I try so hard to keep a clean and well organized house. I've employed techniques that have fallen short immediately, and kept some around hoping they'll eventually work. Take for example, the intricately detailed organizing of my kids' things. In theory, it sounds good, and looks nice, to have designated places for every possible category instead of one big ol' toy box. But even with pretty labeling and repeated explanations to my children, they're all still very young and getting them to remember exact places for every tiny piece is hard unless I'm in the room with them. Sometimes, that's just not feasible. Sometimes, I've got something on the stove that will cook unevenly if I don't continuously stir it or I have to finish dishes or the floor needs mopped. Shadowing them to gently remind that, no that particular item goes here, isn't the best plan, especially considering the fact that I am trying to raise independent kids. The other night my husband offered to help them clean. (Which is the sexiest thing the husband of a frazzled mommy can do, hands down.) He emptied out a giant toy bucket that's previously been used exclusively for stuffed animals and instructed them to put everything in there. They cleaned their room by themselves in approximately 5 seconds. I wish I was joking but I'm serious- I didn't even have time to finish scraping dinner dishes before they ran out to tell me "We're ready for bath time!"
"You have to clean your room first," I tell them.
Out walks the husband, "They did."
In disbelief, I lead a trail of my three little duckies into the hallway and stand in awe at the carpet I am actually able to make out as such. My eyes fall to the nearly overflowing toy bucket, then to my husband. He explains.
"Sweetheart, when Matt & I were kids and shared a room, mom didn't bother with twelve drawers and two baskets and separate bins for different types of dolls. We had ONE big toy box and all of our toys- mine, his, action figures, cars- it all went in there."
"But then," I protest "in order to find the one small toy they want, they'd have to empty an entire toy box to get to it."
"Yes. But look how fast it is for them to clean it back up. BY. THEM. SELVES."
Cut to my juvenile refusal to acknowledge that my husband may have had better insight into a household task than I did.
Technically it's not "organized" that way. I know it, I do. And no, I don't want it to be twelve years from now and have three teenagers who's things are piled in a corner of their rooms. But, I have to admit (don't tell my husband) that my better half has a point. This is an age appropriate way to let my kids learn to clean up after themselves. Of course, at some point, we'll implement a mom-pleasing way to do this but mama is pleased enough to be able to tell my kids "Please get your room cleaned," and *GASP* they do!
Hey, while we're on the subject of kids and toys... I'm not a hoarder, my husband is not a hoarder and we are not raising our kids to be pack rats. We're pretty aware of what we buy and/or accept for the kids but somehow, their things just multiply. I know what is in my kids' big collection of books because I read them regularly. Yet, while sorting some things out into a donate-to-Goodwill pile the other day, I found five of the same exact ballerina book. FIVE, y'all. Whaaaat? There has to be little Keebler elves hidden in our walls, except instead of baking me delicious cookies or fixing my son's shoes, they have bottles of Guinness (whiskey? Elves are Irish, right? Or is that Leprachauns only?) and they're cloning my kids'things because it's funny to them in their drunken stupor. Whether it's doll accessories or matchbox cars, you're eventually standing in your child's bedroom with a laughably small organizing bin and remembering the parenting article about the woman who took all her kids' toys away. And you steadily start to idolize that lady genius while you try to sort through those toys by which ones hurt the least when you step on them at 2 a.m.
Also on the subject of toys, is there a reason my kids are being marketed to as though they're perverted and high? The way some dolls are dressed, I'm half certain that the designer behind them is a retiree from Amsterdam's Red Light District. A supposed to be teen-aged doll clothed in a mini-skirt made of fishnet with spiked heels and neon pink makeup? Okay thanks Kesha, but I don't think so. And yes, my kids think those pillows that have strobe lights or whatever are the coolest thing, but I can't help but think how much more enjoyable those would be for someone who had just bought a dime bag. Especially if they had an Easy Bake oven or Dairy Queen Blizzard maker or Cupcake Decorator or Icee machine or any other of the one hundred kid-friendly toys where powdered food is cooked with a dim light bulb I can forgive a lot of things y'all, I can ignore some depravity in children's toys, I can turn the cheek to the strange Monster High dolls my girls absolutely obsess over... but once you've had to eat a "brownie" with bites of unincorporated dust in the center and sprinkles so hard it can chip your tooth, you WILL have a special hatred toward Hasbro. My Little Pony was the bomb when I was a little girl, Hasbro, but that's no excuse for your feet-tasting strawberry flavor mixes.
Thankfully there's the internet, on which I've discovered recipes for real desserts that can be made using toy appliances! Additionally, I'm thankful for my husband who showed me that no matter how many amazingly organized kid rooms I see on Pinterest, if it isn't effective for OUR kids than it isn't worth copying at all! Shout out to you, babe.
Now, I'm off to search for a two giant toy boxes. Suggestions?
What's your least favorite, or favorite love-to-hate, children's product out there?