“We believe that toys and homework and smelly shoes and spilled milk are signs of life.”
—Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful
There are several smushed Cheerios on our kitchen floor.
Yep, I just removed a half-eaten whoopie pie from the cushions of our couch. (Who only eats half a whoopie pie?!)
There is one giant dirty laundry pile in the laundry room, one folded pile of not-yet put away laundry in our bedroom, and a few loads somewhere in between “Did I already wash this?” and “Let’s run it again.”
There are couch pillows on our living room floor. #Fortlife
Our boys’ beds are not made—they never are—but they are strewn with a few dozen stuffed animals just in case Noah needs a spare.
My daughter’s room has a shelf full of clothes she’s recently outgrown and I swear I’ll box up soon.
There are Legos in the blocks bucket. There are markers in the shoe bin. There is a collection of half-broken McDonald’s toys in the playroom.
Our fridge, let’s be honest, needs a massive purge. Shoutout to last month’s takeout. ?
And I am constantly telling myself that it is TIME to get a system in place for our daily mail and school papers and arts + crafts mountain that seems to grow higher every day. IT IS TIME!!!
So no, my house is not pristine.
But I’m not spring cleaning this year.
Instead of a massive dose of guilt and cleaning supplies bought in bulk and a Pinterest board devoted to all the ways I’m going to organize ALL THE THINGS! I’m buying into a new narrative this spring: My house is clean enough.
I’ve previously written to our family’s conversion to toy minimalism. We’re still a work in progress. I still walk into at Target with the best of intentions and emerge with a cart full of the latest from Chip & Joanna Gaines’ line because who doesn’t need a milk white decorative watering can? And while I’ve painted our house’s walls white and constantly purge toys and clutter out of my way, there is always more work to be done.
As much as I clean, (and still clean daily) I realized I can never actually be “done” cleaning.
With kids, the cleaning never actually ends.
What if the mess isn’t a problem to be solved—but actually a sign of a beautiful life with young kids?
“You don’t have to get perfect to have a pretty house,” Myquillyn Smith writes in her affirming book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful.
“Most of us simply need to learn to see the beauty in the perfect. Because life is gloriously messy. We can find rest in our less than perfect circumstances. . . true rest comes when we realize that we can’t get it from trying extra hard. We find rest when we give up.”
Myquillyn, I love this. ?
So I’m choosing to see the dirty lunch boxes that need to be cleaned as a sign that lunch was delicious.
The books strewn on the floor as a testament to my son’s love of reading.
The piles of expensive clothes they outgrow oh-too-soon a blessing revealing the health of their growing bodies.
The piles of laundry and stained shirts declaring that we have lots of adventures and explorations.
The dirty dishes that are never not piled in our sink a sign we have enough food to feed our family when so many struggle to do so.
The school projects and paperwork sent home a declaration of their teachers’ devotion to my kids.
A car full of receipts and crumbs and the rain jacket we can never find as proof of all the places we’ve been and things our family has done.
All of these things that seem to gather and grow and too often can wear me down? They’re not a bad sign at all, they’re life.
And yes, I could be a little more organized. I probably will pack my daughter’s too tiny clothes away. I do want to wash away winter and embrace spring anew.
But this April, I’m not cleaning all of this beauty away—or making myself feel bad for not being on top of it 24/7. Life—beautiful, messy life—is in progress.
So instead, I’m embracing the fullness of this season in our lives.
I’m playing Legos with my son instead of tossing them into the “right” bin.
I’m teaching my son to cook instead of resenting our dirty dishes.
I’m spending time with my kids instead of angrily cleaning alongside them.
This is my big, beautiful, loud, meaningful, perfect never-ending mess.
And thank God for that.