Coveting Tidy

I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole “makers gotta mess” concept.  I know that from a parenting standpoint, I do not want a picture perfect house in which the kids mostly watch TV because that is the least messy activity.  I do want them to build huge awesome train tracks around their rooms, to save a box of acorn tops for a “someday” craft project, to McGyver old headphones and a book light into a pretend rock star mic, to jump on the furniture from time to time, and to feel that the house is as much their home as mine.

On the other hand, I was at a party at a cousin’s house recently.  This house was totally clutter free.  In fact, all three houses of all three sisters in this particular house are clutter free, as is their mother’s house.  I am talking nothing but a lamp and one framed picture on the bedside table kind of clutter free.  I love it.  It feels like going to a hotel.  I can think and breathe better there.  I want that peaceful tidy. I just can’t seem to do it at my house.

Currently on my bedside table are: a lamp, a broken alarm clock, a statue of Our Lady, a hair clip, an old water glass, a cup of coffee, tissues, a bottle of self tanning lotion and a bookmark list of essential oil remedies.  Let’s be honest, this is not “maker’s mess” and it doesn’t have anything to do with my kids, is just a bunch of crap that didn’t get put away.

I think that this sort of mess limits creativity.  It is hard to be a “maker” when you can’t find the glue, hard to be an autodidact when you can never put your hands on the book you were reading yesterday afternoon.

So, this article struck me, about Tidy Families.  Have less stuff, have open spaces in which to make the mess, and then clean it up.  But don’t mistake the maker’s mess for just plain mess.

I actually think that it would be easier for me to embrace the maker’s mess if the rest of the mess was more under control, if the laundry were in the hampers, the bathing suits were not hanging all over the bathroom, the school room floor was not littered with random scraps of paper.

A side effect of “maker’s gotta mess” is that makers are often so distracted by what they are doing that they don’t take time to clean up after themselves.  I think about Dr. Potts in the classic “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” who goes into the garage to work on the car and doesn’t come out for days and days.  Perhaps some special projects will require that sort of creative concentration, but I think that, for the most part, makers can be reminded and required to clean up after themselves, and this task can be made easier be clearing the clutter.  Things that might be used “someday” for a project can go into a bin for a rainy day, toys and decorations that don’t get used creatively can be given to others, and a child who loves little bits of things to look at might have an inspiration board on which to pin favorite scraps, quotes and cut out pictures of animals, but these things do not need to take over the house, and they must be culled from time to time.  My makers have creative lulls, and these are great times to go through stuff, and sometimes a blank canvas actually becomes the best place to make something new.

  • Kerry

    Your nightstand is my nightstand. Ugg..it’s so hard for me to have a place for everything. Like, a dedicated place. And return it there! It’s a true sacrifice….

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com/ Kellie

    Nice post. It is a serious balancing act between making and messing and tidying and fostering creativity. I do think clutter can be a serious enemy of creativity, but a space to call your own and mess up is essential too. It is always a hard balance for me to strike. But in my own case, I can do a much better job of eliminating clutter from hot spots like my desk, dresser top, nightstand and the changing table. I think if these areas were cleaner, the kids messes would be much be much less bothersome.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Great thoughts! I agree that it is easier to be creative in an organized space with less rather than more. Everything must have a home. Those random craft supplies go in that box when you are done pillaging for weaponry parts…

    But I so fret over messes that sometimes I don’t even start a project that I know will be really messy. Sometimes I move projects to Dad’s garage (since he travels a lot) and that keeps it out of sight for a bit. I also just read “Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” which has me thinking purging again….

    • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com/ Kellie

      TM, after seeing your home, and knowing your neat tendencies, you DO NOT NEED TO PURGE ANYTHING!!!!!

      And the most creative people I know are VERY messy. I think as a neat person, we think we need neatness to be creative…and while that may be true for us, it is also true that for others, focusing on tidying and being neat messes with their creative genius ;-)

      And I say this as someone who had my kids write mean notes about not being messy…so yeah, the clutter drives me nuts too and I am constantly trying to purge.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Also, I loved your more built in storage suggestion for kids rooms!

  • Kat0427

    Okay, so out of curiosity…Coffee on your bedstand table? Does this mean that you actually drink coffee in bed sometimes? Brilliant! I have this image of you sitting peacefully on one of those reading pillows, sipping your coffee and reading the Wall Street Journal, while your children peacefully fix themselves breakfast. I aspire to this someday!

  • AWOL_Mommy

    so does this mean that reading lots of posts about how to be tidy, and purchasing cool storage systems for our too much stuff is not going to automatically tidy up our apartment?! bummer.


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