“Leave the mess, they’re only little for so long!” “Let them be little, they’re only that way for a little while!” “Messy house, happy family.” Do these phrases sound familiar? I am sure at some point on your motherhood journey you’ve heard at least one of those phrases. While I do agree that babies don’t keep, and we do need to make the most of the time while they are small, I propose an idea that will probably be an unpopular one.
What if cleaning the mess is more important? Hear me out.
What if the mess causes one to feel unproductive which causes mental tension? What if it creates so much anxiety that one cannot effectively parent? What if one leaves the mess and it disturbs her inner peace causing one to become an angry mom? What if the noise behind the mess is so loud that one cannot think beyond that? This is literally me. Flames start shooting out of my ears when things get backed up. I feel like I’m draining in a sea of filth and then turn into a cleaning witch.
Here’s how I see it: my children can afford to learn how to play independently long enough for me to get household chores and tidying up done during the day so that I don’t turn into a flame shooting cleaning witch. Or they can join in – use it as a learning moment and teach them to tidy up too. I’m not saying my house is perfect because it’s far from it, but I also will not allow things to back up just to enjoy another round of Pop the Pig. This does not mean I love my kids less because I tidy while they’re awake. It means I love them enough to do what’s best for my mental health which will help me be the best mom I can be.
Now if you’re a mom who can ignore the mess and it does not cause stress for you, well I applaud you and want to be you. TRULY.
I’d love to just ignore the mess and go on about my day. I wish it weren’t this way for me, but it is my reality. I cannot go to bed with a sink full of dishes. So, if I ignore the dishes all day to play with my children, I will stay up way past my bedtime to get the dishes done and in turn, my sleep and sanity will suffer. It’s a vicious cycle. Instead, I will tidy up throughout our day that way when it is playtime, I can give them my undivided attention and be peaceful within myself knowing my home isn’t a disaster.
It is a bit upsetting to read posts that say things like, “great moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, piles of laundry, dirty ovens, and happy kids.” Phrases like this suggest that people like me are not good mothers with unhappy children because we are wired to thrive in a tidy home. So maybe instead of making a mother feel like she isn’t a good mom unless she lets the laundry back up to sit in another round of a nerf war with her kids; let her know that it’s okay to go fold that load of laundry that she can’t stop thinking about. Let her know that her kids will be okay if she misses a few minutes of their day. Let her know she isn’t a bad mom for wanting to clean the mess instead of playing with her kids. After all, we are all just trying to do what is best for our families. Personally, I will never enjoy the mess but I will enjoy the mess makers!