___  ____

Chores, Serving others as a gift, tales of kids helping out voluntarily

pages 175-184 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)
pages 199-212 (2019 edition)

online chat, January 16, 2013

It's about the quality of peace and joy, not about the quantity of dirt or clutter moved around.

ColleenP (NH): I have decided that if I dust, more dust comes and takes the first dust's place. If I don't dust, no new dust seems to come. So last night my husband and I were laughing saying we've finally got a good justification to skip dusting and let things be 😊

Sandra Dodd: I have experimented with this, Colleen. There CAN be more dust. There can be a horrifying amount, especially in a room with a fireplace (where it might be alternating layers of ash and dust).

Marta Pires: I like that idea Colleen!

Sylvia Woodman: I only dust when it seems like areas of our house become, shall we say, "furry"! Most of the time I do not notice it!

ColleenP (NH): ah - we have a woodstove so maybe that helps with cutting down on the ash-as-dust - though we also have a pug which means I daily battle tumbleweeds of pug fur - those definitely multiply 😊 (not that I dust things very often...)

Sylvia Woodman: But I don't do housework very well.

Sandra Dodd: I think, though, if you need to use a game, or a DVD, or a book then you might need to dust it. 😊 And maybe since you have the cloth anyway, dust the rest of that shelf. But really, you're about to use a book or a DVD or a game. Don't stop and dust the whole house. That's my way.

ColleenP (NH): my husband frequently says our maid needs to be fired or at least get a big pay cut as s/he doesn't seem to keep up with our housework so well either... he's being facetious - we have no maids but ourselves :-) which is to say housework is not our forte either - but we do keep it liveable :-)

Sylvia Woodman: My goal is just to keep whatever room we are spending most of our time in from looking like a disaster area. So periodically I go through and collect empty glasses, plates and bowls. Throw away wrappers and such, try to put away toys or game pieces.

Sylvia Woodman: I should also say we have a cleaning lady who comes every other week, primarily to scrub bathrooms and the kitchen.

raquel: that's what i do. cleaning the whole thing when i use one thing, not the whole house or room. 😊

Jill Parmer: With kids 18 & 14, and the 18 year old gone right now, I have a lot of extra time on my hands. So I've been keeping up on cleaning a lot more. This makes Steve incredibly happy, and grateful.

ColleenP (NH): happy husbands are a lovely thing (I have the facebook threads about marriage on my mind as I say that) 😊

Sylvia Woodman: That is so encouraging to hear because at 8 and 6 I can't even begin to figure out how I would find the time to "really" clean anything!

Sylvia Woodman: Some of you know Shan Burton and she and her kids often come to visit us and she has said a number of things to me over the years that have been so helpful to me about cleaning.

Serah: I can manage to keep things livable, but if anyone comes over then we have a frantic mini cleanup on the main floor.

Sylvia Woodman: One of the things is she uses the word "hometending" rather than housekeeping or chores and something about is really helpful to me. Sort of like fire tending (they have a woodstove) something you need to monitor, maintain, and even, dare I say, nurture?

Jill Parmer: I'm not a clean freak so not keeping uup on it when they were younger didn't bother me so much. But it bothers my husband, and so it was sort of a putting out fires for me about cleaning. Steve thinks I've turned over a new leaf, but I told him it was in my plan to clean more when I had time.

Serah: Jill, I'm glad he can be happy about that now 😊

HeatherB: Last night Austin said his desk was sticky. This morning while he slept I cleaned off his desk. Monty's desk (which is right next to Austin's) looked ultra dusty compared to Austin's now clean desk, so I cleaned his too. That'll make him happy when he gets home.

It was a super easy thing to do and it'll make them both so happy, which, makes me happy. 😊

Jill Parmer: That's sweet, Heather. And would make people happy and cared for. 😊

Sylvia Woodman: Before I go to bed I run around and make sure as many devices that are not being used are put into their chargers.

ColleenP (NH): I do that too - everything on a charger so everyone's happy the next morning when their phone/ipod/laptop/etc is ready to go!

HeatherB: Jill: totally! I try to remember to plug in Austin's phone and iPad when I wake up so it's charged when he gets up. He notices and thanks me. Then we both feel happy and cared for!

Jill Parmer: Early on in unschooling, I really liked the stories about not getting irritated at cleaning up after kids, but to give them a "new" space to play in or a new canvas sense to an area. That totally shut down that common attitude of being grumpy about cleaning up after others.

Sylvia Woodman: Also the sound of the running dishwasher makes me feel like all is right with the world LOL!

