Ah, spring. A time of rebirth and renewal. A beautiful time to lighten your load and refresh your spirit. A perfect time to clean up and clean out the excess trappings of life.
Ah, spring cleaning.
I have a confession to make. My first spring cleaning exercise this year involved taking down my Christmas tree. Yes, it came down before Easter... but not much before. It was definitely spring.
My second spring cleaning task? Peeling the purple and orange lights out of the shrubbery in front of my house. Those would be the ones that I put out for last Halloween, only we got an early snow and I never actually replaced them with the sparkly white lights reserved for Christmas.
For me, spring cleaning often feels like a game of catch up. I come out of hibernation sometime in March and finally get motivated to do all the jobs that I've been contemplating throughout the cold, low-energy months of winter. I guess the good news here is that I do (eventually) get motivated.
I love the whole idea of spring cleaning. It is helpful for everyone, I think, but absolutely critical for families with growing children. And I think it is totally consistent with the practice of conscious parenting. Clearing space for conscious living is a physical as well as mental (and spiritual) endeavor.
Just in case you need a little extra motivation yourself, here are four great reasons to put spring cleaning on your family's agenda:
Reason #1: Atrophy and Decay
Like it or not, life takes a little maintenance. When it comes to house and home -- or car and yard -- winter is a tough season. The world is cold and dark and frequently covered in snow. While the elements are battering the exteriors of our property, house-bound kids are beating up the interior.
Even with the best of intentions, home maintenance projects take a back seat to the Christmas holidays, winter sports and an inborn desire to snuggle in front of that warm fireplace.
You know how it goes. Cars become crusted with mud and road salt. Paint peels. Clutter accumulates.
Take a walk around your house and yard. Do you see anything that needs a little TLC? Maybe it's time to start a list of potential spring cleaning projects. Don't worry... you won't have to do it all today.
Reason #2: Growing Families
By definition, we grow out of stuff on a regular basis: shoes, clothes, toys, books and sports equipment. Depending on the age of your children, you may also be growing out of furniture -- like high chairs, trundle beds and baby carriages.
For the truly organized among us, there is already a process in place. We diligently sort through our cold weather clothes, packing them up according to size and carefully storing them for next winter. We bring out the warm weather clothes, all neatly packed from last season and ready to be shaken out and hung in closets or folded into drawers. Anything that we've outgrown goes to younger relatives or the thrift store.
For those of us still stuffing Christmas decorations into the far reaches of the basement, extra attention is required. And for those of us still hoarding baby clothes because we cannot bear to part with our child's Blue's Clues overalls (they looked so cute!!)... well, extreme action may be called for.
Take a few deep breaths and look at your children. Accept that they are growing up -- it is a natural part of life. What has your family outgrown? It's okay to let go, just a bit. Take your spring cleaning To-do list and add tasks as needed.
Reason #3: Maturing Adults
As adults, we continue to grow out of things, as our focus (hopefully) shifts from the accumulation of material goods to the growth of spirit. Spring is the perfect season for recognizing and releasing the clutter of our youth -- all the stuff that we acquire, use briefly and then just hang onto for no really good reason.
As we mature, we might naturally need less stuff to make us feel good about our lives. As we watch our parents age and our children grow, we come to find that relationships and experiences account for most of the joys in life.
Those pristine Partridge Family albums from 1972? Not so much.
For many of us, this clutter becomes an anchor, holding us back both physically and emotionally from the adventures of life. If you are afraid to have friends over to socialize because your kitchen / living room / garage / driveway is serving as a storage shed for all those things that are too "valuable" to part with, you know what I mean.
Spring is a time for big projects. These can be big as in, "I need to paint the house," or big as in "I need to grow up now." Don't forget... as parents, we are teachers. With conscious parenting comes a greater awareness of the major and minor choices of our everyday lives.
What lessons are you teaching your children? Is your behavior sending the messages you would choose, if you chose them consciously? Perhaps you want to help them learn how to care for what will probably be the greatest financial investment they will ever make. Or do you want to teach them how to live more lightly on our planet -- accumulating less clutter and producing less waste?
Where does spring cleaning fit in your conscious parenting practice?
Reason #4: You Deserve It
Spring is a natural time for a major cleansing because we are coming out of the stillness of winter, ready for action. We are reawakening physically, mentally and spiritually. With the snow melting, the sun shining and temperatures warming, we can feel our blood stir and energies rise.
Take a moment to shift your focus. Try to stop viewing spring cleaning as something onerous. It is more than a chore and less than an overwhelming obligation. Think of spring cleaning as a gift that you give to yourself. It will get you moving -- mindy, body and spirit. It will help you shake off your winter blues and open you up to growth and renewal.
It will feel really, really good when you are done.
Take a few moments to prepare. Go outside, if you can, and feel the fresh spring air on your skin. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Absorb the sounds and smells of the season -- fresh flowers blooming, the chirping of birds. The hum of bees.
Give thanks, for the absolute perfection of the universe. Give thanks for spring and the season of cleansing. Accept this opportunity to make positive change in your life.
What a gift!
Recharge your batteries with "Welcome, Spring!"
For additional inspiration, see "Eight Great Ways to Keep Your Family Organized."