Home Making has always been a bit of a fluid process with us here at angelicscalliwags. I’m clueless, so it took me no time at all to pass on my
extensive home making know-how. I began when the older ones were three. By three and a half they knew all I knew. I am naff, really and truly naff, at keeping home. I manage (with help from the children) but really, my standard is waaaay lower than almost every single one of my friends. They are all very gracious and instead of focusing on how grubby and messy the house is, I receive many comments about how peaceful my home is. For this I am very grateful. It means I am doing something right.
For the past ten years the children have done chores morning, noon and night. They do them with out me needing to ask, and with very little complaint. I was determined the children would enter married life with more home making knowledge than I had. Academic I was. Holly home maker I wasn’t. All my training in my childhood and teenage years had been geared towards me passing exams not keeping a house clean. Or cooking. Or indeed laundry.
This means that I started much later than most to learn these skills. In fact it was later than it strictly should have been. Well, they say ignorance is bliss. I married at 23 and had my first baby at 27 and my second and third at 28. I barely kept it together when it was just Gary and I, but when two turned to five almost overnight I was soon drowning under the plethora of dirty crockery, washing and washable baby nappies. We often had a takeaway because I was so tired looking after three babies under a year old (and the elusive washing up remained elusive so we never really had any plates or cups to talk of…).
In the intervening years I have learnt to hang on by the thread of my teeth to both clean plates and sanity by (just) keeping on top of the house work. I have found I quite enjoy making our home homey. I want our dwelling place to be somewhere for Gary to rest at the end of a hard day’s work. And I desire home to be a haven where my children will always steer during the storms in their lives. My children and I have learnt together, worked together and moaned about it together. And it’s kind of fun. They know more at twelve than I ever did in my twenties. But I fear I have taught them sloppy methods, and if not sloppy, then certainly not as good quality as maybe I should have.
Last year we bought a couple of home making books and whilst I believe the girls have read their copies (they have all sorts of sticky tabs and notes written throughout) I haven’t done anything formal with them. So a couple of days ago I picked up one of the books and read the first chapter. It was about bathrooms and on almost every page I had a lightbulb moment! Literally, I never knew I knew so little!
Purposefully Moving Forward
So I have been a pondering how I can include this type of teaching in our home and school. There are two main ways:
- Actually scheduling in lessons
I have scheduled in between two to three hours of home making classes each week. During this time I will be working my way through one chapter per term which handily equates to one room/area per term. Each lesson will not include just the cleaning, but also making it more homely and comfortable. The girls will learn to inexpensively make their own products, dig a bit deeper into essential oils and their properties as well as sewing various projects which will help make that room particularly lovely. I will teach them for our own bathroom at home and then encourage them to make extra replica items for their hope chest.
- Paid work whilst learning
This term, Gary and I have looked into how much money we pay out per child for their one activity (about £80 per child per term) as well as their clothes allowance (£10 per child per month). This is money we give them without any conditions attached. I have never thought just giving money to the children was a particularly good idea, nor did I want to pay for chores which should be part of simply being a member of the family. I have come up with a solution which I think suits everyone.
In the UK every family is given child benefit each week for each child. It works out at about £15 per week per child, slightly more for the first child and slightly less for the rest. All families get it regardless of income or number of children. We have always used that to pay for anything for the children – clothes, presents, activities, swimming lessons and so on. After chatting with the children, it has been agreed that we will pay the children £5 per hour of work done on a Saturday up to three hours (ie £15 per week). The children must then tithe the money and divide it into suitable categories according to needs and preference. Each child will then be responsible for paying for all their own clothes, activities, gifts and any other hobbies. We believe this will help the children to save, plan and prioritise as well as learning to put God first and to pray to stretch their money.
The three hours of work will include one hour inside the house; one hour outside the house and one hour on a project which we will set and they will project manage from start to finish and complete all by themselves (although we will of course be there to help and give advise). The project will be based in the room or area we are focussing on during that term and will be designed to teach each child some crucial home making/building skills. For example, our thirteen year old son will be making a set of shelves to go in our shoe cupboard to allow a greater number of shoes to be stored in our bathroom (our bathroom is downstairs and off the kitchen and has space in which to do this). He will measure, source and cost the materials. We will give him the money to shop for and buy all he needs to complete the job. He will build the shelves himself, asking for help if he needs to. If he finishes the project before the term’s five weeks are up we will set him a new, smaller one to complete in the remaining time. He will work exclusively on his project for one hour each Saturday for five weeks of the term, giving him five hours of paid labour and earning him £25 towards his needs. The one hour work around the house and in the garden will be determined each week based on needs.
The older children are excited about this increase in responsibility, independence and opportunity to learn new skills. Their normal daily chores each day will be continued to be done without any pay.
Hopefully by the end of the year all three older children (and the younger ones to a lesser extent) will have learnt many new skills as well as the how-to of keeping each and every room in the house organised and picked up. They will learn that often there is not money for everything and therefore one needs to work out what is important to them and what is less so.