Sorry, but I don’t like messes! I strip my toddler naked before nearly every meal. I cringe at the thought of flour being thrown everywhere as I try to bake. And I steer clear of mud puddles and sand boxes as best I can. Now I don’t want to come across as an over-the-top girly girl or something I’m not (my house is just plain NOT spotless), but avoiding extra work or extra messes is kind of what I’m all about. And boy…do kids know how to makes messes…
As moms, we sometimes just have to suck it up in life. I know that’s true for me, and maybe it is for you, too. Sometimes we have to set aside our own fears or preferences for what’s best for our kids. I’ve found that usually when I set aside my controlling or clean-freak or Type A personality ways that I am able to experience some of my favorite moments.
It wasn’t until I was inspired to allow my 19-month-old daughter, Ella, to bake with me that I truly understood how rewarding “embracing the mess” was. One evening I pulled a chair over to the counter, put an oversized apron on her, and got out the mixing bowls and spoons. Ella was already in disbelief, stirring and scooping her make-believe ingredients at the big counter. As we started to make the real cookies, it was SO fun to see her amazement and joy as I let her dump the sugar or turn on the mixer. This isn’t to say we didn’t end up with a broken egg on the floor, flour in every crevice, and missing chocolate chips from the batter…
But guys, it was worth it!
It was worth taking extra time baking and cleaning up to create those memories together. Think back on some of your favorite childhood memories–not the big ones like Christmas or family vacations, but the smaller ones that stand out in the every-days of growing up. My favorites are playing with my sisters in our backyard, make-believing that we had to survive off of the walnuts we found and sleep on pine needle beds. When it was too dark to see, we would wash our dirty feet in ice cream buckets of water before coming inside. Some of my best memories are making popsicles and baking with my mom in the summer (and we had a carpeted kitchen in the 90’s! Ha!). And some of my most fun days were spent barefoot in the garden, snitching raw green beans as we helped my mom and dad.
Some of the best memories are the messy ones. Some are pretty tidy too, but what if we said yes to the mess more often? I really believe that if we try embracing the mess (SOMEtimes), we might be able to build some really meaningful memories.
So to all you mamas who are like me and innately avoid the messes or have other reservations keeping you from trying new things with your kids, I encourage you to say yes more often.
Maybe it’s being okay with a little later bedtime some nights so we can have a dance party with *every single stuffed animal we own* in the living room. They’re having fun and you’re having fun, and that’s all the excuses you need really.
Or maybe it’s being okay with muddy feet and grass stains and soaked clothes from playing in places I want to snatch my daughter up from. She is exploring and learning and developing a love for the outdoors.
Or maybe it’s being okay with a little extra mess in the kitchen, because the huge gappy-toothed smile on her face as she stirred the batter (AKA flung it around on my white cupboards) was worth it. That was priceless, and I hope I never forget it.
What do you want to say yes to more? What are your favorite messy memories with your kids?