I know – so much easier said than done! But seriously, once you have a child (or two, or three – but I only have one right now), you have to come to terms with it at some point, or you’ll go crazy. It’s been close to a year and a half since Little Man was born. And it has taken me nearly that long to look past the chaos which
occasionally sometimes often besets my house. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I knew that a baby would mean letting go of my need for a clean kitchen every night, ordered rooms, and squeaky clean bathrooms. But I still fought it. I still tried to keep everything picked up, and clean, and organized while at the same time feeding, playing, diapering, and bathing my baby. Not to mention working full-time. At the beginning it wasn’t such a terrible thing, since new babies mostly eat and sleep. I did have some time to work on things around the house at that stage. But once kids can move on their own – it’s a whole new world!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing to want a clean, orderly home. But there are limits, and for the sake of my sanity, the sanity of my husband, and the wellbeing of my child, I had to recognize that. Having clean floors every evening is not worth missing out on special moments or having a spat with your partner. Little Man is in such a fun stage right now. I love hearing him say “yay!” and clap when I walk in the door after work, seeing his excitement when he discovers how to work a zipper, watching his face as he absorbs Mickey Mouse Club House, or listening to his jabbering and giggles while he plays in a cardboard box. Those are the things that make life special. And he needs me to be there.
Yes, there are times when he just has to be patient while I finish dinner. We are working on the concept of picking up his toys when he’s done playing, and I usually sneak in some kind of chore while he’s playing happily with his books, but my focus is slowly improving. When I find myself getting irked about the laundry pile, dirty front porch, or toy-covered living room, I try to purposefully decide what is most important: getting things back the way I like them? Or spending some time with my Little Man? Am I being obsessive again, or does this really need to be done immediately? There are times when the laundry HAS to get done. For example, when he has peed through his last set of sheets and pjs, (We’ve been struggling with that lately because he has started pulling at his diaper, which loosens the tabs. Sigh.) or when the last towel was used that morning to rescue the carpet from spilled apple juice. But lots of times, it really can wait or a “good enough” version will suffice. Here are a few examples:
- I’m not a dishwasher fan, but the one we have has definitely seen more use lately – and I’m so thankful to have it!
- I detest leaving dirty dishes in the sink over-night, but it has happened more in the past 3 months than it has my entire previous married life.
- A quick swish with the toilet wand and some cleaner can hold me over until I have time to properly clean the porcelain throne. Usually that means during nap time or after bed time.
- Do we have clean undies? Yes? OK, then I can piece together an outfit for tomorrow if the laundry doesn’t get done.
- Guests are coming over for dinner – time to make a decision. Do they have kids? If so, I just make sure they can tell I made an effort – they’ll understand if things don’t meet Good Housekeeping magazine cover standards. If they don’t have kids and I’m not particularly comfortable with them seeing my
pigstyehouse in such a state, I pick up the random junk, put it in a laundry basket, and stuff the whole thing somewhere they won’t look. Horrible, I know. But it works. I manage to salvage a bit of dignity, and they are spared the challenge of overlooking the tornado alley that has replaced my living room.
I believe I reached a new level of “embracing the chaos” just last week when a friend came over with her two boys for a play date. I hadn’t had a chance to go grocery shopping, so lunch was a conglomeration of left overs. Chicken strips, apple slices with caramel, pizza, and some other bits and pieces I’d rather not talk about. It was a bit embarrassing, but, gracious angel that she is, my friend cheerfully complimented me on how I had seasoned last night’s chicken strips! Bless her soul! That’s a true friend, right there. Or maybe she’s been there herself, so she spared me what was really going through her mind. Whatever the case, it was downright lovely of her to say it!
Life is so much more than clean sheets and gleaming countertops. I don’t want Little Man to grow up thinking he has to be perfect or circumstances have to be perfect for me to be happy. The fact is, he isn’t perfect, and never will be. I’m not perfect and never will be either. So, I might as well learn to embrace the ensuing chaos, and be happy!