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If you find yourself constantly struggling to keep on top of the housework, then perhaps it’s time to simply let go. Follow this guide written by a stay-at-home dad, and you will be well on your way to creating a chaotic and messy house that will be the envy of all your friends (kids).

1 | Look at your team.

Assess everyone’s role and then understand that you are not the boss. Your child is the boss. You will be answerable to them during working hours and then they will report your performance to the boss of bosses when he or she arrives home from work. Do not let this worry you. By relinquishing the need for total control you are allowing yourself to relax a little. When rules are relaxed the possibilities for creative mess-making increase exponentially.

2 | Don’t think that this will be an easy ride.

To create a truly chaotic and messy living space takes effort. You will need to ensure that your kids are okay with what is about to happen and that they are fully on board. Tip: If you can get your partner to sign up to the experience then you will have a much easier time doing your work. However, in the more than likely event that your partner is not going to be as committed to this as you are, it may be best to keep your plans to just you and your team at this stage. Your partner will find out soon enough.

3 | Prepare mentally for the reaction of your other half when they first witness the chaos that has been unleashed on the household.

Tip: Phrases such as, “I know it’s messy darling, but the kids are having so much fun,” and “What would you rather, I spend all day cleaning and tidying while (insert name) stares at a screen, or that the kids have a really happy memorable childhood?” can be stored for later use and brought out whenever there is a look of bewildered disappointment on your partner’s face.

4 | Embrace mess.

“Children are messy, I can be messy, mess is not all that bad.” Repeat this mantra and your acceptance will lead to less stress – until your partner arrives home, (refer to tips at end of point 3 if need be).

5 | Resist getting riled.

At times the mess may become too much even for your high mess-threshold to handle.When you have had enough or need a time-out, keep calm. Shouting leads to sore throats, and children who remember you shouting. Develop a stare instead. Try raising both eyebrows whilst lowering your chin and staring at your child. If you catch your reflection whilst doing this, there is a strong possibility that you may laugh. Laughter is good, it will help you to realize that things aren’t as bad as they might seem and it will allow you to continue on your quest. Save the shouting for wild daytime parties.

6 | Have wild daytime parties.

Shut the curtains, crank up the stereo, and put on the disco lights. There is no better time to practice your moves than when you are a looking after the kids. Parties with your children really help to trash the venue. Cushions can be thrown, settees moved aside, outfits can be worn, old outfits can be left on the floor. Make sure snacks are involved, and if you can get some, pull the strings on as many party poppers as you can.

Tip: Remember to get the kids involved. As tempting as it is to do this one alone, it never looks good when your partner walks in and catches you doing the Locomotion whilst wearing an animal tail and a tiara. Kids provide the perfect excuse. Teach them how to strut their stuff and they, too, will be able to one day embarrass themselves on the dance floor.

7 | Get the kids involved in making dinner.

There’s no better way to make a mess in the kitchen than allowing your children to handle ingredients such as flour, eggs, couscous, and milk. Yes, the end result may not be Michelin star restaurant quality, and in fact it may be pretty bad, but your kids will love creating their culinary masterpieces.

Make sure that your kids practice good hygiene and wash their hands before starting on this one, however washing hands afterwards is entirely optional. Tip: Whilst sampling anything that has been made, use the stare developed in stage 5 above but nod your head and at the same time cover your mouth. With practice you will be able to use this to convey approval and simultaneously deposit chewed-up bits of food-like substances into your hand.

8 | Serve food in various locations throughout the house and allow your children to eat snacks that crumble whilst moving around.

Tip: Hide or disguise the trash can so that your children have the perfect excuse to discard wrappers and bits of leftover food wherever they like. If you take an artistic view and see your house as a collage that is made up of all the bits of stuff that aren’t where they are supposed to be, then you will be much happier and can be seen as positively encouraging creativity in your children.

9 | Invite your kid’s friends over to join in – the more the messier.

If you think your kids are messy, wait until you get more of them involved. You will truly experience mess on a whole new level. Other people’s children will love the carefully deconstructed environment that you have created. They will relish the chance to play without the conventional restraints normally placed upon their innate messy instincts.

Once they realize that you’re okay with them joining in, they will not only add to your mess, but also create a screaming, fast-moving, energetic form of chaos. Make sure, too, that junk food is the fuel of choice throughout the session, and your house will have never looked so rearranged.

Tip: If things are getting a bit too hectic and you need to restore some calm, then introduce a craft activity such as painting. If you have glitter available, now is a good time to get it out. On the other hand, if things are getting a bit too calm, then a good-natured water fight can really liven things up.

10 | If the house has become too messy and chaotic, move outside and get to work trashing the garden.

