Thursday, February 7, 2013


straw, leather, string, linen, petal, leaf, stalk and wax

If I lift my gaze from the floor I am met with simple vignettes in summery hues. My eyes rest here for a while before they return to Poet, and the trail of knicks knacks she leaves in her wake.

The accomplishment that comes from tidying and rearranging is short-lived when you're a mum. You clean only to look around and find that it's all been turned upside down again; a slapstick comedy routine of sorts. 

When Che was younger I used to take him to a Steiner playgroup where we would bake bread, sing songs and sit under a towering liquid amber sipping chai. It's one of my favourite memories from his toddler years and the experience really inspired my parenting. I remember the teacher, a wise woman in her sixties, encouraging us to sing as we went about the housework. "You want to encourage your children to mimic you, help you, and they will if they perceive it as a happy task," she said. 

I can so easily fall into the habit of "tsking" as I clean - it's not exactly the sweetest song. Over the last few days I have been more mindful though and my little shadow has started helping, as if on cue. Poet's favourite job is emptying the dishwasher but she's rather partial to mopping up spilt water too. Yesterday as I wiped down the windowsills she was beside me, doing the same. 

        Cleaning with children is not efficient work; it usually takes twice as long and often requires enormous amounts of patience. Encouraging a five-year-old to pick up all the lego can easily be the most frustrating task of the week. However, I'm mindful of the roles we all play in the home. Responsibility is important - we all contribute to the mess, we should all contribute to the tidy-up. 

This week, as I tentatively stepped into the role of "school mum" I was met by three new words. The first was "ipod," followed closely by "pocket money." 

So tell me, do you encourage your toddler to clean up after themselves - to pack away toys and put their shoes/coat/bag in the right place? Do your older children have set chores and are they rewarded with pocket money? If so, what's the going rate?

update: I've just been informed that Che & Fidel has been nominated for the Best Family & Kids Blog over at Apartment Therapy. If you have a spare minute I'd love your vote....please.

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