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26 August 2013

Working at home

Decluttering Challenge
This is the final week of the decluttering challenge and it's gone really well. Today I'm freeing myself of more clothes, shoes and old magazines. There is a wonderful thread with 130 posts at the forum about this challenge. The challenge will finish at the end of this week but it's not too late to join. Imagine what you could do in a week!

- - - ♥ - - -

I made soup yesterday. A big pot full of beef, barley, lentils, herbs and root vegetables. I started out by making bone broth and then thickened with the grains and vegetables. This is winter cooking at its best. Not only does it fill us up with good wholesome food, there is enough in one pot for at least three days. While it is cooking, it fills the house with the smell of real food.  It feels so good to do this sort of rewarding work in your own home.  I love doing it, I love the thought of it and I love knowing it's so good for us. I've not always been this lucky. 

I still work outside the home on occasion but the majority of my work is home-based. One of the things that this season of life has brought is the wonderful work of looking after grandkids. We care for Jamie two weekends a month when Kerry and Sunny are working.

 Working out how to install the new car seat in the car.
 As soon as Jamie arrives in the mornings, he goes to visit the chooks with Opa.

Looking after grandkids is not the same as looking after your own children. You don't have that memory of yesterday's tantrum, haven't changed 50 nappies/diapers this week, haven't tried to get them to eat something new, and failed. No, when we see our two, it's just the pure joy of seeing them, looking forward to the time we have together and feeling grateful because I belong to this family.

My grandmother taught me how to wash up - the order of it all, that glasses go first, then cutlery and cleanish plates, followed by mixing bowls, dinner plates and finally, saucepans. I still do it that way all these years later. Hanno has been showing Jamie how to dig the garden and when I look out at them from the kitchen window, I wonder if what he learns while he's here will stay with him over the years. Maybe he'll forget it before he remembers it again, I did that. I remembered it all when I most needed it.

Work helps shape the people we become. When we spend the majority of our waking hours working at a particular job, it influences our thoughts, it regulates our actions and often it helps us slow down. I think this slow and methodical way of working is difficult for quite a few people but if you can manage it, it will bring a kind of gentle rhythm to your days that will help you get through the work. Caring for babies and toddlers, and the work you do in your backyard, can help you slow down because if you look at it carefully, natural systems are always slow. Nature always takes its own time and nothing will hurry it.

When I work during the day making the bed, baking our bread, peeling vegetables, cleaning the stove or the fridge, I feel that everything is as it should be. How could it be otherwise when I am doing such useful work. And when things aren't right, when I'm worried about something or someone I know is gravely ill or has died, I tie on my apron and start work and I know I can continue on. If I was everyone's grandma, I would make sure that every child carried out domestic tasks everyday. I would  show boys and girls how to look after themselves and others. Children learn respect, loyalty, generosity, kindness, tenderness and compassion when they take part in the day-to-day running of the house. Hopefully they'll learn what you teach them; they will definitely learn what they see.

Domestic work can remind us of where we come from and it's capable of carrying traditions forward. The food you cook, the way you garden, and sewing and knitting in traditional ways are most likely to be the places where memories of your culture thrive, or survive. House work fills bellies, helps us sleep soundly and keeps the family safe, clean and tidy. Carrying out that work with grace and sensitivity protects your family and demonstrates the love and respect you feel for them. Chores will come and go and responsibilities will change over time, but I hope there never comes a time when those in my family, or yours, don't have to do the work of family and home. It helps makes us what we are.

- - -  ♥  - - - 

Brisbane Writers' Festival
On Friday 6 September, from 10am till 1pm, I'll be conducting a masterclass called A practical guide to simple living. It will be held at the State Library, the cost is $80 - $90. There are three places left. To book online, go here and go down the page a little to find the date.


  1. Very nicely written. Jamie is so cute. Now that car seat looks like a monster. They aren't easy to install.
    Being a grandparent is so rewarding.
    We are headed into town to pick up our granddaughters and taking them to Bob Evans. They love the chocolate chip pancakes, hah.

  2. Hi Rhonda

    This is exactly the role I have with our granddaughters. How to sort the washing into lights and darks, baking etc.

    I remember when I started Brownies (Girl Guides) when I was 7, there was a 'lesson' about the order of how to wash dishes and I was most surprised that everyone did not already know. It was something that we had learned at home from a very young age.

