11 weeks in the shed

We’ve been living in the shed for 11 weeks now, so I’d like to update how it’s going…

In a nut shell, it sucks!

We still don’t have the wash house the outlaws originally said would be completed 9 weeks ago. Work hasn’t even begun on it yet! I’ve given up believing Bean when he tells me they’ve promised it’ll be done in 2-3 weeks since I’ve been hearing that for 12 weeks now!

So, because we don’t have a wash house we’re still having to use their washing machine, and because Bean is the only one of our family who goes down to their house we’re totally reliant on him being available to do the washing. He can’t do laundry as often as I was able to do it when we had our own machine set up because he’s not around as much as I am so our washing is piling up!

Add to that, their washing machine is USELESS, utterly useless. All it does it wet the clothes, add a bit of beach sand and lint that wasn’t already on them, then pull them out of shape. Hurrah, aren’t we glad we’ve wasted our time and the earth’s resources pretending to wash our clothes?! I miss our good washing machine. I miss washing the nappies every day or two, and knowing that I’m not going to run out of clean nappies*. Most of all, I miss knowing toxic laundry detergents haven’t been used in the machine I’m washing my clothes in. I cannot stand the overpowering chemical smell of those detergents and our clothes have been smelling like them for months now.

Cash is a bit tight until Bean’s qualified (which should be in the next couple of months, yay!) so we’re not able to use the machines at the laundromat, though I was able to do several loads at the laundromat last week because my Mum generously gave me some cash to do that.

Having piles of dirty laundry is frustrating enough, but when those piles have to share the piddly 30 square metres you’ve got to live in with four people… then it starts to inspire frustration of hair pulling proportions!

This is my desk. As you can see, there’s a whole lot of room for study right here!

 

It’s not just the dirty laundry that’s taking up precious space though. There’s all the cleaning stuff, including the vacuum, which would otherwise be in the wash house.

Then there’s the glorified bucket that would otherwise be (a real toilet) in the wash house.

I don’t know how to turn that picture around.

 

Yes. We’ve been using a camp toilet for 11 weeks. Kindly loaned by our milk providing friends, which is fabulous because we’d not have been able to buy one. Still, the novelty wore of pretty soon. It’d be nice to have a home that doesn’t smell like a camp toilet. It’d be nice to not have to empty the camp toilet. It’d be nice to just have a real toilet, damn it!

The piles of laundry, the cleaning stuff, the camp toilet we’ve got to shift around depending on whether we want to use the shower or the basin, it all adds to the feeling of claustrophobia and chaos.

30 square metres is small, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve designed the space to be usable and practical. With the wash house, it’d be working, I reckon. With the wash house we’d not have massive piles of washing anyway, because we’d have our own machine to use whenever we want to. With the wash house my desk would be used as a desk, not a washing pile holder. With the wash house we’d have no vacuum in the walk way between the kitchen and the couch. With the wash house we’d have a toilet!

So, 11 weeks in, it sucks. Not all hope it lost, maybe one day the wash house really will be done in 2-3 weeks? Until then, resentment keeps creeping in, no matter which way I try to look at it.

 

 

*Please, no one suggest disposables! Even if I wanted to use disposables, we don’t have the disposable income (haha) to pay for them while Bean’s on an apprenticeship.

 

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (2)

I am NOT a housewife!

Over the last four years my role as a stay at home parent has been called into question countless times. Recently though I have been criticised for not being a good enough housewife because I expect my partner, a responsible adult, to do his fair share of the housework at the end of the day when he comes home from working outside the home.

I have 2 things to say about this, the first is not very nice so I won’t write it! The second, well…

I AM NOT A HOUSEWIFE!

In my role as a stay at home parent I have 2 young children depending on me all day. To list just a few of my duties, I dress them (or help them to dress themselves), change nappies & wipe bums, feed them, breastfeed one of them (giving of my physical body!), console them, answer their questions, play with them, take them out to socialise, read to them, sing to them, dance with them, pick up after them & ensure our home is a safe environment for them to be in.

