Homeschool moms often lament that once they find their groove homeschooling, they realize that they lost everything else they had in place in the process. Homeschooling isn’t so hard if the rest of life didn’t get in the way.
I have also heard it said in various ways that we have three areas that need our attention: great meals, quality teaching, and a clean house. However, people should not expect more than two of those to take place on any given day. I might add, a good night’s sleep to that list also.
Since schooling obviously can’t be compromised, we need to somehow figure out how to fit the other areas into our schedule at least at a satisfactory level on a routine basis. I would not necessarily consider myself an expert in this area, but more often than not I can go to bed with a clear conscience that my kids won’t get botchulism, we all have at least one clean outfit to put on in the morning, they are a day further down their educational track, and with a little creativity, we can probably find three meals’ worth of food around the house the following day, plus the half dozen snacks that they often require.
Here are some tips that I have learned along the way to maintaining order and my own sanity in the midst of homeschooling:
– Set boundaries. This is a great place to start. Does your school day have set hours? You might want to avoid answering the phone or checking email during those times. Any distraction from outside the house can most likely wait a few hours until the learning goals for the day are accomplished.
– Establish a routine. I know routines are not for everyone, but for me they give me such freedom, because once they are in place, life just flows. We have recently gone through a move, after having my in-laws move in, after having a baby, and life has been anything but routine. But, when my kids got up in the morning they knew they needed their beds made and clothes on. They knew what to expect from breakfast (and I knew what I was making). Even though routines need tweaking now and then, they can release our mind to worry about everything else on our plate and know the basics are covered.
– Keep the morning simple. I love to have a clean house to start the day. But, if I spend the time scrubbing and nagging the kids about getting everything spotless, we won’t start school until after lunch. So, the morning is basic. Get yourself ready, eat, and clean up breakfast. The rest of the house can be clean in time for a relaxing evening together, but I needed to ignore it in the morning so school could get done.
– Get everyone involved. They help make the mess, they help clean it. With the possible exception of the 9 month old, everyone has chores, and I’ll admit, even the 5 year old has kind of a lot. I need to make homeschooling a priority, which means my kids do end up doing more chores at home than their public school counterparts. We don’t have a hired janitor in our school, so when we do a messy project, we clean up the mess. We live in our house all day long, so it needs more cleaning than the families that are gone 8-4. I need to expect some extra messes, but that doesn’t mean that I should expect to clean them all up myself. It amazes me what a beautiful job my kids can do when they take the time and get rewarded for their work (even if it is just a dose of abundant praise).
– Start ’em young. By two or three years of age my kids begin to have a chore routine. It starts very basic, mostly learning self care. Making beds, picking up their room, clearing their place at the table. They have a responsibility just like anyone else. They know this and take great pride in being like the big kids.
– Use your weekends. I don’t mean to ruin your weekend with cleaning, but we do take some time on the weekend to tackle bigger cleaning projects and hopefully make sure that our week starts with a fairly clean house.
– Teach good habits. This takes lots of time and consistency, but when my kids habitually clean up after themselves, turn lights off, leave a place better than they found it, feel responsible for the appearance of the house, and learn to see tasks that need doing, our house is a different place. This is an ongoing process. We have definitely not arrived in this area, and I continue to grow my kids’ good habits. Reminders, group effort, lots of praise, and over time they, too, can mature into an adult that could care for a place of their own. I need to remember that I’m not raising kids, I’m raising future adults. It all has a purpose down the road.
Coming up I will share some of the specific ways I tackle laundry, meals, kids’ chores, and other areas of housekeeping. Any particular questions that you struggle with? Feel free to add them to the comments here or on facebook to hopefully get some inspiration from other homeschoolers as well.