Tag Archives: mess

How to tidy – in 13 steps

As a mum of three boys – oh, oops – two boys and one husband – all I seem to do is tidy up their mess.

Despite daily reminders, the clothes are always in a pile by the bath, the packaging is always on the counter, not in the bin and the toys… I mean I’m drowning in rainbow plastic.

If, like me, the summer holidays have meant more children and more mess for you, then hopefully this will help – how to tidy in 13 steps.

Step 1 – Open all the curtains and make all the beds. This way you can see what you’re doing and you have a flat surface in each room to pile shit on.

Step 2 – Empty all the bins. You’re going to need somewhere to put all the shit.

Step 3 – Do a laundry audit. Where are you in the process? (Yes, boys, laundry is a four stage process. Shoving some pants in the washing machine does NOT mean you’ve “done the washing”.) Take the dry stuff off the clothes horse/radiator/back of the chairs – or tumble dryer if you’ve thrown money at the problem – and chuck it all on the biggest bed you made, then work backwards. Hang up wet stuff, throw in a new load of dirty clothes – cos let’s face it, that laundry basket is never empty.

Step 4 – Clear the draining board and empty the dishwasher. Now you have somewhere to put the dirty stuff.

Step 5 – Gather all the dirty stuff – the glasses from the bedsides, the cups from the tables, the random spoons from the floors/garden/toybox and dump them in rough size order near the sink/dishwasher.

Step 6 – Do a sweep of downstairs and pile all the stuff that should be on the floor above, on the stairs.

Step 7 – Tackle the living room. Tidy it, plump the cushions etc and then, if there are no little people around (hurray!) light a scented candle. This will be your sanctuary while you tackle the rest of this dull-as-shit process.

Step 8 – Tidy the rest of downstairs but not the kitchen. If you have a downstairs loo, clean it. Take a quick run upstairs with that pile you made and dump it on another bed.

NOW STOP. Sit in your sanctuary with a cup of tea – or something stronger – and decide how arsed you can be with the rest of the house. Technically, you’ve done the most important bits. This is all that visitors will see – unless you have one of those fabulous open plan kitchen living diners – in which case karma has got you and you’ll need to tackle that kitchen before you call it a day.

Step 9 – The kitchen – take a box or nice paper gift bag with you for all the paperwork I know you’ll find there. Start in one corner and work in a circle, putting stuff in cupboards or toys on the stairs or dirty stuff in the sink. If in doubt, bin it.  Put the dishwasher on or wash the stuff by hand. Dump the bag or box of paperwork in a drawer, at least it’s all together, you can handle that later. Clean the surfaces then open a window.

Step 10 –  The bathroom. Do a towel audit, fold the clean ones and get your marigolds on for some scrubbing. I insist on the rubber gloves – your hands will always give away your age and your nails will thank you for them too.STOP AGAIN. You’ve done very well. You can totally delegate the last bit – except we both know it won’t get done, or will get done in a haphazard, substandard way, which you will pay for when you try to dress your children the next day… So take a deep breath, you’re almost done.

Step 11 – The bedrooms. Start with those clothes and stuff you dumped on the bed earlier. Once they’ve all been put away, tidy the rest and clean the surfaces. (I don’t believe in ironing piles – I iron as little as I can get away with, approx five minutes before I wear it.)

Step 12 – Get the Hoover out. Except no one has a hoover any more do they? Get the Dyson or whatever and sook up all the shit on the carpets.

Step 13 – Fill your sink or bucket with the pink Flash (smells so good) and mop. You may have a smug smile on your face at this time, for mopping means you’ve made it.

Step back and admire your tidy, sweet smelling haven, with toys relegated to boxes and cupboards, clothes hanging and cutlery sparkling. Savour it, for in no time at all you’ll be back in your pigsty. If anyone knows how to train small boys (and a big one) how to tidy up after themselves please God tell me how.

 

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Filed under Edinburgh, home

It’s like living with chimps…

It was while I was fitting a Houdini clip to KD’s carseat that the Wee Man escaped.

The neighbour rang the doorbell and returned my free-spirited six year old – not for the first time.

“Your side gate is open,” she explained, smiling sympathetically.

“How did he…” I trailed off, laughing because I was embarrassed, torn between admiration for the Wee Man’s skills and sheer exasperation.

He had pulled over his bike, climbed up on it and pulled back the latch.

I am beginning to resign myself to the fact I have two sons.

