The Messy Side of Creativity

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

My kids are creative. I love that about them! I can’t say that I’m overly fond of the chaos that tends to go hand in hand with creativity though…

In a fit of frustration I asked, “How do you encourage creativity without the house getting trashed?” I do realize that I’ll have to put up with some amount of chaos. My husband and I homeschool four kids, have a very large dog, and both work from home. Life (and our home) are bound to get a bit crazy.

I’ve found a few strategies that help reduce the crazy factor though!

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Art boxes for everyone!

Each kid has their own plastic art box. This is where they can keep their art projects that they are still working on, and finished ones that they would like to keep. We store their art boxes in a cabinet in the dining room so that they are easy to get to, but out of sight when put away. Art projects still have a tendency to pile up here and there, but now I can tell the kids that they need to put them in their art boxes. What happens when the boxes are full? That’s when the kids go through the contents and decide what they want to keep, and what they don’t.

What do I do with all of these LEGOs?

I found the cutest LEGO organizer. It held six plastic boxes that would snap closed, keeping the LEGO sets separate and organized. Turns out my kids are much less OCD than I am. They prefer the LEGO kits to be mixed together into a giant mish-mash of creative possibilities! What’s worked the best for us is a set of inexpensive plastic drawers and a couple of plastic bins with lids. Yes, I still have to remind the kids that picking up the LEGOs means that all of them are in the drawers or boxes, but keeping them stored in closed containers seems to cut down on the number of LEGOs that find my bare feet!

Markers, and crayons, and glue sticks! Oh my!

Art supplies will take over my dining room without a plan for corralling them. Magazine holders and plastic shoeboxes are the key for doing that. The magazine holders are perfect for containing all kinds of paper from construction paper to graph paper. They fit on my bookshelves neatly and keep the paper from getting wrinkled. The plastic shoeboxes from the dollar store stack well, and again, they fit on my bookshelves! Markers go in one box, crayons in another, and so on. (This is also a great organizing solution for your hands-on manipulatives.) I get the clear boxes so that the kids can easily see which box has the items that they’re looking for. The lidded boxes work so much better than open bins because they are stackable and things tend to stay better contained when there’s a lid involved.

That is not coming in my house…

Creativity doesn’t stop when the kids go outside! My kids would happily bring every interesting rock, leaf, stick, feather, piece of bark, and frog that they find in our backyard. I have to have limits on what is allowed in the house, and what isn’t. They each have a small tin that they are allowed to keep rocks and shells in. Like their art boxes, when their tin is full, it’s time to pare down their collection. When it comes to living creatures, the only one allowed to come inside is our German Shepherd. A mom has to draw the line somewhere, right?

Creativity will never be mess-free, but having a place for everything is a great starting point. Yes, I still have to remind the kids more often than I’d like that they have to pick up their projects when they are done working on them, but at least they know where to put things! That makes picking up so much easier and faster for everyone.

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