Nothing but chaos in a small house. - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-18-2014, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Nothing but chaos in a small house.

We are a home schooling family of 7, living in 775 sq ft.

Toys are everywhere, clothes are everywhere and stuff is everywhere in this tiny ass house. But it's not "clutter". This is stuff used EVERY DAY by 7 different people in a very small space. There is nothing left to get rid of, but our house is still full so to speak. The worst of it is when everyone is playing together with multiple items all at once... then someone says hey let's make X to include in our play and so they start making/crafting X... little bits of cut paper are then on the floor and mixed with the toys.. pencils and other art stuff are left on the table because they aren't not used long enough to pack away. Another kid decides they want to stop playing and do their work, so they grab their stuff to begin their school work and it adds to the mess on the table or the floor (can't pack up the existing toys on the floor because the remaining children would protest as they are still playing). It just seems like one mess and then another mess AND THEN ANOTHER MESS are being constantly created because everyone is doing something different simultaneously and they just keep swapping activities around. There is no break from mess and our house is so full of constant floor and table mess that I literally am reduced to tears most days (I am a neat freak by nature and I actually have OCD).

So... here goes... Would it be wrong of me to restrict the activities to one at a time and everyone doing them together? So you're all either playing at once or doing your school work at once? And absolutely no crafting stuff to add to your "play"?
My problem (and why I've held back so long on doing this) is because I believe there is value in not having such restrictions and rigidity, as it will stifle their creativity and spontaneous nature.. and I want to nurture their thoughts, creations and imagination, not hinder them. But at the same time... I walk around the house and I'm constantly kicking stuff out of the way.

Do you have any advice on how to handle the chaos of many children doing/using different things at once without losing your mind? Anything at all, even organizational tips. I need all the help I can get.

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Old 08-18-2014, 01:20 PM
 
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I am in a spot very similar to yours. Except we are a family of 8. So I can completely relate.

Before the birth of baby #6 I had enough. Well, enough of the mess. I purchased a big box of the large ziploc zipper bags and organized all small toys into these. Did the same with school supplies. For larger toys I purchased the cloth bins from target. Then I explained to the older ones that only one bin or baggy is allowed out at a time. And to get another set out they must first clean up what they already have out.

They didn't seem bothered at all by the new rules. And they were/are thrilled that everything is easy to find and clean versus the old days when pieces were mixed up or lost. It took a few days for it to really become habit. Sometimes more than one bag or bin is out bc they want to play different things but they do so well cleaning their own mess up now bc it's simple. I don't See it affecting their creativity or imaginative play at all. They still go outdoors and run wild and makes messes there as well as tons of imaginative play together using no toys/mess at all.

I am much happier as well and this is key for a happy home. So in a way they are thriving even more. I hope you find a method that works for u all soon.
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Old 08-21-2014, 12:52 PM
 
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I just have two littles, so I'm not there yet. But, I wonder if there is a way to keep the free, integrated play/project time... it seems really valuable to have that kind of flexibility to play/learn/make. Could you split the difference? Like maybe institute a block of "clean up time" after a block of "project/play time" as part of a daily rhythm? Like, allow two hours in the morning for project/play, then cleanup, lunch/rest... and then a more focused kind of play in the afternoon (like with the baggies)?
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:30 PM
 
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than you for the idea = i tried with 3 ziplock bags to start with ... it worked a bit
= when all the petshop figurines where gathered in one bag, DD2 was then interested into playing with them
..but she also managed to put them all back in (not a small feat for a little someone who resists putting things away on a regular basis !!!)

got medium size only, should get some larger ones though ..... there's so much more mess that needs organising in there !
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Old 08-23-2014, 12:04 PM
 
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I don't think it's the least little bit wrong to say that only limited amounts of stuff be out at once. I don't think it's necessary to require everyone to participate in the "stuff" acitvity--they just don't get another "stuff" activity.

For example, right now we're playing with crayons and coloring notebooks because it's Joe's turn and he chose, and if you don't want to do that you can get out exactly one book, or you can go run around in the yard with the dog, or you can do anything else doesn't involve getting out "stuff". And tomorrow (or this afternoon, or in two hours, or whatever) it's your turn to choose.

And Joe, if you're bored with your choice and you want another one before your time is up, please put away all the bits for crayons and notebooks, and then come to me. Remember that you only have until 2:30, because at 2:30 everybody cleans up and gets out the stuff for homework.
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Old 08-23-2014, 01:49 PM
 
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Do you have any outdoor space they can use, at least part of the year? When I have my kids and their cousins (10 total, a few times a week) I kick anything that involves a ton of stuff like crafts or building out into the yard/picnic table. It's the same mess but seems less overwhelming to me when it's not directly underfoot.
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Old 08-26-2014, 05:27 AM
 
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We have 9 (soon to be 10) people in about 1400 sq. ft. (4 adults, 1 teen, and 4 littles). We have more breathing room than we used to because my 22yo is about halfway moved out (meaning he doesn't live here but most of his stuff does).