Not only does Bean regularly get a full 8 hours sleep per night, compared to my average of 4-5 hours (due to me doing the bulk of the night time parenting with Babyman breastfeeding overnight), he also works a job with a set lunch break & smoko. Most days I don’t even go to the toilet without an audience! I work all day.

I do the food shopping for our whole family & I do it with the children in tow. I prepare at least 2 meals plus snacks each day for our children, I often get dinner ready also since Bean isn’t usually home until late of a weekday evening. I change 5-6 nappies per day & I do the bulk of our family’s laundry – including Bean’s laundry!

I can't credit this image to the original artist because no one else on the nerd has. If it's yours, do let me know.

Like Bean, I enjoy my job most of the time. Like Bean, I sometimes feel tired of my job because it’s physically & emotionally hard work. Like Bean. I sometimes want to swap roles, working out of the home seems very appealing some days.

I have temporarily given up my career to parent our children. This is a decision we are lucky enough to be able to make & we made it because it’s important to us that our children have a parent at home with them while they are young. Given that breastfeeding is also important to us, & I have the boobs, that job falls to me! As a result, while Bean’s earning capacity has increased, time spent out of paid employment has meant my earning capacity has decreased. That is a significant sacrifice to make for my family!

I have 2 children, not 3! Bean is an able-bodied, able-minded adult. If we did not live together he would be responsible for himself. Why assume that, since he lives with the owner-operator of a vagina, he no longer has to be responsible for himself?! Being a woman does not make me his slave. I am nothing to him but his equal.

Just as I am responsible for myself & responsible for providing for the needs of my dependent children, so is Bean. What is between our legs has no bearing on our responsibilities!

Our children are Bean’s children as much as they are mine. The fact that I care for them full time means Bean doesn’t have to worry about finding someone else to do it, nor does he worry about paying someone else to do it!

When I have furthered my study to bring my earning capacity in line with Bean’s & when our youngest child is no longer breastfeeding I intend to return to paid work. I’m really looking forward to it, actually. Eventually we will both work part time in paid employment & part time caring for our (unschooled) children.

As a student I will need to set aside time at the evenings & weekends to do my study. Being that Bean is their other parent, the children will spend that time with him. Neither of us view that as a chore, or an unfair expectation of him. His anatomy doesn’t disqualify him from being a good & involved parent.

While I am studying, then when I am working in paid employment, & Bean is caring for the children, as I do now, the housework & general household responsibilities will be divided as they are now – EQUALLY!

I am responsible for myself. He is responsible for himself. We are both responsible for our home, we are both responsible for our children & will continue to be until they are able to be responsible for themselves.

I am not a housewife, I am a woman*!

 

I originally published this with the last line reading,

“I am not a housewife, I’m a feminist!”

and another woman pointed out to me that being a feminist is a choice, but being a woman is not. She explained she thinks what I have described in my blog post should be reality for every woman simply because she’s a person, & that some men & women may read it & think something along the lines of,

“Well that’s your choice.”

So, I agreed & I have changed the post to reflect that.

Every stay at home parent deserves to have the work they do recognised for what it is, a job. Regardless of our sex or our gender, I believe no one in a partnership should be cleaning up after another able bodied, able minded adult as part of the role of stay at home parent!

posted by wildecrafted in home and have Comments (5)

Tidy-freak

I’ve just finished tidying The Bubble’s room & the lounge/playroom in the bedroom building (remember that Wonderland is 2 buildings joined by a deck). Normally The Bubble & Babyman (to some extent) help me put the toys away in the baskets & on the shelves at the end of the day. I was going to let it slide tonight, I’m feeling lazy after a long day (The Sproggets woke early & only Babyman is asleep so far at 9.30pm!) but The Bubble was feeling uneasy about the toys on the floor, so asked me to pack them away for her.

