Today was a day when I wanted my very own "Alice". I admit it. (Gulp.) Sometimes it's so easy for us as mothers to glance in at others' homes, see perfection and we sulk. Perfectly scrubbed counter tops, floors that shine, walls without little fingerprints on them, fans and blinds that show no sign of dust, never a dish in the sink, carpets that contain vacuum tracks for longer than 30 seconds, perfectly manicured lawns and picked up yards containing not a trace of matchbox cars or chicken feathers (maybe that's just us...oops!). While this is something I think all mothers struggle with, I think it's something that homeschool mothers especially struggle with. We make the ultimate sacrifice by staying at home and pouring our heart and souls into teaching our little guys. But it doesn't stop there. We have to keep our houses clean, laundry kept up, meals cooked and if you're really adventurous (like us), you find meaning and reason in a lifestyle maintaining farm animals and a vegetable garden. All things that have to fit into a day's work.
Oh sure, I have my plans for when my kiddos get older! They'll be professionally trained (by your truly) to scrub a bathroom to utmost perfection, taking out the trash without grumbling, vacuuming the carpets as not to miss a piece of dog fur, dusting shelves and blinds til they shine. (A mother can dream, can't she?) Sure. It all sounds great, but what if you're a homeschooling, homesteading mother to LITTLE ONES? Yes, ladies. We're a different breed. A breed that is not addressed all the time. Everyone keeps saying, "Enjoy these times cause you won't get them back again." I do enjoy my children. Absolutely. I think that's why we have four! Hard to imagine a house without a baby cooing and crawling around.
Kids are awesome! They do however take a lot of training in teaching them how to do a job efficiently and until it's complete. You can't go tell a four-year-old boy, "Hey Junior. I need the bathroom cleaned and pronto. Company is on its way. You have 3 minutes. Go!" No. It doesn't work like that. It takes hours of one-on-one training. I often drool over the larger homeschooling families that have "helpers". You know the kind. The ones where the older ones help the younger ones with tasks, babysitting and cooking. (sigh) We're not there yet and you know what? That's okay. I consider it a serious accomplishment that my 6-year-old, 4-year-old and 2-year-old can cooperatively work together to empty the dishwasher and load it, beginning to end. (large grin! Yes, I'm boasting. It's one of the few things I've got. I get bragging rights.) Avonlea and Lincoln help unload the larger dishes as well as work together handing each other glasses in the top cupboard. Norah is my silverware girl and can sort butter knives, forks and spoons in the drawer. Avy and Linc can also vacuum a rug by themselves, clean their own rooms (not always with a smile and a "yes ma'am", but we're working on that) and the one we've been working on for awhile, but they've pretty much mastered is feeding the animals (a big one).
I remember reading in my Large Family Logistics book how important it is to train your older ones efficiently. Then, they will be a good example/teacher to the younger ones in the future. If you fail at teaching the older ones, your younger ones will be a model of this.
Not good. I try to keep this in mind as I train Avonlea and Lincoln. I try to stay realistic too. I know that Avonlea loves to do dishes and Lincoln loves to vacuum. Not that those chores will always be assigned to them. They'll have to learn all chores eventually, but while they're little, give them chores they can be excited about and successful with. Don't set them up for failure.
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."
II Timothy 2:15
I've had a comment regarding the lack of perfection in way of my housekeeping. It hurts a lot, but I remember to keep focused on the things that matter most to God. Training our little guys to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength is of utmost priority in our home. Others may not agree with how we do things, but that's okay. Others may not agree with how you do things in your home, but as long as you have your priorities in line with God's Word and you're teaching your children about Christ's love and character as much as you can, try to shake it off and stay steadfast the coarse. You will be rewarded.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."