Unschooling and Organizing - Mothering Forums
Unschooling > Unschooling and Organizing
litlwons's Avatar litlwons 11:39 PM 06-10-2010
I finding out that the more I incorporate unschooling into our lives, the more I find it extremely important to be more organized....

I am not a naturally organized person....and I am finding it hard to be the unschooling mama I would like to be. I want to strew, be able to go on long adventures, pick up and leave at any moment but I don't want it to be stressful.
Right now it is feeling stressful to me and I can only put it back on the fact that I am soooo unorganized. I know that the unschooling path is the best for my family... but I feel like I need more organization to help it work.

I know it seems counter intuitive to the unschooling process...but.... how organized are you? How do you make it all flow....

joy_seeker's Avatar joy_seeker 01:53 AM 06-11-2010
I'm not a naturally organized person, especially when it comes to all things domestic. My house is usually in disarray unless I know company is coming over then I do flight of the bumblebee to get it presentable. I've found I've had to let a few things go and unschooling has helped me do that. I realized that if I really want to help my kids find their authentic selves then I have to be comfortable with my authentic self. That means that we usually have dishes and laundry that need to be done and our house is very 'lived in'. Blankets on the couch, toys in the floor. It's not dirty but its also not tidy and I'm okay with that. (Dh isn't always but he knows the score so its okay.)

That being said some things need organization so we do have some routines to make life easier. There's a magnetic notepad on the fridge for people to write down grocery and toiletries as we run out. Its also become the list for the kids to write down needs for projects like glue and construction paper. We also have a magnetic calendar on the fridge for appointments and activities. A few simple routines like doing a sweep of the house to make sure the dishes are all in the kitchen and dirty clothes in the hamper before we go to bed helps keep the chaos to a minimum.

Once I let go of perfection on the domestic front it became much easier to focus on the kids needs and wants. I'm still not great at physically strewing but I'll mention things or forward a link to a book, website, etc. that looks interesting. I've found that letting go of housework has allowed me to simply BE with the kids and that has been the best thing possible. We've had so many great discussions and discoveries just hanging out in our pjs reading, watching tv, or browsing online together.

So, I guess my advice is go with your natural flow, find a way to organize the big stuff (like grocery lists and appointments) and just allow yourself to be with the kids.
WCM's Avatar WCM 03:13 AM 06-11-2010
I have actually found that for unschooling to really work for us I need to be less organised.

When I lived alone, pre-husband, I was very organised, very set in my ways. I ate this at each meal, I put things away at this time, I liked this music not that . . . get my drift? And for the first 5+ years of our marriage I keot that up, and then I continued it into our lives as parents. My husband is not naturally neat, nor does he see what needs to be done. I fought this for a decade, serously. and then in the past few years I've heard my eldest talk to his siblings like me. 'We don't eat on the sofa! It makes crumbs!". "Finish your yogurt it's wasteful not to!". (don't hate me folks).

And when I could hear myself, and see how my ways had effected my household, I got it. They were never learning from me, how to run a house, how to change their ways to be more like mine, the right ways. They just learned to be afraid, to get stressed out, to abide by rules come hell or high water.

And that's when I took our unschooling-in-terms-of-curriculms philosophy int our whole lives, and learned to let go.

NOw my house is a sty, and I mean that. A friend is over now who also home schools and dh was saying how our counters are always this cluttered, and I reminded him of how clean things used to be, and how angry I was, how much I stomped and yelled and cried and fought and the daily headches, lack of sleep . . . that I see our messes on every surface and in every room as rogress.

I may tidy the train tracks tomorrow so I can sweep the floor and we'll build a new track. Or I may not, as I'm busy with my kids doing something else. The tracks have been there for a week anyway.

But at least now I'm with my kids, not just cleaning up after them so mch I'm never available to them.

Like PP, I do have some basic things that keep us from faling off the deep end. We too have the magnetic white board on the fridge for things we need to buy. And I have a big desk calendar on my wall (no fancy pictures just the big white ones) for all our plans. dh and I gt texting cell phones so I can suggest meals to start while we're wrapping up a park day or an outing. We no longer eat fancy, cullinary varieties like butter chicken and things full of stuff my kids don't like to eat, and only I know how to make. We eat homemade pizza (dough in the bread machine on a timer), burritos (beans from the can, tortillas in the freezer, lettuce in the yard), nachos, bbq, pasta . . tasty basics that anyone can make.

