My friend Laurence left a good comment on my post about keeping the house organized. She said that her girls drawings, toys, etc. created the look of a happy atmosphere and that a house without any of these things would be stark in comparison.
Messes are inevitable. After every meal, the (hopefully) empty plates signal a family who gathered together for a meal. The dirty pots and pans signify that the meal was homemade (or at least semi-homemade). Toys, drawings, shoes, all of those things are the signs that a family lives there. I have no issues with what I call a "mess" because a mess in an organized and de-cluttered house can be taken care of in about 10-15 minutes of "tidying up."
My war is with things that remain on a table, or in a corner, or on the floor because they have no permanent place to live. Those are the things that become clutter and then make it difficult to find the other shoe, the favorite marker, or the paper from school that needs to be returned.
The Unclutterer blog posted a question from a reader referencing an article about how clutter negatively impacts creativity. I don't want to go back and linky link, but the conversation that came out in the comments was how surroundings/clutter influence you and your perspective. In my family, we do not work well when there is a lot of clutter. It takes longer to find things and it just doesn't feel clean. For example, I let the girls school paperwork get away from me a few weeks ago and pile up. EVEN THOUGH I go through their backpacks every single day and throw away as much as I can, it got away from me. On top of that paper pile started going notices for me or Mr. Q that I needed to put into our family calendar. When we were away for several days in late October, I also didn't stay on top of my e-mail, and didn't transfer things into the calendar. As a result of that I've been carrying around our 11x17 family calendar and about 100 pieces of paper in a tote bag everywhere I go. Beezus has missed a birthday party and I'm nervous about making plans because I'm not confident that our calendar is up to date.
This sort of clutter definitely has a negative influence on our lives. I'm taking the night off tonight. Mr. Q has been gone the past two nights and will be back tomorrow mid-morning. Everyone has clean underwear, the kitchen has been tidied after dinner, the dishes in the dishwasher are clean. There are a million things I could do. Instead I'm going to sit on the couch, watch some Waltons or Real Housewives, and sort through my tote bag of papers !!!
So, in summary: keep the messes, lose the clutter !!!
4 days ago