It’s been an amazing two weeks for me. Normal ups and downs, but something deeper…a feeling that things are moving in the “right” direction. I’ve been reading a lot about Waldorf education and doing quite a bit of thinking.
It’s no secret that I hate where we live. I don’t like being in the city, I don’t like the constant noise/cars/barking dogs/or smog. However, we live here because McRuger has an amazing job here. A job that is stable and that McRuger loves. But, all that doesn’t make up for the fact that this is not a place I like being.
When I found Waldorf (again), it called to the “farm girl” in me…a harkening back to a more simple time. If it were within my power, I would have moved us all to a farm a long time ago. McRuger jokes that I really wanted to marry an Amish farmer and he really wanted to marry a sexy, gamer-chick, and we’ve had to meet in the middle. But, I digress….
Part of Waldorf is doing “inner work” for the parents/teachers. Of course, there’s a whole philosophy behind it, with specific readings…clear paths of thought to follow. However, I’ve been taking it in a more general way…how can I improve my life…and thus the life of my family.
It started out with getting rid of almost all of Cadet’s plastic toys (95% of which he never played with), clothes I wasn’t wearing, cheap knickknacks from here and there, and even kitchen/housewares that were never used. Then, I started learning how to make things for the house: candles, toys, decorations, cleaning solutions…and so on. We’ve redesigned parts of the house: living room, dining room, and Cadet’s room to make them simpler…more friendly. Cadet’s room, especially is wonderful. It’s peaceful, calm, and perfect for Cadet. Everything has a place and there’s no clutter. Cadet can relax without being assaulted by the chaos of things.
Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day, the house still looks very lived in. It’s not sterile…but there’s a feeling that it’s a controlled mess…not an unruly one. Which brings me to cleaning….
I am, without a doubt, a horrible housekeeper! I’ve always had an issue with being messy. I’ve always enjoyed a certain degree of clutter around me…and I HATED cleaning it up. But, then about three weeks ago, I started reading a book called: Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life. The book, in essence, is a primer in approaching housework as a spiritual task. The author is Christian and uses the Christian church and its teachings as a parable for how to keep house. Now, as you know, I’m spiritual…not religious, but I found the book utterly fascinating.
Never before had I seen my contributions to housework as a spiritual act of love for my family. By keeping a clean (or at least orderly) house, I am giving my family a gift. As the author points out, house work is never over. If I approach the laundry/dishes/mopping as a chore/duty, I may start to resent the fact that there is always laundry/dishes/mopping to do. Instead, by viewing these chores as a gift, I can focus on how these tasks help our family. I know, it sounds so simplistic…
Presently, our house is actually clean and organized on a regular basis…rather than just every weekend (or before guests arrive). I wipe down surfaces as I go, relocate toys/clothes/books when I see them, and keep on top of the laundry as best I can. McRuger takes care of the dishes nightly (which is a huge help). Cadet has been helping me (as best he can) with sweeping, he has his own little broom (and a mini dustpan coming for Christmas). He also has his own little sponges/rags to help clean surfaces he can reach. We have “clean up” time before nap and before bed. It takes just a few moments to relocate toys to their places. And Cadet LOVES to help clean. He even tries to reach the broom on his own when he’s in the mood.
Baskets have been hugely helpful in terms of keeping things neat and orderly. Cadet has a small basket for toys (one in the living room, one in his bedroom), a small basket for his musical instruments, and a smaller one for blocks. We have a basket of shoes next to the front door, which has cut down on lost/misplaced shoes! There’s a little station near the heater for coats, sweaters, hats, and scarves.
It’s amazing how quickly things can get done if I’m always aware (and taking care of) the little tasks of cleaning. As I look around me, I know that when I walk out of the room, I will be taking at least three things with me to either the kitchen or Cadet’s room. It’s that sort of awareness that this book has helped cultivate. “Cleaning the house” is now a matter of a few minutes here and there, rather than a 3-hour marathon each weekend. I find I have more time to read and write and craft while Cadet’s at school or with a therapist.
To be honest, there are still some “hot spots” I’m working on: kitchen counters, bedroom closets, and my craft area. But, I’m confident that with a little time, I will master those areas as well.
I am in love with what I am learning through Waldorf-inspired blogs and books. Between learning how to needle-felt toys, pour beeswax candles, how to keep an even tempter with a toddler, and cleaning…I feel inspired in a way that I haven’t for a while. It feels as if everywhere I look, I see inspiration…which is an awesome feeling. And, I feel less anxious overall, which is a marvelous thing.
Plus, I have found several online groups and am making friends with them…and learning so much!!!
Please keep in mind, that while this works for me…I understand that there are many ways of keeping house/raising a child/educating, you must do what’s best for your family. I am cognizant that so often in these sorts of matters, people come off as sounding preachy and “know-it-all”. And that’s the LAST thing in the world I would want…is to sound preachy.
What systems do you have for keeping your house clean? What is your least favorite cleaning task?