Working at home

26 August 2013
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!

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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.

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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.