HeatherB: Jill: Me too! And it was easier to see that once I heard stories about clean spaces creating a clean canvas. Now, Austin at 11 will clear and clean spaces if he wants to work on them.

ColleenP (NH): when Robbie was a toddler, we rented for a year in a house that had no dishwasher - still to this day turning on the dishwasher makes me grateful that I don't need to do hand-dishes - and turning on the washer makes me grateful that I'm not at a laundromat

Jill Parmer: Sylvia, I called that my Nightly Rounds. The dog always accompanied me, and later my kids. It was a quiet sweet ending to busyness of the day.

HeatherB: Here's a pic of Austin in action. The table was cluttered so he cleared it off, then wiped it off so he could make some Lego stuff. http://www.todaywasamazing.com/2012/12/see-need-fill-need.html

Sylvia Woodman: The first 3 years of my marriage we had no dishwasher and I desperately wanted one. So I'm also really grateful for a dishwasher. I love unloading it and loading it up again!

ColleenP (NH): we've found space to have a table in each room as Robbie likes to play on table surfaces, and being able to rotate table to table gives more time before we need to clear one so he can set up another lego battle or pokemon battle or mario scene... we also have my mother's coffee table from when I was little in the basement, and just today my husband carried it up because it was needed for a lego scene. Flexible furniture, we call it 😊

Marta Pires: I am so glad I found radical unschooling and Sandra's site and the Always Learning list. I have a totally different view regarding serving/helping others and re chores now. It has helped me immensely to be a more joyful person while doing what is needed at home.

Serah: Nice picture Heather! Thanks for sharing

Sylvia Woodman: On the otherhand, one of my fondest memories was an improptu party that we had at our house where a friend from college was here recovering from surgery and two other families came out and you can see in the pictures toys on the floor and a basket of clean laundry in the background.

Sylvia Woodman: (at least it was clean!)

Jill Parmer: I have some really lovely bathroom cleaner, homemade with baking soda and essential oils. The kids would sometimes help me clean the sink and tub, and the room smelled great during cleaning and of course, afterward.

Sylvia Woodman: Harry (6) likes to wash windows.

Serah: I would love the recipe for that bathroom cleaner, Jill

Serah: MJ 8 likes to clean bathrooms! and he really likes things that smell nice

Sylvia Woodman: Gabriella (8) likes to organize things (the plastic food storage containers, the dish cabinets, the spice rack....)

Jill Parmer: Marta, me too. On my walk this morning I was thinking about that. Many women who I admired around the time I had kids, were pretty rude about their husbands and other things. I'm so thankful I found unschooling and the ideas about gratitude and offering sweetness.

Jill Parmer: Let me see if I can find it online, Serah. Otherwise I can type it out and send it to you.

Serah: same pls, thx

Marta Pires: Yes, Jill. I was just thinking that I love to do things that make Bruno and/or Constança happier.

Serah: we were at a homeschool swimming class on Monday and the other moms were sitting around complaining about their kids and husbands, I had to get up and sit somewhere else.

Marta Pires: And because I love to do that, it seems to take the weight off tasks that usually were hard work or that I didn't enjoy that much.

Sylvia Woodman: Here is a recipe for cleaners: Homemade Bathroom Cleaners (archived copy)

HeatherB: Serah, have you heard the story of Keith standing up for his teens when a bunch of dads were standing around bashing theirs?

Sylvia Woodman: I haven't!

Serah: Really? No. I really wanted to say something, but didn't. I was afraid of getting emotional πŸ™

Jill Parmer: Isn't it cool and amazing how kids like so many different things, washing windows, organizing, video games, horses, all the different things in the world? I'm glad that we can honor that and not squash it.

Sandra Dodd: Keith was at a party at the home of one of his engineering superiors--there was some plastic playground equipment in the yard, maybe for grandkids, but there were no kids there-- all adults. This was 10 years or so ago, so our kids were 12-17 or so.

HeatherB: I'm trying to think...where did I hear/read it? Sandra? It was at a company gathering and the dads were talking about their lazy good for nothing teens and Keith said something about his teens were pretty fabulous and the other dads didn't know what to say.

raquel: i calm myself first and say it in my head before saying it outloud, but I almost always say something

Marta Pires: I think Sandra tells that story in one of her talks...

Sandra Dodd: He said the others started to say Oh, yeah, TEENagers, and roll their eyes and show their collective disgust with teens.

Sandra Dodd: It was about teenagers being irresponsible and not being good employees, or some such, and Keith said his son Kirby had a job, and was a really good employee, and our kids were good people or something.

