16 Aug Organization Tips For Mom & Dad: Keep Chaos At Bay With These Easy Tidy Up Ideas
Remember when you imagined that your house would always be a well-ordered, tidy place that would look like it could be featured in your favorite lifestyle magazine? It seems so naive now, doesn’t it, thinking that the arrival of children wouldn’t change how neat and tidy your home is?
Having children is the quickest way to explode any notion that tidiness and cleanliness will always be a top priority. The little ones arrive, and you’re so blissful and exhausted that suddenly the mess is invisible. Before you know it, chaos sets in and you’re tripping down the stairs because of toys left on the second step. It isn’t easy, but there are ways to keep the chaos at bay, tools to employ that even get the children into tidying up with you. And developing these habits in them early on means that, once they’re adults, chances are they’ll want to keep their own homes tidy, too.
If you feel like you’re drowning in mess, consider the following fast solutions. Your home will be tidy in no time!
1. Ease your standards just a little
When you’re not a parent, devoting time to cleaning twice a week and keeping everything in its place is reasonable and achievable. But when you have a child, the duties of parenthood come first. Perhaps it’s time to soften a bit when it comes to your tidiness standards and philosophy? Your children will learn, in time, why neatness is important, but before that, give yourself (and them!) a break. Other things should take precedence, like reading them a bedtime story rather than spending 30 minutes cleaning the living room.
2. Place boxes and baskets strategically around the house.
A pretty, oversized basket on the living room floor, one that can hold a dozen toys, is a great way to get things tidy fast. The children can help you get trucks, stuffed animals and everything else into this receptacle in five minutes before, for example, the grandparents arrive for a visit. It’s quick and easy.
3. Teach them to make their beds before breakfast.
Easy comforters are the best option for keeping beds tidy. Show them how to fluff it up with one quick tug, and forget throw pillows and other decorative items until they are old enough to deal with them. Simple and plain bedding is the easiest for them to handle, even from a very young age.
4. Keep low shelves and surfaces clear.
Young children love touching things, so until they are older, put away decorative objects from the living room and other shared spaces.
For example, keep the coffee table empty, and if you’ve got candle holders and other knick knacks on the dining room table, tuck them away for now. The priority is keeping rooms safe for children, and if you want them tidy too, the less “stuff” around, the better.
5. Put up a list of chores – then send them a text!
Some parents find having a white board on a wall in the kitchen extremely useful, as it can be erased and updated daily or weekly. But if you’re sure the children won’t pay close enough attention to it, send them a text reminding them it’s garbage day, or whatever their chore is at that moment. It isn’t coddling them to offer gentle reminders, and after all, if the message comes in on their phone, you can be sure they’ll read it!
6. Only tidy up once a day, for your sake and theirs.
This relates to our point about relaxing your standards a little. Running around after breakfast, cleaning everything in the morning and then again after supper, isn’t necessary. Of course the dishes should be cleaned and put away so you have room to start the next meal, but apart from that, let it go. When the children go to sleep for the night, do a quick roundup of what needs straightening for the next day. Do a full cleaning once a week, and insist they participate. Even small children can pick up their clothes and drop them in the laundry basket!
7. Rather than strict rules, develop a family system
Parents nagging children to do certain things makes everyone miserable. But tackling chores as a group, with a, “we’re in this together!” esprit de corps, helps them develop the right attitude to tidiness. And praise them continually when they take the initiative to do a chore themselves, without you having to prompt them, even if it’s just putting clothes in the hamper or putting a book back on the shelf. It is in these small ways, in a child’s early life, that cleanliness and order become lifelong habits, and encouraging them with praise is a great way to instill those habits.
8. If they forget, don’t criticize too much or too harshly.
Everybody forgets things from time to time, particularly things we don’t necessarily enjoy doing. Giving your child a lecture because they forgot to do a chore isn’t constructive. No doubt they feel bad enough, so tell them you understand, hope they won’t forget again, and then let it go!
Having children and a tidy, organized home are not mutually exclusive goals, but keep these goals in perspective, and always remember which one is most important! Raising a happy, well-adjusted child is every parent’s top priority, and if a less tidy, more imperfect home is the cost, there is no reason to worry. Just smile, relax and enjoy your child!