It was a random weekday afternoon. The kids were busy playing upstairs as I was attending to laundry, housework, dinner prep, the daily grind. After an hour or so, I realized that it was SILENT upstairs. Ask just about any mom, and she’ll tell you that the sound of silence is absolutely and utterly terrifying.
Understanding that silence surrounding young children typically means a HUGE mess, I bolted upstairs. The smell hit me about halfway up the staircase. I flung open the door to my young son’s room and came face to face with the most disgusting mess I’ve faced in 7 years of parenting. EVERY single surface in my son’s room was covered in poo. EVERYTHING.
I quickly put the kids in time-out in the hallway, got to work with the sanitizer, started looking for a place to get a professional rug cleaning, and attempted to calm down.
My mind immediately jumped to, “How could you do this to me?” and began to mutter things about how my three year old must hate me. I took that big stinky mess personally. Every stain on the carpet was a personal attack. Each smear on the curtains a sign of how they truly must feel about me.
Here’s the thing ladies, our kids aren’t making the messes to irritate us. They’re not setting out to make Mommy spend her afternoon with a carpet cleaner and a bottle of Lysol. Your two year old doesn’t grab the Sharpie marker or the bottle of toothpaste and purpose in their heart to ruin your day with a mess. The mess isn’t personal. It’s not personal. It’s a two year old.
Using their kid logic, they’ll take their crayons to the walls when they can’t find a piece of paper or paint like Picasso with poo just to see what happens. When I began to realize that my kids weren’t out to get me, and were simply being kids, it put those kind of “are you kidding me?!” moments into perspective.
Intent can make a world of difference. The next time your child creates a mess or an inconvenience (don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long!), stop and consider their intent. My daughter simply got carried away with the poo. What started as an accident, turned into a battle between self-control and curiosity. Curiosity won. I can think of another time when I came downstairs to find scraps of paper all over the kitchen, marker and dabs of glue all over the kitchen table, and crayons all over the floor. I was MAD. I lost it and went on a rant about all of the garbage everywhere. I looked over at my son who was crying, with a look of pure hurt on his face. I asked him why he had made the big mess. His response? He was making special cards for everyone in his family. He wasn’t setting out to ruin my afternoon or make me mad….He was trying to show love! His intent changed things.
The next time you walk into the bathroom and see toothpaste smeared everywhere, wait. Perhaps your child was trying to brush their own teeth (and is super proud of their initiative) or was helping a younger sibling. That mess all over the kitchen counter may be the result of a child trying to fix lunch on their own. The muddy footprints on the rug may be from your child attempting to weed the garden for you. (All of these have happened at our house.) Before you lose it, stop and consider their intent.
Keep that carpet cleaner’s number in your back pocket, always have a bottle of trusty sanitizer handy, count to five, don’t take it personally, and consider the intent.