Ah spring. At last it has arrived. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and it’s officially time to pack away the last vestiges of winter. Out with the hats and gloves and in with the shorts and t-shirts. Good bye boots, hello flip-flops! As the temperature hovers pleasantly in the 60s, it is most definitely time to tackle spring cleaning and closet changeovers here in the Lyons Den… and, with five fast-growing kids six and under, it is a daunting task indeed!
With a lot of kids in a little house, space is at a premium. Ciara, our four year old “princess” and Liam, our six year old “chief of the little people” share a room, as do our two year old triplets. With five kids sharing two bedrooms, you would expect cozy quarters but, ours are all the more so since our house was built in the 1800s… a more gentile time when perhaps one didn’t require the closets and storage space that we often take for granted today. In fact, Ciara and Liam’s room doesn’t even have a closet! This forces us to approach Spring Cleaning in a deliberate and judicious manner… and, while it’s a task that I most certainly couldn’t claim to enjoy, I have picked up a few tips over the years that are worth sharing… hopefully they will simplify your closet changeovers so that you can spend less time “cleaning” and more time out there enjoying Spring!
1. Bags are your friends. Before you begin, set up a few bags for hand-me-downs and/or good will; I usually have a few set out in advance. Thanks to the triplets, we have three of many things; those that are outgrown but in decent shape get directly deposited into bags for my sister, my cousin and my pal Sarah. Anything that is stained, torn or I simply don’t think they will need (one pair of snow boots is enough!), I put in a bag for “good will”. Our good will is generally directed at Big Brothers/Big Sisters – which is not only a cause I believe in but, they will pick the goods up from our front porch and leave a tax return receipt in our mailbox… such service!
2. Quality storage is key. Invest in a few good storage bags or boxes for clothes that can be handed down from your older kids to your little ones. This lesson (like many others!) is one I learned the hard way. It turns out our basement is a bit damp and cardboard boxes do NOT qualify as quality storage units. I sadly discovered this when I went downstairs in search of the next size onesies and much to my dismay found them sprouting mold. Not exactly the kind of organic material you want to swaddle your tot in! Let my mistake be a lesson to you to purchase some quality, moisture-proof storage for anything you’d like to see worn again. And while I’m at it, another lesson I learned is that tossing in a few moth balls (preferably the lavender scented ones) doesn’t hurt either!
3. Beware little “helpers”. In my experience, this is a project best accomplished during naptime or nighttime. What do these times have in common? You guessed it, sleeping kids! I’ve tried the “tot as assistant” approach and it failed miserably. Just last week as I was tackling Ciara’s drawers (you got it – “drawers”, as opposed to “dresser” because she shares a dresser with her brother!), she decided to “help” by trying on virtually everything I was trying to eliminate – old hats, too small ballet shoes, and much to my dismay, shorts under leggings… not a good look! The battle over what would stays vs. what would go was one we just didn’t need to have. Cute as she was all decked out in several seasons worth of finery, I would have saved both time and tempers had I waited until she was asleep. If your kids are past the napping age, there’s still merit to having them out of sight and out of mind while you tackle the task at hand. I find that older kids tend to have very strong opinions and there is just no need to debate what to do with last year’s overly snug Superman costume!
4. Rome wasn’t built in a day… and in our house, five kids wardrobes don’t get turned over in a day either. It takes time to sort through all the sweaters, shorts, shirts and skirts. And I’ve learned that it’s time worth taking; it ensures that as spring turns to summer, we will be spending our time soaking up the sunshine rather than digging through under-bed boxes searching for a swim suit!
One last note, if your husband is like mine – an all around great guy who may or may not know where to find his socks on any given day – this is a task you should be prepared to do on your own. As my dear mate recently said to me, “I don’t even know how it works Honey, I just know that it happens. And , it would be great if you’d change over my closet too.”