There are two basic approaches to tidying up after a toddler or small child. The first one involves the ‘clearing up as we go’ technique. This means you spend most of your waking hours putting small plastic figures back into tubs, play-do back into pots, blocks back into containers, books back onto shelves, raisins back into boxes, packets back into cupboards, puzzles back into their holes, teddies back in the cot or bed… you get the general idea. The words ‘Forth Bridge’ and ‘painting the’ spring to mind. This technique also means your back is constantly stooped from bending over, making you look like a kind of female Hunchback of Notre Dame. It also means that your toddler will probably wind up chucking extra stuff onto the floor just because he or she gets a kick out of having the power to make you crawl around on all fours to look under the sofa for that last missing piece of Lego.

The other approach is tidying up at the end of the day (or possibly week). If you don’t mind living in general squalour, and inhabiting a home that has the ambience of a recently burgled charity shop then this is the technique for you. Rather than spending the entire day tidying up, instead you can have a marathon session at the end of the day – always something to look forward to. (There is a theoretical third technique of course – not tidying up at all. I haven’t tried that one yet, though sometimes after a particularly trying day of tantrums I am sorely tempted.)

Of course, while your child is still small enough to be fooled by such things, you can at least turn tidying up into a game – ‘that’s lovely tidying up, Joshua, you put those books back on the shelf/wine bottles back in the wine rack really well!’. I don’t think the appeal of this game lasts until they are teenagers unfortunately. Also there’s nothing worse than tidying up after someone else’s really bad tidying up (putting the knives in the spoons drawer, or stacking the dishwasher really badly).

Either way, whatever you do, tidying up now takes up a major part of your life in a way that you previously only dreamed of. (As does living with a load of mess at every turn.) Still at least you can listen to Radio 4 while you do it.

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