How do our beloved offspring manage to turn a domestic oasis from pristine show home (as we like to imagine) into complete disarray in the space of a short afternoon’s playtime. They are actually obeying the laws of physics, entropy in fact, which determines how quickly an organised system will break down into chaos, which is the more natural state; they are merely the agents of a superior force and should not be held to account; but that still leaves us with the mess to clear up.

Cleaning up a pig sty takes as much a psychological effort as it does physical resilience, as with each long journey it begins with the first step. A quick win is always good for moral so aim for what will bring the biggest result with the least amount of effort, removing all the larger pieces of debris until you finally break through to carpet or an alternative floor covering; which will help to remind you of how the room used to look.

Children are bundles of energy that can be harnessed using the right techniques. Where the bulk of the problem is toy related a little psychology pays dividends. Suggest that they probably have more play things than they can possibly hope to look after, so why don’t they put all their treasured possessions away neatly, so that what is left can be gathered up to go to a charity shop. This can go two ways, but it is generally a win/win situation; either the toys get put away neatly, or they go into a box for disposal; which means less effort next time around.

Alternatively, there is the place for everything approach. A set of containers and a labelling gun is a day’s entertainment in itself for the youngsters; then clearing up is just a case of handing them the labelled boxes one at a time and sending them on a treasure hunt. Pens, dolls clothes, Lego, vehicles, musical instruments, pieces of jigsaw, animals, dressing up clothes, books, jewellery, paints, play dough, marbles; this might take a while.