One of the challenges of homeschooling the kids is how to manage the rest of the household duties and keep some semblance of order in the home. The reason why this is a unique challenge for a homeschool family is three-fold (but there could be other things I’m not thinking of): first, the house is occupied all of the time. We don’t have a chunk of time when our little (and not so little) mess-makers are at school. Second, we have a whole set of educational items that need to be incorporated into the home. It isn’t just a place for back packs and lunch boxes, etc. We have years worth of curricula, text books, teachers guides, boxes of work representing each child’s school year, base ten blocks, scads of paper, pencils, crayons, markers, notebooks, science experiments, history projects of large scale….just lots of school stuff! Third, we are dealing with large amounts of time to keep the kids occupied which means lots of wonderfully creative messes around the house. If school takes 3-5 hours, that still leaves 9-11 hours of time to fill. Even with the heavy dutiest kiddie chore list, you still have lots of hours for them to make messes. And if your kids are like mine, they cycle through various play things making it hard to have them pick up one thing before they get something else out. Inevitably, they want to return to “lego city” later, or show dad their tent, or keep the clay sculpture because they are proud of it. I just thought of a fourth factor that doesn’t affect me in this season but did back in the day…if you have preschoolers underfoot, you may be contending with more mess because while you’re teaching your 2nd grader math, that toddler can wreak havoc on any room of the house. It’s astounding what they can do when we are distracted for even five minutes!!!
I don’t mean to discourage any of you future homeschool gals with regard to keeping an orderly home. I just think it’s important to have reasonable expectations regarding home management. Some of you love order. You love your to-do list, your schedule, your routine. Your bent toward order and structure is going to be wonderfully beneficial to your family. However, if you are in any way hoping to derive peace or control from these tools, you will find yourself and your family very frustrated. Some of you love spontaneity and creativity. You may like spur of the moment field trips, flexible hours, and time with other moms and kids. Your family will benefit from your fun loving approach to the day. However, if you are undisciplined and disorganized you also will find yourself and your family very frustrated. Whichever group you find yourself in (and I have one foot in each group), God will use homeschooling to help you cultivate the strength and overcome the weakness of your particular bent. Okay, that wasn’t very practical – it’s just a heads up. Now on to the practical…
1. Find out your husband’s preference. My husband loves orderliness. I love this about him because it helps me to constantly be growing in my own time management/ home management skills. Because Jason is the kind of guy to like order, when I asked him what he would have “take a hit” so to speak, he chose meal preparation. In the beginning especially, we ate frozen pizza more than I care to say! But my particular husband would rather have me use my time cleaning than cooking elaborate meals, so the meals take the hit before the cleaning does here at the Reyes house. There is a kind of relief when we find out that hey, this isn’t a big deal to my husband so why am I feeling guilty about it?
2. Food and laundry. When you are in a survival mode – like you have lots of preschoolers, or a new born, or the hubs is working crazy long hours, take your Girl Talkers advice and strip it down to food and laundry. They need to eat. they need to have clothing. Repeat to yourself often, “it’s only a season!”
3. Organize the bones of the home. I have found that if the bones of my home are organized, it’s a lot easier to keep the house in order from day to day. You may want to spend time working on organizing toys, cleaning products, kitchen cabinets (consider putting dishes low enough for the kids to put them away), homeschool area(s), bedroom closets/drawers, etc. If the mention of this makes your chest feel tight – just go back to suggestion #2. If you think you could find a bit of time to do some nitty gritty organization, it will be well worth the effort.
4. The kids do get old enough to help and it can happen earlier than you might think. I can hold out hope that your kids being home all day means extra hands to vacuum, dust, empty trash, fold and put away laundry, unload the dishwasher, and pick up the messes.
How do you manage your home and your homeschool?