"The Muffled Cries For Help From a Daddy of Four Beautiful Little Girls"

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Our Bathroom Is Decorated the Color of Dried Toothpaste For a Reason

My name is Scott, and I am the father of four.
Hi, Scott.

In some circles, that's a large family, what with all those people walking around with only 2.5 children and all. However, our therapist assures us that he has LOTS of patients with that many children or more.

Everywhere around the house there is evidence that we have four children. For example, the coats. We were geniuses to buy the girls coats with inner and outer shells that can be zipped together for warmth. Or, as is most likely, they are unzipped apart and with the removeable hoods removed so that there are no fewer than 383 separate pieces strewn across the coat room. Fortunately, EVERY SINGLE PIECE is the same pink and black so you have to pick up each individual piece and check the sizes the find the right one.

But more evidence of four children is in their bathroom, the one that they all share. The one that they all leave their towels on the floor in. The one that they all brush their teeth in. The one that they all spit their toothpaste in. Evidently, the drain in the sink is too small a target for them to aim their spit at, because there is dried toothpaste all over:

the sink,
the counter,
the mirror,
and anything in a five-foot radius.

It is not uncommon for me to find toothpaste lid on the floor, the BATHROOM floor (gross). I have found toothbrushes on the floor as well...by the TOILET. I'm not generally a germ-aphobe, but I DO consider myself a finding-things-that-go-in-my-mouth-near-a-toilet-aphobe.

How can my wife and I get this room under control? What works for YOU geniuses out there, because whatever is going on here isn't doing it. We have only one sink for the four girls and not a lot of counter space, unless you count the top of the toilet tank...ewww.


Capturing Today said...

Hi Scott,

Ugh, the bathrooms always seem to get the most disgusting messes! I have 3 daughters and they seem to have the same problem as yours do! From the looks of the photo of your girls, they are old enough to help out in the cleaning of their mess, which is what I have my girls do.

Each girl is responsible for making sure the bathroom is neat when they leave it. The towel hung or folded, the toilet lid closed, soap spills cleaned up and no messes in the sink. I keep washrags handy under the sink and we've just worked hard to train them to take a minute to tidy up on their way out if they see somthing amiss.

My oldest daughter (8) has the responsibility of deep cleaning the bathroom completely every Friday - the sink, toilet and tub. I've taken lots of time to show her how, chosen non-chemical products for her to use and she takes a lot of pride in being able to make the room look nice. In doing so, she is usually the first one that will point it out to her other sisters if they are being messy - which has worked great to encourage team work and make them aware that what they do impacts their sisters! Hope this helps!

Our Son said...

Okay, for toothbrushes: buy them each a pencil box with a lid that is attached to the box. In it goes their toothbrush, their own toothpaste and their flossers. Now the gross area is confined to the pencil box, as is their own germs.

Give them a place in the bathroom to put their pencil boxes. Make sure you write their names on their boxes with permanent marker. Oh and once a month or so, run those boxes through the dishwasher as they can get icky.

Buy a big bucket of disposable bathroom sanitizing wipes. Leave them on the counter and train the girls to use them after every toothbrush washing! Make it part of their routine and train them to wipe the sink, outside of the toilet, even the floor with them.

Hope that helps! We've got 4 kids too and hoping for more so we get it. :)

CanadianCarrie said...

I grew up with 4 brothers,so bathrooms in general disgust me. Now am married (to a man whose mother never taught him to clean up after himself - ATTENTION all mothers - teach your sons to do this, his future wife or even roommates will thank you!) with a daughter and son. I usually toss anything that I find on the floor, or wipe with antibacterial wipes. The previous posters had great solutions, I really like the pencil box it's one I will try too! I also keep antibacterial wipes around for quick cleans. Good Luck with that!

Clemntine said...

When I was training our children in this area (those born to us, and those we've fostered), I had to do Door Duty: I stood at the door during morning and evening grooming times and wouldn't let the occupant(s) out of the bathroom unless it was tidy. A little extra work for me has paid off in the long run, as my older children now do Door Duty for the ones who are still learning.

Amy said...

