Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back at Class -- Renewing our Home Economics Project for the Fall

Can you believe it's September first already? It's time to get back to our Home Economics classes. We'll finish up projects we started during the spring and summer and move on to new heights in our strive to be excellent home keepers.

First, here's a link to an interesting article about how younger Australian women are largely yearning to be home keepers, while older Australian women see this a bit differently. A great exercise for our home economics notebooks would be to watch the video or read the transcript and ponder what your own goals in life are. You might also think about what cultural influences factor into your outlook. Take an honest appraisal of whether or not you see being a keeper at home your full time or part time occupation and whether you see it as drudgery or as a joy. There's not a write or wrong answer here. Just think about where you are in this spectrum and why. Note: The views in this article are just a snapshot, and the people who are interviewed are just representative of different views. The particulars might be vastly different for different people. Also, no mention of faith is mentioned in the decision making process for any of the women. So, write out what your own personal convictions are.

On to organization: It's time to do a fall cleaning!
Of course, you may live in a place like I do, where cold weather is still a long way off. Where I live, even in the winter, we have many mild days when its still possible to air rooms, dry items outside, and clean windows. However, September is still a great to get a jump on getting things in order before the season changes and before the string of fall holidays arrives.

Why do a fall cleaning?

Here are some reasons why fall is an important time to start a week by week sprucing up of your home. I've listed them roughly according to what your geographic situation might be:

For everyone:

1) Twice a year, it's a good idea to take inventory of your pantries, utility closets, and items in your storage areas. This doesn't have to be a written inventory, though it can be. You just need to make sure that items in these areas are clean, neatly organized, and that you have refreshed your memory about items in storage. Closets have a way of getting out of order, so some twice yearly tweaking is a good thing.

2) Twice a year, it's good to evaluate your family's health and nutritional needs. Does anyone need a checkup? If you live in an area with very defined seasons, will you be moving from heavier, warmer foods to lighter, cooler foods or vice versa? What foods are in season in your area? What about things like eye wear, dental care, etc.?

3) Do you need to start now to prepare for upcoming holiday festivities, especially if you will be hosting large gatherings at your house or having company in? Some of us have more fun during the holidays if we get a lot done ahead of time.

4) Twice a year, it's great to clean or vacuum curtains and draperies to cut down on dust, pet dander, etc. It's also good to pay a little extra attention to carpets, rugs, etc. Also, rotate mattresses, vacuum mattresses, and, when appropriate, change bedding to what is appropriate for the season. If you have been using a lightweight spread during the summer for example and you live where the winters are hard, you need to select a time when you will change to warmer bedding.

5) Do you have a schedule for maintenance during the next few months? Do you need to have your air system serviced and checked? Will you be closing down a garden or starting one, depending on where you live. Does your car need maintenance.

6) I consider this to be the most important item that needs attention: Twice a year, it's good to take stock of your household's clothing, as well as your own. What needs mending? What needs a once a year dry cleaning? Is something so faded or worn that it needs to be eliminated from your closet? What about socks, underwear, etc. Have your children grown out of their clothing in the past six months? Have you lost or gained weight? Are your closets and drawers organized and clean? Of course, you tend to these things on a year round basis, but taking a twice a year look at your family's clothing inventory helps you stay on top of your family's clothing needs.

Note: You do not have to accomplish all of these tasks right away. Break down your fall to-do list into small tasks and spread them out on your calendar so that you do not become overwhelmed. Allow yourself ten to twelve weeks to accomplish everything on your list. I'll be posting weekly action items that you can use as inspiration for your own ideas.

She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Proverbs 31

A) Northern Hemisphere -- from coldest clime down to the sub-tropical areas that have at least a slight seasonal variation. In the northern hemisphere, we move from our warmest to our coolest temperatures over the next six months. For some of us, we are headed for an early, long, consistent winter while others of us may experience only a cool snap here and there.

In Great-grandma's day spring cleaning was the most important cleaning season of the household. This was because the methods of heating and cooling, as well as cooking, used back then created soot, grime, and a stale feeling during the winter. Now, if you live in a modern home or a modernized home and you clean well all year long, you might or might not experience the winter staleness that Great-grandma had to battle. The harder your winters are, the more likely you are to need an old fashioned house cleaning in the spring.

