I realized recently that the way to not go crazy was to make new spaces for all the activities we like to do at home. So instead of trying to use the dining table for card-making, painting, sculpting, scrapbooking, crafting, and-- oh yeah-- eating, I'm making art nooks.
First, a craft desk for myself. It meant buying a new dresser and selling the old (all on Craigslist, and I made $10!) so it would fit in the hallway. Then I bought a desk ($20) and stuck it in the corner of my bedroom. There was just enough space. That room also gets a lot of light so it's not working out too badly. And I can CLOSE the DOOR and block out all the screaming and shouting of the little ones. Hallelujah.
I got the kids an easel ($20 on Craigslist) which is currently standing in the little space between the table and the deck door. One side has a chalk board and the other a white board, though we just clip paper to it and paint pictures. A little IKEA side table we've had kicking around fits perfectly under it so we can pull it out when they need it and tuck it back in when they don't.
I took some beautiful pictures of the kids using it but they have totally disappeared off my computer so you will just have to imagine it. There they are, painting away, while I sit at my clean and tidy kitchen table, contemplating tonight's project. Ahh. I feel better already.
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