Surviving The Mayhem of Life With A Little One

August 21, 2016

Messy Eater

I’m a recovering neat freak. On good days I deftly wander past wooden blocks invading windowsills, toy cars rammed into my washing basket and puzzle pieces strewn across the floor. These are the days I feel I’m winning as a parent. ‘This is what it’s all about,’ I tell myself. ‘Let them be little,’ rings in my ears.

But on bad days I want to run for the hills, screaming ‘Give me my house back!’.

I like things neat and tidy (for ideas on how to make this happen, take a look at Get Organised – Tips to Make Every Day Easier). My mind feels clearer and my mood lighter when I know washing is folded, papers are filed and tabletops are clutter-free. It’s second nature for me to tidy up as I go, adjust a chair or plump a cushion. Our home is my sanctuary. My safe place. I don’t want to exist in chaos.

I’ve always been house-proud. Before Tutti burst onto the scene, my floor was so clean you could happily eat your dinner off it (not that I’d let you). Being in marketing has given me an eye for detail, so I notice the little things. I’ve always put thought into how our house is decorated and the bits and bobs that are dotted around.

I had no idea of the impact one baby would have on the mojo of our house. Obviously friends tried to warn me that things would change by gently saying, ‘You know it won’t be like this when the baby comes?’. But I quietly ignored the comments and imagined my little prince as the tidiest, cleanest small person ever to exist. I know. There goes naïve me again.

What happened to my house?

Reality set in two hours after we got home from the hospital. Our lounge looked like Mothercare had exploded, spewing its ‘essential’ first baby paraphernalia everywhere. Bouncy chairs, boppy cushions, muslins, wipes, breast pumps, rattles, blankets, clothes, changing bag…the list is endless. If it was recommended, we had it.

Then came explosive poos and milky spit-up. Everywhere I looked, I saw suspicious residue.

Even now I remember the feeling of being beaten, so soon into parenthood. The realisation I was sharing my home with a tiny human, who didn’t care one bit about being clean and tidy.

What I now know of course, is that it only gets worse. The older they get, the more toys and junk they accumulate. And a whole new horror awaits when they’re mobile. Yoghurty-fingers on windows, every cupboard emptied out, cats biscuits thrown across the kitchen and toilet roll unravelled around the bathroom.

But the biggest evil of all? Meal times. I have no idea why parents rush to wean their babies. It is the messiest, most frustrating activity I’ve ever undertaken. Planning, prepping, cooking, serving and clearing up throughout the entire day. Seriously, this is what parents should be warned about. I was expecting the baby sick and stinky nappies, but the hell of weaning was a most unwelcome shock.

I concoct what I can for each meal and proudly present it to Tutti. Approximately five minutes later, after two licks and a squeeze, said meal is dropped from a great height. There is nothing more soul-destroying than seeing a lovingly crafted meatball, splattered on the floor and sniffed at by the cat. It has brought me to tears more than once.

These are the times when I can’t help but think ‘What has my life come to?’. After most meals I mop up Tutti, vacuum, wipe the floor and clean the high-chair (I even wash the walls when it’s been a really bad session). I know it won’t be forever and he already eats far better than he used to, but my kitchen is certainly looking a little dishevelled as a result.

Creating calm in the storm

I still have a couple of ‘nice’ areas in the house. Where Tutti doesn’t go or can’t reach. But mostly it’s been taken over by a curious toddler, making new discoveries every day (such as curtains rip when you pull on them and eggs smash when you drop them).

My neat-freaky nature compels me to try to keep some semblance of calm. I tidy around when I can, put toys away every night and remove any piece of paper lying dormant! Every now and then I also have a good clear out. Tidy house, tidy mind.

Most of the time I see the funny side of my little rocket man’s antics. I understand he has to learn how the world works and I don’t want to pen him in. He is a good little boy and I can’t ask for more than that.

But some days it feels like the home I’ve lovingly created, is slowly being deconstructed by a rampaging toddler.

So I recite the words of Gretchen Rubin, ‘The days are long, but the years are short.’

The days are long, but the years are short

I will miss the mess one day

One day I will have a neat and tidy house again.

One day I’ll leave a room and return to find it exactly as I left it.