I buy easy-to-grab snack food for when we go out. mini applesauces, granola bars, tortilla chips, enough water bottles that I can always find at least one, fruit I can cut up quick, dried fruit that's even faster. so if we have a plan, or we suddenly make one, getting out is pretty easy. we have baskets near the door for each of our things, and while it gets full of toys and rocks and stuff, they generally remember to put sunhats, gloves, shades back in there so they can grab them when they need to. blankets are in the car already, plus umbrellas and kites and more snacks.

When I get up in the morning I put a load of laundry on the line, start another and empty/reload the dishwasher. It takes me 10 minutes really, then we start in on breakfast. If nothing else is done that day, and generally nothing else is, that's enough to get us by.


SaoirseC's Avatar SaoirseC 03:22 PM 06-11-2010
I can relate. I'm very disorganized! There's a blog that I (should) follow which addresses this: http://organizedunschooler.com/ HTH.
litlwons's Avatar litlwons 12:11 AM 06-12-2010
Thank you all for your replies...I think the thing is, I need some space to be creative and having the kids seeing me be creative is really important. What happens is before I "do" anything (even Yoga), I feel like I have to clear things up so that there can be space. I know I need to to talk myself down from this idea and it is tough because I know my DH would LOVE LOVE LOVE a clearer space to come into. So because of this I am constantly picking things up....and it feels like I am loosing important time with my kids ....I just want balance...
Mizelenius's Avatar Mizelenius 01:09 AM 06-12-2010
A friend (and MDC mama) recommended this book to me-- it may help:


I also love FlyLady.

As for the "one clear space" this is my living room. We live in a small house, but even though the living room has a wall full of books (which is contrary to what the Simplicity Parenting author suggests) there isn't a lot of extra, so it's pretty easy to clean. Can you designate ONE room as your fast cleanup room?

I had one other idea recently. Playmobil is a big hit here, but with the baby, those little pieces are a nightmare. So, now I have the kids spread out a big tablecloth (on the floor) and then use the Playmobil on top of it. It helps! I saw a mom do something similar on a table. When the kids were done w/a craft, she just picked up the tablecloth and moved on to the next activity.
WCM's Avatar WCM 12:31 PM 06-12-2010
Oh yes I hear you OP. I used to 'need' to clean my rom before I began any journalling or class work, ditto kitchen for baking etc . . .

Now I have it so that if I need a surface, I use the kitchen table. It is forever covered in magazines we read, bits of toys and candles etc. The mags all get stored fast in a rack on the wall beside the table, bits go in a random container, bowl, for later, and I bring out what I need to work on (for me this is sewing, journalling, crafting, writing). When I need to stop it just goes back into whatever I store it in, be that a big rubbermaid in the closet or an old vinyl suitcase. And for me these srts of table creations are things I do when the house is quiet, either cause kids are asleep and I'm not, or out with their Dad or something. It does not happen often, but I know I'm ready when it does and can get my stuff out quickly.

Space in the house for things like yoga, stretching we found in our basement. We carpeted it and that room is now for Lego and 'space'. The lego starts out on one side, but it spreads. so when I need space (or dh does) for my body, we just push/sweep/move the lego bits back to their side and get down on the carpet to move our bodies.

I know what you mean, that even in the most crazy cluttered home, we need our space to create. This is how we got ours, and it makes handling the messes in other rooms more peaceful.
Serendipity's Avatar Serendipity 11:19 PM 06-12-2010
I recently read this blog post relating to this topic. I gotta run but I definitely utilize organization as an essential part of unschooling. I'll come back to this later...
accountclosed3's Avatar accountclosed3 01:35 AM 06-14-2010
it has been argued that because my guy is 21 mo, i'm not technically unschooling yet (though i don't know what you would call what i do, if not unschooling), and i need a clean and tidy place. *i just do*

what my husband and i learned--both being creatives--is that when our space is clean and tidy, we both feel happier, more peaceful, and more creative. we are more relaxed.

when my son came, i struggled to get everything done and give him the time i felt he deserved.

when i 'discovered' how steiner uses rhythms (waldorf), all of the sudden, i discovered how i could meet our needs and my son's needs. it's also part of the continuum concept: parents do what they need to do, it isn't always child focused. it's life-focused. and everyone's needs get met.

