Bare house, bare minds

untidy 002You know the days when the house is strewn with children’s debris? When you have to unbury the kitchen table from the latest craze of paints or gels, sticky bits or building sets, in order to eat? When you have an entire mini-brick city across the living room carpet? Or there’s not a foot of floor to be seen?

Well, I know it can seem a bit desperate sometimes, when you crave for the bit you tidied just to remain so for a while, but untidy does have its uses.

As a home educator you get a double dose of this marvellous mayhem. The kitchen can become the nearest thing to an art studio or science lab and the garden a space for the messiest of experiments, often with disgusting components. And the living room? It’s constantly disrupted by the latest den of the furnishings, or a growing community of characters that are living out the latest imaginary adventure and cannot be moved.

“Oh mum! Can’t I leave it up – just for today?”

“Well….!” You waver.

A month later, your feet still sore from treading on sharp things and longing for a sit on a normal settee not some kind of cushion construction, you feel inclined to try and tidy again. Or not!

Best not really. And the reason being that while all these things are going on your children are stimulated, developing skills and most important they are learning. And when there’s stuff around they’re likely to want to do something with it creating mental activity as well as physical.

They need all sorts of things around them to do that, to spark their imagination. When their imagination is sparked their brain is functioning, they are increasing their thinking skills, their language will be developing and their intelligence growing.

Nothing switches that off faster than terribly tidy environments.

There’ll be plenty of time for tidy when they’ve grown and the house is empty.

My kitchen table has been acutely bare of late, apart from that stain from experiments with dye and the odd sparkle of glitter glue. The carpet has been naked except for a black patch where some sticky substance got spilled. And the settee has been vacant of those constructions, little bottoms and cuddly toys.

Not any more as student comes home for summer and there is paraphernalia all over again. The table strewn with more mature experiments – in bleaching this time, various camera equipment, fabric and sewing stuff is dotted about, there are threads all over the carpet and even teddy has emerged from retirement for a quick hold.

And I’m loving it! Loving the busy. Loving the clutter, after months of aching tidiness even I got bored of! My mind is also buzzing with the busy of it.

So although you might long for that decluttered look they go for in magazines, be patient; reassure yourself that clutter means busy and busy means stimulated and stimulated means development and learning going on.

A bare house can mean bare minds and we want children with minds so full they cannot help but grow!


16 thoughts on “Bare house, bare minds

  1. I love your post! It says it all for me. I have periods where I try to tidy but then another project comes along and we become engrossed in discovering.. and along comes even more paper, pens, books, equipment, etc – anything and everything that is needed to succeed. You are right – another 6 or 7 years and she will be doing her own thing, but for now our job is to fuel, not to quell. x

  2. This post made me smile – I always like to think of mess as ‘creative’ – the messier the house, the more creative we’ve been! I remember not being able to sit down in the lounge for 2 days because the girls were travelling the world on a ‘raft’. We’re lucky to be able to afford a cleaner though which gives us a lovely ‘reset’ button once a week!

  3. I could hug you for this perfect post! Our house is far from beige, scatter cushion tidy ( there is nothing wrong with that but it just isn’t us). I have quite literally scraped a LEGO construction off the coffee table into a box and hidden it under a ziggurat – this is most certainly a home-educating house!
    I love the bustle as well. The residue of the rhythm of the days learning strewn around the house in the evening makes me smile and I am incredibly lucky to have a hubby who loves it as well.

    I have friends who must cringe when they visit because we tend to spend our spare cash ( what small amounts there is) on books or paint or sticky-tape rather than a new kitchen or a nice new rug. But I have always said that there will be plenty of time for shiny new appliances when the boys have left home and until then I’d rather spend it on their futures than a nice new chrome coffee maker.

    Enjoy the return of the clutter:)

  4. aah so good to hear as our home is in a constant state of “not tidy” but I am trying hard to not worry about it as I know it means they are learning, playing and having fun

  5. I hear your heart, but I am one of those people that needs the decluttered look in order to be creative and function. All of that mess is a huge distraction and prevents me from thinking of anything else. Several of my children tend to be the same way.

    Like Claire, I also have a hubby who prefers a clean house (and not even semi-tidy). We are both okay with momentary madness, but we also like to make sure we clean up before moving on to the next project.

    Balance is everything! Our compromise has been to restrict the madness to one room at a time. This way we feel free to create without being surrounded by a hurricane! (lol) Also, at the end of everyday the mess is cleaned up. We don’t go to bed if the house isn’t clean. (This might not work for everyone, but it works for us!)

    • I know what you mean Cristina, there is a need for decluttering too! Your compromise sounds like a great way to balance it all out. So nice you posted your comment – thank you! x

  6. Thanks Ross, needed to hear this today ☺. I’m sitting here watching a rainy day movie with my boys with a pop up tent next to us, a homemade zip wire for small toys above my head and lego on the floor!

    • Well that sounds just about how a house with kids should be! Thanks so much for taking time to tell! Enjoy your rainy afternoon! I think I might go out splashing in a bit! x

  7. Great post – feels like everything I read online is another call to declutter, which can be as stressful and mind-cluttering as the stuff I’m trying to get rid of. I do try to be relaxed, only problem is husband is much happier in a semi-tidy house, and a happy husband is better for the family than the alternative. That elusive balance!

    • You are so right Clare – balance is everything! And I admit I do need a bit of organisation with the clutter, even if it was only to heap it all up in a corner at times! 🙂 Thank you for being here! x

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