As I walked through the house the other day picking up stray discarded shoes, toys, and a variety of other unrelated items, I started to wonder how on earth people’s houses stay tidy and organised with a family. I often look admiringly at all the amazing photo spreads in glossy home magazines with the unrealistic hope my home may resemble something similar. However what I consider mess is actually the foundations of hopefully amazing childhood memories, I just wish their memories had ‘homing devices’ on them so they would return to the shelf or cupboard they came from.
It’s time to confess that I as a child suffered the effects of ‘MKS’ or Messy Kid Syndrome as it is scientifically known. When I think back to what my poor mum had to endure while I explored every artistic and creative avenue I could find I understand how frustrated she must have felt. From sewing and painting to stamping and even a brief period of quillling, with this amazing desire to explore all these avenues came the constant mess. I have vivid memories of having to carefully step through all my precious items that covered the carpet to change the TV channel (pre-remote days, yes I am that old) no other family member had the delicate coordination required to dodge through the mess, missing any unexploded items that may have been hidden under the piles of paper.
I also loved Lego and our large collection was often gloriously spread out across the lounge room, to this day there is no other facial expression on earth that compares to people stepping on a stray piece of Lego it’s like a silent form of torture just waiting for a victim.My bedroom was the same, I would often have to jump from the door onto my bed . I shared a room with my sister for many years, and still recall one fateful night she stepped on my beautifully constructed cardboard dolls house and the plastic fork I had carefully transformed into the resident. I don’t know why I was like this my wonderful mum always kept the ‘monster of a house’ we lived in clean and organised, and I am starting to understand why her constant threat that my firstborn would be given paper, glue and scissors eventually came into fruition, I really don’t blame her!
So I was a recovering ‘MKS’ sufferer until I left home, then things changed dramatically it was easy ‘pre-children’, however unfortunately I have passed this hellish syndrome on to Miss 6. It is literally like bombs explode behind her after she walks through the house.
I set aside two hours last Friday to clean up her playroom which wasn’t really looking that bad, after two hours of not scratching the surface I realised I needed at least eight hours ,and what looked relatively organised turned into the realisation that Miss 6 is currently completing an apprenticeship in becoming a future bag lady! I discovered backpacks and reusable shopping bags stuffed full of items that had no relationship to each other, but had been shoved in there as a previous form of ‘ cleaning up’. I have no idea how this cleaning process eventuated but bags are now banned in her room or playroom. Four full garbage bags later (discretely hidden in the back of the car to dispose of before anything is missed) and her bedroom and playroom where in an organised state, for approximately twenty-seven hours and fifteen minutes!
There are two other items that I regard as a form of contraband in our household and forbidden, the first is sticky tape. Sticky tape is like invisible confetti, Miss 6 loves it and it ends up everywhere, I am constantly hooking it out of Master 9 months mouth, finding it on and wrapped around things, and removing pieces off my feet, socks and clothing at the end of each day. I find it everywhere daily, until I actually need it, then all rolls seem to teleport themselves to other dimensions, and I have to resort to using duct tape to wrap a child’s birthday present, It definitely keeps the recipient in suspense for a bit longer, similar to’ pass the parcel’ but with only one layer!
Glitter is the other banned item, glitter was excluded very early in Miss 6’s creative life, glitter is like a child’s karma to their parents it ends up everywhere, you can find it on your body for weeks after the initial contact and is completely resilient to shampoo and conditioner. When a child makes a glittery creation you have glitter on you before you even set sights on their artistic piece. The more carefully you attempt to open a container of it the further it explodes. Glitter is like fleas to the creative world, it just never leaves!
While I’m on the subject, recently I saw an interview with a lovely lady who has made millions of dollars from marketing kids slime- what did I ever do to her! I have endured Miss 6’s several attempts to make slime, it is so messy, sticks to everything like brightly coloured ‘boogers’, and slowly ferments in the fridge long forgotten by its creator!, I hope she enjoys her millions!
Don’t get me wrong I love anything artistic, and I love children expressing themselves through creative and artistic avenues ,this may be the reason I am a strong advocate for childcare. They can go nuts with paint, glue, glitter, paper and any other undesirable crafting item , with the added bonus that I don’t have to clean up after their creative explosion . It’s a ‘win-win’ situation for all involved, except for the ever amazing glitter, paint, glue covered Carers, that greet you with a smile at pick-up time.
Thinking back to those photo spreads in glossy magazines, I’m struggling to find them realistic options, where are the hand prints on the windows, fridges and any possible shiny surface. Where do they hide all the toys that are given to the kids that don’t fold down, and take up a large portion of the lounge room. Where do the endless supply of stuffed toys go, what about safety items, where are the baby gates, and cupboard locks, and where are all the books , hundreds of cherished dog-eared books that are commonly strewn across the bedroom floor .Most importantly where is all the disorganised chaos that makes a house a home?
I will always love beautifully designed houses, but for the immediate future the amazingly decorated and organised rooms can stay in the magazines, I am happy for my kids to ‘make memories’, one day they may even use the wonderful storage options we have given them. Tripping over discarded toys is almost like a daily fitness regime for me, and part of me may even miss it one day , however I just need to remind myself of this fact every now and then after I pull every groin and leg muscle I own doing the splits in the most undignified way slipping on a discarded book not even in the same room as the damn bookcase!