A COMFY mess

from Jan

I just finished up putting away two different kinds of blocks, lining up six construction vehicles, and piling some pillows in the corner. I was careful to leave out any original creations or works in progress. Joshua is at school and I often make an effort to put the morning's toys away before he gets home. It gives him a fresh start and it allows Jeremy and I the ability to walk through the living room.  But, as I am putting things away, I notice rice (from our rice box in the kitchen), tiny scraps of cut up cardboard (or gorilla food), and books, what seems like thousands and thousands of books spread throughout the living room. Is this a messy room or a lived-in room? Am I just trying to make myself feel better about the state of our apartment? My guess is a little of all three. 

I started thinking about this recently when I began to realize that every time Joshua and I went to a friend's house for a playdate the first word of the host are, "I'm sorry the place is such a mess."  But it is supposed to be, right? You have at least one kid (often more) exploring his/her surroundings, being curious, indecisive, distracted, energetic, imaginative, etc. The is a messy and healthy thing!  Why do so many people feel bad about it? 

I think everyone has their level of comfort or tolerance with clutter and mess. That level may even change with one's mood. I know that when I get up in the morning and the kitchen counters and sink are full of dirty dishes, I'm in a funk until I clean it up.  So, there are some people that have specific neatness needs for their own piece of mind. I get that. If that is you, find a spot in your house to keep how you like it, maybe your bedroom, bathroom, even a corner of your kitchen. 

But to feel bad or embarrassed that your child(ren) pulled out an unbelievable amount of blocks and spread them out an incredible distance (as long as that "spreading out" was done by legal means and not throwing or something similar)? I do not get that. Most children's minds do not play (which is a child's work) in a neat box. Learning is messy, it is having year old streaks of tie dye stained on your kitchen wall, it is deciding that all the blue blocks will be constructed into a river that stretches across the hallway, and it is getting corn flour EVERYWHERE in the kitchen the first time your mom and you attempt to make tortillas from scratch. 

I see the mess in our house as a successful day.  Although, it does make me feel calmer about the clutter to say that, I do truly believe it. Joshua can look back through his day by seeing what we've left out from his play...his skyscraper (now mostly demolished), his imaginative sawmill factory being loaded by his excavators, his bear cave, etc.  Don't you like looking back over your work at the end of the day to see what you have accomplished?