Spring is coming...can you hear the chirping of the birds outside your window? I love that sound in the morning! Along with spring comes opening the windows and dusting off all the winter habits that developed during a season when we’ve been a bit more cooped up. As we prep for spring, many of us have this urge to clean out closets, clean out the kitchen pantry and organize the garage--making things so much more neat and tidy for the upcoming months. Spring cleaning is a great feeling! But ultimately, why do we do it?
In his commencement speech at the University of Texas, US Navy Admiral McRaven shared this: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride which will encourage you to do another task...and another.”
But what does making your bed have to do with spring cleaning? Isn’t making your bed something you should do every day, not just in the spring? Well, yes, but let me explain…
If you notice in the Admiral’s quote he touches on the positive outcome someone gains when they choose to do a small task as the first accomplishment for the day--it gives them a sense of pride, a sense of satisfaction, and a sense of confidence. One might subconsciously think, “If I can do this small task, what else can I do throughout my day that brings me this same satisfactory feeling?” It’s a subtle thought, but it carries us a long way!
Spring cleaning is much the same! This annual tradition has lots of positive benefits, just like making your bed on a daily basis does too. Here are the top 3 reasons why spring cleaning is good for the whole family!
1. It gives us back more time in the day to day! The number one complaint we hear at Families of Character is “there’s just never enough time!” Parents feel stretched between working, the kids’ school and homework, extra curricular activities, house cleaning, socializing, grocery shopping, and the list goes on and on. When we invest the time as a family to clean out the pantry or sort out the toys in the basement together, the result is a more organized space which inspires people to put things back in their designated spot, saving us time from searching for those things we want and need on a daily basis.
When things in our home have a designated place, we know where to find them. Take for instance, the kitchen pantry. If the kids help mom clean and organize the pantry, they now know what is in the pantry and are empowered to make their school lunches, grabbing what they know is available, instead of whining the tune we often hear as parents “there’s nothing to eat!” This shift from mom making lunches to kids now being more independent, can give parents 15 more minutes in the morning to focus on getting themselves ready for the day. The same might go for shoes! Do you ever find yourself leaving the house late because you or your kids can’t find their shoes? It comes down to an order issue. When everything has a proper place, we can easily find what we need, giving us so much more time in our day.
2. Studies show that a clean home makes people happier! Clutter often affects our mood. How often do we walk into our house after a long day of being gone, ready to make dinner for the family, but there is clutter all over the kitchen island? We then have to find a space to move that clutter to give us the space we need to make dinner in the kitchen. I know when this happens, I am so annoyed that I am having to take time to move around other people’s piles when I’d rather be getting dinner started.
A few weeks ago I was able to clean the entire kitchen after a 2 month setback following foot surgery-not being able to stand and walk. During this time my family was doing their best, but they were missing a few spots. The piles that were building up and the fingerprints on surfaces were driving me crazy! Things were not getting put away in their proper spots, no matter how much I asked.
Once I was able to stand and walk again, I took a morning to clean the entire kitchen, wiping down counters and surfaces. It felt SO great! It gave me a feeling of satisfaction. This relates back to what the Admiral said about making your bed. When we accomplish one task, we feel good about the work we’ve done and it motivates us to keep on going! A domino effect!
When we teach our kids to do daily tasks, and even bigger projects such as spring cleaning jobs, we can watch the confidence in our kids soar to new heights. When they have that confidence and the task arises again, they quickly remember they have done it before, and now they know they can do it again and partake in the responsibilities. They realize it’s not just a job for mom and dad. Over time that feeling of satisfaction grows! As a result, clutter turns into organized space, making people happier while at home together.
3. Spring cleaning brings family unity. In many families, one parent is shouldering the burden of most of the cleaning. All people in the family are living under one roof, consuming the same things, but each person can live in their own sort of silo. It’s easy for everyone to go off and “do their own thing,” which breaks down family unity. The importance of building family unity as our kids grow into adults is something many parents dream of, but are not quite sure how to obtain.
Working together on family projects like spring cleaning is one way to break down those silos. When we join our efforts together, the entire family feels unified vs everyone doing their own thing. Plus, we can make it fun for everyone! Turn the spring cleaning into an opportunity to have a yard sale, where kids can sell their toys that they do not play with anymore. It’s a win-win for parents and kids: kids make a few extra bucks and parents clear out some of the clutter around the house.
All three of these reasons for why spring cleaning is good for the entire family fall under the character strength of orderliness. There are three components to orderliness, but having a proper place for our things, is one of the main components. As parents, we want to find a balance in our families. We do not want to be too disordered that nothing ever has a place, and we do not want to be too compulsive or rigid creating stress in the family by constantly nagging our kids to put things away or following them around cleaning up after them, often times when they are not done with an activity or toy. Proper balance between disorderliness and compulsiveness is the sweet spot we’re going for.
Over the winter months, maybe we’ve become a bit more disordered or maybe too rigid. Spring cleaning is a great time to orient ourselves back to the middle ground, by helping us to find the balance and order in our families that we all desire, enlisting the help of everyone in the family.
What are the projects on your spring cleaning list? How does everyone in the family get involved with spring cleaning? How does the family make it fun?