How do you keep your house clean when you homeschool?
That’s a good question.
Here’s the short answer: you don’t. *wink*
Well, not perfectly clean anyway.
Now, let me clarify: I am a born-perfectionist.
My husband and my kids THINK our house is clean all the time.
I’m pretty sure that my five children also believe that they are living as indentured slaves, forced to work against their wills by the Slave Queen (that would be me).
But I digress.
Apparently, we do have a few tricks that work.
Perfectionism aside, I would venture to say that our home is orderly.
And it’s beautiful; most days, I enjoy our home.
So that’s what I’m sharing in this post:
My tips and hacks- and photos of what our house actually looks like most days of the week.
(Just don’t get any bright ideas about asking for pictures of our closets.)
If you feel like this post is helpful, will you hit a “share” button? xoxo
#1 Teach Your Kids to Clean Up After Themselves
“Raising children who wipe their own spills is a lifesaver for moms and also develops great skills in their own lives. Fight the urge to control, stress, and immediately clean. Have patience and allow your little ones to wipe up their own mess.”
Sally Clarkson, 10 Gifts of Wisdom
Just in case you’re rolling your eyes (or rolling on the floor laughing) right now, let me say that this really is a practical step.
And I have really messed up at this point a lot as a mother.
Some of you may be the doting moms who do everything for their kids. (Not guilty there.)
Or, maybe you expect too much from your kids and get mad at them when they make a mess… then angrily clean up after them yourself. (Guilty.)
Neither scenario is particularly desirable, but we all probably tend toward one or the other.
I like Sally Clarkson’s practical advice:
Be calm. Teach kids to take responsibility and take action, but don’t over react to the “spilled milk” episodes in life.
#2 Make Daily Chores a Part of Your Habit Training
This year, I’ve been doing a lot habit training (read catch up work) with my kids.
Back in January, I purchased Ashley Buffa’s Smart Kids Chore System course and it’s been worth every penny.
I mentioned that I am a perfectionist, so I’m great at managing the details of keeping house myself.
What I’m not so great at is teaching my kids how to have a great work ethic and be team players in the family unit.
That’s where the Smart Kids Chore System helped me out so much; I learned a lot watching Ashley’s videos in the course, then working through the action points and implementing the system with my kids.
(You can check it out here.)
Training kids to keep up with daily chores is such a life-saver for a busy mom.
Here are a few daily chores my kids do:
- take out the trash
- rinse and load dishes in the dishwasher
- unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher
- set the table for meals
- help clear the table after meals
- tidy up the downstairs living area after school
- help sweep the floors (older kids)
- put away toys and tidy bedrooms
- clean out the “clutter basket”
- help feed/water pets and outside animals
- wash and put away their own clothes (my teenage girls)
- put away their clean laundry (the boys: ages 11, 9, and 7)
#3 Reward Behavior
“There is nothing wrong with rewarding your children to help them learn to work well.”
Sally Clarkson, 10 Gifts of Wisdom
I agree with Sally Clarkson. Jeremy and I reward our kids for good behavior, helpfulness, doing chores with a good attitude, etc.
We use Ashley’s “Allowance Black Book” as a guide for our kids’ weekly allowances. I really like The Smart Kids Chore System.
There is also a “reward” (think sowing and reaping) for wrong or unacceptable behavior. Messy rooms, back talk, fighting, and the like, cause my kids to lose free time, privileges, toys, or whatever.
How does this translate to a cleaner home?
I haven’t had to clear the dining room table after school for weeks, since my kids are motivated to clean up after themselves.
That works for me!
#4 Make it Easy for Your Kids to Clean Up
My home is far from perfectly organized.
But, I have learned that in order to maintain a semblance of order in my home, there has to be a measure of organization.
For example: have you ever barked at your kids, “Get this bedroom clean NOW!” and then stomped out of the room?
If your kids are half grown and at least half motivated, maybe the job got done. But, if your kids are young like mine, you can nag and fuss and threaten all week long, and the room is going to stay a mess.
1. Because you’ve got to inspect what you expect (supervise), and
2. Kids have to know where to put all their stuff.
Bins, baskets, shelves and boxes are a mother’s best friends!
If I expect my kids to clean up their school work by themselves after a day’s lessons, then they need to know where to put their things. So we established a simple routine:
1. My kids each have a book bag or back pack; school books belong here at the end of the day.
2. We have jars and cute little buckets (repurposed herb pots) for school supplies, and these are to never leave the dining room! They belong on the buffet in the dining room when we’re not doing school work or a craft.
3. At the end of the week, school bags belong back in the “homeschool” closet in the living room. Out of sight!
This is just one example, but once we established this little routine it has worked like clock work. My kids know what to do, and where stuff goes. They know what I expect when I say, “Have you cleaned up your school work?”
Yes, I have to be consistent in supervising and following up; when I am, things stay on track. Less work for me and a whole lot neater dining room. Most of the time. 🙂
#5 Adjust Your Expectations with Reality
What do you expect your home to look like?
I love inspiring homemaking magazines, blogs, and Pinterest boards, but 99%of those aspirations aren’t practical in my life. My home looks lived-in, and that’s because it is.
We live here. We work here. We learn here. We make messes and memories here.
There’s nothing perfect about it. At all!
If you drop by my home during the week, you’ll find clutter.
You’ll find dust.
You’ll find toys on the floor and shoes by the back door.
Okay, and you’ll probably find at least a few dishes in the sink.
I had a whole lot of expectations about my house that had to go out the door when I became a homeschooling mom.
My life gets messy, and I have to be okay with that.
#6 Set Aside One Day a Week Just for Cleaning
Some of the best advice I’ve ever received from another homeschooling mom is, Don’t try to deep clean every day of the week! Make ONE day cleaning day, and just maintain the rest of the week.
My “cleaning day” has changed through the years, depending on our family dynamics and schedule. Right now, it’s typically Saturday.
Weekends are when I vacuum, mop, dust, and just give the house a good work over. The older my kids get, the more I turn the “deep cleaning” chores over to them.
How does this help?
Well, today I was sitting in the middle of our living room rug with my six and eight year olds, working through a phonics lesson. I couldn’t help noticing that the floor needs swept and the rug needs vacuumed. It’s the middle of the school week, and I can tell!
Normally, this would drive me to distraction and make me feel irritated, but I know that my cleaning day is coming up. So I let it go.
If someone comes over before I get the floor cleaned on Saturday… well, I guess they’ll get to see how I really live!
These are just a few thoughts and ideas I have about homemaking and homeschooling.
Like I said, I don’t have all the answers and I certainly don’t have my act together all the time.
I do strive to be a good steward of my time, home, and resources, and the Lord has to help me work out all the kinks in between!
If you need some help in this area (I know I do!), take a few minutes to check out Ashley Buffa’s Smart Kids Chore System.
This course is totally worth the $29 and the time it takes to work through the course (I finished it in two to three weeks).
What would you add to this list, Mamas?
What questions do you have that I can tackle?
Here’s to living well-