It’s taken me six years, but three smashed tellies, four indelibly marked walls and a stained carpet later I’m losing my fight for domestic bliss. I can no longer afford to replace expensive things in the vain hope that destruction was a one-off accident. I’m getting fed up cleaning for hours only for mud to be traipsed through the house, juice to be dropped and Hula Hoops to be joyously stamped on the minute they come home from school and nursery. I’ve tried for years to discipline them, ration them, deprive them, ban them – my house still gets trashed.

Don’t misunderstand, I am no pushover. We have a zero tolerance policy on bad behaviour, a zealously-enforced naughty step procedure and a highly effective cold shoulder when all the low-level naughtiness mounts and I silently lose my shit. I say silently because I have found, over the years, that shouting at them only escalates a bad situation. It makes them cry louder, slam more and generally prolongs the hell.

I’m adjusting. Places like the playroom get a cursory tidy and a weekly hoover. Rooms like my bedroom get a lock. The kitchen is a constant sweep-wipe-mop cycle and the bathrooms get a daily spray and wipe due to two little toilet-trained willies now misfiring. Nothing gets left lying that has the potential to cause mischief (knives, pens, expensive digital equipment) and any work bags get dropped in the dining room, not the hall, as it too has a lock. The garden, much as I would love to landscape it, is their domain. They can drop gravel on the grass, stamp PlayDoh into the patio and pull out the remains of the daffodils to their hearts’ content. Why? Because they’re outside, happy and exploring in a safe environment – thanks to our expensive but effective new fence – and that means a few minutes of peace for me.

The gap between the slats is exactly half the width of KD’s leg

One day I will live in a house with white sofas, plush carpets and a ladies-only bathroom full of expensive products that no one will squirt down the toilet. But until that day, I shall muddle along in my noisy, vibrant semi-detached – which may not stand up to Instagram standards, but which is full of laughter and love.

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Filed under Edinburgh, home

Self-help

Mum bought me a self-help book for Christmas. We all got one. I think she worries I worry too much (wonder where I get that from?) I’m not normally into that kind of stuff but I don’t have a book on the go right now so I’ve put it on my bedside table and I dip in and out. It’s well written, the tone is light and it’s not patronising. In fact, it’s quite funny in places and it’s written by a Brit, so it’s not too schmaltzy.

Last night I got quite engrossed in the chapter about how we all live in a prison we build for ourselves – Cell Block A is self-doubt, Cell Block B is fear and so on. I was surprised to discover that one of the ‘cell blocks’ was seriousness. Hmmm. I didn’t know that was something to avoid. It’s definitely something I’m guilty of though. Apparently we’re being slowly squashed by the weight of public health messages and government advice; eat well, exercise, work hard, recycle, be a good neighbour, save money… The result is that we care too much about too many things.

That’s why you’re working too hard to keep the whole show on the road; that’s why you’re stressing so much about bits of the show breaking down.

You know when you read something that just strikes a chord? I put the book down and repeated this to myself. I am so stressed about bits of the show breaking down. Yesterday I had to ask mum to keep the wee man overnight so I could work right through til bedtime. There just aren’t enough hours in my day to run my business, keep on top of the housework and look after a toddler. I mean, how do single parents do it?! Thank God Rod’s back tonight and we have a day off tomorrow. I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax unless I had my two big projects completed and I knew my pride wouldn’t allow my husband to come back to a messy, dirty house.

Yes, I am my own jailer.

The book’s solution to this state of affairs? It’s very simple and very effective. It’s the title of the book. F**k it.

Isn’t that brilliant? I’ve said it out loud a few times today and it’s made me smile. I need to care less about things that don’t matter that much. So it’s taken me half a day instead of half a minute to reply to an email. F**k it. So my hair is a bit flat and there’s a photographer coming because I’ve agreed to contribute to a feature last minute. Dry shampoo. F**k it. So the wee man’s not eating his fruit and I have to give him another yogurt. F**k it. He’ll survive. So the move in date on our Aberdeen pad has been put back ten days. It’s a pain in my ass but f**k it, we’ll go up anyway and stay in the serviced apartments for a while.

It’s so liberating – try it!

So the house is a mess... F**k it, he's having a blast!

So the house is a mess… F**k it, he’s having a blast!

So he's trying to drink beer... Actually, wait, is there really beer in there?

So he’s trying to drink beer… Actually, wait, is there really beer in there?

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