Grandchildren bring plenty of mess with them, but plenty of love too.
Grandchildren bring plenty of mess with them, but plenty of love too. CocoSan

Kids messing up house is different the second time around

WATCH your step ... it's a common warning I issue to anyone coming into my house.

After making it past the scooters and beetle trikes at the front door, they'll have to watch out for wooden blocks and matchbox cars "hiding” on the floor. Then they'll spot the doll house, just like the one my daughters used to have, and dodge the toys spilling out of the cupboards, where the doors are always wide open.

If they look further they'll see a cot in one room and a toddler bed in another. There's nappies on a side table and colourful plastic cups, plates and bottles filling up the drying rack on the sink.

And, of course, there's a load of unfolded washing piled up on a chair. There's even a cubbyhouse, swing set and slippery slide in the backyard.

It's all for the two-year-old twin grandies, who come to play nearly every day. As I survey the chaos around me, I realise my home looks a lot like it did in the late '90s.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. That thought never fails to amuse me.

When my kids were young I dreamed of a time when my house would be always tidy and the towels were all hung neatly (rather than left crumpled on bedroom floors).

Deep in the trenches during those years of parenting hell, I longed to be an empty nester who could tidy up once and know it would stay that way.

There was a sweet spot in time where that dream was my reality and I revelled in the beautiful glow of my pristine home, where I could have nice things on show.

But it didn't last. The only difference this time around is that I don't complain about the mess quite as much.

I've realised a tidy home can't match the delight and joy I get from listening to a child "screaming” at a crocodile as they sing Row, Row Row Your Boat for the 50th time that hour or playing endless games of hide and seek behind the curtains that now permanently bear sticky fingerprint marks.

Being a grandparent is absolutely the best job but I do have a bone to pick with those who say it keeps you young.

After a day of hefting a writhing toddler or two on my hip, getting down on the floor to play cars, then up to fetch cups of water, then back down on my knees to build a block tower, then up again to make peanut butter triangle sandwiches, I find I'm feeling older than my years.

As they head home I thank my lucky stars they don't actually live with us. After a quick tidy-up, I rest up and impatiently wait for them to come back and do it all again.