Dear Momma, Say Yes to the Mess
Shredded cheese was flying all over my kitchen. My girls were throwing it around like confetti, and the dogs were receiving it like manna from heaven. Squeals of pure delight were echoing loudly off the walls. They had managed to turn pizza making night into a full blown party. As I took the scene in, I realized the only one not enjoying this unplanned festivity was me, mommy the party pooper.
Messes have a way of causing stress to the best of us moms. A clean home has a sense of stability and clarity to me. It invites an environment of calm and peacefulness, which I desperately need in the midst of toddler craziness. But to be honest, sometimes it becomes an idol. It’s a way for me to cling to my life before kids.
The song, “every party has a pooper, and that pooper is you,” kept ringing in my head. The Holy Spirit was nudging me, in a slightly funny way, to say yes to the mess. He was telling me, dear momma:
Floors are sweepable.
Walls are wipeable.
Clothes are washable.
Messes make memories.
Messes create learning.
Let them be little.
Say yes to the mess.
So for that moment, I let the cheese confetti rain from above. I let their clothes get covered in deep red pizza sauce. I let the counters get cluttered with plates and tupperware. It’s not always going to be easy to say yes to messes. But when my mind is cluttered with the thoughts of laundry stains and mopping floors, I don’t have room in there to enjoy the moment.
Messes can be the greatest learning experiences for our kids. I often find myself saying yes to mess making moments, and throwing nag after nag at them. “Don’t do that.” “Stop doing it that way!” “Ahh, you’re making such a mess!” Me, their greatest teacher, is becomes the biggest roadblock to their learning.
Messy play is a powerful medium for learning. You are helping them create an environment where they feel safe to be a child. And the learning opportunity doesn’t stop with the mess. Cleaning can be a teaching moment too. If you’re like me, having your tiny ones help with clean up can make you cringe almost as much as letting them make a mess does. Sure it impedes your progress and the 5 minute sweeping job is more than quadrupled, but the learning is multiplied just as much.
Let the messes grow you just as much as it grows them. They are going to happen despite our plea for cleanliness. No amount of hovering over them with a spray bottle and cleaning cloth will stop them from coming. So as I start to help them create more messes, I am learning to choose joy over stress. I am learning to be present over disconnected. And you know what, as I actually join in, and let them give me a messy makeover, I become a part of the party, not just a grumpy bystander.
So momma, don’t skip this part. Say yes to muddy messes splashing puddles, say yes to paint parties, say yes to your messy sous chefs, say yes to it all! And remember, become a part of the mess too!