Things in the house will have a way of sorting themselves out eventually and tidiness will return, (or perhaps it’s your partner’s return that causes the tidiness to return. Who knows?). Regardless, the outdoors is always a great place to be. Whatever the weather, remember the wisdom of Alfred Wainwright: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Of course this assumes that you can find your clothing under the pile of washing that you have been meaning to get around to. Tip: To avoid creating a large pile of laundry, allow your children to just discard items of clothing all over the floor in the location that they are standing when they remove it. You will never have to look at another washing pile again as your laundry will now be nicely spread throughout the house.

11 | Apply the, ‘Don’t do today anything that can wait until tomorrow,’ rule to tidying up at the end of the night.

You’ve had a hard day. Of course it was fun, but you’ve put 100% of your time into ensuring that your kids grow up with happy memories. You make it seem effortless but it does require some effort. You need some time for yourself now.

Pick up the guitar, catch up on a box set, do something mind-numbing. Any tidying up can wait until tomorrow, unless of course you spend tomorrow creating as much chaos as today. Tip: The true pro gets the kids involved in the tidying, although results can vary. Expect random items placed in random places and furniture cleaned with paint applied by scouring sponges.

12 | Remind yourself regularly to enjoy your time.

This part of your life is a privilege and not just something to get on with. One day you will get back the tidy, uncluttered, clean house that you once had, and if you have served your time well, then you will really miss the chaotic mess that you and the team had so much fun creating.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Dear Jeff Bezos and all who have anything to do with Amazon Prime Day,

I just want to start by saying—I know you are trying to be helpful. I love you all for that. I honestly do. But, you are kind of making me feel a lot of pressure today. Like, in a good way, but also, in an anxious way.

Let me explain…

On any given day, as a mother to three children, I have a certain level of anxiety. While it's not constant, I do have my anxious moments. Why? Because there are various versions of the following: Me asking my two older daughters to get their shoes on what feels like 500 times as I am changing my 9-month-old's very, very, very messy diaper while I am trying to figure out what I can throw on to wear in about five seconds while I am repeating brush your teeth, brush your teeth in my head so I, in fact, don't forget to brush my teeth.

Not even to mention the mental load that weighs on my mind every single day. Remember to flip the laundry, fill out the school forms, cancel that appointment, reschedule this appointment, order more diapers, figure out what we're having for dinner, squeeze in a shower, lock the basement door so the baby can't get down the stairs, find better eczema cream for my middle daughter, get more sunscreen...the list goes on and on and on.

But then you Amazon Prime Day me and I'm having a lot of feelings about that.

Because you're reminding me of things I need to order, to think about, to be on top of more.

The little potty that's on sale reminds me that I need to step up my potty training game for my 2-year-old. That super cute dollhouse reminds me that I need to think about my daughter's first birthday in two months (WHAT!). That face mask reminds me that I need to remember to wash my face before bed because I forget waaaay more than I remember which is terrible.

But then I realize, these deals are going to save my mental load by fixing my life. Right?

Like, I never knew I needed an Instant Pot until you told me it was only $58. Now I am scouring Pinterest for meals I want to prep in my own. THIS POT IS THE TICKET TO GETTING MY LIFE IN ORDER.

Do we need more plates and cups for the kids? I mean really they only probably need about two plates and two cups each but YES. Yes I do need more cute kids kitchenware. THESE PLATES ARE THE TICKET TO BEING A GOOD MOM.

What would I do if I had five Echo Dots? I don't know, but let's find out because they're only $29! THESE DOTS ARE THE TICKET TO EFFICIENCY.

If I order a Vitamix at 30% off, I know I'll lose the baby weight. Think of all the smoothies I'll mix up! I mean, I just lost a pound even thinking about the smoothies that thing can whip up. THIS VITAMIX IS THE TICKET TO A SEXY BOD.

Buying this trendy, floral dress will step up my mom style significantly. THIS DRESS IS THE TICKET TO KEEPING MY COOL.

Okay, then after I add all the fixers to my cart, I realize… I have 99 things, but necessity ain't one.

I mean, I have everything from waterproof band-aids to bras to dresses for myself and my kids to an alarm clock and books. I basically feel like Oprah—You get an Audible subscription! You get an Audible subscription!—but instead of these products magically being paid for by Queen O herself, the money is coming from my bank account, which is a lot less fun of a game, TBH.

And if I am being honest, I don't need much help with my order-things-from-Amazon-and-pretend-it's-being-paid-for-with-Monopoly-money game as I am quite often coming home to an Amazon package wondering what it could be, opening it with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning—even though I am the exact person who ordered whatever is inside of that Amazon box.