Sandra Dodd: So he said everyone just looked at him. He had given the wrong answer 😊 That happened to me yesterday on facebook!

HeatherB: http://www.hscconferenceshop.com/node/5 I'm pretty sure it's this one right here....It's my favorite :)

Later note: It's the second sound file at this link—
Sandra Dodd: Partnerships and Teams in the Family
Seeing and avoiding adversarial relationships. Nurturing partnerships with spouses or significant others, and with our children.

Sylvia Woodman: How so?

Marta Pires: Heather, that's one of my favorites too!!! :)

Serah: Cool! Nice story

HeatherB: That story gave me the courage to speak up when I'm in a circle of people bashing kids. Not in a big, or dramatic way. Or a "you're wrong" shaming way, but in a "wow. that's not my experience way."

raquel: it happens to me all the time, people say: you know that terrible fase? and i say: the children i know are not like that i know a lot of children

Sandra Dodd: Someone wrote that her daughter was "on an 'I hate school' kick"

Sandra Dodd: I don't know her. She's a facebook friend.

I said that to say someone was "on a kick" was dismissive. She said no, she didn't mean it in a negative way.

Sandra Dodd: Her other friends defended her and started being critical of me, saying someone should be able to come and express herself to her facebook friends. I said I was one of her facebook friends.

laura zurro: I had to have a conversation with my brother who had met Caitlyn about why it's wrong to assume they will all be a nightmare when they become "teens"

Jill Parmer: Serah, I really loved watching you and Arif tell stories together when people were sitting around and talking, there was a sweet collaboration there.

Sandra Dodd: So it was intended to be commiseration, not real communication.

laura zurro: his reply was that well he was a problem teen and all teens go through a "problem" phase

Sandra Dodd: And near the end the mom whose page it was wrote -=- "the irony here is that *you*, Sandra Dodd, are the only stranger in my FB friends list. -=-
So she topped it all off by insulting me for being a stranger! But she's the one who requested the friendship.

Serah: I had a friend come over and go on and on about her kids and chores. Finally, I had enough and said that not all kids are like that and my boys love to help, because it's not forced.. She looked the other way and said I don't need to be tough on them BECAUSE I have boys!

Sandra Dodd: So similarly with Keith at that party, his option was to agree, or to walk away, or (what he did) to offer evidence to the contrary (they're all engineers, so maybe science should be acceptable?), and that was an anti-social thing to do. 😊

Serah: really, Jill, thanks :)

Sandra Dodd: But in the case of Serah's situation at the swimming gathering, maybe being the dissenting opinion would enable one person to be softer, and nicer.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe it would help one marriage to stay together.

Sandra Dodd: And this isn't about chores so I'll stop.

Sylvia Woodman: But it IS about relationships which is connected to housework in my opinion.

Sandra Dodd: Laura, that's been the belief of "professionals" (educators, psychologists) that teens are naturally rebellious.

Sylvia Woodman: Jim does the laundry in our house. It is one of the ways he shows he loves us.

ColleenP (NH): I was thinking the other day about husbands and chores and how many people I've heard say that it shouldn't be their job to pick up after their husband. I never thought of picking up my husband's things as being my cleaning up after him - I've only thought of it as cleaning our house. Does it matter whose laundry or dishes they are? Does he shovel only his own side of the driveway and leave me to climb snowbanks to get to my side of the car? Dividing things yours-and-mine, even socks, in one's internal thoughts doesn't seem to add much happiness.

Serah: It felt like I'm that group of moms, it was a look at poor me and all I do and get nothing in return... No one wanted advice they were trying to one up each other.

Renee Cabatic: Learning that a person's need for order and cleanliness has a genetic component helped me

Serah: I completely agree, Colleen. Good point

Sandra Dodd: Yes, but Serah, the "one up" was creating a spiralled frenzy of complaint and unhappiness.

Renee Cabatic: Colleen, I'm imagining if Chris only paid his half of the bills..... πŸ˜‰

ColleenP (NH): Renee, exactly! LOL

Sandra Dodd: And in that shared misery, people feel justified in being mean and in going home and saying "I don't want to pick your socks up" (or whatever it is)

Serah: So, instead of being infected by that energy I walked away.

Marta Pires: Yes, Colleen. And I also feel that it's one of the things I can do to thank my husband for working so hard so I can stay home with Constança!

Sandra Dodd: That's the way groups of women help other women get divorced. They might not mean to, but it happens.

