Visitors to this cottage realize that lots of kids live here! We are also frequently visited by friends with lots of kids as well. Now having said that, I confess that we are not child centered. The kids do not rule the roost, everything is not about them! However, I have learned a few things about living with kids, and I have developed "rules" that allow me to stay sane, enjoy my children and be willing to share hospitality with others.
1. I do not try to have a magazine perfect home. It is simply impossible. Even when we are very diligent to pick up after ourselves, and often we are not diligent enough, there are bound to be little boy cars and girlie dollhouse people "sharing" our living spaces.
2. While I have a goal to have things tidy and in a state so as not to be embarrassed should company come by, I realize that 8 people live in this house. We are here nearly 24/7, because of home educating. This house gets used. I do not want to "harp" at my kids about every little thing. Life happens here.
3. Kids can be taught to keep their things picked up. I need to keep mentioning this to myself, because some days I wonder. My older girls are good at helping, but my new goal with everyone is to "see" something that needs to be done, and do it, even if "mom didn't tell me to."
4. I love to decorate! My style is cottage, country, romantic. This allows me to use found objects, which is good on my budget. These styles are kid friendly, which leads me to my next point.
5. Kids will inevitably spill, throw up, and draw on things. Including couches. Or a little kitty will forget the couch is not a litter box. (eewww) Trust me I know. This time in my life is not the time to get really expensive pieces of furniture. When we bought our first home we needed a couch. So we went out and bought a beautiful dark green couch. We were told the fabric was kid friendly, you can use a waterbased fabric cleaner etc...Then my daughter threw up on it. Believe me, while I got the mess out, the mark where it had been was always there. Then the cat used it to sharpen its claws...
6. Be willing to use furniture that is free. If you hate the fabric you can use slipcovers. I have one on the couch mentioned above. This thing is a tan color, gets very dirty and it all washes out in my washing machine. It is a very easy way to get the look you want without worrying about spending a lot of money. We were given a couch recently that is in perfect condition. Now it is not my favorite style, has a bit of wood and brass trim. But it was free, it is a neutral color and is comfortable. My kids all love this couch. I can live with it!
7. Allow your kids to have a say in their rooms. My girls couldn't decide on what color to paint their room. One older girl wanted blue, one wanted green. So they decided to compromise with a blue/green color. This took awhile but they both found a color they liked. It is a beautiful, fresh color. It looks wonderful with our white trim and their white furniture. I would never choose this color, but it is their space. They like it alot.
8. Develop a schedule for cleaning that works for your family. For example: a smaller family may not need to clean their bathrooms everyday, but we do. Both of our bathrooms get used alot. We clean them everyday, and we have to vacuum daily too. Also with our kitchen and living room open to each other it is important to keep them as clutter free as possible. Clutter makes me nervous.
9. It is important to sort through "stuff" several times a year. I find that the change of the seasons is a good time, because of sorting through seasonal clothing. My girls are collectors, and one is just a pack rat, but I make them go through their things and throw some stuff out, but some in storage or give away things.
Well, that is all for now. Enjoy your day!