Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I’m pretty sure I have never, ever said this blog was all about the craft. I wouldn’t have thrown myself into that sort of deep end what with everything else going on, plus the steep learning curves, including the very recent discovery of the function of a free motion foot (nothing, as it turns out, to do with Rolf Harris or Jake the Peg).
Recently, my six year old, who has been having an all ’round tough time of things lately, forcefully declared that school was horrible because he hated pack-up time. And so it was, that a piece of straw came from out of the blue and broke this camel’s back. Enough was enough. Time for this kid, this family, to get over themselves and embrace the neat. Neat-ish.
For nigh on the last month we have had an all-in, rowdy, manic, around-the-house tidy, straight after dinner. There is cheerleading, there is coaching, there are (usually) high fives at the end. There is a timer. All together now, everybody: THE TIMER IS OUR FRIEND! Providing everyone puts in real effort, ten minutes is all we do. Sometimes we don’t finish, but when the timer rings, the kitchen is clean, the dishwasher is on, the main living areas vacuumed and toys put away. And for the rest of that day, that is enough.
One night the Mr and I were too tired to contemplate the Ten Minute Tidy. We gave it a miss and after the kids went to bed, we spent a few hours working in the studio. As midnight approached we started a clean up to get us through breakfast the next day. It took us a good forty minutes. Never again. We are heavily into this sort of child labour.
Even though we have been going less than a month, it is a theory that is working on a whole lot of levels:
1. The kids know we are not going to randomly or spontaneously demand house cleaning (= less parent nagging/kid whinging).
2. Ten minutes is long enough to hold small person concentration, maintain some sort of enthusiasm for the cleaning (did I mention the cheerleading?) and still get a surprising amount of stuff done.
3. It’s been good for me learning to let go of the perfectionist gene. Which would I prefer? To have the seven year old wipe down the table and miss a couple of spots? Or have 100% of the table spotless because I cleaned it myself, from now until eternity? An absolute no-brainer. Besides, with all the practise, there are now less missed spots. And, and it’s a big ‘and’ – the kid feels capable.
4. Daily vacuuming may seem excessive, but I am constantly dumbstruck by the amount of sandpit that can be crammed inside a pair of kid shoes. Besides, there has to be some clean-up fun (like watching sucked-up bits whizzing around the inside of the vacuum cleaner).
5. With all that housework done, I can get away with more craft time. I told you this blog was all about the craft.
6. Everyone works, everyone reaps the benefit, everyone appreciates the effort. There’s just a few issues to work through with the two year old Chief Shoe Put Away-er...