BayouKidZ: Spring Cleaning
Getting Your Kids’ Rooms Organized
article by Cindy G Foust
Spring is in the air BayouLife nation, and I hope this column finds our loyal readers basking in the blooming buds and warm temperatures of Spring. Actually, Spring kicked off in our region in early February, wouldn’t you say, as everything in my yard is green and blooming. But alas, it is what it is in this bayou that we live (that kind of sounds like a country music song,) and pretty soon we will be dying eggs and preparing for graduation.
But not this month, no, this month we are just going to enjoy the sights and the sounds of Spring. Speaking of Spring, I can’t say the word and not actually think about Spring cleaning. Anybody with me? I didn’t think so, but when I got the email that this month we would be talking about Spring fashion (a fun sucker for me) and all things spring, I just couldn’t resist a column about doing one of my favorite activities, and that’s cleaning out.
Now, to be clear, I am not diligent in my efforts and I am not a routine “purge” cleaner, but I’m no hoarder, that’s for sure. I was raised that if it wasn’t attached to the floor, throw it out!
Speaking of how I was raised, and while we are on the subject of cleaning, let me just shock the nation by saying that when I was growing up we didn’t even have a dishwasher. As a matter of fact, when my sisters and I left home, my dad bought a dishwasher, a television with a remote control and a riding lawn mower. Man, were we mistreated. Oh, and how lucky was my brother? Yes, Angel and Shelley (my two sisters for those readers who have a hard time staying caught up with me) and I had our housework down to a science…we took turns washing, drying and putting up the dishes (except on Shelley’s night to wash, and suddenly she’d have a stomach ache and disappear to the bathroom for what seemed like hours, and me and Angel would just give up and wash on her night.
Looking back on it, that was pretty strategic.); we knew exactly how many lines there were in our yard using a push mower, and divided it up accordingly; and we took turns vacuuming and raking the carpet. Yes readers, my mom had us rake the carpet after we vacuumed it, but sometimes we would let the vacuum cleaner run, like we were busy bees, but we didn’t actually vacuum the carpet, we would just rake it, so it still had that “just vacuumed” look. We were strategic, astrophysicists before our time.
Oh, and speaking of science, my sister Shelley (whom I hope doesn’t read my column, although, that wouldn’t be very sisterly of her), was famous for the science experiments she conducted under her bed. Goodness sakes, she would aggravate the mess out of me and Angel, because when mom did make us “spring clean,” we would have to help Shelley, because she was the youngest and she would cry that she needed help, so we would have to help her disinfect and identify her bowls that were formerly known as milk. But the good news is, for those readers out there with a Messy Marvin (or Martha), Shelley turned into an excellent and organized house keeper who likes clutter less than I do, so there’s hope.
But this column isn’t about creating little housekeepers or teaching our kids to clean their rooms, because, well, I just think it’s too controversial of a subject, you know, like whether or not to breast feed your kids, and I really didn’t feel like biting off that much this month. I’m not saying I’m not for starting our kids early, but perhaps not as early as some researchers suggest. In fact, I contemplated writing this column on the simple premise of “How To Make Your Child a Good Housekeeper,” but I just couldn’t side with those experts that say we should start our two-year-olds sorting laundry or helping load the dishwasher. For crying out loud, let them be babies!
Hold your criticism readers…I’m not saying I don’t think we should start them early with responsibility, but toddlers are at tender ages and you won’t hear me advocating for them to be milking the cows before they go to pre-school. Where was I? Oh, instead I decided to stick with what I know, which is cleaning out and organizing and getting your kids engaged in the process.
Let’s face it, we just finished the Christmas holidays, the new toys are piled in on the old toys, and now you probably have bulging closets. So let’s get this party started, and to do so, I walked in my eleven-year-old’s room to sort of have a Spring cleaning muse.
To get your project off the ground, start by pumping up the music. Music just puts you in a cheerful mood, and if you have the right playlist going, it will be fun to take a few breaks while everybody belts out Y.M.C.A.
Next, make sure you have plenty of bins and containers, and if you are overzealous (I simply love that word), a label maker. You also want to make sure you have ample cleaning supplies ready for the big job. I would suggest starting with any closets you have in the room and start sorting into piles. Be sure to have a pile near or outside the door that will be headed to the Goodwill store or passed down to younger family members. To me, sorting into piles make the process go smoother and quicker. For instance, my daughter has books and science experiments (real ones) and dolls and doll clothes and games and the list goes on and on. Many of these things can be stored in “labeled” containers that take up less space. This list will also include movies and video games.
Just a thought, I have donated a many a book and movies to teachers for their classrooms or to the church nursery. I know boys and girls “hoard” completely different things, for instance, we have a bin for nothing but bobby pins and rubber bands! Most everything in your child’s room is a candidate for its own storage container, and it’s an inexpensive way to keep things organized and just see what you have.
Next, be brave readers, and head under the bed (I’m going to make a rhyme every time.) Be prepared, however, for what you might find, including food (or what was once food), loose change, toys and socks. Speaking of socks, when our son was little, we would play a game of match the socks, so it might be a good time to get to those sock drawers and get things matched up, and throw out what doesn’t have a mate.
Finally, and something that has through the years taken over my kid’s rooms, is their “art” projects. They bring so many things home from school that they paint, or they draw or they write. I figured out years ago that you just simply have to part with some of it or you will have to build a new house to store it all. A really helpful idea for me has been to buy a plastic storage container for each year they are in school. Keep it close to where you unload their backpacks, but if it does make it to their rooms, and it will, just let your children help you decide what’s a “keeper” and what’s a “thrower.” As they get older, you will be able to consolidate years into the same bins, but it’s a great way to also store things you want to keep for the year like school programs, pictures, etc.
Once you’ve tackled all the areas of the room, and it’s ready for the cleaning party, get that music pumped up, because you just “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (this 50-year-old mom loves me some Justin Timberlake) of happiness of having your kid’s room clean and organized.
Hey, I’ve been there and I still am, and some rooms might require you block off an entire weekend rather than a Saturday afternoon. Don’t beat yourselves up. We are all busy, and the bowels of a kid’s room can get out of hand quick. Just try to turn the project into a fun filled time as you pry the 1st grade coat hanger pumpkin project out of your 4th graders hands! And who knows, the spring cleaning epidemic might just motivate your little helpers to reach outside their rooms, and you might come home to your spice drawer being alphabetized!
Happy Spring Cleaning readers, and I’ll see you next month when we might morph this spring cleaning action into a “family” affair and head to the garage which might morph into a garage sale which will morph into me losing readers and causing family disputes, so I’ll probably just stick with ten different ways to dye your eggs.