The Atmosphere of home
If you take a walk down your road or a drive around town and look at homes (I've done this) your mind comes to conclusions of what is happening behind those walls. I love to drive around in the evening when it's dark and see home life.
Charlotte Mason said, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life." She believed that as much as one third of education is atmosphere! Is atmosphere just about freshly baked brownies and a beautifully decorated home? Read on...
Atmosphere is about beauty, security, and ideas.
Beauty. Beauty is defined differently to every person. We look at nature and say, "that is beautiful". Art work is described as beautiful. Our homes can be places of beauty. In my life I have seen the most beautiful small or large homes. The size of the home never seemed to matter, the homemaker is what seemed to matter.
Ideas to add beauty:
Bring nature elements indoors. Sea shells, rocks, leaves, even sticks can make beautiful arrangements in your home. I prefer natural decor and most of the times those "pieces" are not breakable.
Find art work at a discount. I often shop at resale places and walk over to the framed art sections. I look through the images for a painting that is either: Classic art or speaks to my soul. For instance, my two year old daughter has a replica of a Monet painting on her wall. I believe it cost me $1 and it isn't large. She is seeing beauty and gently being introduced to Monet through this painting.
Order is beautiful. Years ago my older daughter and I were getting ready to decorate for fall. She and I love to get our bins out and go through each box. That particular day our home was not in order. It was a Monday. I remember her saying to me, "mommy we should clean up first because it isn't fun decorating a messy house!" How true that is! Adding more clutter and decor to an already disorderly home isn't pretty and she noticed that at eight years old. Opening a closet that is orderly is beautiful to me. Working to organize is worth our time and inspires beauty! Children do notice this part of our atmosphere.
A home atmosphere can be orderly and beautiful but if children are not secure, they are not learning or thriving. Children need a sense of security. In my years of raising children, I have noticed they're NEED for knowing their world is okay. God made children with an extra organ called "security". To cultivate environments of self-education, our children need to feel like everything is okay, and if something happens, mommy and daddy can handle it. Society is mistaken to think our decisions don't affect our children. While I do believe children are adaptable, they are sensitive and whole persons. We should make every attempt to have security in our homes. That includes spiritual security.
Ways to cultivate security:
Don't ask children to deal with adult issues. The other day at the grocery store I overheard a mother scolding her preschool age child for not remembering what they needed from the grocery store. "How sad", I thought. When issues arise that are adult issues, leave children out of the equation until their is a right time or never ask them to ponder the thoughts.
Don't threaten children with things like, "I am divorcing your dad/mom". "We are going to be bankrupt". "If you keep acting like this I am taking you to public school"...How do children know if your word means anything if you make empty threats? Threats like this force children to live in an insecure world.
Keep your temperament level. If you have anger issues, your children are not secure because they don't know what you will do. Our children need to know, if they spill their glass of milk, mommy won't flip out. I have made a commitment not to freak out when something happens. I have told my children, "mommy may not be perfect at this, but I will try really hard not to freak out when you tell me something I don't want to hear". Think about it: As our children grow they will tell us things we don't want to hear. We need to be a safe place to run when they are in trouble or need us. Train yourself not to freak out. I don't know how else to say it...just calmly deal with problems. I have a habit of saying, "it's okay". I have trained myself to say that and I do probably every day!
Don't worry children over every aspect of your financial life. I DO believe children need to learn about money, yes, but not live in worry because you are worried. Give our worries to God, trust HIM, and live a life of dependency on God in front of your children. I remember years ago, being broke, and not saying a thing to my children. I would silently say, "Lord, feed us."
Children must be fed a constant stream of ideas. That leads to self-education. Ideas are everywhere. I have a challenge for you: Walk room to room in your home and ask yourself: What is the function of this room? Thoughts may emerge like, "We read in this room or we eat in this room." Okay... next, think of what ideas can be cultivated in those rooms. For example: In the kitchen we can create all types of baked goods, decorate cakes, make dinner, set a beautiful table, make meals for guests, etc.
I believe when you tour your own house and make mental notes of what purpose the rooms provide, ideas will flow! What room can your children do crafts in? We do crafts in our laundry room. I have a table and preschool size chairs in that room.
Ideas come from every where in your home! Books, crafts, pictures on the wall, documentaries, cleaning (yes!), pretend play, audio books, pets, decorations...the list is endless.
Give your children things to create with. Children are most happy when they are creating.
I have bought video cameras, dress up clothes, science tools, building blocks, bath toys for toddlers, board games, outdoor games, indoor plants to watch, fabric pieces to sew with ( my older children all know how to sew and have made outfits for their stuffed animals!) Allow your children to make their own plays, write the script and make costumes. Go to thrift stores and find dress up items. Make a place in your budget to find inexpensive "idea starters".
Our home atmosphere is a large part of our children's education. As Charlotte Mason Kindergarten begins our school year this fall, we will have constant encouragement and conversations about home atmospheres.
Homemakers are needed...you are needed! We are society builders...PART 2 tomorrow!