Embracing the Mess of Childhood

by jessicaturner on February 15, 2016

IMG_2468Recently, a mother with three grown children said to me, “I think when I had young children, I spent too much time cleaning.”

I replied and said with a laugh, “I don’t think that is something I will ever say when my children are grown.”

While I certainly appreciate a neat and tidy home, I have also learned that when it comes to young children, you could spend ALL your free time cleaning because things become undone so quickly. This year, we have been working on organizing things differently, purging our home of excess (I took three huge boxes to Goodwill last week) and reshaping our routines to have things a bit neater, but let’s face it, toddlers = mess.


I also am all about quick cleaning tricks, like cleaning our floors with our Swiffer wet jet, wiping down counters quickly with cleaner and coraling toys in baskets.

Last week, I was doing dishes in the kitchen and Adeline and Ezra were sitting on the floor playing. He has fussing, so I asked Adeline to get him a few cheerios. I thought she would grab a small bowl from the cabinet nearby, or feed him out of her hand, but that was not what she did.



Nope, she grabbed the plastic box filled with cereal and simply poured some onto the floor in front him.

“Adeline,” I said with a laugh of disbelief. “Is Ezra a puppy? Do we eat off the floor?”

“NOOOO,” she gleefully responded. “But look, he’s so happy.”

Yes, he was that. I snapped a couple pictures (because it was too hilarious not to document) and then gave her a bowl, asking her to please help Ezra by putting the cheerios in the bowl.



We had just Swiffered the floor so I totally went with the 5-second rule, though it was more like 60-seconds. After all, he is the third kid – ha!

After giving Ezra the bowl, she ran off to get something and I turned my attention back to the dishes. Just a minute later, I heard the sprinkling of cereal. As I should have expected, Ezra had dumped the cheerios back to the floor.


I scooped him up with a kiss and a laugh. “I guess Mama needs to put you in your high chair, huh?”

I put him in his high chair, gave him some fresh cheerios, scooped the twice-dumped handful into the trash and Swiffered the spot again.

Life with toddlers can be messy, but that isn’t a bad thing. Messes often happen because of creativity or problem solving (ie: Ezra was hungry!).

As a mother, I oftentimes catch myself saying no to something because it might make a mess. Lately I have been looking at the upside of messes and trying to say yes more and go with the flow.

I have learned that embracing the mess instead of stressing over it leads to a much happier home.

As a mother, what is your perspective about messes? Do you embrace the mess, stress out about it, or somewhere in between? Any lessons you’ve learned? Please share in the comments below.

This post was sponsored by Swiffer. All mess was our own.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa @ The Staten Island Family February 15, 2016 at 7:20 am

I think one of the hardest parts for me to be zen about messes but I am getting better at being present in the moment and letting the messes STAY messy until the moment has been experienced and has passed and then I CLEAN UP! I will say my Swiffer is ALWAYS there ready to save me;)


Jennifer February 15, 2016 at 7:55 am

I can completely relate to this! We did an art project with our daughter this weekend involving paint and glitter. By the end of it there was (and still is) glitter everywhere. But I’ve learned to embrace the mess for being more open to creativity and fun 


Jo-Lynne Shane February 15, 2016 at 8:00 am

“Embracing the mess instead of stressing over it leads to a much happier home” — I REALLY need to take this lesson to heart. With kids 10, 13, and 16, they love to cook. I find myself saying no a lot b/c I don’t want the mess. But they need to learn to clean up on their own, and I need to learn to let go a bit. You are a wise mama. :)


MomofTwoPreciousGirls February 15, 2016 at 8:01 am

I’m not bothered by cluttery messes as long as it’s not in my kitchen or on my tables (we have never been a family with papers on the tables). I don’t want to have to clean before cooking or eating! Things that are sticky or could cause stains are done outside (moonsand, anyone?!). They can paint, playdoh, chalk and sand it up outside all they want! Inside is for less messy projects! My husband on the other will see a blanket out on the couch and declare the whole house is a pigsty! He cannot stand anything being out. If the kids get up to go the bathroom they will find whatever they were playing with put away when they come back!!! (Not really, but pretty close). We cleaned the whole house yesterday and I have a rare day home with the kids and he was giving me a chore list. I stopped him and said we did chores all weekend while the kids played on their own. Tomorrow is mommy/daughter day. My only chores will be feeding them, baths and cuddles! He needs to learn to relax and spend time with them. I keep telling him we only have 12 more years of these messes and about 40 more years to enjoy a clean house!


Danielle Smith February 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm

When my kids were little (very little), I stressed about the uber clean home – I think I took this on from an older generation that was constantly cleaning on my behalf when then came to visit – giving me the impression that my home was never quite clean enough – but I’ve now learned to embrace a happy balance – I’m happy to have a joyful home that settles in to some mess, but isn’t DIRTY. And I love that you know how to find that same medium in your home. I definitely won’t ever feel as though I sacrificed time with my kids for cleaning, but they also won’t grow up feeling as though I never taught them how to be tidy. This is lovely, Jessica.


Courtney February 15, 2016 at 12:24 pm

I can handle dirty floors so much better than I can cluttered countertops. If my counters are clean, I feel like my house has clean. However, we bought a Roomba vacuum a few years ago and it is the greatest purchase ever!!

PS: Those third babies can totally eat off the floor!


Kristin February 15, 2016 at 1:31 pm

We’re Swiffer addicts in this house! And I definitely embrace the mess. I let go of that a long time ago. Messes can be cleaned up when the time is right. Living in the moment is so much more important!


Connie February 15, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Gosh. Reminds me so much of when my 3 were younger. SO CUTE!


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