School holiday mess is inevitable but it doesn’t need to be a problem.
I use a very simple but effective tool to managing mess – and trust me, 4 kids can really make a lot of mess in a small amount of time!
My tool is this …… CLEAN UP BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE!
I know that this sounds simple, but it is the only thing that works (unless you are a drill sergeant that doesn’t let kids make any mess :))
There are a few steps that I’ve set up over the years that make this work effectively.
- My kids always ask before they get anything out
- I always ask if they’ve finished their morning jobs, or finished with what they were doing before I answer- never just a blanket ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – this means that they are used to hearing me ask questions when they really just want to play.
- If the siblings are still playing and one child wants to do something different – the one that wants out has to put away the part of the toys and game that they were playing with – if the others still want that stuff in their game – they know that they will then need to tidy it up.
- Before TV, or tablet playing, or morning tea or lunch there needs to be a tidy up – if they want the game to continue after lunch they need to come back to it straight away after lunch – I have noticed though that they rarely go back after a break.
- I check that they have tidied – sometimes asking the questions just gives kids the opportunity to lie in their excitement to do the NEXT thing – and they don’t see mess the way that mums do.
- I make sure that the new game is set up in a specific place, or in the space that is just cleaned – kids can spread mess through an entire house very quickly so I make sure it stays isolated in specific places.
- Toys have definite places that they need to be returned to – Lego in the Lego box, army toys in the army box, big blocks in the wardrobe.
- SOMETIMES you just need to ask all the kids to help tidy a space no matter who made the mess – I would recommend being in the same space when you do this one
These are my tips to keep my own temper during the holidays when the kids are playing.
If you have any other tips that keep the mess at bay – let me know!