    I am constantly surprised by how much gardening lore I picked up from my grandfather (and his amazing vegetable garden) despite the fact that it is over 40 years ago. The carrots that he grew remain the benchmark for me. I wrote about my very first minor success on my blog yesterday. One day I will grow carrots that would make him proud.

  3. Rhonda this is a beautiful post, it is like a big warm hug. Jamie is beautiful, the photos are lovely with Opa.

    It makes me smile to think about all of the things we do each day that is part of our weekly routine, that we do for our family. Today will be laundering fresh sheets for one room, tomorrow the next and so on. Clothes drying on the line, brought in folded and put away. I have boxes of fruit and veg from the markets on my kitchen benches (our produce is limited at present) so I will be sourcing recipes for pears, zucchini and bananas - the bananas will most like be destined for lots of cake and muffins.

    I am blessed to be able to be at home to carry out my work in a mindful way each day. As you say taking time to sit and relax when needed or if you feel like a rest one day then you take that time to re-energise.

    Thank you for your blog and your posts, they keep me focussed and energised as I am sure that you do many other readers. You are my gentle reminder each day:)

  4. I love it when my parents care for my daughter. I love that she has meaningful relationships with adults who aren't her parents. I love the different skills and words she learns from each of us. This 'incidental learning' is so valuable. The other day Willa spilt her water and without saying a word she went and got a cloth and wiped it up. It wasn't a perfect job but she did it without being asked and she's only 19 months old. Apparently she's watched us do it many times!

  5. I'm right with you with regards grandchildren. It is lovely to have them visit regularly so you can get "special" but ordinary things happening. Our 7 y o grandson has discovered crosswords and the joy of watching Spics and Specs on telly at our place. He opens the daily paper ready for grandad to start the crosswords when he comes home from work. He gets a few answers now. Grandson comes for a week each school holidays. Last time as he hopped into the car to return home he told me I would have to do all the jobs now. Apparently when he was here he was doing them all.LOL He was a help - egg collecting and bin run seem favourite jobs for a young man.

    The younger grandson comes for a few afternoons each week. Cheese and "cracks" with a milo are the routine afternoon tea. As he has started prep he loves to read his books to us and he also likes the puzzle page in the newspaper - he does his own version of a suduko which involves filling in all the numbers to 9. He is a numbers man. LOL

    This may sound critical but it isn't meant to be. As grandparents you are in a unique position to fill areas that are sometimes missed by busy parents. I always make 7 year old choose and put on his own clothes . This sounds a funny thing but he comes from a busy home.So he has his uniform or clothes put out for him. He finds it stressful to pick his own clothes, he worries it will be "wrong". I tell him at nanas he can wear whatever he chooses that there is no "wrong". Slowly he is getting the idea.

    The younger one doesn't like having his nails cut. He puts on a performance for his mum. So we have a routine of washing hands before eating and talk of how germs live on dirty hands and nails - use the scrubbing brush then have afternoon tea - then check if his nails need cutting. No fuss.

    We have the time to spend with them to get them where we want them to be. Enjoy them while they are little Rhonda . Once they are at school the visits lessen.

  6. Such a beautiful, thought-provoking post, Rhonda. Just reading your words helps to slow down my thoughts in the best way possible. Thank-you!

    I made a big pot of pumpkin soup last week, which fed us for days. And because strawberries are so cheap at the moment (my own ones are yet to give us fruit) I made a couple of jars of jam. The vibrant, jewel-like colour of the jam is nothing like the insipid variety from the supermarket!

  7. What a lovely post Rhonda,
    My granddaughter was here Saturday and we baked cookies together. She is almost 4 and can easily stir together dry ingredients and can do many things with a little help. After we were done baking she looked at me very solemnly and asked, "Grandma, now can I help with laundry?" After that I was worried all she would associate me with was work so we spent the afternoon playing games. Your post helped me feel better about what she does with us.

  8. What a wonderful post-thank you for this! These are the things that I hope I can pass on to my grandchildren.

  9. Hello Rhonda, beautifully written and reminds me once again that the work l do here at home is important and done out of love. I have a wonderful husband who always shows such gratitude for everything l do and always hugges me after a good home cooked meal thanking me for my trouble. My little boy said "nothing is as good as a homecooked meal!" the other day, bless him. Made me very happy. I have learnt so much from my gran, my mum and dad. I too forgot it for years but then found it again and treasure all the knowledge. It has always been part of who l am, it just took me a while to realize. All the best, Pam

  10. Music to my ears. Thanks for a beautiful start to my week. I have never been more happy than now, as I make an effort to slow down and appreciate the beauty is the small things. Enjoy your week. Jade xx

  11. ooops I haven't done so well with the de-cluttering challenge, but I am lucky enough to volunteer at the church op shop once a month and always make sure to take some donations with me, so de-cluttering is a continual thing. I also enjoy teaching my grand kids the everyday simple things. We are going to plant some seeds this weekend so that is always fun.

