And do you want to know what? We are ALL so much happier for it. Clean up, yes. Don't live in a pigsty. But throw that notion of perfection out the window...like an old couch being tossed out of a window after a house fire. Incidentally, that makes a ton of noise and stinks to high heaven. Just in case you've ever wondered.
Home Economics - Real World StyleAbout twice a year, spring and fall, we do a deep cleaning and de-cluttering. It's a light week of school - mostly the three Rs with the emphasis on home economics. Our children need to learn housekeeping skills, whether they be girls or boys. If we take the time to teach them properly, then we can effectively work ourselves out of a job one day...and I don't know about you, but sitting back and watching them do the housework while I read a book sounds lovely.
It's a lot of up-front work, but it gives us a chance to bond over our dislike of cleaning the toilets. It also allows me to teach them that we all have to do things in life that we don't like, because everyone relies on everyone else to do their part. (And sometimes, that part is "math lesson.")
They usually go into 'deep cleaning week' with a lot of feet-dragging and whining. Part of the reason is because they know they're going to do extra chores. Part is because one of those chores is to 'clear the clutter.' They have to pull out toys that no longer get touched, clothes that don't fit or need mending, and anything that just shouldn't be in their rooms. Most of it goes directly into the yard sale closet.
We don't switch out the clothes each season because I keep everything in their closet and drawers. All seasons. Oklahoma's weather switches often enough that it's prudent to keep everything handy. Plus, they have enough space. We don't need eighty changes of clothing per person. Enough to get through two weeks is more than enough. The same rule applies to toys : you only need what you can play with.....except - I seriously think that the Legos are procreating in the middle of the night!
They also learn to mend clothing and other items during this week. During our fall session, we discovered that several of the chair cushions were coming apart at the ties. There was no need to toss them, as they were otherwise in very good shape. We took an afternoon to put the ties back on - mostly with them watching, as those ties can be slippery!
I created a worksheet for them to use as we clean the house. It lays out exactly what needs to be done (no, they can't do it all yet) and how it should be done. Details that you and I would take for granted are spelled out (eg, remove items from counter before wiping). We've got a way to go, but they're definitely making headway, if nowhere else than in attitude. They take pride in helping to keep the house tidy.
The Lure of the SouvenirAs we've travelled more, and begun collecting, my husband and I have talked about the option of choosing memories, consumables, and photographs as our souvenirs. Right now, we tend to purchase consumables - artisanal foods from factory tours, activity books from a museum that we use for school, or postcards to mail to family members. But we often find that the experience itself, and the photos and memories of it, are more satisfying.
Granted, the boys usually want something from everywhere (which they do not get), but we don't want to teach them to need things. Two weeks later, they've usually forgotten the "thing" anyway, but they vividly recall what a place looked like, or how they felt when they visited. That's not to say that there will be no souvenirs, but they will be fewer and farther between. Hopefully, this will lead to less clutter, and more appreciation for the ones that are purchased. On all of our behalves.
- If you're ready to get started de-cluttering your home, here is a beginner's worksheet from Home Storage Solutions. It says September on it, but will work for any month - just start with Day 1.