It’s not a I can’t have nice things because I have kids. It’s a I don’t choose to have nice things because I have kids. I have plenty of nice things. They’re safely stored in boxes in the closet. I don’t display them because I have kids. I choose to not pretty up spaces for Instagram-worthy photos and put out my breakables because I have kids.
This is my home. I can display whatever I want. I can create any kind of environment I want. If I want to have pretty little corners with beautiful vases of flowers or little nooks where I can do some great photo shoots for my food dishes, I can. I can always teach my kids to be careful and not touch anything. I can totally have nice things even though I have toddlers running around.
But I choose to not have nice things because I have kids. Because this is their home, too.
This is my children’s home. This is their place to learn and explore and experiment. This is their safe place. This is where they are loved and where they have the space to explore themselves and the world. If things get messy, they get messy.
My children are toddlers. They don’t have full control of themselves yet. My oldest is old enough to be responsible to help clean up his toys. My youngest is old enough to know that when I say it’s time to get dressed, it’s time to play chase. They are at ages where fun is more important than being loaded down with chores and responsibilities. Besides, things have a tendency to go flying when they become overly excited. Only getting to help sort laundry can be fun to a child. Now excuse me while I go fish a sock from under the bed.
My mom always told me to stay a child as long as I could because adulthood is so much longer.
There are plenty of experts and many articles that say giving children chores and responsibilities is good and healthy for them. I’ve seen countless Pinterest pins and articles that list chores by age.
But other than helping to clean up his toys, I give my 4 year old no real chores or responsibilities.
At these young ages, my children’s only jobs are to have fun, explore, and learn about themselves. They are learning it’s okay to be them, that they deserve to be loved, that they are good. They don’t need the pressure of having to be careful so they don’t break a vase. And, if they do, it’ll be more important that they learn we still love them and not that they are bad because they misbehaved and broke something.
But I don’t see the lack of chores as backfiring. Instead of giving them set responsibilities, we encourage them to help us. My husband and I work as a team to get everything done. We help each other. Similarly, we encourage our kids to get involved with us. We invite them to help us. They help us clean. They help us cook and bake. They help with the laundry. They help us find things (that they originally ran off with, but oh well. It’s a good way to test their memory). My oldest helps take care of our youngest.
Our home aesthetics are a group effort. It looks lived in from the efforts of four people. It doesn’t look magazine-worthy, but it’s a place where my kids can be secure and comfortable. At 1 and 4, they don’t need to be taught to not break things. They need to be encouraged to explore and learn caution.
One day they will be teenagers with school, responsibilities, and friends to juggle. One day we will put out the fragiles and expect them to learn to be careful. But not today. Not when they are 1 and 4.
I don’t have nice things because I have kids. I choose not to display nice things and be a clean freak because I have kids.
I choose to make their home a safe place for them to explore. If I’m lucky, I’ll get at least 18 years of them being home from both of them. Considering wherever I live will be my home for likely much longer than that, it’s not even a price to be paid.
It’s not because I can’t have nice things. It’s because I don’t want to.