  12. What a wonderful post for a Monday morning as I pop in for a little break in my home routine for Monday to check your blog. As always with your writings, I find great wisdom and it confirms that I too am on the right track. I love my family and my home and I find great joy in being a homebody. Later today I will take my 92 year old Dad to do our shopping and of course it takes ages for him to walk up and down the isles, but that brings me patience. Whilst he lives with us, I still encourage him to potter in his little kitchen in his part of our home. He can't see as well these day and yes he makes a mess but he feels that small amount of independence that we all crave even if we are that age. He knows that I am there if he needs me just on the other side of the door. He loves it when I call him for our morning tea out on the verandah at 11am. That half an hour breaks up his morning. He's getting rather frail now and we are easing into the next stage but we are there for him and like you Rhonda and Hanno it's a pleasure to care for those we love. Have a lovely day
    Blessings Gail

  13. Good morning Rhonda. Seeing the photos of Jamie make me miss my granddaughters. I have been waiting for QANTAS to reduce their fares to the Outback so I can visit in the school holidays but it looks like I am going to have to fork out over $320 each way to see them. I can't go by train or bus..well I could but I may not be able to get out of the train or bus when I arrive! LOL! So much for arthritis.

    I love your posts. They are always inspiring.

  14. I love hearing people talk about how much they enjoy being grandparents. There are so many types of grandparents...all good, but this is the type of grandparent I cherish most of all. I still remember standing next to my grandma making pikelets or digging in the garden with grandad . The thing about grandparents is that they do 'tell' ...they just 'do' and that 'doing' is what influences us the most.Yes I grew up and forgot for a little while , but the memories were there tugging away at me and now this is the very life I live with my children and one day, grandchildren.I love that you tell us the stories of your grandkids and make something very simple sound oh so wonderful .

  15. Hi Rhonda,
    Yay the final week of the challenge, I made it!!

    I also wanted to tell you I made the moist orange cake into a moist lemon cake by substituting the orange with 5 small sized lemons. I removed the pips but apart from that followed the recipe to a tee with great succuss. It is my go to cake recipe now, so easy and yummy!

    Warm regards

  16. Really a great thanks to give us a important suggestion. Thnaks for the reply.

  17. My son gave me the best compliment last week when I was down visiting - he reminded me that he was grateful for teaching him how to look after his clothing and how to use a washing machine. He's home from the mines, helping his wife with the new baby he so kindly delivered in their ensuite last Tuesday night. I have done a good job, haven't I ? Sue

    1. Wow, that puts a new spin on homemade! Congratulations grandma. Please give my best wishes to the mum and dad.

  18. Your attitude to grandparenting is fabulous Rhonda! We are sadly lacking in that department, but looking forward to passing it on with our own grandkids one day. Grandparents can be such a vital part in a childs life, it can be a bit exhausting for parents to fill all those roles.

    Meanwhile, I have blogged today about de-cluttering under my kitchen sink, which was an achievement for me, and I have more things going out the door all this week. Thanks for the inspiration - it's been a great month!

  19. What a lovely post! My two children absolutely adore their Grandma (my Mum). She is the only grandparent who regularly wants to see the kids and help me out. I admire her as I don't think it can be easy taking care of a 2 year old and a 4 year old alone at her age but she does it, usually at least once a week for a couple of hours and last weekend it was even overnight as my husband and I had a wedding to attend interstate. Sometimes I feel a bit sad about the other 3 grandparents not wanting to invest this time. I know it's their choice but it gives me such joy seeing the relationship my Mum has with the kids, I wish the others had that too. It does make my husband and I determined to enjoy our grandchildren, when and if they come!


