Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stressin' over the Mess

I have a problem.

Yep, I'll swallow my pride and tell you it is me, not them.

My kids toys stress me out. In fact all the things - toys, papers, bills, clothes, work folders - can stress me out when I think about how cluttered with extra STUFF my life can be. However all of my stuff I can shove in my closet or make a semi-neat pile and it's okay. But the girls toys are are different story

Evidence of the play path...

When the girls don't clean up their toys in a timely manner or I have to ask them for the tenth time to JUST CLEAN UP! I get frustrated with them and their stuff. Sometimes I take the toys they don't clean up away and other times I'll just wait (after begging and raising my voice) for them to clean it up.

I know my kids are being kids. I should be savoring these moments, right? They won't be little forever.

Right, I get it.

I don't what to be a mom that is uptight about our house being pristine. I want our house feel like home. I want our house to feel (and consequently look) lived it.

But I don't want my home to have toys everywhere at all times.

Is it possible or is it an oxymoron?

The girls have a habit of making a mess in one room and going to another and going to another and then going upstairs and dumping the toys boxes. So that is four different places for them to spread their treasures and play and dress up and create.

Peacefully at play... Ask me how long that lasted! : ) 

But that's four places that took them less than 5 minutes to take apart and can take them upwards of an hour to clean up and lots of encouraging and timer setting threats on our part.

Onward march to the puzzles... and M's box of toys

It drives me crazy that I let myself get upset with my kids over their lackluster clean up ways. I should have bigger things to worry/stress/get upset over, right? I don't want to yell at them (but sometimes it happens) to clean up their stuff. I would just rather them clean it up quickly the first time I ask - but they are kids so that's not a terribly reasonable expectation.

I would rather them have less stuff to clean up because then they'd clean up quicker. Quite possible. Taking away the toys they cannot clean up after 20 minutes or whatever the REASONABLE given clean up time has helped. They really don't miss too many things. However, this timed clean up leads to E SCREAMING at R to CLEAN UP. Then I am reminded that's what I probably sound like aside from the fact the volume is excessive; or wait, my volume is probably excessive and E is just a recording of me. I've talked to a few other parents who have a similar system of limiting toy quantities and rotating them in and out of commission. Sounds like a good idea and every night the floors are picked up. And if don't yell and worry about the mess until the clean up time then I'm golden. So I am adopting a stress free clean up mentality.

Little Legos + baby = no bueno

I would rather them have fewer spaces to play so their play (mess) is contained. We used to keep their kitchen in our kitchen/dining room. Last week we moved it into their room so that is one less space to have their stuff. This has been awesome. We opted to keep the kitchen accessible to M because she cannot go upstairs unsupervised (actually she has made her way upstairs all by herself unnoticed - #thirdchildprobs but we've since gotten a gate) and E just got little Legos that even a 2.5 yr old doesn't need to have their hands on. In the girls' room there is a box for stuffed animals - because they NEED them for tea parties, a box for Legos and all kitchen items belong in the kitchen - either in the frig, dishwasher or oven. Yes their room can get torn apart in a heartbeat and E and R might come out screaming they've stepped on a Lego and their foot hurts BUT it is an improvement for my sanity.

Their kitchen used to line that wall with 2 pieces on one side of the case thing - whatever that fancy word is for the holder of all the dishes you'd use if you didn't have kids - and one right by the kids table. It was a tight squeeze

I hate that I even stress about such meaningless things like cleaning up toys but all I can say is I'm working on it : )

PS - For the sake of fairness and comparison here was the view from my office in December...

Yeah it was bad. Does that stress me out? Yep it does but I can turn off the light when I leave and not think about it- whereas the toys and clutter at home really makes me consider how cluttered our/my life is. Makes me think how stuff of such little value takes up my time when I really could and should focus my head and heart on things that matter.

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  1. Well now my house is perfectly clean, my adorable children always pick up their messes immediately without being asked and I never ever raise my voice. And if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you! Haha I TOTALLY get your frustration. Yes not stressing is helpful, but it is reasonable to want some tidy spaces where you don't have to worry about getting a mini Lego imbedded in your foot. I have purged toys time and again to cut down on the mess but it can be helpful to have other privileges hinge on clean up.

    1. So far I have no stepped on one of the mini Legos but man those Duplo Legos hurt too!

      Privileges/rewards definitely hinge on cleaning up and a number of other good behaviors. I've gotten to the point where if I clean it up it is going to be mine for some period of time - unless its the baby's. I clean up her stuff : )

  2. I was hoping there was a solution at the end of the story ;) Because I fight and scream and threaten about cleaning up toys too! Our living room has been "playland" since the first was born, and now with 3 (the youngest at age 2, who needs to be kept away from the little stuff still), there are just toys EVERYWHERE!!! They don't generally play in their rooms because "I don't want to go upstairs by myself!" :( So, PlayLand it is!
    I say we need more space, but we also need less stuff! And to actually DO the "nightly cleanup" - I know it happens in some homes, but I can't figure out how! ;)
    I've tried all sorts of organizing strategies, and they last about 2 hours (IF the kids aren't home) or 20 minutes if they ARE home ;)

    1. I've totally let myself get way too upset over the toys too!

      We have found that the nightly clean up is crucial. We usually give them a 10 or 15 or 20 minute (depending on the mess) warning to clean up before dinner (and set a timer) and anything left out that I have to clean up is taken upstairs. I calmly clean up the remaining toys while screams and tears come from the girls. By doing that a few times it has A. cut down on their toys because they don't clean all of them up and B. shown them we are serious about cleaning up in a TIMELY manner and C. gives us a fresh, CLEAN slate to wake up to.

      Whatever you do I'd say it is worth going through a nightly clean up and being consistent about consequences for toys left out. Once that expectation is set then everyone's on the same page.

      Oh and when you find the solution, can you clue me in because it is trial and error over here : )