I’ve noticed the toys get played with more readily when they’ve been packed away the night before. When all the trainset parts are in the trainset basket, the farm animals are in the farm animal basket, the blocks in the block basket, the playcloths in the playcloth basket etc. they’re ready to be pulled out one by one & be played with. When we wake to the mess from the day before, it seems to put us on the back foot. Mess is not the same as an unfinished project. There have been times when The Bubble has requested that we not pack up a particular game until tomorrow, because she’s not finished with it yet. Mess is the finished game that we walk away from before packing it away because something more exciting came up. Mess becomes more of a chore, the longer we leave it. When I leave mess, I feel a bit more hostile to it every time I walk past it, until I feel so hostile to it I start to wonder why it hasn’t just picked itself up so I don’t have to. I begrudge it for still being there. If I don’t tidy before I go to bed, I don’t sleep well. If I know I’m waking up to a sink full of dishes in the morning I’ll have a restless night, no matter how tired I am*. For this reason I’ve become one of those neat-freaks who puts things away as soon as I’m finished with them. I wasn’t always like this. My room was always untidy when I was a child. I was never very bothered about mess before having children myself actually. It’s almost as if the nesting instinct so many women experience during pregnancy just came one day and decided never to leave. It didn’t disappear once the first baby was born, and if anything it’s become even more settled within me since the second one.

I find that when my environment is disordered & untidy, I have trouble staying focussed & I often feel stressed or muddle-brained. I also observe the opposite of this, that when I’m feeling particularly depressed & in a slump, I don’t care for tidying up. My brain is feeling muddled, & so I make my otherwise ordered environment muddled also, so it matches how I’m feeling inside. I’m noticing similar in The Bubble. Babyman may be the same, but he’s still too young to really care much for his environment, he’s still quite focussed on what is right in front of him. He’s very good at living in the moment! Perhaps it’s just me? Perhaps The Bubble picks up on my inner chaos & makes it her own? I do think though, that she feels more centred when her home environment is ordered. She says she’s happy when her room is tidy & she takes pleasure in helping to pack things away into the right baskets. When she is having a rough day she will deliberately up-end toy baskets, not to play with the contents, just to make mess to walk away from.

Tonight, The Bubble now feels ready for sleep, assured that her tidy room awaits untidying tomorrow…

*Thankfully, dishes is really Bean’s domain & it’s rare for him to have to leave a sink full of dirty dishes for not having had time of a morning to do them before leaving for work.

posted by wildecrafted in home and have No Comments

Housework + Parenting = Too Hard (Laundry) Basket?

So, as boring as a post about housework is, I hope this will serve as a reminder to me when I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of parenting and being the responsible adult who keeps the house in order*.

When I first moved out of my Mum’s house into my own home I didn’t mind housework. I didn’t do it much because there was always something more fun to do, but I always kept my house fairly clean because I like it that way. When my environment is chaotic my mind is also chaotic.

Since becoming a mother I’ve discovered that I really dislike housework. I don’t like it simply because it needs doing and I feel like I don’t have the time to do it. When I didn’t have children, it was easier to find the time to do it. When I didn’t have children there wasn’t so much housework to do in the first place! When I didn’t have children there was no one to follow me around untidying everything I tidied**!

It’s not the housework chores themselves that I dislike, it’s the fact that they compete with my children for my time. I keep getting stuck in this mindset that I don’t have the time to parent and keep the house clean as well. I start thinking that it’s one or the other, which just doesn’t work for me because I need my home to be clean and (somewhat) ordered so my mind can be clean and (somewhat) ordered.

Some people suggest ignoring housework because it’s less important to have a clean house than it is to have happy children. I agree, wholeheartedly. However, a clean house is still important to me, never as important as my children, but I believe I should be able to have a clean house and plenty of time to actively parent too! So I’ve come up with a couple of strategies to help us stay on top of housework.

Hour of Power!

This is my favourite one 🙂

When I was living in community in the year before I had The Bubble we had to share a small space between about 20 people. We shared the same domestic sized outdoor kitchen, indoor loungeroom & outdoor eating area. We had a dormitory style sleeping house with rooms we shared with one other person. It was a real test to live so closely with a large group of people. Every Monday afternoon, after our morning work in the gardens and after our lunch, we would do what was called “hour of power”.

