Spring Cleaning with Littles

By Emily Morrice (bio)

Spring is so refreshing after a long cozy winter and I always get the itch to rearrange, purge unused belongings, and get organized. With kids in tow it can be a lot harder to accomplish any level of Spring Cleaning, but getting them involved is the best way to cross off your to-do list this month.


Of all the areas you want to include your little ones, organizing their toys is probably the most important. I ask myself and my kids three questions when we’re purging the toy bin:

1. Have you played with this toy in the last month?

Or give them a holiday marker if they’re not sure (“have you played with this since Christmas? Valentine’s Day? March Break?” Little ones may need your help with gauging this, but my rule of thumb is if I haven’t seen my children using or playing with something in two months, it’s gone.

2. Does this toy have long-term playability?

This isn’t a hard fast rule, but we generally only keep toys which serve many functions in the world of play. Toys that can be re-created and re-played for years to come such as dolls, blocks, Lego, train tracks, figurines can be completely different every time you play. Larger-scale toys such as a doll house, play work bench or kitchen also tend to interest kids from age 2-8 or longer.

3. Do we have too many of the same thing?

This is one area where I love to let my kids have the authority. I’ll usually give them a number to get their collections down to, but leave the choice or which to keep and which to donate completely up to them. Recently our stuffed animal bin was overflowing (I swear stuffed animals multiply at night or something!) and I asked each of my three kids to narrow their stuffies collection down to six. I think I chose six because I mentally did the math and I knew there was no way we’d say goodbye to certain ones, so it was a safe number. For others that number will be higher or lower, the point is the parent chooses a number and you give your child the freedom to decide what stays and what goes.

Kids Clothing

As a self-proclaimed capsule wardrobe fanatic, I’m very minimal about my children’s wardrobe, and yet still it can get out of hand. We typically have everything we need for the colder months by mid-Fall, but then Christmas happens and we suddenly have a handful of extra dresses, pyjamas, and sweaters that we didn’t need and rarely wear. Oops. That’s what Spring Clean is for though! Use the “Do we have too many of the same thing?” rule for their clothes and suggest a number for the kids to limit their clothing to. Here’s an example:

Cold Weather:

  • 4 sweaters or sweatshirts
  • 6 t-shirts
  • 6 long sleeve t-shirts
  • 3 dress shirts (for boys)
  • 2 cardigans (for girls)
  • 3 Jeans
  • 1-2 sweat pants
  • 2-3 leggings
  • 2-3 skirts (for girls)
  • 2-3 dresses (for girls)

Warm Weather:

  • 1 sweater or sweatshirt (for cool nights, camping, etc)
  • 2 cardigans (more for transition weather)
  • 3 short sleeve dress shirts (for boys)
  • 2 long sleeve t-shirts
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 4 tank tops
  • 1 jeans
  • 4 shorts
  • 2-3 skirts (for girls)
  • 2-3 dresses (for girls)
  • 3 swimsuits

If your kid’s clothing exceeds the numbers listed here (or the numbers you find appropriate for your family), then some has to go!

Lead by Example

Let your kids see you decluttering and re-organizing and ask for their help. You’re setting the example so they know it’s important and valuable and also that it’s not just them that need to get rid of things. Even young children can help with bagging and sorting belongings, and you’re teaching them valuable lessons while you’re at it. We can share our things by donating to others when we have enough, and also that things don’t bring us happiness, so it’s okay to hold our belongings with a loose hand.

Reward yourself with a bouquet of fresh tulips for a job well done and Spring will officially win the day! Happy Spring Cleaning!

‌‌‌‌‌About Emily

Emily MorriceEmily is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of three little ones. When she’s not traveling the world with her family, Montreal is home, where you can find her exploring the local markets, making a mess in her kitchen, and brewing a cup of tea. Find her on Instagram (@emmorrice) and check out her lifestyle blog, Our Nest In The City, where she documents it all.