But one day I’ll also have an empty nest. And no doubt I’ll miss the mess.

So if you’re struggling with the mayhem of living with children, all I can say is, I’m right there with you. And this too shall pass.


Dear Bear and Beany
Diary of an imperfect mum
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  1. Reply

    Kate Howard

    This just made me laugh reading it! It is all so familiar. I had forgotten from baby number 1 all the mess with weaning and all the curiosity but now 4 years on we are in mid flow of chaos with baby number 2. Currently having a new kitchen, which I have put hours/ days of thought in to. It is taking shape now and last night I stood there looking at all the clean gloss doors and shiny new things. Then realisation hit me! In less than a month I reckon I will have a crawler and like you said every cupboard will be opened and there will be food splattered everywhere and fingerprints but at the end of everyday when I wipe it down and put everything away I’m sure it will be lovely! So everything in your blog is something to relate to, well done!!

    1. Reply


      Aww glad you enjoyed it Kate. You’re very brave having a new kitchen, but as you say, nothing a little wipe down won’t sort out! I can’t even imagine the mayhem with two, but it’s all worth it in the end. I don’t know why people look forward to little ones being on the move, it is so much easier when they stay still!! Exciting to see them develop and investigate everything though. x

  2. Reply


    Awww I just have to say your little one is so cute! No other words of wisdom though for dealing with the mess im afraid! 🙂 #Sharingthebloglove

    1. Reply


      Aww thank you. It’s a good job he’s cute sometimes! x

  3. Reply

    Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    Oh, I totally relate to this! Pre-children, I loved my tidy house, and I loved having the clutter of my little nick nacks everywhere. Neither the tidyness, nor the little displays work well with a toddler running wild! I miss my clear living room floor, instead of rainbow coloured plastic toys strewn all over it. And now we’ve ditched the high chair for a little table and chairs, I seem to find sticky fingerprints everywhere, no matter how often I clean his hands! Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove – I hope you’ll be back next week!

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, all the sticky fingerprints! As soon as the sun shines I daren’t look at our windows…I miss all my clear spaces! x

  4. Reply

    Laura - dear bear and beany

    I miss my tidy house too, where everything had a place and I didn’t think twice about a friend just popping round. Now that thought sends me into panic and I desperately try to make my house presentable. I can’t wait to have my house back! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x

    1. Reply


      I’m so glad I’m not the only one Laura! We’re attempting to sort out a playroom so I can attempt to contain the toys! x

  5. Reply

    Mrs H

    Fab post. I must admit that I love the mess of having kids around. But I also love when they are asleep and the house is clean and tidy and our’s again! Mr H is a complete neat freak and I know that he struggles with the mess a lot more than me. So I try to have things tidy for when he gets home. Otherwise he can become like a toddler and have a massive meltdown. Ha ha! I love that quote by Gretchen Rubin. Hugs Lucy xxxx #SundayBest

    1. Reply


      Ha, I can’t imagine myself ever saying ‘I love the mess of having kids around,’ but I’ve certainly got better at not completely freaking out. Sounds like Mr H and I would get on well! x

  6. Reply

    Baby Anon

    I feel your pain. My house used to be immaculate but now….the worst thing is the hateful sofa which has been ruined by milk stains and vom (a new one or order). But your last quote is right – it’s ok because I’ve got my baby and I don’t care about any mess to have her x #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Reply


      Ha ha ‘the hateful sofa’ – never a truer word spoken! Ooh exciting that you’ve got one on order – just in time for Christmas (what is it about sofas, that we like to have them in time for Christmas?). I don’t think I’ll ever truly be OK with all the mess, but I don’t let it rule my day. x

  7. Reply

    An imperfect mum (Catie)

    Oh yes! I totally get this post. I too am a very organised person, unfortunately those I love with are not. I have learned to let go a bit but every now and then I do have an explode and a good tidy. I am a bit of a martyr I must admit! But you are right, time is short and I will miss these days when my nest is empty. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ?

    1. Reply


      Ha, yes I’m the same. I let it go for so long and then go mad! It’s starting to pay off though because my little man is quite good at putting things away when asked! We’ll see how long it lasts. x

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