Let It Go!

I love a clean and organized home.

When everything in my house is orderly, the toilets are cleaned, the beds are made and the baseboards are dusted, I’m truly happy. Like ice-cream-on-a-hot-summer-day happy. A clean house is better than any drug – food or pharma – when it comes to lifting my mood and making me feel optimistic and productive.

Clutter creates clouds in my brain.

And yet, if you walked into my office on most days, you wouldn’t believe that.

Somehow, in my work environment, I’m most productive in the midst of a bit of mess. When it gets out of hand, though, those clouds come rolling in.

But that’s my story. It’s not everyone’s when it comes to clutter and cleanliness.

How much mess is helpful or hurtful depends on the person. Many moms get worked up about getting their kids to pick up after themselves. “Clean your room,” they scold. “Pick up your shoes.”

And while the constant battle to curtail your child’s clutter is frustrating, in this issue of Metro Parent, we offer some good news: Messiness can actually be a good thing!

Yep, hard as it may be to imagine, allowing your children to revel in a bit of mess can improve their fine motor skills when they’re little and foster creativity and independence as they grow up. It’s up to you to figure out what level of messiness is right for you and your kids, but it’s nice to know that the aspiration of a perfectly picked-up home is not only a fantasy, it’s unnecessary.

And that, dear readers, is the deeper lesson: You’ll be so much happier when you stop hoping/aspiring for some fantasy idea of parenting. I know some of you have already learned this lesson, sometimes the hard way. For instance, this month, we also have our Special Needs section filled with content specifically for parents of kids with special needs. Over the years that we’ve produced this and held our Living with Autism Workshop, I’ve been struck by how so many of these parents have learned to let go of the crap that doesn’t really matter. Of course, for them, it’s about priorities. Who could honestly get worked up about a little mess when you’re trying to get your child with autism to connect and communicate?

And many parents of “neurotypical” children have learned this lesson as well. But there are some stragglers out there (you know who you are). And you guys, well, it’s time. As our favorite Frozen princess would say, “Let it go!”

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