We come across several articles daily, but rarely something sticks to our mind. There was one post that stayed vivid in my memory because it embodied the struggles of most mothers juggling daily chores and spending quality time with their kids. In the article written by Katherine DM Clover for “www.motherly.ly”, she said, ‘Please Stop Telling Me the Dishes Can Wait… I know the dishes can wait. I know the dishes can wait because they are already waiting… Almost every morning, I get up, and I stare at the dishes that are still very much there, and I curse.” The feelings I got from those words were anger and outrage but that’s not how those previous years should be.
With young children at home, completing household tasks can be beyond challenging. The mess is real and there are endless moments when mothers feel incompetent and pressured. We had glimpses of real homes to figure out the magnitude of the problem. But since acknowledging the issue alone won’t solve it, we needed the guidance of an expert. We are grateful to Naila Bahgat, a Certified Newborn Care Expert from the USA and the Owner and Instructor of NewBornians, for providing real solutions and ideas to minimize the mess. Let’s first take a look at those real homes.
Here are some more.
These pictures are only what those courageous mothers agreed to share. Many others with more challenging situations felt embarrassed to share the pictures publicly.
Is there anything that can be done to help make handling a home with children more manageable? Here’s what the NewBornians instructor and owner Naila Bahgat told us:
Preparing a baby proof house should not only be from safety standpoint but also, from the MESS one as well. As kids on board come the ‘all busy all the time parent’ always needs to fulfill those growing creativity, imagination, exploration and skills. The little ones are continuously developing and at their early years of age, they can’t do everything by themselves so, as a mother you find yourself always on call to either clean the mess, save them from hurting themselves or save your house from them.
First thing you should start with is to re-visit your definition of ‘Tidiness’ as honestly speaking; that house that you used to see where everything was in its place and where all counter spaces were free and clutters almost didn’t exist will no longer be the same.
Here are my tips not for a completely mess proof house because let’s be honest, that will never happen with kids around but at least, for a less messy easy to clean house 😉
1. Teach, Teach, Teach:
I always focus more on teaching my girls about values than acts, as I believe that with the right values come better if not the right actions. Two of the major values I really focus on with my girls are; “Helping one another” and “Teamwork”. When your kids learn well about the importance of helping and teamwork, you will find them capable of realizing, accepting and handling a lot of things in a smoother and better way.
Once your baby turns One, they can start learning a lot very easily and at a very fast pace and it’s really the perfect time to make use of that little sponge that can absorb so many things very easily. You can start teaching them how to do simple things like putting the dirty diaper in the garbage bin, taking their dirty clothes to the laundry basket, making their bed when they wake up, cleaning up after each play, …
As your baby is growing, start assigning bigger tasks like putting their dirty dishes next to the sink after each meal, helping you with vacuum cleaning, putting their dirty clothes in the washing machine, helping with putting laundry on the drying rack or putting folded clean clothes in the right drawers/wardrobes, clean dishes in place from dishwasher, ….
2. Contain the mess as much as you can:
Assign certain places for each activity you do at home like there is one place we eat at, one place for playing, one place for studying and so on. So, eating is not allowed in the reception for example and playing is not allowed in the kitchen and so on.
I have done something in my house that helped me (and my girls) a lot and that is, I got rid of my reception and dining room and turned that space into a play room for the girls where all their toys are inside and also it’s the place where they sometimes eat as well. This helped big time in containing the mess as well as giving them the chance to explore, play, create and have fun freely and with less restrictions.
Make sure to close the doors of all rooms where you don’t want the mess to reach like the bedrooms, the bathrooms and kitchen. And also, it’s very important that your kids understand the concept of playing with one toy at a time. If they finish playing with one thing and want to get another, they should put it in place first to be able to play with the other. And from here comes my next tip which is that everything in the house should have a home so, it’s very helpful to help your kids put their stuff in place from the beginning until they get where the home of each thing is and eventually, start putting each item in place by themselves without your help.
3. Easy Out, Easy In:
It is extremely helpful to store toys following the “Like with Like” rule. So, puzzles are gathered in one place, blocks in another, crayons, drawing and painting books, stories, cars, stuffed animals, each are stored together separately which will make it very easy to find that home of each thing discussed above 😉
Also, the best to use for storing toys that I highly recommend are boxes/bins and zip locks.
Using those makes it easier for your kids to access and also faster to put everything in place after each play.
4. Less is more:
Here comes the donation or purging part where it is essential to let go of some stuff that might have outgrown your kids’ age or that they’re not using anymore and the best way to do so is by assigning a big box somewhere in which you collect the unwanted stuff as you go. Best timing to re-visit your kids’ stuff is on birthday’s and whenever you buy a new toy so that, you’re following the concept of ‘One in, One out’. I highly recommend that you involve your kid in the decision of which to go and which to stay, explaining the concept of donations and why you’re doing this from time to time 🙂
It’s best to have few valuable and useful toys than many unused or not very beneficial ones that are only taking storage space, disturbing the vision, increasing the mess and wasting more time cleaning or maintaining them 😉
Other household tips:
1. Don’t settle for any crayons for your kids but, the washable ones only so that, if any accident takes place on clothes, walls, furniture … you can just wipe them very easily.
2. Let all your clean clothes dry on hangers on the drying rack so as to minimize the iron time to almost 0 😉 and if you already have a dryer, try to fold the clothes once it completes its drying cycle that will also help big time with not having to iron everything.
3. Never dry any dishes. Just leave everything to air dry which will save you some time to do something else that is more important.
4. Make sure to have a pack of wipes in each room your kids have access to in your house so that, in case they spill anything or …. You can find wipes right next to you to grab one and clean everything in no time.