Jill Parmer: I wondered some how my kids would do when they were out of the house, since I did so much of the cleaning and they were not forced to help. They did and do help sometimes. Addi is at a friend's home for a while, and told me she had fun moving furniture to help vacuuming the other day.

raquel: rebellious is good not bad.

Sandra Dodd: Why, Raquel? Please clarify.

Jill Parmer: Yes, Sandra! All the women who I admired 18 years ago, the complainers are now divorced.

raquel: submissive is not good

ColleenP (NH): my son is happy to help his grandmother clean and organize her house when he goes - he finds it fun, and loves telling her she has too much stuff (she's a heck of a packrat 😊) - he has no baggage about cleaning so he doesn't find it a chore to do!

Sandra Dodd: Submissive to what? Rebellious about what?

Sandra Dodd: Before you answer those questions, tell me if you're an unschooling mom and how old your kids are. It's possible that the answers won't matter.

raquel: being rebellious is healthy, it means the childs is intelligent, wants to think for himself.

Sandra Dodd: How long have you been unschooling?

raquel: i'm not, i havent 😊

Sandra Dodd: Are you a parent?

raquel: no

Sandra Dodd: Should I keep guessing or can you just tell us who you are and why you're in the chat?

raquel: i was a stepmom for six years, thay were 5 7 until teens

raquel: i'm answering

raquel: i'm a stepmom of a 13 year old boy now.

Sandra Dodd: Is the 13 year old unschooled?

raquel: he is not

Sandra Dodd: Or were the other two?

raquel: no

Sandra Dodd: When a child is in a controlling situation, rebellion might be healthy within the context of that relationship.

Sandra Dodd: The idea that rebellion is natural for teens is not true in unschooling families where the children have not been controlled.

Sandra Dodd Sandra Dodd: If the parents are being the child's partner (especially if they've had that kind of relationship from birth), "submission" isn't an issue in any way.

Sandra Dodd: So if you're here for some good reason (which you haven't mentioned yet), don't make mainstream comments that basically stall the conversation out.

Sandra Dodd: We're here to discuss this: In The Big Book, pages 175-184

Chores, Serving others as a gift, tales of kids helping out voluntarily
It's about the quality of peace and joy, not about the quantity of dirt or clutter moved around.

Sandra Dodd: /rebellion Rebellion and unschooling

Sandra Dodd: /control

raquel: for example politics wise, a teen might want to be 'rebellious' towards his parents view even though he wasn't controlled in any way.

Sandra Dodd: Those are for you to read if you're interested in the ideas.

Sandra Dodd: If unschooling parents who are democrats have a child who becomes a republican, that's not "rebellion." That's choice.

Sandra Dodd: If parents who try to MAKE a child do chores and keep his own room and much of the rest of the house clean and he doesn't want to, the parents might say that he's being rebellious. Some other parents might say "He's having a normal response to too much control."

Sandra Dodd: If the family doesn't try to make him do chores, they let his room be however he wants, and the kid grows up to be a neat freak who dusts twice a day, that's not rebellion. That's choice.

Sandra Dodd: It can also be genetics.

Sandra Dodd: Cleanliness as a compulsion, desire or ability has a genetic component.

Sandra Dodd: -=-my son is happy to help his grandmother clean and organize her house when he goes -=-

I like cleaning at other people's houses. I like washing other people's dishes.

Renee Cabatic: XuMei loves to clean and organize for fun and relaxation. Xander doesn't enjoy it as an activity in itself but when his friends are coming over he'll pick up and vacuum (his friend is allergic to cats) and get the space ready for the fun that he's going to have.

Sandra Dodd: I like cleaning stoves and ovens that aren't mine. (Mine, too, but I think it's kind of fun.)

Marta Pires: I loved a story you told in one of your talks about Keith and how you can almost pinpoint everything his parents made him do by everything he didn't like to do at your place.

Sylvia Woodman: I think there is something to that. Both Jim and I are messy in similar ways so we are happy together in our cluttered house (books, newspapers, catalogues, magazines, unfinished knitting projects, legos, toy cars, babydolls everywhere)

Serah: It bothers Arif to do dishes. As a kid, his parents made him have dish duty. It wasn't until reading about unschooling that I stopped requesting help with dishes. Something Schuyler wrote helped me see the joy in the warm water and soap suds. I rather enjoy dishes now 😊

ColleenP (NH): my mother in law used to clean my whole kitchen literally top-to-bottom whenever she came to visit - the first time she did it I felt bad and told my grandmother who said to me "Let her. Then thank her. And be happy with how clean it is and how you didn't have to do the work to get it that way!" I'd been feeling like she was judging my kitchen for not being good enough, but my grandmother was right - once I got out of the way and said thank you, it became a nice thing she did for us, and not a judgment. Perfect!

