oh my goodness, so much to reply to!
Originally Posted by zeldamomma
Would it help if you just accepted that some mess and waste is part of kids painting? Play dough used to drive me crazy, until I just let go of the ideas that the colors should stay unmixed, and the package should last forever. Now I consider the mixing to be part of the experience, and expect to buy a new pack about once a year (I don't replace it instantly after throwing away the old stuff). If you have a highchair, you could put the 2 year old in it when he paints, so his mess is contained somewhat, or only bring out the paints at a time when you can sit and paint with them/supervise.
re: playdoh - i really don't care about the mixing. i stopped caring about that a while back.
i even made some white playdoh for them after our last bit of commercial playdoh got thrown out (and with the white, it's more like "real" dough and mixing colors is a non-issue anyway). it lasted a while, but started to turn sticky so that's gone now, too. i want to make it again but i haven't gotten around to buying some more cream of tartar...
as for the high chair, well, we don't have room for one anymore
the 2yo uses a booster seat at the dining table, but it DOES have a strap/buckle. he doesn't like the strap anymore so we usually don't use it, but i suppose that would be a good idea for containing arts and crafts messes, huh?
i'll just have to present it to him as a condition upon which he can participate.
as for paint waste (or waste in general), i am fully aware that this goes with having children, believe me.
the problem is money right now; we are seriously broke (hubby is a student) and i have been more protective of what we have lately because we literally can't afford to replace these things once they are gone. we will HAVE to move on to the tempera paints soon.
Originally Posted by OkiMom
Painting: my 21 month old would destroy the house if I didn't give her an activitiy to do while her sister paints.. it would be a horrible awful mess, I forgot to once and she painted the book I was reading that morning that I had left out. Yes, now Percy Jackson has pink, purple and blue on his pages.. Luckily I realized it and didn't close the book otherwise we would have had a problem. She loves finger paints though and i find that they can be a whole lot less mess then doing regular paints that require brushes with her. I just squirt several blobs on a plastic pallete (yea, I know most people here don't like plastic but my daughter is also a thrower, seriously this kid is going to end up being a baseball player, she can already throw from the kitchen into the back of the hall, a good 30 or so feet so glass would equal stitches for someone) and let her paint with that. I usually put a plastic tarp down (Im going into hiding after this post with all this mention of plastic) and put her paper on top of that.. then I just fold up the tarp at the end. The tarps usually last a couple of months and I spent about 1.00 each but it saves my dining room table.
Dinner, the bane of my existence. Is there a way your DH could watch part of the children once a month while you do some serious bulk cooking? When my youngest was a newborn we did this once a month for about 6 months until I felt like I could cook daily again. I didn't make all the meals but I would cook up all the meat, put together any sauces I needed, make a ton of bread/tortillas/biscuits, make pancakes/waffles for breakfasts.. basically do a lot of the prep work so during the actually week all I had to do is throw it together.. The 8 year old could definitely help you a lot and so could the 5 year olds, so even if you husband could take the 2 year old once/twice a month for a few hours so you can do the prep work.
re: paints - that sounds like a good idea for my 2yo - blobs of washable tempera on a plate...but i would give him a brush; i have some big chunky "toddler" paint brushes. this scenario would be easier on my sanity because he wouldn't be trying to navigate the tiny wells in the watercolor palettes, and i wouldn't be worrying about the mixing and cleaning.
as for dinner, well, my hubby's hours are 12pm-10pm, M-F. yeah. i am on my own for dinner every weeknight. and bulk cooking...i'll tell you, my standards have just gone out the window since i've been pregnant. i don't bake our bread anymore, we eat a lot of food from the freezer section, and most of my "homemade" stuff is out of a box.
i just don't have the energy to do a bulk cooking session, and like i mentioned before, "bulk" for this family would be like cooking for a school cafeteria!! it's so much simpler to buy 6 boxes of BOGO eggos at the store or a bunch of on-sale family-size stouffers entrees, yk? yeah, it's that bad.
so you see, there really isn't much prep-work to be done these days. the older kids can get their own drinks, make sandwiches and work the microwave for certain things, so that's a big help, at least. i know things will get better in this department after the baby's born, and hubby won't have these same awful hours anymore either. he's done with police academy in about 5 weeks (just in time for me to be "term"
), so things will be very different once he's home for his "paternity leave".
