Can a Tidy Home Exist with Children?

Is it possible to keep a tidy home with three or more children under the age of five or is more sane and realistic to accept the fact that it will be a mess?

Wouldn’t it be great if everything were black and white when it came to questions like this? I would love to be able to say:  ‘yes, you can keep a perfectly neat home with three or  four little ones running around and this is the magic formula’.  On the other hand wouldn’t it be nice to say ‘don’t worry about the house, put it on the back burner – it doesn’t matter; when  the children are grown you will have your dream home.’

Unfortunately, life is not made up of simple magic formulas and we all know that easy ways out only exist in fairy tales and seldom end with the most desirable effect. The fact is that all of our homes are unique and that is what makes them our most cherished challenge to care for particularly when there are children. Children are a gift whether we may be blessed with one or ten. Yes, the reality is that there are families with ten children today, admittedly not many but they do exist. My son and his wife have eight and I must say that the number eight raises eyebrows from time to time. I can’t tell you how often I have heard “how does she do it or she must be a saint”.

It is true that it takes a special couple to manage a large family or a number of little ones born close together but it is amazing what we are capable of doing when we put our hearts and minds to it. Certainly my son’s home is not perfect but what is perfect anyway? What I do know is that I love to visit when we travel back north and that says a lot since we are empty nesters who have the luxury of having most everything in its place. It says that there is something quite beautiful in the midst of what some may call chaos when a sense of order lurks in the background.

I guess what I am saying is that I think the secret to sanity in the midst of this type of chaos is not to grasp for perfection but rather to hold on tight to a sense of order and routine that can rescue you at the end of the day. My daughter- in-law may not be a canonized saint yet but a sense of order and routine she has mastered quite well along with a sense of humor. She knows to have let the house be totally up for grabs would have sent the wrong message to the children and would have perpetuated a ‘who cares’ attitude. Both she and my son have led the way to peace by striving to keep up with the clutter and working together as a team. They also knew that too many toys and things would only have added to the challenge and confusion of everyday life. My son actually would rotate the toys putting some away and bringing others out about three times a year. When the children were young this was a magical experience that kept everyone happy including mom and dad.

I chose to share my brief thoughts because I can’t accept the idea of totally giving up on striving for a bit of beauty even in the midst of chaos. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but I don’t think it is. As I said life is not black and white and for me it would have gone against my better judgment to be willing to accept the idea of putting an environment that we hold near and dear on the back burner until the children are raised. It would have also meant a kind of pitting one choice against another – having children vs. the perfect house. The reality is we are meant to have them both and I believe the magic formula, if there is one, is to be found in a mixture of love, order, routine, cooperation and laughter. It may not be defined as magical and the end result may not be what some call perfection but who cares as long as it works and it usually does.

Good luck and enjoy those beautiful children in your beautiful home!

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