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 none of it 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 patience decreases. I might not like to clean house, but every member of my family needs the house to stay mostly in order for our emotional health.
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 been to enlist the children. I will be the first to admit that it has not been an easy key. The time, energy, and patience required to train children to work well can seem 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 early.
I trained my children as toddlers to help with the very basic things, 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 know how!
We upgraded regularly.
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 something new, challenged to move to the next step as maturity allowed. It was always changing, always growing. Oh, and even though sometimes we had to reserve chores for the younger ones, 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!
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 chores.
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 every day 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?
The biggest obstacle to getting my kids to help is the frustration of having to remind them over and over and over again. So, we created a chore schedule.
When the kids were younger, magnets saved the day! Using printable magnet sheets, I created little squares, color-coded for each child, with daily chores printed on them. The side of our deep freezer was reserved for the chore chart, sectioned off by child and labeled by the day of the week. The magnets allowed us to switch chores around week by week or adjust the schedule if we were going to have an unusual day or week.
Although the specific design of our chore schedule has changed over the years, each child still knows what chores are to be done each day. 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 of a crazy sort. 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.
Other times, though, that meant that I needed to be okay with a storage container drawer not being perfectly organized by the five year old or a corner missed when the eight year old mopped the kitchen. It took me a while, but 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!