From the very beginning, motherhood is messy. The tiniest newborn can make a mess that would bring on the postpartum tears — and the grossness continues all the way through the teenage years. Poor mom is left cleaning it all up.
There are the early days she spends covered in pee, poop and spit up, and then the incredible, unexplainable toddler messes that can surprise you and make you laugh before you cry. Every mom has been served a mud pie and swept sand that trails her little one in from the playground. Every meal time is an occasion for a mess, from the first jar of strained peas to the days of spilled milk. And as much as moms love to put their little one's art projects on the fridge, they hate the mess that comes with them.
Along with diapers and burp clothes, baby showers should include laundry detergent and stain remover, along with supplies to baby proof the kitchen cabinets and to keep the bathroom clean. They are staples for dealing with the messes of motherhood. Of course, most moms embrace the mess because it can come with some priceless moments, but we all have a few occasions we wish we could skip.
Here are 15 messy truths about motherhood.
15 Postpartum Mess
The messy part of motherhood starts at the very beginning. Even before the baby arrives there are plenty of gross things going on with the mother's body — and the labor and delivery can be a bloody, disgusting mess. But we'll start when the baby comes, when things really get out of control.
We'll get to the kid in a moment, but let's start with the first joys of motherhood — the messy, gross, haggard postpartum life. Those first few days are just icky. Mom is swollen and probably torn, and she has to deal with lochia, a period-like heavy discharge for weeks. Her breasts get sore and engorged, and whether she decides to breastfeed or not, she'll probably leak a little milk at the most inopportune times.
A new mom may have a rush of energy for the first few days, but motherhood is a round-the-clock job at the beginning, so she will soon be exhausted. And she'll have incredible night sweats as the hormones rush out of her body. Her very body will be the first motherhood mess she has to deal with, and all the while, her baby will give her some messes of his own.
14 No. 1 Problem
From the very beginning, a little one is messy and gross. And they can be quick to, um, baptize parents into the world of parenthood. And mom and dad can prepare to get wet.
Ever heard of a Peepee Teepeee? It's a silly invention, yes, but it has a point. Babies, especially boys, tend to urinate as soon as the diaper comes off. There is something about the cold air that gets them started. If a mom or dad isn't quick to get the new one on, they will end up getting bathed in it.
For girls, the trick is to keep the bottom part of the diaper in place until you are ready to immediately switch it with the new one. For boys, it's the opposite, keep the front covered at all times, no matter what you do. Of course that leaves the backdoor exposed, which can also lead us to disaster, and leads us to our next point.
13 Diaper Blowouts
Eventually, every baby has a diaper blowout. That is a time when the poop escapes the diaper. Babies can have pretty explosive bowel episodes, and sometimes that means the defecation leaks out the sides of the diaper, and it even goes up the back.
It can cover the baby in sticky, messy poo, sometimes all the way up to the head and all the way down to the toes. It's a good time to get the shower nozzle ready. It's disgusting and you may want to rock, paper, scissors on who has to tackle cleanup.
WebMD says that the proper fitting diaper and knowing baby's bowel schedule can help avoid the situation. But it also points out that things change at times, like when the baby starts solid food or goest through a bout of sickness.
Every parent has to go through at least one big blowout. You have been warned.
12 Spit Up
Babies tend to have gross stuff coming out of both ends, unfortunately. In the first several months of life, the baby's immature digestive system means that even milk can often come back up in the form of spit up.
Many times the spit up happens when a gas bubble gets trapped in the throat and then more milk gets on top of it. When the gas comes out, so does the milk at the top. That's why it's a good idea to burp a baby halfway through a feeding. Even then, moms and dads should check their clothes before they leave the house for any stray patches of spit up.
Some babies get terrible reflux, which can mean that much of their meal comes back up after they consume it. It means a mess after every meal, and it can last for months at a time, although most babies are better by their first birthday.
11 Worse — Throw Up
Whereas spit tends to just dribble right on out after a burp or reflex, babies can also vomit. And when they do, nothing is safe — the walls, the floor and most likely, mom and dad.
