I’d like to invite you inside my home for a visit. I’ll offer you a freshly brewed cup of coffee (with a carefully selected variety of freshly ground beans. We are coffee snobs in our house!) I’d also happily share a piece of homemade bread, with you, as long as you give me a little advance notice of your arrival. (I guess we’re bread snobs too.) Possibly you’d even get to enjoy some homemade beef vegetable stew, utilizing my husband’s wonderfully canned beef and vegetables- which were all grown organically within the previous year. (Yeah, we’re kind of food snobs as well, I guess.)
I can’t quite guarantee an empty table where you will sit to enjoy it all. I’d love to be able to invite you to a pristinely organized home. It’s my dream, truly it is. But, I have kids. And my kids have minds. And I have come to discover over the past few years that when kids’ minds are encourage to be creative, well….stuff happens. Or maybe I should say, mess happens.
It took a few months, or maybe a few years, to accept the reality of what it’s like to live in a creative house. See, years and years ago, my husband and I went to work each day to our wonderful career jobs and sent our kiddos off to school. Our floors were tidy every day. Rooms remained clutter free. It was peaceful. It was joyful. It was like music to my sweet little soul. I could *breathe.*
Then, we made a sudden change in our home. I quit my job and we started homeschooling. I had more babies. We started living in our house all the time.
And things changed.
Maybe I didn’t say that quite loudly enough.
We made big posters and hung them on the wall. We used glitter and glue and lots of tape. We discovered bubbles and chalk (and sometimes forgot they were to be outside toys) and we got super excited when we made a model of the digestive system that was the entire length of the kitchen! (Yes, I did say the digestive system. Don’t worry, it wasn’t gross.) We cut and we stapled. We painted and we oil pastelled. We put stick figure paintings on the walls to tell stories and we made up funny dances and danced them all over the house.
The floors were a mess. The table got cluttered. We spilled some of the glitter. Paint probably got on the carpet a few times.
I wasn’t mad at my kids. I wasn’t mad at their paintings. I wasn’t even mad at the old vacuum cleaner hose that made up the large intestine of the digestive system lying on the floor of my kitchen.
I got mad at the mess. The mess that suddenly would never, ever, ever go away. I got mad because I hate clutter.
I wanted it all. I wanted a clutter free home but I wanted creative kids too. I wanted to see their minds grow and glow, but I wanted to never ever trip over something that got accidentally- okay maybe not so accidentally- left out on the floor.
I’m one of those people, who, if possible, would organize the clothes in my closet by color (and probably by length too.) But little by little, I had to let some of it go; long ago it was the clothes in the closet. This time I didn’t want it to be my kids’ creative minds.
You have probably read some of the same studies I’ve seen. Childhood obesity is up. Childhood physical activity is down. And TVs stay on a lot in some people’s homes.
You know, now that I think about those studies, I realize that I could form a plan to create less clutter.: Quit cooking from scratch (and stop encouraging my kids to be creative in the kitchen), send the mini trampoline back out of the house (I do love empty floor space!) and trade the crafty ideas for the television. Voila. Clutter free life.
But that would only be a short term solution. What would be the long term outcome?
So instead of praying, “Lord, help me find time to clean up the clutter,” I started praying, “Lord, help me be able to accept the clutter.” Because as much as I hated (and still hate) stuff all over the place, I don’t want to sacrifice watching my creative kids develop their minds.
I don’t know if any of this resonates with your home. Possibly you’ve done something I have yet to achieve: unleashing creativity but still keeping it all neatly contained. But if you come to my house, I just need to honestly let you know what you will find. I will clean the bathroom. I will vacuum the floors. I will attempt to clean up, or at least hide the paper piles. And I’ll be sure to offer you clean towels. But plan to see a few left over craft projects lurking here and there (okay, here, and here, and here, and here and there.)
I still hate clutter. I still want a clutter free home. I still dream of clean tables, neatly organized shelves, and no more googly eyeballs on the carpet floor. But I dream more of creative kids growing up with well developed minds and a desire to use their talents to reach new heights. Someday they’ll be grown and then I imagine my floors will be clean. But in the meantime, I’ll tolerate a little clutter in my house as I see how my children are blossoming in the middle of it all.
And I promise when I come visit you, I won’t see clutter, I won’t judge your parenting, and I won’t question the mess. I will just glory in the creativity and compliment you on your kids.
By Guest Writer: Jennifer Beck
Jennifer Beck is a wife, mom, runner, and TV lady. She is the executive producer and co-host of the TV show Faith and Friends (wtlw.com). These days, Jennifer’s kids are cluttering her home with duct tape models, paint on canvas, and projects using cardboard and glue guns. Next month it will probably be something different, but no less messy.P.S. Are you looking for extra side income? I make full-time income blogging part-time—check out this easy step-by-step tutorial on how start a blog (no tech knowledge required).