Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Radical Unschool and Cleaning

We had our worst day yesterday since we jumped into radical unschooling. I've been reading about Chores on a radical unschooling list serve. From that, I see that a mistake I might have made jumping into this was verbally "lifting all controls." My kids are very confused right now. They hear me saying that they are free to say no, but they see me struggling with it, and basically not really meaning it yet. It is an unschooling philosophy, IF I am understanding it correctly, that the NEED for a neat and tidy or clean house is the issue of the person that has that need. LOL I keep asking myself, what kid would want to clean up all these overwhelming piles of toys, dishes, etc., if I can't even get up the willpower to do it? It doesn't keep me from falling into my familiar victim role of "i can't do it all by myself!" I even had a small epiphany a week or so ago about how I really do feel awesome when I have a clean house, and so it would be worth it for me to just get over it and get it done. Everything becomes very black and white to me when I am in a victim/panic/really-need-it-my-way-now-mode, so I officially told the kids about 3 days ago, that we are not radically unschooling with chores anymore. LOL For two days we have been sorting through overturned toy boxes, with trash bags in the boys bedrooms, etc. Oh, by the way, their rooms have been that way since we moved in! I didn't want to unpack, because I wanted the house to keep that brand new clean feeling to it! Haha! So of course, having all those boxes hidden in their closets made it all the more fulfilling for them to dump them!! Piles of disorganized chaos fill me with an overwhelming panicky feeling that I can't even describe. Anway. I cleaned my room first, still trying to keep with the "model the behavior" mantra I have going on. In between errands and gymnastics, while we were home, we turned on music and worked together and it ended up being a fun time. Before I reinstated the Chore Patrol (haha!), I was an angry, yelling, giving up on unschooling Mama, all to end up with a bunch of dancing happy kids that are helping me clean. What I'm trying to remember to do, to keep in my head, is How can I skip the whole yelling, screaming and demanding part of things? I know my main comment-leavers are not radical unschoolers, but I'm sure you might have suggestions that would be helpful anyway? And if you're lurking around this blog, and have an idea, please leave it in the comments section! Thanks!


Candy Cook said...

I have two sons, 5 & 6, who regularly ASK me if they can clean something.

We concoct our own cleaning supplies. Laundry Detergent, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner... and then test them out. They really enjoy it.

One way my kids learned to wash dishes was spending time playing at a sink full of water while I washed the dishes next to them. Now, sometimes they play next to me, sometimes they help wash dishes with me. But, the first step was them seeing me doing something happily. I was happy to wash dishes while they played alongside. They did not see me screaming for help, complaining about what a HUGE mess it was, or making a mountain out of a molehill. Who is going to want to tackle a mountain?

I think your first step would be to let them see that the household chores are not a mountain, but actually a molehill.. which can bring everyone enjoyment - not panic, or anger. They do not want to be those things, therefore, they avoid the things that make you act like that. I think.

Another thing, which I dunno if you do it.. is supervising. If a child takes on the responsibility of a chore, it is theirs.. they own it. You do not. You don't need to lecture about how to do it your way, or the "right way," or whatever. If I sat there and told me son, "No, you wipe the windows this way..." or "You're doing it wrong," then he would stop doing it. Why should he want to do something that *I* could obviously do better? And also, many people follow along behind their children correcting the mistakes left by the children. If he misses a spot, it is a missed spot. You do not need to go and re-do his hard work. Why should he do something, just to have someone else follow behind re-doing it?

Anyway, Good LUCK!

Jenny said...

Not a radical unschooler, but do you think it's necessary to have the same philosophy for schooling as for housework? I dunno, they seem separate to me, but of course like I said I'm not a radical unschooler so feel free to ignore me! LOL I'm mostly thinking of you and how hard it would be to clean up after 5 people all by yourself.

Julia said...

I know what you mean about messes and clutter giving you that overwhelmed panicky feeling. Clutter makes my brain hurt! It's the single thing that will make me feel most depressed. And when I'm depressed the last thing I want to do is clean or declutter. It's a vicious cycle!

Maybe if you give up the controls more gradually it would be an easier transition. ?? I don't know. There's a time for cold turkey changes and a time for gradual, and I don't usually know when to apply which.

Hannah said...

Not a RU either, so not sure I can help you. I think my kids, esp. the oldest, have always done best with clearly spelled-out, even written-out, expectations. Doing a "morning chore" is part of the "morning list," i.e. the daily routine that helps things run more smoothly around here. I know I myself always do better with a written reminder! Something to check off, you know?