How to be Grateful for Your Children’s Messes

This morning I woke up to a “mess” on the floor. With four kids, this is fairly common, but what is not common, is my view of our daily messes. Living a life with my children exploring their passions daily is a lot of facilitation, cleaning, assisting, supporting and connecting. I had an important realization many years ago: I realized that if I wanted to live a life of freedom and peace with my children, I had to begin seeing our home as not just a place to display our things, but as something, much, much more. I realized that our home was not just mine. It belongs to *everyone*. Therefor, my needs for our home were just as important as my children’s needs for our home. This began my awakening into how to relax and breath around the daily, “messes” and how to view them differently.

My need for a clean and organized home does not override my children’s needs to use our home as a workshop of their interests. Our kitchen is used as a science laboratory, a place to dye fabric and make paper. It’s a rollerblading rink, a place to bake and cook with reckless abandon, a greenhouse, a think tank, and occasionally, a place to practice yoga handstands. Right now, our living room is a computer lab, a crafting center, a Bionicle village, Call of Duty marathon space, snack tasting center, library, a study and a wrestling arena. Our bathroom is used for not only washing, but dying hair red and pet grooming station – among many other messy things.

When I see a, “mess” I see learning. I see memories being made. I see JOY and growth. What I feel, in turn, is gratitude – deep and powerful, gratitude. When I wake up in the morning and see what I saw in this photo, I think about what the kids made with the materials from the night before, after I went to bed. What is left behind is a story of their creation. Instead of getting pissed off and huffing obscenities under my breath, I clean up their “mess,” smile and feel such love in my heart for having happy, healthy children, who are so creative and passionate about life.

Instead of feeling resentment that they didn’t clean it all up themselves, I feel contentment and acceptance that life with four children who are Unschooled is messy and busy. It is also, such a short season in my life… I have compassion and understanding that if it is late and my children are creating, they don’t always have the energy to clean it all up before bed. My children know that they have the freedom to leave the mess until morning, without fear of the repercussions – because their needs matter, just as much as mine.

There are the rare days when I look at the messes and I need to take a deep breath, releasing deeply ingrained conditioning of victimization and resentment. Sometimes, I look at a space that I just cleaned and see a pile of “interest-bits” there again, and just can’t get in that head-space of gratitude about it. However, those days are *very* few and far between. I know it is important that I honor those days, and ask for help – which is almost always met with love and gratitude.

You see, when you don’t pick up your home in an energy of resentment and frustration, you aren’t modeling that housework and cleaning is tedious and unpleasant. Instead, you are modeling gratitude, love and acceptance. You get to *choose* how you feel when you clean your home! I feel this same energy from my children when they are cleaning, themselves. This is important to own and take responsibility for. If your children are resisting cleaning, think about what you’ve modeled for them over the years. My children always have the choice to clean up or not, including their own messes. I will always help them, if and when they need help and they will never be forced or coerced into doing so. They choose to help, most of the time and I know this is because of my positive attitude towards cleaning and the freedom they live.

I know there will come a time when I long to see these scraps of fabric and pieces of yarn on the floor again. There will come a time when all that is left, are my needs – for a clean, organized home. In the meantime, I will continue to find ways to honor the needs of everyone in our family. I will continue evolving in new ways and gain new skills and a higher level of awareness to honor everyone, equally, and powerfully in our shared Home.

This is an ever-evolving process and one that I’ve seen the incredible role that I have in creating for my children. I can clean and organize in the energy of resentment, or in an energy of gratitude and love. In either, I am modeling something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I choose to model a higher consciousness of respecting everyone’s needs, equally. I choose to live in gratitude for raising healthy, creative children, who are always learning, exploring and having adventures together. I am modeling peace and respect in ways that most children today, never get to experience. Our home isn’t just a place to just display our, “things”. It is the heart center of the love and learning in my children’s lives. Today, I am so grateful to have this awareness.

Peace & Love, Dayna


  1. This is exactly the message that I needed to hear now! Thank you!

  2. Whenever I’m beginning to get overwhelmed with my world as a parent, you seem to write something that speaks to what I’m going through, and I am inspired to change my perception. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for your beautiful and thoughtful and incredibly helpful words.

  4. I love this! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I was raised in a home where perfection and cleanliness were more important than anything else. Burdened by the plague of perfection. But, as an unschooling parent, I’ve struggled with my need for perfect cleanliness (which I was brought up to believe equaled my self-worth) and an inner voice telling me that other things are far more important. While I know what is right and true, I still struggle with monkies on my back and voices in my head. It’s a horrible internal struggle!!! I’ve gotten better over the years. But I have also struggled with saying one thing (because I know it’s right), but still not feeling comfortable with it deep down inside. And, for me, until it’s fully internalized and I’m completely comfortable with it, without even really having to think about it, then it’s not yet real and I have not yet won. So I’m continually on the watch for new voices in my head in order to crowd out and replace the old. It’s not easy, but wisdom like this from Dayna is extremely helpful! Thank you!!!

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