Updated on October 9th, 2018
Spring cleaning is a tradition in many households, giving everyone a chance to get rid of the old and make room for the new. But spring cleaning with your high school senior might require different steps, especially if they will be heading away to college in the fall. Often, they need to do more than simply clean up their room a bit, even if you don’t intend to turn their space into an office or home gym the second they head out the door.
So, before they get caught up in finals and then heading away to school, here are some tips to make spring cleaning with your high school senior an organized process.
Spring Cleaning for Their Room
This year, spring cleaning needs to be about more than just getting rid of trash; it needs to be about purging anything they don’t want to carry into their adult lives. Often, this is an involved process, with almost every item needing to be scrutinized.
Begin the process by first helping your child (or making them) tidy up the space, removing any trash, dirty laundry, or used dishes from their room. That way they will only be dealing with their belongings and not stuff that just isn’t in its place.
Next, make sure the bed it clear. This is going to serve as a staging ground for the decision-making process. Have your child divide the room into logical sections, such as the closet, desk, bookshelf, under the bed and walls. Then, select one area and take every item and place it on the bed.
A Simple Method to Cleaning Their Room
Ideally, you’ll also want to have four boxes placed either on the bed or the floor. One will be for items being kept, and two will be for discards, separated into trash and donate/sell. The fourth box is only necessary if you have other children, as it gives your senior a chance to separate items to hand down to their siblings. Since younger children may have as much trouble adapting to your high schooler heading to college as you do, setting some things aside for them to keep can be a beautiful gesture.
Have your high schooler consider each item and decide if it needs to stay or go, dividing each thing by placing it into its respective box. Once one area is complete, choose a new section and handle it. Once everything has been sorted, allow them to place the kept items back in their room. Remove the trash box and toss it, and move the donate/sell box into a place where it can be stored short-term.
If there is a fourth hand-me-down box, have it stored where the younger children won’t see it. Then, your high schooler can have a private moment with each sibling and give the items out right before they leave. It also gives them a chance to talk amongst themselves, which can be an important event in its own right.
Packing What is Ready to Go
Now, throughout this process, they may uncover things they the won’t need until college but they know they want to bring. In that case, we recommend starting to pack now. Purchasing plastic bins such as this set of 4 plastic bins on Amazon can simplify the moving process. Also, if you have multiple kids, you can let each one have their own color bin or lid. That way, when they store stuff (which we all know will happen,) it’s easy to see which bins are theirs. This is something we did since we have a ton of siblings and it is a life-saver!
Clean Out Their Car
Whether your high schooler is taking a car to college or not, including their vehicle in the spring cleaning process is simply a smart move. Just like their room, have them take everything out of the car first. Then separate the contents into keep, trash, and donate/sell.
Before they put anything back, have your child give the car a thorough cleaning. That way, everything is in the best possible shape before they start placing stuff back inside.
Organize Their Computer
Your child’s computer is going to be a vital asset to their college experience, and running out of storage space while running around campus isn’t really an option. While you might want to leave this task entirely in your high schoolers hands, encourage them to remove any programs they no longer need and examine their files to determine what needs to be saved or deleted. Many students don’t purge their old school work often. But, if it doesn’t provide them any value anymore, there’s generally no reason to keep the work.
However, make sure they aren’t too ruthless in their cuts. Encourage them to keep pictures of family and friends that aren’t stored online. That way they can maintain these powerful memories for a time when they may really need them.
If your student isn’t in the habit of backing up important files, now is a great time to instill that habit (losing a paper that took weeks to create is a devastating experience, so let’s help them avoid it now by making regular backups the norm). Whether they prefer cloud-based backups or a hardware-based method isn’t as relevant as finding a solution that works for them.
We recommend using Dropbox or Google Drive for saving files (all files, actually) Here is our blog post on how to organize Dropbox for scholarships and this can be used for any type of documents:
Other digital devices can also use a good flush, so have them check their smartphones, tablets, and even gaming consoles to make sure they have a suitable amount of storage before they head out the door.
Lastly, part of this process could be taking their computer into Geek Squad or some other computer service to make sure it is in tip-top shape for school.
Spring Cleaning is for Bags and Purses Too!
School bags and purses can accumulate a surprising amount of junk over the course of the year, so it never hurts to completely empty them out and clean things up a bit. Not only does this improve the organization of the bag, but it can also make it physically lighter. And, when you’re hauling around stacks of textbooks, a laptop, smartphone, wallet, and more, every ounce that can be removed is a blessing.
While spring cleaning at this level can be a time-consuming process, it can serve as the first step in their preparation for heading to college. That way, once they graduate from high school, they aren’t faced with the task of managing everything at the same time, and everyone can enjoy some extra time together, as a family, during their final summer before college.
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