When my husband and I were raising our four kids, having everyone home often felt chaotic. With the Pandemic keeping schools closed for many I imagine that feeling is even greater than usual, especially if you have also been working from home.
One of the first places to start to end the chaos is finding ways to get rid of clutter.
We know the value of this, however, it’s often very difficult, especially in regard to toys. One suggestion is to have shelves for organizing toys instead of toy boxes so everything has a “home” and can easily be put away. Another is to use your child’s dresser as a toy organizer. Hang most of their clothes in a closet, reserving the top two drawers for “PJS” and undergarments. Then use the last three drawers for storing toys. They are easy to reach and can be designated for particular items (i.e. trucks or dolls in one, stuffed animals in another and Legos and other small items in the third). You can find more information about This Dual-Purpose Dresser on hgtv.com
The same website talks about using a hanging clear shoe organizer to hold a number of like items. Not only for kids’ toys, it can also hold gloves and scarves, nails, screwdrivers, medicines, etc. How to Make a Fun Backseat Organizer can be found in the same resource.
When it comes to the mess created by art project, have a designated spot where everything is stored and used. An old-fashioned fold-up clothes rack for drying paintings provides a place for the masterpieces while they are still wet.
Of course, one of the best ways to keep clutter down is with follow-through, being sure all is put away when no longer needed. Another suggestion is to have a 10-minute race each night before bedtime to see who can pick up the most stuff. Perhaps the winner gets to chose the first story read before lights go out.
Sticking to a routine is always good. That being said, keeping an active family on a set schedule may not be possible. It is important to remember that the more predictability young children have within their day the better. A young mom I once worked with felt it wasn’t necessary to keep a consistent schedule. Her husband was gone during the week so she and her three year old lead a pretty laid-back life style with little consistency. Convincing her that she might regret that decision wasn’t something I was able to do. Years later, she enrolled in another parenting class I was teaching. The problem that brought her there was her sons’ inability to adapt to the schedules required in a classroom. I remembered well our conversations of years ago.
As kids get older, having certain daily responsibilities can go a long way towards keeping life balanced. As our kids were growing-up we had a caper chart for chores. Each week jobs would rotate and our four took turns having first choice as to which job they would do. Sometimes mom or dad (or an older sibling) had to assist the youngest, which turned out to be a good way to teach teamwork and working together.
A great, interactive, to-do list that will keep kids focused and accountable for household chores and homework can be created using a couple of yard sticks, and sticky notes. Attach a loop of string at the top of the sticks so they can be hung side by side, marking one “To Do,” the other “Done.” Write each chore on a sticky note and attach them to the “To Do” stick. Every time an assignment is completed your child can move it to the “Done” stick. Celebrate when all are completed, even if it’s just a “Hi Five.” (This idea came from Brian Patrick Flynn of Flynnside Out Productions, hgtv.com. Check it out. He has many more creative suggestions.)
Whenever families are together a lot, it’s important to build in breaks from being together. During the summer, when our four were home, the hour after lunch was designated uninterrupted quiet time. Each person (even mom) could choose how he or she spent it. The only requirement was it had to be alone and quiet.
Schedules should be in place to help. If they are too rigid they can easily add to the household stress. If they become problematic take time to talk about what’s happening and, as a family, come-up with a variety of solutions. Kids are usually more compliant when they feel they have a say in what’s going on, so allow it whenever possible.
As you’ve heard time and again, make time for yourself. It is extremely important. It’ll take cooperation and help from the rest of the family, so asking for it is the first place to begin.
This is a topic, I’m sure, many of you could contribute too. Please, email me at email@example.com to share your ideas. Besides uninterrupted quiet time for the household, some ideas are:
As in all situations, good communication is extremely important. I point this out in my book Raising Kids With Love, Honor, and Respect. This may be a topic I will cover in later blogs. If it’s a topic you would like me to explore let me know, be specific with needs and I will do my best to come-up with helpful suggestions.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org