Spring Clean Your Family Relationships

This year my last-to-launch 17 yr. old son is taking charge of spring cleaning his own room. Being rather OCD on the whole spring clean thing, over the years I’ve had a list breaking down every aspect of room cleaning for my kids. We’ve made it fun and spread it out. They enjoyed it (or gave me that impression!) Not this year. My son doesn’t know where to start. He’s overwhelmed. It’s been a killer on me! How many times have I reached for the duct tape so as not to say what I’m thinking? After some coaching as to where to start and 3 weeks later, only the closet is done. Everything in me wants to march in there and just do it. It would take a 5th the emotional anguish and a 10th the physical time. But that’s not my goal.

I realized one day as I walked by his door, trying hard not to look in, yet catching a glimpse of already-messed-up closet and nothing done on the rest of the room: This is how it can be in family relationships – we want to “do it” (fix, get rid of, try to change) for the others. In reality, we’re responsible for ourselves and need to look at how we can parent from a place of calm rather than clutter.
What can be done in family relationships to add renewal and get rid of the dust bunnies?


1. Clean out skeletons in the closets – Secrets destroy family unity. Relationships are built on trust, which is built with honesty. Don’t over react to mistakes that your children make or they will learn to lie to stay safe. Help kids learn that it’s always easier to deal with the known than the unknown. When we can understand the ‘why’s’ of each others’ behaviour or idiosyncrasies, we grow a greater capacity for love and gentleness.

2. Vacuum up the dirt – We have enough emotional and physical stress that can send us quickly to the place of yelling and dysfunction. Harsh words are dirt in a family. Teach “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?” by saying it when needed. Model forgiveness. Show your children how to attack the problem, not the person.

3. If you broke it, fix it – We all make mistakes. We can also assume things that aren’t true. Misunderstandings and blame happen as a result. Have each family member take ownership when appropriate. Sometimes it takes one or another stepping up and admitting the mistake. Sibling rivalry is normal. Teach kids to fight it out fairly so in the end, feelings are mended.

4. Take down the old stuff and put up the new. Now that winter is complete, it’s time to look ahead:
– How do you want to interact? Keep doing what you’re doing or change it up somewhat?
– What one thing would you like to ‘hang’ up as a family banner? Speak appreciation? Show love in little ways? Help each other? Fun and playfulness?
– What rituals will you create? Think of transitional rituals to help if you’re moving. If not, what rituals can you create if friends are leaving? How can home leave be fun?
– Talk about dreams and ideas for the summer. From them draw up one goal for each. Maybe 5 yr. old Sarah wants to learn to ride a bike, Joshua is going to summer camp and Ronnie wants to visit the rodeo.

5. Shine with compliments and caring behaviors. This looks good on the one giving and feels good for the one receiving. As everyone in the family gives, everyone wins! Smile at each other. Show appreciation for who each other is.

6. Open the doors and get outside. Spring means new opportunities in nature, getting more active physically and enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather. Take in outdoor experiences as a family and look for ways to breath in fresh air.

This year make spring cleaning about more than having each of you clean your bedrooms. Put focus back on your family relationships – clean them up ‘til they sparkle!

Becky Signature 2

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