There was a middle school where they were having trouble with the girls kissing the mirror to blot their lipstick, instead of using tissue. Dried lipstick is as hard to get off as dried toothpaste. Anyway, one day the principal brought all the girls to the bathroom to scold them about the mirrors. While he was in there, he had the janitor cleaning (and he said something to make it seem like the janitor wasn't supposed to be there, like, "Oh, just ignore Rusty, there, we'll stay out of your way," or something). While the principal was lecturing, Rusty took a toilet brush, cleaned all the toilets, and then used the toilet brush to clean the mirrors.

The lipstick problem abruptly stopped.

I'm sure you can find some way to adapt this to fit your situation.


Simply A Musing Blog said...

Great question. When you find the answer that works for you...send it my way. ;)

Just kidding. We are a family of two girls and a 5 year old boy - so I know a little about the sink/mirror/counter spitting, with some pee on the outside of the toilet thrown in just for kicks.

We keep all the toiletries UNDER the sink in individual boxes labeled for each child. Training them all from the get-go has worked for us. From the time each of them were old enough to hold a toothbrush, we've coached them on how to wipe out the sink after spitting, wipe down the mirror, and even the toilet seat when an accident happens. Our eldest is 10 and "in charge" of keeping their bathroom what we call "company ready" at all times - she is allowed to enlist her brother and sister's help with the laundry and cleaning on a weekly basis, but it is her responsibility to ensure it is done. Frequently, when I know they are grooming themselves, I wait outside the door until they are done and then I do an impromptu "inspection". If they pass, then they get a treat, if they don't, then they lose a privelege for the day. (tv, pc, video game, etc)

Amanda said...

Flylady.net ~ go visit her site..she saves lives I tell you. The best part of the flylady is the swish and wipe. In the morning you get ready and you keep clorox wipes under you sink, and a toilet brush by the toilet and after you get out of the shower before you even walk out you swish and wipe - swish your toilet, then grab those clorox wipes and wipe that sink. If you look @ my blog from last week my tip was the House Fairy. Also a part of the Flylady. I kid you not my son's bathroom is sparkling and he's 6 years old. After he brushes his teeth morning and night he gets a clorox wipe and wipes the counter, the sink, the mirror he ever wipes the toilet sometimes ~ the only thing Jayden doesn't clean is the bathtub and the floors.

So, go check out my WFMW post from last week and find out just how I get this 6 year old to keep his bedroom & bathroom SPOTLESS!!

javamamma said...

If you were seriously looking for an answer, it seems you got a few.

I'm just here to sympathize. I was just kicking through the coats - each individual piece - and hats, mittens, boots etc last night. And the dried toothpaste - uhg, I gotta spot that I think I'm going to have to chisel to get off.

Big Doofus said...

You need a Bathroom Monkey.


(paste the link together to make one line)

jen at talking hairdryer said...

Just paint over the toothpaste spit. It will look like a designer texture. You might even start a new decorating trend.

"Scott, how ever did you get such a rich texture on your bathroom wall?"

"Well, we just let the kids go crazy with the toothpaste for a few months and then painted right over it. It gives the bathroom a minty fresh smell, don't you think?"

byrumnews said...

Wow - it sounds like you have a lot of great comments. I have some of the same issues with my hubby and daughter. I am currently trying to teach them to rinse out the sink, but I like the idea of each one having their own "kit". I also think I am going to get a big tub of wipe for them to use.

Dawn said...

I love the advice about the pencil box for each kid. I'm going to use it. To cut down on the yuck factor in the bathroom I use anti-bacterial wipes and wipe down sink and the toilet once a day. After I do the toilet I do a quick swipe of the floor around the toilet, too. Give your girls the job of wiping things down. If they have to clean it up, they will realize what a big mess they are making and hopefully they will be more careful.

Beth@Sportsmomma said...

I agree with Amanda- FLylady's Swish and Swipe works great. My two sons share a bathroom and I swear sometimes I think they brush their teeth with their eyes closed!! LOL Plus in the summer we have college baseball players that live with us. 4 or even 6 males sharing a bathroom = a BIG MESS!!!

I use Windex and papaer towels instead of Clorox wipes (I'll use the Clorox wipes every now and then). I have really found that it helps a lot!

I also have cup for each kiddo on the counter top- toothbrush and timer go in there (brush for 2 min.). Then under the sink each has a small basket where they keep their toothpaste, flossers, etc.

Good Luck!!

Kathleen Marie said...

