I sit here typing this late at night in my bed, still unmade from this morning. Nursing baby in one arm, with my laptop on my lap, attempting to get some work done after another long day. The dishes from dinner are still sitting on the counter and I’m thinking to myself that it might be time to (finally) invest in a dishwasher.

My house is a mess, and I’m not going to apologize. At least, I’m trying hard not to.

Like most, our household is a hectic one. Our kids are non-stop, high energy children, affectionately nicknamed “Turbo One” and “Turbo Two.” No matter the season, the dogs or the kids are running in and out to play in the backyard dragging in grass, wet snowsuits or all sorts of toys in the process.

And if we’re not home, we’re working, shuttling the kids to their sports games and extra-curricular activities or meeting up with friends.

If I’m expecting company, I’ll make sure we tidy up the toys and try to run the vacuum over the carpet. If a guest drops in without notice, I can be heard sheepishly apologizing for the clutter and assuring our guest that the chaos before them is neither my fault or doing. I don’t judge my friends when they proclaim their homes are a mess and in turn, I know they feel the same way. But still—I feel embarrassed when there is any apparent disarray in my life.

Earlier today, after a few rounds of my kid playing “the floor is lava” which quickly turned into a game of “stop hitting your sister,” I noticed the disastrous state that had resulted around me. There were toys strewn across the living room floor. Clean clothes were overflowing from the laundry basket. Cushions piled up on the side of the couch because of my son’s immediate and, in his opinion, necessary, need to make a fort for the dog to sleep in.

The mess happens so fast.

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Between the nights I’ve stayed up late working and the teething baby’s interrupted sleep, cleaning the bathroom or reorganizing the living room has been the last thing on my mind. Looking around at the mess I started to worry about the way my house looked and how I thought it made me look and how I wished it could just always be clean and perfect and tidy. If that were the case, I would never have to apologize to anyone, right?

Then I realized just how silly that was.

I made the decision a long time ago to stop being judgmental of others and to try my best to live and let live. So now I just need to be better of extending that sentiment to myself, including our house.

The cleanliness of my house isn’t something I need to be ashamed of and isn’t something worth belittling myself over. In fact, my messy house has a direct connection to my sanity. When it’s just the kids and me during the day, I usually have to let something slide to get something more meaningful done.

So, if you’re at my house for a playdate, or you happen to drop in, and you notice a mess, I want you to remember a few things.

Related: Let your kids make the mess

The sand you might have stuck to your feet isn’t because I forgot to clean my floors. It’s because I chose not to. It means I spent most of the beautiful, sunny day outside with my kids instead of cleaning up inside. Rather than worrying about my kids making a mess, I played with them in the sandbox. And we all brought remnants of our fun time inside with us.

While the bathroom might not be sparkling clean, part of the mess is the result of my son confidently, albeit not accurately, taking himself to the bathroom solo. After the potty-training struggle we endured, I’m trying to remember to be proud of him rather than frustrated.

I’ll get to it as soon as I can. Better yet, I’ll teach my son one of my Grandpa’s favorite sayings. “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie, wipe the seatie.”

The breakfast dishes will still be on the counter at lunch and will likely stay there until the rest of the family is home to help out. After a day of taking care of my kids, going to and from school, working, and running errands, I decided that putting the time and energy into making food for my kids to eat was more important than immediately cleaning up after it. Sometimes the time or energy is there for one or the other, not both.

And sometimes I let things slide in order to take care of something more important—which happens to be me. Some days it’s vital that I get to sit on the couch, watching the morning news and drinking my coffee while it’s still hot. Other days, it’s necessary that I get to spend the 30 minutes it might take me to put the laundry away on exercising or going for a walk instead. Sometimes self-care trumps tidiness.

If I didn’t have time to clean my house from top to bottom before our playdate, just know that I will still have snacks for the kids and I know they’re all going to have some fun together—regardless of whether I dusted or not. (By the way, the laundry pile on the floor also doubles as a landing pad when my kids playfully toss each other off the couch. So, I’m actually thinking of their safety.)

So, to my family and my friends, if you decide to drop by please know my house might be in a state of disarray. And, honestly? I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.

A version of this post was published June 15, 2018. It has been updated.