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Moms Talk: Spring Cleaning

No, not just your house, but yes, that too.

The weather is supposed to be beautiful here this weekend.

May I recommend that you open your windows? Because whether you’ve noticed it or not, your house is likely as stuffy and stale as mine.

There’s a reason that spring cleaning exists. As the world starts to be warmer and brighter, we are more likely to notice the smudges on the windows, the strange antique store smell in the air, and—oh yeah—the inch and a half of dust on everything. My television had gotten so dim, I thought it was broken. Turns out it was just disgusting instead.

Well, tolerate the filth no longer! Now is a great time to do all those old school chores. Far beyond the standard () repetition of vacuum, clean bathrooms, change sheets and do laundry, now is the time to do the deep work. Start that “self-cleaning” button on the oven. Clean out the fridge with both a sponge and your good judgment. You really don’t need condiments that are four years past their expiration date.

Speaking of expiration dates, take a quick look in your medicine cabinet. Expired medicines are not good. I recommend that anything with a year on it that starts with 19 should definitely be thrown away. 

And while we’re talking about getting rid of stuff, how many toys and books can actually fit in a single child’s bedroom? Are some of those potentially outgrown? Does your 9-year-old girl still read Sandra Boynton? I don’t know how well a fourth-grade book report on Moo, Baa, La-La-La will go over. Does your teenage son really still want his Sesame Street toys? Really? Is he taking them with him to college in the fall? Because perhaps you can box them them now, labeling it “TICKLE ME ELMO” in large, red, block letters, freeing up some space and giving him a head start on learning to ignore the teasing of others at the same time.

My watchword for spring is “purge.” If it’s not used or loved or duct taped down, it goes. I wear a groove in the roads between my house and Goodwill in March and April.

But spring cleaning goes even deeper than the black in the bathroom grout. Spring is a time to look beyond your home to see if there are other things in your life that need some sprucing up.

How are your house rules working? Too strict? Too lenient? Is bedtime going well, now that the has settled down? Should you move it back 15 minutes? Or forward? Is it time to move some chores onto your child’s side of the responsibility checklist? Are they ready to fold their own clothes or clean their own bathroom? And are you ready to accept a new—and mostly likely lower—standard of what folded and clean mean?

What about your schedules? Has your kid had it up to here with clarinet and wants to play softball instead? Are you tired of staying home and watching TV every night after the kids are in bed and want to join a book group? Clean out your calendar like you would a bookshelf—look at each item and make sure you still want it before you slot it back in.

There are only a few times a year that we get a chance to take a moment and look at our lives, to make sure that we’re still on the course we want to be. Spring is one of those chances. Take full advantage of it. Clean up your house, your schedule, and your relationships, and enjoy the breath of fresh air that you’ve earned.

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