The difference between spitting up and vomiting is the force with which the stuff comes out. It's caused when something irritates the stomach or gastrointestinal tract, usually some kind of sickness. It causes the muscles to contract and the vomit to go everywhere.
It usually scares the baby pretty bad, and it scares mom and dad as well. And unfortunately, while spit up stops around the first birthday, a parent will be bathed in puke every time their kid gets the stomach bug for a decade or so until their child gets the concept of puking in a bucket.
10 Toddler Messes
We wish we could warn you properly about toddler messes, but there is really no way to prepare a parent for the things that her child can get into during the toddler years. It's hard to predict and hard to explain the incredibly massive mess that a toddler can make in the time it take for a parent to take a shower or answer the phone.
They get into water; they get into the kitchen cabinets; they get into mom's craft bin; they get into the office supplies. Basically, anything that isn't nailed shut can become a welcome place to explore for an adventurous little one.
This is one thing you need to keep in mind when you are babyproofing, so your toddler can't get to the cleaning supplies that will make him sick or worse. You can clean up a kitchen covered in flour and the child who mad flour angels in it, but you don't want to have to take him to the hospital because he got into something even worse.
9 Toys Towers
Moms and dads can't wait to shower their baby with a few gifts. But that first teddy bear is a sign of what is to come. By baby's first Christmas, the toys will take over the house, and pretty soon the baby will be making a big mess before a parent can clean up the first one.
Controlling the chaos is impossible. You can make the house spotless at naptime only for a new tornado to go through and toys be left everywhere by dinner time. And then it starts all over again.
As the kid gets older, things only get worse. Baby toys are usually in one piece or several large pieces for fear that the little one could choke on anything smaller. But as they get bigger, the pieces get smaller — and they get scattered all over the living room, the bedroom and the playroom. Even the restroom gets filled with bath toys.
All we can say is good luck. Any mom who has stepped on a lego in the middle of the night knows what a pain the mess of toys can be.
8 Messy Eaters
The first few times a baby eats spaghetti all by himself, he will get it everywhere. Noodles in the hair, sauce across the chest, bits of meat and vegetables in every crevice — it'll be the cutest, big mess that his parents have ever seen.
But the mess far outlast the cute on this one. In a few weeks, the parents will start setting up newspaper on the floor to catch the droppings, unless they have a dog who will take care of it quickly. They will learn the time limit when a baby goes from actually trying to eat his food to playing with it, and they won't let it go one millisecond too long. Sure, they will let their little one make a mess with his first birthday smash cake, but otherwise, they will do all that they can to avoid the mess.
Before long, the kid graduates to a real cup, and then the days of spilled milk are upon us. It's impossible to avoid the messes that come at ever stage, but every parent tries.
7 Sneaky Eaters
As we mentioned, parents getting pretty tired of the messy eating game pretty early, but as much as they try they can't stay on top of it. While there will inevitably be spills and such, one of the biggest issues is the sneaky eater.
Kids like candy and other sweet foods, but parents rightly try to limit the intake. Pretty soon the kid gets wise to where the Halloween candy sash goes, and he sneaks it, one, two, four, six or so a day. He keeps his eye on the jelly jar and the chocolate syrup and waits for the perfect opportunity to sneak them into his room.
And inevitably mom and dad will find the evidence at some point in the sheets. Sometimes, they find out the hard way when they put their hands in something sticky. It's one of the messy truths of parenthood.
6 Artsy Mess
We all want our children to explore their artistic sides. We want them to have time to be creative and express themselves, while practices the fine motor skills required for activities like painting and coloring. What we don't want is the mess.
But from the first time a toddler colors, it is hard to contain all that, um, creative energy. The crayon gets on the floor or the table, and when you switch to markers, it ends up on the skin and the clothes. (Seriously, never buy anything but washable markers.)
Your little Leo might be a budding da Vinci, but that doesn't mean that the furniture — or the face — is safe from the paint. Art is supposed to be fun, so parents should do their best to set up in a space where things can spill. And there is nothing wrong with just leaving the kid in a diaper and taking him straight to the bath afterward. If you try to control the mess, you control the creativity, so go with it and clean up afterward.
