It’s 5 minutes after bedtime routine. I hear the rhythm of tiny padded footsteps rush down the steps. I know she’s off to find something to take to her room. Sometimes she tries to sneak in snacks or markers (both she knows is against the rules). She knows that until her nightlight turns green, she is meant to stay in her room. When I hear her come back up the stairs, I peek out my door to see what she’s up to.

She gives me her “I’m being naughty, don’t be mad at me” smirk, her big round eyes looking through her eyebrows with an innocent grin. In her arms is a stuffed puppy, left downstairs from her daytime play. After searching her cluttered bunk bed, she noticed that particular puppy was gone and went on a rescue mission to bring it back to the fold of other stuffed puppies. (She’s got an incredible memory so it didn’t take her long to find it.)

She waits silently until I give her an approving smile. She mirrors it back and dashes into her room. She climbs her little white ladder to the top of the bed where she begins her 30-45 minute adventure imaginary play with the large collection of toys she has gathered.

A List of Things This 3-Year-Old Keeps in Her Bunk Bed

  • 4 blankets
  • A puppy sleeping bag
  • 12 stuffed puppies (she knows each one by name: Roczen, Pongo, Big Puppy, Mr. Brown, Scout, Rover, Spot, Pudding, Caramel, Barker, Woof, and Storm)
  • A bucket of crayons and 2 coloring books
  • Her cowgirl hat and unicorn sunhat
  • A water squirter
  • All the Paw Patrol cars with their figurines (including a massive fire truck)
  • A basket of plastic Easter eggs
  • Dollhouse food
  • A rock “treasure”
  • Literally anything else her little heart finds (usually the smallest of items—which is why little brother can’t sleep in the bottom bunk quite yet)

For me, that kind of clutter in my bed would give me anxiety. I like systems and organization (in labeled boxes preferably). Mostly, I like sleeping without a sharp plastic object jabbing me. 

I am also a creative; I do have a tendency to hoard things and create piles of projects to make or finish. So her cluttered bed does not bother me at all. In all the tidying up I do as a mother (which is A LOT), I leave her bunk bed be. I see it as her creative work — her bed is her holy ground for imagination. She hoards and holds her favorite items and it is a space she can grow her creative skills. 

Hearing her jabbering and singing next door warms my heart as I start my own bedtime routine. 

I settle into my favorite spot: a corner desk in my bedroom with piles of sewing fabrics and books and tools. My computer is set up for designing and writing and gathering. This is my holy ground for creativity. We are more alike than I think.

A List of Things This 29-Year-Old Keeps on Her Desk

  • Sticky notes, lots of them (and even more Evernote notes)
  • Two computer monitors for development work
  • Notebooks and pens scattered
  • A shirt with embroidery thread and needle attached, halfway through
  • Printer with photo paper ready to go
  • InDesign open with a memory-keeping book design
  • Colorful pens sitting on top of scriptures for marking
  • My DSLR camera
  • A laminator heating up
  • A shipping scale
  • Three plugged in hard drives for three different purposes
  • Sometimes a sewing machine whirring over the Netflix show
  • A snack or two (because Momma makes the rules)

Long before I go to bed, I no longer hear her barking “EIEIO” or making up words for her puppies. She has drifted off to sleep and the night is still. The frustrations of the day have been forgiven and forgotten and I rest in my sacred space refreshing for the next day.

As I sit here creating and writing, her dreaming and imagining, both surrounded by our creative clutter, I can only wish that she never stops this kind of creative work. Whatever it takes to continue this fire in her, I will always encourage her to make space and find time to take that clutter and turn it into magic.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Still Motherhood”.

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