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It Takes 10 Times Longer to Clean-up Than to Play

So many activities takes ten times longer to prepare and clean up than to play.

We spend ages preparing for an activity, whether it’s a craft, a game, or even a trip out. We research ideas, gather equipment, set it up and pack bags for trips out. It all takes time and effort.

Then, at the end of the activity, we clean everything up, scrub off any paint, glue or glitter that undoubtedly has gone astray. We often have to scrub the children too. We unpack bags, put things away. It takes a long time and a lot of energy.

Most of the time it is worth the effort. Seeing the children’s faces grinning, hearing them laugh, watching them learn is priceless and worth every ounce of energy.

However, occasionally it seems the amount of effort far outweighs the play time and fun. Some activities turn out to be a bit of a disaster, a major effort to organise and clean up, only for the children to hate it or spend just a few minutes on it.

Child in paddling pool

The paddling pool is often an example of this. Last weekend the children begged us to get the paddling pool out. It was a hot day, even though it was May, we warned them it would be cold, but they were so desperate, we agreed.

The pool came out, it took a while to pump up, then even longer to fill. After enjoying our first BBQ of the year the children couldn’t wait to check out the paddling pool.

It was cold (funnily enough, mummy and daddy were right??). The children spent a few minutes laughing about how to get in, before finally splashing about a bit. They took turns jumping in from the steps of the climbing frame and I managed to capture a few photos of some funny faces.

Yes, they had a good time, but within just a few minutes they were begging to dry off and change.

I then had to shower and scrub three children. It’s surprising how dirty children get from just a few minutes in a paddling pool.

Once the children were clean and warm again, it was time to clean up outside, to empty the pool, clear up all the grass shed everywhere and to clean up the floor indoors from where the children walked through wet and muddy. It felt like it took forever!

That paddling pool session was fun, but it was so brief and created so much chaos in its wake, I would have to question whether it was actually worth it.

It’s not often I think activities were not worth the effort, but occasionally when it takes ten times longer to prepare and clean up than it does to play…it is not. Do I feel guilty thinking this? Yes, but if I am honest with myself, this is how I feel sometimes.

Do you feel the same?

3 thoughts on “It Takes 10 Times Longer to Clean-up Than to Play”

  1. I’d be the same with something like this – it does sound like a huge amount of effort for just a few minutes (although they do look like they were having an amazing time for that few minutes!)

    Our paddling pool is tiny so takes a lot less effort and also means I can make the water warmer – Jessica would struggle to cope with cold water this early in the year.

  2. I totally understand what you’re saying, my lot would be onto the next activity before I’d finished setting up the first some days and it was impossible to keep up.

    All you have to do is look at the happy silly faces of your three having fun to see it’s all worth it even if it’s arduous to sort out.

    I’m sure that as Summer continues to get warmer they’ll enjoy it more and more.

  3. I definitely can relate as a mother and as a teacher. Sometimes activities I think will be “amazing” turn out to be 10 second duds with the kids.

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