Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weekly Rhythm

(This is the second post in a series of posts about rhythm.  You can find the first one here )

"How do you find time to clean your house?"

That is one of the most frequent questions I get and see floating around the internet when it comes to homeschooling.

Being in the house every day, it does tend to get a tad messy.  I once had a friend say that nice thing about working all day and having the kids in school is they don't have time to make the house messy.  Good point!

So, when we are spending the day homeschooling and living in our houses, how do we find the time to clean? 

This is where Waldorf is my saving grace.  One of the first things Waldorf stresses is for wee ones to take part in many of the housekeeping chores that take place each day.

Steiner encouraged parents and teachers to let children fold socks, sweep the floor, wash dishes, etc.  All these things help children develop a sense of awareness over their body and how it works.  It provides them with purposeful movement and different sensory experiences, and it shows them that they are a valuable part of the home environment and that they have something to contribute as well. I know from my own experience that doing chores and being given that responsibility has really helped build my children's self esteem.

Also, I find when my house is scattered and messy, my brain is scattered and messy.  And if mine is scattered and messy, I can only imagine how my littles feel. 

But where do we find the time? 

To keep your clutter and dust bunnies from taking over the house, you need to fit it in to your daily rhythm, by creating a weekly rhythm.

A weekly rhythm is made up of things that don't need to be done daily, but find a place in your lives at least once a week.  For my family, a weekly rhythm is two fold:  homeschooling and homekeeping. 

Our homekeeping rhythm goes like this:

Monday - clean bedrooms, change sheets, vaccum bedrooms

Tuesday - clean dining room and living room

Wednesday - clean bathroom

Thursday - clean office

Friday - Sunday there are no specific cleaning chores to do.

Now, with all that written out, I do need to say that I do some laundry every night, because the electricity is cheaper.  And I also have daily chores that get done to help with upkeep. These include tidying in the kitchen after each meal, wiping down the bathroom before I go to bed, and because we have a dog, I vacuum the first floor each day.  These are a part of our daily rhythm.

Both the children help with chores each day. They put away clothes, they scrub the bath during their bath time, they actually fight over who gets to scrub the toilet or wash the floors (I kid you not), and they are both responsible for keeping their toys in their proper spot and helping me when things need to be organized a bit.  They have been a part of chores from the beginning and take pride in the responsibility.

But doesn't it take longer?  Don't they sometimes do things not quite right?  

Yes.  It typically takes longer.  And yes, there will be streaks on the bathroom mirror and random dust bunnies that didn't get caught, but those can be quietly and quickly fixed, and those are lessons in themselves.

Gentle reminders and cleaning tips are well received in this house because of the gentle way they are given.  For example: "Oops, one dust bunny was hiding out under the tv stand.  You know how I get those guys?  I switch to the arm instead of using the wheel.  Here, try it!" And that's that.

And because we stay on top of things on a weekly basis, it typically only takes about a half hour in the afternoon to get everything done that needs doing on that day (we only have about 1100 square feet of space total) leaving lots of time for all the other things we'd rather be doing.

In order for this to work we also have "tidy as we go" and "everything has a place (except for that pile of papers I've been shifting for the last four years)" as mottos that we TRY to live by.

And have no fear, if you were to come by any random day, you'd be greeted by a dining table full of books and crayons and a living room with swords and lego and playmobil scattered.  BUT, it will get cleaned and tidied and when we wake in the morning, we start with a fresh slate.

I'm all about the fresh slate :)

Our weekly homeschooling rhythm is totally different, and very fluid.  It is totally focused on experiences for the kids, and while we try and do these things on the specific days, it doesn't mean they aren't done on other days as well.  It is just that these are things the children picked that they really enjoyed doing and wanted to make sure there was time for them each week.

Monday is bake day

Tuesday they are at a nature program

Wednesday is art or music

Thursday is typically a walk to a library or board/card game playing

Friday we are typically on a hike.

The weekends are family time and while we still follow a pretty typical daily rhythm, we don't have anything scheduled for each weekend.

It is important to remember that you can not have a solid weekly rhythm unless your daily rhythm is solid.  I hear of so many parents struggling with rhythm because they try and do everything all at once.

Start small.

Start daily and work up to the bigger stuff.

The mess will still be there in the morning.

I promise.


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