In 2004, I left my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist to stay home with my growing family. I never thought I would become a stay-at-home mom, but in all honesty… it was the best option for me based on the alternative. I mean, seriously… who wants to get up every morning to travel to a job? Not me! I wanted to have the freedom of scheduling my day, to be as social or reclusive as I desired… to make the executive decision of whether or not to even take a shower that day. Ah yes… this was freedom.
In staying home with my growing brood, I learned (slowly but surely) that keeping the house clean was just about as close to a losing battle as you can get. Yes, I am happier when the toys are all put away. Yes, I have less stress with a tidy home… but at what cost was I willing to make it so? I had always told my husband “I stay at home to take care of the kids, not to clean the house,” and luckily he was in agreement with me (phew!). We all make the house dirty, therefore we all get to clean it on the weekends. This worked for the deeper cleaning of the home, but toy pick-up fell upon my shoulders most of the time (yippee).
As my kids get older, they are able to help with the toy pick up. They are learning that they do not get a privilege (i.e. playing the Wii) unless they clean up at least one room. However, I am starting to observe that along with the kids growing in age, their messes grow with them. No longer do I simply find toys scattered around the house. Now, furniture and blankets have apparently become fair game to be added into the mix.
There have been many a day where I have wandered into a room to find elaborate forts, mock classrooms, superhero re-enactments and (of course) Barbies on vacation at the My Little Pony ranch. While I would really like to be able to use my kitchen chairs to eat my breakfast, I do love the creativity and elaborate play scenes that my kids dream up.
Then… one day last fall… I found the most perfect, the most brilliant, the most amazing sign! This sign and I were meant to be together. It was destined for my home. It summed up my viewpoint in a nutshell.
This sign gave me the freedom to embrace the beautiful mess that my 4 kids create. I’ve given up on the ever elusive “neat and tidy” home. Does it actually exist? Ok, I’m sure it does… but with kids?? I find it hard to believe, but if you say “yes it does exist,” I say loudly and proudly that it does not exist here. I don’t want my kids to be worried about breaking a knick knack, being restricted to playing in only one room, or placing their cup on a table without a coaster. Childhood is such an amazing time for exploration, imagination and creativity. I know that the messes will eventually get cleaned up. For now, I choose not to invest my energy into the image of perfection. If you were to walk into my home, I would greet you with “Hello! Welcome to my home! Sorry about the mess… this house is lived in”… and I am ok with that.