But today, on Amazon Prime Day, you tempt me with all the deals. And yes, my anxiety, blood pressure and adrenaline rise. And yes, my bank account might temporarily decrease—BUT if we are being fair, with the savings I'm getting on things I would buy anyway, I am basically making our account increase overall. Right?

And while these things aren't going to make me skinnier, or cooler, or more put together—I'm okay with that. I am doing a pretty good job on my own. But some of them will actually help my life in a few different ways at a reasonable price, and I am grateful for that—for real.

Now, Bezos, please end this 404 error nonsense and let me purchase all the things!

Thank you for all the savings and excitement,

Mamas everywhere

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Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.

Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

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Amazon shoppers were anxiously awaiting the countdown to Amazon Prime Day, but when the clock struck one, er three, the website went down.

On Monday afternoon shoppers were trying to get their hands on the much-hyped Prime Day deals but instead of low prices, many users just saw 404 errors, continuously refreshing pages, or had issues keeping or adding items to their shopping carts.

CNBC reports shares of Amazon were down during the shopping glitch, and many shoppers took to Twitter and Instagram to discuss how all they could see on Amazon were the dogs who decorate the site's 404 pages.

As cute as the dogs are, shoppers are getting tired of seeing them, so hopefully Amazon gets things back up and running soon. Analysts had projected Amazon would rake in $3 billion dollars this Prime Day. Time will tell how much of that was lost during the great dog picture debacle of 2018.

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"Say you're sorry!"

"Go apologize and mean it."

"You don't sound like you're sorry to me."

"She won't want to be your friend anymore if you don't apologize right now."

Sound familiar? This is a hot topic for many parents. We want our kids to have good manners, to truly feel and show compassion for another, to want to apologize from a heartfelt and authentic place—yet when we tell them to say they're sorry, what are we really communicating?

I think:

  • I need you to apologize so I can feel better about what just happened...
  • This is how we fix problems...
  • I need you to do what I say ...
  • You need me to tell you how to feel and behave...
  • I'm in control...(bigger and stronger wins)
  • Integrity is secondary to apologies—what you do doesn't have to be aligned with how you feel or think... just do it anyway.

Whew. Maybe not the message we really want to give.

Yes, manners are important and apologies are necessary. But, encouraging the growth of this from within—a genuine desire to (re)connect and show compassion, being in our integrity—is essential for healthy relationships.

Think about it. How might you feel if, after being hurt deeply by a friend they brushed you off with a cursory, "I'm sorry" or after a tearful yelling match with your teen that left you feeling raw, your spouse said, "How could you lose it like that?! You need to go apologize to him!"

I'd venture to say you might feel more hurt, maybe misunderstood and alone, or even mad.

Often, situations our children are in that we catch ourselves telling them to apologize are defined by just the same kinds of feelings. Hurt whether they are the one doing the hurting or being hurt; frustrated and mad that their favorite toy was grabbed, a cool idea rejected, some other injustice experienced; misunderstood because their feelings and thoughts weren't respected, because the adult missed all that led up to the conflict, because they weren't listened to; alone because they are misunderstood, not listened to, hurt on the inside, feeling rejected; MAD because they really didn't like what their buddy did and their feelings overflowed.

Having your child say "I'm sorry" is going to do very little for a child to grow an understanding of how they feel, why they feel, what they can do with all these feelings—all precursors to compassion.

The words I'm sorry" are more often about our need, not our child's. So what can you do to grow the genuine, integrity based, heartfelt ability to apologize?

1. Role model, always

Be genuine with your own apologies. Voice compassion for your child, others, and their situation.

2. Name and affirm feelings of all parties involved.

Just think, if your spouse, following the tearful yelling match with your teen, had said, "Honey that was really tough. Let me hold you for a minute while you pull yourself together," how might you now feel? How might that change the next step you took? I bet you'd feel connected, understood, cared for, and in a better position to now re-connect with your son and apologize for losing it. And it would have come from a genuine place within you.

3. Give choices or ideas.

"What can you do to help him feel better?"

"When you are ready to let her know you feel sorry, she'll appreciate it."

"Can you use your words or would you like to show her you feel sorry?"

Words, smiles, pats, sharing a toy, playing next to—these are all authentic ways kids can show they are sorry.

4. Notice what your child chooses or does on their own to express their apology and their feelings and name it.

"Thank you for offering your special stuffed guy to your friend. You wanted to help him feel better. What a nice thing to do to let him know you felt sorry."

And now you are helping your child learn a bit more about what healthy, caring relationships look like. Genuine apologies are on their way. It takes time to grow a child who can tap into their inner selves and respond with compassion and honesty in a difficult situation. Time, patience, and gentle guidance... trust this. "I'm sorry" will follow... and be truly meant.

Relationship building all around.

Originally published on Denali Parent Coaching.

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