Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Home: Showcase or Workshop?

Homeschooling and a clean house don't seem very compatible. Well, it can be clean, but it doesn't seem to remain uncluttered very long.

The scene of conflict: my dining room table. I clear it off, put a vase of pretty flowers in the center, and enjoy the bareness of it for about an hour before an art project, the sewing machine or the computer sneaks back to stake a claim on my table. The battle raged for quite a season before I decided a perspective change was the solution. I strung up the white flag and finally made peace with my dining room table.

The cause of the battle was whether my home was to be a showcase or workshop.

A showcase:
It does bring a thrill of satisfaction and order to see it clean and neat and shining, everything in its place! I admire my friends' homes when I enter to see everything where it belongs and things clean and nice. It gives peace to the atmosphere. All is in place. Everything in order. Visitors welcome without any feeling of embarrassment. Ah . . . that is not my home.

A workshop:
While you are raising kids, and especially if they are in your home learning all day long, you can take the attitude that your home is going to be a workshop, a place where the daily work of learning and growing goes on. When you enter an artist or a scientist's workshop, you expect something to be in the center of the table, creation in process. You don't want to see a bare table, because that means the artist is not inspired, not working, not creating.

Of course, children have chores, they must learn to keep things clean, and put things away. I am not advocating chaos—just creativity—and a more relaxed attitude on the part of Mom for her inventing-doing-learning precious ones. My husband and son went to scout camp, and while they were gone, the girls and I left our violins out everyday, setting on the love seat. We are all taking beginning violin lessons (me too!) from a generous mom in our homeschool group. It is challenging to get enough practice time in. It was just amazing how much music was played during that week! The easy access and availability made it simple to pick up the violin and spend a few moments playing. And it was contagious . . . the other violins were picked up and played too! I see snatches of sewing being done the same way, when the sewing machine is in easy reach. What I am saying is that neatness can sometimes squelch creativity.

I've tried to move this whole affair of learning and creating that was happening on my dining room table down into my school room in the basement of my house. I told my children they could leave their projects out on the table and work on them whenever they wanted. It could be a workshop table with ongoing experiments!

No success.

I even tried converting Louisa's bedroom, the one nearest the living area, into a workshop. We set up tables and bookshelves and supplies. It was quite a job. No one (including myself) would work in there. It stayed clean and unused!

Sewing really belongs in my sewing area, which is where all my patterns, thread and fabric are stored. Louisa loves to sew and works on projects constantly. Do you think any of us will sew where we are supposed to? No. We'd rather haul the heavy sewing machine, baskets of fabric and thread and patterns up a flight of stairs to clutter up the dining room table.


Because being together trumps all other factors. The kids want to be where Mom is, and Mom is often in the kitchen or living area. So, the kids and their creative learning stuff gravitates right to the dining room table. No matter how big your house is, the kids want to live in the rather small area that Mom lives and works in. Isn't it true?

I do have a school room area, and as long as I am there, the children will come and read and work. But the moment I transfer upstairs to start a meal, or do laundry, here they all come. So, rather than engage in the ongoing struggle of workshop vs. showcase, I made a truce.

Let my house be a workshop!
Let my children do all the creative learning right in the dead center of the action. Let me enjoy every moment of this learning and experimenting and creating. Not long, I fear, the table will not only be clear and clean—but the chairs around it will be empty.

Hurrah for a thriving, bustling workshop!

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  • At July 23, 2009 at 8:47 AM , Blogger Toni said...

    what a wonderful post this is an area of struggle for me . - or at least my hubby-. we have so much going on projects and puzzels, and all sorts of art and things growing, it is hard ot contain to my classroom, which is right off our dinning living areas, so the kids tend to move to there. Your right where ever I am they tend ot not be to far away from.

    Blessings to you and yours.

  • At July 23, 2009 at 9:00 AM , Blogger Kelly said...

    Thanks for sharing this! You have inspried me to make my house a "workshop" as well!

    Kelly in Florida

  • At July 23, 2009 at 10:10 AM , Blogger Henke Family said...

    Thank you so much for this post! Thank you for all of your posts! I love reading your insights and ideas. I am always excited to read your blog!

  • At July 23, 2009 at 10:46 AM , Blogger jannza said...

    Oh, I do love this post. Thank you! I have fresh cherries on the diningroom table now and a quilt on the livingroom floor. The quilt is has edges getting trimmed for a binding and the cherries will be jam in a few short hours.

    We're living here and learning! No showcase for us. : )

  • At July 23, 2009 at 11:19 AM , Blogger Tereza said...

    What a wonderful post!! Sounds like my house...my kids follow like ducklings:):):)

  • At July 23, 2009 at 11:38 AM , Blogger jaradoron said...

