Creative chaos
To nurture creativity or keep the place tidy? Karin feels it’s one or the other.
No. 3 sleeps in a shoe box, a situation I’ve tried to manage by being ruthless about discarding unused toys. Luckily, she is one of those remarkable children who appears to be without material needs. She has never been very interested in dolls, or, um, what else do girls usually play with? Well, none of those things.

She has a little bag of toy cars and several shelves full of books, and some rock ‘n roll CDs. So sleeping in a room the size of a shoe box seems to suit her ascetic bent.

Which is perhaps why it wasn’t nice of me to be grumpy this morning when I couldn’t reach the drawer where her hairbands are kept, because it required climbing skills. There were upturned paper bins from every room and several very long paintbrushes, as well as torn ‘tickets’ everywhere.

‘Pigsty, it’s a bloody pigsty,’ I muttered in that ineffectual way of mothers.

Thing is, I’m reaching the limits of patience with her creativity.

Not fair, is it? I have been adamant that boredom and strict controls on TV and computers are required in order to stimulate the kids’ ability to think up clever ideas and find their ways around the inevitable ennui that develops eventually on the odd dull weekend.

Last Friday she and No.2 built a last outpost around the tree and half up the jungle gym. This required the use of 15 towels of various sizes and 3 fluffy blankets. It also needed buckets, torches and several hundred clothes pegs. They started building late in the day and begged to keep the outpost going till the next day while they got on with the more mundane job of sleeping in the beds in their shoe boxes. And I let them. Because, hey, with skies that sunny, what are the chances of rain?

Great, apparently. Leaving towels out and washing the car have always been foolproof ways of breaking any neighbourhood drought.

No.1 and I spent the entire next day washing and hanging soggy towels and blankets.

With no outpost, and inclement weather driving the kids indoors, Saturday was spent taking out yoga mats to compare suppleness between No.2 and No. 3 (with very un-karmic results as the competition grew heated); playing post-office-post-office with various bits and pieces gleaned from my office drawers; and building Lego things. These games were all completely interconnected, I was assured, which meant that they could not be packed away as they were not ‘done’. Such games are seldom ‘done’.

So another weekend of minimal screen time left the house looking like a rubbish tip this Monday morning.

Now I’m thinking: ‘Do I want a tidy house, or do I want to leave creative thinkers in the world?’

*My family members are numbered according the order in which they appeared in my

Where do you draw the line between creativity and mess?

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