Homeschooling to Adulthood: Teaching Kids to Clean

So many blogs lately have been running features about cleaning less and having kids do more chores, I finally realized one area in which I have been slacking.  I haven’t been having my “little kids” ( who are rapidly turning into big kids) do their fair share of the chores around the house.  While they clean out the dishwasher, set the table and fold laundry for me, I have not had them do the more demanding chores like washing dishes or cleaning bathrooms.

Part of this is on purpose.  I have a fear of cleaners and children combined.  Ever since I dropped an open bottle of toilet bowl cleaner on my bedroom carpet and melted it! I have had an inordinate fear of what  cleaners could do if used incorrectly.  My older kids didn’t begin cleaning bathrooms until they were about 10, and even then it was under supervision for some time.  But Lulu is nearing that age, and I haven’t even begun teaching her how to clean the bathrooms.

This is also partly laziness on my part because I have two such wonderful older helpers that out of four bathrooms in the house, I only ever have to clean one of them (and not that one if I can pawn it off on Daddy!)  I have been thinking about how unwise this is, however.  After all, the purpose of having children do chores is not just to have help around the house.  That is one very important reason, because a large homeschool family cannot operate successfully if the mom has to do all the chores.  But the real, important reason to have children do chores is so that they are well equipped as adults to run a household.  Cleaning is an important part of that equipment.

So even though I had to force myself past my laziness, Lulu got her first bathroom cleaning lesson last week on the half bath, and this week did her first supervised cleaning.  She did very well.  She remembered to wear an apron so that she wouldn’t get bleach spots on her good clothes.  She remembered the order in which to clean.  And she did not do anything silly with the cleaners.  All in all, a good first session.

Do you teach your young children to clean bathrooms?  Which chores do you save for older kids to do?  Please leave me a comment.


School Around the House

I  call myself hyper-active or ADD sometimes.  I’m glad I don’t have to sit in a classroom all day.  Even though I have a perfectly wonderful schoolroom, built especially to my specifications, and a beautiful handmade school table, I have a terrible time sitting still and doing schoolwork with the kids.  Perhaps that’s because I can always think of other things I could be taking care of at the same time.  We have a special name for the solution to the problem.  It’s called “follow Mom around the house” school.

Sometimes we do spelling test in the sewing room while Mom is ironing.

Saxon math requires a lot of mental math and skip counting drills every day.  Sometimes we do this in my bedroom while I make my bed.

And more counting while I put away laundry.

Did you notice the quilt? (I told you I am ADD.)   Why yes, I made it myself.  It was machine quilted, although I usually like to do the hand quilting myself.  Piecing quilts is not something you can do while listening to skip counting however.  Either the counter escapes or the quilt escapes.  It is not a good combination.  Here is a close up of the quilt:

And then, of course, there is kitchen school.  That sometimes comes as active involvement by kids in a cooking project, but often involves a kid sitting at the counter reading aloud or discussing a project with me while I wash dishes or prepare lunch.

And last, but certainly not least, is the time when we all discipline ourselves and sit down at the schoolroom table to do our work.

I have never noticed any bad effects on learning from this type of school, and perhaps there are even some benefits to the kinetic learner as we move around from spot to spot.  But really, this type of school is for the benefit of Mom — I get my jitters out and feel like I am multi-tasking.

Do you do chores while you teach your kids?  Are there some chores that are possible while teaching, and others that just cannot be done?  Please leave me a comment.

Relaxed Homeschooling: Managing the Chaos

It’s been crazy around here.  Spring is music competition time, so during February and March we are crazy with extra music recitals, besides everything else that normally goes on in our household and some new responsibilities.  It’s actually got me fantasizing about the Mommys that send their kids to school and have a cup of coffee before folding a few loads of laundry and mopping the kitchen floor.  I know that sending the kids to school would not really relieve the pressure, it would just change it, but sometimes I fantasize anyway.  What would it be like to make my bed without listening to skip counting, and fold laundry without checking on my violinist’s straight thumb?  Boring, I know.

I thought I would share with you some time management strategies I am using to stay sane while life is a little crazy.  Please don’t hold me accountable if I give you some advice I am not following perfectly myself:  I’m taking baby steps to get there.

  • Set absolute priorities.  There are a few things that are absolute necessities in our life.  For us these are music, math and dinner.  If I make sure these three things are taken care of, the rest can fall as it will.
  • Classify things on my to-do list as important and urgent.  Sometimes things that are urgent are not important (I don’t answer every phone call or respond to every text or even check my e-mail every day), and some things that are important are not urgent (I can procrastinate a little.)  I try to do all the urgent, important things first in the day so that the big things are taken care of, and then do the little things.  That means we start our days with music practicing, and dinner is often made before lunch.
  • I make meals ahead.  This Sunday afternoon I spent about 2 hours in the kitchen.  I usually don’t mind cooking, so this was a chore I could handle on a Sunday.  Making a big pot of soup and some special salads for lunches through the week means some of my evenings will not be as pressured.
  • Make lists.  I am compulsive on this one, although I often lose the list.  If I write it down, I find that it is easier to remember something.
  • Make sure there is some rest time.  Decide what it is that makes you tired out, and give yourself a way to rejuvenate.  For me, too much time around people other than my family is very tiring.  I take time with my book in the evening, and even chase the kids downstairs so that the house is quiet.
  • Congratulate yourself every day on the chores you did get done.  Remember you are a valuable person, and the job you are doing as a mommy to your children is irreplaceable.  Give yourself credit.

Hope you are having a wonderful day, and finding a way to have calm and happy days.  Do you have a great tip for feeling more relaxed?  Please leave me a comment.