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On day 3 of my 40 days of commitment, I’m realizing just how much I dislike housework.  I want to use the word “hate”, but I refuse.  For, it is not my conscious mind that holds the dislike.  In fact, I want to like my housework.  I like other types of work that are similar to this.  I love tending the chickens, even cleaning their poopy nest boxes.  I love it!  I love turning the compost with a shovel borrowed from our landlord because we haven’t bought proper tools.  Seriously, I find joy in it.  Planting and hoeing the garden is another great joy.  I also absolutely love to cook.  However, put me at the sink to wash dishes, and I’m a wreck of nerves.

It is something deep down that causes me to have anxiety when trying to keep a tidy house.  I’ve been trying to find the source of that, so I looked to my childhood.  My mother didn’t seem to enjoy her housework.  She was too tired from her job, and I saw how she became aggravated when cleaning.  Then, there was the power struggle of my teen years and the begging for me to clean my room.  Other women I’ve been in close contact with, have been obsessive about cleaning, to the point of being militant.  If you found yourself having to help in the work, be careful and pay attention.  If it’s not done right, they’ll take your head off.  And then, I came to John’s mother and found an example of what I would like to be when it comes to homemaking.  She keeps an immaculate home, which I’m not aspiring to with two small children in the house.  What I do love about her is that she really does seem to enjoy cleaning and keeping things tidy.  I want that ease when it comes to that kind of work.  I’d love for my housecleaning to be a time of focus and almost meditation.

What happens to me now?  I feel my pulse rise.  I get the feelings of butterflies in my stomach, and I find myself ready to lash out.  It comes from somewhere deep inside and housework is the trigger.  No, I’m not lazy.  I’m a hard worker, and wouldn’t be anything but that.  I really don’t know other than seeing people view housework as a discipline tool or a burden until later in my life, where it could have come from.

When thinking of Waldorf inspired homemaking and education, how we approach our housework is really critical.  I’m realizing for the first time how our approach to it will set the tone for how our children will view this type of work.

As we wash the morning dishes, sweep the floor, dust the furniture, let’s ask ourselves what our child sees in our gesture.  Does he see care in our bodily rhythm as we bend toward the task, or does he see a hurried duty?  Does he see pleasure in the task, or resentment?  Because the young child learns by imitation, he will imitate not only our physical gestures, but also our “inner gesture”.  We can teach our child to enjoy the rhythmic activity of the care of his toys and playthings by our own conscious enjoyment of the care of our home.  As we bring our conscious presence to the rhythm of these tasks, we give our child a dual gift: a sense of purpose and presence in the rhythms of daily life.

Sharifa Oppenheimer, Heaven on Earth

I read this and realized how my actions were impacting not only myself and how I viewed my day to day, but also my children.  It’s not a wonder why Deladis won’t participate without coaxing in tidying her room.  She sees the stress it causes me and wants no part of that.  Now, I’m wondering how we change years of deeply grained habit.  I suppose little by little.  I’m trying to be conscious of my feelings when they arise, and to talk myself out of them or meditate through them.  There’s not a reason that cleaning up after our family should put me into hypertension.

I have to start somewhere.  I will start with acknowledging that I love the look of a tidy, clutter free home.  I will say I don’t mind sweeping or laundry so much.  I can say that there is nothing else that absolutely has to be done in my day aside from taking care of the girls and John, so there is time for it.  It’s a start.

I’ll use this as inspiration.

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

A little girl's room - very few "toys" - I loved it, so simple and pure as was the boy's room

A little girl's room - very few "toys" - I loved it, so simple and pure as was the boy's room

I’m functioning today on four eight ounce cups of coffee instead of my usual two.  The last two days of writing, reading, and meeting my writing Superhero, Gurney Norman, has been rewarding.  It has left me exhausted.  That and the girls both being poor sleepers.  Ivy sitting up in bed at 4am saying “goggie” over and over while kicking Deladis.  Deladis is having an allergic reaction to her vigorous play with our Dalmatian, Lars and was itching all night long.  Yes, it was a lovely night.

So, far Saturday is a quiet day and I am using it to compile my thoughts on a rhythm for our days.  I’ve asked mamas from two online forums I belong too, and I have used the comments I’ve gotten here to make a list of things to keep in mind.  I have gotten two days of rhythm down on paper so far.  It is already making me feel more at ease.  Hopeful.  I have also used this uneventful morning to make a store list and plan a loose menu for the week.  I’ll be making the 45 minute trip to Hazard with the girls on my own today as John will be playing a Kentucky Derby party at an establishment in Lexington, Kentucky.  We’ll see how that goes.  It’s an interesting experience to have to drive all over God’s green earth to find the groceries you need.

The following list are things I’m thinking about while developing a rhythm for our household.

  • Times should be kept loose.  Use the clock only as a guide for what happens next.  Some things may take longer than planned, or not as long as planned.  Bedtimes are the only thing in the rhythm that might benefit us to follow to the letter.
  • The needs of my children come first.  With their needs met they will generally be happy and I will find that the time I do get to spend with my husband or alone will be more productive and enjoyable.
  • Try to predict repeating behaviors in the girls.  For example, Ivy likes to nap about 3 hours after waking in the morning.  She likes to eat directly after nap.  Deladis likes 3 small meals and 3 large snacks in a day.  Make sure she has easy access to appropriate foods.  Late afternoons are a trying time.  Reserve that for time with the girls.
  • Prioritize my exercise routine.  It might benefit me to have a scheduled time to wake up on days I want to get extra writing time in, or on days I want to do Ultimate Taebo.  I can work on cutting a yoga routine down to smaller chunks of time and focus more on individual poses and their relationships to each other than an hour long routine.
  • Do not stress if I don’t get in all the writing time I planned for.  Some days I will get more than planned, some less.  It will balance out.  The important thing is to work at it daily.
  • Cut down on blog posts and think more about the quality of writing there.  I’m thinking I will post 4 times a week.  This will give me more time for fiction writing and working on my novels.
  • Computer time needs to be cut back.  Utilize the time wisely and do not get sidetracked from the goal.
  • Wash dishes after every two meals.  This can be done with Ivy on my back if she is out of sorts at the time.  Deladis often likes to help with dishes.  This will also put me washing dishes once a day instead of twice.
  • Choose a major chore to do every weekday in order to keep an orderly house.  Ex.  Monday – cleaning living room/laundry
  • I’ve decided a formal preschool time with Deladis is not necessary.  (She won’t like this, but I’m replacing it with more time with her, so I think she will be okay with it after we fall into the rhythm.)  Instead, I plan to include her in my activities of housework, gardenwork, cooking, etc…  I also plan to include a evening “bedtime” story, and crafts/outside time during set aside family time.  More library time.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff… Yes, trite phrase I know, but it’s true.  Don’t just plow through the day, but look at each day individually and keep everyone’s needs in mind.

You’re probably thinking at this point, what did their days look like before?  Partially organized chaos is your answer.  No more, no more.  From this list, I’m creating a loose schedule of our days.  I plan to follow the same schedule every week until I see another need arise, or the needs of my girls change allowing for more or less time doing certain activities.  I will post our schedule as soon as I finish it.  Tomorrow’s post will be about meal planning on our new budget.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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