There’s a quote about housekeeping that says, “Cleaning your house while you have kids is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos.” Kids can be slobs so that the house can be already a mess with kids going to school – you will be dealing with wet towels thrown in the floor or chairs, dirty socks kicked off in the entryway, crumbs of snacks leading to the kitchen table, and school bags were thrown at the couch every day. But it even gets worse when kids are at home with you all day because you decide to homeschool your kids!
If you’re a homeschooling mom, housekeeping can be so far down on your priority list. You might be on a point you can’t invite company over because of the mountain of laundry on your couch and all the toys and learning materials on your living room floor and dining table.
Unfortunately, cutting out housekeeping would be unacceptable. Your home would be a chaotic mess that would negatively impact everyone’s safety, health, and peace of mind. Nobody wants that!
Here are a few tips and tricks to be more successful both at homeschooling and housekeeping.
Try to start every morning with a clean slate.
Before going to bed, make it your goal to have all the dishes done and put away and the coffee made ready to hit the button. Ask your kids to keep their study stations clean before bed. Starting your day dealing with the messes from yesterday is a mood-killer. Save all your energy for the tasks for the day – and that begins by waking up to a clean kitchen.
Allow yourself a bit of grace.
Your house will not be on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, so give yourself a break. Unless you’re a celebrity, and even then, they have people who come in and stage the house for the magazine feature. Accept that your house is not spotless nor perfect. So what? The fact that you’re a mom who is busy raising children and homeschooling them is far more important and admirable than having a spotless house.
Whenever you can, make a plan. That means having meal plans, homeschool plans, cleaning plans, shopping plans – anything that needs to be taken care of.
Having a meal planned together lessens the stress and hassle that the questions “What’s for dinner, mom?” can cause. During the weekends or twice a month, make sure you have at least a rough plan for your meals all throughout the week. Knowing what you’re going to eat can help you save money when you go grocery shopping because you’re less likely to buy extra perishables that might be used for a recipe but end up getting spoiled or rotten in the fridge. Also, you can save money from unplanned takeouts unless you plan ahead of time to have them.
Planning household chores can also help you keep track of your home upkeep. Know what needs to be done at home daily like sweeping, cooking, dishes, making up the bed, wiping down the bathroom, straightening the living rooms, etc. Then, make a list of things that need to be done weekly, like deep cleaning the bathroom, washing bed sheets, laundry, vacuuming, and others. Plan what day you would tackle these weekly tasks and assign one for a day.
Teach the children chores.
Many homeschool moms complain about being stressed at home but go on to admit that their kids do nothing around the house. Including the kids and letting them participate in housekeeping is the best secret to successful homeschooling. Since the kids are part of the household, they are also part of the reason for housekeeping. Teaching them how to tackle household chores would also be a good life skill for them, so by the moment they are to move out or go to college, they can handle living on their own.
Remember, children are not too young to help out! You can teach a child who can walk some simple tasks like emptying the dryer into a laundry basket, picking up toys, and putting them in a bin very early on. Start small and build on those skills around the house.
There are many ways to help you implement this and encourage your kids to do their share of work around the house. You can make a card for each room of the house with a checklist of things you expect to be done by the day. The kids can pick a card, do the tasks, then flip the card upside down when it’s done. You can also write out the list of jobs for the day on a whiteboard, then let them decide which they will each be willing to do, and be accountable to finish them properly.
But having a chore chart is probably one of the best ways to get the kids to help. You can attach a chart to your fridge – one per kid. Then, when they do a good job on their chores, they earn a star.
Add cleaning breaks to your homeschooling day.
While your house can’t be perfectly clean every minute of every day, it can be cleaned at times during the day. While they can have fun making crafts, painting, playing with clay, doing science projects, make sure you also assign clean-up times right after.
Before school starts, you can teach kids to get ready – this means they must have their breakfast done, dishes washed, hair combed out, teeth brushed, and bed made. In the middle of your homeschooling day, you can get them to do a few more chores. Then finally, in the end, have everyone clean up their study materials and see how many more chores you can all finish together.
Mix it up.
Kids can get quickly bored doing the same chores all the time. Instead of assigning each of them a certain chore to do consistently, give them two choices and let one child pick the chore they want to do. The other chore automatically goes to the other kid. Switch it up by choosing the opposite of what they did the day before.
Make it a competition.
Kids love a little competition. Make it a contest and see how many tasks they can get done before the timer beeps. This will help them get pumped to work, and before you know it, the whole house will be clean. Then, you can treat them to a fun family game, a yummy treat, or a little outing. After all, it is done, and everyone did a great job. If they don’t participate, you can either take things away until they do their tasks to earn them back or have them donated to charity.
Have a bin for every kid.
The schooling part of the day can be the messiest time at your house. Your little ones are using toys, puzzles, art supplies, and other things that keep them busy and happy while learning. To make everything more organized, you can switch from storing everything on bookshelves to having bins for school stuff for every kid. At the end of the day, they can put their stuff inside the bin and shut the lid. This way, the mess is all inside instead of being on display on the shelf.
Add review times while cleaning.
You can have your kids recite the multiplication table while putting away dishes together. Phonics review can be done at the grocery store, while history dates can be reviewed while folding laundry. The list can go on.
Declutter as you go along with the day.
Have a space for everything! If everyone knows where things belong, it’s less likely to end up in a pile somewhere or be all over the floor or table. Things need a designated storage spot. After use, make it a habit to bring back stuff to where they belong and train your kids to do the same. Teach your kids to put their own dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Sort your mail as soon as you receive it. Tell them to keep their toys in the bins after they are done playing with them.
Then, purge the things that only fill your home with clutter and chaos. A lot of people keep stuff around that they aren’t using but can be helpful to someone else. Keep a donate bag handy, and when you notice your kids are not using any of their stuff anymore, you can toss them in the donate bag. The less stuff you have, the less you have to pick up, put away and vacuum around!
Keep a kid at your side whenever you’re doing a chore.
If you need to fix dinner, ask one of the kids to help you cook. When you need to water the plants in your garden, ask one to lend a hand. You can do the jobs together and chat as you go. Do this to teach your kids to be hard workers and appreciate all the things that moms do.
It will pay off someday soon before you know it. For instance, if you get sick, your kids can be responsible enough to take care of things when you can’t while being willing to do so.
Make sure to treat yourself and your kids with a reward.
To keep morale up for both you and your kids, make sure to treat them with rewards every now and then. Getting all the chores done in the chore chart or finishing the to-do list could mean fun time, movie time, a trip to the ice cream shop, or whatever activity you will all enjoy together.
Let the little things go.
Does it matter if your laundry isn’t folded the way you prefer it? Does it matter if the dishes are not stored in your dish rack the way you would organize them? Take a second to think that these clothes will end up in the laundry again very soon, and those plates will get used again the next meal. By letting go of your high expectations, you can show your kids that homemaking is a skill that they will develop with practice. Let them master these skills on their own with your gentle guidance.
Hire it out.
This may seem like a luxury, but when you think about it, hiring help to come over once a month is just about the same price as having dinner out as a family. You can hire out cleaning services or errand runners to do the tasks you can’t do anymore. You can also look for a local grocery store to order online and either go pick them up or have them delivered to your store.