Caution: Watch For Falling Toys

When Your Child's Toys Overrun Your Home

My daughter loves to play. There is evidence of this all over our house. Not a square inch of the house is left alone, so it seems. Books thrown on the bathroom counter. Stuffed animals under the bed. Action figures on my dresser! Then there are crayons on the stairs, a pair of shoes or two by the bookshelf, and a whole lot of play kitchen supplies scattered all around the living room. Some days, I give up!! It's almost as if a bomb went off in our house. Just looking at the mess makes me cringe and not want to gear up the energy to straighten up. I think even my daughter refrains from cleaning up after seeing what a lot of work it would take to tidy up. Well, no wonder!

It's not as if we don't have storage bins, drawers, bags, you name it. We sure have them. And it's not that my daughter doesn't know how to clean up after herself. She's about to be 4 and is in preschool. You can bet she picks up her toys there! Yet for some reason, home is another thing. I love to see everything in its place...but it only takes a few minutes and her curious mind to throw everything all over the place again. So frustrating.

Last week, when I cleaned the house, I told her to pick up all her books and put them away. She did that. She even gathered all her stuffed animals and dumped them in her toy box. I then enthusiastically asked her to pick up her loose toys and put them into the appropriate storage bins, at which point she looked at me and quite frankly said: "No, you do it." Yikes!!! Where did I go wrong? It's not as if I do all her dirty work (no pun intended). She knows she is responsible for her toys. With having them strewn all over (whereupon my husband has hurt his foot, I've tripped, and she's even cut herself), I've taken away toys until she agrees to pick up what's left. Still, that doesn't really phase her.

There are times, however, when it all seems to gel. She and I both get into a cleaning routine, and she beats me in finding the homes for all her things. When that happens, she is usually quite proud to show off her accomplishments, and I get to take a tour of the house with her. It's pretty cute. But what's NOT cute is when she decides to rebel and keep making a mess. She's a high-energy kid, and always thinking of the next big game she'll play. It tires me out just to watch her, let alone be energetic enough to play with her. God love her, she is the best though. And for what it's worth, I guess we have to just keep plugging away at holding her responsible and sticking to cleaning up her toys when she's done playing. It is so hard, though, and I am more often than not frustrated with the state of our house. It probably wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't a working mom, but I am, so I have to figure out what works best for us. Because at the end of the day, there's no way I want to do a major cleaning session. And I think it all starts on just maintaining one room at a time. Whew!

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