Boxes, bins, baskets or bags. In a cupboard, under the table or stuffed down the side of the sofa. Note paper, craft supplies, pencils and pens. There is no doubt that home education can result in a large quantity of stuff!
As with everything else in the home ed world, there is a huge variety of responses to dealing with it all and keeping it all neat and tidy. And of course, it depends very much on your style and tolerance level.
I am very aware that our children learn by our example – probably more than by what we keep drilling into them. I wish I was a neat and tidy person who had automatically taught the children to pick up after themselves. But alas, I am not. I have always found it very hard to corral all my things and keep them in the place designed for them.
Of course, there’s also the issue of why there is so much stuff and whether we even need it in the first place. Any time I spend a week in a holiday cottage, I realise again how capable I am of living with much less. I come away determined to sort out what I really need for once and for all. But then real life kicks back in and my resolution flies away with the holiday memories.
In the end, I want our home to feel comfortable and lived-in. I don’t want the children to be over-anxious about where to put things or whether a half-finished project can be left out. And I have lovely childhood memories of rootling through old bits and pieces at my Grandparents’ home. I have always found a great delight in unearthing something interesting and hearing someone say, “Oh wow! That old thing! I wondered where that had got to. Isn’t it fabulous – we used to use it for …” On the other hand, I would like to be able to pick something up quickly from the place where everyone knows it lives, instead of having to undertake a massive search-with-sniffer-dogs every time we want to staple some papers together.
So what is the answer? I will continue to strengthen my ruthlessness when it comes to sorting and discarding. I will continue to attempt a regular gathering of all the family pencils into one pot. I will also probably continue to think that romping with the children is more fun than tidying the lounge.
How about you? Where are your red lines when it comes to tidiness in your home? Have you succeeded in teaching your children to be tidier than yourself? What do you do with all your stuff…