The story I’m about to tell may sound vaguely familiar…. and you’re not alone. I looked around my house this morning as the sunlight poured in and felt a bit of self-loathing and disgust. I pride myself on Martha-Stewart-like cleaning prowess, and my house looks like I’ve been hosting two football teams and a petting zoo since last fall. Time for a run to the store. Not only do I grab inspirational magazines, clothes and food, but I stock up on my favourite cleaning products so I can get to work on the spring cleaning. The best part of doing a deep clean is getting the kids involved, so the products I choose need to be easy for them. Nobody should have to do a huge clean by themselves.
Dirt and Grime in the Fall
It’s the fall and your house smells fresh and natural after months of open windows and summer breezes. You are a cleaning rockstar. The holidays roll around and your fireplace is roaring with warmth and crackles. Who cares if walls get a bit scraped from the Christmas tree haul-out?
In January your focus turns entirely to the treadmill and you don’t care much that your fireplace is stained with soot and there are still spruce needles nestled in the corner.
February? It’s all about love. Scrambling to make homemade Valentines for the 31 kids in grade 2, you get glue on the table, sparkles in your hair and accidentally mush a crayon into the hardwood floor. The darkness and cold weather has you down and it’s hard to shower in the morning, let alone make sure your monthly disinfecting of light switches gets done.
March taunts you with a bit more sunlight, and the anticipation of that spring holiday helps put one foot in front of the other. Time to shut the house up tight, grab your summer clothes from storage and get out of dodge. The suitcase wheels leave black streaks on the floor tile but you don’t care.
Spring Cleaning Woes
Ahhh. April showers. The dog and cat come into the house looking like drowned rats. The mud they track in hides the layers of Christmas tree needles and Valentine sparkles that have made their way onto the baseboards. You hadn’t noticed that before because the darkness of winter was kind of masking the layers of dirt. Only two more months of school lunches but you’ve already run out of ideas. Taking the leftover pizza from the fridge, tomato sauce drips onto the drawer knobs. There is not even a minute to deal with it if you want to make it to math club on time. Running back into the house to retrieve the forgotten backpack you notice the spider webs on your hall chandelier. At least there is no spider to drop onto your hair. Note to self: a deep clean is in order. When is the next long weekend?
How to Do Spring Cleaning With Kids
Cleaning Dust and Cobwebs
- Open all windows and doors.
- Starting at the top, I extend the Swiffer dusters and tackle the cobwebs. Corners, light fixtures, door frames. Wow did I let this all get away from me. The dust falls to the floor. Ick.
- Making a game of it, I hand each of the boys a Swiffer Duster. Mid-level dusting. Time to deal with the picture frames, ledges and handrails.
- Next, each kid is assigned one floor of the house, and whoever gets the most dirt, pet hair, sequins and spider webs on their Swiffer Sweeper sheets gets a popsicle. First, we use the dry sheets to tackle grit, and then we move along to the wet ones. The smell is glorious!
- After all of the schmutz is gone off the solid floors, I go over the carpets with the vacuum. Dog and cat run for cover.
Cleaning Glue Globs, Tub Rings and Wall Scratches
- The Magic Eraser is a miraculous invention. Taking it out of the package, my son squeals and gets sidetracked because he’s been told that he needs on to get the rust off his whittling knife. Little does he know the many secrets of the Magic Eraser.
- Each boy goes to work on scuffs, nail polish spills and blotches that we never even noticed over the past few months. Rubbing grime off walls and cabinets is so easy.
- I also make the boys clean their bathtub rings with the Magic Eraser. Maybe they will learn to do it after every bath!
Cleaning Mirrors, Windows and Woodwork
- Now that the grit is off the floor and surfaces have stains and guck removed, we clean. I’ve never been a ‘rag’ girl. They never get truly clean between uses, so I bulk up on Bounty at Costco.
- With kids, you want to make sure products are safe. I have a few go-to items. Vinegar and water will clean and disinfect any surface and is perfect for windows, light switches, knobs, phones and other germ-ridden surfaces. They grab their paper towels and go to town. I try and teach them to go from least to most dirty. Mirrors before toilets.
- For stains on the white counters – even the tomato – I make a scrubber out of half a lemon dipped in baking soda.
- For all grease, you certainly don’t want it hanging around or going down the drains. Bounty paper towels are so thick, that you can tear off the smaller sized half sheet and dispose of the nasty kitchen grease.
Looking around, the house smells fresh and surfaces are sparkling. The many layers of grime that have built up over the past few months are thankfully gone, and the kids have learned a thing or two. Now I can relax with the magazines I grabbed and feel like an organized and clean parent once again.