How untidy is your house?

Think home educating makes your house untidy?

I watched a programme last night on Channel 4 ‘The Hoarder Next Door’ and another three days ago on BBC1 ‘Britain’s Biggest Hoarders’ and they certainly put in perspective. They were about people who have a condition where they hoard everything, unable to throw things away. They made a busy, stuff-strewn, home school house look like a tidy palace in comparison.

I felt a bit guilty after I’d watched it because I’d suggested that you keep all kinds of rubbish for the kids to create with when I talked about their play a few blogs back. (Get them learning to play and playing to learn) Then I learnt about ‘Hoarders’ who have a condition so bad you couldn’t see the floors, let alone a table, worktop, chair or bed.

There were times, I admit, I also despaired of ever seeing a worktop again. It would be submerged under an ocean of books, materials, fabrics, papers, glue, jars and junk, paints and pieces of unrecognisable things and sticky, sticky, sticky substances best not investigated. The living room could be as bad. Then we would have a purge and when order was restored and cupboard doors could actually be shut I had that sense of being back in control of my life you don’t often get when home schooling!

But I recognised that it was very important to have stuff about and not be too tidy obsessed. Because having things around stimulates the kids to be busy, helps to keep them motivated and inspired. I feel the same. I walk into a house where there’s nothing going on and I immediately feel dulled. Go in a house with lots about to look at, touch, fiddle with and I’m immediately stimulated.

It’s the same with children. I bet if you sent some kids into a room with a TV in one corner and a table stacked with various materials, tools, objects or just intriguing junk in another they’d forget the TV and gravitate towards the table and start fiddling.

Fiddling’s good. Even if nothing else comes of it, it advances manipulative skills! But usually something does come of them having stuff around to use. It stimulates their minds and stimulated minds are learning minds.

A tidy house is not the sign of a learning house, just like a toy free house is not the sign of a family house. Things around means lives being lived and enjoyed. Collect and let some things lie around for them to be busy with. I’m not suggesting you become an obsessive Hoarder. There are levels of comfort between tidy and busy, keep/throw away that we need to find. But it’s important when home educating not to be too tidy. Just keep dreams of the show home for when they’ve grown and flown. It will come. And a lot quicker than you think.

So enjoy the junk for now and if you think your house is bad, watch the programme. It might help with perspective!


19 thoughts on “How untidy is your house?

  1. So, so agree! I watched the programme too and was relieved when Cupcake assured me we were nowhere near that messy! I mean, I spend a lot of time cleaning and tidying but we are definitely living a mansion lifestyle in a 3 bedroom semi! Oh what I’d give for a separate library, and playroom, and craft room, and study, and utility room and… yep, I am a bit of a hoarder, and HE gives you a great reason to be one, but that programme really puts *my* piles into perspective!

    • That’s great Lilly, thanks for posting. Snag is – when you get to our stage with no longer little HEors in the house you really have no excuse for hoarding. I’m having to face the de-cluttering big time!!

  2. Yea for messy houses! I don’t think you can have a rich, full, fun life with kids without it.

  3. Just wanted to thank you for the link!! I had to watch it and it made me feel so much better. Although I could empathise with the predicament of those people, and can see how things can just get out of hand, our own clutter is not rubbish. Everything is a Work In Progress!

  4. Great post which makes me feel so much better – “Thank you”. How right you are that easy access to things can fuel all sorts of ideas for play. This morning my little boy (aged 5) was a miner – complete with head torch (that he found lying around somewhere in the house!) & my kitchen spatular to dig ‘coal’ (aka a pile of clothes) with. The mining idea started with him playing with a piece of cord (that I’d taken out of those paper bags you get but never know what to do with other than recycle the paper bit & keep the cord to ‘make something with’ – he had looped the cord over our dog gate and on one end he had imaginery miners going down a mine with an imaginery bucket of coal coming up on the other end!. Later he was driving in the Grand Pix – this time with his cycle helmet & his dad’s safety glasses on (which he also found lying around somewhere in the house!!) and a coat hanger for a very sophisticated steering/braking device. This afternoon he’s been a mountaineer complete with cycle helmet and head torch from the earlier sessions and a pair of plastic binoculars! Priceless moments!

  5. Once again, thank you so much Ross, for validating my lack of keeping house … oh! and lack of fresh laundry 😀 The one thing I always insisted on was that toys + whatever-left-on-carpet were tidied away only because I would be the only one who’d end up stepping on ‘whatever’!!! Even now, in their teen years, various surfaces still get totally covered. And I’m just as bad, so I think I can just permanently shelve dreams of a ‘show-home’ *lol*

  6. “A tidy house is not the sign of a learning house, just like a toy free house is not the sign of a family house.” Sigh, I feel so much better now!!!

    Actually, earlier this week I was finally convalescing from two bad flu sessions and it felt like the kids were actively trying to make the house as messy as possible. Especially with them on a play dough streak! I did put a lot of the tiny piece toy sets in another room where they have to ask to get them out, so the place looks much better. They’re having more fun, too.

    But you are absolutely right, and I will not feel guilty about our house again!

  7. I frequently despair at the state of the house and the amount of clutter we have accumulated. But when you see educational potential in everything, what can you do? 🙂

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