Nowadays, however, fall can be the time when our house most needs attention. All summer long, our families have been tracking in dust, pollen, etc. Our pets have shed down to their lightest coat. We might have spent more time outdoors doing fun things or gardening or, if we live on a farm, helping with farm chores. Plus, during late summer and early fall, extra pollens are in the air, which might irritate allergies in susceptible family members or even in pets. Our lawns have been mowed frequently, which can add to the stuff tracked inside. Windows may have become streaked from summer dust and summer rains. Even clean looking curtains might be harboring dust, dust mites, pet hairs, and pollens. All of this adds up to the fact that our homes might be less than fresh now that the summer bustle is settling down. Even if you have kept on top of your cleaning all summer long, you might want to do some extra, deep cleaning now before heading into a colder season.

The cleaning expert Don Aslett maintains that a fall cleaning is actually more important nowadays than a spring cleaning.

B) Tropical climes in both northern and southern hemispheres. You do not experience a change of seasons. Perhaps, you have rainy times and dry times. The rainy times bring their own home keeping challenges. Perhaps, your weather is pretty much the same all year round. Still, you might think in terms of breaking down deep cleaning tasks into quarterly or semi-annual times of evaluation and action. Or, you might simply work deep cleaning into your year-round schedule.

C) Southern hemisphere -- from coldest clime to semi-tropical areas with slight seasonal variations. Those who live in the southern hemisphere are moving from colder to warmer. Fall cleaning in the southern hemisphere prepares the home for warm weather, just as a spring cleaning does in the northern hemisphere. The tasks of deep cleaning and organizing are similar, though, not matter what the weather is like. So, if you are in the southern hemisphere, follow along with us. Just know that when we move from lighter clothing to heavier and cooler bedding to warmer, you will be doing the opposite. You will be celebrating many of the same fall and winter holidays, so you can follow along as we prepare for these festivities.

Week I -- task one: Walk through your home. Make a list of all the things you need to do to winterize/summerize your home. Jot down cleaning projects you've been meaning to get to, but haven't done. Take an evaluation of what you'd like to accomplish in the next six months. Keep up with your regular cleaning.

Spiritual, emotional, physical/appearance inventory: Don't forget to jot down the joys of home keeping in your keepsake book. Maybe, write a page or two about the happenings in your family for the last few months are so. In your home economics book, spend a little time evaluating what's going on with you. As a busy wife and mother, you might not have taken much time to reflect on this. Surrender anything in prayer that you need to. Set some goals, if you like. Don't overdo this. Too much focus on self is one way to end up in the pits. However, the opposite extreme of forgetting to be a good steward of your own soul, mind, and body is not healthy, either.

Remember, in our Book of Days keepsake notebook, we are concentrating on making wonderful memories. In this book, we write about the things that make us happy and thankful. This is a book we want to be able to pick up and read on a rainy day and find that it lifts our spirits.

In our home economics notebook, we look at both sides of life -- the happy and the sad, the hard and the easy, the blessings, and the trials. As you overcome a particular trial, that might turn into something you'd like to also record in your keepsake book: This period of time was hard because ______________, but this is how the Lord delivered me______________ or this is how I overcame _______________. Often the things that seem darkest in our lives at the time become the greatest blessings in our lives. However, it may take some time for us to be able to look back and see the jewels that were formed in the flames. So, once you do see blessings arising out of ashes, record that in your Book of Days.



topaztook said...

If we believe the Farmer's Almanac, those of us in the country's midsection may be in for a particularly cold winter this year, so we might want to get started winterizing early. (It got down to 40 degrees F on the last night of August here.)

Elizabeth said...

I wonder if we are going to have an early fall and winter down south, too. Perhaps, we will have more cold weather than usual and maybe even more snow than we usually get. For the most part, we had an unusually cool, wet summer, so if winter follows suit, it's sure to be shivery here. So, I'm not sure what to expect. They say we are in for a cooling period that will last for about thirty years. The earth's temperatures seem to go up and down in thirty year cycles.