I like a clean house…No wait…I LOVE a clean house. It makes me feel like I can breathe. I, at times, feel claustrophobic around clutter. And with two active kids, it can be a daily occurrence.
So it should make me happy when I notice my son quickly wiping up a little drip that he makes on the table as he eats his popsicle. It should make me happy when he says phrases like,”We don’t want to make a mess,” or “That would be too messy!”
No mess. It should make me happy…right?
Wrong. It doesn’t make me happy. It actually breaks my heart, mainly because it reflects on how I have been acting as a parent.
I think back to the time when he was potty training. We were at grandpa and grandma’s house, and I reminded him that if he had to go potty, he should be a big boy and go on the toilet. But it didn’t end there. I added, “You don’t want to pee on grandma’s floor.” Why did I have to add that? He later had an accident, and he felt so bad for getting pee on grandma’s floor. Now my heart is aching.
I didn’t grow up fearing messes, so what’s my deal now? It’s because it is easier. It’s just easier to not have to deal with a mess.
But I have to remember that having a house filled with kids is one big happy mess. One big blessing of a mess. And I do love that!
I have made a solid effort to embrace the mess. To let my kids PLAY. Don’t get me wrong, I still like a clean house, and you can see my plan for a clean enough house HERE.
I have decided to limit my reminders to my kids about keeping stuff clean. Sometimes it is tough, but I truly want my kids to be able to just be themselves. I don’t want my voice to be their inner voice, lecturing them when they are having fun. That’s not who I want to be.
My preschooler is into emptying everything out just to look through it. Toy boxes, dad’s travel bag, drawers, my closet…One day he emptied ALL of my daughter’s toy bins out. The kids had a blast in her room, and I had fun watching them play. After they were done, I offered to clean up with him as a team, and he said he wanted to do it all by himself. He literally spent 1/2 hour cleaning that room, and he was so proud of himself. I was impressed.
The next day he brought (literally) everything from his bedroom, except the furniture, out to the living room. He emptied every puzzle box. Every deck of cards. And mixed them all up. It was chaos.
I will admit that it did drive me bonkers. Who’s going to clean this up?! Me, of course. I held my tongue.
“Are you having fun?” I asked.
“Yep!” he said.
And that’s what really matters.
It doesn’t matter that I did have to clean up the entire mess. It doesn’t matter that I simply put handfuls of puzzle pieces into random boxes (On a rainy day, we will have a fun afternoon on the kitchen floor doing ALL of our puzzles!). It doesn’t matter that I sorted out all of the toys and created a box for donating.
What matters is that my kids had a blast, and I let them.
Will my inner voice ever stop panicking when an entire glass of milk is spilled? Probably not. But I am learning not to outwardly panic in those situations. It’s not worth it. I want to be as patient as my mom was when we were kids growing up.
Do I want my kids to look back and reminisce, “Oh that mom, she was always worried about keeping a clean house.”
Or, do I want them to look back and think, “Man did we have fun when we were kids!”
And this is why I am learning to embrace all the big, beautiful messes that will be coming my way.