The Messy Person’s Guide to a Tidy House: Part 7

From the moment that children realise that they can smear both you and the walls with their first purees, children are obsessed with literally making their mark on the world.  Whether you have a craft box, wardrobe, or room, having children almost inevitably leads to craft clutter.  And craft clutter can drown you in glitter and beads faster than you can say ‘pass me the glue gun and put down those googly eyes’. Stop ignoring the paper-mâché elephant in the room and set aside some time to tackle the craft monster ……. 

Step 1: Centralise your Stash
Go around the house and retrieve all the bits and pieces that belong in the craft area that have made their way around your house.  All the scraps of coloured paper in the hallway cupboard and standby crayons in the wardrobe.  They don’t live there anymore.  Allocate an area in your house that from this point forward will only house your craft materials.

Step 2: Sort and Store
Sort out your items and put ‘like with like’.  This means that all your scrapbooking paper and tools belong together just as the sewing things and the children’s craft things do.  You may have a few things such as scissors and glue that belong with multiple groups.  These things should be put in their own group.
Next, you’ll need to find a way of storing them.  Now that you have taken an inventory, you will have a better idea of what you’ll need to store it all.  Drawers are fabulous, but if you don’t have loads of boxes and drawers, then you can easily fashion your own storage boxes out of cardboard cereal boxes (or other boxes you find around the house) wrapped in coloured paper.  They fit together well and the height can be adjusted for your craft item simply with a Stanley knife.  Be aware that messy glues and paint should be kept in plastic containers.  Glitter should be treated with the same caution as biochemical waste and stored accordingly.  The common items you put aside (such as scissors) should be stored in a central area which is easy to access.

Step 3: Label?
Don’t be tempted to skip this step.  It is arguably the most valuable step in preventing the craft area from descending into chaos once more.  Labelling can be as simple as gluing a sample of the craft item onto the front of the drawer or box or hand writing a label.  Once each item is clearly labelled, everyone will know where things belong and will have no excuse not to return them to their rightful homes.

Ok, so now you can step back and give yourself a pat on the back for creating a craft space masterpiece.  That was the easy part.  Next comes the really difficult task and that is educating the rest of the family.  This may take a while, but sometimes the threat of losing any work that is left lying around is incentive enough to follow the rules.  The easiest and most effective way I’ve found in minimising your craft clutter is to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ that finds its way out of this area.  Let your children know that there are now rules for any craft project that they wish to create.  Print them out and stick them to the inside craft door if you must.

Rule 1:  Take only what you need
If you let your children have free access to this area, ask them to guestimate the amount of craft pieces they will need to complete a project and take only that quantity to their work area.  If they require more materials, then they can always retrieve more, but it’s far easier to put 2 spare beads back in their box than it is to separate 200 beads from 100 googly eyes after your little darlings become bored of the project or have gone to bed.

Rule 2: Unfinished projects must be stored appropriately
We all know that you can’t rush creative genius and sometimes projects can last for days or even weeks at a time.  At the end of each day (or before dinner if the dining table is being used), make sure all the materials needed for the project are stored together.  We have a tray at our place that everyone knows is a work in progress.  The tray fits into the wardrobe nicely, but I don’t mind if it spends the night in the children’s rooms if they’re going to work on it again in the morning.
You may find that have multiple projects going on at the same time.  If you don’t have the space for multiple trays, then I strongly recommend that you invest in some large zip-lock bags.  Large bags can hold a number of materials and be stored vertically like books.  My mother in law uses them for holding her knitting patterns, wool and needles, but I’ve also used them for creating craft ‘activity packs’ for my children when we go on holidays.  Just make sure you make a note of where you are in your project and label it before storing it back in the craft area.

Rule 3:  The craft area is ONLY for craft materials
This sounds pretty simple, but it’s amazing how quickly things can unravel when you’re in a rush and there are people coming over or your little ‘angels’ have thrown their masterpieces willy-nilly on top of all your supplies.  Finished works are considered ‘art’ and should be treated as such (even if that ‘art’ never gets displayed).  If you designate that craft area as only for craft materials, then you will always know where you can find an emergency pom pom when you need one.

This episode of The Messy Person’s Guide was kindly supplied by the ever organised Selina Brooks of Icadoo. Selina and Icadoo can be found here on Facebook, or sorting and tidying just about everything over here on the Icadoo Blog.

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