My child, when I see a mess—you see a masterpiece

I see a mess. You see a masterpiece. I see trash. You see independence.

My child, when I see  a mess—you see a masterpiece

In my shoes, there is a messy pile of bricks in the middle of the floor and a little boy who didn’t pick them up.

I see a constructed pile off to the left and I know that is your creation of the day, but you didn’t put it on the shelf like you should. You just left there for the dog to chew or for me to trip over.

Now I have to make the choice again. Do I take the easy way out and just pick it up for you? I’m much quicker at it and can do it more neatly. Or do I call you in here and ask you to do it and spend the next 30 minutes watching and directing? Why do I even buy these things in the first place?


In your shoes, you’ve just created an entire scene from some made-up movie in your head and spent the last two hours picking just the right bricks in just the right colors.

You sifted through the mini-figure pile and found the perfect people for your scene. You put it all together, brick by brick, with care and amazing attention to detail. The finished product makes you feel proud. You came to show me and chattered on about it excitedly and I looked up and smiled and said it was nice.

Just nice? You thought it was epic! You left your pile there ready to create the next scene but you had to take a break first because you got hungry. You have an awesome idea and you can’t wait to get back to building. Then you hear me. “You need to come and pick this mess up.”

I see a mess. You see a masterpiece.

In my shoes, I’m standing in a messy kitchen. I straightened it up earlier today but who can tell? I see the bread left out on counter and the cheese, too. A couple of wrappers litter the stove and one fell to the floor. The refrigerator door isn’t completely shut, and the step-stool is in the middle of the floor. I know you actually came in and made your own sandwich instead of asking me to do it—but the trash can is just steps away. Am I the only one who sees it?

In your shoes, you are a responsible boy who made his own sandwich. You let mommy work and you didn’t even ask your big brother to grab anything down for you.

You did it all by yourself and it’s a pretty good sandwich, too! You bet mom will be happy that you did it on your own. Then you hear, “Hey, you do know where the garbage can is, right?” That didn’t sound happy.

I see trash. You see independence.

In my shoes, there is a ticking clock. We should have been out the door five minutes ago. Why are we always and forever late to everything? I get to the car and realize you aren’t right behind me. Where did you go now? You know we’re running late.

In your shoes, there is a cat. A cute, little, fuzzy cat comes up to you when you walk out the door and you bend down to give it love. You always stop to give the animals love. You wish you could save them all. You wonder if the cat we saw at PetSmart found a home and you tell the cat you’re petting, “I love you.” Then you hear, “What are you doing? Come ON!”

I see a slowpoke. You see something in need of love.

If I could walk a day in your shoes, I’d understand what it’s like to be you. I can’t really fit my grown-up feet in your small shoes, but if I slow my own pace and pay attention, I can get a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be a little kid. And when I take the time to do that, I’m more understanding and more patient.

I also feel proud because I can see what a kind, creative kid you are. You’re not just a mess-maker or a slow poke. You’re an engineer, artist, noticer, animal lover and friend. You’re curious and kind. You’re gentle and unique. You’re gaining independence and figuring out your place in the world. You’re growing so quickly.

One day soon, you’ll have big shoes to fill. You’ll see the world with a little less wonder and move at a much quicker pace. Your load and your heart won’t be as light as it is now, so take your time growing up.

Stay in those little shoes as long as you can, just try to remember to put them on the rack when you come in.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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