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The balance between unschooling and chaos - Page 2

post #21 of 40

Dirty little secret: my dh has only rarely participated in our Family Meetings. He generally didn't see the point. He was busy. He didn't feel the issues as acutely as I did. He didn't have the time. He wasn't around during the day when the time so often seemed right for a meeting. He works long hours and many weeks he's just home to eat and sleep.

 

We did them anyway, without him. 95% of the time it was just the kids and me struggling anyway. We felt we could make progress without his involvement. We came up with ideas. If they affected him, or seemed like they might be of interest to him, we'd raise them at dinner time to get his input or at least to give him the heads-up. Sometimes we'd hold a meeting where we felt it was important to have him involved (discussing vacation plans, eg., or dealing with some concerns he'd voiced). But mostly we just worked away at things without him. 

 

I think it's ideal to have dad/dh involved. But if you can't convince him, don't let that stand in your way.

 

Miranda

post #22 of 40

Wow, that is really helpful to read right now, as we had reached crisis point a few days ago. And I sort of came to the same conclusion....that the relationships were what had to come first. It was great to read how you did it. Thank you. I will share this with my husband.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I'm not really sure whether my perspective is as a radical unschooler or a not-quite-unschooler. We have always had child-led bedtimes, no assigned chores, no top-down parental rule-setting. So in that sense we are a radical unschooling family. But in other ways we look more like not-quite-unschoolers: my kids have often chosen to do regular academic book-work, they take music lessons and practice every day, we are pretty much a TV-free family, for example.

 

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my story. When my eldest was about 9 I felt I was reaching a crisis point in terms of chaos and my kids seemed aimless and difficult to live with. I decided to spend my parenting energy not on reining in the chaos or controlling their aimlessness with a schedule and parental expectations, but working on our family dynamics. I was pretty sure that we were not necessarily following our bliss as much as we were aimlessly following a rut we were stuck in. The kids flitted all day from mess to mess. I was wrapped up in trying to contain the mess and help everyone get along. Were we really all doing what made us happiest? I didn't think so, so I resolved to provide some leadership within the family so that we could become happier, so that we could figure out "how to make our family work better." I framed it for myself as a year-long project. I would put relationships first and hope that the rest (the mess, the aimlessness) would fall into place as a result.

 

The crux of it for us was family meetings. I would serve hot chocolate and muffins and announce "Hey, family meeting time!" and they came willingly. And at least once a week for that whole year we talked about how to make our family and home a better, easier, happier place. Not "how to make mommy pleased" or "how to tidy up better." Those topics would have been all about my demands and my needs. Instead we gradually identified the values that we all felt were important. A certain degree of tidiness emerged as a value everyone shared. For instance, once I got the kitchen sparkling clean and tidy, and everyone remarked at Family Meeting how awesome it was to be able to see the counter and find clean places for food prep and have clean cutlery and know where everything was. So through natural learning the kids discovered they enjoyed order in the kitchen. Over subsequent meetings we gradually identified a bunch of different strategies for creating and maintaining that order. For a week we would try one approach at their suggestion. If that worked, great! If it didn't work, or wasn't sufficient, we'd look at other strategies and change something up the next week. The suggestions most often came from the kids. And surprisingly, if they were involved in the discussion as equals, they were incredibly reasonable.

 

Within two or three months we had developed a set of themes of family harmony and balance that became our standing agenda for meetings, things we'd touch on every week to see how we were doing and discuss improvements if necessary. For us these were things like balance of active and sedentary pursuits, reasonable housekeeping of common areas, balanced nutrition, balance of social and solitary time, sleep-wake balance, balance of in-home and out-of-home time and so on. 

 

The real magic in these meetings was in realizing that we were really all on the same side. We all wanted a happy, smoothly-functioning family and home. We were all working towards that end. It was no longer a case of parents seeing kids as uncaring and self-absorbed people living only in the moment, and kids seeing parents as intrusive task-masters always trying to interrupt the fun. We saw each other as all struggling towards the same common values, each with our own challenges.

 

We have never really solved all our problems. We still have family meetings and we still need to work away at elements of chaos and imbalance in our household. Sometimes it all gets away from us and we struggle from a pit of chaos and ill-will to get back on track. Sometimes it seems like as soon as we get a handle on one thing another slips away. It's always a work in progress. 

 

But I really think it's been the right approach for us. We see each other as human beings, we see the difficulties we share through each others' eyes, and we are constantly engaged in working towards mutually agreeable solutions. It's the best life-learning of all.

