If you are expecting to have the same clean, picture-perfect house you had (or imagined you would have) when your kids left the house for six hours a day to attend school, you may be striving for the unattainable as a homeschooler. The reality is that you and your children are now at home most of the day eating, working, playing, eating again, conducting experiments, making crafts, taking things out, then working, playing and eating some more, with very little time left for housekeeping duties.
However, keeping your home picked up, basically organized and hygienically clean is a more realistic goal when you’re homeschooling — especially when your children are younger and still learning to help out with some household chores.
Before I became a mom — and at homeschooling mom at that — my forte was creating merchandising plans for a large international retailer. Basically, my job was telling the stores where to put stuff and make it all look pretty. I haven’t lost that love, so if you came to my house, you might see shadows of what my vision was under the piles of books and dish-filled sink. Now I am challenged with a small space (two bedrooms, one bath) and a lot going on in that space every day as I homeschool my young son and daughter with a new baby in the house.
I’m a list maker, and I’ve made and tried to follow a dozen routines. But just like with homeschooling, housework falls into the moment-by-moment category, asking for God’s help to decide what are the more important tasks to accomplish for the day, versus just being driven by the urgent.
A few tips that have helped me feel like I’m moving forward in homemaking are:
- Less toys — less things in general. Keep only the most precious or educational ones. If it’s not used weekly, store it.
- Find a place for everything. If it doesn’t have one, give it away or sell it.
- Use time-saving cleaning supplies such as disinfectant wipes for the bathroom and a Swiffer mop, Swiffer toilet bowl scrubber and Swiffer duster. Yes, making your own cleaners is a beautiful idea, and one day may come to fruition once you have your routine down or the kids move out. But in the meantime, saving time can save your sanity.
- Talk to your husband about what chores he can help with if he’s willing to.
- Baskets, baskets, baskets. I think you can never have enough. IKEA is my best friend — I even spend my birthday money there.
- Consolidate all those piles into one place, that way when you are looking for something before you’ve had time to file it in the RIGHT place, you only have to look in one location — not all over the house.
- Think small. When you are in a room, try and take at least one, if not more, items with you to drop off in the next room where it belongs. Or clear off one counter-top space of clutter in the 10 minutes you have. Try doing a little in little increments every day, instead of taking on a lot with the non-existent time you will never have while homeschooling.
How do you keep your house reasonably clean and organized while homeschooling? Have you developed any helpful or time-saving systems that really work in your home? What challenges are you still trying to solve in this area? Join us this month at NextGen Homeschool as we discuss Ten Things to Let Go of This Year, and join the conversation! Find the series here.