Kids create mess, there’s no way around it. Even if you are the most super-organised, tidy individual, your home will still look like a tornado has whipped through it on a regular basis.
It might be difficult for you to relax in an untidy, chaotic environment, but there will always be a level of clutter with small children around. Here are some great tips to help you learn to live with it.
Before children arrived you might have had a strict definition of what tidy meant – everything had its place, the surfaces were clear at all times and you could still see the carpet…
According to family psychologist Maggie Mamen, how we react to our kid’s mess is linked to our own comfort levels with what we perceive as tidy. She suggests that there needs to be a happy medium and see mess as play.
Has a child ever enjoyed themselves in a stifling, sterile environment? Instead of thinking ‘what a mess!’ try ‘well, they had fun today’ and pat yourself on the back for being a more relaxed parent.
View your family home through a different lens for the day. Your child’s mess may not be that. It might be a structural achievement; after all it takes effort and thought to create that tower or den of cushions and blankets.
Relax the tidy rule a little. Messy play is good for children. It helps them to explore their environment and see how things work. Plus, they’ll appreciate it far more if you can see that pile of boxes and throws as a cool spaceship and join in with their imaginative play for a while.
Make tidying up fun
Let the kids make their mess then make a game of tidying it up. Remember that a child’s idea of tidying won’t be to the same standards as yours. Try not to worry too much when they haphazardly throw toys into random boxes or that all the jigsaw pieces are mixed up, at least they’re giving it a go.
Make it fun and they won’t see it as tidying, for example, see who can put the blocks away the quickest, or ask them if they’re able to sort the red jigsaw pieces from the green ones. They might not want to tidy up there and then either.
Little minds tend to switch quickly to the next game to play. If they do run off, leave them to it and come back later to give the tidy up game another go.
Downsize what is available
Minimise the potential mess by only putting out a couple of boxes of toys and rotating them regularly. Keep craft supplies well out of the way too.
Also only have cushions, throws or knick-knacks on show that you won’t be too upset about should they be damaged.
Though you can teach small children to respect your belongings, they will forget on occasion, so only leave out those things you aren’t overly attached too (or put them out of reach!).
If you’ve followed the previous steps, there shouldn’t be too much to tidy away after the little whirlwinds have gone to bed. A quick sweep of the main living rooms, dumping toys into baskets as you go should only take a couple of minutes.
If there’s an avalanche in the playroom simply turn out the light and shut the door.
While an uncluttered home looks attractive, it’s wise to accept that a family home will have ‘lived-in’ feel, and until your little ones are a lot bigger, it’s probably best not to exhaust yourself by trying to stem the tide of clutter too much.
Shifting your perspective a little and putting in place a few simple routines should help reduce the stress of that mess.