I struggle. And when I say struggle, I mean STRUGGLE with keeping my house in order. I've never been good at it. I have thrown away so much stuff every move we could have set up housekeeping for 5 Calpoly students by now and today -- at then end of my rope -- today I sat the kids down for a chat.
As it turns out our house needed a two prong approach to deal with the constant messiness.
Goal 1: keep up on laundry and put it all away as soon as it is folded
step 1: every child was allowed to keep 7 days worth of clothing in their drawers. Everything else went into a box to save for when their current batch started looking shabby (I can forsee doing this often so I've put it where they can access a new t-shirt when an old one is too worn to wear again). Anything that was ragged or stained got donated. I even got in on the frenzy and removed a huge heaping box of clothes from my dresser that will most likely get donated.
Goal 2: keep the rooms clutter free.
step 1: remove all toys and non essential items from the bedrooms (the boys were allowed to keep the legos in their room). There is so little in the rooms right now clean up time should take less than 10 min. instead of the hour or more that it was taking each night. Imagine 365 hours a year nagging children to put their clothes away and clean up their toys. Now multiply that by 4 and imagine the stress.
Goal 3: realize that no child can sort and keep track of large amounts of clothes and toys. It's impossible especially when those that make the biggest messes are the least able to put it all away. My expectations of my children's amazing attention spans, work ethic and prioritizing ability was way out of sync with their actual abilities and I don't want to spend what's left of my summer tidying and organizing.
Much of this epiphany came from reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa Ross. It's a perspective shifter to be sure. It certainly has empowered me to help my children live in a less stressful environment and has helped me address and understand when my children need a break or are under too much stress.
So if you come over for a playdate and you are looking for things to play with, I might send you outside and show you where to hunt for lizards or hand you a ball. My children needed a break from their toys.