HeatherB: Monty and I just discovered after being together for ten years that he doesn't mind unloading the dishwasher, but really doesn't like to do the dishes and I don't like unloading the dishwasher, but like doing the dishes! It was a wonderful discovery! 😊

Sandra Dodd: Our nextdoor neighbors were an older couple. The man has since died. But they moved here from the small town in which they had raised their children. The houses in this area have fireplaces. We use ours a lot, very happily! He didn't. He had been an only child, born in 1915 or so, and was made to cut firewood. That was his job. Cut in the woods, bring back, cut and split to fit in the wood stoves--cooking stoves and heaters. He vowed that he would never, ever, when he was grown, cut wood.

ColleenP (NH): my husband enjoys doing dishes, loves cooking, tolerates laundry 😊 and hates cleaning bathrooms. So I always try to do the bathrooms before he'd be inspired to, so they're not even on his radar.

Sandra Dodd: Keith buys firewood and has it delivered, and then splits it for fun, and stacks it for fun, and we heat the hot tub with it, and use the fireplace sometimes.

Sylvia Woodman: I do a lot of cleaning by timer. Also for a long time we tried to involve the kids in cleaning but we realized that it does NOT work! So now I do some tidying up when they are sleeping. Or if they are happily engaged in one room I will try to do a little straightening up in another room.

Sandra Dodd: Our neighbor could hardly believe how excited we got about our exciting deliveries of firewood. 😊

Jill Parmer: I listen to audio books when I have lots of dishes to do, or am cleaning for a while in one room.

Serah: My Mil is always telling me that I need to give the boys chores so that they can help in the house. I keep thinking of the damage she did to her son. The boys help sometimes, when they feel like it, and it is not forced. To me this way is much happier and peaceful.

HeatherB: Jill: That's what Monty does when he cleans anything, puts his headphones on and listens to an audiobook.

Jill Parmer: When I lived in a cabin in the mountains, I loved splitting wood. I loved being outside and feeling like a mountain woman.

Sandra Dodd: Serah, maybe you could ask her what things her own mother made her do. Get her in a conversation that seems like just chit chat, but you might induce her to remember some bad things that came of it. Maybe, maybe not, but it's worth a try. 😊 And you would give her a chance to talk about her own childhood and family or origin.

Serah: I love to listen to my favorite tunes on YouTube when cleaning. Sometimes we crank them up loud and Dance, dust and vacuum

ColleenP (NH): an elderly friend got my husband a 4-way splitting-wedge and then had him borrow her sledgehammer. He's now in love with wood-splitting and keeps going outside to do more!

Serah: good idea Sandra, I will try that

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, when I visited Kirby and his two housemates, I cleaned the microwave. They hadn't been in the house long enough for the house to be dirty, but the microwave was all greasy and splattery and had cheese burned in the bottom... you know how microwaves can get. I boiled water in there for five minutes and wiped it out with a paper towel. They thought I had worked really hard, but I told them the trick, and I hope they remembered, because it's about the easiest cleaning job any kitchen has ever had, to clean a microwave that way.

ColleenP (NH): it's an *awesome* thing to see, when the wood splits 4 ways- really cool!

Jill Parmer: Those wedges are nice.!

Jill Parmer:

Bathroom cleaner (from The Herb Companion April/May 1991 issue)
2 Cups baking soda
10 drops each these essential oils:
cajeput (melaleuca leucdendron)
Blend well.

(a few of the essential oils are somewhat expensive, but they last years, so once I got all the ingredients it was not expensive to replenish.)

Serah: I love the smell of burning wood in fireplaces

Sandra Dodd: Jill, you put ALL those oils in there?

Jill Parmer: Yes, I do.

HeatherB: Mmmm...I bet your house smells so good 😊

Sandra Dodd: Won't it just be a junky smell, like mixing all the paints and it turning brown, or playing all the notes at once and it's just banging on the piano?

Jill Parmer: No. Maybe surprising, but it is really lovely.

Serah: does it turn into a paste or do you add some water

Sylvia Woodman: I've made cleaners like that but I only use one oil - might have to do some experimentation!

ColleenP (NH): I like that microwave trick, and that reminds me that it's been a bit since we cleaned ours... 😊

Jill Parmer: It stays like baking soda. gritty, not liquidy.

Serah: I have maybe 3 of that list.

HeatherB: I clean the microwave the same way sandra does, but I put half a lemon in some water so it smells all lemony when I'm done.

