How Spills Can Strengthen Family Ties

Today, it’s my honor to share a guest post from Lori Wildenberg. Last Wednesday, I shared one of her posts about the dangers of some technology.  Today’s post she wrote for you because she wants you to understand the benefits of the “spillage philosophy.”

Perhaps you read the book I wrote with Jill Savage, No More Perfect Kids. If you did, you know that I believe no children are perfect and they will all make honest mistakes. I absolutely love Lori’s take on this topic. You will, too!

I encourage you to purchase and read Lori’s newest book, The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections. You’ll learn more about the spillage philosophy that she writes about here and so much more.

How Spills Can Strengthen Family Ties

by Lori Wildenberg

In remarkable and unbelievable kid timing, while one child clandestinely fed Murphy, the family dog, bacon under the table, the spiller knocked his cup. This action precipitated a series of unfortunate events. Our labradoodle freaked and blasted out from under the table and ran beneath the shower of white. Simultaneously a third child tried to nab our pup only to slip in the milky puddle, while the sticky wet paws made their way to the carpet only to leave paw prints on child number four’s homework (which had been left on the floor). This occurred within a Nano-flash-flood-second.

Perfect moms don’t blink an eye when a child spills…the rest of us, perfectly imperfect moms, roll ours!

Spillage at my home happened on a regular basis. It wasn’t a meal until someone spilled. Often  the spillage was accompanied by another totally unrelated episode that increased the liquid mess, like the one mentioned above.

This is life with kids and critters, right?  Does this sound like your home? OK so what do we do so we don’t lose our minds and we can deal with this chaos well?  Because… we all know kids spill. And because… most of us feel frustrated by the spills.

Kids, big and little, are clumsy. The little ones have no sense of spill prevention and the older ones have an inaccurate comprehension of their body space. Knocking things over is typical and even developmental. Knowing this, what can we do?

To curb my irritation and to train my kiddos, I came up with a mantra for the mess.

“That’s OK, everybody spills. I’ll help you clean it up.”

Now, I could have chosen to go the natural consequence route, “You spilled. Here’s a towel.” There would be nothing wrong with that. It would effectively teach responsibility. But…it wouldn’t show my kids what humility and grace look like. It wouldn’t strengthen the parent-child connection. It wouldn’t give the message family members help each other.

Admittedly, there were times I spoke my lines through clenched teeth, but those words helped me get through the moment and put the incident into perspective.

After all, it’s only spilled milk.

Spills and other accidents are a part of life with perfectly imperfect kids. I want my kids to be OK with making a mistake. To feel safe coming to me when things go wrong. To know, they are not alone. I want them to understand I will be there for them no matter what. I want them to know that family members help each other. My goal is to have a family that is interdependent; one that relies on each other when life spills occur.

Spills are an opportunity to learn even more than responsibility. They are times where moms (and dads) can model grace and humility while strengthening the family ties.

The fruit of the spillage response comes in observing the older ones speaking the same words to and then assisting the younger ones. This is the loving and helpful attitude I hope and pray spills over into other parts of their lives.

God calls Himself our Helper. The Psalmist states this beautifully in 118:7 “The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” God comes alongside us and is there to help us during the challenging parts of life.  I believe we are also created to help each other in times of chaos, struggle, and spills.

When I spill I know I’d love to hear, “That’s OK, everybody spills. I’ll help you clean it up.”

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

Check out Lori’s book here.


Lori  Wildenberg, mom of four, is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. She’s co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting ministry, lead mentor mom with the Moms Together Facebook Community, national speaker, and parent coach. The Messy Life of Parenting is Lori’s newest book. For more information go to