 

Miranda



 

post #23 of 40
Thread Starter 

The girls decided that Monday will be Family Meeting day as this is the most likely day everyone is home.  They are enthusiastic so I hope I don't blow it. Today we had a fight about the chocolate chips, not something I normally have in the house though I have other sugary things. But CC's are over-the-top serious business and I treat them like dynamite because that has been the normal response in the past.  (If you are wondering why they are there in the first place, it was my husband's birthday.)  The fight was about "earning" them.  The same old fight.  I am so tired of it, but experience has shown that the kids can't "hold their sugar" if it doesn't accompany food.  But, again, I am so weary of negotiating for every bite.  Other days I have no trouble at all.  

 

Not knowing which way exactly to go, I plan on making every meal a family meal, or least available that way.  Hopefully this will model good eating choices (yeah.... and make me make them as well).  Eventually.....?  I can let go of the fights?  I just remember the occasions when I was young that I ended up with 5 dollars and the bag of junk I poured into myself then.  Uff da!  

 

What else can I do?

post #24 of 40

This was a great thread to read.  I could totally relate to you OP a few years back, especially with my oldest child.  He was like "if you give a mouse a cookie".  One thing led to another, to another, to another.  And it was awesome, but some days tired me out!  Looking back now, he was so little, and I think that if we can hold on to that fact that they grow so fast, and this little kid stage is so short and so precious, it helps a little bit.  I can look back now, and think, wow, he was so little, and such a bundle of learning and discovery.  I love the suggestions about the family meetings, thank you for sharing that in such detail.  I feel kind of like I have gotten really distracted the past couple of years and it's time to refocus my energy back on my kids as my priority again.  We used to do family meetings, and would write down things in a big book that we were going to try, things we wanted to remember, etc.  I have no idea why we stopped.  I guess things just got busy, and now I suddenly find myself at a crisis point again of needing to re-evaluate and re-prioritize.  Thanks for this thread.  Even though my kids are older now, this has been very helpful.

 

 

post #25 of 40
Thread Starter 

I'm glad you found this thread.  What I know is that it can take a week to recover from one distracted day, and months to climb out from under the chaos created from one busy week.  If I choose to focus on one area, the rest goes all to hell.  

 

One of these days it will all come together.  That's my hope, but really it's just a wild Hail Mary Guess, hoping for the win, seemingly against the odds.  

 

The family meeting went well, but dh kept it pretty business oriented.  So, we need to have other meetings without him as well I think.  The girls and I have been quietly chatting as we all lie in bed before songs. I really like this time but I have to be mindful that this talk keeps them wide awake and they never ever sleep in (which is why we still have a set bedtime.)  But slowly, slowly this wonderful talk has been given more time as the girls' need for songs and lullabies fades.

post #26 of 40
Thread Starter 

Something of an update.

 

We are in an organized phase.  I'm trying to see what I can do to make these habits last longer than a month.  For instance, I'm trying to notice those moments that would have been more difficult if I hadn't have been keeping up with things.  I'm trying remind myself that some things won't take so long once I get into a routine. 

 

The fact is, I've tried all these things before: making a habit of "morning chores" such as sweeping, tidying the kitchen and walkways.  I've tried getting into a routine for myself, but the girls have always had meltdowns about something or another until I am so helplessly and hopelessly behind.  Finally, I think things are clicking a little.  DD2, now 5yo, is starting to look for her own misplaced toys without a fuss (Ha! meltdown I mean.  And when this child finally does melt down you are committed to dropping everything to deal with it, which is why I have been a wuss-- I mean I have chosen my battles very carefully!)  DD1 will finally use the bathroom by herself.  They have more patience to wait for reading time until I can get some chores done.  They will read ( or "read") on their own for a bit.

