Every time I walk around my home I always see the same thing: a toy mess! Stuffed animals, Lego, puzzle pieces, and Calico Critters seem to be scattered everywhere, and I’m sick of it.
We’ve decluttered the toys multiple times, but they seem to multiply behind our backs. There’s no way we actually BOUGHT all of these toys, right?! Sometimes I feel like we’re single-handedly keeping Toys R Us is business. It’s ridiculous.
I’ve been at my wits end for a while now (we’re talking years, not days or weeks), but when I recently really thought about why we have these problems I realized some hard truths about why my kids are so messy, and they might apply to you too.
1) I’m not organized!
One of the hardest things to realize and admit about why my kids are so messy is that they’re simply copying what’s modeled for them. I tend to leave my stuff out after using it too, and if they see mommy do it why wouldn’t they do the same?
This is getting a little deep, but Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world,” and I think that applies to our homes too. If I want my kids to put things away after using them and not be perpetually messy, I need to model that behavior for them first.
Nothing has made me grow more as a person or become more self aware than parenting. Seeing a little person modeling poor behavior they obviously learned from you is rough. #parentingishard
2) They have too much stuff
Despite having already decluttered the toys multiple times now, there’s still so much more to do. I don’t know how we’ve amassed such a huge toy collection (I can’t blame it all on grandma!) :), but we need to get it under control asap.
I know my kids can’t enjoy everything they have because things are scattered throughout the house. Toy sets and puzzles are incomplete, which makes them hard to enjoy, and other toys get broken because they’re on the floor getting stepped on.
I also think it’s hard to enjoy things simply because they have so much stuff! I almost feel like I’m inadvertently teaching them to feel discontentment and be easily distracted by giving them so many options to choose from. We need to get rid of stuff pronto! The good news is that I’ve already figured out a good way for asking them to get rid of toys that helps to avoid freak outs and meltdowns. (<— I have one sweet kiddo who’s a master at both.)
3) Nothing has a home
Sometimes I look around my home and wonder how in the world it got so messy. How did we get so many toys and why are they always all over the house?
I frequently tell my kids to clean up, but when they ask me, “Where does this go?” I rarely have an answer because few things in our house actually have a home. I’ve purchased baskets, bins, and bookshelves all hoping they’ll provide the magical storage solution we’re looking for, but if nothing has a home how can the kids be expected to properly put things away?
4) They aren’t required to be organized
One mistake I’ve made in our home is not requiring my kids to clean up before going to bed or participating in a fun activity. I all too often have a, “We’ll deal with it later” mentality, and later ends up coming way too late when the mess has grown exponentially in size.
So where do I go from here?
First and foremost, I need to get organized. I need to model the behavior I want to see in my kids and start creating the home I truly want, one filled with order and peace instead of chaos and clutter.
Second, we need to do some serious decluttering. We need to get rid of probably at least 50% of our stuff. (Whew, just writing that makes me anxious! #hoardertendencies.) The less stuff we have around the less we’ll have to clean, maintain, organize, and worry about. “Less” is starting to sound like a great idea.
Once we’ve gotten rid of our excess stuff we need to make sure that every item we keep has a home. If we can’t find a good place to put something (i.e. not the floor, a random corner, or in the storage room!), out it goes.
Finally, we need to make cleaning up a regular part of our routine. Things will be so much easier if we clean as we go versus having to do a massive, usually last minute, clean up. You know it’s bad when you say, “It’s time to clean up,” and your kids immediately ask, “Who’s coming over?” True story.
Cleaning up shouldn’t only be done every once in a while. It’s going to take doing a lot of small jobs on a daily basis to keep our house in good shape, and we’d better get these new routines and habits going before baby #5 arrives! Ahh! 🙂
Does your home have messy kids in your home too? Do any of these hard truths apply to your kiddos or have you discovered other hard truths in your home?
Baby number 5 AND you blog! I am impressed. I struggle to get everything done everyday with two teenaged girls who aren’t needed my attention all the time. I can’t image when you get it all done. I am impressed!
Thanks, Crystal! It’s been a learning process, that’s for sure! I feel like I’m finally starting to figure out a good schedule for my blog and basically just squeeze it in where I can.
I love this – I can totally agree with kids just following our example . I AK so messy so I don’t get why I get so annoyed when he throws his toys everywhere!
I think our personal messes are much more tolerable to us than other people’s, which seems a little hypocritical, but I think everyone feels that way. We always have good reasons for making messes. Other people obviously don’t! lol
My kids are so messy!! I have found that by stopping them every hour or so and doing a quick pick up really helps. But their bedroom is a whole other story!! I am working hard to teach my boys the value of tidiness, but some days I want to throw in the towel!
I understand that! I figure I’ll tackle their bedrooms when we get the main house clutter out of control. I recently told my husband we have to get better about teaching and modeling for the kids so their future roommates and spouses don’t hate them!
Thanks for these realizations! I’ve been so frustrated with my twinsies lately because they’re so messy. LOL Somedays it’s just unbearable, but I love those little munchkins and wouldn’t change the fact that they’re mine. 🙂
Isn’t that the truth! I’m so thankful for my kiddos… maybe a little less thankful for all of their junk. 😉
You hit on every point I keep telling my husband:
The kids don’t put their dirty dishe’s in the dishwasher beause he does not & they are modeling after him.
We all have too much stuff, especially clothing. That’s why there is both clean and dirty laundry everywhere in the house. I cannot put it away because there is no place to put it. I’ve instituted a new rule and it applies to everyone: for every one new piece of clothing that comes in, TWO pieces in good condition are donated.
