Our family recently took a break from our “regular” school studies to go on a bit of a road trip and then take time to recover from said road trip. Just the other day my husband took the very, very brave step of telling me how great the house had been looking since we’d been home. Like, the house isn’t normally clean and tidy and vacuumed and mopped and dusted?!? I jokingly, in mock-offense, shot back that he could either have a clean home or educated children but never, EVER, both!
It’s one of those areas that’s a constant struggle for most of us homeschooling families, isn’t it? How do we balance all of our responsibilities as they relate to our kids’ education and still manage to keep our homes some measure of clean?
I’m not even talking showroom, cover-of-a-magazine clean; I want to know how we keep clean clothes in the drawers, papers and colored pencils from swallowing us whole, our feet from sticking to the kitchen floor, and dust blankets from forming on the horizontal surfaces. Granted, we all have different standards but I’ve never met a homeschooling mom that doesn’t struggle with keeping a home (and all that comes with it) alongside her homeschool schedule.
So, that’s what I want to talk about today. Let’s look at some of the tried and true schedules and strategies that busy homeschool moms can use in their everyday lives, shall we?
Flylady – You’ve probably already heard of her, and if you’re a detail-lover, this is your mecca! The Flylady has oodles of steps to decluttering, developing good habits, and keeping a rotating schedule to stay on top of the bigger projects. The Flylady community is truly massive and you can find bottomless support from ladies exactly where you are. You can sign up for email reminders if that kind of thing is helpful for you or check out the Flylady Facebook page if it’s more you’re style! A word of caution: the Flylady method doesn’t work for everyone, and the sheer mass of information can be overwhelming! But Flybabies everywhere have found her strategies a great way to develop new habits without having to create your own lists or reinvent the wheel. Which is exactly what she was in my life, the perfect jumping off point.
Connie, the homeschooling mom over @ Smockity Frocks wrote this post about a truly brilliant idea she’s put into practice with her family. Saturday mornings are deep cleaning days at the Smockity house and Connie’s kids wake up EXCITED to clean! Wait…..excited?!? Yep! And she says yours can too. Each family member has assigned jobs for the day, and when it’s all done Connie grades each person on how well their work was done. If the house is clean before 4pm they all hop in the car and hit Sonic’s Happy Hour for 1/2 price slushies. Everyone gets a slushie no matter how high or low they score, but the higher the score, the bigger the slushie. A grand prize, the massive Sonic Route 44 slushie, is awarded to the highest scorer of the week. Let me tell you, I used to live somewhere that had Sonic restaurants and the happy hour slushies were a true family favorite. I would gladly, happily, JOYFULLY clean my house like a champ if the reward was a weekly Sonic slushie, no joke. I like this idea so much I plan on putting it into practice myself as soon as I figure out a practical/available/realistic weekly reward. Sonic is not an option in rural Montana, but I’ll think of something!
Jamie, the woman behind the blog at the Simple Homeschool, adopted a once-a-month deep cleaning day that worked well for her while her kids were younger. She shares a three part series on why it worked, how it evolved and how it might for you as well. Her family recently developed a more “regular” schedule now that her kiddos are older and better able to pitch in with the housekeeping. I think the biggest thing to take away from any of these strategies is to use what works for as long as it works and be willing to adjust, adapt and move on when circumstances change. We are homeschoolers after all, this should be our specialty!
I read this post from homeschool mom Amy of Raising Arrows last year, and it’s stuck with me all this time. She does a beautiful job at examining the heart of why we work to keep a tidy, ordered home and some of those barriers that keep us from achieving it. She outlines a sort of flip-flop cleaning schedule she’s put to work in her family, where the chores and housekeeping tasks are done later in the afternoon. Because the house gets cleaned later in the day it stays tidy enough to comfortably get the next day’s studies started without stressing the mess. This philosophy works really well in my home! As a really cool bonus, Amy hosted a link-up the day after her original cleaning & homeschooling post and more than 60 ladies linked up their posts about cleaning, time management and keeping order in their days. What a great resource!
One tip I read years ago (and for the life of me I cannot remember where) has been front and center in my “cleaning strategy” if you will. This book suggests that you ask your husband to list the top 3 issues that irk or stress him the most when he comes home from work and the house is messy, then make a concentrated effort to make those hotspots a priority. I asked my guy a few years ago, and you know what? The things he named (only 2, he couldn’t think of 3!) weren’t what I thought they’d be. In fact, they were shockingly easy to tackle and he notices the effort. Anything that gives me the boost to regularly tackle specific areas while simultaneously showing honor to my husband is a win in my book.
Do you struggle in this area? What have you found that works for your family? I know it’s one of the top issues for most of us, so let’s chat about it!