 

We have had the occasional family meeting, and yes, Miranda, leaving dh out of it is better.  He is so focused on..... the results, the ends, that it's hard for him to really listen and go with the flow.  If he's going to commit time, he wants it to accomplish something.  Yeah... we'll proceed without him mostly.  But for right now, I need to get in my own rhythm so the girls can find their place within that.  I think we can make some progress this time because they are a bit older.  Also, they are starting to take the reins on some things.  They have been watching Bill Nye and dd2 wanted to do an experiment.  I was busy making dinner, so, with some verbal assistance, such as "What do we need to start?  Now what's next?" she managed to recreate the experiment on her own. thumbsup.gif

 

I have laid down some expectations, like waiting for my chores to be done in the morning before reading.  It's nice that the sink is clean and ready for them to play in, that helps them occupy themselves.  (Hopefully one day the "art table" won't have piles of junk on top and they will be able to get their own watercolors set up.)   I've told them (well, mainly dd2 who is always losing things) that I no longer look for toys but I will do "Big Toy Finding" which is essentially putting away all the toys and cleaning up.  I know, I know, they need to do this (well, dd2 especially needs to do this) but as a child I find this extremely overwhelming and I don't mind keeping some sanity at the same time as I help teach them to clean up after themselves. Baby steps, baby steps.  The mess isn't such a big deal, it's the disorganization and the lost time finding things when you need them, whether it be shoes or tiny Baby Roo.  The fact is, I'm as bad as they are.  OK, not so bad, but I really feel I need to cultivate my own habits first.

 

Again, I've tried most of this before, but this time I'm really trying to change my mindset, like I described before.  I also am trying to find restfulness in my activity rather than apart from it.  Very Zen.  And, just like so much in family life, what failed miserable six months ago suddenly seems to fall into place.  I hope I'll be saying the same in two months!

 

 

post #27 of 40

This thread spoke to me! I grew up in a mess, with a mom who was messy as well as a mess, if that makes sense.  I never learned the skills required to keep life in balance as a kid.  The story of my childhood was a story of failed control...  Someone barking orders from the top.  Now I am a grown-up and having to learn that I CAN'T CONTROL ANYTHING BUT MYSELF.  You are absolutely right that Unschooling is so much bigger than a way of learning the things that allow you to work with information...  It is a Way of Life for everyone!  I have learned that LEARNING(for me) is best done by seeing examples of life in action.  So *I* have to set an example for my kids, rather than expect them to listen to what I say.  It was a wonderful revelation!!!  I feel like my Unschooling my children is Unschooling myself as well.  I am completely resetting my life in embarking on this adventure with my kids.

 

I inject some of my theories on balance into that, in a very Yin and Yang sort of way...  Everytime that I get "sass" or backtalk from my children, that is something I sit and LISTEN to.  Because I feel like it is part of the "cure" for my childhood where I NEVER got to express myself.  If they make a horrendous mess and are melting down in the face of cleaning it up, I am getting down and cleaning it up beside them... Knocking the rust off the part of me that knows how to work together to defeat problems, rather than expecting to get out of it somehow(which was what I learned from my mother as a kid). So there is this whole realm of living that I NEVER experienced as a child, just daily getting by kind of things, and through raising my children with the US philosophy we go through these "healing crisis" kind of moments (think raging flood clearing out dead trees from the riverside, messy and loud, but cleansing in the end) and through back and forth swinging we end up in the middle...  A healthy space to reside.  We go through these phases of sass and demands, and I learn how better to support my kids needs...  I step up my game enough and they turn down the volume a lot, and eventually we find ourselves doing just fine.

 

 A HUGE HUGE HUGE part of my childhood was the endless wrangling of STUFF.  My mom was a hoarder and every single thing from old mail to one of us kids' broken crayons or Barbie-less plastic arms was somehow valuable.  It was an endless fight to clean up after these things, and it ultimately never got done.  We lived our life around these things. In Unschooling myself alongside my children, I have learned that there is a fine line between owning your stuff and your stuff owning YOU.  I have spent A LOT of time in our moving limbo staying with my husband's family, and in this time the house where our things were temporarily stored burnt down and we lost all of out *stuff*...  This has all been very hard in the same breath that it has been disgustingly easy.  I didn't know that I was dragging that learned legacy of Stuff Living with me until it was forcefully wiped from my existence.  I mean, I had a hunch, but now I KNOW.  And I have embraced the mantra of less is more!  I have lived in the examples set by my husbands family, and it is so freeing not to have to worry about so much.  We clean up the ONE SMALL BASKET of toys and that is it.  We eliminate things as we realize they no longer make us feel glowing...  For example we ditch magazines when they are scrumpy and we don't read them anymore, instead of piling them with others in some corner to gather dust.  If a toy breaks, it's gone.  If artwork on the fridge is splattered, it is tossed.  It is really liberating to NOT establish bonds with each and every thing that enters our world and have to manage them.  We keep the things we love the most, and nothing else.  

