One of the questions that women ask about homeschooling is: How do you fit in housework and homeschooling in your life? It is a big subject and much has been written, whole blogs even, on how to manage our home and homeschool our kids, but when we look at our housework from a family discipleship perspective the question actually changes.
It isn’t about balancing housework/home management with homeschooling – it is about managing your home.
As a wife, mother and homemaker I have goals to create a home for my family and to train my children. They are not mutually exclusive; in fact they work together beautifully.
The kids are involved in cleaning house
From a very young age (3-4yo) I started training my children to do chores – do the breakfast dishes, empty bins, wipe bathroom benches, fold tea towels. As they grew older they have been able to take on more responsibilities – make beds, hang laundry, sweep the floor. Now as teens my kids can manage the whole house, they can prepare for a dinner party, potluck or birthday party, they help with the grocery shopping and can do the weekly laundry.
We have three chore times throughout the day – after breakfast, after lunch and before dinner (plus dinner time dishes). We do a little at each time, bit by bit keeping the house clean and tidy. They are also responsible for their own bedrooms.
I have a housework plan
I use lists – I’m a fan of Flylady though have read many other home management books. I have a roster for my kids, which they rotate weekly, and I have lists for myself. I also have a few extra spots scheduled into my week where I’m (supposed to) iron, deep clean and deal with the floor.
One of the things that I learnt from Emily Barnes early in my married life is that if I have a plan and the plan doesn’t happen on the expected day (like dusting on Friday) then unless it is an urgent situation, dusting can simply wait till next Friday – I don’t pile everything I didn’t do today onto tomorrow, I simply do it next week though it may well become a priority then.
I also have my top 5 – these are the things that make my house function well.
- Dishes done throughout the day (after each meal when possible)
- Floor swept – I like daily, but it works every second day. Sweeping everyday means stuff gets picked up (and hopefully put away) so you can sweep which helps keep things tidy.
- Bathroom – I like my bathroom bench and toilet done daily. We’ve timed ourselves and it takes less than 5 minutes.
- Food – I like to write a menu plan as this helps me know what I need to do in the kitchen for the day, it helps me shop efficiently and it helps use up left overs in the fridge/pantry.
- Clean Clothes – I struggled with the laundry when my kids were little, washing was done every day, though not always put away. Oh the joys of a grown family where laundry now gets put away!!
Settling for my top 5 helped me be okay with not getting everything done. The dusting may not get done for weeks, the cobwebs may not be done for months, and that is okay. My house is clean(ish) and more importantly it is functioning well.
There are times though that it stops functioning well – suddenly the mess is distracting, we find ourselves moving a pile from here to there and back again as life happens, we lose stuff, and we lose motivation to be productive/creative. When this happens we have a blitz.
When all else fails, call for a Blitz
Blitz is a word that the kids coined for a quick clean of the house. We set the timer and we go for it. The kids loved the TV Show, Backyard Blitz, where people completely changed their backyard under a time constraint. This has stuck in our family for over 10 years.
- A quick blitz simply means pick up everything around the house and put it in the right place – generally 15 minutes.
- A Blitz (notice capital B!) is 15minutes in each room. We work together in one room. When the kids were little I’d stand in the door way and delegate a set mess to each child and then we’d set the timer and work like crazy. If they finished their mess they’d either come to me for another, or help someone else finish theirs and then we’d move onto the next room. Doing it this way trained them to see messes, now they can see it for themselves.
- Another thing I would do it run through the house, often early in the morning when everyone is asleep, and throw all the bits and pieces into a basket. After morning chores we would put everything away – this was another way that worked really well for the younger kids as their focus was in the basket not the whole room which can be overwhelming.
It’s about teaching my kids Responsibility
Having my children work alongside me, and grow in their own sense of responsibility towards the home, has meant that the home is kept clean and we still have time to do other things together – like math, science, sewing, chess, gardening, reading books, and studying the Bible.
Though I have set times when we deal with the house stuff my life isn’t segregated where sometimes I’m a homemaker and sometimes I’m a homeschooler – I’m just me – a mum training her kids as we live life together!
Throughout the week I share with other blogs – check out my Link ups and Party page