Serah: Nice idea heather

Jill Parmer: I may have substituted the thyme, that one I remember being expensive.

ColleenP (NH): lemon - nice! I think we have a couple in the fridge - thanks for the idea!

Sylvia Woodman: I have a book of natural cleaners (I like reading about housework - not doing it LOL!) it's out of print but here is another one not to expensive [that link died later... people can google natural cleaners]

Serah: Jill, the recipe reminds me of a nice air freshener recipe I use to make the houss smell nice. Boil some orange peel with cinnamon bark and cloves and

Sylvia Woodman: I bet there are tons of ideas on Pinterest!

Serah: makes the house smell warm and cozy 😊

Sandra Dodd: I think the elimination of "have to" is the first step toward peace.
Thinking you "have to" do the dishes feels oppressive and entrapping.
Realizing you don't "have to" is freeing.
Only then can you choose to do your dishes.

Marta Pires: Indeed, Sandra.

Serah: Right, Sandra, this really helped me. The dishes don't " Have to" get done, it's a choice that is made

Serah: that idea has liberated me in soooo man ways

Serah: it's always about choice.

ColleenP (NH): The other day on Big Bang Theory, Sheldon responded to a "have to" and I wrote down what he said because it made me smile - "We have to take in nourishment, expel waste, and inhale enough oxygen to keep ourselves from dying. Everything else is optional."

Sylvia Woodman: NICE!!!

Serah: I like that

ColleenP (NH): Robbie and I love Sheldon 😊

Renee Cabatic: Bazinga!

HeatherB: Changing how I looked at a messy house helped me. Lots of dirty dishes means people were fed well in my house. Also, that I had the time and energy enough to cook a meal. If there are swords and shields and Legos and board games out all at the same time, it means we had a lot of fun that day.

Sandra Dodd: People can choose to opt out of Sheldon's "have to's" too.

Renee Cabatic: who said it's not a mess, it's a YES! ?

Gretchen: I have fond memories of my Grandma coming over to our house to clean, iron and shine things. :I was a messy and I loved the feeling of coming home to a neat and tidy room. Remembering that feeling makes me like to do the same for my kids. I have 5 - so it's not always a regular occurrence- but it does happen.

ColleenP (NH): opting out might not have great outcomes though 😊

Sandra Dodd: Opting out of ever doing laundry wouldn't have great outcomes, either. That's part of how people decide.

ColleenP (NH): true

Sandra Dodd: So when we choose to do something for someone, there are effects. Some of them are unexpected.

Sandra Dodd: When we choose NOT to do something for someone, maybe the effects are more predictable. I think that's because we're surrounded by people who habitually tell other people to get stuffed and to do things themselves.

Gretchen: My point is that being served as a child has had a big impact on me as an adult. Helps me to overlook a lot of mess here.

Sandra Dodd: When a person **chooses** to be adversarial, the other person's reaction is a reaction to something that was confrontational and divisive.

Jill Parmer: Gretchen, I liked the story of your grandma.

Sandra Dodd: Twice in my marriage I've had a broken leg. Keith did my laundry.

Sandra Dodd: A couple of times Keith has been very bedridden.

Sylvia Woodman: When I was in college I didn't always manage my time well. One of the things I did to to cope with that was to buy extra underwear so I wouldnt need to do laundry as often.

Sandra Dodd: Once he got hepatitis from a bad salad in San Francisco. I love the center for disease control. They trace that stuff back like an exciting TV show. 😊

Sandra Dodd: But when he was stuck in bed, I did all his laundry, brought him food, took him water, cleaned him up, helped him take a shower (when he got able to hobble to a plastic seat in the shower). He did the same things for me.

Sandra Dodd: What if I had ever once said "I'm not going to pick your socks up for you."

Sandra Dodd: What, *never*?

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes I do, and sometimes he picks up mine.

Serah: Isn't that what marriage is all about.? Not score keeping and agonizing

Sandra Dodd: When a mom comes along all indignant about what she "has to do" for her kids and what she is "NOT going to do" for her kids, I take half-perverse, half-sacred pleasure in asking her, once she winds down, what if she had a child who was unable to walk, or get out of bed, or put on his own socks, ever.

jody: I'm wondering if there are ideas about how to make laundry/dishes/picking up toys, puzzles, games easier? I have seen ideas for a laundry basket dresser, and then just sorting clean laundry into bins (not folding) and putting them back into the dresser. I really like this idea!

Sandra Dodd: The best way to make it easier is to see it as a gift given in joy, rather than "a chore" done in resentment.