 

ULTIMATELY... To wrap this disjointed tale up...  The BALANCE between Unschooling and Chaos to me is really just that.  Balance.  Pretty simple.  If there is too much of something going on and it doesn't feel good, it's a sign to eliminate some of that stuff.  From the room, and from our hearts, ya know?  It seems to me like you are embracing bending when bending needs done and standing when stout is called for.  Good job mama! When we become balanced ourselves, we find that everything around us starts to level out too.  It's awesome.  :D

post #28 of 40
Thread Starter 

I definitely could have written your post.  The way I operate is also influenced largely from my childhood, and I am *still* outgrowing it!  I was the messy hoarder growing up, though my mother was no slouch in the Stuff Department.  I have outgrown much of that, but my daughters are very sensitive to paring down, especially my 5yo dd2.  She looked like she was going to cry when she couldn't find the shard of plastic that belonged to the broken lid of the container for one of the Risk game pieces.  I had thrown it away.  Not that I am afraid of her tears when I tell her I threw it away, just that when I know she's going to react that way, I think twice about just chucking something because I was that little girl once and I get it.  Paring down is a longer, more drawn out process that happens continually instead of waiting for the avalanche and getting rid of all at once.  Also, I am content with a certain level of messiness that would vanquish some of the most understanding of mothers.  But really, everyone is happier when the house is clean.  But we are getting there, we are getting there.  For now, I am pleased that the dishes are getting done, they laundry actually put away, and socks and shoes found easily in time to get out the door.  DD2 loves to work alongside, at least sometimes, and dd1 loves to sweep.  So, I guess we are immersed in housekeeping 101.  Now for the toys?  I finally just said that I was not going to look for individual toys anymore if they were lost in the mess.  I couldn't believe how easy that was!  I still do big clean-up.

 

The sassiness is mellowing, and I wish I could say that I was as patient and understanding as you.  But I guess my main response to sass is to educate them on how to say what they really want, so I suppose that is patient in a sense.  Slowly, slowly.  They finally figured out how to ask for something!  I was beginning to feel like I couldn't adequately describe the difference between a statement/demand and a question (because the "lessons" happened at the wrong time?).  The "please" is just the jimmies sprinkled on the top of a request, at least for my sundae.  But they got it, they did.

 

There was a mention in another thread about the tendency for unschooling to be about "me and now" if not balanced by empathy and delayed gratification.  That was definitely a lot of what I was finding before I I started this thread, and very succinctly phrased what took me "pages" to describe. Since unschooling is child-led, as a parent I can lose sight of that balance and get into the habit of bending when I need to be more steady and tall.  Since bending can be a positive trait, I can get into a habit of bending always.  I will never be anything but a permissive parent.  Not this old hippie anarchist, no way!  But I can set a good example for running a house, for respect of others, for ordering the day nicely.  

 

Well, I'm rambling now.  It is so nice to hear that other parents are working on this as well.  I definitely feel less crazy!

 

 

post #29 of 40

Another point to consider. I struggled with all this as my kids went through toddlerhood into preschool years and so on up. I tried all sorts of ways to instil cleaning habits. I would get down on the floor with them and we'd do it together, but when they got to an age where I "decided" that they should be doing it themselves we entered into a period of conflict in this area. Since I abhor conflict I would end up doing it all myself and then feeling resentful towards the kids. 

 

Two things happened to change all this. First, after much thinking I did a complete change in attitude. I recognized that "cleanliness" is a relative concept and it wasn't fair for me to insist that my own interpretation of it had to be everybody else's. I took responsibility for that and, at the same time, recognized that I loved my job as stay-home mum more than anything and that cleanup WAS my job if it meant getting the house to a state that I set for everybody else. Second, I decided to let go of any ideas that my kids "should" help out and instead I challenged myself to ask genuinely (which means accepting "no") and look for instances when they DID help rather than focus on when they didn't. You can read about this on my blog: My Housecleaning Epiphany and Zen Chores are two posts I wrote on the subject.

 

So much changed, and it was all for the better. The issue ceased to be an issue. DD is now 9 and is pretty good at picking up her things and putting them away, she rarely ever resists when I ask. 

 

The second thing is that it turns out my kids are both on the autism spectrum and the early conflicts we had, the meltdowns over simple requests for cleanup, were because they have poor executive functioning and were unable to break down the task of cleaning - just looking at it overwhelmed them. Had I continued to be coercive, insist, battle them to "become responsible" it would have had seriously bad consequences for all of us in terms of our relationship and family dynamics. Now I understand that with DS (7) he is actually willing to help (even if he does so begrudgingly sometimes) if I simply break it down into very small manageable tasks and offer to help him. Turns out that my kids' intense resistance to cleanup was them trying to tell me that there was something about it that was creating anxiety. Another lesson in trusting our kids.

