Every time I walk around my home I always see the same thing: a toy mess! Stuffed animals, Lego, puzzle pieces, and Calico Critters seem to be scattered everywhere, and I’m sick of it.
We’ve decluttered the toys multiple times, but they seem to multiply behind our backs. There’s no way we actually BOUGHT all of these toys, right?! Sometimes I feel like we’re single-handedly keeping Toys R Us is business. It’s ridiculous.
I’ve been at my wits end for a while now (we’re talking years, not days or weeks), but when I recently really thought about why we have these problems I realized some hard truths about why my kids are so messy, and they might apply to you too.
1) I’m not organized!
One of the hardest things to realize and admit about why my kids are so messy is that they’re simply copying what’s modeled for them. I tend to leave my stuff out after using it too, and if they see mommy do it why wouldn’t they do the same?
This is getting a little deep, but Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world,” and I think that applies to our homes too. If I want my kids to put things away after using them and not be perpetually messy, I need to model that behavior for them first.
Nothing has made me grow more as a person or become more self aware than parenting. Seeing a little person modeling poor behavior they obviously learned from you is rough. #parentingishard
2) They have too much stuff
Despite having already decluttered the toys multiple times now, there’s still so much more to do. I don’t know how we’ve amassed such a huge toy collection (I can’t blame it all on grandma!) :), but we need to get it under control asap.
I know my kids can’t enjoy everything they have because things are scattered throughout the house. Toy sets and puzzles are incomplete, which makes them hard to enjoy, and other toys get broken because they’re on the floor getting stepped on.
I also think it’s hard to enjoy things simply because they have so much stuff! I almost feel like I’m inadvertently teaching them to feel discontentment and be easily distracted by giving them so many options to choose from. We need to get rid of stuff pronto! The good news is that I’ve already figured out a good way for asking them to get rid of toys that helps to avoid freak outs and meltdowns. (<— I have one sweet kiddo who’s a master at both.)
3) Nothing has a home
Sometimes I look around my home and wonder how in the world it got so messy. How did we get so many toys and why are they always all over the house?
I frequently tell my kids to clean up, but when they ask me, “Where does this go?” I rarely have an answer because few things in our house actually have a home. I’ve purchased baskets, bins, and bookshelves all hoping they’ll provide the magical storage solution we’re looking for, but if nothing has a home how can the kids be expected to properly put things away?
4) They aren’t required to be organized
One mistake I’ve made in our home is not requiring my kids to clean up before going to bed or participating in a fun activity. I all too often have a, “We’ll deal with it later” mentality, and later ends up coming way too late when the mess has grown exponentially in size.
So where do I go from here?
First and foremost, I need to get organized. I need to model the behavior I want to see in my kids and start creating the home I truly want, one filled with order and peace instead of chaos and clutter.
Second, we need to do some serious decluttering. We need to get rid of probably at least 50% of our stuff. (Whew, just writing that makes me anxious! #hoardertendencies.) The less stuff we have around the less we’ll have to clean, maintain, organize, and worry about. “Less” is starting to sound like a great idea.
Once we’ve gotten rid of our excess stuff we need to make sure that every item we keep has a home. If we can’t find a good place to put something (i.e. not the floor, a random corner, or in the storage room!), out it goes.
Finally, we need to make cleaning up a regular part of our routine. Things will be so much easier if we clean as we go versus having to do a massive, usually last minute, clean up. You know it’s bad when you say, “It’s time to clean up,” and your kids immediately ask, “Who’s coming over?” True story.
Cleaning up shouldn’t only be done every once in a while. It’s going to take doing a lot of small jobs on a daily basis to keep our house in good shape, and we’d better get these new routines and habits going before baby #5 arrives! Ahh!
Does your home have messy kids in your home too? Do any of these hard truths apply to your kiddos or have you discovered other hard truths in your home?