I love it when the twins and I go to someone's house for a playdate and the toys are already strewn about. The kids love it, too. They dive right in and make themselves at home. The cheerfully trip over and step on the bounty, happy to explore and find new treasures.
Here's the problem, though: I cannot deal with Massive Toy Extravaganza at my own house.
Oh, sure, when we have people over to play, I let it go. Usually I'm drinking coffee or wine and eating something tasty while talking with other parents, and that makes it easier to turn a blind eye. But when it's just me and the twins, there are RULES.
1. Only one "messy" toy out at a time. If you want the Legoes out, you have to put away the puzzles. Want to cook in the play kitchen? Clean up the race cars first. You get the idea.
2. The toys have zones. There are playroom toys and kitchen toys and bedroom toys. With few exceptions, toys stay in their zones.
3. We pick up the entire playroom before leaving the house for any outing (daycare, visits with friends, a trip to the store . . . anything), before naps, and before bed. And do you even have to ask? OF COURSE there are very specific places for each item: a special bin for cars, one for all the play food, one for the balls, etc.
This is a big, big struggle for me. I know the twins actually love the freedom and fun of having everything out at once. They love it! But when I try to relax about it, I can feel my blood pressure rising. I just hate all that cluttered mess.
Take tonight as an example. We went to a friend's for dinner. We cleaned up before we headed over. We returned at bedtime, and the twins were already PJ-ed up, but needed a diaper change and some milk before being tucked in. While I was changing Maddie's diaper, Riley pulled out the ball drawer and balls went everywhere! Aaaa! I asked him to pick them up and he ignored me. Who can blame him? Playing with balls is WAY more fun than sitting in the middle of a pristine playroom while Mama changes Maddie. Rather than just letting it go, though, I ended up yelling at him for not listening to me and making him cry right before bed.
Clearly I need to get over myself. Tips? (Other than upping my number of therapy sessions . . . ) And what do others do about the cleaning up? At a playdate this weekend, the subject came up of whether or not we clean up as we go or just once at the end of the day. It was a mixed bag. More data points?