Fellow moms, put down that mess.
While it’s a false hope to think you can completely let go of all mess, organization and picking up after kids (of all ages), you can rest assured that it’s healthy to sometimes just say NO.
It’s alright for moms (and, obviously, all parents) to draw a line when it comes to cleaning up and picking up after kids. In some instances, there just clearly isn’t enough time to do it, especially when work and other commitments need our attention. And, it’s definitely healthier (and less stressful) to decrease the burden of being perfect or a “super mom”. Truthfully, none of us are perfect and we are all super moms, mess or not.
Here’s how I gradually stopped picking up after my kids…
I Let Go Of Expectations
Admittedly, this takes some good solid practice. When becoming a mother of multiples, I fully thought I could manage to keep my household the same as when I just had one child. After all, I had been through this before and now I was a seasoned veteran.
The truth is, we sometimes set unrealistic expectations for ourselves; no one else is thinking we are doing a bad job except us (this is the truth!). Our expectations of keeping a perfect home will never be achieved because, let’s face it, kids make messes. Every home I have ever visited that is kid-friendly has some type of mess or things laying around — and never once have I passed judgement. We often hold ourselves to a higher standard when, in reality, we need to be gentler on ourselves; try to relax and let go of the false notion that a messy home is not the same as a happy home.
Tip: Start your day with a positive affirmation reminding yourself that you are enough and you are a good mother, first and foremost.
Allow Yourself to Take A Break
Cleaning up is exhausting. I’m not saying don’t clean up, because that would be unrealistic. However, cleaning up to a state of perfection is also unrealistic. Ask yourself – if you’re always in the zone for keeping the house a certain way, do you have enough energy for yourself or your partner? Are you able to relax and enjoy yourself? It’s important to embrace each day and give ourselves the gift of grace. We are human and deserve a break too. This allows us to be better moms, better examples, and much more even-tempered.
I had a recent conversation with my oldest who said, “Mom, I think you’re losing patience.” That was the moment I realized that I didn’t want my children to think of me that way. So I put down whatever chore I was doing and we watched a movie. This is time we’ll never get back and, in that moment, my mind and body felt happier.
If your mind/body is overexerted, it will show, so allow yourself to take a break whenever you need. The dishes and laundry can wait.
Tip: Create a schedule outlining the days you will do a deep clean or organization and, on regular days, allow time for miscellaneous. Do not overfill your day with long to-do lists. That way you can, to some degree, roll with the punches.
Setting Up Good Habits
We know that picking up after kids here and there is a reality. We can’t live like the show Hoarders! However, one of the MOST important things I’ve learned is this…
“If we are always picking up and cleaning up after the kids, will they ever learn to do it for themselves?”
The truth is, as soon as a child is walking they are able to start learning where things go. By preschool age, kids are being taught (at preschool) to play with something and clean it up before moving to the next activity. If we apply that same principle in the home, it actually enforces that good behaviour and habit, and builds independence. I have personally tried this at home (after hearing from their teachers that they do a great job at school), and it has been life-changing.
Tip: Apply the “clean up before moving to the next activity” rule. If met with a tantrum, give them space and try again; understand that it will take time, but try not to cave in and do it for them.
While I still have occasional messes (and sometimes tantrums) to clean up, in general, the kids have adopted the understanding that they are responsible for their toys, their items — and their appreciation for “things” has grown. Over time, the stress of keeping things organized and cleaned up has decreased and the messes have, too.
So, give it a try… pick up a little less, let go a little more, and enjoy your time with your kids.
Mother of toddlers, foodie at heart, city-loving, blogger, writer, marketing specialist, and overall busy-bee, that is Christina Chandra in a nutshell. Christina lives in Vancouver where she is a freelance writer & marketing specialist, and also blogs at ChristinaChandra.com. In her spare time, you can find her exploring local eateries, cafes and local hot spots.