Monday, 29 April 2013

U is for........................Untidiness


                     Children make mess. It is a fact! But do not sweat it, embrace it!!

Our house on a daily basis is a mess. Toys, crayons, paper etc everywhere. Not to mention the mess made by us parents which I don't always get around to putting away where I am so busy with my messy 2 year old! We do have several "tidy up" times throughout the day to encourage her to put things away when she is finished, but I am only really strict about it at the end of the day before bed (even then I am often tidying up after her once she is asleep!!)

The thing is, it is very easy to get wound up about mess. Many settings often tidy up the children's toys before a prospective parent comes to visit, but to me, this is pointless! As a parent, I don't want to see immaculate floors in a play room, I like to see that the children have been having fun and enjoying themselves with the equipment on offer. The same could be said in my house. I love to see that our daughter enjoys the toys she has to play with, and it also gives me a sense of what she loves to play with most and what she perhaps has grown out of, or finds hard to access.

I have spoken to some Mums who like to keep their homes immaculate and allow their children to play around their housework times. I prefer things the other way around. I try not to sweat about the fact I haven't hoovered the carpets because instead I have been playing with my daughter. It is a thing which is "each to their own" and no way is right or wrong. I am also not saying I like my daughter to live in a pigsty! As I mentioned, she is taught to tidy up and she actually enjoys helping me clean the floors by sweeping and pretending to clean the windows too.

David Deutsch, a theoretical physicist suggests that Untidiness is a form of creativity and says :

"Tidiness is a thing which is foisted upon children, and it results in all sorts of unpleasant things for them like boredom and having their privacy invaded, and so they get nervous and uptight about their personal space, and sometimes this translates itself into hang-ups about tidiness which they then pass on to their children."

It is an interesting point. I recall in several settings where I have worked, children being most upset about having to "tidy up" when they have made a model or something they have been working on for a long time. At one setting, we go around this by having a special table where children could put something they were working on or were particularly proud of, and come back to it later. This worked very well, as we taught the children that they were not to touch the objects on that table unless the item was theirs. It also meant that the children knew they could come back and finish something and it wouldn't be destroyed by tidying up.

I tend to believe that there can be a happy medium. Children need to have the space to feel creative and make mess, but I think they also need to understand the reasons why it is good to be tidy too. Teaching them that people can trip over toys for example, or that food needs to go in the bin because it can go bad and make you ill.....things like this I feel should be taught.

From what I have read on Parenting websites, half the battle comes within the tidying up! There are many different ways to encourage this. Making it a game, for example, or having a piece of music on which the children have to try and put all the toys away before it finishes (many nursery nurses know the Boogie Mites "tidy up tango" off by heart! Some parents like to use reward systems with tidying up too, there are many things which can help. As long as the child has some understanding as to why they have to tidy up (depending on their ages), and if they are working on something, it is placed somewhere safe to come back to the next day, It can work!

It is funny though, I still find myself apologising to visitors about the mess in my house!!

What do you think??

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