One of the things that has surprised me as my kids have grown older has been what I call the “happy chaos” that comes along with having toddlers. Before I had kids, I used to tell myself that my household would not be one of chaos – I was convinced that I could still maintain an orderly, peaceful house with children running around.
I can almost hear you all laughing at me, because any mom knows that with kids comes a certain level of chaos. A person can only maintain so much order with even one child in the house, and now we have three children, 3 and under, who make my life so much more fun . . . and yes, chaotic! People inform me that I have my hands full on a daily basis.
I have long since accepted that a chaos-free life with children is an oxymoron, but that doesn’t mean I have completely given up on keeping the craziness to a manageable level. The following are a few things that have helped me as I try to find a good balance.
6 Tips for Managing the Chaos of Life with Young Children
1. Keep Your Daily Devotion Time
One of the easiest things to drop when you are the mother of multiple active young children is your devotion time. But it seems on the days when I don’t spend time reading my Bible and praying, things overwhelm me much more easily. My patience is shorter, the mess starts to get to me, and I don’t feel as productive. When I start out my day spending time with the Lord, it helps to re-focus me for the whole day, so I am more likely to handle whatever comes up in a more gracious manner. You also cannot pour into others when you are empty. One of my most important jobs as a mother is to teach my children about the Lord, and I can’t do that if I don’t take any time to be filled up with His Word.
2. Clean As You Go
For some reason, when the house is clean, every other chaotic moment in the day feels more manageable to me. I have no delusions that my house will be constantly spotless, or that there will not be toys, blankets, and pacifiers strewn about during the kids’ waking hours. But it is amazing how a clean kitchen or freshly dusted coffee table can give me fresh energy for the day. I try pick up toys periodically throughout the day (or I enlist my three year old to help). I keep disinfecting wipes in the bathrooms so I can wipe down the counters quickly. I try to keep dishes from piling up in the sink. Doing these little things as I go keeps the mess from escalating to a level that is overwhelming.
3. Control The Toys
Since I have failed to get my family to agree to a no-toys-for-Christmas pact, I’m constantly tripping over toys. It is unavoidable with small children. However, when the sheer number of toys becomes too great for their toy box, it’s time to clean some things out. My kids are still young, so this job falls to me. The first thing to go? Excessively loud toys, and toys with too many small parts (I’m all for less noise and less individual pieces to become embedded in the soles of my feet).
4. Institute Quiet Time
There is nothing wrong with having a 30 minute block of “quiet time” to recharge during the day, particularly once your child starts giving up their naps. My oldest son is on the verge of dropping his nap, so “quiet time” is probably going to be instituted soon in my house. This might be a time for my three year old to play quietly in his room while the other two nap, watch a short movie, or a time for us to read a book on the couch. I think taking a half hour to an hour in the afternoon to have some peaceful time together will be a great energy boost for the rest of the day.
5. Get Out Of The House
Sometimes you just need to leave the mess behind and burn off some energy with your kids! We might go outside and draw with sidewalk chalk, blow bubbles, or go to a park. Even a trip to the grocery store is a nice change of scenery. By the time we get home, the kids are much more mellow and I come back with a fresh perspective.
6. Embrace the Chaos
My mom likes to tell the story of waking up one morning when my siblings and I were toddlers to find cereal spread all over the kitchen floor. My brother decided to make a bowl of cereal by himself and in the process, he poured the entire box out. My mom says it was one of those moments when you can choose to either be upset or laugh, and she chose to laugh. I remember that story sometimes when I have one of those crazy moments – instead of allowing myself to get overwhelmed, sometimes it’s better to just embrace the chaos and laugh.
I have found that as my little family has grown, I have changed my mind on the concept of “chaos”. Chaos doesn’t have to mean “out of control”.
At this stage, chaos is evidence of a full life.
It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
I have two toddlers and an infant – chatter, screeching, laughter, crying, and baby babbles fill my days, and you know what? I love every minute of it. It is the noise of blessings.
I don’t want to try to replicate those quiet days before we had children; I honestly think it would be a bit boring now. In fact, I kind of laugh at my old determination to not have a chaotic household. My house is filled with life, and I’ve learned to embrace this blessed chaos that comes along with it.
How do you manage the chaos of life with young children in your home?
Callie Nicole: Callie Nicole is a wife, a mother, a part-time dental hygienist, and a fan of coffee. She has been writing regularly on her blog, Through Clouded Glass, since 2008, and she serves on the publicity team for her local MOPS group. When she is not taking care of her three children (all under four years old), she enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, and working on her endless list of DIY and sewing projects. She is passionate about her faith in Jesus Christ, her family, and encouraging others to keep an eternal perspective through the day-to-day.