Saturday, January 31, 2009

Purposeful Housekeeping

One of the (many) joys I find in living in Tasmania is that the children here return to school much later than their northern counterparts so that I have extra time to get my sorry unorganised self into gear before the beginning of the school year. I think I have the curriculum for my girls more or less organised (more on that later), I am pretty sure The Boy hasn't grown out of his school uniform in the eight weeks or so since he last wore it, but I am absolutely sure that I need to get the house and myself into a state of 'homeschool readiness' before school starts.

I have always been, let us say, a relaxed housekeeper, doing a dab here, a dab there, and pulling my hair out with anxiety every six weeks or so when it all falls apart and I have to devote two full days to housekeeping in order to find the children again ('I swear I had four children.. maybe the missing one is behind this giant stack of dirty washing/unwashed dishes/books I just have to read/Barbie paraphernalia'). At the same time, over the course of a number of years, I have discovered that homeschooling at our house works best with an absolutely strict morning routine, after which the girls can do whatever they like all afternoon. The only problem is that, with terrible planning and lackadaisical housekeeping, we either spend way too long in the morning getting organised to start, or else I find that I have scheduled a dentist's appointment in the middle of the morning, or else the house is in such a mess that I can't find vital books/art equipment/space in which to start a project/a small child..., or I suddenly recall that I have invited someone to lunch and haven't cooked anything yet. It's all very pathetic, and also demoralising to one of my feminist principles, but I absolutely have to learn to keep house, or my life will come crashing down around my ears.

Unfortunately, I also find routine, cleaning house, cooking regularly, or writing down appointments in my diary excruciatingly tedious. I am not a Domestic Goddess. I did, however, find a very entertaining blog whose author is experimenting with war time housekeeping from a 1940's housekeeping manual. This seems as good a way to learn to keep house as any (and goodness, both my grandmothers, who married during WWII were excellent housekeepers). So now I have a plan. I am going to channel my grandmothers and become a housekeeper extraordinaire...

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