You know what bothers me? Dirty walls. And fingerprints on windows. And crumbs that collect in my silverware drawer! I’ve never been the perfect, clean freak but at least I stayed on top of those things back before I had kids. But ever since popping out not one, but two little walking tornados, I can’t seem to stay on top of all the little details that make my house feel like a (neat) home. My day-to-day cleaning looks almost nonexistent to any random drop-in visitor. And those deeper, Saturday cleanups? Nope. They don’t happen. By Saturday, I’m just rejoicing in the fact that my husband is stuck home to help me and can watch his kids while I get a much needed “me” hour. We spend those days as a family doing enjoyable things and rarely do I make us use that time to deep clean the gutters or organize the unfinished basement junk.
Often, I’ll get really hard on myself for letting the “little” jobs go. I’ll notice the dirty walls as I pass them on the way to put the kids down for a nap and swear that today I’ll finally get to them. But then putting the kids to sleep takes a half hour longer than it should have and by the end, I’ve completely forgotten that little chore. I abandon it for something more pressing, like the mountain of laundry we’ve been sleeping on top of for the past week.
One day, my internal dialog was getting particularly nasty about how I lack skills to balance motherhood and life in general when, like a slice of fresh air, a thought occurred to me that I’ve clung to ever since:
This is only one season of your life. Soon, this season will pass and a new one, with different priorities, will take its place.
To the moms feeling the same as me, like you’re drowning in all the little things and falling short of so much: cut yourself some slack! Right now, we’re in the season of life with little kids, a messy house, and loud giggles that fill the hallways. It’s the season with owies that we can kiss better and monsters we can scare out of the closet with a simple “BOO!” It’s also the season where yes, there are crumbs all up in our silverware drawers, black fingerprints on our doorframes, and sticky mystery meat in the back of our fridges. It’s the season where we are so sleep deprived, we try to shove the pacifier into the hubby’s mouth instead of the baby’s. But someday soon, we’ll be swapping this season’s frustrations and limitations, as well as the joys, for another.
Soon, we’ll be in the season with teenagers who don’t want to talk to us, an empty fridge because they’ve eaten everything in sight, and stinky rooms we won’t brave to enter. It’ll be the season where we can’t fix every pain with a kiss and we’ll wish that smudged windows were the annoyance that occupied our minds late at night.
After that, we’ll enter a season where the house is quiet and we’ll long for the loud, giggling hallways. We’ll suddenly have all the time in the world to clean out our silverware drawers and all those things we felt we had abandoned in earlier seasons can now get accomplished.
So I’ve decided to cut myself some slack and forget those little annoyances that I can never seem to tackle. If cleaning the smudges off of every surface is that important to me right now, I’ll make time to get it done. I may have to sacrifice in another area, like my sleep or sanity, but if I really wanted to, I’d clean it and feel accomplished. But since it’s not high on my priority list, I’ll ignore how the crumbs and smudges make me feel and instead, focus on what I’m doing right in this season. And in doing so, I’ll live a much happier life with my little tornadoes today.
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