The truth is, we’re most motivated when we have a vision or goal in mind. Think about a small improvement that would make a big difference in the day-to-day enjoyment of your family. Your vision will help you drum up some cleaning inspiration.
It can feel overwhelming to look at your whole home and not know where to begin. Choose a space that feels easy enough to make a dent — such as the pantry or a junk drawer. By breaking down your spring cleaning into smaller steps, the project becomes manageable. Write down a list of your tasks to check off throughout the spring. When you find yourself with a few extra minutes, pull out your list and check one more goal off the list.
Give everything a home
Whether it’s the underwear in your toddler’s drawer or her collection of puzzles, give each group of items its own designated space. This allows for quicker organization and less intermixing of things. Consider using boxes, bins, plastic organizers, or baskets to contain items. Organizers and bins can often be found at garage sales and second-hand stores.
Forge one new habit
Picking up or cleaning in smaller bits throughout the day can be a lifesaver by bedtime. Add one new task to your daily routine, such as sweeping the dining room floor right after dinner or putting away shoes as soon as you walk in the door. Smaller habits build upon each other and keep the clutter at bay.
Involve your little one
Help your little one turn from bystander to contributor. When they assist with clean-up, you get more done while they’re with you (say hello to more actual free time). But including them in chores also teaches them important skills about picking up after themselves and helping around home. Depending on their age, try a “pickup party” in their play area or include them in unloading the dishwasher. Make it fun by turning on some tunes, dancing as you do it, and showing them your appreciation.
Clear out what you don’t need
Part of what contributes to clutter is the sheer number of items in a space. As you pick up books or organize the coat closet, set aside items your family no longer needs. Make this a regular habit if you can. Donate your treasures to other families, neighbors, or charities to make parting ways easier.
As you put more good habits in place, you’ll realize what works — and what doesn’t — for your cleaning routine. Are you too tired at the end of the day? (We see you nodding.) Try to knock off a chore in the morning instead. Too many items piling up on the kitchen counter? Add a bin or storage spot to contain it.
Celebrate your successes
Be sure to celebrate each achievement — like your newly organized linen closet or sparkly clean stovetop. Noticing these little delights around your home is a beautiful nod to the incredible work you do each day to keep your family running. And seeing your successes will give you motivation to keep your efforts going — through the spring and beyond.
Remember that having a home with kids isn’t going to look perfect and it doesn’t have to be. Just aim for a space that helps you feel more at ease and allows you to continue making beautiful memories as a family.
- Crane, Kristine. “Why Decluttering Is Good for Your Health.” U.S. News. U.S. News & World Report. November 8, 2016. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2016-11-08/why-decluttering-is-good-for-your-health.
- Lucchesi, Emilie Le Beau. “The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter.” The New York Times. The New York Times. Jan 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/well/mind/clutter-stress-procrastination-psychology.html.
- Tsigos, Constantine et al. “Stress: Endocrine Physiology and Pathophysiology.” Endotext. Web. October 17, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278995/.