Friday, May 17, 2013


At any one time, my house and garden is cluttered with an avalanche of kiddie debris of all kinds.
Nothing evers prepare you for how untidy it can get - not even the worst flatmates in the world, mutiplied by three.
My three little hurricane children all combine to leave a trail of carnage and destruction in their wake.

It’s not deliberate. At least I don’t think it is. They try quite hard to avoid upsetting mummy sometimes and they can be very apologetic when they turn the kitchen floor into a swimming pool with 2 litres of milk.

They don’t mean to leave toothbrushes on the floor of the living room, clothes all over place and beakers and food scattered behind sofas. They don't mean to drive me crazy. But they do.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last five years is there’s no point tidying up around them. There’s no point doing the same tediously tiring thing 20 times a day. It will be undone, time and time again.

Save it until they’re in bed.

But when that nirvana occurs at about 9pm at the end of the day, yes you’ve guessed it, I’m always too tired to do a massive clear up and go fettling things back into their rightful place.

I happened to go out into the garden after 9pm last night and surveyed the warzone. Upturned toys and ride-ons, broken trampoline cords, chairs and tables askew, plates and cups left where they were last used, socks and shoes left out, and sand and soil scattered everywhere from their need to dig and spread and be messy.
I had no energy left in my body to even start to pick them up, figuring it was only going to end up the same tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Ergo waste of time and effort.

Coming back into the house, odd shoes and socks had found new areas to hang out and everywhere I looked I found small rubber tyres, bitten off by my recently-turned 2 year old who's new OCD is biting tyres off cars and tractors, rendering them useless because of the hard wheels left behind.

Resistance is futile. Nothing is safe. Destruction is programmed into their tiny bodies like growth hormones. It’s not that they love mess, they just don’t yet have the programming caused by two decades of a nagging mum to turn them into conscientious flatmates.

The vicious cycle of moving stuff from its ‘wrong’ place to its ‘right’ place is like fire-fighting an eternal flame. You can only put so much of it out before it flares up again. You can only do so much in a vain attempt to keep on top of things. Sooner or later you realise you’ve lost the battle to keep order in your home and if at that this stage you’re still wrestling to keep on top of things then insanity is not far around the corner. 


Believe me, this WAS my daily strife. I was Control Freak Mum who wanted to keep some element of control whilst all around me chaos prevailed. I shouted at the kids for leaving their things scattered on the floor, making a mess and not helping me when I asked them to pick up their stuff.

No matter how many times I asked them nicely, then asked them less nicely, then asked them bluntly and then shouted at them, 50 times a day; they have never taken on board my simple requests and learnt to do them automatically without extreme persuasion. Yet. I live in hope.

It’s no fun being a Broken Record Mum who is constantly nagging the kids to help around the house. The kids hate it too and dig their heels in more, enjoying the sight of mum morphing into a crazy fishwife.

Reward charts only work for a few days with my kids – they lose interest; I lose interest or forget; they take a lot of energy to set up and maintain. Bribes similarly don’t work.

So the answer, I’m afraid, is to just to give in. To lower my standards. To accept that they’re very young and they are hopeless at following instruction and they simply don’t remember to do these things that mummy places such a high priority on. And there’s the rub. Why do I place such a high priority on a clear floor and some sort of order? Why is my sanity is so intrinsically linked with a clutter-free house? I’m asking this rhetorically because I know that for most people, clear spaces can equal clear and calm minds. You only have to watch those fascinating TV documentaries about hoarders to appreciate how overwhelming it can be when you’re drowning in stuff.

I know some people who gave into the mess a long time ago and their houses are insurmountable and overwhelming with the amount of stuff in every available area. Similarly, I know people who have no life and are constantly battling for control of their home. For me, it depends on my own personal headspace on a particular day but I’m probably somewhere in the middle. I hope.

The thing with kids is they WILL wreck your home. Dirty finger-marks will instantly reappear on walls and windows as soon as you try to clean them off, holes will appear in walls and doors, curtains, lamps, in fact anything that’s left within reaching distance of small hands will be broken. How is it that some people with kids are able to keep their ornaments and pristine home with no cracks in the sinks nor peeling leather on sofas? The rest of us are struggling to even tackle the baskets of laundry glaring at us in disgust from the only spare space in the bedroom.

When I had my girl, 17 months after having my boy, people used to repeat a strange mantra to me, as if to explain the difference between boys and girls: “Girls wreck your head, boys wreck your home”.


Girls wreck your home too. My girl pulls every item out of her wardrobe and shoe box on a daily basis and leaves them lying around on the floors.

But I’m ok with that now. I’ve made peace with that. I like to think I’ve matured as a person because I let my stress over mess and clutter go. I can’t win anyway, even when the house is the tidiest it’s been in weeks, my mum still looks around the place in disapproval saying what a mess it is!

Now, seriously, what’s that all about?!

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1 comment:

  1. Oh this is me to a tee!!! I only have one little housewrecker but I am rapidly approaching the point of questioning why I bother to tidy up at all. Great piece.


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