Play and tidiness can coexist

Wednesday July 1 2020

Left, is foosball (also known as table

Left, is foosball (also known as table football) set for children. Let the children have a few play items at a time so that they can have room to use their imagination . Photo by Alex Esagala 

By Joan Salmon

It seems like children and a mess are synonymous, more so from the time they start crawling. While you may want to keep your house in a neat and tidy state, as they play, among other things, you cannot stop the storm of a mess they will create. That said, while many say having children in the face of a messy house is a blessing, you do not have to let it go to the dogs. Here are ways to let mess and tidiness co-exist in your home.

Work with them
It is easy to feel like screaming at your crawling toddler when they start pulling things around after a lot of effort to return order to the house. However, Grace Driwaru, a teacher at Kiira Day Springs Daycare and Nursery, says there is need to let children be children lest you raise people that resist or detest you. “So let them throw or scatter the toys, but at the end of the day, do the cleaning together. That could be you handing toys to them as they put them in the basket. At the end of it all, you have all had what you want,” she says.

That said, Driwaru says while you need to have a clean house, desist from the temptation of cleaning after your child. “However, there are exceptions, for example when your child is very young. But even then, ensure that the child is doing something with you rather than you doing all the work.”

Put the ornaments away
The albums, candles, photo frames and several other decorative items are so alluring that toddlers will want to reach out to them, even out of play time. ”While they may avoid them today, after that stern warning, by tomorrow, they will have forgotten the promise never to touch your cute little things. The solution would be to put them at a height higher than their reach,” Greta Kyomuhendo, a parent shares.

The less, the better
In as much as you want to give your toddler all you can to play with, you may want to reconsider it in the name of reducing clutter. ”Even when there are several toys, give them just a couple of them at a time and only get more when these are old. More to that, allow them to use more of their imagination rather than toys.”

Driwaru adds that the saying of less is better also goes for the rest of the house such as in the kitchen, bathroom, and living room, seeing that these are areas they usually access.
”That way, you can allow for some empty space for their play while having less clutter hence less stress.”


Designate a play area
It will help to set aside a space or corner where your children can play from. ”That way, the mess will be contained in one space thus easier cleaning. More to that, it will also keep them from playing from other places such as the kitchen where they may end up playing with dangerous objects or breaking porcelain,” Driwaru shares.

Organise the toys
Devoid of a collection center, toys will always be strewn in places that you desire not. Therefore, getting a place to keep the toys will mean more order. ”The children will also know that once playtime is over, they need to return the toys to where they got them from,” Driwaru mentions.

It will also be great if you can go an extra mile and have the toys organised in baskets or cabinets so that when the children are looking for a particular toy, they do not make a mess. She adds that labelling the toy collection points to show the children where each toy goes is a cherry on the cake. ”Depending on the age of the children, find the appropriate labels to help in identification.”

Get vinyl table covers
If your children are into painting or desire to engage in it, then you may want to get them vinyl table covers for the surfaces that they work on. ”That way, the mess that comes with paint spillage and the like will be avoided as all they have to do is wipe. That is because vinyl, unlike carpets or floors are easy to clean,” Kyomuhendo shares.

She adds that it will also be important to teach the children the need to wash their hands after working and that it is not neat to write or draw on walls. “That is not forgetting to supervise them to ensure they do not eat or drink these materials.”

Create a routine
Structure is one thing that children thrive on, and even in keeping the mess out of the house, it is needed. Stella Nakirija, a parent, says this comes in way of a routine where they know where things go. ”For example, a designated place for toys, and toys must be removed before they sit for meals. Such will make it easy for the children to clean after themselves on a daily basis with less hustle.”
Also part of the routine could be telling them a couple of minutes early that clean-up time is about to begin.
"That gives them time to wind up their play and also deals with any resistance you would have faced were you to simply tell them to start cleaning up owing to unfinished business,” she adds.

Make the exercise interesting
While you need to house clean and tidy, Kyomuhendo says the children just want to play. “In order to get them cleaning, even when they are really young, you need to find a way to make it interesting rather than another chore,” she shares. Her suggestion is that you make it an extension of their playtime by say, singing a song about cleaning. It does not matter whether you know one or make it up, as long as it is fun, they will jump on board.

Provide a checklist
It is one thing to want a clean house and it is another for the children to know what constitutes a clean house. ”They need to understand your version of a clean house and that is where a checklist comes in. For example, while they may think that a clean house is toys out of the way, hence pile them in a corner, you may need them put in their respective baskets,” Nakirija says. She adds that the checklist helps with this and the children will gladly follow it as structure helps them a lot.

Reward the children
While many may think that cleaning a house is part of home chores hence no need to reward a child, Sandra Twinomujuni, a parent, says this reward comes in handy as you inculcate the habit into the child. “A reward may be as small as a hi-5 after cleaning up or ‘well done’. That alone is enough to make the child know that when they tidy up, it makes mother or father happy thus do it continually.”

Be realistic
When all is said and done, Twinomujuni says you need to remember that with children, a pristine house may not be a regular occurrence. “That is because small children, particularly, are not predictable and you cannot dwell on cleaning when there are some more important issues to see to such as preparing meals,” she says. Cut yourself some slack and know that on some days, the toys will be on the floor or one will be forgotten behind the couch.

Cleaning vinyl covers

Tip 1: Use mild soap and water, not bleach! Using bleach-based products will dry out the plastic/vinyl.
Tip 2: Use non-abrasive cleaners.
Tip 3: For those of you serving delicious ribs, burgers, fries, and other greasy foods, use a solvent-type cleaner. Simply put some on a soft cloth, and wipe over your table surfaces. Dry it with another cloth, and rinse with clean water, and dry.
Tip 4: If your children write on the heavy-duty table cover, and you have a pen mark, apply some nail polish remover right away. Just six (6!) rubs will remove the mark.