Many days of silence. Broken computer. Am using son's homework model. Now know why he complains. It is very, very slow. Well, here is the thing. Am really rather bored with the whole cleaning gig. And tired. Have been working harder at housework type activities in the last couple of weeks than have in years. Might be going into decline precipitated by cleaning induced exhaustion. And the really discouraging part? It really isn't very obvious. If I am going to make heroic efforts, especially at something as tedious as cleaning, I like to be noticed. Problem is, we are living in renovation mayhem. In a house that looks like it might be part of a slum clearance project. We still have too much stuff to clean around, and a tribe of short people who also live here regularly plunge all horizontal surfaces into creative chaos. And they are here all the time. For the past two years the girls have been way from home three days a week, and one glorious day each week I was home alone. It was too, too delicious. Imagine a whole day, with the only mess created being a tea cup on the sink. And now they are home all the time. And oh, it is fun to have them home. They are sweethearts. But they make so much mess. I think they have a mandate from their union. And girl mess includes several hundred tiny Barbie accessories, and also CRAFT. The tiny pieces of paper, wrapped in other pieces of paper, stuffed in little cardboard boxes studded with tiny beads...lovingly stuffed into a sock for the dollies' Christmas. Multiply that by the number of dollies and imagine the glue on the table, floors, and walls, and all the tiny pieces of paper that never made it into the box, and then remember that there are three more hours of the afternoon, and that it is indeed possible for five little girls to remove almost everything from a bedroom and relocate it into the sandpit (sorry, desert island), and then decide to wash the Barbies' hair in the bathroom without, it has to be said, washing any of the sand from any of the aforementioned five little girls first, and you may begin to wonder, as I am doing, whether a project to become a model housekeeper is really a good idea at all, under the circumstances....
I am starting to enjoy my evening tidying routine, as I put things away in the quiet of a sleeping house before bed then set the table for breakfast in the morning. It makes me feel like a real mother somehow...(a feeling that giving birth four times, breastfeeding for a total of eight years and making seven thousand vegemite sandwiches has somehow failed to elicit...go figure).
But I can't bring myself to tidy the tiny farm on the hearth.
The Domestic Goddess knows that there is no occasion which cannot be improved by a cupcake. Hence these chocolate ganache beauties, to celebrate our first morning of lessons. I think that all has gone well so far. I did panic a little when the Domestic Goddess requested more structure in our lessons this year, because I am really not very good at structure. But for my darling girl, I will try anything. So yesterday, we were scheduled to the minute, and amazingly, it worked really well. Today we had a very relaxed morning - I have scheduled a regular history project for late Friday morning, but we haven't done any history yet. So we went swimming instead. Early this morning we headed out for our first nature sketching outing for the year, to one of the jewels of parks that our town is studded with. A perfect warm sunny morning. We had our bird book, and our insect book, and sketched a very fetching little (alas, unidentified) golden beetle, which scuttled endearingly all over Posy while the girls drew it. The Domestic Goddess stalked a family of Native Swamp Hens and drew them as well. It was all very nice, just how I imagined homeschooling would always be... I know now that it nearly always isn't, so I treasure the golden moments.
On the cleaning front - well, Thursday came around again rather quickly. Due to the clutter reduction programme the bedroom floors have never been so clear, so they are now cleaner than they have been, well, ever probably. Vaccuuming the easiest ever. I am now looking at surfaces. Desks, the girls' dressing tables, my bedside table. My goal this week is to be able to dust without breaking anything. That means taking everything off the surfaces, and preventing stuff getting back on. I tend to use bedrooms, especially my own, as places to throw stuff so that the rest of the house looks reasonably tidy. It will be a huge effort to break that handy little habit. Still, I didn't imagine I would be looking at floor in the bedrooms this week either. Floor! It's positively remarkable.
For many days now I have been surrounded with sheets of paper, scribbled all over with ideas, schedules, book titles and notes about piano lessons and craft groups. School starts tomorrow, and I am trying to timetable my life.
I think I am almost sorted now. I started with a list of subjects and topics, then worked out a daily rhythm that seems to work for us, then slotted the subjects in wherever there was space. The change this year? We are starting with morning chores. We will see how much housework we can tear through in the half hour between 8.30 and 9am.