Originally Posted by Piglet68
I'll take a crack at providing some helpful suggestions. :-)
I have found it very helpful to use bins and boxes to stores stuff. Lego blocks in one box, art in another, etc. And then you could put the bins out of reach of the 2 year old so he/she can't get to them when not in use. Your older kids could then help themselves to what they feel like playing with at the time.
we have done this in the past. the problem is twofold: 1) it became very difficult to enforce the put it away rule without direct supervision (which is not always possible), and it would quickly become an overwhelming mess. the children often get into things early in the morning when we are still asleep.
it became easier to either take stuff away or mix it all up in the bins. 2) there is literally not enough storage space to keep things out of reach, and the really messy stuff is already locked up. the kids have shelves in their rooms with containers, and while they are better than they were at younger ages, it still seems as though everything they own ends up all over the floor at once sometimes. then everyone shuts down, refuses, or throws a tantrum when it's clean up time.
|I only have 2 kids, but I well remember the physical exhaustion of having a toddler. My own opinion (and you're free to disagree of course) is that it is my responsibility to keep the toddler out of the older one's space, when the older child is working on a project, etc. It's not fair to have their stuff taken, broken, ripped, stepped on, or ruined.
this is true, and there really haven't been a lot of issues with this (although painting is a good example). i have a problem excluding my 2yo from things that he COULD do with supervision..i dunno why. i remember doing this a lot when my twins were toddlers and my oldest was 5 and wanting to do things without them interfering. i happily accommodated that with baby gates and putting a work table in his room for not-so-messy projects. the twins had each other to play with, though, and didn't even really realize that they were missing anything. with my 2yo, there's only one of him, and 3 olders having fun without him...
one of the neat things about having so many kids is that the youngest grew up with all these big kid things around him, so they are all just part of life. he likes to play with whatever his big brothers are playing with, which i think is awesome, and they usually let him. i don't have a problem telling the big boys to go shut themselves in a bedroom if they want to keep their little brother away from a project. and they go out front without him, too; that's just safety, plain and simple, even if it upsets him.
|This could be a whole other thread but honestly, I think you need to just let go of the idea that your house should be at a certain level of tidiness and that your kids should just intuitively share your issues with it being clean.
this is so true, too. it is something that i have been struggling with for years, and it's because of outside influences (my mother, neat freak "friends", people with no kids or much fewer kids or no boys
). it has driven me insane and made me feel like a failure over and over again. my own mother doesn't like to come over to my house. i have recently decided to stop trying to foster friendships with people who are not understanding and/or respectful of my lifestyle. it is not good for me mentally. i have stopped trying to have people over because the mess is sometimes so overwhelming that i would rather hide in my cave than satisfy my social needs.
i am working on finding peace and balance in this department.
|I feel like you have two choices here. Either you accept that painting requires your 100% attention to the 2 year old and just accept it as part of your job right now (again, remember "this too shall pass"!). OR you find a space where they can paint their tails off and it doesn't matter. Basement? Garage? Can you put up a shed in your back yard? Somewhere you can hang sheets of paper on a wall and simply not care how messy it gets?
there really isn't anywhere for them to have to be messy. we have a family of almost 7 crammed into a house made for 4. the rooms are small and closed-off from each other. i literally describe it like a cave. ugh. we have a nice big back yard, and we have major issues with clothes and toys being left out there and getting ruined by the weather or the lawnmower. nothing like shredded pajamas strewn all over the place (my kids are kinda nudist and STILL strip whenever they feel like it). our garage is basically a storage unit that needs some serious attention. it continues to be low on the priority list because of heat or scheduling problems. soon...
|I think this is just par for the course with kids. We've BTDT many times, too. I just think it's unrealistic to expect that level of concern about such things from kids - the whole notion of budgetary realities, organization, etc is just lost on them. They live in the moment, truly. Again the idea of taking out one bin/box at a time can help a lot with this problem. Or, instead of feeling resentful about the money being spent/wasted how about setting aside a set amount of money each month for the purchase of toys, puzzles, etc then having the kids involved in the conversation. What happens when a puzzle piece is lost? Can we replace the puzzle? What does that mean with respect to our ability to buy other items within our budget? It doesn't have to be a battle or a punitive issue.
