Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working for us, answering the most common questions we get from today’s first-generation homeschooling moms.
What’s Working: Managing Daily Household Chores Around Homeschooling
Housework and homeschooling? Is it seriously possible to juggle both? Yes and no.
If you are expecting to have the same house you had or imagined you would have when your kids left the house for six hours a day, you may be striving for the unattainable. However, keeping a home picked up, basically organized and hygienically clean is a more realistic goal when you’re homeschooling.
Before I became a mom — and at homeschooling mom at that — my forte was creating merchandising plans for a large international retailer. So 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, dish-filled sink and dust-caked walls (no, it’s not that bad — but close). However, today 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, too.
I’d say on average I get the kitchen floor swept three times a day, other rooms swept once maybe (we have hardwood floors everywhere), “piles” moved from one place to another, trash off the counters, table wiped down for schoolwork, dishes loaded and unloaded, and maybe a pathway cleared from the door to the couch on a daily basis. Then about once a week when my kids are in a good groove of playing outside, I clean the bathroom from top to bottom. And on another day while watching an educational video with the kids, I’ll fold clothes. Then in the evening, we all put those piles of clothes away before bedtime.
Once every week or two, I take a whole morning with the kids just to clean their room and pull it back together. This includes tasks such as dusting, floor mopping, vacuuming couches and even working through their piles of paper to file or throw out.
I save weekends for when my husband and I together can tag team. Then if things really get out of hand around the house, I might ditch our weeknight bible study to stay home and just pull the living room back together. You get the idea… Housecleaning tasks are never completed all at once (unless we are preparing for a party, and even then, there a lot of doors that are kept closed).
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 worked for me, as in they help me feel like I’m moving forward in homemaking and not falling behind, 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 handle household chores while homeschooling? Have you developed any helpful or time-saving systems that really work in your home that you would like to share with us? Or are you frustrated and need some encouragement? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this important topic!