Fall Cleaning: Get the Whole Family Involved
Spring cleaning gets all the glory. There’s something about tulips and extended daylight that makes us want to scrub baseboards and overhaul our closets.
But fall can be just as powerful a catalyst to streamline our homes.
Fall is full of transition, from falling leaves to pumpkin spice lattes. Fall is fresh and crisp like starched and ironed sheets. As a kid, fall allowed us to start over with a new school year, maybe finally making the team or shaking that embarrassing nickname.
As adults, perhaps we can tap into that same sense of hope and channel it toward organizing the garage. Feeling inspired to clean house is one thing, but building momentum and getting the whole family involved are trickier endeavors. It’s possible that not everyone in the house will share your fall cleaning enthusiasm.
If your crew needs a jump start, here are a few different strategies you can employ:
Strategy 1: Gamification
Health metrics are good for more than personal accountability and humblebragging on social media — they can also help fuel familial competition.
Schedule a massive cleaning day and have everyone in the house charge up their fitness trackers. (Don’t have one? Your smartphone likely does.) Sort, scrub and sweep until a designated cut-off time, then compare steps, calories burned, and average heart rate. Whoever worked the hardest gets bragging rights and picks the restaurant or family activity to celebrate.
Strategy 2: Goals and Rewards
The thing about bribery is that it works. Or call it positive reinforcement (or something like that), if you’d like.
First, divvy up your projects into smaller tasks you can assign to each family member. Younger kids can sort through old toys and outgrown clothes, while teens and adults tackle bigger tasks, like cleaning gutters and washing windows. Set a deadline for each, such as, “Wash every window in the house by noon on Sunday.” If each person reaches their goal, they get a reward.
And rewards don’t have to be big or expensive! If you accomplish your goal, you can have dessert for dinner, watch an extra show/movie, have a friend over this weekend, snag some extra screen time, etc.
Ice cream for dinner is totally worth cleaning the gutters.
Strategy 3: Turn Clutter Into Cash
The tag sale is the new lemonade stand.
It’s a lesson in entrepreneurship and business administration and the kids can get some bonus spending cash. Host a yard sale, in person or online, for items you’ve purged from your home and let the kids keep the proceeds. The catch? They need to do all the sorting and organizing, and manage the sale — from manning the card table on the front lawn to posting pictures and prices online.
Strategy 4: Throw a Party
Nothing kicks cleaning into gear like the threat of company.
Having company over doesn’t have to be an extravagant affair. It can be a game night with family friends or a Friday evening happy hour. You don’t have to go all Martha Stewart, but you also don’t want them stepping on forgotten Legos and dodging laundry piles.
Having a date on the calendar will give you a hard deadline for all of your organizational projects and cleaning efforts. Let kids invite their friends and make decisions on décor, theme, and menu — all under the condition that they pitch in on pre-party cleaning.
And once your fall cleaning is complete, don’t forget to take a few minutes to bask in the glow of your clutter-free hallways and shining floors. Pour yourself a cup of hot cider, light a pumpkin spice candle and put your feet up. ‘Tis the season!
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