Our curriculum is based on the wonderfully relaxing and reassuring Well-Trained Mindseries by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother, Jessie Wise. Why relaxing? Because their rigorously academic content is completely scripted, while designed to be a conversation between parent and child. It makes me sound as though I know everything. I love it!
And they cover so many subjects. For history, there is Story of the World, a four volume history of the world in stories, with accompanying activity books. Grammar, and usage of the English language is covered in First Language Lessons. Reading in Ordinary Parent's Guide to TeachingReading (I also use this for spelling lists), and the recently published Writing With Ease, which promise to help students to erm...write with...um, ease. Love, love, love these books. They take most of the angst out of teaching for me, and that just leaves some gaps where, now all the basics are taken care of, I have the energy to be creative (well, this is the plan). French, with our dear friend Em. A morning for walking and drawing in our nature diaries and pretending to be Beatrix Potter. Experiments with the chemistry set. And, oh, yes, you noticed the omission. Maths. A tutor for The Domestic Goddess. I have struggled through Year 7 maths before with The Boy, and I must say, I did a terrible job at it. A tutor is so much a better plan. It will reduce my stress no end. Rosy's maths is easy. Understanding Mathsis the text, with DK workbooksto supplement it. Plus Monopoly. Nothing guaranteed to improve math skills quicker.
Ok, now breathe. At ten to seven tomorrow morning, it all starts again.
Oh, lordy. It's Thursday, bedroom cleaning day. Unfortunately, today was already booked. Two orthodontic appointments and a four hour blueberry-picking picnic. But there must be the possibility of being able to do housework and have a life, surely. I washed half the sheets and put them back on the beds, vacuumed one bedroom, and dusted my room tonight after the children went to bed. A 1940s housewife would give me maybe 2 out of 10 I'm thinking. Well, at least we can all see the floor in our bedrooms tonight. Let's think glass half full here. Tomorrow I will finish vacuuming and dusting, and maybe next week I will bravely look up on top of the wardrobes to see if anything has died there.
Possibly the difference between me and that legendary 1940's housewife is that at 8 o'clock in the morning I am still wandering about drinking tea. I have been re-reading my grandmother's Pollyanna books, set before and after WWI. She was always bouncing out of bed at 6am, and accomplished wonders in her day, as well as being disgustingly cheery. Perhaps she went to bed earlier as well. Perhaps I am about to become a model citizen.
Decluttering coming on apace here. I often begin to declutter, then it all becomes a tiny bit tedious far too soon. I have so much stuff, and I never get rid of any of it, just in case. I am going to end up as one of those old ladies who can't get out the house because of huge, teetering piles of mouldering newspapers in the hallway. Besides which, we are doing major, scary renovations this year. Half our house has been ripped up, so all our possessions are in half the house. There is nowhere to put almost anything. Another reason to throw lots away. And I have so much stuff, although I think I already mentioned that. But I am not one of these terrible mindless consumers. Oh no. I do not own acres of expensive plastic crap from department stores. I am an ecologically aware hoarder. I own acres of cheap, irresistible vintage crap from op shops, and books. Oh, the books. And the papers. Every piece of paper that my children have ever written on. Photos. Menus. Tickets from Tram Rides I Have Taken. Pieces of string, because you never know when you might need one. It all really has to go. It is going.
I think our success this week is due to boundaries, and a deadline. Thursday is bedroom cleaning day according to my new cleaning regime. So I am only decluttering bedrooms. And the girls are quite enjoying the challenge, although we have to hide all the 'throw out' bags from the four year old, who suddenly becomes passionately attached to anything she sees heading out the door. It is all going into the back of the stationwagon, and when it is too full to enable me to see out of the back window, we take a trip to the op shop and unload it all. It is very, very cathartic. I feel lighter. I feel more energetic. I may actually be getting thinner. I can see the floor in my bedroom, for the first time in months. Who knew housekeeping could be this exciting?
Tired, but determinedly cheerful mother of four. One grown up son (The Boy), one grown up daughter (The Girl), two girls at home, Rosy (16) and Posy (11). Trying to buy a little less, make a little more, live a little lighter, not mess up the children too much..