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Magazine Living with Children - I Can't Do It

By Michelle Higgins - 25th April 2011

While I privately salivate over images of 'magazine' houses, I have publicly railed against what I see as a modern day obsession with having a perfect home, a home that is forever 'open house' ready.  I do not understand how such homes can allow children, let alone adults, the ability to unleash their creativity.

Not long ago I attended a birthday party where the children’s bedrooms were jaw-droppingly beautiful. They really did look like something out of a Home Beautiful catalogue, but apart from jealousy something else bothered me. While these bedrooms were not only beautiful but also full of whimsical touches, the whimsy was all store bought and pre-packaged.

My own daughter’s bedroom will never be featured in a magazine catalogue, but it is truly and uniquely hers. The walls are covered in her own artwork, which she has attached at odd angles with gobs of blu-tac. Her shelves are overflowing with myriad projects, my favourites being the dolls house made from a pizza box and the Rapunzel and prince figurines made from not only toilet paper rolls but also toilet paper – work with me here – which was utilised very effectively as a never ending stream of hair.

Beyond the bedrooms, any attempts to have adult-only spaces have been defeated by the reality of the way we interact as a family.  Homework and music practice rarely occur in quiet far away places but instead around the dining room table. The same goes for craft, play doh, painting and paperwork. While space has been allocated on the ubiquitous Ikea cubes for all manner of drawing and craft paraphernalia, invariably it all ends up on and around this multi-purpose surface.

Even if we lived in a much larger home I think that this would still hold true. My small boys are of an age where they want to be close to the big people in their lives at all times. And while I sometimes find myself craving a clearer delineation between the world of the child and the adult in my life, I am sure that when I am living with four teens I will miss the chaotic but always lively communal manner in which we currently live.
 
Of course, there may be a touch of self-justification in my railing against magazine homes. I was recently immersed in dressing my house up for sale and the process taught me much. I learnt that if we got rid of all our stuff, including ourselves, then we too could have a magazine home. Which rather defeats the purpose.

image freedigitalphotos.net Michelle Mieklejohn

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