There is a fact about me that I have always been a little embarrassed to share. I hate housework of any kind. I have tried to narrow it down to my most and least favorite tasks, but the truth is that nothing about cleaning house appeals to me in any way.
I have to admit that I have gone through stretches in life when the condition of my home has consistently worsened while I have ignored chores in favor of just about any other activity.
But, when the clutter of the house increases, my ability to stay on target and reach my goals decreases. I might not like to clean house, but every member of my family needs the house to stay mostly in order for our mental and emotional health as well as our overall productivity.
Balancing Homeschooling and Cleaning House
There is no pat answer to the “how to balance homeschooling and housework” dilemma. Every family must find what works best for them. The key for our family has long been to enlist the children.
I will be the first to admit that it has not been an easy key. My kids are all almost grown now, and we’ve long since developed a nice, natural rhythm to weekly chores. But, that rhythm didn’t come overnight. The time, energy, and patience required to train my children to cooperate sometimes seemed overwhelming!
But, by the time I had three preschoolers running around the house, I knew I had to have their help or I would fall apart.
Here is a snapshot of what has worked for us.
We started chore training early.
I trained my children as toddlers to help with the very basic tasks of cleaning house, such as putting silverware away, folding washcloths, mating socks, carrying their dishes to the kitchen, and putting their own clothes away.
Over the years, I have added tasks as they have grown in maturity and ability. Obviously, there were still many times I had to remind my school-age children to do the very things I taught them first. But, they at least knew how!
We regularly upgraded our approach to cleaning house as a family.
Certain chores obviously cannot be handled by the younger kids. By extension, that means that there are some chores that an older child is not allowed to do, just to make sure a younger sibling has something to do. But, the key is to not let it stay that way.
In our family, each child was continually being taught new house cleaning responsibilities, challenged to move to the next step as maturity allowed. It was always changing, always growing.
Oh, and even though sometimes in our approach to cleaning house we had to reserve special, easy chores for the younger children, the truth is that no chore was beneath anyone, including Mommy. Frequently we all just pitched in and helped one another.
We weren’t afraid to rearrange to make cleaning house run more smoothly!
Okay, so maybe it’s more that I am a little bit addicted to household rearranging. But, the point is that sometimes the typical household organization just does not work if kids are to be involved with cleaning house.
For example, my youngest began emptying the dishwasher when he was four. To accommodate that, I had to do some reorganization in the kitchen. I moved all of our everyday dishes, serving bowls, and storage containers to the lower cabinets.
While there were still some dishwasher-safe items in the upper cabinets, for quite some time, most of it was down low. It was not quite as convenient for me, but what’s a little sacrifice when it means my little one can put away most of the dishes?
We scheduled time for cleaning house.
The biggest obstacle to getting my kids to help was my own frustration of having to remind them over and over and over again. So, we created a chore schedule. Specific house cleaning tasks fell on specific days. And although we didn’t have hard and fast clock times for completing chores, our routines reflected when during the day they should be done.
Our methods varied over the years, but the key was to make sure the chores were visible, as well as to ensure that each child knew that everyone had responsibilities. No one was being singled out or worked harder than anyone else.
I still had to frequently ask if they’d checked their chore list and completed each task, but I didn’t have to actually remind them of each and every chore.
We might not have an entirely clean house on any given day, but through the course of the week everything gets done if we diligently stick to our schedule! (And, yes, sometimes I still have to remind them, even as teens.)
I chose to be okay with imperfection.
I am a perfectionist, but I am the sort of perfectionist who believes that if I cannot do it perfectly, I would almost rather not bother. Or, if my child cannot do it perfectly, then I might as well do it myself. I am an all-or-nothing perfectionist, and for much of my life that has meant that things have tended to not get done.
If I wanted to get house cleaning help from my children, though, I had to mature in this pretty quickly, recognizing that I needed to be okay with a storage container drawer not being perfectly organized by the five year old or a corner being missed when the eight year old mopped the kitchen. I have definitely learned a lot about being okay with the middle ground between perfection and chaos!
Now it’s your turn!
Someone out there just might need your tips instead of, or in addition to, mine, and I know I am always up for learning new tricks myself. Whether you love to clean, hate it, or find yourself somewhere in between, I cannot wait to read your comments about how you tackle the never-ending task of housecleaning!