Little People Spills and Messes

Keep perspective with young children interruptions, spills, messes and delays

Last Sunday, I was running around like a crazed madwoman, trying to get my little family ready for church. We were trying to make the 9am service. I popped a scratchy, Sunday dress over Esther’s head and smeared her fine baby hair back with a big bow. I threw on a maternity dress and a pair of silver earrings (no time for make-up today!). Dave slicked Samson’s white hair back like Leave it to Beaver and we hurled everyone downstairs.

I slapped an army of matching plastic bowls on the table, a box of blueberries and then turned to the pantry to grab a box of cereal. It was then that I heard a terrifying noise. Two-year-old Esther had accidentally knocked the gigantic, economy-sized box of blueberries from Costco off the table. Millions of blue balls dribbled all over the kitchen and under the table. Samson and Esther, perched standing on kitchen chairs, looked at me with big eyes.

Samson: “Esser! You made a BIG MESS! SPANK HER, Mama!”

Esther jumped down from her chair and ran toward the towel drawer, popping blueberries under her fat toddler feet as she ran, “I KWEAN, I KWEAN!”

I couldn’t move because anywhere I stepped would produce blueberry wine. Now we were going to be late FOR SURE. I covered my eyes with my hand and softly chanted, “I have small children. I have small children. This is normal.”

Have your children ever created a big mess, especially when you are trying to be somewhere on time? How do you handle that stress? One thing that helps me is to remember a few “big picture” thoughts:

– Nothing is worth yelling at my kids

– Nothing is worth getting angry at my kids

– I would rather be late, than be mean and lose it

– When a mess or spill happens, just take a breath and remember to be PATIENT.

617036_10151272835245309_1824777812_oWe are caring for small, quick-moving, uncoordinated little people. Messes, interruptions and spills are NATURAL. They are a NORMAL part of early parenthood. We will spend most of our time caring for them and cleaning up after them. Small children naturally dominate our time. It’s not right to begrudge or get angry at them for natural child behavior. We are “unproductive” adults during these years because we are caring for little ones – it’s normal!

– If I do lose it (and trust me, I have yelled! I have been VERY angry!), I try to regroup and as soon as I am able, I apologize to all my children. Even the little ones that cannot understand. It’s good for me and good for them to develop a pattern of forgiveness. (I so admired my father growing up because he always apologized to his five children if he ever messed up!)

– And, of course, sometimes if an overtired, overwhelmed mama keeps snapping, you need to take a break. Ask your husband, grandparent or hire a babysitter. We cannot give to our families if we are running on empty. (Yesterday, for example, I asked Dave to watch the kids so I could slip away to do my Bible study alone and uninterrupted in the parking lot before I went in to do grocery shopping).

EVERY MOM struggles with spills and messes. It’s frustrating. It creates more work when you feel overwhelmed at the normal daily duties. It’s challenging to live in a constantly chaotic environment, and then you add another mess – woa! But try to keep perspective: the days are long, but the years are few.

Think about five years from now when you look back at this time.

What type of mama do you want to be right now? Your children are so blessed to call you their mama. Each day you are blooming and growing in patience and kindness. Someday we will be old grannies looking back at the little years and wishing we had little blueberry messes in our neat, boring kitchens again. Keep perspective, and you will keep your cool. If you lose it, apologize and grow. You can do it!


Want more stories like this? Pre-order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.


2 thoughts on “Little People Spills and Messes

  1. I love the title of your book! I’m a grandmother of 6 now and I am privileged to be able to spend a great amount of time with my grandchildren because I just loved being a mom. My life was all about theirs and I loved it! Accidental spills never upset me, however, I do remember when my two and 1/2 year old daughter continued to stand in front of me and deliberately pour her drink on the floor. After several times of gently scolding her and then cleaning it up myself, I told her the next time she was going to have to clean it up. I poured her milk and gave it to her, she looked right at me and dumped it on the floor again. I quietly told her she was going to have to clean it up and I gave her a tea towel. She refused. So I picked her up and sat her on the tea towel and cleaned up the milk with the tea towel and her sitting on it. She didn’t like that very much, but never dumped her drink ever again.

    • That’s a funny story, Kelly! I admire that spills and messes didn’t bother you as a mother. I wish I had more patience, like you!”

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