ColleenP (NH): I think it's about being partners, not competitors - after surgery I had years back, my husband brought me to and from the bathroom for days as i couldn't get there on my own. I thanked him and he said it's his job just like it'd be mine in the opposite situation. I've known other people who've found every excuse in the book to *not* help out a sick or injured spouse, even to the point of themselves becoming sick or injured so they can't help - not very partner-like at all, that.

Sandra Dodd: The details of how to organize are way secondary to the idea that there can be lots of ways to do it. 😊 Some families leave their clean clothes in the laundry room, and go there to get dressed.

Sandra Dodd: What adds to relationships makes the children's lives better. Whether you're improving your relationship with a child or a partner/spouse, it's still beneficial for the child.

Sandra Dodd: It's a huge investment in the future, to be generous today.

Sandra Dodd: But generosity should be free, and not something delivered on credit.

Sandra Dodd: Someone wrote to me for advice yesterday. She's living with the father of her child, who has custody. She's invited to stay there, and that's the way she can be with her kid. It's not a reconciliation. It's a conciliation. They're not living as a couple.

Gretchen: And kindness begets kindness. I have experienced this both in In my marriage partnership and with my children (although it's not always an immediate return)

Sandra Dodd: That's not a bad deal, and though I feel for her, she's found a good way to be able to mother. Good!

jody: maybe easier wasn't the right word - I want to spend less time cleaning. I enjoy making spaces for my kids to create/play. But lately (3 kids - 2 yrs, 5yrs, 8 yrs), I'm feeling overwhelmed

Sandra Dodd: Jody, they'll get older. It's hard, and it will get easier.

Sandra Dodd: Crates on shelves, maybe. My husband made a shelf just the size to hold Xerox boxes. We'd use those for drawers to store toys (it holds eight boxes) and if a box wore out or got too dirty, we'd get another box.

HeatherB: I was so horrible to Monty before we started unschooling about not cleaning up after him. He showed me a note I had written him early in our relationship about picking up his stuff, I'm not his maid, what kind of example is he setting. He was able to laugh about it when he found it and showed me because there has been so much change in our relationship. He was kinda like, "Remember this?" I didn't think it was funny at all. It was so mean and full of shame. I told him I couldn't believe he asked me to marry him after getting a note like that from me.

HeatherB: And now I pick up his socks and throw away his soda cans and don't think twice about it. 😊

Sandra Dodd: So the problem was she would show her appreciation by having dinner ready, but then she would tell her ex that he needed to spend more time with the child, and let her have a break.

Sandra Dodd: It was another case of me not answering the question she had asked. I told her she was making dinner and then sending him the bill.

Sandra Dodd: I think everyone can fall into that "yeah, but I did THIS for you..." thing from time to time, but it's good to see it for what it is. It's counting, and measuring.

Marta Pires: Sweet Monty, Heather. πŸ˜‰

HeatherB: And clean his desk while he's at work.

HeatherB: Oh my gosh! Xerox boxes! Brilliant!

Sandra Dodd: Not with the lids, Heather. Just the bottoms. Because he had made another shelf for me that holds the lids! So my projects (I was doing newsletters and such in those days) went into xerox box lids, and onto shelves. Right now I have both those shelves in my office, the kids' old shelf and mine. 😊

Sandra Dodd: But xerox boxes are harder to come by these days, darn it!

Marta Pires: And the only moments when I still do that, is when my hormones are crazy, or when I'm tired, or hungry. And now I can easily identify that (or more easily than before, it's not perfect yet πŸ˜‰) and go for a walk or go get something to eat, etc.

Marta Pires: *when I still measure*, that is

HeatherB: Sandra, I just asked Monty if he has any of those boxes at work. He's going to look. 😊

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes we put a picture on the end of the box of what kinds of things were in there. When the kids were really little.

Sandra Dodd: I have my receipts and tax notes in one box per year. On my old xerox-box-lid shelf. 😊 And one has my computer receipts/cords/Applecare/bits.

HeatherB: We bought some more shelves for Austin's costumes, nerf and other misc. stuff. We've been trying to think of a cheap ways to sort the stuff. Xerox paper boxes would be perfect if he has any at work. And putting a pic on the front was just what I was thinking!

ColleenP (NH): libraries and small businesses often have xerox boxes they're going to recycle - especially libraries that offer copy machines - they go thru lots of paper and order in bulk, I've found. We got a bunch of boxes that way when we moved a few years ago - they're sturdy and the lids are so nice to have... I do love a good box 😊

Sandra Dodd: One time long ago Keith was cranky and told me that because of me he had to go to work every day, and make house payments.

