May is finally here! Spring is in the air. Historically, this is the time of year for spring cleaning: that is when we give the house a once-over from top to bottom, shake off winter and let the sunshine in.
If your mom is still living in her house, here is a gift you can give her for Mother’s Day that really will help her out. I talked my own adult children into doing this at Grandma’s during the final year she was in her house. She just beamed with gratitude.
Give her the gift of doing a swarm-spring-cleaning. The way it works is you get everyone together on one day to give the house a deep cleaning. The more people who help, the less work for all. I am not talking about disturbing her possessions or picking on her for having too much stuff; that is just stressful and not helpful.
Any homemaker will tell you that spring cleaning is getting rid of the dust from top to bottom. In a room, you start by running a broom around the ceiling edges, sweeping down any cobwebs, then you wash down all door frame tops, ceiling fan-blades, tops of pictures, surfaces like tabletops, then clean right on down to the baseboards. Take the rugs outside and shake them out. When we did Grandma’s house, we washed the inside windows; vacuumed entire rooms, we even got the dust-bunnies under the beds. We shampooed carpets. The guys went outside, and power-washed the house and washed the outside windows, they cut back bushes and picked up sticks.
Make it a family affair. Teach the grandkids what it means to help their grandparents and how a little help can enable them to stay at their house longer. Show the kids the pride of a job well-done and how it feels to have a clean house. Someday, it will be you who needs some help.
Trust me, this list is plenty of work and will make an impact. Don’t get side-tracked by doing other things like dishes, laundry, sorting, cleaning things out of the garage. Stay on task. Don’t criticize. Don’t consider this a time to talk about moving. Don’t disturb her peace of mind. This is just about spring cleaning.
Don’t do this on Mother’s Day. That means that her daughters and daughters-in-law will be spending their own special day working. Pick a different day.
Mom has always had standards for keeping up her house, but with failing eyesight and less energy, the house can really get away from her. If she understands that the plan is strictly to do spring cleaning, with no judgement, she will likely be thrilled by the help.
Forget those flowers that you always have delivered by just picking up the phone. Swarm-spring-cleaning takes effort and doesn’t cost a thing. Gifts given from the heart are the best gifts.
OK, you can still send the flowers, too. They will look beautiful reflecting off all the clean surfaces.
Jean Long Manteufel writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes
associated with aging. Send your questions to Jean@TransitionsWithJean.com or call 920-734-3260.