Fostering care for things in our home

If you have read any of my posts or know much about Waldorf early childhood, you will know how valued purposeful work is, that work that brings forth our willing into the world, to tend, care for and knit together our days.

When I was a child I loved polishing all my Nanna's brass plates, it gave me such an immense sense of achievement and pride, not only in what I could do but in helping and being a part of the day in a very real human and adult way.

That work I continue now with my little one and Friday mornings are reserved for this work which she undertakes with great enthusiasm. Window cleaning and outdoor gritting have been tasks of late which she has enjoyed with enthusiasm and is slowly mastering, but today called for a different kind of work, that involves all the senses.

Purposeful work is not only a nice way to describe what others would see as chores, but its the task of joyfully and soulfully caring for and tending to those tings we need to in life to thrive, its a way of showing that when care and attention is bestowed upon the most mundane task, joy can be found there. It is a process of learning that caring for things, cleaning and mending is just as important a part of looking after our planet and living a humble and sustainable life than it is to plant, and grow vegetables for example.

As a Waldorf home we have lots of natural nourishing toys made from natural materials - mostly wood and wool and if these are cared for they can be loved and played with for generations to come, only becoming more beautiful with age, wood gets richer in colour, smooth with a hand worn texture, wool may fade and bobble a little, but sometimes those work patches on a doll or puppet make it all the more loveable.

So once a month our purposeful work revolves around checking and caring for the toys we have. I usually do this on a rota, wood one month, woollens the next so as to make to process easer, wood we clean (sand if necessary) and oil before tightening any screws if need be on prams for instance. Woollens and fabric items such as dolls we mend gently spot clean or hand wash depending on the item.

I wanted to share what we use to clean our items in the hope that yours will get the longevity and care to be loved by future generations.

Wood Cleaner for heavy stained items

1/2 cup Salt

1/2 cup bicarbonate soda

A lemon cut in half.

Mix the Bicarbonate or soda and salt then rub over the wood, allow to sit for ten minutes before rubbing half a lemon over it, rinse under warm water, then wash with a natural olive oil based soap and dry with a towel. For items not heavily stained a normal wash will do.

Wood wax (use once wood is dry)

1 tbsp beeswax pellets (cosmetic grade)

4 tbsp cold pressed sunflower oil

5 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

Melt everything together, stir as it cools to keep it emulsified and then store in a jar with a lid in a cool dry place.

To use: liberally coat your item in it and let it sit for ten minutes then work the oil into the wood, use a lint free cloth to rub in any remaining wax and buff clean.

Wool hand wash solution (also works for silk too)

1 cup cool boiled water

1 teaspoon of liquid castile soap

2 teaspoons liquid lanolin

Mix all the ingredients together, add 1/4 of the solution to a bowl of warm water and gently submerge your items gently agitate and then leave to sit for around 30-40 minutes, agitate again an leave to sit for another twenty minutes then rinse well to ensure the solution is out of the fabric, dry naturally

Spot clean solution

Make a solution using liquid Castile soap and cool boiled water, it should be slightly soapy, use a damp cloth to rub onto the spot you need to clean, rub into a later then use a clean sry cloth to pat dry, hand to dry in an airy place

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