05/11/2015 12:02 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Spring Cleaning For Your Life [part 1 / 3]


Tune up your mind. Spruce up your routines.
A trio of checklists for parents, couples, and for your career.

Spring is in the air.

Tender flower buds are blooming into fullness.

All around my property, here in the beautiful State of Hawaii, baby chicks are hatching and scurrying after their mamas.

New life is everywhere. New beginnings. A fresh start for the entire world.

It's the perfect season to cleanse, spruce, reorganize, and renew your world, too.

We often focus on our spring cleaning efforts on our physical surroundings... which never hurts!

A gleaming kitchen counter or tidy bedroom can certainly provide a big mood boost.

But changing your external environment is often just a temporary balm.

If you want to create lasting transformation -- a significant turnaround, shift, or upgrade in one or more areas of your life -- the focus starts from the inside... out.

Why not take some time, this spring, to tune up your mind, revisit your habits and personal policies, and spruce up your self care routines?

We'll begin with a spring cleaning checklist for parents and kids... then one for couples and... and finally, a checklist for your career.

Here we go!

Work your way through each checklist (I'll be releasing one or two per week, over the next few weeks) and tick off items as you complete them.

Know that these spring cleaning checklists are just a starting off point.

Feel free to expand or tweak them.

Add any topics or items that, ahem, spring to mind!


Household chores and curfews.

[   ]  Create a list of age-appropriate household chores, curfews, and rules for behavior. Review it together as a family. Post the list somewhere visible -- like on the fridge. Make sure that every member of the household (grown ups, kids and teens) understands what is expected of them. If any chores need to be changed, swapped, or revisited, now is the time!


[   ]  Decide upon reasonable, age-appropriate consequences for not completing chores or complying with curfews and rules. Have your kids verbally repeat back the plan, so you know that they understand you. Explain that one slip-up is OK, especially if it's a brand new chore or rule, but after that, consequences will be implemented.

[   ]  Remind yourself that by implementing consequences consistently, you're not being a "mean parent." You're teaching your child an invaluable life lesson: the lesson that certain actions and choices lead to unappealing consequences. If you struggle with this, come up with a "reminder" system for yourself -- such as scheduling a daily text message, delivered to yourself, that says, "It's OK to say no" or "Disciplining your kids is not mean -- it's an act of care and love." (This may sound silly, but these kinds of reminders can really help!)

Emotional wellbeing / dealing with stress, frustration, and other pent up emotions.

[   ]  Create an area of the home where it's OK for parents and kids to release negative emotions, safely. A quiet, private space like a den, garage, or office that's tucked away from the rest of the house is ideal. Teach your kids that it's OK to thwack a pillow, scream into a pillow, and express intense emotions in this area of the house. Teach your child that this kind of cathartic emotional release is very healthy and important to do, because when negative feelings get bottled up inside, they often lead to angry outbursts and destructive behavior.

[   ]  Create a daily practice for yourself, as a parent, where you can process the day's events and safely release stressful emotions, as needed. This could be a quiet walk after work, a few minutes of silent meditation, or a visit to the pillow-thwacking zone. Know that by tending to your emotional wellbeing, you are giving a tremendous gift to your children: the gift of a calm, present parent who is unburdened by pent-up emotions.


[   ]  Create a consistent bedtime routine. Decide upon specific times for calming down, stories, tucking in, and lights out. Set a nightly alarm on your smart phone to remind you, as the parent, to get the bedtime process rolling on time.

Social media and Internet safety.

[   ]  Make sure that your computers, laptops, tablets, and other devices are kid-safe. Educate yourself and learn how to block potentially harmful websites to protect your child. Monitor your child's computer usage by placing the family computer in a common area, like the kitchen or living room, where you can be present at all times.

[   ]  Have a conversation with your child about online safety. Explain to your child that you should never share your full name, age, phone number, address, or any other sensitive information online. Encourage your child to come directly to you if a stranger ever reaches out to them online, if they are experiencing online bullying, or ever feel unsafe in any way.

[   ]  Evaluate your own social media and Internet habits. Check in with yourself to see if you are over-connected to technology -- texting during dinner or peeking at Facebook during family time. Make an effort to scale down your usage, if necessary, so that you can model a healthy, balanced relationship with technology for your child.

[   ]  Consider taking a "family technology sabbatical" for a day, a weekend, a week or more. Use this time to unplug with your child, explore your city, play outside, start an early summer garden, take a camping trip, or simply cook, play, laugh and spend quality time together at home.

Giving back.

[   ]  Come up with a plan to give back to your community -- volunteering at an animal shelter, delivering food to an elderly neighbor, or collecting toys to donate to a shelter, for example. Consider making this kind of service a consistent part of your child's life, so that you can continually reinforce the importance of service and generosity.

[   ]  Be consistent. Schedule "service dates" on your calendar just like a doctor's appointment or after-school activity. Show your child that talking about helping is one thing, but doing is what counts.

[   ]  Use family dinner time as an opportunity to talk about these service experiences. Invite your child to share his or her feelings about what you did and how it felt to give back. Each "service date" is a teachable moment, containing so many lessons about gratitude and compassion. Take advantage of each one.

Resources for parents:

-- The Life Guide On How To Get Ready To Be A Parent -- And Be The Best Mom Or Dad You Can Possibly Be.

If you're already a parent, consider this a quick reference guide and refresher course.

-- The Life Guide On How To Get Your Kids To Cooperate -- And Help Them Become the BEST Grown-Ups They Can Be.

Before you tear your hair out, read this practical, encouraging guidebook. Peace: right ahead!

-- The Life Guide On Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices About Dating and Sex.

A must read for parents of tweens and teens.

I hope this spring cleaning checklist helps you to create an even more peaceful, productive dynamic at home!

Next up: a spring cleaning checklist for couples!


As a psychologist, life coach and TV commentator with a recurring segment on parenting, and 28 years of experience working in the realm of emotional health and wellbeing, Dr. Suzanne Gelb is equipped to help parents find graceful solutions to just about any challenge you can imagine.

Her insights on personal growth have been featured on more than 200 radio programs, 200 TV interviews and online at TIME, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, The Daily Love, MindBodyGreen, Psychology Today and many other places.

Step into her virtual office at and sign up to receive a free meditation and her weekly writings on health, happiness and self-respect.

Photo credit: Dr. Suzanne Gelb