Baby Elma Family Kitty {the ordinary moments}

Chaos, utter chaos


It’s no great secret that babies come with more ‘stuff’ than you ever thought a teeny tiny 8lb person could possibly require.  I don’t have anything like minimalist tendencies (too many hobbies and a serious book-buying habit), but even we were surprised when the first overnight visit with a newborn Kitty required enough accompaniments to completely fill the boot of our car.

And those of us with toddlers know that whilst the bits and bobs themselves change, the volume most decidedly doesn’t.

Elma will happily sit in front of any bag, bucket or shelf within reach, systematically unpacking it, giving each little doodah a careful chew, and abandoning it in her wake, and between the play kitchen, the jigsaw puzzles and the Duplo, Kitty has more than enough small pieces of plastic with which to swamp the lounge.


Sometimes it’s overwhelming, usually shortly after I’ve trodden on yet another Duplo brick in bare feet, or stubbed my toe on a solid wood play cupcake.  I look across the floor and wonder when I’m going to find the time to get it all sorted and organised, whether I’ll be too submerged in domesticity to have time for the things that I find the most fun, and whether I will ever find the missing socks in all of this chaos.

But those moments are fleeting.

Elma has been doing her settling in sessions at nursery this last week and I distracted myself from the horribly empty house by decamping to the studio to sew up Kitty’s birthday dress.  Most of the time I could persuade myself that Elma was just upstairs having a nap, but when I walked back into the lounge and everything was still tidied away from the night before it sunk home how much I miss that mess when it’s gone.

Because it isn’t really mess; that’s the big picture, the adult view.  From Kitty and Elma’s level it’s a zoo, a picnic, a bear hunt, or in this case, Princess Ginger’s garden, with a bedroom and a turret for her, and a bedroom (with slide) for Ariel.  There’s a swing for Ginger, a gold chair for Ariel, and coming down the slide is the train driver who’s pulled up outside, ready to take them on a expedition to eat their sandwiches.


It’s their creativity, their imagination, all laid out in tiny pieces of plastic.

So although I’m still trying to figure out how on earth to organise it all so that the girls can get to their toys during the day but I can scoop them up easily at night (and if you’ve got any ideas that don’t involve Mary Poppins and a spoonful of sugar, let me know), for now I’ll be the one on the floor trying to find the missing piece to build the fire station.

Let chaos reign!

mummy daddy me


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  • mary 22/09/2013 at 8:24 am

    In our house the rule was that our room could be as chaotic as we liked, with imaginative play set up for weeks on end, AS LONG AS the beds were toy-free at bedtime and there were absolutely clear pathways maintained from door to bed and wardrobe. Not stepping stones of clear carpet patches – paths.

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 3:18 pm

      That sounds remarkably familiar from my childhood! We used to have a massive sheet of MDF that lived under the sofa and as long as all our Lego creations were low rise we could slide them in and out!

  • Anna-Marie 22/09/2013 at 9:55 am

    I love this post! Totally sums up parent life! My place is always in a chaotic mess. Some days I wish for an area of floor which I could actually see, or every time I took a step, I did not impale my left foot on some child’s toy. I know I would miss it if it was any different!

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 3:20 pm

      I think that’s the thing – this stage is so transient, I want to revel in it, I don’t wish it gone. And I’m quite fond of Duplo myself!

  • Jess @ Along Came Cherry 22/09/2013 at 12:18 pm

    We don’t have any Duplo but I feel exactly the same way about the hundreds of toys that are lying all over our house! I would love a play room but we don’t have one and as a result our living room is so full of toys but like you said I am sure I will feel sad when they no longer play with them, well maybe 😉 x

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 3:23 pm

      My mum kept all of our Lego, and my mother in law has an attic full of every best selling toy of the 80’s so I suspect they missed us playing with the as much as I’m sure I’ll miss the Duplo and the play kitchen.

      Oh and don’t let me put you off Duplo – it’s wonderful and I wouldn’t be without ours for the world, especially now it comes in pirate flavour!

  • mandycharlie 22/09/2013 at 12:42 pm

    We found a timer helped. So, you set a brightly coloured timer to three minutes (as they get used to it and older you can increase it to ten minutes) and when the timer was set we all had to tidy up like mad things for the three minutes. They were allowed to continue to play with one item if that was pushed to the side, but after supper, or before, at least once a day, there was tidy up time. It helped keep the huge amount of small items under control and resulted in less stubbed toes and crippled feet.

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 3:25 pm

      Hmm, we do have a timer on the play kitchen – or maybe a really bouncy piece of music would help. Thank you, I’ll have to give it a try when it comes to our pre-supper tidying.

  • rebecca 22/09/2013 at 3:43 pm

    oh my goodness im choking up now! we to are doing settling at nursery and i hadnt realised until i read this just how much the tidy carpet makes you miss them!! lovely written piece! makes you look at the “mess” in a whole new creative light!

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 4:58 pm

      Oh many many hugs then – I find the settling sessions so hard, every fibre of my being wants to run back in and scoop them up, even though Elma’s actually doing really really well.

  • Katie 22/09/2013 at 5:30 pm

    wow she’s got amazing duplo skills!!

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 6:23 pm

      I’d love to claim it was all her because of course she has super special snowflake Duplo genius but it’s a combined effort under madam’s direction!

