Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘dishes’

Life hack of the week: dish washing

As I write this, my darling daughters are 9 and 12 years old. It’s a great age for one very special reason: chores. More specifically: incentivised chores.

We have reached an agreement: for every month in which the girls put away the clean, dry dishes every morning before breakfast and every evening before dinner, without being asked, they earn one month’s membership of Animal Jam. So far, it’s working very well (just one week in).

It’s something of a relief to walk into a kitchen and NOT have to put away the dishes. Maybe it’s just me.

As long as I make sure I stay on top of the dish washing chore, the kitchen always looks fresh and ready for action. And seriously, washing a load of dishes takes no more than a minute or two. Really. I timed it. (I know). It doesn’t even take as long as heating something up in the microwave. (If you’re thinking, “I’ll bet she’s heating up another cup of coffee”, you’d be on the money ;). Keeps me sane.)

I have a simple trick for this: I never, EVER, fill the sink with warm soapy water and wash acres of greasy dishes. I run the hot tap, squirt some dish liquid on a scouring sponge, and wash dishes like I’ve got a full bladder and just can’t stick around that long. (Often this is actually true. I try to aggregate all my standing-up-from-the-desk activities into one efficient time slot ;).) The reason this works is because it feels like yo’re just quickly taking care of one or two small items for a friend while you’re on holiday in some fancy-pants resort, rather than actually doing a chore. Genius! You’re welcome.

So that’s my simple life hack: do the dishes as you go, whenever there are a few in the sink, I look the other way, say I won’t do them, then sneakily sneak up on myself and wash the whole lot before my coffee’s even warm enough to drink. Voilà! And the next time I turn around, the Dish Fairies have tidied the results of my efforts away, and everything looks all Stepfordy and ready for use. *Bliss*

On home school, self-employment and domestic goddessery

When I started talking out loud about the possibility of us home schooling the girls, the overwhelming response from most quarters was a screaming “Don’t do it!”. Some people pointed out the lack-of-social-interaction “problem” that everyone jumps to first. I listened and pondered and for a while I even agreed. But as you know, I don’t agree any longer.

The second most common reason given why I shouldn’t home school was structure. More specifically, the lack thereof. Now, in truth, I am a very organised person. I like everything to have a clearly defined, labelled, easy-to-access space, and that space needs to be noted somewhere. Preferably somewhere indexable and searchable. I like clear shelves and lever arch files in matching colours with clear, attractive titles. I like order.

Having said that, I am pragmatic. I learned a long time ago to have clear priorities (although I don’t always stick to them!). So if I have a ton of work to do, I won’t always do the dishes. And there’s a good reason for this: genetics. I come from a long line of hardworking ladies (on both sides of the family), who are very house proud, and who can never start anything until the house is “in order”. What I learnt watching them as I grew up is that the house never stops needing attention. No  matter how many times you wash the dishes, there are always more to do. So now I first do my work (to pay the bills), teach my kids (because I must, and because I love it), and THEN do the house. Of course, by then it tends to be 2am, and I often choose my pillow rather than my sink on which to lavish my attention.

The obvious result tends to be a rather chaotic-looking house, and the irony is that it usually takes less than half an hour to throw it all back together.

How does this apply to actual home school? You may remember a recent blog post about this article: the 5 myths of home schooling. Myth #2 is a lack of structure and today I’m talking about how that myth applies to us personally, as well as discussing this week’s progress. To put it in a nutshell: this week there’s been no progress. The only reason our house isn’t infested with new and peculiar life forms bred in the sticky remnants of half-eaten meals in unwashed dishes is because we have a wondermaid 3 times a week. Thank God.

The last week of every month (this week, in other words), is deadline week for me. What I usually do is put my head down and work flat out for about seven days in a row, trying to get as much done as possible before the new month. And I don’t school. I just can’t fit it in. The girls love it – for the first few days. But by Thursday they’re not happy. Bored and frustrated and tearful, they fight and work on their stomach ulcers (especially DD1), and develop migraines.

Of course, being deadline week I’m already stressed, and it goes without saying that DH, lacking the HW (housework) gene, utterly fails to notice the expanding sewer around him. Plus it also usually manages to be that  time of the month, as well.

I have to keep reminding myself that everyhting about my life right now is the result of calculated choices. I chose to home school. I chose to work. I chose to freelance. And I chose to be married to a boy (as one does). Every four weeks or so, I wonder why.

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