Living With Toddlers: A New Kind of Messy

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  May 1, 2014 — 2 Comments

Throughout my childhood, adolescence, and college years I was perpetually messy. My room was always cluttered, my car was piled high with trash, and most of my clothes spent more time in a pile on the floor than they did in my closet. Something happened when Nick and I moved in together–I felt like we were playing house and suddenly I was motivated to be tidy. I worked hard to drop my old habits and started putting forth a big effort to pick up after myself. After a few years it felt mostly effortless to be reasonably neat (though I still struggled with dusting and scrubbing and all those other little tasks that nobody likes to do). I was confident that having a child wouldn’t change that–how hard can it be to pick up after a tiny human?

When Jack was still not walking at 18 months lots of people told me to be thankful because he’d be so much harder to keep up with. I disagreed, seeing as he could crawl faster than most kids his age could walk. It’s not like he’ll take off running one day, I thought. And while I was right in that regard, what I failed to take into account was his new ability to pick things up and carry them places. Like this empty snack cup he brought from the kitchen to the office (on opposite ends of the house).

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I am absolutely exhausted by the task of picking up after him every day, so I just don’t. What’s the point? He’s just going to drag it all out again the next day (by the way, I picked up the night before these photos were taken, so the mess you see is what he created in less than a day). I never, ever thought I would say that! I figured I would just teach him to pick up the mess from one activity before moving on to the next, but A) he flits from one “activity” to the next like an oversized bird, and B) I ain’t got time for all that.

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Maybe as he gets older I’ll get better about teaching him to pick up after himself, but for now I’m choosing to accept that this season of my life is defined by chaos. It’s definitely been an adjustment to learn to be cool with stepping over books and toys strewn about, but it’s certainly not inconvenient enough to motivate me to spend my precious time picking up after he’s in bed for the night. Maybe this is why I love being in the kitchen so much lately–it’s the only space I have any control over! He can’t reach the counters and most of the cabinets are childproofed. But for the rest of the house, it’s┬álike that saying: cleaning the house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


2 responses to Living With Toddlers: A New Kind of Messy

  1. Definitely teach him when he gets older. It would probably be one of the first “chores” a child would understand. I don’t blame you for not picking up at this point in his life. I love the dog rolling in that first pic BTW.

  2. Bridget from Cali May 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Brilliant strategy. Wait it out. When my dear Sheltie was a going through puppyhood, I made a deal with him that he could leave his chew toys all over the house as long as he left my shoes alone. I gave him quite a few to keep him distracted from other temptations. It wasn’t fun to step on rawhide in the middle of the night when making a trip to the loo, but it worked. Eventually, I was able to reduce the number of toys and he was pretty good about removing them from high traffic areas. Good boy!

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