The Mary Poppins Effect: How To Survive The Spring Clean With Your Children

Mary Poppins Is AngryWe all know the scene. Jane and Michael Banks haven’t tided their nursery, and it’s a proper tip. Thankfully, Mary Poppins, the nanny who is ‘practically perfect in every way’ makes up a song about a ‘spoonful of sugar’ to make cleaning up more fun for the children. Good nannying, Mary! You deserve your rep!

But then in a twist of Disney magic, something hideous happens. The toys start to tidy themselves away. With a click of those magic Poppins fingers, the beds make themselves and everything is suddenly neatly folded into drawers. Soldiers come to life and march themselves back into the toy box. Impressionable young viewers start to wonder why they should bother tidying their toys away when Jane and Michael Banks can just use magic.

Spring is in the air, and it’s time to air out your rooms and do the big ‘deep clean’ your home has needed since Christmas. This year, use the ‘Mary Poppins’ effect and ‘gamify’ your cleaning. You may not have magical fingers, but there’s plenty of ways to get your minions to muck in and get involved with the spring clean!

1.       Roleplay

Appeal to your children’s imagination by turning a cleaning task into a fantasy. Cinderella is a classic cleaning situation (though maybe promise an ice cream as reward instead of tickets to the ball!), or pretend that The Queen is coming to visit the house in a few hours and she has entrusted you to make the house spick and span (my own mother used this one on me!).

2.       Make it a competition

If you have more than one child, you have the advantage of turning cleaning tasks into a contest between siblings. Turn cleaning tasks into ‘missions’ that must be completed as quickly as possible. This will turn the usually hated task of folding laundry and matching socks into something that is overwhelmingly thrilling!

3.       Colour Coding

A good task for younger children is to give them colour themed cleaning tasks. The ‘cleaning rainbow’ game of getting a child to clean/tidy away every red item in a room, then every orange item etc. will turn cleaning into something fun and interactive, while still getting the task at hand done.

4.       Cleaning Disco

Music makes everything better, so put on your children’s favourite music and turn your spring clean into a disco where you dance and twirl as you clean! This free music resource will give you plenty of songs to sing with younger children – and there of plenty of songs you can adapt into cleaning themed jams!

5.       Appeal to their Sense of Independence and Responsibility

Sometimes the best way to get your children involved in the cleaning is to simply… leave them to it! Kids love doing stuff on their own. Appeal to your children’s sense of responsibility and trust them to get to the task at hand. Just make sure you don’t redo or ‘improve’ any of the hard work they’ve done, otherwise your children will become disenchanted and won’t bother next time.

6.       Rewards – Medals, Stars, Charts

Kids love medals, stars and smiley faces. Turn your Spring Clean into a ‘cleaning Olympics’ and compete with the little ones in Advanced Cobweb Clearing. There are plenty of free printable chore charts available to fill with stickers!

7.       Make a Treasure Hunt

This is an advanced game for those stubborn darlings who really dislike the big clean. Put little gifts and clues throughout the house that can only be found through cleaning and tidying. This will be a little time consuming, but in the end you will end up having as much fun as your children, and you may, just maybe, trick them into doing some hard work.

Remember to only give simple tasks to children, and keep them away from any dangerous cleaning chemicals such as bleach. Remember to have fun and make sure your cleaning session is supercalifragilisticexpi… never mind.

Alexandra is a writer and interior design enthusiast who loves spending time with her nephews Ioan and Michael, 7 and 3.