When we try to clean the house, we are unsuccessful because everything needs to have a place, and in our house it doesn’t. To correc that, I have been purging off and on since January.
Since my hubby doesn’t put things away, the kids don’t put things away. One thing that bugs my husband is a messy kitchen. Sure the kids just drop dirty dishes there since the dishwasher is full. To counteract that, I have been reducing the number of plates, bowls, glasses, etc. slowly. Now, instead of 24 dinner plates for 4 people, we have 12.
I am making progress, but it is a slow go!
Modeling the behavior we want to see can be so difficult! I have to admit that in my home, my husband is the clean one. The kids are learning their bad habits from me! Ahhh!! All we can ask for though is progress, and is sounds like you’re doing a great job in that department. I always feel so much better with less stuff around.
Congrats on baby number 5! You are a rock star! I will admit I am guilty of not requiring my teenagers to be neat. Especially my daughter-who can be so moody anyway lol! It’s just a battle I wasn’t willing to fight. But she and I had a chat and we now have a half an hour on Sundays decluttering session to get her room in order.
I understand that! Sometimes it’s just not worth sacrificing our sanity. I hope the Sunday decluttering goes well, and her room gets pulled together quickly.
All of your points are dead on, but #2 & #3 especially! I have come to LOVE decluttering & organizing because it helps increase the efficiency of our home so much! I still have a long way to go, but we have made lots of improvement! Right now I have an 8 year old & an almost 2 year old of my own and I babysit a 5&9 year old. Our living room gets destroyed during the day. By the time my husband gets home, though, he can’t tell any kids were here at all because we are able to do a full living room cleanup in 10-15 minutes. If only I had every room in my house set up this way :/
That is impressive, Jessica! Sometimes, I think my husband comes home from work convinced we have 10 kids he doesn’t know about! I’d love to have a system like you’ve described in any of the rooms in my house. Have any tips to share?
This is an amazing analysis of a very common problem.
Thank you for joining us and sharing at Thoughts of Home.
We are so glad you are here!
White Spray Paint
Thank you, Laura!
Great tips! I have four young kids and it is tough! Good luck with #5- that’s amazing!
Thanks, Jo! Yes, the kiddos definitely keep us busy, that’s for sure. 🙂
I am a Grammy to three babies who I keep a LOT. By choice. LOL This was an eye opener to me, especially the part about them imitating me. I am messy, too. (left brain/right brain creative) Ugh But, they do have waaayyyy too many toys and yes, it is “grandma’s” fault. And grandpa, too. LOL Thanks for linking up to Share It One More Time.
Barb, The Everyday Home
It’s so easy to end up with a ton of toys, especially with multiple children. I’m glad the post spoke to you! Thanks for reading and hosting 🙂
Thank you for sharing with us at #HomeMattersParty. We would love to have you again next week.
I’m in the same situation as yours. Sometimes I try to find out the reason why kids are always like that and I realize that all of your suggestions are truth and there are still more. However, the most important reason is not kids’ belongings but the grown-ups’ problems. Kids just reflect who we are in some ways which means we have to change ourselves before telling them to change.
That’s the hard part, isn’t it. There have been times I’ve been mortified to hear my voice (at its less than wonderful moments) coming out of my daughter’s mouth. Ugh. Modeling good behavior and habits is so important and definitely the best way to teach kids. “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work.
Oh I dunno, I am an total purger and minimalist but my kids are still messy. I model tidiness every single day because I’m a neat freak. I make them clean up every day all day and still they can’t do it without me telling them to. Like WHY is it so hard to put the pineapple can lid IN the trash can instead of IN the sink??? If you can put it in the sink, i guarantee you can put it in the trashcan!! Ugh all day. Is this normal of most kids or did I just birth three total slobs? I was a slob too when I was a kid and my husband still is a slob, but he’s a work in progress, but my mom wasn’t after me as much as I diligently train my kids. I read in ”all the books” that if you are diligent and consistent and issue consequences and model the behavior yourself that it will pay off…UM WHEN?!?! LOL . Am I just wasting my energy and sanity on something that is a total natural phenomenon that I have ZERO control over? Please tell me lol
To be honest, I wish I knew! I do think it’s best when parents model the behavior they wish to see in their children so it sounds like you’re on the right track. I also like to explain to my kids why it’s important to have a clean house in terms they’ll understand like, “If we want to have friends over to play, we need to have a clean house first” and how things can get broken if they’re left on the floor, etc. It’s hard though. Cleaning definitely isn’t the default setting for my kiddos either! lol
So I do all of the above and she is still soooo messy. Has no respect for the things she has. She is 6 and it is a constant struggle to get her to respect her room and the house and do what has been asked of her a million times. She IS required to clean up before bed and anytime she plays. All her toys are organized but she continues to throw them wherever. Yes she gets in trouble, grounded, things taken away, occasional spankings but still doesn’t seem to care. She actually just got in trouble because she is at my office while I am working and absolutely destroyed it. Any tips or tricks?
It may be time to reduce how much she has. She may need to practice keeping things organized with fewer items before she can handle her current amount. You could also try a toy rotation where half (or more) of her items aren’t available and things are enjoyed and played with on a rotating basis.
Would love to see a video on your massive declutter process. We moved from Florida to Tennessee in 2020 so there was a big declutter before we left as we had lived there for just shy of 17 years so you can imagine the accumulation. Then we even took another car load to Salvation Army on this end of the move. So we went from 1431 square ft townhome to a 960 square ft home. I love less stuff but we are still full here just not quite as much clutter as before.