When toddlers were underfoot, I longed for less messy days.
Then my oldest became a teenager, I had a toddler and elementary kids in between. Life got crazy.
How do you keep track of the mess?
Here are 5 household and lifestyle tips I’ve used to manage the multiple-child mess.
1. Expect kids to be responsible for their mess, no matter their age. The unwritten rule in our house is once you’re old enough to do something for yourself, you do it. Putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, picking up the mess after friends leave, taking care of your own room, etc.
If it’s you’re mess, you pick it up.
2. Use organizing totes and bins, and lots of them. Decorative plastic drawers on wheels are my favorite to store toys, school work, sports equipment and shoes in various rooms for different needs. My sanity returns when things are “out of sight” put away. When there are designated drawers, it’s easy to put items away in the moment, or at the end of the day, so the mess is out of sight and somewhat organized.
“Where is my paper to be signed?”……”In the homework drawer.”
3. Make your space work for you. The spaces in our home have changed depending on the current needs and age of kids. The homework and computer centers have moved from the den to the kitchen where I can help kids while making supper. As kids have grown, spaces have evolved from a toy room, to an extra bedroom, then to a gaming room. Organizing spaces differently help as stages change for parents and kids.
4. Limit family activities. With four kids each three years apart, activities easily could be the demise of our family. We’ve limited each child to two sports or extra-curricular activities during the school year. Even with that limit, we’ve had weeks with over twenty activities between the four children. Setting limits on activities not only protects family time, but teaches tweens and teens to thoughtfully choose the activities to which they commit.
5. Make lifestyle changes if needed. My own journey of balancing busyness is something I often speak and write on, with an upcoming faith-based book on finding the best in busyness. Six years ago, I was over-stressed with career and family life. I
wasn’t doing well was a mess. I made a life-style change, quitting my job as a high school teacher. I went back to school for a Master’s degree in something offering flexible or part-time employment. I currently work part-time as a counseling professional.
I’ve learned limits for what I sanely need to manage this season of life.
Making the change was a financial and personal risk.
It’s been worth it.
The years your kids are home can be bound by busyness and a blur, or they can be busy-less and more peaceful.
We’re I’m at a better place.
If you’re struggling with busyness in ways that are impacting your mental and emotional health, don’t be afraid to look at what you can change. Whether your madness and mess can be eliminated by organizing tips or life changes, what can you do now to make your mess more manageable? We’d love to hear your ideas, too!