Clearly Christmas: Coping with Chaos at Home…

This is one of those times of year when things seem to totally spiral out of control and when we seem to overburden ourselves with extra tasks and extra commitments and extra … well extra stuff!

So here are Se7en scenarios and solutions:

  • Summer Holiday House Maintenance or the lack of it!: Get up and straight after breakfast get the bare minimum of chores done, dishes out of sight in the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen, scrub the bathroom and then forget about it… If you don’t get to it then forget it, catch up the next morning – but the more often you do it the easier it is. Once a week I do an intense whizz round the house mop and dust, but daily just quick maintenance. Remember when guests just pop by they should expect chaos – so if you have managed the chores you are already totally ahead of the pack!
  • Drop in Visitors: – We have a lot of these… lots of people visit Fish Hoek at this time of year, it is a popular beach and we live just there… so heaps of people drop in for a visit. This is hideous if caught off guard (trust me the bathroom alone can be pretty terrifying!!!)… Really try and get those morning maintenance chores done, it can solve a lot of unexpected anguish… As for the bathroom just imagine what the sink looks like after se7en have cleaned their teeth in it – yes I am grateful that those little teeth are clean. Here is a quick fix: Hang an old towel over the clean bath towels… thats the mess towel and you won’t be surprised by your bath towels being smeared from top to bottom with toothpaste faces or worse muddy wet hand wipes… and you want have to do a load of bath towels every day.
  • Planned Guests: You need a slightly different plan of attack here, things need to be tidy but not necessarily scrubbed. If you are having fifty people over – then especially – don’t scrub. There is no point in scrubbing everything from top to bottom. If you are having a bazzilion people roaming your house eating then it just isn’t worth cleaning it beyond the low maintenance plan. Trust me on this… No-one notices the dirt and only the first guest will notice if its not spotless the rest will be socially engaged on arrival! Once your fifty friends leave, well that is the time to scrub, before the dirt sets in!
  • Spontaneous Outings: Friends we haven’t seen for years can call us: “We are at the beach and do you guys want to join us?” “Yes we do!!!” But we don’t want to take an hour packing up and getting ready. We keep all the swimming things in one spot, all the beach toys in one spot. My nappy/diaper bag is always packed at the door – if I happen to use a nappy while I am out I replace it when I get home so it is ready for the next outing. Literally it is grab your bag and go time.
  • Extra errands: Somehow everything is due. The car license queue and trips to the post office can ruin a perfectly good day. The trick is to line your errands up early and get them done… Just get up and go, don’t stop for breakfast just go… I take something to eat in the car, rolls or little yogurts… anything the kids would call breakfast… so that you can be as close to first in the queue and just keep it going. If I have a heap of errands I try to alternate the good and the bad. Try to schedule in a place to chill and run about. If you have to go into a store make sure that the kids know what you are after, it resolves a lot of issues if you can remind them why you are there. If you are going into a toy store to buy a gift for their best friend then there really isn’t any point in asking for anything else. Keep it light and stay focused, tell your kids they are doing a great job getting through all the tasks and make sure you have a fabulous reward lined up for the last errand, even if it is a five minute romp in the park.
  • Quick Catering: For drop in catering my quick solution is ice-lollies and I especially stock up on them – literally pack a shelf in the freezer for the summer! I buy the cheapest ones form the local factory shop and they are a cold snack in the heat of summer – perfect. Then if you bump into old friends you can say, “Come over for an ice-lolly.” You don’t have to invite people round for banquets!!! Otherwise I have a stock of cookie dough rolls in the freezer. From the freezer to the table takes about ten minutes – just long enough to get everyone a coffee. Take the roll from the freezer, cut it into cookies and bake at 180 degrees Celcius for about ten minutes and you are done.
  • Overtired Grumpiness A string of late nights can lead to the wheels quite literally falling off. My kids generally won’t take naps, but if there have been a series of late nights (that easily happens on hot summer nights…) then I lead by example and collapse on the bed, in the lull after lunch. I grab a pile of books and no-one may move off the bed until I do. Very often one or two little hoods will simply pass out and we are all better off for it!

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