 

 

 

post #30 of 40

I don't like cleaning.  No amount of self talk has made me happily like cleaning (although, like everyone else, there are some tasks I prefer to others).

 

I am not going to spend most of my time cleaning up after people who are capable of cleaning up after themselves.  It is not fair to me, nor is it good for them.

 

The logistics of getting people to clean up are still a work in progress.  My kids will clean both their messes and common areas if they are asked - but they almost never remember to do it on their own.  I end up feeling like a nag.  I am going to try a few things out soon to remedy this.  However, I take nag over servant and resentful (which is what I feel like if I clean up after people who do not clean up after themselves).   Any day.

 

I somewhat reject the idea that if mess bothers me it is my problem. If your standards are unrealistically high - then yes, it is your problem.  I don't think you kids should have to worry about messing up a bolster on a couch or a speck of playdoh on the floor - but if your standards are reasonable ( dishes to eat off of, not have garbage on the floor, hygienic surfaces) - then no, it is not just mom's "problem".  There is a base-line level of work that needs to take place to make a house livable and everyone has a part to play in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by purslaine - 1/5/12 at 7:18am
post #31 of 40
Thread Starter 

Piglet68, thanks for your post and blogs.  I am in a similar space here, and am looking for places where the enthusiasm exists.  kathymuggle, I understand about the nag vs. the heel.  It is exactly that kind of balance that I am looking for, because I don't want to feel like the heel, either.  However, what I end up doing to keep from feeling that might be different from what you might do.  I've mostly abandoned the day-to-day pickup of toys, except where the pathways are.  I've been focusing on the dishes (sometimes accompanied by dd2) and the bathrooms (dd1 likes doing the sink), keeping shoes and coats near the door (I do nag on blatant misplacement of those-- I mean, I don't think "Throw them somewhere by the door" is a very high bar to reach!)  I keep the laundry put away and the floor swept except the rooms where the toys are strewn.  Games that are pulled out every now and again, and have bazillion little pieces I nag to have put away (those damn Risk pieces still being popular with dd2) and I still get some resistance but, yes, Piglet, I always offer to help because I see that it is a "yes".  I always say "I like to have company when I work, too", and I do!  And for me the more important lesson here is pitching in and helping out, because "Many hands make light work."  (Thank you, Ma Ingalls!)

 

I'd say I've been doing pretty well since I first started this thread, and a lot has to do with a similar epiphany to yours.  However, I come at it from a different end.  I'm a terrible housekeeper in so many ways, and I've had to teach myself some basic housekeeping skills.  Not How To Clean, but how to create rhythms and habits.  I mean, we are *just* starting to do a weekly menu, dh and I!  You'd think this wasn't so hard, but we have lots of competing allergies, and dinner has always been a bit of a joke.  Throw in a picky "preschooler" and it pretty much has been short order every night.  Between all this I don't think I have more time to sit down-- always something I thought I'd get from Keeping It Together.  But I notice that the reward is more that I don't run around like a hen with her head chopped of when gathering together matching socks (or even 4 unmatching socks!) shoes, etc. when we need to get out the door.  The reward for doing the menu is the ease of mind every day at 4:30 when I have to start pulling it together.  It also provides a chance for the girls to give their input into the family grocery list.  So, all these years I had the wrong expectations and it's almost as if I needed to have kids to see it.

 

It would be nice if the house was fresh each day, and we could dive in to all kinds of fun projects, but the Housekeeping needs to be learned and conquered first.  And it's really where my girls are at right now.  They want to play, mostly.  I'm seeing signs of a coming transition in dd1, who will be 7 next month.  But, from what I can see, she still wants to play so for now we still have time for emphasizing Housekeeping 101.  At least we've evolved past the bossiness, at least for the most part (grumpy days excepting) and I'm feeling like they are becoming more courteous and I'm feeling less like the heel just from that.

