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Spring cleaning with kids (or not)

Amber Dusick is a SheKnows expert and the author of the bestselling humor book Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures. She writes and illustrates the blog Crappy Pictures where she captures the hilarious and frustrating things that ...

Something about spring makes me want to get rid of all of my belongings. Okay, not all of them... but I want to see my countertops again!

After a full winter and holiday season using my “shut the door” cleaning method, I feel energized each spring to get my house in order.

There is nothing more invigorating in spring than taking a messy countertop and clearing it off.

It makes me breathe easier when I do this. I can feel the stress escape from my body.

Except when I enter the family room where the kids play.

You see, I can clean and clean that room but it is never satisfying.

Does that ‘after’ picture look the same? That’s because it is the same. Nothing ever changes.

I know many methods of getting rid of clutter. One is the three-box method where you have one that means keep, one that means maybe (or keep temporarily) and one that means donate. I’ve even tried explaining this method to my kids. But they just play with the boxes.

Another option is the charity method, telling the kids that children who don’t have toys would appreciate theirs. There's the “one in, one out” rule, where you can’t get a new toy until you get rid of an old one. Or the bribery method, where you literally pay your kids cash for each box they’re willing to donate.

None of this has worked.

Both of my kids are serious pack rats. Even broken toys have special places in their hearts and toy boxes.

I’m not willing to toss their toys in secret either, though I’ve been tempted. I did once pack up a box of things I thought they’d never remember and I put it in the garage as a test. Guess what? They remembered and noticed things were missing immediately.

So for now I’ll keep trying, but I’m guessing my spring decluttering binges will have to be focused on the rest of the house. As for their room, the “shut the door” method works nicely.

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