The Perception of Mess

I can tolerate a fair amount of mess, for instants on my craft room table, in my school room, at least for a while. But after a few days I feel the discomfort well up, I miss the clean lines of the floor and tabletops and then it bursts and I make the kids help me in a flurry of clean up. Usually when this happens I am a little blustery with them, huffing and puffing about how they don’t respect their things or my wishes to keep the house tidy.

The other day I was sitting at my computer which sits on the bar and I looked over into the dining room/kitchen, which is an area I like to be consistently tidy, and I caught myself sighing over the disorder:
Playing Clue on the dining room table after school

 But then I stopped myself and thought ‘you know my kids moved the table centerpiece to play a board game!’ I have these awesome kids and they are happily playing, together, in the middle of the day! This is a good thing.

At that moment I reminded myself that mess is going to happen with kids about, there will be a bulky high chair and an abundance of dishes in the sink. Reality. And instead of seeing my house as something lovely that gets messy I can choose to see that this house is a lovely backdrop for my kid's life and activities.

These chair are their thrones at meal time.
These walls are the color of their daily life.
These ornaments are the texture of their story.
Matthew, Lily, Laura, Annie, Maximus - they are the main characters, the reason for the theatre!

My home is not meant to look like a house in a magazine article. My home is meant to be for living. For the living of my babies, my little people. That is so freeing!

After choosing to change the way I look at things, later in the evening I even sat on the chaise lounge with Mark before the dishes were cleaned away! Wow, that was a big deal for me because usually I like to relax after the kitchen is clean. And it was a nice time, the kids were playing and we got to chat about the day. And then I cleaned the kitchen.

I won’t become a slob any time soon, it is not in my character, but I am practicing being a little cooler and keep my focus on the people rather than the things.

Annie Rose, 4 1/2

My house is the backdrop to the story of my kid’s life. I like that.


  1. It looks like you have found a sweet balance.


  2. This is so good-- it is a part of being present in everything the kids have going on to not sweep it away too quickly for the sake of tidiness.

    Great post!

  3. Let me tell you we are living in one very LARGE....backdrop...LOL
    thanks for the fresh approach to the art in waiting :)

  4. Sounds like a happy home. Attitude is everything, isn't it?

  5. That's wonderful Shona! That's exactly how I feel. I just posted about how to clean your bedroom. The messy before photo was messy because Jacob and I decided to watch a movie in the bedroom..and it was pretty late. He wanted me to catch all the sneaky sidetwists by re-watching it..which meant getting to bed very late. But hey, my 18yr.old and I had a great time..and I cleaned up our snacks and mess the next morning. And he helped sweet!

    Great reminder Shona.

    Donna @ Comin' Home

  6. Love this. That is a great/beautiful way to look at things!

  7. Thank good ness you found it sooner than later - the balancing act I mean.

  8. I too like that thought! ♥

  9. I absolutely struggle with this too - and I only have one child ;)
    I am trying to let go a bit, and remind myself that one day I will miss all these toys littered around my house, but some days are easier than others.

  10. Oh this is so true. I struggle with this daily. I also try to come to this conclusion, but at times, I still, just cannot take it. What a balancing act our lives are.

    I did get your comment about letting me link your artist paper tutorial. Thank you very much. I just posted it... again, thank you!

    I look forward to your post on Wednesday! I cannot get enough of your blog!

  11. Thank you all for weighing in! I have to admit that even today I got too annoyed at Laura for spilling her soda that splashed on the floor and Matthew for standing on a picture frame & shattering the glass (why was it on the floor???). sigh. it is not easy to be cool and easy all the time, but I am getting better.

  12. Oh, Shona...I LOVE that. OUr home is almost always in some kind of disarray...our entire home is NEVER clean. I mean a few rooms will be perfect but the other ones complete chaos!! Love this reminder to enjoy the chaos.

    Your family room is amazing. LOVE that stone!!!!

  13. Sadly I am not a great housekeeper and yet I always yearn for order and perfection in our home. I go about with constant guilt because I chose to play with my baby instead of doing the dishes or I took a nap with her instead of doing the laundry immediately. Thanks for reminding me that it's okay sometimes not to obsess about a clean house. It's important to live life and not worry about perfection or allow messiness to get in the way of creation.

  14. I love your attitude on this! And I have to share...I saw the photo and was immediately in love with that room. It looks like a magazine photo combined with Real Love...lived in, inviting, ...beautiful.

  15. Anonymous6:52 AM

    Why are we such crab apples about all the mess that our children create? I find myself getting overwhelmed on days and I have to step back and take a breath because I know one day it won't be there and I shall miss it so very much.

  16. Oh, I love this post. It is such a challenge to see your space as the backdrop to life sometimes!

    Thank you for this reflection!!

    Enjoying your blog -- and anxiously awaiting arrival of your book!



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