Spring is coming! Spring fever, spring babies and spring cleaning. This is my favorite time of year to create space for new growth and freshness by clearing clutter and getting the house in order.
A Traditional Folk Rhyme invites us to simplify the work that is done in our home to one task each day. Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thursday, Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday, Rest on Sunday. Though some of the activities may sound dated, the idea of doing a little each day is quite revolutionary! In our multi-tasking culture this old rhyme offers order, simplicity, focus and freedom woven into a weekly rhythm of home care.
Let's shift the word "chores" or "housework" to "home care"...it has a different feeling. A new quality may emerge while we care for our home rather than do housework. It's also a great phrase to use when we are asking our children to help. And by all means, invite your child to help at an early age and give them plenty of opportunities to participate in home care as they get older.
A good rule of thumb about sharing home care with your child(ren) is to focus on process rather than product.
One thing that I can count on in the season of spring is springtime energy. When I was teaching I would be sure to simplify our rhythm to offer plenty of time for deeper play both inside and outside. More time with our hands in the dirt planting seeds, rolling down hills, climbing trees and running with kites. At home, March is a time to revisit our rhythm knowing that with more daylight and warmer weather we will naturally be outdoors more often. This is a time of year to recommit to rhythm by thinking of the acitivites you value most. Make time for joy, for self-care, for adventure and rest...write it into your rhythm. If you don't make the things you value a priority, who will?
Rhythm can help us remain in the present moment and avoid multitasking. With the world literally at our fingertips, are we really connected to the present moment? Multitasking has been a challenge for me, I've been guilty of nursing while texting, checking my email in between flipping pancakes, and writing a grocery list while building sandcastles in the back yard. At those moments, nothing is getting 100% of my attention, especially my child. When I can give my attention completely to lunch making or working or snuggling, I feel nourished, and my child feels loved, seen and heard. Rhythm has helped me create the time for connecting and being mindful in the present moment. I know there is time for the bathroom cleaning, the email checking, work, sweeping the floor and making the bed. Our home rhythm has made me a better parent and a better human being, it has given me a sense of freedom so I can stay connected to the moment and truly be present with my family.
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Home Care with children
The key word to the above title is WITH. I know that you can get it done faster. I know that your child may make a bigger mess than you started with...way bigger, sometimes. But I promise that this investment will pay off ten fold.
Children want to be part of the household, they want to do what we are doing and the more we say no when they ask to help, the less they will ask to help. There are plenty of tasks that a child of any age can do. Let them. Say YES. For a bit more inspiration, I really like this article from Slate titled, The Value of a Mess.
What you need share home care with your child(ren):
On a practical note it's nice to have child friendly tools for your little one to lend a hand around the house. You could buy a child sized broom or mop or just saw the handle shorter on one at the thrift store. Create a little home-care kit for your child to feel invited and prepared to participate.
Here are a few ideas to add to your collection:
- rags (old swaddle or burp cloths make great rags)
- a duster (here is my favorite)
- a child sized broom
- a dustpan/hand broom combo
- a spray bottle (filled with water, soapy water, hydrosol or a child-safe cleaner)
Homemade Child-Safe All-Purpose Cleaner
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons castille soap
- 20 drops essential oil like lemon, grapefruit or lavender, I like a mix of lemon and thyme.
- Pour ingredients into a spray bottle, preferably made of glass, Shake well before use. Store in a cool, dark place. (Essential oils oxidize in sunlight)
For Small Hands is a great resource for quality child-sized tools.