One of the biggest challenges for me over the last year was keeping the house tidy. We had already hired a cleaner to help with the floors, dusting, bathrooms and kitchen. What was left was the daily clean up the trail of bits and pieces that seem to come with pre-schoolers.
Every time I entered a room, I’d be overwhelmed by the mess: the single sock abandoned in the corner, the hill of Lego pieces on the floor, the stuffed animal dormitory on the couch, the crumpled piece of paper with stickers that was someone’s “favourite craft,” a water bottle without a lid, and a doll shoe.
were are still in their “in and out” phase where they could spend the day filling bags, boxes, containers and bins with bits and pieces. They would put the game pieces and dice, hair clips, marbles, rocks, magnets and pompoms in a little box in their play purses. Then they’d put the purses in bags. The bags would go in a stroller, draped with a blanket. As they trekked through the house on various adventures, the bits and pieces would be disturbed through the kitchen, under the dining room table, between the couch cushions, and on the stairs – times two, of course. Needless to say, getting everything back where it belonged, or a least off the floor, was more than could be expect of a three-year old with limited guidance from an exhausted parent. And, I wasn’t much of a help since bending over was certain to make my world spin. Over time, I gave up my level of tolerance for disorder increased. But this wasn’t a solution; it was just a reminder of where I felt I was falling short of my responsibilities as a mother.
So, I borrowed an idea from my mom: the “one-at-a-time” cupboard. I filled two cupboards with all the puzzles, games, cards, and toys with little pieces. The kids could each select one item from the cupboard. When they finished with one toy, all the pieces were cleaned up. The lower cupboard had the puzzles and games they could play with by themselves, while the upper cupboard held the ones that need more parental supervision.
Did this help? Yes and no. The kids liked being able to see all the boxes of games arranged on the shelves. They could easily select what they wanted and often asked to play games. But, I couldn’t contain all of the chaos in one set of cupboards. I’ll share the next step in managing kids toys, in my next posting.