Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back to Basics

Its been rather a long time between posts hasn't it. I have no good excuses, but I think I am indulging rather in being a full time SAHM. Isn't it funny that the more time we have, the less we manage to do. Or is that just me?

So, the house is a tip (really, I'm not just saying that) and I really need to put some effort into establishing better routines.

When I was working part time, we had a cleaning lady every week. Luxury! So I could manage the day to day washing, cooking, straightening and surface cleaning pretty easily. I just cleaned as I went, and knew that every Tuesday I would come home to a sparkling clean house.

But now - I'm trying to keep the house clean and sparkly, with an 18 month old running around beside me. Its kind of funny really - well I'm trying to look at it that way. Yesterday it took all afternoon to do the vaccuuming. She screamed everytime I turned it on - usually it doesn't bother her at all. So at 5.00 when Hubby came home he carried her around and they both watched me vaccuum. She found this quite exciting and everytime I turned the thing off I heard 'more more more'.

Today it was the bathroom's turn. I armed her with her very own dishcloth, and got her wiping the outside of the bath. Of course, she just wanted to climb in, and play with the spray bottle. But with lots of singing and cheering we managed to get the bathroom into a reasonably clean state. I'm just not sure how much vinegar and baking soda solution she might have ingested - I'm sure its not recommended for toddlers!

Some tasks though I'm just not sure I can do with her in tow. Cleaning the toilet is just impossible as she has a flushing obsession. The dishwasher desperately needs a clean (how do they get so grubby in all those nooks and crannies?) but she would love to climb right in to the machine.

Of course, I haven't just been doing housework around here. If it was, the house wouldn't look quite so 'lived in'.

As well as my mission to perfect home made fruit-bread (more on that when I have succeeded) I have been reading a wonderful little book called 'Magic Places' by Penny Brownlee. It is published by the New Zealand Playcentre Association (Playcentre is a wonderful New Zealand invention - a parent run early childhood education centre - check it out). Sadly, you can't get this little book on amazon, but most NZ libraries seem to have it!

This little book is all about creativity with children - how to encourage their artistic skills and how to set up good quality artistic activities for them.

"Creativity is also part of the treasure each child comes with ... We need to be vigilant in making sure that the seedbed of the child's creativity is tended, watered and not trampled on'.

She talks abut how 'experience soaks in through the senses' and gives an example of a young child looking at a pine cone 'he feels and weights it. He feels and tastes it with his mouth. He listens and smells. He looks at it this way and that way, every which way, and maybe he wonders and imagines. (the child) needs us to make sure he has all sorts of real and rich experiences'.

I also really like her 'rules for adults'

1. The child is the creator. We never draw, make or model for the child.
2. Stay in the scribbling stage when working alongside children.
3. The child chooes from their experience. We never tell a child what to draw make or mdoel.
4. The child does it their way.
5. The child's creative potential is protected. We avoid presenting activities which rob children of their creativity (colouring in, templates, tracing, stencils).

"The creating must belong to the child. It is in the creating that the value lies for the child. It is their process; they are reflecting on their experience, making their unique expression into the world"

Its not a Steiner book - there is no 'wet painting' or beeswax modelling, and clay is used with young children - but its a wonderful and extremely practical guide to helping your children develop their creative potential, and its given me some great ideas to get started with.

Roll out the beeswax I say!


Anonymous said...

When my kids were very young, I couldn't do certain tasks while they were around. Or I had to "sneak" them in while they were absorbed in something else (that was rare!).

Sounds like you have the right idea giving your daughter her own dishcloth. Of course she wants to do what you do and be a big help :)

I also had to learn the hard way that often routines are not possible with little ones around, and that standards of cleanliness and neatness must be adjusted accordingly. Or something must change in a creative way, like vacuuming only when she's safe in papa's arms!

I like how Playcentres emphasize child-initiated play and parent involvement. Sound very much like RIE, and Waldorf.

Dawn said...

That sounds like a good book. Both my kids used to scream when I'd turn on the was so hard to find a time to get that task accomplished ;)

Lizz said...

I have 5 children, it gets crazy, I'm the superMamamanager. lol

jenny-junebug said...

Always so much fun to get them involved in the cleaning! I'm always amazed at what gets accomplished when they get ahold of the mop.....of course 10 minutes it's dirty again!

I read a book on introducing children to art that seemed to send the same message. I actually got it off Amazon so anyone in North America who may be interested in the topic might want to give it a try. "Young at Art" by Susan Striker - author of the Anti-Coloring Book series.

RunninL8 said...

But rolling out the bees wax is SO hard until it gets warm..waaaa...
Cleaning here has gone by the wayside as well.... I can't WAIT to get a cleaning person in when Lo goes to kindergarten and I work more. It's wonderful to allow kids to help out when they want to-they develop a love and appreciation of the time shared, the task accomplished, and the beauty in purposeful movement. Especially if they sense that you are revering it as well.
I've realized I have such a hard time not "suggesting" things to Lo when we are doing a craft or I'm having her make something for someone. When she does her own thing, I'm fine. i MUST get that under control! I'll go and check out that book-thanks for the recommendation!