Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Housework and Homeschooling at the same time

Housework is neither my forte nor my focus at the moment.  That's my short response.

When we decided to homeschool Tiger, my husband and I made a conscious decision to let our home be part of the living, learning environment for him.  That means that we welcome and encourage natural exploration and "messy work" that include hands-on projects and visual arts, especially in the early years.  To anyone who visits our home, it is clear that a child lives and learns here.

Having said that, it doesn't mean that my house is a tip.  There are reasons for this:
1) My husband grew up in an impeccably tidy house so he is very conscious and intolerant of mess.  Turning our home over into a living, learning environment has been a stretch for him, so I am respectful of his very reasonable wish to live in a tidy environment.

2) The Montessori method that I was heavily influenced by at the beginning of the journey made specific references to the importance and impact of the environment to the growing child.  A beautiful, carefully set-up environment (including cleaniness and tidiness) will affect the child's habits, neurological developments, and aesthetic taste.  It's all common sense, really.  A child naturally absorbs what's available in his environment.  If you feed the young mind with a sense of order and beauty, that is what forms in his neurological pathways.

3) I have a higher tolerance for mess than my husband does, but I can't stand looking at them for more than a few days, so in that sense I can let piles of "stuff" build up around the house, but they start to bug me soon enough and must be tidied away so that I may find my sense of peace once more.

It probably helps that there are only three of us in this household, and we live in a small house so in terms of floor space I don't have much to cover.

We also strive to live a simple life, which means:
  • I don't have animals to look after
  • I don't have unnecessary ornaments to wipe and polish
  • I don't have fussy clothes that need special care
  • I don't have parties in our house very often
Having a simple life means that I can spend the bulk of my time focusing on whatever is needed to homeschool my son successfully, which can include planning, learning (especially at the beginning), and letting him explore and use the home environment.  I aspire to have a show-room quality house when my homeschooling journey is over and I can spend all my time fussing over the make of the lamps or colour-coordinating the furniture in each room with the carpet, curtains, and bed linen, or varnish and polish all of my wood furniture.  Ask me about housework again in 10 years' time - I'll probably have magazine-worthy photos to show then.

If you find the above too wishy-washy, let me give some examples in more concrete terms: I manage on a day-to-day basis by focusing on one small area each time.  For example,
  1. I might have a quick run around the house during break time to dust the surfaces.  This usually takes about 15 minutes.
  2. I also do one small task each time I go into the bathroom.  It can be washing the sink one time, wiping the floor another time, rinsing the bathtub the third time.
  3. Hoovering the floor usually happens in the 15-20 minutes after lunch or while dinner is cooking on the stove or in the oven.  Since our house is small, all the rooms can be hoovered in that time.
  4. The kitchen sink is always clear in the evenings.  I make sure that all dishes are washed up after dinner and kitchen worktops are cleared of mugs and cutlery.  A sink full of dirty dishes is one of my pet peeves.
  5. My husband takes care of laundry and does it all on the weekends.  I iron all his work shirts for the following week on Saturday nights while watching DVDs on my computer.
  6. I am also training my son up to help with the housework.  Tidiness does not come naturally to him so our progress in this area has been excruciatingly slow, but we keep at it (upon my insistence).  His jobs are:
  • to set the table for each meal
  • to load and unload the dishwasher at lunch time everyday
  • to put things back in their places away after using them
  • to tidy his room everyday
I do a 'deep clean' once every six months, again on a rotational basis.  That means one or two areas of the house gets thoroughly cleaned and purged aeach six months so that by the end of each year the whole house gets done.  This typically takes 5 days each time.

I'm clearly not a domestic goddess, so do hop over to see what other useful suggestions the other four ladies have for us:

This post is linked up to:
1) Hip Homeschool Hop - 4/2/13
2) Hearts for Home Blog Hop #11
3) Homeschool Mother's Journal: April 5, 2013
4) Collage Friday - Surprises on Spring Break
5) TGIF Linky Party #70
6) Creative Learning #9
7) Weekly Wrap-Up: The Really Busy One Before Spring Break
8) Share it Saturday
9) Sunday Showcase


  1. I love the term "hoover." So much nicer than vacuum.=)

  2. This is just great, Hwee! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post about house cleaning and recognizing your house as a place of learning.

  3. Ha! I could've written this post (albeit not quite to the same standard) and I also would have left out the bit about a tidy husband (I don't have one of those). I loved your first sentence. For me, that would have been the first and the last sentence with very little in-between!!
    Neither my forte nor my focus- yup, that about sums it up!! Well written as ever, Hwee!

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  5. Thank you for your kind comments, ladies.

    Bernadette - I only learnt to use the term "hoover" when I started to live in England. :-)

    Savannah - I am being honest about having to balance having a tidy house with the need to let my son use the space for hands-on learning which are inevitably untidy. :-)

    Claire - I think it's important for (potential and/or new) homeschooling mothers to realise that it is almost impossible to achieve at the same time a real, hands-on learning environment and the showroom-type living space they see in magazines, so they don't get stressed needlessly when they are not achieving both at the same time. :-)

  6. I love what you say about keeping things simple. My husband and I grew up in homes that were impeccably tidy, too -- it's hard for me to keep a lot of the mess under control, but it is getting better. I appreciate you linking with Collage Friday each week!

  7. Thank you for stopping by, Mary. I've realised that it is very difficult to keep the house exceptionally tidy when I have a young child actively learning here. I think many homeschooling mums can relate to this. :-)


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