Well, here we get down into the nitty-gritty: how we craft a rhythm to take care of the THINGS in our home. All things require care, require cleaning, require maintenance. And here is my top secret thought:
This is often what can make or break homeschooling. It can also make or break how peaceful a mother feels…(not that one cannot have a wonderfully clean home and still have a whole bunch of sadness or tension in it!) However, I think in general, if mama is completely stressed and overwhelmed by her environment, and has to homeschool on top of total care of the home with no one helping in the form of the family working together, then mama may burn out. If life cannot be brought under some bit of control in order to not have the Mount Rushmore of Laundry, things clean, the environment uncluttered to the point where mama does not feel nuts….then homeschool is that much harder to get done.
At least that’s how it is in my home. And I think this is how many women function. We all know people before things, but at the same time, if one is home all day long and every flat surface is piled high with things, every drawer and closet is bursting, the laundry and dishes are piled up…..
It just doesn’t feel good.
So, my thoughts are these:
1. You must be home enough to also include getting your housework done.
2. Mama should not have to do everything by herself, unless of course you have only very tiny children in the home that are working with you but obviously cannot complete tasks..
3. Children learn how to work together as a team not only in team sports, but also and mainly I think in the home. Chores are an important part of family life! We all live here and we all help!
4. Less stuff equals less to do.
5. A rhythm for housecleaning, errands, cooking, etc. is essential or no one in the family will know what needs to be done when.
I have written quite a bit about chores before; my favorite back posts on chores include this one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/08/15/more-regarding-children-and-chores-in-the-waldorf-home/ and this one, written when my third child was very little: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/08/children-chores-housecleaning-and-homeschooling/
I recently sat down and made a giant master list of every possible chore with the help of the book “Managers of Their Chores” by the Maxwells. It is a Christian resource and will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it helped me immensely to organize my thoughts around chores . On my master list (the book I mentioned includes a master list to start from), I included seasonal chores, occasional chores – everything I could think of. I also checked in Martha Stewart’s housekeeping book to see what care was recommended regarding certain items and seasonal cleaning. Most of that information is also available for free on her website (but I do like the book form).
Once I reviewed my master list, I started to think about what the children could do, what I could do realistically, what my spouse normally does. I decided to work on getting my children to do chores mainly in the morning where I could be around to not only do the chores with the children and show them exactly how I want it done at first, but then to be available to check on the chore when it is done so we can talk about it, problem solve together, etc. I think we all have this vision in our heads of just sending our children off to do X chore, but the reality is we have to be there to demonstrate, to check in with and then to see that the chore is completed for children who are younger. The independence grows in time.
Children under seven should be weaving in and out of work through imitation of what you are doing to work in your home with parts of the chores accessible for small children. Children in the grades can and should start doing chores with you step by step, and then work on completing the chores independently after they know how to do it. You can then be there to check to see if the chore is completed. With multiple children, I find having a specific time to check on chores is a necessity as I cannot send everyone off to the wind to do different chores at different times and be so busy myself I don’t check to see if the chore was started, completed or how it was completed. That is why mornings are best for me to schedule the majority of chores.
Everyone always asks where to start. I think getting dressed, brushing hair, brushing teeth, folding pajamas and putting them away and making beds are a good place to start. Chores around mealtimes also are good places to start since everyone is working to put food on the table and clean up. My children enjoy outside chores, cooking, vacuuming and taking care of our dog as well. Start small, think of the steps it takes to complete a task well, demonstrate it, do it with your child, supervise your child, then have them work independently and check in with them. Slow and steady wins the race!
Please feel free to leave a comment or link detailing the ages of your children and what chores they are responsible for around the home.