Monday, 7 October 2013

Perfectly Imperfect

Today was one of those days, familiar to many home educators, where I had to make a choice between 'educating' and housework.  One of my biggest HE frustrations is that there just isn't time to do it all.  My head tells me it should (gah - that swear word again) - that it "should" be possible to give the boys my full attention with whatever they are doing, and also keep on top of all the housework: laundry, dishes, cooking, diary-managing, clearing up mess from whatever mess-making activity we have been engrossed in, planning more activities, getting outside, resource-finding, having friends visit, keeping track of what the boys have been doing at least partially etc - not to mention training the boys to do all of the above.  Sadly my head persists in being deceived.  It isn't possible - at least not to me, other than the freakishly rare days when we do manage to hold it all together - I know not how. Well, I do know those days start with a tidy house amongst other factors.  Unlike today.

Anyway, fortunately for me (I think), after the boys had finished with Reading Eggs (and Eldest with his workbook), they because wholly engrossed in a series of history-based games on Grid Club, including 'Stone age survival', 'Suffragette City', 'Roman Retreat', 'Brunel's Britain' - which enabled me to sort out some of the mess at least while they played (and learned).  Following that Middle wanted to come and read to me from his Angry Birds book... and I know my priorities, so I ignored the rest of the housework and sat down for some time together with Middle.  Eldest did some more drawing (he's been drawing Angry Birds Star Wars figures all weekend) and Youngest mooched about trying to think of something to do.  Eventually he and I made some "Chocolate Crunch" traybake together... baking always goes down well!

We ate some with our lunch while watchng Deadly 360, and then after lunch the boys realised we hadn't done any art yet, so we had a go at a little project that I hadn't been able to resist from the Yellow Moon catalogue.  The trees behind our house are finally starting to shed their leaves now, and as we live on the edge of woodland, the leaves are everywhere!  This inspired us to do the autumn leaf activity kit, weaving ribbons through foam templates to make coasters.  It was more fiddly than we thought, but we were impressed that the coasters provided came in each of our favourite colours, so there was no fighting over who got to do each one.  Youngest needed help, but the others managed fine on their own, and the finished coasters are very pretty.  I'm not sure how long they'll last, but it was a nice little project anyway.

(red - Mummy; orange - Eldest; green - Middle; yellow - Youngest)

Of course by this time there was lots of baking things to clean away, and ribbon cut-offs scattered about... sigh: back to housework and time to get tea ready... after an interlude of mopping up Eldest's split lip (he had been headbutted by on over-excited youngest brother).  Once the blood was all wiped away and boys calmed down, the TV went on (I don't care who disapproves - I needed the boys to be settled while I got on with tidying safe in the knowledge that they weren't making a mess in a different part of the house) and I got back to work in the kitchen.

Perfect days like the ones in my imagination (where the children have behaved beautifully all day and made noticeable strides in their learning, and the house is immaculate at the end of it, and Mummy has serenely glided through the day's activities) are few and far between, if they exist at all... but there are still many joys to be found in the imperfect days. Days like today where the day starts stressed because of a backlog of work, and learning opportunities inevitably create mess, and the boys' enthusiasm gets out of control enough that someone gets hurt, and we don't get half as much done as we wanted to... days like this are still OK. Because we're home, safe and sound (cut lip notwithstanding - at least I was on hand to give comfort and tend to it immediately).  The boys are still learning - what they want, when they want (their exploits on Grid Club led to a fascinating discussion on the Suffragettes and why the police were chasing them)  And the mess that was made was a by-product of fun and creativity.  No mess = no cakes or art.  And at least I have a house that is dry and warm and has a working oven and well-stocked food cupboards, and money to buy inspiring craft supplies. And it is a bit irritating having to rake up mountains of leaves from the back garden, but if they weren't there that would mean no woods, and no deer to watch when the trees are bare.  It would take a lot for me to willingly give that up.  And no, I have not glided serenely through the day (the point at which I turned the tap on too fast and caused a huge splash-back that covered the entire window and sill was particularly lacking in serenity), but we have had fun amidst the chaos, and fun counts for a lot!  No, today was not perfect, but it was good.  And I'm happy with that.

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