It seems that everywhere I turn, my children have destroyed something. There are stains on the carpet, gouges in the wall, dents in the furniture, pages torn out of books, toys littering the floor, and sticky fingerprints covering every single surface.

I'm not talking temporary messes that can be simply cleaned up given some determination. I'm talking holes in the doors that get repaired, only to be torn apart again for no conceivable reason. I'm talking a room that goes unlit at night because lamps are systematically smashed to bits within seven days time. I'm talking flooring that is curling and mouldering in the bathroom because little people regularly flood it without compunction. 

I like to think of myself as both artistically free-spirited and fastidiously organized, but neither trait is enough to save me from this current madness. The kids destroy things faster than I can fix them, yet aren't skilled enough to clean things to my satisfaction and help repair their own damage. I am simply not free-spirited enough to let it go, neither am I organized enough to keep things under control when I am so vastly outnumbered.  I won't lie: it's completely dispiriting.

It's not like we have such nice stuff. I'll never be featured in a magazine or blog for having amazing design prowess while raising children. We live in a modest house furnished with things purchased off Craigslist and from Ikea. But those things were chosen with care, and were a sacrifice to save for and buy. It's the nicest stuff I've ever lived with, and it's infuriating to see how it's all being treated.

Granted,  it's dead hot here and we've all got cabin fever, which probably magnifies my feelings beyond reasonable proportions; but still: I feel like I won't ever be able to own nice things and live in a clean space until my children are grown and gone. Which at the moment? Can not come soon enough. 

Am I doing this wrong? Have I just slacked off in teaching fundamental respect for property to my children? Am I expecting too much of them? Do I just need a very long vacation? Please help!


Rae said...

I.... can't express how grateful I am for your dose of reality today. It made me feel much better, as lately I've lived in constant fear that someone will drop by unannounced. Small children do this to us.

I've decided to work with my older kiddo on the plan in The Parenting Breakthrough, with stuff for each year. He's pretty receptive so far. The other one isn't two yet, but he likes to throw things in boxes when we make it a game. I don't know. No easy answers.

Lauren said...

Sadly, this is an problem I deal with all the time. We only have washable crayons and markers in the house, and that helps a little. We also don't eat anywhere but at the table, and that helps with preventing sticky fingers.

However, there are still plenty of marks on the walls, ceilings, and furniture from toys being dragged alongside them or thrown directly at them. We have little baby teeth marks in a lot of our wooden furniture and almost all of our plastic DVD covers. Books have been ripped to shreds, and even many board books didn't survive the beating my twins gave them.

My jewelry and shoes are constantly being broken or dinged up even though I take them away as soon as I see the kids with them. It's so sad! I wish I had the answers for you, but I don't think I do. I just wanted to let you know you're not alone. :)

The Dragonfly said...

I was raised in a home where we had places to play and plenty of romping occurred, but we were also taught to respect the home, furniture and especially certain areas of the house, like the living room where there was a curio cabinet and other finer items.

We've taught our children three basic rules that can pretty much apply to ANYTHING or SITUATION and I think work for the "destruction of property" occurances. The three rules are: Respect Yourself. Respect Others. Respect Property.

When our children have broken that third rule, and believe me, they have broken it, we hold them accountable. When my oldest decided to use his new pocket knife on a dresser I'd just refinished for his bedroom, he was the one who filled all the holes with wood putty, sanded it down and repainted it. When my daughter spilled orange paint on the basement carpet (after being told repeatedly no paint in the basement) she babysat to pay for the carpet cleaners to come.

The little guy is another story. But I've just learned to keep scissors, markers, pencils, pens, tools, etc. behind locked doors or in VERY HIGH places. When he does create a disaster, I always, always make him help clean it up.

Hope this helps.

hAha said...

Long vacation to Michigan is the answer:)

Crys said...

You stole my thoughts! The front of the drawers on my kids dressed are held on by tape because Tober has ripped them off too much! I feel you girl.

Karalee said...

I recently told a good friend that my home decorating criteria has completely changed with kids. I told her #1 virtually indestructible, with comfort as a priority, and pretty is just icing on the cake.
It is nice to know that it isn't just me. I do think age matters, a lot. Once your children grow older natural consequences like clean up and repair have to be more possible.
Thank you for this post today.

Creole Wisdom said...

I don't have children yet, but I know what it's like to feel frustrated. I'm sorry. That's challenging.

However, way to be awesome by keeping it real on your blog once again! I love how open you are :)

Shane said...

Simple remedy. Bonk'em on the head and send'em to bed.

k q said...

Oh jeez, i have a two year old with crayon only rights. I am scared for our future of markers! Thanks for sharing, we are all there with the messy house thing though.

Nicole said...

IF only there were some magical solution except a friend who would get a movie going in the car and regularly leave kids napping or watching inside to finish cleaning up, that's way too ocd for me! This last pregnancy was hard for me with hubby out of town 6 mos this year, our house literally fell apart and I was so glad I didnt' have many nice things as everything I thought of as "nice' is not anymore, and the toys were litterally coating the floors as our house was circular and made it all too easy to spread things around and around! I'm hoping to come up with some more solutions with this move and slight downsizing but in reality, four kids under the age of 6 equals major clean ups. SometimesI get so upset that I boycott but that never helps and I end up doing double duty cleaning to get back on top of things. It hasn't kept me from trying the method over and over. It is hard to not be able to feel comfortable with people randomly stopping by, but I try to not stress and realize a messy home can be a happy home:)? Well, I think we found an apartment in Chandler, if nothing else we can trade babysit and use the time to try and catch up!!!

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