The idea behind HoP was simple. We all did our weekly chores at the same time so:

  • We all felt more motivated to work because we weren’t the only ones working.
  • When we were all finished our job we could enjoy the whole space being totally clean and tidy for a while, before we messed it all up again 😉

Now, in our home, we’ve adopted the HoP. Monday evenings are our regular HoP time, although it’s flexible if something else comes up on a Monday evening. In reality it takes longer than one hour when all the weekly chores are divided up between 2 adults, especially when we’ve got 2 small friends who like to help. We find though that it’s so lovely to have the whole house clean after the weekend.

Weekends are times when we are too busy enjoying exploring our world with each other to bother with being very tidy, so Mondays can be a bit of a chaotic day at our house. The children (and I) tend to take that day to adjust to Bean being back at work during the day & the mess of the weekend just seems to compound that sense of dis-order. We often have a day sleep on Mondays so bed time can be pushed back a bit later and when Bean gets home from work we both just get cracking on changing bedding, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the bathroom & toilet, cleaning the kitchen and general tidying inside & outside.

It’s so wonderful at the end of a Monday to crawl into bed for clean sheets night knowing we’ll be waking to a clean house in the morning. I think I sleep better on Monday nights 🙂

Laundry

Laundry is one of those jobs that just has to be done regularly or a small pile of clothes becomes Mount Washmore & it seems insurmountable! Using cloth nappies means we have to wash them every couple of days or we run out of nappies too. Laundry is quite a pleasant job when the sun is shining though (which it is most days in Perth). The Bubble is always happy to potter around outside while I hang the washing out, especially if I give her a bucket of soapy water to play with before I get started. Babyman is usually happy to crawl around at my feet and explore the wonders hidden in the grass under the clothes line for a little while, though he’s becoming less happy with that lately which has made it trickier to get the washing hung out. He loves water play also, so this morning I put a bucket of water under the clothes line and he played with that for long enough that I could get one dry load off the line and one wet load on the line before he let me know he was over it. I hope that strategy continues to be effective for both of them.

Folding the clean, dry clothes and linen is the part of the laundry that I dislike the most. It’s awesome once it’s done, but it’s not awesome while I’m doing it. I find this part of the laundry easier if I fold the clothes as I take them off the line, before I put them into the washing basket. It takes a little longer but the clothes don’t get wrinkled and they don’t end up sitting in a pile for the next few days while I avoid folding. This way I can just take them straight from the line to the cupboard without double handling.

Dishes

I use the same tactic here as I do with the laundry. The Bubble loves water play, so she gets to rinse the dishes after I’ve washed them. She loves helping. Her chest puffs out with pride and she says,

“I did it!”

It takes a lot longer to get the dishes done this way, but it’s much less stressful.

While we do the dishes Babyman is either cruising around on the kitchen floor playing with toys, doors and drawers or he’s in the ergo on my back if he’s wanting to be close & in on the action.

The end of day tidy up

Both Bean and I had mothers who did heaps for us as kids. That was awesome, but it did lead to us expecting our Mums to pick up after us all the time, and we did treat them like our slaves which wasn’t nice. We’re trying to instill a habit of clean as you go in our kids (& ourselves!) & we’re trying to involve them in tidying up at the end of each day. When their toys are packed away in their baskets (one for blocks, one for play cloths, one for play kitchen stuff, one for toy animals, one for instruments etc.) they seem to play with them more, when their play space is cluttered and disorganised they seem to avoid it.

While one of us is making dinner the other will whip around with the children and put story books back on the shelf, pack toys into their baskets, collect dirty laundry & take it to the washing baskets, tidy up the craft box etc.

* Obviously I’m not solely responsible for the housework because I am not a single parent & I don’t believe housework is the domain of the stay at home parent in a family, but given that Bean is working out of the home & is away for 11-12 hours M-F it does come down to me to do the day-to-day housekeeping. He helps when he’s home, and he picks up the slack if I’ve been unable to keep on top of it during the days and it’s starting to stress me out.

**Contrary to the tone of this post, I don’t follow my kids around picking up after them all day long, we play and we enjoy making mess, then we clean it up if we have time & the mood is right, or we leave it until Bean gets home if it’s all too hard. Please believe me when I say I’m not a weirdy clean-freak!

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (2)