6 GREAT WAYS TO COPE WITH KIDDIE CHAOS

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“I’m not changing or childproofing my house for grandkids – no way”. I must have said that dozens of times when our first GOG Goddess came into our lives. Within weeks I put a wooden playpen around the fireplace. She and her parents initially lived with us for half the week and with the other grandparents the other half. So when they left for the second part of the week I would diligently pack away the playpen and other baby evidence. That was when I was still super house proud. Silly Grandy!  Grandkids will soon cure you of that obsession.

Then I started buying all manner of toys to go in “her ” playroom. Before we knew it our sun room housed a mini kitchen, princess tent, tiny table and chairs, dolls house and baskets of toys. The books on our bookshelf were put away to make way for children’s board games. Our kitchen cupboards were fitted with child proof locks (they never actually stopped the girls but often frustrated the hell out of me).One rubber duckie in the bath wouldn’t do so we have 30, plus an array of fish, bubbles and wands and of course bath crayons.

Next, I converted one of our bedrooms into a paradise for princesses, even going as far as to paint a height chart directly on the wall as the oldest GOG persisted in ripping their foam chart to pieces.

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HELP! MY HOUSE HAS BEEN TRASHED

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I soon realised that with my grand babies I was incapable of maintaining the “off limits” rules I had with my own children which meant dangerous things are put away and everything else (I have a LOT of ornaments) is fair game. The more mobile the Goddesses become the more mess they create. There have been many days when my house looked like a bomb had exploded, with barely an empty patch of floor space to step in. Sometimes on these days, I felt like crying because of the enormity of the chaos. Still, I did not want to be a nagging Grandy, forbidding them from touching the tempting treasures throughout the house or having clean up wars with them – not when they were so young at least. Then I learned a few simple tricks that have helped me cope.

  1. The Importance of the High Chair

This may well be my favourite of all the baby furniture available. Mine was bought second hand for just $20 but it’s worth more than its weight in gold.

All of the Goddesses have used it but the youngest, just a tiny two, is still in it for meals which is such a relief as I’m sure she thinks she’s creating Pro Hart style art with her food spills and smears. For most of the year, I try to keep meals on our outside deck but this becomes impossibly cold in winter, so keeping the food in one area is essential. Youngest GOG also uses the highchair when she really is being an artist and painting, glueing or drawing (especially with markers!).

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  1. Designated places

We have designated places for everything these days. There are baskets for the toys, a special makeup box just for them (so they won’t destroy mine) and their own pencil case and art bag. It makes putting their stuff away more enjoyable for them (to help avoid the clean-up wars) and easier for you (when you lose those battles). Clean up can even be turned into a game –“who can put all the cards in the box first”, can you throw all the bath ducks in the plastic boat”?

We also have designated eating places to limit the rooms where food is left festering until discovered weeks later. Yes, that has happened here.

3   Parks are Priceless

Getting out of the house is a major win. It tires the grandkids and the house doesn’t cop it so much. In the warm weather here our Goddesses love the backyard, complete with their own garden beds, their fairy garden and their activity shed. (I really did a superb reversal on that not changing my house for grandkids thing, didn’t I?). In winter it is super cold on that side of the house and I tend to avoid it as it’s hard to bring them inside where it’s warm. We do, however, walk to the park (the walking helps keep us warm) where we can usually find a patch of sun. Eating at the park is great too – no need for the high chair there.

  1. Planned Activities

When I first started having the kids over weekly I had no particular plans and left the days open to our whims. As they grew older it became clear that a few plans could save hours of work in the clean-up department later. These days I approach the whole thing much more like I did my business teaching arts and crafts to kids. The trick is to have lots of activities to keep them busy so you can be in control (well, as much as any adult ever is) of how much mess is created.

I have found it’s better to spend the time organising craft activities before they arrive and creating with them than to leave the littlies to their own devices for too long. It’s quicker and easier to set up and clean up from a painting session than to pick up the toys from a “I’m bored so I’m going to empty every single card, game and toy box onto the floor” session.

  1. Good Cleaning Products.

When all else fails you need excellent cleaning products.

My two favourite cleaning products at the moment are white vinegar (cannot be beaten for cleaning stains on carpet) and Magic Erasers which are truly magical in my mind. Those funny little bits of foam are amazing.

  1. Be Like Elsa and Let It Go

Mostly the biggest coping trick is to remember what’s really important in life. In the past when friends would pop over I’d be embarrassed by the tiny prints all over the glass doors or the cookie crumbs on the kitchen floor. It somehow felt like failure, to have such evidence of tiny tots everywhere. These days I consider them a badge of honour, a reminder of another lovely day spent messing around with my granddaughters.

Wishing you a messy – and gleeful, Tamuria