The Daily Dump

My kids have started doing something that I have affectionately named the “Daily Dump.”

No matter what I say to them when I pick them up from school, no matter how much I think I am prepared for them to come home, we all walk into our house and they dump everything all over the family room floor. Then all heck breaks loose.

Coats, backpacks, library books, classmate birthday party treats, homework papers, lunch pails, you name it.

Don’t believe me? Stop by my house between 3:40 and 5 on any given school day. You will witness the mess. I bet I could offer them $100 if they would gently put things away when they get home and they wouldn’t take it. They’d rather dump it. All. Over.

So I’m trying to brainstorm ways to tackle the after-school chaos. I’ve started preparing a lot of our dinners at lunchtime (you can read about that here.) And I’ve tried picking up and getting everything nice and settled before they arrive. (However that has proven to make things worse for me. I seem to get more frustrated when they mess up a clean house than when they mess up a dirty one.)

I’m wondering if I should stand blocking the living room entry wearing football pads and a hockey mask. Maybe that would stop them.

I always daydream about them coming in quietly, hanging their backpacks on their assigned hooks, opening them gently and getting out their schoolwork, notes and homework.

In my dreams they leave their shoes in the basket by the door and place their coats on their bedposts. Then we sit down together and I help them finish their homework quickly without argument before I whip up a delicious after-school snack for all of us to share.

If only.

Realistically it’s more of a cry fest circus around here. My two-year-old needs me to hold him, the baby’s hungry and the oldest two toss all of their crap onto the floor before searching the house for our iPad or Kindle (which they aren’t supposed to play until their homework and reading is done.)

I end up parked on the couch surrounded by mess while I nurse the baby, cuddle to the toddler and shout at the older two to put down the electronics and get busy on their homework. As for a snack? On a good day I offer them a cheese stick or yogurt. But many times I forget it all together.

What can I do to make this all go more smoothly? How can I teach them to come home and put stuff away instead of dumping it in the living room?

I know a clean house isn’t the most important thing in the world, but I feel like at 6 and 8 years old, they are old enough to help keep up after themselves. They have gotten into a habit of tossing everything down when they step inside – a habit that I am anxious to break.

But, how? I am open to suggestions. What do you do when your kids get home from school? Do you have a routine? Is it crazy at your place too? How can I fix this?

The daily dump has got to end.

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