Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Making mess and memories

One day, while searching around on Pinterest, I found this great quote that I would love to display on a big plaque as you come through the front door of my home.
“Excuse the mess...the children are making memories.”
I do like and appreciate order and cleanliness in my home, but I have come to understand that when you have children - especially when you have boys - it is often difficult to have a mess-free home. As you enter my home, you will most likely have to step over a few light sabers, squeaky baby toys and probably a stray Lego or two.Both of my older boys are mud magnets, especially my oldest. For him, it may be sensory-related. He seems to find great comfort and delight in playing in dirt, especially wet, muddy dirt, so you can imagine the mess. He finds great pleasure in covering himself from head to toe. Then, of course, that dirt gets transferred to my home, so you can often see a track of muddy footprints all the way from the back door to the bathroom.Over the years, I have learned to let go of those messes. At first, they would bother me. As time went on, I realized I would much rather have my boys outside having fun in the dirt and playing with each other. The alternative was often watching TV or playing on the computer. But if they were out in the dirt playing, it meant that my oldest boy was engaging with his younger brother and doing something fun, which is often very hard for him since he is on the autism spectrum. My desire for my boys is for them to know they are more important than how their home looks. This doesn’t mean that we don’t respect our home by tearing up the place. But it means that if fun is to be had, and it means making a mess, then that is OK.
The boys love to take all the sofa cushions off and jump around on them. Their laughter can be heard throughout the house. Yes, it makes for a big mess in my living room, but again, they are playing together and enjoying each others' company.
I have learned that when the boys are making messes, they are also often learning a new skill. Last year, the boys and I made a paper mache turkey for Thanksgiving. I think there was more of it on the floor than on the balloon.When I let the boys bake with me, and they want to do the measuring, I know the cleanup will be much more.When I let go of control in this area and come to terms with the fact that there will be a mess, my boys both feel accomplished because they have learned something new, and they are also helping me by assisting in the kitchen. I also have them help me clean up the messes, too. It may not be cleaned up how I would like it, but they are learning responsibility.
 There are times where I have chosen to leave those handprints on the patio door just for a few extra days, a reminder that there are special and beautiful children living in our home. Life is too short for us to be worried about those everyday messes, so I am learning to enjoy and embrace the mess even if it means a little extra work for me.
Jayne Gautreau is married with three sons. Read her Mondays on Douglas County Moms.

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