We all know time and energy are precious commodities. Whether you’re a homebody or someone who is out & about everyday, finding both time and energy to clean the house can be challenging. Add to that difficult seasons such as buying and selling your home, illness, pregnancy, taking care of a loved one or working a part-time job, and the challenge just became even greater.
Oh, wait! You’re also a homeschooler? And you want a clean house?
Homeschooling is messy business. As homeschoolers, the sheer fact that we are home more adds to the problem of staying on top of the housework. Not only are we home more, but when we are home we are busy.
Here’s a scenario: It’s 2:30 p.m. The 9th grader is writing a paper so he has his books and laptop on the couch. He made himself a snack to munch on while he works, so there is a plate and glass next to him. An atlas, a workbook and colored pencils are out on the kitchen table because the 5th grader is working on a geography activity. The 1st grader is done with her work and has spread out her entire My Little Pony collection on the living room rug. The 12th grader, home from his dual enrollment class, drops his backpack in the living room and is home just long enough to eat and quickly change into his uniform before he heads to his part-time job at Chick-fil-A. You are in your bedroom where you had just started folding the two loads of laundry on your bed when your mom called to let you know about your cousin who is in the hospital. And the toddler? Well, the toddler is supposed to be napping, but after a quick check on her you discover she has pulled every single item of clothing out of every single dresser drawer in an attempt to find her Elsa costume.
Not only is homeschooling messy business, but there is a universal law that is in direct opposition to your desire for a clean house—specifically, the law of entropy.
Entropy: the natural tendency of the universe to fall apart into disorder
However, despite all of this, the term “clean house” doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Here are some guidelines to follow if you want to achieve some level of order and cleanliness that will allow you to live comfortably and enable you to practice hospitality with regard to your guests:
1. Take time to assess your family’s circumstances in order to establish realistic expectations.
Our lives ebb and flow with various activities, projects, life events and circumstances. You should tailor your household standards to the season of life that you are in. Don’t die on the hill of perfectionism and sacrifice your family’s harmony in the process. Caring for your mom who is recovering from breast cancer is not the time to expect to have the floors mopped daily. Unless you are showing your house because it is on the market, your goal should not be an immaculate and un-lived in house. Your house will never look 100% perfect all the time, and that’s ok.
2. De-clutter and organize.
The less stuff you own means the less stuff you have to clean up and maintain. Take the time to purge items you no longer need or want. Once you de-clutter, invest in organizational items that will help you corral and contain what made the cut. Define the problem areas. Shoes driving you crazy? Need a better place to store all of the schoolbooks? Does the toddler have too many toys or clothes? It’s easier to clean up when there is less to maintain and when it is clear where everything belongs. If organizing is outside your skill set, ask a friend or consult one of the many websites devoted to this subject.
3. Develop a system.
Every family will have a different routine. Knowing your family’s rhythm will help determine what your system looks like. Do you want to deep clean once a week? Do you want to do a little each day? Do you have to have a clean house before you start your school day or does it work better to do it in the afternoon? If your kids are older, feel free to involve them in the development of the system. Few adults (and even fewer children) enjoy cleaning house; however, once your kids become proficient in all areas of housekeeping, consider assigning chores based on personal preferences.
4. Train your kids how to clean and inspect their work.
A lot less cleaning up needs to happen if everyone picks up after himself. Teach your child to do this consistently, whether it’s dirty laundry, dirty dishes, food, or schoolbooks. Take the time to properly show them how to complete a task and then inspect when they are done. Do not hesitate to have them re-do it and go back and complete a part of the job they missed. How to do laundry, organize a pantry, clean a bathroom, fold towels, and load a dishwasher are all valuable life skills that should be a part of your homeschooling. The time spent when they are younger is an investment that will pay off when they are older.
SPRING CLEANING GIVEAWAY! Pre-register during the month of March and, in addition to receiving 10% off, you’ll be entered to win a Dyson D65 Vacuum OR 1 of five $150 gift certificates to Molly Maid OR 1 of fifty Mrs. Meyers Kitchen Basics Sets.