Since you have four children you might assign a day each week for clean-up or every other day. You and your wife may also take a day as well.

But more importantly the kids need to be responsible for their clean up and items.

I like the pencil box idea if it has holes for ventilation or you might have a yucky mold problem if only dishwashed once a week.

You could also let them have their own cup.

You can also do a reward system. If the bathroom stays clean for a week, they get a special reward (go out for ice cream or something).

As for the coats -- Make sure they each have their own hook that they can reach. If there coats pieces are lying around you can deduct a privilege or give them an extra clean up chore.

Being consistent with the discipline and rewards is a huge key here.

Rebecca said...

Don't have any advice for you, but I love your blog! :)

Megan said...

No tips, but as the mother of four girls who is dreading going into the bathroom (all 6 of us share 1!!) after bathtime tonight (which is now), you are totally speaking my language...

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

We have 5 kids total and the oldest 4 (2 boys, 2 girls) share a bathroom. We keep antibacterial wipes under the counter. Each kid is responsible for leaving the bathroom clean - if they get "reported" by a sib for leaving it a mess, then they get to clean all 3 bathrooms in the house. Only had to use that a couople of times before they all got the message!

We also rotate having one kid in charge of keeping the bathroom clean all week, receiving a "commission" at the end of the week if they did a good job.

It's not a perfect plan, but it has cut down on the number of hard-as-concrete toothpaste blobs in the sink and on the counter. Blessings.

Rebecca said...

I keep a bottle of spray cleaner and a roll of Bounty paper towels under the sink. It's right there and quick and easy to give the sink, toilet, and even the floor by the toilet a quick clean up in between "deep" bathroom cleaning. Works for me!

Heidi said...

If the pencil cases don't work out for whatever reason (it's a great idea), you should still find a way to keep the toothbrushes inside something (maybe the medicine cabinet?). Supposedly, every time you flush the toilet or open the lid, it sprays germs up to six feet. I have yet to see a bathroom where any surface was more than six feet from the toilet, so I find this unnerving.

I'm not a germ-aphobe either, but toilet germs are another story.

Tiffany said...

I have to say the Clorox wipes have worked for us. They are quick and easy to use. Just keep them under the sink to be used before the kids leave the bathroom. You could even say that they each get a different part of the bathroom- one gets the sink, one gets the mirror, one gets the counter, one gets the floor or toilet- whatever works best in your situation. Good luck!

TracyMichele said...

You have some great suggestions here. I was leaning toward the "have them keep their stuff in a basket in their rooms" until I saw the photo of your girls (beautiful, btw). Um.. they are old enough to be taking care of their own stuff, IMO. So the rule in MY house is if I find it out of its place, it becomes MINE.. all mine (insert world domination laughter). You could easily throw out anything you see out of place.. toothbruses, paste, hair clips, etc. I am fairly confident the first time they have to go to school without brushing, they will remember to clean up after themselves.

Good luck! I will definitely be back to see how things turn out. :)

Laane said...

We have 6 kids.

1. considering all those different parts of sets of clothes.
Number them when they come into the house. Take a waterproof marker ans put a number in the inside.

2. bathroom.
Start police duty.
One kid in at a time, control when it leaves. Call back immediately the first days when things are not OK.

When there's persistence in unwanted behaviour, wait untill they're downstairs and call them back. (I already hear them complain on the stairs. LOL!)

Good luck!

Feel welcome to visit my entry for wfm at my blog

Laane on the World

Have a great week!!!

Mom2fur said...

You are smart to ask these questions, and to work on this problem early. Just be grateful that 3 of your 4 (I have 4, too) aren't boys. I swear to you my youngest, who is 17 and has no excuse, still misses. And I'm not just talking about his aim with toothpaste. I think kids need targets in the bathroom.
At this point in my life, the solution comes when we kick the adult kids out and move into a little retirement cottage. I think it is too late for us, but you still have hope!

mrshoppes said...

Look on the bright side. At least they brush their teeth. My 5 year old has to constantly be reminded.

My 2 year old tries to brush the 13 month old's teeth while doing her own teeth using the same toothbrush.

JAM said...

I suggest always using mint flavored toothpaste.

Then, let the blobs they leave stay a while and dry, and then you can collect them in a bowl and use them for after-dinner mints.