My kids are sleeping. And, this is what my living room looks like.
They had a short amount of time today between homework and church, and they set up this elaborate game during their few completely free moments. I saw them gathering supplies and moving pieces of furniture (however small). I heard them plan what they were going to do. And, I’ll be honest with you. My initial thought was, “Oh, no! They’re going to make a huge mess.” And, you see my living room as it sits right now. They did.
But, I resisted my urge to stop them. I didn’t suggest that they watch TV instead, and I didn’t make them do the chores that would’ve actually helped me out quite a lot. I just let them play.
I let them play, and I helped them get blankets, and I got “dog snacks” out of the cabinet and put them in bowls so that they could pretend they were eating from dog dishes. They crawled around in this little set up for almost an hour before we had to leave. We went to church, and by the time we came home, it was time to get them ready for bed. So, the mess remains.
And, I know that not everyone could live with this mess tonight.
But, here’s where I’ve landed on the housekeeping issue after fifteen years of feeling like I’m failing miserably. What do I want my kids to remember? Will they remember how I meticulously cleaned their rooms for them? Will they remember that the laundry room was always perfectly in order? They might notice those things and appreciate them. But, what they will really remember is how they feel in our house. Do they feel like they belong here? Like they are allowed to explore, create, invent, make messes, imagine?
I hope when my kids are grown and they’re looking back on their childhood with their far from perfect mother, they will remember most of all that I allowed them to be kids, in the messy way that kids are kids.
So, maybe as you read this you feel like you’re failing at the homemaking game. Be encouraged. Your kids likely feel at home in your house.
Maybe you feel stressed because your kids want to play and you want them to sit and read quietly or watch TV. Be encouraged. When your kids play and mess things up, they are doing important work of childhood. And, even when it stresses you out, let your kids make a mess occasionally, no strings attached. They will love you for it, and they will remember so much more about the fun than the cleanliness.