In Part I I shared my Rhythm and Meal Planning strategies, and the next section in my household management binder is Chores. Here is the tabbed divider page I use to begin the section (I just chose some favorite vintage art, aiming for pieces that predate copyrights, to make my binder inspiring and inviting to use, and pasted it into a word document with text.) Each of these pages is in a plastic sheet protector to keep them crisp and clean.
On the opposite side of the divider is my favorite cleaning recipes. This card came from some ladies in my hometown, but they have since moved onto new endeavors and the website they offered this card on is no longer available. I had saved it to my hard drive though, so below you will find a link to download it. I LOVE these recipes and they are all I use to clean my house for the past seven years. They are very kid-friendly!
The best part of these recipes is the essential oils. I tend to use different ones than they suggest, because I’ve researched their properties. Eucalyptus lemon, lavendar, tea tree, and thyme are all antibiotic, antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal. Cinnamon, clove, and oregano are all but anti-fungal; lemon and patchouli are antifungal but not antiviral. Bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, lime, and pine are antibiotic and antiseptic. So I generally put a blend of a few of those in my Eco-Clean mix, which I use for surfaces like countertops and toilets. I also add some for their aromatherapy value; grapefruit, bergamot, rosewood, jasmine, neroli and ylang-ylang are all anti-depressant. Basil helps with concentration. Chamomile, clary-sage, lavendar, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, and vetiver all help with nerves, anxiety, or nervous tension; rosemary, thyme and citronella are all stimulating (for a wee boost of energy!). My favorite blend for cleaning is 10 drops tea tree, 10 drops lavendar, 5 drops rosewood, and 5 drops grapefruit. If it is early spring and ants are trying to invade, I find bay and citronella helpful. I put eco-shine, eco-clean, and eco-polish in spray bottles and eco-scrub in a wide mouth mason jar.
Next are the daily sheets. Using Flylady and Martha Stewart’s recommendations, I’ve come up with my own system of how often I clean everything. Actually, it is more of a goal; running the co-op, homeschooling, and having little ones means I don’t always finish everything on the list. But I feel so much better having it all written down and working towards it, and anything accomplished is worthwhile! I don’t have a sheet for Friday, because homeschool co-op pretty much takes up the whole day so I don’t attempt anything extra.
I clean one area of the house each day (with Monday being the day I do a “home blessing”, or a quick once over of the house to ensure general tidiness with garbages going out and the floors being vacuumed/swept). Each week, there is a special “focus cleaning” for things that need to be attended to on a monthly basis; beyond that, seasonal things that need to be done every 3 months or so (I try to do them before each season change). I also have a special laundry task for each day, with Wednesday being the most time-consuming (mending!).
After my daily chore lists, I have a copy of this Life Skills for Kids printed out. I don’t feel all the suggestions are completely age-appropriate, but all of them can be worked towards with mom and child working together, holding Steiner’s philosophies close to your heart and using your intuition as a guide for when your child is ready for each task. My children, seven and under, are all help with chores BUT I don’t expect them to do things alone yet (although my 7 year old is getting there). I have a different child assigned to be my helper for most of the things on my daily rhythms list; we rotate each meal, my cleaning tasks, my laundry tasks, and my yardwork tasks. This way, they are learning right beside me and I am there to “hold the space”, which young children still very much need. I look at it more as life learning and time spent one-on-one than “chores” at this stage. There seem to be two prevailing philosophies about children and chores; the first says that children will never learn responsibility if they aren’t trained to do certain things certain ways at certain times. The next is the opposite; it says “Why would you think that after being forced to do something for so many years that you didn’t want to do, you will all of a sudden now enjoy doing it on your own when you are no longer forced to do it”? While I can see the logic on both sides, I feel there is a middle ground. The middle ground is Mama setting the example, enjoying her daily tasks, weaving them into her life so inextricably that there is no question this is what we do. This is how we live and enjoy and particpate in our lives, and we do it together. I want my children to look back when they are cleaning their houses as adults and remember the fun we had together, not lectures on laziness vs. responsibility! On the flip side, there needs to be some helping of the child’s will, because they can be driven by emotions and what they want right now. Emotions and desires can become dictators and lead you down a place where happiness evades you if you do not keep your will active and in it’s rightful place. So we try to have fun together, playing games like “the Queen is coming for a visit and we need to make this room ready for her visit!” or “the dreadful ogre will eat us for supper if we don’t shine his windows”. But when the children are having off days or grumpiness, we still push on. For me, this assures they are learning we do not need to be ruled by our negative emotions, and it is often our will which pulls us out of those slumps.
More to come soon… I have a few more divider sections to share on my journey towards a calm and orderly home. 😉