By Heather Miller

Once upon a time, I had a clean house. My floors were spotless, my shower had no ring, the toilets could have been used as tables as I refused to let a single germ settle on one … and I was miserable. I was seriously driving myself crazy. I have three kids eight years old and under and there was just no possible way that I could keep this type of house work up and still enjoy being a mother.

It seemed as though all I ever did was tell my kids no. No, we can’t go outside, I have to empty the dishwasher. No, I can’t play school with you right now, I need to scrub the bathroom floors. No, sorry kiddos, I will not be making cupcakes with you today, I just cleaned the kitchen and it is staying that way. I was a “No Mom” and once I realized that, I was not happy with myself, at all. These kids are only going to be this small one time, and I was letting it pass me by just so I could have a clean house that rarely saw guests anyway.

This wasn’t something that stopped with the cleanliness of my home, though. My kids were never to go to bed without a bath, there was no jumping in muddy puddles, and they better not even think about entering the house with shoes on their little feet. I was honestly driving myself and the kids insane. So, finally, I caved. I left the dishes in the sink and went outside. I gave up on having such a tight schedule in the evenings and let the kids just play.

What was once a nightly routine of snack, homework, room cleaning, and showering turned into hanging out in the neighborhood after school, eating popcicles with the neighborhood kids and letting the housework take a third row seat. Nothing felt better than realizing I was finally a “Yes Mom” and that my kids were enjoying the carefree childhood that they deserve. Sure, my house is a mess most of the time and there are more fruit snack wrappers shoved under beds than I want to admit, but we are all so much happier for it. Don’t get me wrong, my inner neat freak shows up every once in a while and we all come in for a cleaning party, but it is not nearly as much of a fight as it used to be when I thought it should be a daily occurrence.

Whether you are one who likes a spotless house or one that can let it go, just make sure that it isn’t causing you to miss out on those fun and happy times out in the yard or sitting on the beach. Find a balance there somehow and enjoy those kiddos while you can. Just think, one day they won’t want to be hanging at home with you and you can have the cleanest house in the land, but I bet when that time rolls around you would trade that clean house for some loud, dirty kids any day.

Don’t miss out, mommas!