  • Caroline 22/09/2013 at 7:01 pm

    I wrote a post a while ago about how the clutter around our house doesn’t bother me because it’s evidence of my beautiful family. Although somedays I wish I could hoover up every last piece of duplo and puzzle piece and start again….
    I find keeping the number of toys in use down helps me us keep some semblence of order. I put toys which are not played with in the attic and if the children ask I’ll bring them out but more often than not out of sight is out of mind.

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 8:10 pm

      I thought about doing that but as H and I are both very much out of sight out of mind people we’d forget they were there and I suspect they wouldn’t come out again! I do try to rotate what is in Kitty’s room and what is in the lounge. She has a little play nook for moments when I’m nursing Elma or it’s early in the morning and some of the neglected toys suddenly got played with when they went upstairs.

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 22/09/2013 at 7:31 pm

    Every nap time I put the toys away, when she wakes up she gets them all back out.
    Every evening I put the toys away, when she wakes up in the morning she gets them all back out.
    I don’t know why I do it but it makes me feel better somehow, I can’t sit and relax in chaos!
    Its even worse with two though isn’t it? We have play kitchens alongside jumperoos and bouncy chairs at the moment! x

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 8:12 pm

      I love the jumperoo and the play kitchen but they do both take up so much room! I tidy up at the end of each day but I try to leave things out during the day – I’m OK with the clutter most of the time but if it gets too bad the girls can’t focus on anything either and then we know it’s time to start popping things back in their bags and boxes!

  • Richmond Mummy 22/09/2013 at 8:18 pm

    Great post and one I was nodding my head along to! I am such a neat freak that it stresses me out on a daily basis to see the house descend into chaos during the waking hours and every night when the girls are in bed, I meticulously pack everything away into the playroom (yes, we are VERY lucky to have a room we can pack everything into!!) and the next day everything gets taken out again and strewn across the house, but I tidy the next evening all the same. I’m really conscious too though of letting them have their toys around her to stretch their imaginations and let them play how they want to without restriction. I just wish it didn’t stress me so much! But you’re right, I should relish these days that are so fleeting 😉 xx

    • Carie 22/09/2013 at 8:43 pm

      It’s a hard balance to strike I think, especially as we just have the lounge for all of us. I want to play without inhibition during the day but then I also want a nice relaxing space for the evening. Who knows, maybe I’ll figure it out right about the time they grow out of the toys!

  • grace 22/09/2013 at 11:31 pm

    great to see creative play but can I give you some advice you are training future adults and habits formed now last forever I let mine play play play with all the resulting mess but then I met a friend who taught her children to clean up right from toddler age. They thought it was a game and LOVED it (they even had a packing up song) there was one play area for long term games (lego cities etc) but everything else was packed up and put away BEFORE daddy came home so he had lots of space BECAUSE he played lions and tigers with them and rolling around on the now clean floor (big reward) then they ate bathed bed and the house was already clean for the parents and the next day. she did not clean up but helped them clean up these girls are now grown up and very creative people who have been taught how to keep material stuff in order while still creating She was an artist and two girls are designers one a dancer.

    • Carie 23/09/2013 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you – I wonder whether genetics play a part too? I’m not a naturally tidy cook for example so it will be interesting to see how Kitty and Elma approach the kitchen and whether it’s nature or nurture!

  • TalesofaTwinMum 23/09/2013 at 8:35 am

    I’m there with you – how can small people create so much mess involving so many little pieces of plastic! I swear one day our sofas will start to rise up because of the amount of lego/train track/cars that get lost underneath! One day, when we have a tidy house again, we’ll miss it, so I guess for now we need to enjoy it. x

    • Carie 23/09/2013 at 12:57 pm

      There are times when I begin to wonder whether I’ll ever see the carpet again – but they’re worth it!

  • suzanne3childrenandit 23/09/2013 at 11:55 am

    Great post and gorgeous pics. I think this quandary is a mother’s for life, no matter how old the children are. Replace the duplo bricks with hair bands, discarded bras and red hot straighteners and you will be entering my home! When my children were your age, I got a piece of furniture that I would not be without – a tall cabinet with large baskets for hiding lego, bricks and tea sets – tidy but easily accessible. Good luck 🙂

    • Carie 23/09/2013 at 12:57 pm

      Thank you – I had a feeling that might be the case!

  • Kellpops 23/09/2013 at 1:00 pm

    We have a tonne of canvas drawstring bags that i bag the sets up in and then bung them into the toy box at the end of the day, before they all come out the following morning. All the duplo goes in one bag, the balls in another, the books all go in a box.
    Every so often i sort the entire toy box out, removing all the raisins that have strayed into there and putting some toys away and getting out old/new toys that we keep on a rotation. That way at the end of the day the front room becomes my space again.

    • Carie 23/09/2013 at 1:04 pm

      That’s such a good idea! Saves having lots of different boxes and buckets for each different sort of toy too, which is our current set up. Thank you, I may have to pinch this!

  • 3yearsandhome 25/09/2013 at 2:20 pm

    Beautiful photos. My son has a huge box of Lego which he tips up in the middle of the living room and then gets lost for hours making weird and wonderful things. He’s not overly interested in craft and the like, but building keeps him occupied for ages.

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 10:12 pm

      I know I always loved building duplo and lego as a child so it’s sweet to see it all over again – although Elma’s just chewing it at the moment!