 

 

post #32 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Piglet68, thanks for your post and blogs.  I am in a similar space here, and am looking for places where the enthusiasm exists.  kathymuggle, I understand about the nag vs. the heel.  It is exactly that kind of balance that I am looking for, because I don't want to feel like the heel, either.  However, what I end up doing to keep from feeling that might be different from what you might do.  I've mostly abandoned the day-to-day pickup of toys, except where the pathways are.  I've been focusing on the dishes (sometimes accompanied by dd2) and the bathrooms (dd1 likes doing the sink), keeping shoes and coats near the door (I do nag on blatant misplacement of those-- I mean, I don't think "Throw them somewhere by the door" is a very high bar to reach!)  I keep the laundry put away and the floor swept except the rooms where the toys are strewn.  Games that are pulled out every now and again, and have bazillion little pieces I nag to have put away (those damn Risk pieces still being popular with dd2) and I still get some resistance but, yes, Piglet, I always offer to help because I see that it is a "yes".  I always say "I like to have company when I work, too", and I do!  And for me the more important lesson here is pitching in and helping out, because "Many hands make light work."  (Thank you, Ma Ingalls!)

 

 

 

bolding mine.    When my kids were younger, I did (usually) try and get them to help clean up.  I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do - but honestly, it did not save me any work.  They were young and only so capable. However, about 6 months ago I had a lightbulb moment.  These were not little kids anymore and were capable of cleaning in a way that genuinely contributed to a cleaner house.  The lightbulb was this:  I am somewhat of a quantitative person.  I looked at about 2 hours of housework, and thought:  5 people - if we actually divide 120 minutes of work by 5 people it is only 24 minutes!!!  Ever since this mathematical epiphany I have been a little more forceful about them doing their share <grin>.

 

We started with 15 minute cleaning burst where everyone cleaned.  Most did it happily (albeit with some stalling), but my hormonal 12 yr old was a challenge.  She liked to focus on what a poor job everyone else was doing instead of her own work.  Still - 15 minutes of griping beat me doing it all!  We have since moved onto "everyone cleans their own mess plus 10 minutes of something" which works fairly well.  This makes my cleaner older 2 feel less grumbly - and is fair. DD (9) does have issues with making mess and it is her issue - so she should bear more of the brunt of it.  I do help her clean, because she still sometimes needs it, and because I like to model a generous spirit, but I do not feel I have to.

 

There is till some tweaking that needs to do, and honestly, for me, I think it something I will always grapple with.  We are now working on keeping zones clean.  This weeks activities:  Hang up your coat, and dishes go on the counter  That is what I am reminding people about at the moment - when we master this we might move onto other areas.
 

 


Edited by purslaine - 1/5/12 at 8:58am
post #33 of 40
Thread Starter 

dishes.gif (They need a picture of a mama and papa with the kids "helping"!)

 

kathymuggle, I like your incremental approach.  Yes, my girls are about ready to expect more out of on the cleaning front!  By my declaration that I wouldn't find any missing toys, except when I was doing "the big toy-finding", they have gotten more self-sufficient in looking for their things.  A pretty low bar!  But it's somewhere to start.  That's their responsibility currently, and someother domestic goddess might balk at that counting as "chores" and "cleaning".  But it made a huge difference!  First, I was off the hook for the endless, time-devouring searches for little Roo and other such toys.  In addition, it really boosted their confidence in their ability to look for things (and find them!).  And it goes on.... right this second the TV remote dropped and sent the batteries and the back flying (something it does often).  My response to "Mama the remote broke" was at first "I'll get it later" then "you can try fixing it".  DD2 went running into the living room shouting "I'll get it!" and then dd1 finally announced that she got it.)

 

So, baby steps so little that they are more like baby caterpillar steps, but it seems necessary in our house to start there.   DD1 did ask what she could be responsible for-- I think at the time I was making dinner and I think she wanted to dust right then, not "responsible for" in general, but I do think it's time we talked about it in general.

 

I have very fond memories of Saturday house cleaning when I was about 8.  While I wasn't fond of the work, I did enjoy the whole house pitching in (and, not incidentally, the last of our intact family, as my eldest sister ran off to live with my father in Seattle).  That's the vision I have for this house eventually.

 

 

post #34 of 40

I know this thread is a lil old, but this morning seemed to apply! smile.gif  I think I mentioned on the disorganization thread, but...DS learns *so much* from the crap around our house, haha.

 

He's only 13 months, so of course we are currently unschooling, but I've been bitten by the bug and definitely plan to in the future as well (I could rhapsodize on my love affair with this style of learning, how it lines up so well with our values, but I digress...).

