I am really fed up over the messes in our upstairs rooms. Specifically, this includes a loft area (maybe 20 by 20 room) and media room (24 by 24 maybe). So they are large rooms. What happens is, the kids take paper and maybe make one small drawing on a piece of paper, drop it on the ground, move on to another. They do not draw on the backsides and often times, just a fraction of the front side is used. So, there are papers everywhere that I have to pick up a lot. I have given them folders to keep their papers in that they want to keep. The folders are empty, and scattered. Then, they have gotten in to my extra school supplies stash, and scattered them. Everything they breathe near is scattered in fact. I hate the huge waste of paper, but every single day, I, alone pick up several pieces of paper.
One of the things that is really bothering me, is that any spare toys, things I cannot match up right away, go in to a plastic bin. At this point, there are 2 under the bed containers full of this stuff. I actually have a fear that if I toss any of it away, that I will find out in a week or month that someone was a vital part of a specific toy and regret tossing it. Should I just lose the fear and bag it all up and throw it in the trash?
The next thing is, I they get a hold of games or puzzles and dump them! Sure..they had planned to put the puzzle together....but..three or four get dumped first so now they cannot as the pieces are mixed. Or they put them away but a couple pieces are always left out. I hate the idea of throwing away all puzzles...but I do not know what to do on this.
Lego creations.....need I say more? They seem to start as something out together, but there are always Legos scattered.
My 6 yr old will scream bloody murder if expected to clean up after himself. He is quite messy. My 9 yr old has autism spectrum disorder and will start picking at his eye lashes and melting down if asked to pick up after himself. They all declare that they did not make THAT mess. Of course, even though I will break it down, every single mess is too big. I mean..I can say pick up this one pile of blocks and there might be just 10 blocks in that pile, and I will still get a meltdown of screams about how big the mess is.
I would like to say that my 14 yr old (who is about to turn 15) is a big help. Or that my 16.5 yr old is a big help. Nope. The 16 yr old will start to help while I watch, but as soon as my back is turned, he will "get distracted" and build his own Lego stuff or something. My 14 yr old is sooo incredibly moody, whether I get help or not is determined by the time of month. If I ask her at the wrong time (which is 25% of the time) she loses it on me. If I ask her at the right time (maybe 20% of the time) I get a lot of help, more than I asked for. The rest of the time, she claims to be too busy with school work or something.
I think back to these ages and how I would have had the daylights beaten out of me if I acted this way. Of course, I don't think I should have had that happen, but...I know kids are capable of not acting this way. I do not want to go too far and rid of all the toys, but I also want to rid of what I can or something...because I hate this mess. I feel like I cannot invite anyone over for fear that they might go up the stairs and see it. I do not have time to get things done that I would like to get done, because I am constantly faced with this.
I know I have seen other's houses that are messier. But I do not expect perfect clean house. I would just like presentable, so I am not embarrassed if someone stops by unannounced. Plus, I feel so put out that my older children do not help much, not even putting away their own laundry, and I feel overworked.
I make that sort of thing more managable by limiting their environment. Lock up the paper, folders and supplies. Supervised at a table only. One toy at a time can work too, but I don't use it as a hard and fast rule I just try to remind them to put stuff away before they take out the next thing.
My 3 and 5yo understand my expectations - I expect them to help pick up the toys they want to keep! :) It may sound cruel, but really, if they just mess it up and it isn't worth it to them to clean it up, then maybe it isn't worth it to have it around. I don't believe I have actually ever gotten rid of anything ever, but I think my kids know it isn't an empty threat. I do honestly believe that if they don't care about it enough to be willing to help clean it up then it might be something to get rid of.
I am sure the issue is more complicated with younger ones, but I think limiting the environment is key with them. Only have 1 puzzle available. Rotating toys is amazingly wonderful - makes clean up better, life less stressful.