I’m not the cleanest person I’ve ever met. In fact, my husband often refers to me as the Queen of Clutter. But here’s the thing: as long as it’s MY clutter, it doesn’t bother me. I may have stacks of papers piled up on the counter, and on my dresser, and maybe even on the dining room table, but I know what is what and where everything is.
Once you introduce children, however, it becomes a whole new level of disorder. I’m talking crazy, mind-numbing amounts of junk everywhere. And it drives me insane. No matter how organized I try to be, I can never find the right spot for all the toys, Legos, dolls and books. I just can’t figure out a method to organize everything in a way that makes sense or that encourages the kids to put things back where they belong.
To make matters worse, we live far away from our families, which means lack of actual face-to-face time is compensated for by lots and lots of presents. For literally every occasion, birthday and holiday.
Before you ask, yes, I am grateful that we have such generous family that can provide our kids with all of these well-thought-out gifts. And of course, the kids LOVE it. But we live in a small California house, which is typical for our area, but also doesn’t lend much extra space for… stuff. Consequently, our living room is a disaster and that disaster often spills into the kitchen, dining room, hallway, and the kids’ bedrooms. And it triggers my anxiety because I just don’t know where to put all the things. It can even cause me actual physical pain, especially when I step on a Lego or slip on a bouncy ball or trip over a Hot Wheels track.
Then, the other day, while I was busy pacing around lamenting all of these items with no home, I noticed something amongst all the chaos. I couldn’t find my kids’ tablets. They were nowhere to be found. And what was stranger than that? The kids hadn’t even asked for them. They were so engaged with their toys that screen time hadn’t even crossed their minds.
It seemed like having the toys out and easily accessible was actually encouraging them to play more. Having stuff in plain sight was inspiring lots of family game nights, too. From Uno to Checkers, Monopoly Jr. to Operation, we’re playing them all. We’ve also built Legos, assembled many a puzzle, and even crafted together.
I realized in that moment, while our house may look like a Toys R Us exploded, our kids were happy. They were playing together, and we were relishing lots of family time.
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(This post originally published on Mid-Peninsula Mom’s Blog on April 30th, 2018)