Plastic toys are taking over our living space. The windows and TV are covered in sticky fingerprints.
The floor is littered with rice cake crumbs and highchair debris. I find mashed-up bits of banana in the car door and I haven’t seen the bottom of the laundry basket for two years.
And guess what? I’m finally learning not to give a sh!t.
With a two-year-old and a brand new baby, I am beginning to realise that if I want a clean, tidy house, I’m fighting a losing battle.
It’s time to embrace the chaos of kids.
When I had my first daughter, I thought that because I was now a stay-at-home mum, it was ‘my job’ to do the housework, grocery shopping and baby-wrangling.
But between feeding, crying and rocking (and that was just me!), I felt I’d achieved something that day if I’d had a shower and was wearing clean undies.
And while that chaotic newborn phase didn’t last long, the chaos simply became a different form of chaos as she started crawling, walking and emptying cupboards and drawers. My once-relatively-high standards flew out the (dirty) window.
At times the relentless picking up of toys off the floor, the sweeping up three times a day and the overflowing washing basket have seemed like little demonic voices in my head, taunting me, reappearing just to spite me. And I’ve not been able to fully relax at night until the place was clean and tidy.
But recently I’ve been thinking about an encounter I had when my daughter was just a few months old. I was in a café giving her a bottle when a man, who must have been in his eighties, approached.
“I’ve got three children, all old now,” he said. “I’d give anything to go back and cuddle them as babies.”
As he walked away, I sat my daughter up and she projectile vomited the entire feed all over the café floor. I was so embarrassed and flustered trying to mop it up that what he’d said didn’t sink in at the time.
But he was right. In years to come, we’ll yearn for the time in our lives when our kids were funny, cute little tornadoes turning our lives and our hearts upside down.
I’m sure we won’t think: ‘If only I’d had a cleaner house’.
We’ll probably hate that the house is so quiet, that we can find things exactly where we left them.
So as I sit here (typing one-handed with my newborn asleep on my lap) and survey the room – wraps, muslins and milk stains all over the sofa, nipple cream, painkillers and breast pads strewn across the coffee table and some new pink plastic additions to minimise my older daughter’s jealousy – I’m trying to embrace the chaos and mentally prepare for what’s in store.
If the whole house becomes one giant toy box, if new life forms grow in the back of the car, then so be it. Bring it on – it won’t last forever, after all.