If you find yourself constantly struggling to keep on top of the housework, then perhaps it’s time to simply let go. Follow this guide written by a stay-at-home dad, and you will be well on your way to creating a chaotic and messy house that will be the envy of all your friends (kids).
1 | Look at your team.
Assess everyone’s role and then understand that you are not the boss. Your child is the boss. You will be answerable to them during working hours and then they will report your performance to the boss of bosses when he or she arrives home from work. Do not let this worry you. By relinquishing the need for total control you are allowing yourself to relax a little. When rules are relaxed the possibilities for creative mess-making increase exponentially.
2 | Don’t think that this will be an easy ride.
To create a truly chaotic and messy living space takes effort. You will need to ensure that your kids are okay with what is about to happen and that they are fully on board. Tip: If you can get your partner to sign up to the experience then you will have a much easier time doing your work. However, in the more than likely event that your partner is not going to be as committed to this as you are, it may be best to keep your plans to just you and your team at this stage. Your partner will find out soon enough.
3 | Prepare mentally for the reaction of your other half when they first witness the chaos that has been unleashed on the household.
Tip: Phrases such as, “I know it’s messy darling, but the kids are having so much fun,” and “What would you rather, I spend all day cleaning and tidying while (insert name) stares at a screen, or that the kids have a really happy memorable childhood?” can be stored for later use and brought out whenever there is a look of bewildered disappointment on your partner’s face.
4 | Embrace mess.
“Children are messy, I can be messy, mess is not all that bad.” Repeat this mantra and your acceptance will lead to less stress – until your partner arrives home, (refer to tips at end of point 3 if need be).
5 | Resist getting riled.
At times the mess may become too much even for your high mess-threshold to handle.When you have had enough or need a time-out, keep calm. Shouting leads to sore throats, and children who remember you shouting. Develop a stare instead. Try raising both eyebrows whilst lowering your chin and staring at your child. If you catch your reflection whilst doing this, there is a strong possibility that you may laugh. Laughter is good, it will help you to realize that things aren’t as bad as they might seem and it will allow you to continue on your quest. Save the shouting for wild daytime parties.
6 | Have wild daytime parties.
Shut the curtains, crank up the stereo, and put on the disco lights. There is no better time to practice your moves than when you are a looking after the kids. Parties with your children really help to trash the venue. Cushions can be thrown, settees moved aside, outfits can be worn, old outfits can be left on the floor. Make sure snacks are involved, and if you can get some, pull the strings on as many party poppers as you can.
Tip: Remember to get the kids involved. As tempting as it is to do this one alone, it never looks good when your partner walks in and catches you doing the Locomotion whilst wearing an animal tail and a tiara. Kids provide the perfect excuse. Teach them how to strut their stuff and they, too, will be able to one day embarrass themselves on the dance floor.
7 | Get the kids involved in making dinner.
There’s no better way to make a mess in the kitchen than allowing your children to handle ingredients such as flour, eggs, couscous, and milk. Yes, the end result may not be Michelin star restaurant quality, and in fact it may be pretty bad, but your kids will love creating their culinary masterpieces.
Make sure that your kids practice good hygiene and wash their hands before starting on this one, however washing hands afterwards is entirely optional. Tip: Whilst sampling anything that has been made, use the stare developed in stage 5 above but nod your head and at the same time cover your mouth. With practice you will be able to use this to convey approval and simultaneously deposit chewed-up bits of food-like substances into your hand.
8 | Serve food in various locations throughout the house and allow your children to eat snacks that crumble whilst moving around.
Tip: Hide or disguise the trash can so that your children have the perfect excuse to discard wrappers and bits of leftover food wherever they like. If you take an artistic view and see your house as a collage that is made up of all the bits of stuff that aren’t where they are supposed to be, then you will be much happier and can be seen as positively encouraging creativity in your children.
9 | Invite your kid’s friends over to join in – the more the messier.
If you think your kids are messy, wait until you get more of them involved. You will truly experience mess on a whole new level. Other people’s children will love the carefully deconstructed environment that you have created. They will relish the chance to play without the conventional restraints normally placed upon their innate messy instincts.
Once they realize that you’re okay with them joining in, they will not only add to your mess, but also create a screaming, fast-moving, energetic form of chaos. Make sure, too, that junk food is the fuel of choice throughout the session, and your house will have never looked so rearranged.
Tip: If things are getting a bit too hectic and you need to restore some calm, then introduce a craft activity such as painting. If you have glitter available, now is a good time to get it out. On the other hand, if things are getting a bit too calm, then a good-natured water fight can really liven things up.
10 | If the house has become too messy and chaotic, move outside and get to work trashing the garden.
Things in the house will have a way of sorting themselves out eventually and tidiness will return, (or perhaps it’s your partner’s return that causes the tidiness to return. Who knows?). Regardless, the outdoors is always a great place to be. Whatever the weather, remember the wisdom of Alfred Wainwright: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Of course this assumes that you can find your clothing under the pile of washing that you have been meaning to get around to. Tip: To avoid creating a large pile of laundry, allow your children to just discard items of clothing all over the floor in the location that they are standing when they remove it. You will never have to look at another washing pile again as your laundry will now be nicely spread throughout the house.
11 | Apply the, ‘Don’t do today anything that can wait until tomorrow,’ rule to tidying up at the end of the night.
You’ve had a hard day. Of course it was fun, but you’ve put 100% of your time into ensuring that your kids grow up with happy memories. You make it seem effortless but it does require some effort. You need some time for yourself now.
Pick up the guitar, catch up on a box set, do something mind-numbing. Any tidying up can wait until tomorrow, unless of course you spend tomorrow creating as much chaos as today. Tip: The true pro gets the kids involved in the tidying, although results can vary. Expect random items placed in random places and furniture cleaned with paint applied by scouring sponges.
12 | Remind yourself regularly to enjoy your time.
This part of your life is a privilege and not just something to get on with. One day you will get back the tidy, uncluttered, clean house that you once had, and if you have served your time well, then you will really miss the chaotic mess that you and the team had so much fun creating.