I got fed up with the toys in the living room, so now every time I have to ask them more than a couple of times to pick up I just do it myself. All the toys I pick up are packed away. Well, except for the cars, which I leave out for my grandsons when they visit. I thought they'd be upset and 'get the message.' What I found was they actually play better with what's left and rarely ever miss any specific action figure or toy. Rarely they'll ask if they can trade a figure out for one I've confiscated.

Now, they mostly play dress-up (I don't have the heart to pack up their dress-up clothes), legos, and they build elaborate tents. The toy mess is way down. Having lots of people in little space is HARD. Even if I wittled everyone down to 10 items of clothing (which is NOT happening with a 17yo senior in high school), that would still be 100 articles of clothing. Two pairs of shoes each? Still 20 pairs of shoes. It's just a lot.
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Old 09-22-2014, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Exactly! Exactly that - even if each person has 2 pairs of shoes, that's still 14 pairs sitting there. It is just a lot and there is no other way to describe it.

Thanks guys, seriously, thanks so much.. the posts kept me just that little bit more sane until I could figure out what to do.

I ended up packing the toys. One time after I had a nap, I got up to find stuff just everywhere and I mean everywhere.. I could not step without kicking something, without stepping on something.. and not all of it was toys.. Some was food, some was craft stuff, clothes.. It was messy, filthy even and the OCD in me reached it's tipping point. I went silent for about an hour while I recouped my thoughts (I am trying this new thing out where I don't scream my head off the second I am pissed) and then I gathered the kids and said very gently "I'm sorry, but until you can show me that you can take care of your stuff, your stuff is to be packed". I reminded them that we have had a please pack up your stuff after you're done conversation many times before to no avail and mama can no longer tolerate the constant mess. So that's it, the stuff is packed indefinitely. Thankfully we have a big yard, so the kids can play outside all day if need be. All they have now is their workbooks and the yard. I feel like a complete a hole, like a failure of a parent, but for the sake of my ever diminishing sanity, I need to implement something that will just STOP it all for now. I will update on how this goes in a week's time from now..

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Old 09-22-2014, 02:48 AM
 
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should have done that much earlier .... haven't been so thorough about it but am following in your footstep about it ....= thanks for posting, that will help me too ....
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Old 09-25-2014, 10:06 AM
 
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following this as we live in a small 3 bed house (roughly 63m2 of "useable" space") but are moving into a one bed flat (but 70m2.. i know, work that one out!! lol) we have 3 kids

we are having a massive decluttering spree and eventually, im sure, we will be down to what we absolutely need and very few items of "want"
our biggest problem is going to be LEGO
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Old 09-27-2014, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I said I'd update a week later and here it is.. the main living area stayed much tidier during the packed phase.. the kids continued to be entertained (outside).. I think I heard 2-3 complaints in the entire week about asking to take a toy out and I caved those times. It was okay though, they were packed after playing so it was still a good outcome. Anyway, the experience this week got me thinking seriously about rotating toys. I used to be against the idea and thought "why don't you just get rid of what isn't loved all the time?", but I think that's an unrealistic way to approach it with 5 kiddos. I noticed interests in a certain toy waned in one person and started in another some 6 months later and my current method of buying and discarding the same types of toys repeatedly every 2-3 years (yes I do that) would be foolish financially and unsustainable. So I'm going to try this rotating thing instead of my "get rid of it now" attitude. I am currently going through toy inventory. We used to have a few solid categories of toys, but as the children's individual interests branch off, it's very hard to keep the toys and supplies to a few solid categories and hope it will meet everyone's needs. I've also decided that I am going to set up certain areas for certain toys.. I can't deal with the mess carrying over everywhere - it's getting to me more than I know and it's not healthy for mama to be constantly stressed.

Petra, my place is 72 square m for the 7 of us. 3 bedder but small bedrooms. How in the world did they come to the conclusion that a 70 sqm flat only needs one bedroom!
Lego is the bane of my existence too. Have you looked into storage solutions?

Isafrench, how are you going with your toy organizing? I am finding rotation with some strict rules will be the best long term solution for us.

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Last edited by LoveOurBabies; 09-27-2014 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 09-27-2014, 02:59 PM
 
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not much progress with toy organizing over here
... but school resumed so we are more into homework and TV and less into toys anyway
(+ am spread between three school this year, plus involved with the parents association ...
parents in one of the schools ... some of them are a sort of "weird lot" so things are not so smooth for now ...)

am no longer tripping over stuff & most of the floor in the girls room is clear ...
so maintaining our good progress for the moment ....
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