(Notices a small girl cleaning under her bed, also notice her happy face...hahaha.)
Cleaning up in our house became an important issue with the kids being home all the time and virtual classes. It seemed that the more we as parents struggled, the house just got messier and the struggle wasn’t only to keep things picked up but was the struggle to have the kids pick up after themselves. Sometimes when my husband and I were on meeting calls, the kids had the run of the house so they were less supervised than normal. When we got off the call and went to their rooms (where we had assumed they had been playing quietly) instead it looks like a bomb went off and every toy is in the middle of the room. Naturally we ask our sweet children to pick up and clean up because it’s almost time for lunch/dinner. This request is met with howls, moans and generalized fussying and whining. I just stood there looking at this chaotic scene feeling more frazzled wondering what could have possibly gone wrong.
I generally keep a pretty tidy household. I like everything to have a place and a place for everything so it gets put away. Our general rule for the kids has always been;
PUT ONE TOY OR ACTIVITY AWAY BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT.
Not the most difficult rule but one we created so that the house would never feel like chaos for us or our children and also because asking your child to pick up all the toys they have gotten out for the whole day can be very overwhelming for their little minds. By asking them to put a small project of blocks or crayons away after use is more manageable and is met with less complaints on their part. I think of this as a rule for my benefit and theirs as well.
Well COVID-19 happened and more and more messes appeared and after the 100th day of chaos and howls when asked to put things away, I simply asked my oldest- do you know where everything goes? She said, “some of it, but not really.” This was confirmation for me that it wasn’t just the kid’s issue but also ours (my husband and I). In fact we had discussed this exact issue just a few days before and now my daughter’s words confirmed that we needed to do a clean out and label system so that when mommy said, “Clean up,” then they could complete the task confidently.
So we started with a three bin system:
Hand-me down to the cousins
I had read with the girls just a few nights before the big clean out day the Berenstain Bears book “The Messy Room.” It is a bit over-dramatized with mama bear getting upset and falling down due to toys but it gave the girls a good visual and expectation of what we were going to do. So Sunday came and we ate our breakfast and tackled the office/school room and their bedroom. We found sets of toys and put them back together, handed down toys that they had out-grown and consigned items I know wouldn’t pass my sister-in-laws approval. It was a long process from 9am-2pm but we got it done and everyone felt better. So now the girls will know exactly where everything goes since I not only put things in bins but also labeled drawers and bins. This is good for Mom and Dad too since when we say clean up there are clear expectations the girls can follow so they aren’t frustrated and neither are we. This makes for a happier home and we will give you updates on how this 3 Bin system worked for our family. If the mess is too much for Mom- remember that your family is part of your team and they will help if they know how to.