I came across this post called Making Edisons and thought to post it here to remind myself to stop having entirely unrealistic expectations about the messes my children make. It’s a beautifully written piece about ‘giftedness’ by a home schooling father of 5. If I am going to survive home schooling then there’s a lesson I need to learn here. The author points out that stifling our children’s creativity is like keeping their ‘gifts’ wrapped.
I find that I get quite fanatical about keeping control of the mess when they play, and I think it just comes from a fear of not being able to cope. Orderliness helps me cope with the busyness of family life and while our home is far from organised, I still feel like I’d rather keep it as it is than mess it up entirely.
Mess for the sake of it is not good, but I need to lighten up when the kids are busy cutting up magazines for a collage (as they did today leaving tiny bits of paper all over the floor after I just vacuumed), or outside playing with the hose and getting wet to their socks. I find myself letting it go so far and then being the kill-joy by telling them “that’s enough” and “tidy up all this mess”.
The way I see it, there’s something to be said for everything having a place and putting things away when finished with, and it’s important for the kids to learn to be tidy and organised. If they know how to tidy up afterwards, then mess in the course of play and fun and learning is a good thing.
Letting go a bit is going to be a stretch for me because as much as I hate to admit it, I’m a bit of a control freak. I really don’t think this all means we just let it all go and live in dirty, disorganised homes. In fact, I think that a clean and organised home is the way to nurture creative children. However, kids are messy by their very nature and I certainly don’t want them growing up under my constant disapproval of their play. I’m sure there’s a middle ground to be reached here.
Much of my ‘fear of not coping’ comes from a general lack of discipline. I don’t mean that my kids run riot and get away with anything, but I have been guilty of almost always picking up after them because I’ve been too lazy/tired/foolish to require them to do it themselves. I can see that many of these parenting issues when corrected will facilitate a happier house, more relaxed mother, more responsible children, and these things will support the home schooling lifestyle I hope for.