Sandra Dodd: I heard him, and I let him rant, and I said fairly calmly that I was pretty sure that if we hadn't gotten married he still would be living in a house and going to work. Even if he was single, and I named some friends of ours who were single, who had jobs, and paid rent or mortgages. 😊

Sandra Dodd: I think women do that too, thinking they wouldn't be doing dishes or laundry or cooking if they hadn't gotten married or had kids.

Sandra Dodd: Avoiding the negative rants is a giant step in the right direction, for having a peaceful, contented life.

Sandra Dodd: Being glad to HAVE dishes and clothes and food and a pan and a fire, that's the way to be. 😊

Marta Pires: 😊

ColleenP (NH): having lived on my own for a few years after college before I moved in with my now-husband, I'm happy I'm no longer the only one who has to do everything around the house - my single days were fun, but there was sure no one else doing dishes, and laundry, and shoveling snow and cleaning off cars and taking cars for oil changes and... and... 😊 Yep I like *not* being Just Me facing all that!

Sandra Dodd: We're past the hour, so the official topic chat can be over. If anyone wants to ask off-topic questions, now's the time!

Sandra Dodd: Raquel, if you're still here, are you interested in the possibility of unschooling your 13-year-old stepchild? If so, Pam Laricchia's introductory stuff is excellent.

HeatherB: I feel guilty sharing this since I already shared a blog post today, BUT...this was one of those moments where I recognized great change in myself compared to how I was before I knew what unschooling or radical unschooling was. https://todaywasamazingsf.blogspot.com/2012/07/when-i-say-things-like-what-im-about-to.html

Gretchen: When / if you can practice extravagant giving, it seems like nonsense to count the small stuff. Not saying I'm the expert here, maybe more of an experienced "receiver" of this kind of gift. After every birth , my husband takes over full responsibility for running the house. Much doesn't get done πŸ˜‰, but much does. I babymoon in the bedroom and only come out for bathroom breaks for at least the first week, half days during the second week. I can't tell you how many miles I get from those acts of service - physically and emotionally. It makes me want to return, in kind - or bigger and better even.

Sandra Dodd: https://www.livingjoyfully.ca

Sandra Dodd: Gretchen, that's really sweet.

Sandra Dodd: And I think the older a person gets, the easier it is to be patient with an illness or injury. I still remember how long a summer vacation seemed when I was six and seven years old. Now a whole season can go by and I hardly notice. I'll be 60 this year. There are are whole big incients in my marriage that I don't remember, unless someone mentions it.

Sandra Dodd: The idea that I would have kept a tally of "favors" or of hours spent, with Keith, to know who was "ahead" or "behind" seems even crazier to me now that it seemed before. I knew that dividing 50/50 was never a good way to be with friends or spouses.

Sandra Dodd: Someone might go ten years being the primary cook/cleaner/breadwinner​, and then go another 20 being disabled or depressed or something.

Sandra Dodd: But people in their 20's can't conceive of 30 years. They think they can, but it's quite theoretical for them. 😊

raquel: yes i am. 😊 the whole family

Sandra Dodd: I think the ideas in The 5 Love Languages are powerful to consider when figuring out what generosity might mean. http://www.5lovelanguages.com

Jill Parmer: I'm off to do things. Thanks for the chat. See you all next week. And thanks for the sweet stories about helping out, lots of sweetness today.

Sandra Dodd: And just as with "learning styles," it doesn't mean you should figure out that a child is kinesthetic and so never, ever provide or share anything that isn't exclusively kinesthetic. It doesn't mean that if my primary love language is not receiving gifts that I never want to receive another gift as long as I live!

ColleenP (NH): the 5 love languages website has a child survey - I didn't realize that and found it the other day - so all 3 of us did surveys and determined our Language(s) - very cool!

Sandra Dodd: It will help if each person can be prepared to offer more of ALL of those things--service, gifts, physical touch, kind words and gratitude and attention.

ColleenP (NH): I found out all 3 of us are Quality Time people first - nifty!

Sandra Dodd: It's better balance. Some teachers and parents used to love that "learning styles" stuff because they thought if they figured out what a child's learning style was they could stop wasting time using the "wrong" methods and materials.

Sandra Dodd: Instead, it should always have involved providing ALL of those kinds of stimuli and experiences.

In the Big Book, that page links to: SandraDodd.com/chores and SandraDodd.com/chores/gift

The Big Book of Unschooling

New in early 2022: Dishes

Directory of the Big Book Chats Chat Transcripts on other topics