i'm glad to hear that we aren't the only ones that happens to! the problem here is, once again, them getting into "supervision only" toys without permission (when i'm in another room or still asleep early in the morning). they will leave it out and pieces get kicked under furniture, etc. i gether them as i find them, but there have been times when i have just said "screw this" and tossed the whole game.
i feel so angry about it because they seem to have no respect for the rules and disobey them at any chance. i literally have had to put a padlock on the homeschool cabinet to keep my hard organizational work intact inside there. i know that i need to bite the bullet and just say "yes" more often when they ask for these activities. i just hate
being tied to one room for the duration of it...
|I really have come to believe that these issues are adult concerns, and that children just aren't wired to worry like that. They live in the moment, truly. The lack of money, concern about materialism, accumulating stuff, wasting stuff...those are all adult concerns and I just don't think it's realistic to expect kids to see the world through that view. With that said, you can share YOUR concerns with them and ask them for suggestions on how to get everyone's needs met. But I wouldn't beat yourself up over this.
this is another thing i have been working on. it has become necessary since we've been on such a tight budget to explain to them over and over that we cannot afford to go buy things right now, and that if something is ruined, it's gone for good. i think it's slowly sinking in. i have repeated "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" a few times, and will continue to do so (re-explaining what it means each time) until they get it.
|As for getting children motivated, as mentioned above I recently had an epiphany about this and totally changed my attitude....
....When they see me helping it makes it more enjoyable for them PLUS I am modelling helping out.
yet another recent resolution for me! i'm trying to get hubby on board with this, too, as he seems to be the clean-up tyrant when he gets involved. this past weekend we did an overhaul of the kids rooms, and they helped (a little) without us asking. my main problem is my physical disabilities (aggravated by pregnancy) that make it very difficult to be the main clean-up person. bending over repeatedly is already painful for me, but add in a big belly fulla baby and it's nearly impossible. i have to sit on the floor to clean up, and scoot around on my butt.
i have learned recently that i need to use different wording when asking for help. point to something and tell a child "go put that ____". and they do!
a little at a time, no scheduled clean-up. i have also started making clean-up time a requirement before they start another activity or we go somewhere. i have to be careful not to use the word "clean".
Originally Posted by SundayCrepes
My life feels as chaotic as yours sounds. Except I only have 2 kids (ages 2 and 4.75) and am not pregnant.
We'll wash and paint the walls when the kids are older. We'll clean off the countertops when I have more energy. We'll organize the toys like they were organizer when we only had 1 kid (musical toys in one bin, broken electronics turned toys in another bin, Etc.)
I got a dresser for $5 at a yard sale. All the costumes live in that.
My son can't reach all the tempera paints by himself. He needs my help. His rolling art kit is kept in a closet my toddler can't open. But my so often forgets to put the kit all the way in the closet so the toddler rummages through it.
In addition to the kids, we have 2 cats and 3.5 dogs (we have 3 dogs and do doggie daycare for another.) My hardwood floors were atrocious. I got a roomba floor vacuuming robot and a scooba that mops the floor. They were amazing purchases and I don't know how I got by without them. I vaccum the floors every day. The scooba gets used a couple times a week. Our house is so much cleaner with these. Expensive, but well worth it. http://www.hammacher.com/Search/Defa...x?query=roomba
I'm wondering if part of the issue is your vision of unschooling is that the kids can be totally self-sufficient without needing you. That's not where we are on the US spectrum. My kids need to ask me for help and I sometimes tell them they will do something. I try not to be too demanding, but that's just the reality.
