A few weeks ago my mother-in-law volunteered to watch my kids for a week. My response?
“We can be there in 6 hours.”
When a grandma takes my kids for a week, it’s a win-win-win.
Win for the grandma, as she gets time with her out-of-state grandkids.
Win for the kids, as I believe there are very few rules + lots of ice cream involved.
Win for the parents, as we get to harken back to the joyous freedom of the days of yore, a glorious time we refer to as “before kids.”
There are a lot of things I notice when my kids are gone for the week: how much I truly like–not just love–my husband, what “adult conversation” sounds like, how I don’t miss breaking up fights over whose turn it is to pick up the dog poop.
And of course… how neat and tidy my house is.
My surfaces stayed clear.
I didn’t step on a single Lego or return an errant Nerf dart to its container.
I reminded no one to hang up their towel, put their swimsuit on a hook, or that it was their turn to empty the dishwasher.
I didn’t even empty the dishwasher myself because guess what? I didn’t cook a damn thing all week! (Haha, the glory!!)
I found myself with time to relax, read, and just… do nothing. (I even watched an entire HBO miniseries and I never watch TV. In case you’re wondering, it was The Plot Against America and I highly recommend.)
Of course I also missed my children. While they certainly add messes to my life, they also add a ton of joy. Which got me thinking…
Perhaps the mess and the joy are two important sides of the same coin.
Because here’s what I noticed about an hour after my kids returned home…
Shoes strewn in front of the door.
Earbuds, earbuds everywhere!
My previously clear dining room table undergoing a slow takeover by books, water bottles, and cords of indeterminate origin.
And… a heart full of love, arms full of hugs, eyes that couldn’t believe how–in only a week–it seemed as if they’d grown.
I watched no more TV and we started using the dishwasher again.
I had to remind people to take care of their cords and stray socks.
But you know what?
That’s kinda the deal when you’re a parent.
Yes, I preach minimalism and simplicity, but I say this to all my fellow parents who are stressing the toast crumbs in the carpet…
Kids make messes. Get over it.
That might sound like tough love, but it’s actually an invitation to live our lives more fully.
My life will never be as neat and tidy with kids as it is without. And if I don’t “get over it,” I’ll spend their precious childhoods worrying about whose socks are whose and which cords go to which device and why can’t anyone remember to put the mayonnaise back in the fridge after making a sandwich??!!
That’s not how I want to spend these few years I get with these amazing young people.
Does that mean that we resign ourselves to squalor and chaos?
Note I said that “kids make messes,” not “kids create chaos.” There’s a huge difference between a mess and chaos. If you feel like your life with kids is true chaos (and believe me, this triplet mama has been there!), I recommend some decluttering and simplicity ASAP. And if you need some accountability to do that, check out my coaching offerings. I have programs at all price points and stages to help you declutter your life so you can start enjoying it more.
My goal is not to inspire you to have perfect countertops. To be honest, I don’t care at all what your counters look like. But I care deeply that you have the mental space necessary to enjoy your kids’ childhoods. And if your life feels like chaos, there’s no room for joy.
I hope this post helps you embrace the messes and joys of parenting more fully!