As parents, it is only natural for us to want our kids to look spotless and clean. Whether they spill food on their pants or a drink down their shirt, we all can admit it is a little more than frustrating even if they do not mean to do it. I mean, come on, our kids are always adorable but the mess usually comes when we decide to dress them extra cute for the day. So, due to that, I have learned to always take the pictures first! No matter who is in the mood to or not to take the pictures, just GET THEM DONE.
From the wise words of my Grandmother: “They’re kids! If they come home dirty it means they had fun! If they come home clean they just had an ‘okay’ time”. And with all honesty, I love raising my son keeping this little piece of advice in the back of my head. It lets me not get (as) upset when my toddler dirties a cute outfit. I take a breath and remember that it is important to let kids be kids! Let them play, let them explore, and let them learn. As parents, by now, we know that our kids make messes and we just need to pack a second outfit if they ever get out of hand. Trust me, I understand that there is a time and a place when it comes to allowing your kid to get messy but sometimes it is okay to let go a little bit.
I am going to tell you a quick story. My son and I were at some baseball fields watching our friend play softball. I liked taking my son to the games because it allowed for him to run around and play a little while taking breaks in between to watch the game, leaving him to crash in the car (every parent’s secret guilty pleasure). Well, my son happens to love rolling around in the dirt by the baseball fields then running over to the grass and rolling around a little more- so I have very much so accepted the fact that the baseball fields equal my son coming home a mess. One night, there was another little boy there who really wanted to play with my son. My son was thrilled! At the time he was playing with the dirt by the field and the little boy decided to join. They were having so much fun together, talking in their own language that we cannot understand and laughing away. The little boy’s grandmother was watching him play and she had the biggest smile. All of a sudden the little boy’s mother came over angrily and grabbed her son from the ground and the little boy began to cry. I remember the grandma saying “do you not usually let him do that?” in a sad voice, and the mother replied, “absolutely not!”. (I need to say that I am not judging this mom whatsoever for reacting this way because I truly do not know what her plans were for the rest of the night with her family!).
This was an interesting experience for me because I am so used to allowing my son to explore and have fun in the environment around him! I very much so understand that allowing my son to get all dusty from the dirt is not everyone’s favorite thing to let their kids do but the way I look at it is that every once in a while we need our kids to be kids! And, wipes were invented for a reason! I just give my son a quick “monkey bath” with a wipe and he is good to go in his car seat once the night is over!
I think a lot of the time parents sometimes forget to let their kids be kids and letting them explore is one of those things that get lost. With social media influences and the terrifying thought of being judged by other parents we want our kids to be “picture perfect”. I can admit that occasionally I get consumed by these parental “expectations”, but what good does that do for our kids? Our children are growing in a world that is so different than the way we grew up! With all of the new technologies, foods, diets, and “images”, we need to embrace those little moments that flash us back to the times we were kids. Let them have a mini food fight while baking. Let them go outside. Let them roll down a grassy hill. Let them explore mud. Let them run around. Let them fall down. Show them how to love and appreciate the outdoors. Give them a little piece of your childhood. Remember, as we look at our messy kids and think about how difficult and inconvenient they will be to clean up take a look at their smile. Their happiness makes it all worth it.