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Chinese New Year: Adding Meaning to Spring Cleaning with My Kids

Fri, 2017-01-20

Chinese New Year is the most important festival for Chinese all over the world. Signifying the first day of Spring and the start of a brand new year, Chinese all over the world start making various preparations ahead of the celebrations – buying new clothes, displaying traditional Chinese New Year decorations and preparing food to be shared with family and friends.


Perhaps one of the things that most people don’t look forward to is spring cleaning. The purpose of spring cleaning is to get rid of old things, clean-up the house, and start the new year with a fresh, clean house.


Spring cleaning for me has gotten a lot trickier since the addition of my two kids, Ethan and Alexis.


Ethan is five, and Alexis is two. Not counting the multiple interruptions I get from them in the midst of my attempts to spring clean, it is always a challenge having to go through a lot more items such as books, toys and clothes they have grown out of.


So this year, I tried something different. I decided to involve both of them into my yearly massive spring clean.


The idea was to turn my two little monsters into helpers – and at the same time, impart some good values to them.


As it happened, I had recently introduced the word “compassion” to Ethan. This seemed like a good time to help him get a better understanding of what the word “compassion” means.


To kickstart my little project, I tasked both Ethan and Alexis to pick out some books and toys that they no longer want, but are still in good condition. I told them they could also pick items that were new (some were given as gifts) that they never got around to using.


I explained that there are some children who are not as fortunate as them – children who do not have nice toys to play with or books to read because they cannot afford them. I told them that it will be nice if they could share some of their toys and books with these children.


But I had to set their expectations – so I made sure I let them know that unlike the concept of “sharing” that they are used to, this time around, the items that they “share” will not be returned to them.


To this, Alexis asked me innocently: “We will not see it anymore?”


I said: “Yes.”


Off they went picking out the toys and books.


Initially, they came back with toys that were already damaged or were already in bad condition. I spend some time explaining that it is not nice to give people only things that were damaged. I asked if they would like receiving similar toys that were damaged or unusable, and they said no.

Eventually, with some of my help, we managed to gather a sizeable bunch of toys and books that were in good condition to give away.

But of course, not without getting distracted with their books and sitting down to read them in the middle of the packing :D


And we were all quite happy with what we had done.


We packed the toys and books neatly into bags. Together, we brought them to a charity collection centre at my husband’s office, which collects recycled or brand new items for donation during this Chinese New Year.

As we walked away, I was touched by how my kids had learned the importance of sharing. I hope they remember this little project, and that it helped deepen their understanding of “compassion”.


As for me, not all my spring cleaning was done, but at least I had made some progress with the kids’ stash!


Here’s wishing everyone a meaningful Chinese New Year with family and friends. May you be blessed with love, joy and happiness. Gong Xi Fa Cai!