Simple Work

28 Sep 2007

We have had a good soaking rain overnight with more to come I think. Just what the newly planted seeds and seedlings wanted. I'm really hoping for a good vegetable season this year, with enough rain and enough sunshine at the right times but probably just as important the right amount of work from me. I tend to get discouraged when the weather is so dry, the garden becomes an unpleasant place to be. The less attention it gets the more hostile it becomes with weeds taking over and the ground becoming hard and dry. I have resolved to be more consistent with my attentions. Consistency is always a problem for me, I'm a great starter and finisher its just the bit in between that causes problems. I find I have to break things down into smaller parts so that there are more starts and finishes and smaller in betweens. This usually fools me into accidentally getting the bigger job done. Kind of like a patchwork quilt I guess.

Consistency and rhythm certainly help when it comes to keeping the house running smoothly. It stops you from feeling like you are drowning. You probably all have lots of rhythms happening already, we all have things we do when we first get out of bed in the morning, we do them without even thinking. For me, one of the cats meows around 6am, I get up put on my dressing gown, go to the bathroom , then onto the backdoor to let animals out or in, put on the kettle, feed the cats, make my coffee, get some breadrolls out of the freezer for school lunches,open the kitchen blind,take my coffee through to my table and home notebook in the playroom etc etc. Riveting stuff I know but through the blur of my sleepy start I've managed to make sure the animals are fed, everything that needs to go to the toilet has ( me and the dog and the cats) ,started to organise lunch and propelled myself to the place that holds my notebook and will tell me what is on today's agenda.

I have practiced that routine , day in day out with slight variations for years, I don't have to dread trying to establish a routine because it is something that just happens in response to the needs of my day. Another routine I have is to stick with household tasks until about 10.30am each morning, until morning tea time, that way I know I will definitely keep up with the basics and more around the house. If you look at your day you probably already have similar rhythms happening even if it is just brushing your teeth before you go to bed or always having a sweet biscuit with your morning cuppa.

If your struggling to take hold of your household you need to look at the little routines you already have in place and build on those in a natural way. If your household management is built on those things that are already working for you you will have a much greater chance of success and consistency. For example, if you add a quick tidy of the livingroom to your "brush your teeth before bed" routine and fluff up the cushions, straighten out the throws and take any cups or glasses etc out to your kitchen on the way to the bathroom then you wake to a tidy livingroom and perhaps a nice spot for an early morning cuppa while you plan your day.
And , while you are waiting for the kettle to boil or the tea to brew for your morning cuppa you can put the washed breakfast dishes away or sweep the kitchen floor or make your bed or take the compost bucket out to the garden or anyone of dozens of jobs that only take a couple of minutes. The point is if you get into the habit of making your bed while waiting for the kettle to boil it ceases to be another job on your list its just something that happens at that time.

If you are interested in a book with a more esoteric view of housework I would recommend a book by Inge van der Ploeg called Clear the Clutter. Inge is a Dutch woman who works for the wonderfully named Housekeeping Bureau in the Netherlands. If you are looking for a book to give you set daily routines don't bother. This is a typical " Steinerish" book that sets out to make you look at things from a different angle and work from what you have and what your life needs. I found it really interesting when I read some years ago. And while you are about it check out this great website for books on simple living.

Someone commented on my last post that they have a deep affection for the book "We Help Mommy" illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. I have written before about my love of her illustrations and especially this particular book and I must admit to getting my little collection out every now and then to immerse myself in the warmth of her depictions of home life. I found a lovely quote about her at Anna's blog a few days ago and that's what prompted me to get the books out again.

"A warm and creative homemaker, Eloise shared with the world glimpses of her big, busy, welcoming household, its rooms papered with gentle patterns, its drop-leaf tables and rocking chairs aglow with hand-rubbed sheen, its four-poster beds covered by hand-stitched quilts. A devoutly religious person, she shared ever so gently her values, her sense of the beauty of order and love, of implicit self-discipline, and of regard for others . . . she has left us, only slightly idealized, rich reminders of a lovely time not very long ago."
--Jane Werner Watson,Eloise Wilkin Stories, afterword

That kind of reminds me of someone else I know.

8 Responses to “Simple Work”

  1. Routine is a life-saver around here - I don't know what I would do without it!

  2. Hi Jenny,
    After finding your blog through Rhonda Jean's I've just finished reading the whole thing. I can now put you in the same category as Rhonda Jean. You are both wonderful teachers and thought provoking writers. I have started to live by yours and Rhonda Jean's teachings and it has made homemaking much easier and now it's not so stressful. Thank you Jenny.


  3. What an interesting post. I've not ever had a particular routine, though I know it'd help in some ways immensely if we did. Though I think the reason we don't have that many routines is the commitment issue - my grandmother used to say "there is nowhere so comfortable as a rut" and I think I've always thought of routines as somehow being a bit of a bind, and therefore I haven't been able to commit.

    In the mornings I could definitely do with a routine as we're usually in a rush, and if there is one thing I cannot abide it's being rushed into something. I think that was a quote from Mary Poppins - but either way, it's true!

    Have you considered mulching your vegetables? That often helps retain some moisture and also supresses weeds. The permaculture way often utilises things like old newspapers/ paper sacking which works well.

  4. Hi Anna, you would probably make a new routine.

    Hi Paula, thank you. That is a lovely compliment.I'm glad my sometimes mad writings have helped.

    Hi Tash, I was always an anti routine person until children, well schools really forced me to have some semblance of organisation in my home. Making sure I was up early enough to have my children ready and relaxed for school with all the forms filled in and clean clothes to wear was a major accomplishment for me. But I prefer to think of rhythms and rituals to my day rather than set in stone routines or worse schedules because one thing that makes my life run smoothly is the ability to be adaptable and pragmatic. My little rhythms and rituals mean most things get done most of the time and I can enjoy living in a reasonably clean and tidy house most of the time. You can see I'm not really into absolutes here.

    On the question of mulch, yes we use it on the vegie garden but we had NO rain here last summer, we were in drought after having a relatively dry winter as well. Mulch helped but things still became baked and unwelcoming.

  5. I love routines--however, I find myself getting out of a routine, or what was planned for the day, simply because other items pop up during the day that need to be taken care of. I used to make lists, but found myself getting discouraged when I didn't get everything accomplished on the list. Also, when the weather is good and supplies are handy, more time is spent outdoors gardening, so then the routines really "fly out the window" so to speak.


  6. Oh wow, I had that book when I was a kid! I wonder if I still have it - I loved it!!

  7. Hello Jenny, I love Eloise Wilken and read her stories to my children when they were small. I love visiting your blog. It's always so inspiring and up lifting.
    Blessings, Shelley

  8. Oh Jenny, I love, love, love Eloise Wilkin's books I sometimes just sit down and drink in all the details in her books. I get inspiration for dressing my children and even home decorating from books such as these.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.