For years, I’ve been a messie. In fact, I was a messy housekeeper before I began homeschooling. I tried everything I could to change. I used the “Mount Vernon” method that Sandra Felton writes about, used FlyLady reminders, and listened to my mother-in-law, friends, and strangers. Nothing seemed to work for long. Yet, this month, my husband and I simply changed everything. We began tossing out things that we haven’t needed in years, months, and even weeks. He finally admitted those old pants didn’t fit, and I acknowledged that my clothes were ugly. With hours of joint effort, we cleaned our bedroom.
Next, we worked on the living room. We kept a few decorations that needed little dusting, moved all the furniture, and threw away much of what we discovered under and behind it. We slowly transformed our house, and now everything we touch is better organized and no longer cluttered. We have a house that feels like home.
How was this a life lesson for the kids? Amazingly, there was no unit study, no lecture, and we did not have to explain the value of clean rooms. When the kids woke up and saw our clean bedroom (we started very early and finished the bedroom by the time they got out of bed), they went to clean their bedrooms. My daughter’s room has no clutter. My sons’ room is neat, and while they kept most of their toys, they worked out a deal that is both humorous and functional. Since my younger son prefers yard work and always has extra cash, he decided to do the outside chores and pay his brother to do his side of the bedroom. I thought about all the reasons this might not be a good idea, but I chose to let them try it. It has worked excellently. The arguments and accusations related to cleaning their room are gone, and the room is always neat. They found a solution none of us had considered, and it works.
Are we sure we made the right choice with the boys? We hope so. However, I know I followed my husband’s lead, and my house is clean. I allowed my children to find a workable solution, and they did. My children now see the value of a clean house, and they pick up their own messes without argument. Home is more comfortable and inviting, and our family is drawing closer because of the changes. In fact, since there was nothing urgent to do at home today, we headed to the park for a tennis game.
Homeschooling has been a wonderful adventure, and other family members who at first opposed the idea accept it now. Some have stopped murmuring about it while others are planning to explore it for themselves in the future. How much better they will view our example when they see our lovely, inviting home and our children happily doing their part to keep it that way. I certainly intend to test that theory, and I encourage you to move in that direction for your home. Homeschooling is a journey, and this part of the trip has been quite an adventure!
By Stephanie Orsini
Stephanie Orsini is a freelance writer who has homeschooled for ten years. She works with the nursery and scouting ministries at church, but her favorite role is as helpmate to Rodolfo and mother to Noemi, Javier and Luis. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Originally published in the Homeschooling Helper e-newsletter, December 2009