5 Glitter Bomb
Let us make one more note about art messes. Those of you who have little girls, especially, are already rolling your eyes. Yes, glitter — the bane of a parent's existence.
Kids love glitter, and it's already attached to half of a little girl's wardrobe, so what harm is it to put it in the art supplies? Believe us, it's a bad idea — unless you want your house to sparkle, literally.
Glitter is one of the hardest messes to clean up. You know how we talked about toys with small pieces getting scattered? Well, glitter is made of the tiniest pieces ever. They stick to everything — except the paper or wood that you want them to be on as part of your project — and they scatter everywhere. They even get caught in the air circulating and can be found in the next room.
Vacuuming won't work, but you can use a lint roller to get it out. That can be a huge chore, and it could take hours. We suggest letting the kids play with glitter while they are at school and keeping it out of the art supplies at home.
4 Water World
There is something about water that intrigues little ones. From the ocean to the mud puddle to — yes — the toilet, kids find water irresistible, and they can't wait to make a splash, no matter the mess that it creates.
Sure, the bathtub is a good place for a kid to get clean, but by allowing them to play in that bowl in the bathroom, they tend to think that it's OK to play the smaller one that has water already in it. Don't surprised if you find your little one floating a boat in the toilet or filling — or rather overfilling the sink. There will be water all over the bathroom if the kid has had some time to get going, but luckily if you keep your regular cleaning schedule there shouldn't be much of a problem with getting sick.
Parents also need to be careful when they flush for any stray toys. And for the long string of toilet paper that a toddler can ram inside in no time. A toilet backup is a lot bigger mess — and it could set you back a plumbing bill.
3 Pet Problems
Kids share germs. But many parents are shocked to learn that their little ones don't discriminate on if the thing that they share germs with has to be human. All too often, the kid ends up thinking that your fur baby is also their brother, so why wouldn't they share food — or the litter box.
Kids have been documented eating and drinking out of the dog dishes. If you can't find them during nap time, check the dog crate. They slobber all over each other, and roll in the dirt together. Sometimes, the baby follows the cat right into the litter box or topples over the bird cage. It may be cute for half a minute, before you realize there is poop in there. And lots and lots of toxic germs.
Sometimes kids like to "help" by feeding the pets, but that only ends in a big mess on the floor that the dog, cat, hamster and kid all take turns eating to clean up. It's great that the animals and the kids get along, but we don't think this is what you had in mind.
2 Mud Pies
From the first jump in a rain puddle, kids love to get muddy. Dirt is cool, and sand is awesome. But the very best is when everything gets wet and squishy. Then, it's irresistible to a kid.
Most parents fondly remember making mud pies when they were young, and they still relish watching a good football game when it is raining and the players are trudging through mud. But then they freak when their little angel covers himself in the brown stuff.
It's a rite of passage for children to spend a day getting as dirty and gross as possible. And it can't be that bad for them if some of the most elite spas actually specialize in mud baths. Let your kid relish in the outdoors and enjoy getting good and muddy. You may want to take off their Sunday best first, but otherwise, what can it hurt? You can hose them down later.
1 Laundry Piles
Laundry is the ever-evolving, ever-present bane of a mother's existence. It starts early, with the endless streams of onesies and burp clothes covered in poop and pee and spit up and other gross byproducts of infants. Then it extends through adolescence when everything from paint to mud and sand fills every load. And we just want to warn you about teenagers and all the grossness that can happen to their clothes.
Laundry is an never-ending cycle of parenthood. Even with a load or two a day, it can pile up. The trick is keeping the dirty clothes pile separate from the clean-but-waiting-to-be-folded pile. Moms need plenty of extra strength detergent for the tough stains and sanitizing out the germs. Kids outgrow their clothes fast, but even then it can be hard to keep things clean and in working order.
Laundry itself is one of the messes of motherhood, but it's also a way that a mom can track the various messes she encounters. The clothes bear witness and provide evidence of it all, and mom has to revisit it when she gets them clean. Just be sure to check the pockets.