The Lazy Mum’s Guide to Spring Cleaning

This time of year is all about freshness and renewal, and I like to do my part for the family — and our earth — by making the home sparkle and doing it as naturally as possible. And full disclosure, I am not an overachieving Suzy Homemaker. I like things to be neat and tidy, but hardcore spring cleaning doesn’t exactly come naturally.

Spring cleaning is a deeper clean than your average; it involves putting away things that are too heavy and bulky for the coming months, donating or selling items that no longer serve, and of course it’s the opportunity to dust and clear out the home of allergens.

If you get overwhelmed by big cleaning projects like I do, this easy guide to spring cleaning for mums is going to be your best friend. Take your home from cluttered to functional in a week or two of twenty-to-thirty minute days. And get your kids in on the action to make things go even smoother. Doesn’t that already take the pressure off?

Load Up Your Toolkit

The fewer cleaning tools you have, the better. Same deal for offloading tasks to inanimate objects. If a robot vacuum cleaning system is in your budget, start there. If not, simplify in other ways. I love Swiffer products because they are easy to use and store, and most have more than one function.

Buckets for mopping create extra work: they also use an inordinate amount of water. Keep things as light and easy as you can. Invest in an all-purpose cleaner (I love this one by J. R. Watkins) you can use on any surface in your home. Consider using old, stained or worn hand towels or cut up shirts instead of paper towels. These simple moves will reduce your stress and environmental impact at once.

A Task at a Time

On day one of my spring cleaning blitz, I start with one task: dusting. With a duster, I go through the entire house and get the fans, surfaces, and corners. Done. On day two, it’s windows. Day three, light switches and door knobs. Day four, countertops. Day five, floors. These are twenty-to-thirty-minute chunks of tasking that will get your home sparkling without letting you feel the weight of a whole house work of work on your shoulders.

Then, a Room a Day

If you attempt to go through a purge of the entire house in one long Saturday or Sunday, I promise the level of stress will overwhelm you and outweigh the benefits of the projects. This is where everyone in the family needs to get involved and pull their weight.

A deep dive for your spring cleaning doesn’t necessarily have to happen in every room, but you will feel so much lighter and happier when you drop off your bags of donation, recycle, and trash after decluttering one room at a time. Dig out the garbage bags and let the kids watch you start in one bathroom tossing everything that’s actual trash and making a pile to donate. Straighten up what’s left in the room, turn out the light, and leave.

Sort Now, Decide Later

Living with less around you is so freeing and delightful. What works best for me is to clear out all the junk from a space and toss it in bags in that moment: Trash goes in the trash and the rest just lives in limbo for a while. In our house, limbo is in the garage. Set up your new space with the knickknacks that made the cut. Breathe. And revisit when you have another spare chunk of time.

You will probably find that living without excess items for a week or two makes you realise how little of those “extras” you truly need. With fresh eyes, go through the excess bagged items and make decisions. It’s such an easier process when you haven’t been sitting in a corner with piles of stuff around you for hours leading up to it. Each bag should take ten minutes or less, and I find I get rid of way more using this method. Whatever stays needs an immediate home. Find a home and put it there right away; if you can’t, it’s got to go.

Reward the Kids

My kids respond much better to positive reinforcement than negative. Also, who wants to holler constantly and still live in a mess? In my house, if the kids are willing to do the same work with their own bedrooms and toy areas that I’m doing elsewhere, they can pick out a new spring outfit or toy. Even my two-year-old was willing to toss some toys we no longer need in exchange for a new Barbie doll.

If your ‘tweens or teens share their own bathroom, let them own that space as well. Once they get used to the freshness and easiness that comes with having a clean room, they’ll appreciate it. Kids of all ages can get in on spring cleaning; don’t be shy to give them jobs and reward them in whatever way you see fit (from stickers to Starbucks) throughout the process.

Keep Things Clean

Once the heavy lifting is over, this lazy mum likes to keep up with five-minute tasks. Three or four five-minute tasks a day, every day, will keep the home clean and pretty all spring and summer long. Here are my favourites:

  • Make the bed (family members 5 & up make theirs, too)
  • Sweep the kitchen floor
  • Wipe down countertops
  • Throw in a load of laundry
  • Vacuum entryway
  • Put all books back on shelves
  • Toss toys into bins
  • Stack clean towels in closet or hang on racks
  • Dust downstairs baseboards (later, upstairs)
  • Wipe down light switches
  • Wipe down door handles
  • Fetch cups and other kitchen items from cars and toss in sink
  • Load dishwasher
  • Empty small wastebaskets
  • Take recycling and/or trash to outside bins
  • Toss stale food and/or empty containers in the pantry
  • Wipe down bedside tables
  • Empty nappy bin
  • Vacuum under the beds

Keep It Up!

The big problem with the home organisation trend is that people enter spring cleaning so full of hope and end up getting overwhelmed, stressed out, or distracted quickly. Surrounding yourself with piles of stuff and loading up hours and hours of work to do in a short time frame is just not realistic for most of us… especially the lazy mums who just don’t feel like it.

Instead, adopting a system of small, manageable tasks to carry you throughout the season and beyond is best. I also don’t think it’s fair to put all of this on one member of the family; nor on just the parents. Everyone made the mess — everyone cleans it up. Everyone outgrows clothing and books — everyone can decide what they no longer need. Mum can step in and make final decisions about boxing up to donate or storing for younger siblings, but the muscle doesn’t all have to fall to you.

And when all else fails, a mimosa — or a homemade latte — makes the process way more enjoyable. Happy cleaning from one lazy mum to you!

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