Taming the Mess [Guest Blog]

This week, I’ve got another guest blogger –my sister, Katherine, who I don’t see quite often enough as she lives on the [wrong] side of the Irish Sea with her lovely little family. She’s been doing the mum thing for quite a lot longer than me and is sharing some tips on how to tame the unending mess that little people are far too capable of making. Over to K. 

I’ve got two great children – a four year old boy and a two year old girl. Sometime this year something happened. I no longer had a toddler and a baby but a mischievous boy and a very willing accomplice.  
The transition from babies to children has been somewhat of a shock to me but definitely not to them…they often seem to be five steps ahead! What follows are a few of my plans to try to tame the mess and bring back some sanity! (Note: ‘plans’) 

One thing I love about my children is their desire to be helpful. Yes ‘helpful’.  
From rolling the toilet roll back up after it all ‘fell down’ to distributing all the scrabble pieces very generously between all the shoes in the house. It’s little acts of helpfulness like this that just keep us all ticking over so calmly. If you’re anything like me, mess does not equal happiness. 

I’ve been trying to think about how to let the children have space to play and learn whilst also allowing me to have space to think. Here’s some things I’ve found helpful. These may be completely obvious to you but if not, feel free to try them!  

• Always get the children dressed in their room. Put pyjamas back under their pillow and not lurking around the house for someone to inadvertently pop into the laundry basket after being worn only once.

• Find a way to organise their clothes that works for you. I’ve found the IKEA Trofast storage units to be excellent for storing children’s clothes. They are easy to pull out/in and are at child height so your child can learn to dress themselves. My four year old can mostly choose his clothes and dress himself (a somewhat mixed blessing!) and my two year old can find her bibs and socks easily. 

• Invest in stackable boxes that you can sort and store toys in. We keep most of ours in a cupboard and bring out a few boxes at a time.There’s nothing less appealing than a mishmash of odd and broken toys. Have a separate open boxes for odds and ends and odd shaped toys. 

• Get the kids to help. Our kids watch TV before dinner and I’m beginning to try and do a tidy up with them before the TV goes on. Admittedly some days it’s easiest to just wait until the kids are in bed but recently I’ve decided I need to up my game in getting them to help out and take more responsibility.

No tipping out. NO TIPPING OUT. N.T.O. for acronym lovers. It took me a while to discover this one. I think it became dear to my heart when we became the proud owners of little lego. The no tipping rule covers endless scenarios from cereal to bath water. My son discovered our wire bin to be a great step ladder when tipped out and turned upside down. Hello old tissues and used cotton buds. N. T. O!! 

• Get up before the kids. This is the hardest one for me as I love my cosy covers. On the days my house is a mess and the children have built a Leaning Tower of Pisa to the marshmallow cupboard, (and are under the kitchen table eating their second bag for breakfast) I usually know what the problem is – I didn’t get up early enough and help everyone start the day well. 

These are some of the lessons I’ve learnt in the last few months and I’m hoping I can put some of them into practice more often.

However while all of these are good ideas, some days you just need to embrace the jigsaw pieces, the many raisins and the play-doh stuck to your eyebrows, lie down on the floor and give everyone a good tickle!

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