It’s around this time of year I start to get the itch. Maybe you know the one? The itch to start spring cleaning.
There is just something about spring and the newness of life and the warmth it brings. It feels like the perfect time to make a fresh start and get our homeschool area (and the whole house) cleaned up. If you’re like me, however, and cleaning is not your favorite thing, the whole idea of spring cleaning can seem daunting. Here are a few ideas to make it a little more manageable.
Four Steps to Spring Cleaning Your Homeschool
1. Make a Date
If I don’t prioritize and put something on my calendar, it usually doesn’t get done. The same goes for spring cleaning. It’s easy to get distracted or put it off indefinitely, so make it a priority by setting aside time to plan your strategy and get to work.
Every family is different in how they choose to tackle spring cleaning. You might choose to dive in and work until it’s done. You might choose to hack away at it an hour a day. Maybe you work for 15 minutes at a time a few times per day. Decide what’s best for you in this season of life and pencil it in!
2. Make a Mindset Shift
Many years ago, I would purchase cute little bins and baskets and clean & organize all of our stuff. I constantly felt overwhelmed and discouraged trying to keep up with household chores, homeschooling, and stuff piling up everywhere. One day, after sorting a ridiculously huge pile of books, toys, school supplies, and curriculum, I realized the truth–we simply had too much stuff.
It seems pretty obvious now, but I’d never really considered how much more time and money we would have as a homeschool family if we stopped spending so much time and money on stuff! Not only do we need money to buy the stuff, we need time to go shopping and get the stuff, money to fix the stuff when it breaks, a place to store the stuff, time to organize and re-organize the stuff, and time to actually use the stuff! When I thought about it that way, I knew it was time to declutter and de-own. I was drawn into the world of minimalism.
Now, I’m not sure I’ll ever be a minimalist, but I did a little research and decided Joshua Becker’s “rational minimalism” fit my style. I love the definition of minimalism found in his book The More of Less:
“At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”
That’s where my mindset shift began. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by thinking about what to get rid of, I started thinking about what to keep.
I pondered these questions as I sorted through items:
- Does this contribute to our family purpose and priorities right now?
- Do we really love this?
- Do we actually use this?
3. Make Categories
Yep, I’m going KonMari here, but sorting by categories–especially in our homeschool areas–makes a ton of sense. When we have curriculum spread out on bookshelves and in totes, school supplies scattered throughout the house, and papers everywhere, it’s hard to see how much we’ve really accumulated. I recommend sorting and decluttering by the categories of curriculum, school & art supplies, books, and learning items like games, puzzles, flashcards, etc.
Curriculum: For me, curriculum is one of those difficult items to declutter–it reminds me of what we’ve done in the past (great memories) or it makes me feel guilty for what I didn’t do in the past (bad memories). I think we often have the hardest time letting go of something we never used but “paid good money for” and try to convince ourselves we will eventually use it…or maybe that’s just me! If you don’t really love it or won’t use it soon, it’s okay to let it go. In fact, there are lots of groups on Facebook where you can sell used curriculum and books. You might also consider blessing another family with your gently-used curriculum.
School & Art Supplies: Many years ago on a post on my blog, a reader called me out on our shoeboxes full of crayons, markers, paints, large amounts of craft supplies, etc. At first I was a little annoyed, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. Now, instead of focusing on quantity, I focus on quality. Having fewer supplies means we can spend more on higher quality items like Prismacolor colored pencils. Plus, I’ve found the less we have, the better we take care of those possessions. I still keep a variety of craft supplies on hand for our creative projects, but I’ve set limits on how many containers we store.
Books: Ahh…books. We homeschoolers love our books, don’t we? We still have shelves and shelves of books, and I confess I’m not really into minimalism in this area. Still, setting limits and making sure the books you keep are well-loved and treasured is a great idea. For example, we keep our favorites and classics to read again, books we use with our curriculum, and reference books. I’ve found Sarah Clarkson’s Read for the Heart to be an excellent resource for choosing books to keep on your shelves.
For all other books, we utilize the library. I’m happy to let the library store the books for me!
Learning Items: Games, manipulatives, and various toys can easily multiply and take up much of your homeschool area. Again, it’s a great idea to set limits, and a one-in-one-out rule has worked well for us. You can also designate one area like a shelf or closet space for these items. Once they overwhelm the space, sell or give away items until they fit again.
As you sort through these categories, be sure to ask yourself why you are keeping what you are keeping. Do you really love it? Do you really use it? Or did someone gift it to you, so you feel compelled to keep it? Again, it’s okay to let items go if they are not contributing to your family’s purpose or priorities.
4. Make It Clean
After you’ve sorted and de-owned, it’s finally time to do the actual “cleaning” part of spring cleaning. There are tons and tons of sites that will give you printable checklists and room-by-room spring cleaning advice, so I won’t rehash all of that (a simple Google search will return more than you’ll ever need)!
If you’ve done a good job of decluttering, it really shouldn’t take you long to clean the area. In talking with my friends who are professional cleaners, they recommend picking a room or area and cleaning from top-to-bottom like this:
- Start at the top of the room…
- work your way down from cobweb-y corners, ceiling fans, lights…
- to smudged windows and walls and bookshelves…
- to dusty furniture…
- to the floor where all the dirt and dust has now fallen!
Here’s a Top-to-Bottom spring cleaning printable from Clutterbug to help you in the process.
As a homeschool family, decluttering and cleaning will be an ongoing process. There are always books, curriculum, papers, games, school supplies, and creative projects rapidly multiplying, and it’s easy to accumulate without noticing. To simplify your life and homeschool, a spring cleaning ritual can help keep things under control.
What’s your favorite homeschool spring cleaning tip?