In my lo-o-o-ong years as a parent, a few sadly reliable facts have come to pass into my understanding.
A child’s enjoyment in a meal is inversely proportional to the amount of time you spent preparing it (ready in 15 minutes? They’ll love it).
When they go quiet is when there’s trouble brewing.
Standing on a lego brick is the most excruciating pain you will experience. Kneeling on one is even worse.
Cup colour matters. A lot.
You will be crying “and tidy your room!” for the next twenty years. Literally.
But I’ve also learned that there is a lot I can do make these life crises less traumatic for everyone involved. Understanding that my children would not die from malnutrition if they eat the occasional meal that’s cooked on baking sheets in 12-15 mins means we both stay happy and sane during dinner.
Keep your eyes on quiet kids; it’s a false economy to cross your fingers and enjoy the ten minutes peace with a hot cup of tea. You’ll just be cleaning nappy cream out of soft toy fur for the rest of the afternoon.
Remember the cup colours. That is all I’ve got on that one.
The tidy room thing has taken many many years to understand and overcome – but I have some simple advice which just may help in your own Bedroom Wars.
Firstly, embrace the fact that a messy bedroom is inevitable. It will happen.
Secondly, know that if you make yourself responsible for cleaning it, then you’ll be cleaning it till they head off to Uni. Ugh.
Thirdly, you need to make sure that there is a place for everything – storage is absolutely key here. Shelves, cupboards, storage bins… the more places you have to put things, the more chance there is that they’ll be used. Even if, like us, you’re tackling a really tiny bedroom, there’s loads you can do to have it organised from the start.
The biggest storage facility you have is the bed.
It’s the biggest piece of furniture in the room, and you need to maximise it’s potential. Underbed storage is great – but don’t just shove things under there, you’ll never see them again. Of corse you can simply buy some under-bed storage boxes on rollers – but if you happen to be thinking about a new bed anyway, then be sure to get one with storage built in. There’re lots available with drawers, but I’m particularly keen on Sealy’s new range of Ottoman beds. Ottoman divan beds offer a great storage solution if you are short of space, as they simply lift up to reveal the huge storage space within the bed itself.
Absolutely perfect for the bigger toys that only come out sometimes, or for storing spare bedding/winter coats etc.
whilst it’s super-easy to buy one great big toybox to throw everything into… don’t. Because everything gets lost in that one big box, and either only the top few items are rotated, or it ALL comes out in the search for the one elusive toy. Instead use stacking creates – ones with lids look neatest, open ones can take more stuff. Just pile them on the floor – not too high, obviously – and use them as an extra piece of furniture.
Don’t discount open shelves. Any piece of available wall an take a few small shelves, and create instant storage. Not just for books, either – arrange frequently played with toys, and make use of tiny crates for storing smaller items, too.
If you’ve got the floor space, then cube storage is brilliant – fill some cubby holes with baskets, others leave open for big toys or books, it’s an incredibly effective use of a relatively small area.
And Then It’s About Learning How
I foolishly used to assume that an abrupt ‘and tidy your room!’ was all that was required to make it happen.
And not because they weren’t willing – I hadn’t fully grasped that a 9yr old simply may not have the skills to tackle such a huge task. So i found breaking it down for them was much easier.
First we clear all dirty laundry outside the door.
Next we take a rubbish sack in one hand, and place any rubbish in it.
Then we tackle the floor, sorting into piles of ‘keep/pass on/throw away’ as we go. The rubbish is removed, the ‘pass on’ pile gets placed into carrier bags for the charity shop, and the keepers get put away.
Breaking it down into small manageable tasks means it not a scary job, and they eventually learn the skills for themselves. I may still need to remind my teenagers to tidy their rooms, but they are always more than capable of actually doing it now!