 

SO this morning, he has been up for about a half an hour and so far has experimented with threading a huge plastic drinking straw down into the filter hole of an old Brita pitcher, used a mechanical pencil to spin the loose knob on an old dresser and repeatedly put the tip into a hole left behind by a missing knob, sorted various small toys into bins, and pulled diapers out of his diaper bag and wipes out of the wipe container.  (Incidentally, he's also climbed the stairs and tried to climb out the second story window, practiced going up and down the bottom two steps by himself, used the potty, eaten a banana, and we read a few books - I have managed some cereal but have yet to taste my coffee hahaha).

 

Anyway, point being - he is constantly learning by implementing the stuff around our house in new ways.  So, that makes me feel better when it's all out on the floor because he does so enjoy discovering new toys and tools, and ways to use them.  That and reading up on Waldorf has helped me romanticize the housework, so I feel like I'm doing something really earthy and genuine by including him in my cleaning projects in whatever way I can (granted, we are still more in the way of "helping" than helping, but he does love to scrub a cast iron pan!  And it's really cute when he "sorts" laundry, pretends to feed the cat, wipes up the floor, etc.  He even likes to push the vacuum! So, while his efforts may leave a bit to be desired in efficiency, they are certainly enthusiatic, so I don't have that issue yet. winky.gif ).

post #35 of 40

While he was playing with a ball (putting it on tables, in bins, throwing it, putting it on his flat bed truck, etc.) I was sitting on the living room floor with him and looked to my left...

 

Brown paper grocery sack filled by DS with...a box of quinoa pasta, a small djembe, a glass bottle, a plastic bottle, a wooden block, a fruit cup, a can of soup and some crackers. wild.gif

 

He's now brushing his hair with a vegetable scrubber and walking around the house with the pole from an old yard pinwheel as his walking stick. 

post #36 of 40
Thread Starter 

Sweet!  I'm glad you found this thread helpful, and my "DISorganization" thread as well.  Yes, messes can be inspiring in pretty hilarious ways.

post #37 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

I embrace consensual living more than I do USing in regards to attitude.  I do not take it to extreme, but otherwise it seems to work.  I approach it from a POV  of "what can we do so we both get our needs and wants met?"  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

     When I already operate on a child-led learning philosophy I *feel* like I am indulging them to the nth degree and this is nurturing the bossiness.  Because I *will* give them the binoculars to look at the kittens across the street.  Because I *will* lend them the camera.  Because I will figure out a way for all of us to fit into the kitchen sink.  If they have the idea (and it doesn't involve painting the house with mud), I will help make it happen if they want.  Maybe I need to set things up in a way where they can help themselves more?  But is that teaching them to speak respectfully to me?  Are *my* bossy moments teaching them bad habits?  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post


I was thinking about this thread the other night.  We had a *great* day of free play and stories, very child-led but not much trouble.  I even convinced dd2 to help me clean up some toys in our (momentarily) pristine playroom before she went outside.  Victory!  (Momentary, of course.)  Then bedtime.  Sooo much trouble corralling these kids.  So much sass and unmindfulness.  Being summer, I tried giving them bedtime autonomy but we just had major meltdowns.  (Maybe I'll try again next summer).   So, I have trouble with this.  I give them so much freedom to direct their days, then when it comes time for them to be mindful I can have a really hard time (usually only at home, out and about they seem fine.)  I almost (but not really) believe that you need to say "no" just to get them used to it!  

 

I should have called this thread "The balance between unschooling and mutiny"!!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my story. When my eldest was about 9 I felt I was reaching a crisis point in terms of chaos and my kids seemed aimless and difficult to live with. I decided to spend my parenting energy not on reining in the chaos or controlling their aimlessness with a schedule and parental expectations, but working on our family dynamics. I was pretty sure that we were not necessarily following our bliss as much as we were aimlessly following a rut we were stuck in. The kids flitted all day from mess to mess. I was wrapped up in trying to contain the mess and help everyone get along. Were we really all doing what made us happiest? I didn't think so, so I resolved to provide some leadership within the family so that we could become happier, so that we could figure out "how to make our family work better." I framed it for myself as a year-long project. I would put relationships first and hope that the rest (the mess, the aimlessness) would fall into place as a result.

 

But I really think it's been the right approach for us. We see each other as human beings, we see the difficulties we share through each others' eyes, and we are constantly engaged in working towards mutually agreeable solutions. It's the best life-learning of all.

