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March 31, 2015

Spring Into Cleaning - Family Style!

Everyone knows that spring is the traditional time to do some hardcore cleaning. After a long and chilly winter, the sunshine and warm, soft air make you want to throw open the windows, shed the clutter and begin anew. However, everyone also knows that trying to get your family to help is actually harder than the cleaning itself. This year, don’t give in and do it all yourself. There are a lot of great ways to encourage your crew to actually be one, and help you knock out the chores in a single day. Plan Ahead Make sure to collect all the cleaning supplies, tools, replacement bulbs, batteries and other necessary items before you begin. If you find you’ve run out of window cleaner halfway through the job, the loss of valuable momentum can easily put the kibosh on the whole day. No Excuses Plan the spring cleaning event for a day that has no other prior engagements. It’s hard to get your family’s attention if you’re competing with a soccer game or birthday party. The first thing you need to clean off is your calendar. Let everyone in the family know ahead of time what the date and time is, so that no one makes plans. Remind them this is a family event, and everyone is expected to attend. Give each person an invitation, clearly marked with the date and time, which everyone should put in a highly visible place as a reminder. If, somehow, another a plan is made, require that it be rescheduled to allow this ‘family thing’ to take place. Go Incommunicado Turn off all cell phones, computers and devices. Let extended family members and good friends know you’ll be unavailable for a few hours in advance; or supply a specially recorded message or email ‘out of office’ reply. Cut distractions to a minimum. Let the Music Play Each family member gets to choose his or her favorite CD’s or playlists as background sound for the event. Put all names in a hat, and draw to see who chooses the music first. After one CD or an hour from a playlist, pull the next name from the hat until everyone has had a turn. If necessary, start from the beginning again. Set Predetermined Break Times If everyone knows they will get breaks at a certain time, it will be easier to keep them focused on the tasks at hand. Make sure you have some of their favorite treats ready for each break. Never underestimate the power of a really good brownie as a motivator! Make All Chores Age Appropriate Very young children can’t help move furniture, dust fragile items or reach high shelves, but they can sort items into bins and boxes by color or type, put away their toys or keep the dogs and cats entertained in another room while you clean. If your children are younger than this, seriously consider getting a sitter for a few hours to knock the work out in record time without distractions. It’s All a Game Turn your chores into a contest. Divide the family into teams and lump tasks into roughly equivalent batches. Make sure each team will be doing about the same amount of work, even if the tasks are different. The team that gets through their list of assigned chores first wins a prize or a treat – everyone on the team can choose a fun gift such as a certificate for their favorite ice cream, a fancy coffee or a glossy magazine. You can also create a ‘scavenger hunt’ by hiding small items around each room that your family can find. As loose change, dollar bills, candy, trinkets or small toys are discovered, each team member places them in their personal basket. After the entire house is cleaned to your satisfaction, family members can ‘claim’ the items in their basket. Trading and swapping is allowed. However, if any part of the job isn’t completed to your high standards, EVERYONE forfeits the items in their baskets. Tuck them away and try again next year! Spring cleaning doesn’t need to be a trial – you can get through this annual challenge with flying colors with these handy hints!
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