Friday, July 11, 2014

A Neat House and Homeschooling (are these things mutually exclusive?)

Once upon a time, our house was organized. At the time we would say, “Our house is a mess!” to people and each other when, say, there were a few dishes in the sink, our bed wasn’t made, and maybe the laundry hadn’t been put away yet.  (HA!) 

(It was kind of how before we had kids we thought that we were so busy and had no time to do anything.  Yeah, we weren’t and we did.  We may have kept ourselves busy, but we still could just lie on the couch at any given moment and watch a whole episode of Seinfeld uninterrupted. Or, actually do the side projects that we wanted to do and start them before 10:00 at night. I don’t mean this to mock the child-free among us, quite the contrary!  I urge you to see the free time that you have for what it is and seize the day!  To quote that annoying ubiquitous Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows song, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone" - personally, I liked the Cinderella song of the same title.) 

Back to the topic – a neat house.  See, here’s the thing.  You know how you get up in the morning and you get ready and you eat breakfast and you leave for the day?  Well, that never happens with homeschooling.  See, you never leave. Even if you go out for a few hours, there’s not usually a schedule about it (every day), and so your house is 100% lived in 100% of the time. 

Lots of Living happening here.

 “Well, Scott,” you say, “what about teaching all those little kids you’ve got to do some cleaning?”  Good question. We do our fair share of child training in our house.  The thing with child training is that they are still children and they’re in training. So actually, a task takes EVEN LONGER if you make it a child-job because you have to show them multiple times how to do it, and then monitor them, and then check up on them, often correcting them to keep going and stop playing with Legos 

Child Training in Progress: Table Clearing 101

So, right now, when they are all little, the child labor isn’t paying off yet.  I have high hopes that it will when they are teenagers, but we’re not there yet. 

Okay, Emily, now you need to put the dirty laundry in the basket.

A couple of times a week though, I’ll go on a rampage of sorts and make everyone pick up. Oh how the children dread these days! Then our house is perfect for a few hours, pretty good until dinner, and then sometimes still good the next day.  

The Big Girls' Room: This was perfectly clean the day before. Actually, it's not too bad.

 I’ve noticed, though, that a clean house sparks their imaginations, and so then they’ll get inspired for some sort of craft or project or pretend.  Then, the mess happens again.   

I’m kind of writing this with an agenda in mind. If you go into someone’s house (with kids and especially if they homeschool), don’t judge them for their lack of organization or neatness.  Sometimes, instead of picking up, you need to spend time with your kids or make them a wholesome dinner or just relax.   Sometimes you may be volunteering what little spare time you have to invest in a group of kids (ahem, like directing a play), or some other worthwhile cause. 

Like these cuties.

The one thing that I’ve found in life (and trust me, I’m always trying to remember this and put it into practice), is that PEOPLE matter.  Not things. Not a neat house.  Not a fat bank account. Not a well-manicured yard. Not a successful career. 


I close with this quote from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: 

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.  Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

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