Monday, September 11, 2006

As busy as last week was, it turned out fairly well. We had really good events to attend and had lots of fun. But, I was wiped out by the end of the week.

Everyday, lately, it seems I am reminded of the fact that my girls are growing up. I know I keep writing about it, but everytime I turn around it is another thing that makes me stop and go hmmm. I constantly think of this house as a chaotic realm of the preschool set. Yet, MB is doing her level best to remind me that she is almost seven now, and "not a little girl." Yes! She is still my little girl, but I will let her believe she is growing up. One of the good things about this stage is the increasing ability to actually help around the house, while the desire is still there. We have reworked the chore chart for MB and K to recognize the fact that they have more capabilities this year than last and for the first time have enacted allowances.

And, since I want to make this whole chore thing as simple as possible so I can stop hearing "I can't do it" a few new products have made it into our cleaning closet. One product isn't so new. My mom remembers one of her chores, in the '50s, was to run the "Bissell" in the dining room after every meal. I used to love to use the 'Bissell" when we went to visit my grandmother. It was lightweight and didn't make the horrible noise that the vacuum did. So, now we will have one of these when my mom comes up this week:

MB and K really enjoy mopping the floor also. Much, much more than I do. But, I could never put thi on their chore list because I also had to go behind them mopping up the water puddles left by trying to finagle the squeeze mop and bucket. So, how can a 7-year-old and a 4-year-ol mop?

So, how does this all play out in my whole simple, frugal life plan I am working on. Well, the Bissell could be considered both simple and frugal. It will cut down on how many times I have to pull the heavy, electric vacuum out each week. It is also old-fashioned and as simple as they come.

The Swifter, I admit is not frugal and the amount of waste it can produce staggers me. I view this as primarily a "learning" tool for the girls. We will use it for awhile and then go back to the old-fashion mop. I tried it last night, and it left the floor clean enough, although I will still have to mop now and then to really get the shine I want.

So, why share this mundane thing about cleaning tools for my girls? Because it is all a part of the homeschooling experience for us. They could be gone to school all day and I would have 4-8 hours each day to clean in relative peace and quiet, with them getting very little exposure to how to maintain a house. But, I don't have those hours to clean during the day when things are not getting pulled out right behind me. Helping around the house is, right now, entertaining to the girls and an important skill I wish I had picked up.

What is in the average day of this homeschool family. The basics - a little school, playtime, cleaning and cooking. Life doesn't get a lot more basic than that. The important thing I am finding is that as the girls have gotten older, it is more and more important to include them in on the household chores as much as we incorporate more and more school into their days. It is a constant reminder that life, real life, cannot and shouldd not be broken down into school and home. As an adult, working outside the home and as a SAHM, I have spent more time engaged in practical life skills than debating any historical and scientific theory.

I love learning and what I have learned over the years. Learning is in fact, entertainment for me. But, what I do around the house is basic life. The psychologist Maslow presented the Hierarchy of Needs as a foundation for self-actualization, which is questioned by some, the logic of it cannot be dismissed. We cannot begin to learn and examine ourselves until our basic needs of life are meet.

Fortunately, we can have many of our 'basic' (organic life, food, housing) needs meet by society or technology. Maybe. Maybe in theory. But isn't it so much more gratifying to be able to meet those needs ourselves. And, that is where esteem needs become important. Self-esteem is related to how much we feel that we can do and contribute to our community and what we can do for ourselves. It is that child's I can do it !! excitement. My girls receive so much more(intrincially) from a chore well-done than from a school page well-done. Work around the house is seen as actually accomplishing something of value.

School work is of value, very high value to me in fact. But, the girls are still too young or not engaged enough to understand that value. A large tower built with blocks during free time is just as exciting to MB as a perfect page of math. The girls are "concrete thinkers" to borrow a term from Piaget. Basically, in our house this means that it is a whole lot easier to get them to do 'chores' than to sit down and want to study out of a book or on the computer. They will get there and we will not stop encouraging and exposing. In the meantime, I will buy tools that help them learn how to do the chores around here, just as I buy science books and math books, crayons and pencils.



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A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.