Friday, September 24, 2010

This Home Schooling Life: Doing the Dishes

Funny, or not so funny, thing since I wrote that last post: 3 out of 5 breakfasts this week were a disaster.  We had been on such a good roll.  But then we were out late at Disneyland and kids were cranky the next morning and other kids were sick and waking up at very different times and it was all kind of a mess.
But that's OK.  We have every morning next week to make it better.
And the week after that.
And so on and so on.

After breakfast, we do our morning housework.
I admit this has taken some adjusting on my part.
You see, I used to be a member of the "do most of it myself and let them help a little" club.
I'm out of that club.
I did let them help and taught them how to do various chores, but what I lacked was consistency.
And we all know that consistency is key with parenting.
It's kind of a bummer because consistency requires a lot of work on our part.

But then I was really inspired/convicted by 2 books.
The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes by Dubose Heyward.
Two very different books but there was a message there that struck a chord with me.  
I need to teach my kids how to work and expect them to do it every day.

Home schooling for me is about much more than sitting around the table learning to read, add and subtract.  
As one of my favorite educators, Charlotte Mason says, "education is a life."
It is my job to teach them how to be successful in life, not just in the classroom.  That involves knowing how to work, how to enjoy work and how to do a variety of practical, real life things.
Like doing the dishes.

After each child has carried his or her dishes to the sink, we wipe down the table and sweep the floor.  It took a week of me directing and supervising to make sure they knew how to do it all well.  And to be honest, I could still do it better and faster, but that isn't what it is about.

After cleaning the dining room, we head to the sink where each of us has a role.
I wash.
James rinses.

William dries.  (side note: see William's tucked in shirt?  I never tuck.  But he loves to dress himself and he always tucks.  It cracks me up.)

Lilly mostly makes a mess.

But she is also in charge of rinsing the silverware.

One month of this routine and it is still going along nicely.  Even this week when they were sick and cranky. 
They don't complain.  (yet) 
They like doing the dishes.
They like having a job to do that is a true help to me.
They like working together and have learned first hand the truth of the old adage:
Many hands make light work.

And the thing that really surprised me was how much better this has made the morning go for me.
After the initial week of instruction, I now find my morning work is done much, much faster.
After I wash, I can leave them to rinsing and drying while I put a load of clothes in the wash, sweep the kitchen floor or tidy the rest of the house.
They are quick--but not too quick because the one broken dish we've had came from rushing--but thorough.
It's really quite nice and I don't know why I didn't do this a long time ago.

This new way of including them in my housework shows the two things that really spoke to me when I was reading the above mentioned books.
1.  The Ingalls family had to work together.  They could not have done the work alone.  Pa built their house himself, but Ma helped.  Laura helped Pa stack the hay.  Carrie brought them water in the field.  They had many practical skills beyond the book learning they also had, but it took them working as a family to survive on the prairie.
2.  The Mommy bunny trained each of her children to do all sorts of different jobs around the home so that they could take care of themselves and so she could be a better mommy.  For me, being a better mommy does not mean I spend the morning cleaning the house while the kids play Legos and then I teach them school and then I continue to do everything else myself for the rest of the day.
Being a better Mommy means there is time for me to be a Mommy, not a house keeper.  It means I have taught them how to care for a home so that they will be equipped to do that for themselves one day.

After the breakfast dishes, we make our beds and tidy the bedrooms.  
Then it is personal Bible time.
I'll talk abut that next.
See you on Monday!
Love from,


Tammy Callis said...

Love it Greta! I've been working on giving Magnolia real work as well. It is a lot of work for me at first but it will pay off for both her and I in the end. Thanks for a wonderful post!

Lillian said...

Wonderful post Greta....where have you been all my life? ha ha. Love you my Greta Girl!!

katie said...

I've been struggling with consistency in this area of our family life. It is good to see how well it works. Good work, Mama!

Betsi* said...

On behalf of their future spouses: Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

That's great! We have three rotating works for the three oldest, who are 5, 6, and 7: emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, and folding the laundry. The two-year old usually helps with emptying the dishwasher. I still go in and out when s/he is doing the laundry because my husband doesn't like the children in the garage by themselves. Even if they are crabby that morning and complain about the work, they usually cheer right up as they do the work. I always tell them that "working hands are happy hands!"

Anonymous said...

Ooops! That comment was from Sophia.

Anonymous said...

I love the tucked shirt :)