One of the best things about summer is the opportunity to be more active and spend more time outdoors. It’s fun to be spontaneous and enjoy summer activities but if you’re like me and haven’t even done your "spring cleaning”, being spontaneous requires a bit of planning.
I don’t know about other households, but in my house, “spring cleaning” is more like “year-round” cleaning. As soon as I finish cleaning one thing, it’s time to start cleaning something else. Without a doubt, one of the biggest chores is the laundry. With a family of five, it seems we always lose things we need and find things we don’t. My older kids are able to organize their own belongings fairly well, but my four year old requires more help. It seems like I am always coming across clothes or shoes in her closet that she has outgrown. One way I manage this is by keeping a box or a shopping bag in everyone’s closet, including my own. Every time we come across something we no longer use, we put it in the box or bag and get it out of the house. Since kids grow so fast, the end of the school year usually signals the removal of a jacket or coat from the closet and sadly, the holiday clothes they only got to wear a few times. In the off chance they can wear something for another year, I find it helpful to put my seasonal items in a space bag so they don’t take up valuable closet space.
If you know someone who will take hand-me downs, consider yourself lucky. It makes cleaning out your closets so much easier when you don’t have feel like anything is going to go to waste. Another option is to have a yard sale. Every few weeks I notice one in my neighborhood. It’s a nice way to recoup a little bit of money and maybe even add some summer spending money to the household. I even find it gives the kids a chance to practice counting change. (If you have patient customers of course!)
Quite frankly, yard sales aren’t my favorite choice because they require so much planning and work but it’s a good way to teach the kids the value in what they have. After we finish a sale, we pile up the SUV and take the remaining items to one of the D.A.R.E. clothing donation bins around town. There is one right outside of my local grocery store. D.A.R.E. is a great cause and the bins make it handy so you don’t have to let things accumulate all year or hold on to them until the next yard sale. If we have too many items for the D.A.R.E. bin, I like to have the kids help pick a charity organization they want to help and we drop them off at one of their locations. Some charities will actually come and pick up donations from your house. All you have to do is call and see if and when they service your area. Since so many of my extended family members are retired or active military, we also like to donate to organizations that benefit veterans. Recently, I called a Veterans charity on Wednesday and someone came to collect donations from my front porch by Friday morning.
I don’t know about you, but for me, after I tackle the family wardrobes, it’s a good idea to go through linen cabinets and bathroom cabinets. I recently ransacked every drawer in my bathroom looking for the sunblock I hadn’t used since last year. I knew I’d seen it somewhere but just couldn’t remember where. Of course I eventually found it after I had already gone out and replaced it. Oh well, I can always use more sunblock. At some point though, extra stuff just gets in the way. Now that my youngest son is twelve, I think it’s safe to part with transportation themed sheets!
Paper, paper, paper! Sometimes I feel like there’s paperwork everywhere in my house! School work always accumulates during the year. When my boys were younger, it seems there were endless projects or something cute I wanted to save. Large Ziploc bags are great to use for storing school projects. They keep them from getting dusty or ripped and they can accommodate large sizes like full sheets of construction paper that younger kids bring home.
Now that my boys are in Junior High, there’s a lot less to sort through at the end of the year. I’m not so sure my kids would like to show their own children a bunch of math homework from seventh grade! Once school is out, any school papers I find, I toss. It’s that simple.
So in a perfect world, my home would be organized and clean all year. But in the real world, if I have to choose time with my family or organizing a closet, my family wins every time. It’s truly easier to jump in the car and head to the beach at the drop of a dime when the clutter is gone and your summer items are easily accessible, but sometimes, you just have to say the heck with it all and go enjoy a day with your kids. They are, after all, the whole reason you do what you do!