    Thanks for the perspective!!

  • At July 23, 2009 at 2:06 PM , Blogger Jen said...

    My house is ironically cleaner than it generally is because baby is coming any day and the kids are getting a little break from school work! However, my sewing work is STILL all over the dining table!

  • At July 23, 2009 at 8:44 PM , Blogger Kim said...

    We hung our violins on the wall just to make them easy to practice. I love it. They are currently hung on nice looking hooks called string swings. Before we got those we used nails and pony tail holders. Just sling the pony tail elastic under the scroll of the violin and hang it up.

  • At July 24, 2009 at 7:46 AM , Blogger Lindy said...

    I'm going to link this so that the next time my friends "drop by" unannounced they know what all the clutter is!

  • At July 24, 2009 at 10:25 AM , Blogger Pam Asbury said...

    This is my first visit to your blog, and I love this post. We are embarking on the grand adventure called homeschooling this year. I'm very excited, a little scared, and very grateful for encouragement like this! Thank you.

  • At July 24, 2009 at 10:30 AM , Blogger Andrea said...

    I'm a little teary eyed after reading this one. My oldest son just got married and moved away and I've just discovered the heartbreak moms feel when they leave our home and close influence. Knowing that eventually I could have an organized home but no sweet little voices around helps me keep it in perspective. I've realized that Motherhood is far too short to stress out because occasionally I consider eating dinner on the kitchen floor because clearing the table of all the projects doesn't seem worth it. I don't want to waste a second of this season of my life!

  • At July 24, 2009 at 10:56 AM , Blogger Susan said...

    Oh Diane, this is so true!! This message really encouraged me to "lighten" up. We want the creative juices to flow. Our kids like being with us because that's where the creativeness began. And if our own mothers are still living (mine is), we want to be with them. Moms are like battery recharger. We get to recharge those "little batteries". And we get our battery recharged through fellowshipping with our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus with the Holy Spirit's help. Thank you, Susan

  • At July 24, 2009 at 3:53 PM , Blogger De Leo Family said...

    What inspiration! Your comments and ideas are such a blessing to me. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

    It has been so long since I have seen you or any of your kids. My mom is Denice Miller. I am her oldest, Mandy. Now I am a homeschooling mom with 4 kids of my own. My husband loves homeschooling and wishes that he could have enjoyed that blessing as a child. I find your blogs and heart to hearts fun and so useful. I struggle trying to keep my table pretty. I am giving that up to make room for creativity.

    Thank you again! It is so good to see how you handle challenges from bath towels to sewing and gardening to dining tables and more!

  • At July 24, 2009 at 3:56 PM , Blogger Dana said...

    Loved It! Mu older sister is the showcase kind of person. I am not. A house should be lived it. Showcases are for when the kids are gone and your grandkids can't visit often.

    Good for you! Now just spread the word.

  • At July 24, 2009 at 4:32 PM , Blogger OJT Mom said...

    I have long struggled with this as well. I grew up in a nicely clean home, but my mother was home during the day (when not busy with Relief Society). I keep reminding myself of that plus the fact that she had twice as large of a home as I do. Interestingly, she is not critical of me or my house.

  • At July 25, 2009 at 6:15 AM , Blogger pilgrimama said...

    "here they all come" Now isn't that the truth! As a young mother of four I often am amazed at that phenomenon!

  • At July 27, 2009 at 12:43 PM , Blogger JOHN said...

    Thank you so much for reminding me to just enjoy this season of our life...My husband and I have six children and we literally have to make some room on the dining table every evening for our meal. But you know what, I'm learning with each child that it seems the years go by faster and faster and I want them to be able to remember when they are grown that Mama and Daddy let them be creative and inventive...
    Take care.

  • At August 3, 2009 at 10:49 PM , Blogger Momma Sarah said...

    Thank you thank you thank you for this small reminder. I've felt a little guilty or out of place when we have visitors and I've often coveted friends homes that are kept so immaculate... I so needed this post to give me permission to let us live in our home.

  • At September 8, 2009 at 10:12 AM , Blogger Mrs. Brooke said...

    I love the idea of thinking of my house as a workshop...thanks!

  • At September 12, 2009 at 5:18 PM , Blogger Green Briar Ranch said...

    In the past three years we made a cross-country move, built a new house and had our oldest daughter married. We have muddled through schooling our five others during this time, but I have felt like it has certainly been lacking the structure I thought we should have. Many things are still in boxes, and school abounds in the kitchen- dining area. Lately, I have been trying to decide and praying whether or not to move it all to a basement room. God has answer my prayer by my stumbling across your blog this evening. It has been an encouragement and a blessing.


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