Catching up

When you're homeschooling there are a lot of busy people spending a lot of time at home. And while some household jobs do get done throughout the day, there's rarely enough time to really keep up with the house and keep up with children who are busy learning. I find it the most difficult thing about homeschooling... the lived-in look of the house. (Though since houses are made to be lived in, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.) I will usually always err on the side of doing things with my children, so it often feels that the house is on a slow slide into chaos.

That's why every so often, I just have to declare a household catch-up day. We are having one of those today. It means that we put the schoolbooks away for the day and focus our time and energy on digging out of the chaos. It has to be done. Usually our Saturday morning cleaning times are enough to keep the house livable, but sometimes outside activities interfere with that routine. And even with this weekly cleaning, there are always the odd jobs that build up.

I'm writing about our really not exciting day of cleaning and organizing because I have found that some homeschooling mothers find it difficult to give themselves permission to do this. This being taking a day off from schoolwork in order to make their home livable. I think this stems from the mistaken assumption that learning, at least the learning that 'counts', only comes out of a textbook. But there is still so much learning going on, even with the schoolbooks closed, even on a cleaning day.

And what can cleaning the house teach a child? Well, the first is that it is healthy to become accustomed to living in an ordered environment. Notice I did not say pristine. That would be unrealistic. And unpleasant. Who really wants to live in a pristine house? I, at least, would feel as though I couldn't ever really relax for fear of messing something up. But there is a difference between pristine and basically ordered. Ordered means that someone can drop by and they can get in the door and have a place to sit. Ordered means that assuming your small child didn't carry it away, you can basically find the things you need. The things in your home each have a place to live whether your children choose to participate or not. Ordered means that within a reasonable amount of time, things can be picked up and put away and you can feel as though you are done. Children will often replicate the environment they grew up in when they are adults. Give them a taste for order and calmness.

Second, household cleaning can teach a child teamwork. Everyone has a job and everyone pitches in and so the work gets done. No one person is left to do it all and no one develops a sense of entitlement that says, "Others do things for me, I don't have to help." At the very least, future roommates of your children will thank you. While this post isn't about cleaning with children, I will say that enlisting our children to help around the house isn't the easiest option. That would be the mother doing it all herself. Training children to help is time consuming, can be frustrating, and requires far more of the parent. But in the long run it is worth it. And with parenting, everything is about the long view.

And last, teaching a child to help with household cleaning and organization is providing necessary life skills. Who really wants to raise a child to adulthood and discover that the basics of keeping a home are beyond them? Part of learning to live independently involves knowing how to clean and cook and make ones environment pleasant and livable.

These tasks are all best taught in the home. They are things that must be learned and are vital to becoming a functioning adult. I would say they are just as important as learning how to graph a slope-intercept equation... perhaps more so.

Pray for Brandi today.

This is Brandi. She is 6 years old. She lies in her crib and waits and waits and waits for someone to scoop her up and tell her how loved she is. Just imagine a grin on her face, her hair allowed to grow out. Imagine how transformed she will look when she is loved. Pray that she doesn't have to wait too much longer for her parents to find her.


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