Spring cleaning - tips to get your house spik & span with kids in tow
'Tis the season for that special home spruce-up. Ellie Gwilliam offers tips on how to do it with kids in tow.
Without sounding defeatist, before you start your spring-cleaning it would be wise to lower your expectations. When your house is a home to preschoolers, getting it spotless is both futile and unnecessary.
The basic goal is to freshen up your home after the damp grey of winter, making it a space you feel better about living in.
Looking at the project as a whole can be daunting, but it will feel far more achievable if you break it into bite-sized chunks. For example, put aside a week and make this your plan of attack:
Monday: master bedroom
Tuesday: kid's bedroom
Wednesday: kid's bedroom
Thursday: lounge/family room and hallway/entrance way
Four steps to tackling a room
1. Gather together everything you need and load it up in a basket (the laundry basket will do fne). What products you use comes down to personal choice.
Supermarket aisles are laden with options but personally, I find a bucket of hot water, a squirt of detergent, a shake of baking soda, and a slosh of white vinegar gets great results with minimal chemical exposure. Add to your basket:
- Plenty of cloths, clean rags, and dusters. Old cloth nappies (the traditional square ones) are brilliant as they are really absorbent and make great polishers.
- A bottle of surface cleaner or just a spray bottle with water in it.
- Drink bottle (it's thirsty work).
- A large sheet.
2. Move all the furniture into the middle of the room to give you access to all the hidden corners. Pop all the bits from shelves onto the couch, or bed. If the little people need entertainment at this stage, make a hut by draping that sheet from your basket over the rearranged furniture, which should keep them occupied while you get to work!
3. Top down is a typical approach to cleaning a room, so wipe the bits of the wall that need it, the window and door frames and skirting boards. Tackle small patches of mould on the ceiling, with a bleach-based product, or alternatively try ¼ teaspoon of clove oil in a litre of water. Spray on and wait 24 hours before washing it off. Clean the windows, if all is going well, or leave it for another day (month, year).
4. Dust the shelves and furniture and vacuum the room, paying special attention to those hidden corners, then return the room to its normal order. Make yourself a cuppa and sit back to look at what you have achieved.
Cleaning with kids
1. Loud music! Upbeat tunes are motivating and energising. Rachel Beattie, Marketing Manager at Earthwise and mum of two preschoolers, says she puts "Tidy Up Time" by Echo Fred on repeat play and the kids bop around until all the toys are put away.
2. Set a timer for each room or task. Kids still get a thrill from working to a deadline.
3. Even toddlers can make use of a duster or polishing cloth. Point them towards door handles or hard surfaces and teach them the "make it really shiny" game.
4. Rewards! Let the children help you decide on a way to celebrate a job well done. Edible treats need to be taken outside in case there are crumbs.
Sleep on it
Here's a job that'll have you resting easy after all that hard work. Give your mattress a little love by putting a cup of baking soda in a jar, along with four or five drops of lavender essential oil. Shake it up then, using a sieve, sprinkle it over the top of the mattress. Leave for an hour or so, then vacuum up and make up the bed again with nice clean sheets.
The kids' kit
A mini cleaning kit all of their own will be just the thing to get your little ones helping out on spring cleaning day. You can tart up their cloths by sewing on ribbons which will also be handy for hanging up later to dry. Set them loose with a cloth, a spray bottle of water and their own window to clean.
Ellie Gwilliam is a mother of three and former editor of OHbaby!
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 19 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW