So I’ve been doing a little reflecting over the last couple of weeks or so. Dangerous, I know.
You may recall the words I penned at the start of the month. If not here’s another opportunity for your perusal: https://www.mollysguide.co.uk/blog-1/2017/8/2/kids-eh-whod-have-them
I was in a desperation situation – deflated by repeated defeat at the hands of my own seemingly mess-obsessed kids – and reached out for help.
Since then, I have been inundated with messages, emails, social media comments and face-to-face advice. And subsequently, I’ve been doing a little soul searching. What I had hoped for were a few crafty tips in how to keep our new abode in tip-top condition. Or at least how to strike a balance between keeping the children entertained and maintaining a semi-respectable home.
Instead I have been taught an unexpected life lesson. Here are some of the headline tips I have received – leaving the humdinger until last. “My only advice would be to give in and accept the inevitable. Keep trying to keep the house tidy but accept you will fail. It doesn’t last for ever and eventually, you can repair the damage. It’s a bit like having a puppy but it lasts longer!”
Another reader wrote: “Take it from me Mark, you are not going to win this battle. Give in and try and enjoy the mess making with your lovely children.” There were many more but my favourite, and the one that genuinely tugged at my heartstrings, because I have become a total softie since my daughter Betty was born two years ago, was this:
One of my closest colleagues at work, a mum of three, all of whom have flown the nest, calmly took me to one side. With utter sincerity she looked me squarely in the eyes, held my hand tight and said: “I promise you this Mark – there will come a day when you look at the walls in your house and wish more than anything that your little girl’s fingerprints were still there.”
Wow. It sure was powerful stuff. And it is a piece of advice I will never forget.
No doubt the lovely and wise Wendy is reading this and I’d like to thank her for this. And everyone who offered their words of wisdom. Every time since that I’ve seen a chocolate fingerprint here or a Bolognese-filled hand shape there, I’ve actually managed a smile. Cleaned it of course, but smiled while doing it all the same.
Because when it’s all said and done, a home is so very different to a house, right? And what’s a home if children can’t have a little fun once in a while? I’ve learned it is all well and good having a clean and tidy house but what good is that in twenty years without loving memories? That is the most important thing. Stuff it, I may even start throwing food at the wall myself – it sure seems to entertain Betty. If you can’t beat them, join them…