Having a clutter free home with one or more energetic kids in the house might seem like an impossible task. As soon as you are done cleaning one corner of the house, two more seem to be clamouring for attention. Babies, toddlers, pre-teens or teens, it does not matter what age group your kids belong to, their scattered belongings can drive you up the wall if you do not have a firm plan on how to counter it.
Sometimes we like to console ourselves with the adage that where there are kids, there’s bound to be some mess. However, research has shown that a cluttered house can have a very negative impact on your mood and health. It makes you feel tired, lethargic and quarrelsome especially if you cannot locate socks, school shoes or important papers buried underneath the mess. And just imagine the horror of unexpected guests walking in through the door with your children’s belongings scattered all over the house!!
Choose toys carefully:
One of the cardinal rules for having a clean house is to have fewer toys for young children. We shower our kids with toys, most of which end up broken, discarded and scattered all over the house. Mechanical and battery controlled toys are the worst offenders. If your child has too many toys, divide them in half and put one half away. After a month or so, round up the current lot, store it and take out the other half. Choose toys carefully. Balls, bicycles, stuffed toys, building blocks and hard books have a greater shelf life than remote controlled cars and video games which become junk without cells and other easily breakable parts.
Keep things out of reach:
Toys belong to children but this does not mean that they should access to all their playthings 24/7. If clutter drives you crazy, think about putting jigsaw puzzles, bead sets and 1000 piece Lego out of reach of your kids or you’ll spend endless hours picking them up. Put such things in a place from where only you can hand them out. Designate a play area and place a mat or sheet there. After they are done playing, just gather the sheet from its corners and pour the little pieces in their container.
A place for everything and everything in its place:
Most of the clutter in the house arises from the fact that there is not enough space or containers to store the things in the house. Buy multipurpose colorful baskets or chest of drawers for your children’s toys, games, art supplies, etc. Once in place, teach the children gradually to put away all their stuff after they are done playing. If things are spilling out of cupboards and containers, sort them out for storage or donation.
Clean up between activities:
This is one of the most difficult but necessary habits to inculcate in kids. Between every two activities, there should be a 5-10 minute break in which children put away their things. For example, after getting ready each morning and before leaving for school, older children must learn to put away their night clothes and breakfast dishes. Similarly, after doing homework and before watching TV, there should be some allotted time, in which they put away their school bags and books before settling down to watch their favourite programme.
Think before you buy:
Most of us usually buy far many more things than we need. Whether it is shoes, clothes, DVDs, accessories, decoration items, kitchen utensils, we sometimes forget to draw a line and the result is often a cluttered house. This tendency becomes more pronounced during sale seasons if we have kids. Before going on a shopping frenzy, think carefully, if you really need all those “buy one get one free” items.
Pick up things as you go:
One sure way of keeping the house clean is to pick up things as you go and keep putting them back in their places. Straighten cushions, stack books and clear table surfaces as you go from one room to another to have a spic and span hose all the time. It might seem irksome at first but once it becomes a habit, the house starts looking habitually clean and tidy. It becomes even better when children start to copy your ways and start picking up their stuff without you having to point it out.
Clean a corner everyday:
We all know how quickly things pile up in our closets, cupboards and shelves. Shoes that are no longer needed, clothes that are outgrown, faded bed sheets, threadbare towels, broken toys and hordes of other things which eat up space in our homes. For a house to be really clean and organized, it is important to clear away such debris on a regular basis. Each day, spend some time to clean away one corner of your house, no matter how small.
Keep 2-3 cardboard boxes in the store and keep filling them with things that are not in use any longer. Kids’ booties, caps and rattles that they have outgrown, old books, your daughter’s T-shirt which she has vowed never to wear, your son’s broken toys – all these things can be collected out of sight and then sorted for storage or charity making your house less cluttered. Your sanity and prestige might depend upon it!!