If your children are anything like mine they’ll come home from school covered in all sorts of dirt and who knows what else.
I try to send them off to school looking pretty presentable, with clean uniforms and nicely brushed hair.
But by the end of the day they look so dishevelled, with various stains on their tops and fabulously muddy knees. Then I let them play in the yard and around the trees after school and they get even more filthy. I might complain a bit about it, especially when it’s Monday and their nice clean uniforms are covered in dirt, but really I love seeing them so dirty at the end of the school day.
I know for a lot of people though the mess and dirt is quite stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. There are a few things you can do to feel less stressed about the state your children seem to so easily get themselves and their clothes into.
Know that dirt is good
The idea of your children getting dirty and messy is stressful for quite a lot parents. But we need to change our thinking about this.
Dirt isn’t necessarily dirty.
And playing in the mud and the dirt can actually be really good for boosting our children’s immune systems. So letting them get mucky can help keep them healthier than if we keep them pristine and completely germ-free.
It’s not just mud either.
Children come home from school with paint and pen and all sorts of other things on their clothes. Nerys often comes home with toothpaste down her cardigan! The thing to do is make this a positive thing.
A mucky child is a child who has got stuck in, who has been learning, getting hands-on experience about the world around them.
Spare clothes that is.
You don’t want to spend your whole week washing dirty school clothes every day to make sure the children have something clean to wear the next day.
So it’s worth buying a few extra tops and trousers/dresses so you only need to wash things once or twice in the week. We buy most of our uniform from the supermarket so it’s really quite cheap, which means we actually have enough polo shirts for the children to wear a fresh one every day. They also each have 3 jumpers/cardigans each I think, and the same for trousers/dresses.
My children both go to school with a change of clothes in their bag.
It’s a habit from when they first both started school and there was a slight risk of toilet-related accidents, but I’m glad I’ve carried on doing it.
More than once Rhys has got so muddy during the school day that he’s had to change his clothes. And this way he didn’t have to wear random bits from the lost property box and I didn’t have to then remember to wash and return any random clothes to school!
Stock up on washing powder and stain remover
You won’t feel so stressed about the children’s clothes getting filthy if you know you have the products at home to tackle the stains.
We were sent some ACE stain remover and ACE for colours and they’ve both been brilliant at dealing with the various marks and stains that Rhys and Nerys get on their clothes.
For most stains the best thing to do is treat them as soon as you can, on both sides of the fabric, with the stain remover and then add a capful of the other liquid to the wash. The ACE stain remover has been developed to deal with germs, grease and stubborn stains, while ACE for colours cleans while keeping colours bright.
Teach good habits
While exposing our children to dirt and some germs is good for them, it’s also important to teach them good hygiene habits.
In the winter especially there are so many bugs about at school, children need to be taught to wash their hands properly. A good tip is to get them to quietly sing happy birthday to themselves twice while washing their hands, to make sure they do it for long enough and thoroughly enough.
If one of the reasons you don’t like your children getting dirty is because you worry about germs, then you’ll be able to relax a bit knowing they know how to wash their hands properly while they’re away from you at school.
I always try to get the children’s things ready for school the night before, so there are no surprises or big panics in the morning.
When your children come home from school and take their uniforms off give them a quick check over.
If they’re absolutely filthy then put them in the laundry basket, or better yet give them a spray with stain remover and get them straight in the wash. If there are just a few little marks on them you can spot clean and leave them to dry ready for the morning.
If you need clean items for the next day then get them out and ready to put on, along with underwear, so there’s no rummaging through drawers in the morning.
In the winter as well it’s worth checking school shoes when you get in, wiping off any mud and putting newspaper inside if they’re soaking wet.
Hopefully these tips will help take some of the stress out of the mess involved in raising children.
I do think though that the best thing we can do is just embrace that mess. Accept that dirt and muck and mess is part of this stage of life, and see it as a positive thing.
It’s a sign of children being creative, active, and bold.
It’s a result of children getting stuck in, getting actively involved at school and learning so much about the world around them.
And it’ll all come out in the wash anyway!
This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper http://www.acecleanuk.co.uk/ or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.