I wanted to write a post about rhythm tonight, but felt I needed to write about the physical environment of the home first. After all, it can be hard to attain a peaceful rhythm if laundry is piled everywhere, the sink is full of dishes and every surface is dirty.
Mothers ask all the time about establishing a rhythm for their families and I always recommend starting with bedtimes/consistent awake times, and then look at meal times. However, what many mothers do not realize is that “clean-up” time is built into these bursts of activity. Whilst your children are in the bathtub, have the children scrub it whilst you tackle the floor and sing! After a meal time, everyone brings their plates up and washes and dries the dishes. Together. This is the beginning of the children using their will forces, their hands, their bodies and developing habits. The things that you teach them to do with their hands will be the things they can do once they leave your house to live on their own!
So, the first place to start is with in regards to your home is, of course, yourself. You set the tone for how things are done in your home, and you are worthy of having an nice home! A home is really about the intangible feelings you get when you walk in the door. Is it comfortable, is it warm, is it a place of love? I wrote about that some here: http://dendtler.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=881&action=edit&message=1
In this post entitled, “Is Your Home A Sanctuary?” (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/12/is-your-home-a-sanctuary/) I wrote a few things down about starting from the bare bones of envisioning a home and building outward:
One of the first things one can do to improve the physical beauty of the home is to seriously look at the amount of stuff and clutter in the home and pare it all down. Pare down your toys, the amount of clothes your kids have and how many things you have. Your small home will seem spacious!
The second thing may be to consider unusual uses of space. I currently have a lovely school room in my dining room area and my dining room in a sunroom area. The dining room is more contained for homeschooling (ie, can’t see it from the front door when you walk in) and the sunroom area is larger and visible directly from the front door. Our breakfast nook area off the kitchen is a also now a playroom to keep the children close whilst I cook or clean.
Paint is something to consider as well. The right shade of paint can really warm a room and make it inviting. Evaluate your furniture as well – if you painted this piece of furniture or changed the drawer pulls, would it look totally different? Many times this is just as good as getting new furniture! Can you reupholster anything?
Rugs, curtains and pillows are last. If you can sew, that is so helpful but even if you cannot, perhaps you can find wonderful thrift store bargains. Can you take down the blinds and clean them all before you put up new curtains?
Then look at the outside of your house. Does it need painting? Pressure washing? Mulch? Is the front entry inviting? If you enter through the garage can you walk through the garage? Does the garage need painting?
This is a lot about the physical environment because I think when we are home all day the physical clutter, cleanliness and appearance of our homes can really affect how we feel!
Here are some cleaning lists for what chores to do when: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/11/housecleaning-and-homeschooling/ If you can tailor this to your own needs and work it into your daily and weekly rhythm, then you will have a foundation of a home that is generally well-put together.
One website that has helped me in the past has been Flylady: www.flylady.net. Baby steps really assisted me when I did not have routines for homemaking in place. Perhaps this will be a place to help you.
There are many blogs with beautiful pictures of gorgeous handmade homey spaces with clean, smiling children. Do not let these photographs stress you out! Use them and look at them only if they inspire you! You are worthy of having your own tranquil physical space and you can get there!
Remember, people before things, baby steps toward routines!
Many blessings in homemaking,