Order in Chaos

Rock “museum” (notice the lego museum in the mirror)

Our boys love to collect and create. But my hyper organized self has a hard time accepting the mess that comes with such creative genius. What I want hidden from sight, my boys want to proudly display (to the piano teacher, neighbors, even the exterminator). My trash is their treasure (I know this is true because I often find them creating with things I have recently thrown away). Recently a priest told me that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” I had to think about this a bit because I spend a whole lot of energy on getting the last 10% of the chaos under control instead of being satisfied that it is 90% under control. Furthermore, I had to admit the reasons I want everything to look picture perfect always stem from my pride. Yes, order is good, but perhaps it can be taken too far?

I also read this great post by Melissa Wiley: Makers Gotta Mess. In it she writes:

I know it isn’t always easy, especially for type-A parents, to live with the clutter and chaos that so often surrounds a creative mind, but there are ways to compromise. For us, it means keeping the front of the house reasonably tidy, one main room where people can count on an uncluttered space, and letting the rest of the house wear a jumble of raw materials with abandon and zest.

I don’t know if I could go quite so far and maintain my type-A sanity, but I like the idea of compromise. The kids need their space (even if it is shared) be it a dresser top or a desk to express themselves. Clutter does not mean the same thing to me as to my 3rd grade budding geologist. His rock collection is organized very throughly as he will be happy to explain to you for as long as you are willing to listen. My first grader can remember exactly who gave him the tiniest lego piece that he added to his creation. They are telling stories in their own way and, instead of brushing them into a bin, I might just need to listen harder.

I follow the maxim that everything must have a home. I start to come unglued if our kitchen or living area is not super tidy. But I need to try to compromise more on some areas!

  • Kat0427

    Even your chaos looks very organized! Our Lego collections are all over the floor :) I’m wish you, Texas Mommy, if my kitchen and living space are organized, then I can deal with a little bit of chaos in the other areas. I like your suggestion to “listen harder” for the stories that they might be trying to tell us – I’m often guilty of just brushing them back into the bin!

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

    I think giving them their own spaces to “organize” or clutter as they see fit is a good idea. Even if that means a messy room. I usually just ask my kids to “tidy” their room once a week, and that means get it ready to be vacuumed, and to do some deep cleaning. Their dresser tops will be messy, as will their desks or areas of collections or toys, but that is their space. I was very convicted a while back when my oldest daughter wrote a list of things they shouldn’t play with because they were too messy. On that list included 1) glue 2) paint 3) small bits of paper 4) anything too creative or fun. OUCH!!!!

  • Juris Mater

    Love this, Tex. All day, I have been thinking of that extra 10% that stresses me and the kids out… I need to be thoughtful about what I can let go. This is a wonderful reminder, especially as everyone’s home for the next 3 months!!

    • Mary Alice

      This is a huge struggle for me. These days, I am trying to tell my kids that the lego can take over the floor, as long as there are not also dirty clothes and wet towels all over, so the big clean up has to happen about once a week, but some little clean ups everyday. The public parts of our house have to get totally picked up several times a day, I can’t think when it is messy.

      We are working on adding a lot more shelving to our boys room, because they want to keep and organize their lego creations, and if it is done in a way that looks decent, I think that will be better for all of us, and it gives some value to the thing they have made. We are also letting our most artistic child have a dedicated desk for art and an art wall where he can hang whatever he wants.

  • The Happy Mother

    Recently I heard a priest say that in terms of virtues, cheerfulness is more important than order. That hit me square in the face. So much so that right afterward, I went to confession to him and asked “did I really hear you just say…” and he did, in fact, say that. It has been a very hard lesson for me to incorporate, but at the same time, I am glad that this priest opened my eyes. And my kids are too!


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