As a mum I wear many hats, and homeschooling is just one of them; there is also the cook, the cleaner, the trainer, the nurturer just to name a few. What happens when one hat gets worn more than the other? Well, just like what happens in my wardrobe- the winter clothes get dusty! So too, does our other areas in our life we need to balance all our hats, bring them out regularly so the dust doesnt build up!
I think for most homeschoolers the two hats that are in constant competition are the homeschooling hat and the cleaning hat. For me they are the two hats that I cant seem to wear together. I tend to jam that house-cleaning hat on so tight that there is no time for anything else, or vice versa all my focus goes to educating/training my children and the house dust (the least of the problems considering the laundry!) piles up.
We know in our hearts that we should be able to balance all this but how?
The key for me has been in recognising that all those hats are valid hats in my life. God has called me to be all those things. He will give me all I need to complete all that I need to complete.
So first of all I accepted that the housework was a valid part of my life. It wasnt a necessary evil it was part of my calling to nurture my family, it was an opportunity to train my children and it was a necessary part of hospitality, which fulfils another aspect of our family mission. If housework is seen in such a way, then the time we need to spend on it is valid part of my day.
I also looked at how I functioned, what was the best times in the day for the various tasks I had to do, and thirdly how long did I really need for these tasks. For me, I need a couple of hours a day to be on top of the bulk of my housework. I function best in the morning though some tasks have to be done in the afternoon.
Over the years I have never scheduled enough time to do the housework; everything is supposedly started before lessons (but never finished) or squeezed in between lessons which never really happens. I may get the occasional load of laundry hung to dry between various students lessons but the bulk of my cleaning needs to be done in a block of time when I can whiz through it and conqueror it!
Since I have started to work with the above presumptions things are looking up. The Laundry is never conquered, the cobwebs often hang around for longer than I would like, and the cupboards desperately need sorting . But, my family are living in a clean house, they are eating healthy food and mum is not stressed!
What happens to the children when I am wearing a housecleaning hat? In times past, when I would jam that housekeeping hat on tight and nothing else would get done for a day cause I was catching up then the children would go a little scatty because they had too much free time, their boundaries too loose. If I am keeping all my hats balanced and giving them the right amount of time, at the right time in the day, things are very different around here. This is what happens in our house:
- They put on their own housecleaning hats! They help with the chores. They are learning what it is to be part of our family and to take care of our family responsibilities (which will translate to their own responsibilities when they are older), they are learning the skills which will enable them to care for someone else and they are learning skills in hospitality (being always ready to bless others).
- After those basic chores are all done in the morning, I continue with some deeper cleaning and the children have free playtime (for about ½ hour), which often happens outside this involves bike riding as their exercise. If they are inside it often involves board games, imaginative games, reading and drawing. In the afternoon (which is for about 1 hour) they are once again enjoying free time or project time. My children are older and most of them can occupy themselves fitfully for this period of time. When my children were younger the best times for my housework were different than they are now. I would work in with their room time, or their sleep time, or their video time etc not my training them to work on projects!
So which hat is calling you? Is one pretty dusty? I am reminded of that story Caps for Sale, the salesman had his hats all in order, all in a row, and disaster happened when one hat got misplaced. That is pretty much what life as a mum is really like keeping all our hats in order and not misplaced!