There is so much that I love about Spring – the weather warming up, the flowers blooming, the return of butterflies and lady beetles, and the sense of new beginning that it brings. Part of the new beginning is systematically taking stock of where you are heading on your journey and assessing if it is where you want to be. Another huge part is clearing the bogged down Winter feeling by Spring Cleaning! It is not only physically cleansing but also spiritually. There is nothing quite like getting rid of clutter you don’t need and beautifying your environment to make you feel more peaceful and happy.
Children also hugely benefit from being part of a big Spring clean and there are so many ways that they can help. In my twenty years of working with children, I have seen how much they really love to get in there and help when given the opportunity. They don’t see cleaning as a chore but as a meaningful, purposeful task. Besides all that, it is their environment too and they should be helping to take care of it. If they do need a little encouragement then plan a special treat for when you get all the Spring Cleaning done. Something like a movie night, bowling, dinner at their favourite restaurant or whatever it is that your family love to do together.
It is better not to use money or toys as a reward because helping to keep their environment clean should be one of their responsibilities not something they get paid to do. The treat is just a nice way of celebrating the work that they have completed and something to look forward to once everything is finished. In actual fact, the feeling that they get inside when they see what they have achieved will be reward enough. No material object can really make you feel as good inside as the feeling you get when you work hard and are proud of what you have done!
Here are just a few ways that you can get your children involved
- Help them sort out clothes, toys, accessories, etc into three piles: What they love and want to keep; What is broken or unusable and can be thrown away; and the things that are still in good condition that they don’t want or can’t fit anymore, which can go to a charity.
- Give them a natural cleaner such as white vinegar/eucalyptus/bi-carb mixed with water (you can find many natural cleaner recipes online). Then show them how to wipe and dry the shelves and other furniture in their bedroom before putting the things they are keeping back in. It will smell lovely and make them feel really good about their contribution to their new spring cleaned room.
- Make little cards up with Spring Cleaning tasks on them such as: Clean handprints off mirrors and glass doors; Sweep the leaves off the path; Dust the window sills in one room or whatever it is that needs to be done in your household. Then ask them to choose one daily or every couple of days depending on what suits your family.
- A great idea is to have a little rack with a child-sized broom, mop, dustpan, vacuum cleaner, bucket, squeegee for window cleaning, spray bottle with natural cleaner, sponges and any other equipment your children will need for cleaning. This entices them to clean more often and they don’t have to wait for an adult’s instruction all the time which is great for independence, self-esteem, responsibility and so much more.
These are just a couple of ideas to get you started on your Spring Cleaning but there are so many more. Remember that children are developing so many skills everyday and most importantly they are constructing their self-image and self-esteem. Inviting them to help you and then allowing them to complete tasks unobstructed not only gives them so many physical skills but it teaches them responsibility, team work, how to contribute to their household, goal setting, and gives them a feeling of autonomy.
So get out the dusters, put on some old clothes, and have fun. I’m off to sort out my wardrobe!
Happy Spring Cleaning,
Darling Precious Children
I hope everyone is having a happy book week! Read my post at https://darlingpreciouschildren.com/2014/08/19/reading-for-life-2/ to find out some of the reasons why reading is SO important : )
Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar! When my three year old nephew recently stepped on a stinging caterpillar while running outside, I realised how important this lesson really is. In his case it was an accident and he was simply running around having fun barefoot when the hidden assailant took it’s aim. The painful aftermath though, was a reminder of how powerful these little creatures are. They were made that way so that they could protect themselves and protect himself this little creature did. Had my nephew been wearing shoes, the little caterpillar may not have been so lucky!
All humour aside, it made me think about how often we stop to teach children about our little friends in the garden and how we should look after them. Yes, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to stepping on ants and spiders or swatting flies and mosquitoes but maybe we need to reassess here. Yes, there will be times when your kitchen is alive with ants running the show and you have no choice but to use ant rid. Or times when you are having a BBQ and your arms and those belonging to your guests become a feast for the hungry mosquitos, so you have to spray repellent. But lets think of the big picture – the harmless garden spider spinning it’s web out on a tree branch or the bees sitting in your favourite flowers pollinating. Just like you and I, they all have a purpose. We all know that bees make honey but do we all know that they are a vital part of our ecosystem? Without bees there would be no honey or lots of other foods because bees pollinate hectares of agricultural crops daily. Not only do we need these crops to eat but plants make oxygen and we can’t breathe without it!
For my little nephew, I guess the lesson was to wear shoes when running outside but it was also an opportunity to teach him about why it is important not to step on a caterpillar. Yes, it does hurts but the real reason is that it is a creature just like you and me and all creatures big and small are valuable. If you visit the library, bookstores, or the internet, with your darling precious children there is lots of information about insects and other creatures. You can find out about their life-cycles and use it as a wonderful opportunity to teach children why everything has value. Talk about how we take care of our environment and everything in it, the future child and it’s living world with thank you for it someday.
On a final happy note, my nephew was fine and we got all the spikes out safely using a wax strip. The caterpillar was also fine and hopefully crawled off somewhere peaceful to become a beautiful butterfly!
Darling Precious Children
Your children will be young for such a short time, make sure their experience of childhood is a good one and choose love – always! From everyday choices to discipline – if you choose love, you really can’t go wrong!
It is really important to teach children how to use their minds and learn how to think in all kinds of ways but it is far more important to provide them with opportunities to develop their own imagination. Logic helps us navigate the real world but creativity and imagination can take you to places that you never knew existed and I love that!
Children are not an inconvenience or an accessory! When you choose to become parents children should become your priority. They are not here to fit into your already full and neatly planned existence. They are not an accident or a mistake. If you are blessed to be a parent you are very lucky. A child is a miracle, treat them with the respect that they deserve!