A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I escorted my girls into their bedroom and unveiled my evil plan to donate all of their most precious belongings.
OK, not really. I began my usual “pick up your mess” routine. This routine involves me telling one child to pick up all the shoes while directing the other to pick up dirty clothes. It also involves a significant spike in my blood pressure. While I am pointing out missed items to one child (The pink shoe. No, right in front of you. Your toe is touching it!!!), the other is usually jumping on the bed behind me. This generally goes on for an hour or two as we go through the various categories of toys, books, dress-up clothes, trash and household items that I had given up hope of ever seeing again. This round ended when all of the shoes and dirty laundry were out of the room and the majority of toys were semi-put away. It wasn’t even close to perfect, but it was better.
A few days later, I put some My Little Pony on the DVR and tackled the mess again. When I walked into their room, I was sorely tempted to turn right back around, shut the door, and pretend like I didn’t see it. These kids of mine are really gifted in the “crapping up a living space” department. Instead of heading to the bar, I gathered up trash bags, the hamper and a couple of boxes. I threw away more garbage, sorted out the toys that either they don’t play with, or that are poor quality duplicates of toys they actually do play with, boxed up the outgrown shoes, and ferreted out all of their dirty clothes (yes, again).
As I was sorting through the mess, I was also thinking about why this room is such a problem. You know, aside from the fact that there are two children living in it. We’ve tried a toy box, shelves with various types of bins (plastic totes get stood on and broken, canvas cubes get dirty and the bottoms get lost, rendering them gross and useless) and storage cubes under the bed (they just get lost under the bed). I tried putting the canvas cubes up on shelves in their closet, but they (Boodie, of course) would just dump out the laundry hamper and use it as a step stool to reach them. I’ve even tried storing the toys in a different room, but that resulted in two rooms that were totally out of control.
The problem, as I see it is: A) In spite of my semi-frequent attempts to purge toys and clothes, they still have too much stuff. B) The parents of these children are not consistent about requiring toys to be put away, and dirty clothes to be put in the hamper. C) Past attempts at getting and keeping this room under control have not adequately taken into account the very different personalities and abilities of the children who inhabit it. Apparently, we also need to discuss why french fries shouldn’t be stored in one’s bed. Really?
Here’s what the room looked like after my afternoon of de-crappifying (no way was I going to take “before” pictures of that mess):
Not pictured: The massive pile of laundry waiting in front of my washing machine.
Stay tuned for Part 2.