Help, The Kids’ Stuff is Taking Over!

kidsstuffWhen I heard that CHAOS stood for “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome,” I could relate!  I can’t completely blame my 5, 8 and 10 year olds for the mess but they certainly contribute to the clutter factor in my home.

Do the toys multiply while we’re sleeping? 

Why is it so easy to take things out to play with but so difficult to get them all to fit in the places they came from?

How much homework can we pile on one table?

My husband James works as a realtor so he looks at hundreds of homes – most of which are neat as a pin. (Of course we know clutter is stuffed in the closets, but the countertops are cleared off and spotless).  Imagine when James gets home.  He experiences the “lived in” look which is much different than the “we’re trying to sell our house” look.

One day, he was listening to a radio show host talking about the average home with kids in America.  Take a peek into that home and you’ll most likely find the kids have taken over.  Just open the front door and it’s obvious:  “Oh, you have kids!”

It wasn’t like this in generations past.

The homes looked like adults lived there, not kids.  The living room, dining room, kitchen, and master bedroom were places for adults.  Kids had their toys exclusively in their rooms.  Today the tables have turned.  Parents trip over trucks and dolls in every room of the house.

As James shared all this, my heart began to pound faster.  I knew what was coming next.  I could blame my mean, realtor husband but the thought was actually springing from my own heart too.  “Our house really needs an overhaul…” and so it began.

The next morning, I took a pad of paper and walked around the house with my kids.  “Let’s count how many rooms we have in the house and how many of those rooms have your toys in it,” I said as if this was going to be fun.  We counted the living room, family room, loft, master bedroom, kid’s bedrooms, and storage room and recorded that there were toys in EVERY room of the house.  I gave my lecture about how mommy and daddy owned the house and needed to have toy-free zones.

Saturday morning, we moved toys into the kid’s rooms and filled up four bags for charity.  For the first time in years, we sat in an uncluttered living room.  Wow that felt good!  Now I’m not half as nervous about someone dropping by the house unexpectedly.

When the kids and I pitched in to de-clutter the house, what do you think that communicated to my husband?  You can voice your needs and we will do our best to rise to the challenge.  It could have easily gone the other direction.  That’s nice that you heard that inspiring radio program but it is impossible to get these kids to organize their toys.  Guess what?  It feels really good to do the right thing to bless your spouse.

As I write in my book 31 Days to a Happy Husband, domestic tranquility is important to your man.  He needs a peaceful haven to come home to.  A place where he is affirmed, loved, and cared for.  And a place where he can walk from the front door to the kitchen without stepping on a Lego or tripping over a tricycle.

What have you done to make your home more adult friendly?  What would you like to do?


Arlene Pellicane

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  1. Walk into my house and you will instantly know that I have kids AND I homeschool. We live in a very small house, which means that each room must serve multiple functions. Are there toys in almost every room? Yes, because that is what works best in our situation. Do I want an “adult-friendly” home? Not at all. More than just adults live here. Our children that we love and cherish very much share this home with us. They are part of our family, so why should I stuff them and their things into a specified corner or room just to get a “generations past” look? All too soon my kids will leave home, and I will have that “adult-friendly” look. But in this short season, I’m loving my “child-friendly” style!

  2. Really good post! Thanks for reminding us of an important perspective. We forget that children are for us to raise into adults and that includes showing them how to live like adults. We can get fearful that if we act like we’re in charge, we’ll be too authoritarian. We need to remember that we are authorities. The trick is to lead well and in love. Thanks again.

  3. we have 5 kids, (#6 is on her way), plus 2 teenage exchange students in a small 3 bedroom house. There are toys covering our yard, the main floor of our home, their bedroom, and throughout the basement. I’m in the process of clearing the clutter and simplifying but every time I try to organize the mess so I can decide what stays/leaves, the small children re clutter all my hard work! I also work outside the home so time is very limited. It is frustrating to work so hard only to be where I started, sometimes worse off!

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