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.