In addition to art supplies and creative toys, we have tons of books. I really like the secular books at www.sonlight.com
. When the kids get older things will be so much more organized. For now we get through the day as best we can. After dinner I roomba the house and the next morning it starts all over again. I found visiting the decluttering forum here helped a lot. http://www.mothering.com/discussions...play.php?f=315
i agree about the walls. we say the same thing.
we do store the dress-up clothes in a dresser now, after 3 trunks were broken from being used as a hiding place one too many times.
i do have a roomba, but haven't used it in a long time because 1) it needs a new battery that we cannot afford right now, and 2) it was getting to be a PITA to pick up the little stuff that would clog it...also, it kept getting stuck places, despite the use of the virtual walls. ugh. i bought an electric sweeper that is lightweight and easy for me to use, so that's how i keep the floors clean now. we don't have any pets and have mostly hard floors, so that's pretty low maintenance (as long as the sweeper is charged, that is!).
the self-sufficiency thing is definitely a goal in general due to my disabilities, but is being stressed right now because of my pregnancy. i will be able to be more involved (physically) after this little alien vacates my belly.
we do have lots of non-fiction kids books (think eyewitness series), and i think i should start strewing those more in rotation. i tried leaving a pile of random books out on the coffee table and was pleased with the results. and my 2yo brings me books to read to him all the time, which is a very lazy-pregnant-mama-friendly activity.
Originally Posted by moominmamma
For a while at least it would probably be helpful to think of strewing as being about something other than "stuff." Sure, you can strew stuff. You can pick up nifty activity books and craft supplies and science tools and kitchen tools and construction toys and textiles and the like. But honestly, when I had a bunch of kids under 10 with a 9-year age-range, I wanted to make a big bonfire with all our stuff and burn it all and never buy another thing again, ever in the hope that I would someday be able to see our living room floor again. And our kitchen table top. I felt the same way you did. I felt like I should be providing paints and crafts and sensory tools and educational toys and games, but I hated the mess, the clutter, the complications of mobile baby and distracted mom.
I didn't have an actual giant bonfire, but we pared down, purging a lot, and scaled our new purchases way back. My strewing became about intangibles: experiences, opportunities taken, conversations held, places visited, people encountered, relationships forged, rhythms and rituals partaken of. Strewing meant me tossing out ideas for places to go or things to talk about to see if the kids were interested. Games became things like I Spy and Round-robin storytelling and 20 questions rather than Monopoly Junior and Blokus. Crafts were outdoor ephemeral art -- Andy Goldsworthy-style natural constructions, sandcastles, woven-stick mandalas or arrays of curiously-coloured rocks. Informational strewing was less to do with books and more to do with conversations. Basically if it didn't make a mess inside, it was fair game and I would enthusiastically toss those ideas and suggestions and invitations at my kids.
So I guess that would be my main suggestion. Don't take the word "strew" too literally. You don't have to physically strew things in your children's paths to be an effective unschooling parent. You can strew ideas and activities and suggestions and invitations and conversations. And they're a heck of a lot easier to clean up!
i have had many dreams of bonfires and never shopping again.
i honestly think our problem is that we pared down too much
, and the children are bored and get into things i don't want them playing with (think 8yo making a pulley in a tree with the jumper cables
). that's why i'm trying to reorganize the things we already have to be more available AND easier to maintain without so much mess/clutter/chaos.
the outings have been scarce over the past few months because of intense heat and my level of fatigue. i'm hoping to start doing things again now that the weather is starting to cool off (just in time for the most physically debilitating part of pregnancy
). a lot of this is only temporary -- just trying to make it through these last couple of months before i can just sling the baby and get up and go places again!
we definitely talk a lot. i love it when they come ask me questions and come up with things to do that we can do from the couch.
Originally Posted by physmom
Oh, and for cooking/baking. Could you do the heavy prep after the kids are in bed? For instance, I make bread most nights but mix it while watching TV after DD is in bed. She gets to "help" me put it in the oven but it saves on the mess of her wanting to constantly stick her hands in it. We try to make enough food at night to last at least for lunch the next day. Although, I'm sure with 4 kids that's much more difficult, good luck!
at this point, i'm interested in doing nothing but vegging after the kids are in bed. i'm so exhausted after getting 4 kids fed and to bed by myself that i collapse on the couch to eat and watch tv (or get online
). and like i said above, there is little prep work these days as i've taken the easy way out in the food department.