  20. I agree wholeheartedly about children being taught from a young age how to help around the house. I had a giggle this evening though, Miss 4.5 year old was helping me unload our dishwasher by drying the plastic kids plates and cups. She had just a couple more dishes to do when she sighed and remarked "This is such hard work Mummy, I'd better go play a game soon!" :)

    I've loved the inspiration to be de-cluttering, and as always love reading about your grandbabies :)

  21. hi.
    wow you have been on IKEA i see..(the greenish tealight holder) i have one of these my self you see :-)
    nice,make me glad .

  22. Both my husband and I were very lucky. We had parents who did not consider that there was such a thing as a gender job. Both of us learned to take care of ourselves - from domestic duties to mechanical and gardening. And we continued on this way. Of course there are certain jobs that we prefer to do and also that we are better at but we still exchange responsibilities all the time.

    This flexible and sensible way of living was brought home with a vengeance when I became ill. A terrible time could have been made much worse if I had had to worry that my husband could not take care of our home and family and animals all by himself.

    When I took home economic classes in school we were taught to do dishes in the way that you describe but a bit different. My mother was horrified that the teacher did not teach us to rinse and soak first and she threatened us with bodily harm if we ever tried to do dishes by skipping those steps. And she was right. I remember helping with dishes after meals that we were invited to. The fact that the dishes were not rinsed was awful. Made me gag a bit. It did not matter if the glasses were washed first if by the time you were doing the bowls there were bits of food floating in the sink. Changing your wash water when needed and having separate and clean rinse water is also very important.


  23. How cute is Jamie! He looks so grown up!
    I'm a long way from being a Grandparent but am well on the way to being a parent and very aware of all my bad habits and so am trying very hard to avoid them with my little one! She's just gone 3 and I'm not the most organised person in the world and so together we're learning to finish one thing before moving on to another. I'm also learning to cook with a 3 year old shadow! Any mixing, whisking and "painting" has been taken over by my little one and she's very good at it too! The other day she was "painting" chicken pieces with mustard when she noticed me beside her and she said - Mammy, you sit down, I'll make lunch!
    I think we're well on the right road!! :)

  24. I had my kids so late (36 and 40) that I'm not sure I'll ever see grandkids! I think it comes of being the youngest of 8 and watching my siblings with kids in my teens--no better birth control than that!

    I'm a relatively new reader, and while I have not done the "August challenge" officially, we've been going through virtually every room in the house in the past couple of weeks--cleaning, purging, painting, etc. No more out-of-date medications, no more 6-foot dust bunnies in the closets or corners, new life in the kitchen, a new purpose to the old "play room" as art and craft space. It's feeling good! I have a way to go, but we're starting to walk the walk when it comes to simplifying and changing how we live.
    (Some of this appears on my blog:

  25. I love the words you wrote "When I work during the day making the bed, baking our bread, peeling vegetables, cleaning the stove or the fridge, I feel that everything is as it should be. How could it be otherwise when I am doing such useful work." In the day to day task of raising a family with six children, I often find myself frustrated that I'm doing the dishes again and again or the laundry again and again and again. Thank you for the reminder that it is such useful work to take care of our families for nothing is more important in the long haul.

    1. I know it's often difficult and you do certain things over and over again, but that works helps you shape your children, and you in the long term. You're doing such a good job with six kids to care for, as well as you and your husband but I promise you one thing - when your children are all grown up and gone, you'll wonder why all that time went by so fast. {{hugs}}

  26. An outside looking into my house would think I despise domestic duties. During the working week we get through the dishes only every couple of days, there are clothes laying around the place, folding to do, washing on top of the washing machine, dusty floors. It's certainly not filthy but it gets to quite a mess.

    I actually love doing domestic work. I take great fulfilment from folding the washing and putting it away, getting into a nicely made bed in the evening, having a clear sink and cupboard tops, making the shower door sparkle.

    Thing is, I don't get the time / can't bring myself to make the time, during the working week. My work is both physically and mentally draining and by the time I get home at around 6:30pm, like many professionals I am sure, I just want to take my shoes off, have something to eat and go to bed. The mess, well, that can wait til the weekend.

    I yearn - I really do - for the day when I can put _my space_ first. When the house becomes what it once was - where living and doing took place. The surrounding areas - the yard - were where other work was done, farming, building, etc. That's all I want.

    I put an offer in for that place just the other day. I am a step closer.

    Pav x

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  28. Your last two paragraphs regarding teaching children to be a part of domestic life and work is so true. It hit home for me and I plan to share your blog with my brother who needs a little help to realize he needs to be inspired to share that with his four year old son.


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