 

Miranda

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

There was a mention in another thread about the tendency for unschooling to be about "me and now" if not balanced by empathy and delayed gratification.  That was definitely a lot of what I was finding before I I started this thread, and very succinctly phrased what took me "pages" to describe. Since unschooling is child-led, as a parent I can lose sight of that balance and get into the habit of bending when I need to be more steady and tall.  Since bending can be a positive trait, I can get into a habit of bending always.  I will never be anything but a permissive parent.  Not this old hippie anarchist, no way!  But I can set a good example for running a house, for respect of others, for ordering the day nicely.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

I don't like cleaning.  No amount of self talk has made me happily like cleaning (although, like everyone else, there are some tasks I prefer to others).

 

I am not going to spend most of my time cleaning up after people who are capable of cleaning up after themselves.  It is not fair to me, nor is it good for them.

 

The logistics of getting people to clean up are still a work in progress.  My kids will clean both their messes and common areas if they are asked - but they almost never remember to do it on their own.  I end up feeling like a nag.  I am going to try a few things out soon to remedy this.  However, I take nag over servant and resentful (which is what I feel like if I clean up after people who do not clean up after themselves).   Any day.

 

I somewhat reject the idea that if mess bothers me it is my problem. If your standards are unrealistically high - then yes, it is your problem.  I don't think you kids should have to worry about messing up a bolster on a couch or a speck of playdoh on the floor - but if your standards are reasonable ( dishes to eat off of, not have garbage on the floor, hygienic surfaces) - then no, it is not just mom's "problem".  There is a base-line level of work that needs to take place to make a house livable and everyone has a part to play in it.

 

I've bolded the quotes that were especially relevant to me.  It was nice to go back and reread this old thread.  It's given me a chance to see what has changed and what hasn't.
post #38 of 40

I loved reading this thread! One of the biggest reasons I home school is because my values of thrifty, green, homemade, nature influenced and eco minded are always in the background, much as another type of private school would be. I am a strong parent because character building is so important to me. I have children that love each other because I take a lot of time to heal and share when bumps happen. I keep a clean and neat home because I think it is also another way to keep materialism in check, also brings out the art in the place. I do think that it can be like a Sudbury school, which I have read about and which can be grueling to keep up. Learning how to be in real life is so important to me though. Sometimes when I feel like I am going to crack I just start taking pictures of everything that is going on. Children do change and we can totally manipulate the situation to keep it more sane for us (toys really). Honestly toys are such a hard place to deal with for ANY parent! So remember that one! I am totally with the mom that cleans at night. I actually do a lot of cleaning at night, the whole 15 min chore thing to a clean home in one month. I am very organized about the night and never really totally getting it all done - ever! In my mind.. we are very much simple animals and we should not be guilted or scolding ourselves or our children for such a resourceful and complex world! It never will be totally under control in this lifetime. This was all meant to comfort you! Haha! I hope! But.. do you get it? It just seems so ridiculous and like.. well.. we can Only be talking about this very moment in history! Unless, we have lost a husband to war, have no family, pregnant and nursing while trying to get the seeds in the ground to live.. yes, that can be overwhelming. But...we clearly are not so.. the alternative is we do work on our relationships and put character building 101, first. (And I can say that to you because we share similar homeschooling views!)

 

"A Sudbury school is a school that practices a form of democratic education in which students individually decide what to do with their time, and learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than adopting a descriptive educational syllabus or standardized instruction by classes following a prescriptive curriculum. Students have complete responsibility for their own education and the school is run by direct democracy in which students and staff are equals.[1]"

 

 

post #39 of 40

Just wanted to add something. IME at 5 and 6 kids are probably not developmentally at a stage where they even realise in advance that their actions will cause mess, or that this will upset you. My kids at this age are just too in the moment to realise that they need to clean up after themselves. My approach is to grit my teeth and expect to remind them to do the things I want them to do, mainly clearing up after themselves, taking their plate through, doing the washing up together a few times a week, bringing down their own laundry. But this approach doesn't seem to bear fruit til they are about 7 or so, my oldest (nearly 9) is now very good at housework but has probably only been able to really plan and execute a task well in the last year or so. We tend to trade housework for time doing something they want to and that we don't, or can't really find time for, as in, they do the work for us and this frees up time for us to do something they want.

post #40 of 40

Oh and I LOVE this " Sometimes when I feel like I am going to crack I just start taking pictures of everything that is going on."(greenacres mama). I do that too! Looking at things through a lens gives me that distance I need sometimes.

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