Spring-cleaning has been a yearly ritual in cultures around the world for centuries. In the United States during the 1800s, for instance, people cleaned their houses each spring to get rid of a winter’s worth of smoke, soot, and residue. Back then, warmer weather meant it was time to degrime the house, but these days, spring cleaning can have a broader meaning. Whether you’re trying to refresh your classroom, home, or life, setting your mind to the task at hand is a good first step.

Declutter and Degrime Your Classroom

Feel like your classroom has become cluttered or dingy during the school year? Try these tactics.

Wipe out germs. Research shows that the average American child gets 6 to 10 colds a year. A cleaner classroom can help you reduce those pesky germs that spread illness. Regularly disinfect desk surfaces, computer keyboards and mouses, and common-use areas. Also be sure to sanitize pencil sharpeners, sinks, chairs, toys, and anything else that kids touch a lot. Stock your classroom with tissues and hand sanitizer, and have students wash their hands frequently with soap and water. Finally, steer clear of plush or fabric-covered furniture and toys in the classroom, which are difficult to clean and are a magnet for pathogens.

Freshen up. Engage your students in daily cleanup activities that are appropriate for their age group. Younger students are easy to motivate through play, while tweens and teens will respond better to activities that appeal to their competitive spirit, like a weekly “sweep”-stakes or scrub-off that lets them accumulate points and earn prizes. Try these ideas based on the grade you teach:

Elementary School: Make cleaning fun!

• Have a dance-party clean-off with upbeat music and some sweet moves.

• Turn donated old socks into “dust bunnies,” which the kids can use to wipe down surfaces.

• Declutter by turning used paper and worn-out supplies into an upcycle art project.


Middle School: Launch a campus cleanup project

• Create a mural on a paint-chipped wall.

• Set up designated recycling areas with proper bins and signage.

• Organize a lunchtime or after-school cleanup club that runs biannual events.


High School: Encourage community involvement

• Sign up for an adopt-a-park program and have students volunteer their time for cleanup projects.

• Coordinate an outreach effort to help homebound neighbors with cleaning projects.

• Hold a food/clothing drive for a local nonprofit and collect donated items.


Clean Your Home

Decluttering your home is the perfect way to get psyched for spring weather. The results can be truly energizing!

Pare down: You don’t have to adhere to the principles of feng shui to reap the benefits of a tidier space. Start with one room to make the task more manageable. Then grab some boxes and trash bags, and separate your stuff into three categories: keep, discard/donate, and store. Be honest with each item’s purpose in your life and organize accordingly. Take a break and admire your great work—then move on to the next room!

Clear your mind: Now that you’ve got your home in order, take some time to give your mind a daily mini refresh too. Meditating can help you manage stress, boost focus, and reset your brain.

Set aside 5–10 minutes every day to be still, relaxed, and quiet. Be mindful of your breathing, your heartbeat, and your connection to your body. Try to let go and feel centered, even if distraction creeps in.

Spring-Clean Your Insurance Coverage

When it comes to spring-cleaning, you probably don’t think about insurance. But when was the last time you took a good look at your insurance policies? Doing a periodic review can help ensure you have the coverage you need and aren’t paying for something you don’t. Reviewing your insurance is especially important if you have had a significant life event in the last year: getting married, having a baby, or buying a new home. The right insurance coverage will ensure that you and your family are prepared for the unexpected. Here’s what to consider:

Look at your disability insurance. Check your pay stub to see if you’re contributing to more than one disability insurance policy. Multiple disability insurance policies may not provide you with much benefit. In most cases, you won’t receive two payouts on a claim even if you’re paying for two different policies. If after reviewing your deductions, you discover that you have two policies, compare the coverages and consider dropping one of them.

Do a life insurance check. You can have multiple life insurance policies, however, and they all would pay out if something were to happen to you. Now is a good time to review your current coverage and estimate your life insurance needs. Having the right amount of coverage can help your family maintain their standard of living and pay for any major expenses. That’s why it is important to review your life insurance to make sure you have the right amount of total coverage. Many companies have an online calculator that can estimate your total life insurance needs. Try the free calculator from Standard Insurance Company (The Standard) at standard.com/cta/calculator. As you review or update your policies, it is also a great time to make sure your beneficiaries are up to date.