so, i created a rhythm--that i still use today--that allows me to tidy the house. my son is now helping (though sometimes he plays along side)--such as today when he helped wash the dishes and felt so proud of himself. i asked him if he would help me fold laundry, too, and he was so happy to help and again, s proud of himself. so, our home can be neat and tidy--which meets my needs--and i can also focus on my son as well (right now he naps, so i get internet time. )

as far as unschooling goes, i really have no intention of a curriculum, but i do find waldorf materials helpful for me to have suggestions or ideas that i can go to. I also like the book The Creative Family--it's excellent and i get a lot of ideas there too. I like to have options for myself, so that if i see my son going in a certain direction, i can facilitate that with some of the creative ideas that i see around me.

i know that i only have one child (and may only have one), but most waldorf families do well with rhythms, as it is about meeting the needs of all family members.
litlwons's Avatar litlwons 11:22 AM 06-14-2010
Thank you everyone for your replies, it is helping me to see what others do about this aspect of life learning. I do want a tidy space, I just don't want to be obsessed with it and miss out on the life learning. What I am really trying to do right now is find the love for taking care of my home, making it a creative space and inviting my boys into it. Some days are easier than others and on the days I choose to clean rather than read a book to my sons, or do some yoga poses I am as flustered as I would have been living in a "un-tidy" home. It is all about balance isn't it? My DH really would love a clear space and I feel bad because when he comes home it is what I see him doing, and I feel like it should have been done. When I go with the flow and follow my boy's interests, the house just doesn't get touched...
joy_seeker's Avatar joy_seeker 01:28 PM 06-14-2010
Originally Posted by litlwons View Post
My DH really would love a clear space and I feel bad because when he comes home it is what I see him doing, and I feel like it should have been done. When I go with the flow and follow my boy's interests, the house just doesn't get touched...
I have this same issue. I feel guilty because he has been out working hard all day and comes home to a messy house. I used to work outside the home and I felt like since I'm home now it should be my job to keep the house clean since he's the only one earning money. But then I realized that what I'm doing has value beyond earning money and that the reason I'm staying home isn't to have a clean house, its to help my kids learn in the way I believe is best. A lot of my guilt was also coming from the fact that I ENJOY the time with the kids so I felt like I was slacking off while dh worked hard. But I'm still doing a job- raising kids, I just happen to love my job. I scheduled a dinner date with dh and talked with him about this. I explained that our motivations for me staying home were the kids and he agreed. I then explained my guilty feelings and that when the house is clean I feel like the kids have taken a back seat. He completely understood and has been very supportive ever since.
mary3mama's Avatar mary3mama 01:43 PM 06-14-2010
I tend to shoot for:

~ not dirty
~ not overly-cluttered
~ knowing where things are
~ spending minimal time managing the home

I try to be very efficient with the time and energy I have for taking care of our home. I try not to let it suck up all my time.

I try to make sure, no matter how cluttery it seems, that the art/creativity supplies are immediately accessible to all the children.

And I try to do little bits of things throughout the day so that things can stay somewhat organized.

But all of it is a challenge.

I loved a quote I grabbed from Sandra Dodd's site:
We don't clean up messes to have a clean house. We clean up messes so there is room for more mess! —Dawn Adams

And that is my motto!
litlwons's Avatar litlwons 12:05 PM 06-15-2010
Originally Posted by mary3mama View Post
I tend to shoot for:

I loved a quote I grabbed from Sandra Dodd's site:
We don't clean up messes to have a clean house. We clean up messes so there is room for more mess! —Dawn Adams
I love love love this!! I think I will do some "wall hanging" of this to remind me!

Joy seeker...thank you for your thoughts. I really believe it probably is my guilt at not being a "super mom!" that gets in my way. Hey there is only one of me and my house isn't going to grow up and go out into the world and do amazing things...my kids are.

So it is probably the guilt I need to work on the most....

Pookietooth's Avatar Pookietooth 03:32 PM 09-25-2010
I know exactly what you mean. I have ADD and am extremely disorganized, and it's really getting in the way of unschooling. I really hate cleaning and organizing, and there are so many days lately where I just want to throw up my hands and put ds in some really great school so I don't have do deal with the stuff!