Starting a family brings inevitably more stuff into your house. Having children doesn’t have to mean a cluttered home but with busy schedules, quickly changing life-style and many things to take care of there’s a risk of waking up realizing your house that used to be in order is now in chaos.
I already wrote about baby essentials. Having a baby in the house is material wise actually quite easy, having a toddler or preschooler is much more challenging. In Finland children are encouraged to spend a lot of time outdoors. Weather conditions can be extreme so kids need weatherproof garments for different seasons. Before school age someone needs to be guiding them so parents need suitable weatherproof clothes for different seasons as well. Hello hallway storage problems!
Also, the smaller the kids the faster they grow. It means children don’t wear out their clothes. Clothes are still in good condition, they are just too small, so they need to be sorted and recycled or given away. If you have several kids with a small age difference you might want to save money and environment saving clothes for the next one. It means you have to store children’s clothes in different sizes and have a system to get unnecessary clothes out of your house.
Some practical advices that might help:
New technology/materials enable wearing the same garment during different seasons, just adding and decreasing layers under the garment. This is a good solution especially for adults and older children. Make sure every family member has a labeled space where to hang their outdoor clothes when back home (also a place for wet/dirty clothes).
Have an extra shelf in your closet for clothes waiting for being suitable size or given away. Store them for example in white basic cardboard boxes to make you closet look tidy and keep only items your children can use in the next few months. It doesn’t make sense to store clothes for years, give them to someone who can put them in good use.
Invest in basic, good quality everyday outfits and keep children’s wardrobes clear and small. Ten shirts and five pair of pants is already a lot even for a preschooler and school age children need even less. Have only one or two outfits for special occasions (like family events) and buy them as multifunctional as possible.
Remember that serene, neutral colors (white, grey, navy, denim) make both your closets and laundry room look tidy and fresh. Having said that, if your kids love colors and unique style please let them express themselves however they like. Them growing up being creative and having freedom to show their personality is more important than us adults having always a tidy environment with calm colors.
Continuing from that, let go of all your expectations. Idyllic pictures of mums baking perfect looking ginger-bread houses with their adorable kids in their beautiful tidy kitchens…That’s not going to happen, not in real life. The ginger-bread house will be a shed and after baking you will clean the mess for hours.
The first time this happened I was almost in tears but we ate the shed, I cleaned the mess and after that just let the kids enjoy learning. Now I have three teenagers doing all our Christmas baking. They love it and I love watching them, it’s the highlight of my Christmas. The final result is often different but even better than you expected.
Show your children example. Many kids enjoy structure and learn to keep their belongings in order, just make it easy for them labeling storage units and showing how to collect toys after playing.
Remember that most kids focus better when less toys around. Ask family and friends to give kids their time or experiences (like theater or sport tickets) instead of extra toys. Keep only good quality classic toys and rotate them putting them in two baskets keeping one for playing, one waiting in the closet.
Finally, create a few simple routines for your everyday life to keep it easy and smooth. I like to have clear morning and evening routines so the kids are always on time at school, eat a proper breakfast and get enough sleep every night (important at school-age). Also, I have a list of 3-5 mandatory household tasks and make sure I accomplish them every day, everything else is a bonus.