Our carefree summer: Why I'm not worrying about my kids getting messy

I don’t want them to worry for a second about the pizza sauce on their face or the ice pop stain on their shirt or the dirt on their feet.

Our carefree summer: Why I'm not worrying about my kids getting messy

We just got back from a weekend on a lake in Vermont. Our two girls—three and eighteen months—LOVED it.

They fished, they played in the dirt, they splashed in the water, they ran in the grass, looked for worms and bugs and the loons on the lake and they were outside all day. Basically, they had the time of their lives.

Being a parent this summer, with children this age, brings me right back—in such a magical way—to summers of my youth.

To the times when my mom would let us run wild through the summer rain, splashing in puddles and not caring about our soaking wet hair or the slippery grass.

To the times when we could go swimming in our clothes or undies because we ended up at a friend’s house but didn’t bring our bathing suits and wanted to get in the water. Embracing spontaneity and all that jazz.

To the times we’d come home from the beach with sand all over our legs and feet and (definitely) our van.

My feet were always rough and calloused because I never wore shoes. I walked around barefoot all summer long. To me, nothing was better.

My childhood summers were the definition of not having a care in the world.

They were pure happiness.

And now, I get to watch my children experience those same summers. And I’ve decided, I’m not going to rain on their carefree summer parade with worries of mud and messes.

I’m going to let them go ahead and get dirty and messy. I don’t want them to worry for a second about the pizza sauce on their face or the ice pop stain on their shirt or the dirt on their feet. I’m going to let them live it up—even if that means putting my anxieties aside time and time again.

No matter how many times I want to wipe my daughter’s face as she’s eating chocolate ice cream, I’m going to stop myself. She sure as heck doesn’t care that there is ice cream dripping everywhere. So, I’m gonna take a chill pill and let her finish her ice cream before she gets a quick wipe down.

No matter how much I want to suggest a certain pair of shorts with a certain top for my little one, I’m going to stop myself. I’m not going to worry about smoothing out the bumps in her ponytail or styling her hair any particular way. She can wear what she wants, what’s comfortable to her and what she feels good in this summer. (I mean, I’ll draw the line at letting her wear a snowsuit on an 85 degree day or her Ninja Turtles costume to her aunt’s wedding, but aside from that...)

No matter how much I’ll wonder if it’s actually okay for them to be digging and walking barefoot and rolling around in the dirt, I’m going to assure myself that yes—it’s fine. There is a genius invention called soap and a fancy apparatus called a bathtub. Life will go on. My children, when given the opportunity, really become “one with the earth” when they see dirt and they basically paint themselves with it. But they clearly are having a blast when they do it. So, bring it on!

No matter how much I want to protect those little feet and toes, if they don’t want to wear shoes (as long as it’s safe), they can go without. I don’t know why, but I still love the feeling of my bare feet in the grass, on the sidewalk or in the sand. It’s freeing. If they want in on that, I’ll allow it.

When I silently wonder to myself how the chalk has ended up in their hair, all over their bodies (yes—even on their lips/mouth) I’ll focus instead on their awesome chalk masterpieces on the stones in our yard. I’ll admire their huge smiles and I’ll be dazzled by their explanation of what they drew for me.

No matter how uncomfortable it looks to me to be playing in soaking wet clothes, it’s cool with me. If they want to walk into the lake a bit to get a better view of the ducks—with their pants on—have at it. If they want to splash in the puddles of a storm that just passed, let’s do it. Life’s too short to not dive in!

This summer has been filled with lots of great reminders for me from my kiddos so far. They inspire me to slow down, to open my eyes to these small, simple joys of life—just like they do all the time. Noticing these little things is their norm, but has become almost foreign to me in the inevitable rush and craziness of life.

But I was a kid once, and it used to be my norm, too. I can find that again, and my children are helping me.

These “messy” requests they have are so pure.

They want to be outside, to be exploring, to be squeezing every bit of joy out of life that they can. Since stopping and thinking about all of this, it makes me really happy that they want to experience the world in this way.

It’s now easier to allow these “messes” because I’ve realized—life is just one big, beautiful mess anyway, right?

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

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

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