August 10, 2016

5 Tips on Home Management When Homeschooling with FREE Weekly Chore Printable {5 Days of Homeschool 101}

It is only fitting that I start this post on home management with a confession. I might not be the best person to come to for advice on this subject because....

Hi. My name is Lisa and I am a messy housekeeper.

There. I said it out loud. If you come over to my house, it will NOT be spotless. You can do the white glove check on most things and it will come back black I'm sure. I have cobwebs in my corners. Dust bunnies under the bed. There are probably dirty socks hidden in the couch. And the boys bedroom will most definitely be a LEGO hazard zone. My shower won't be spotless, and the toilet might need a scrub. My bed may or may not be made and the laundry might be clean but still in a basket. And I am TOTALLY FINE WITH IT!

My house is a home. It's not spotless, but it's tidy and comfortable. I keep the necessities taken care of. I cook all the meals for the week except for one or two. I have a routine that allows me to not only homeschool my two children and maintain my blog, but keep my house under control and my family fed with homecooked meals. I am a messy housekeeper by some standards (like my mother's! LOL), but I still like things tidy and contained whenever possible. Let me share how I have found a way to make peace with my own weaknesses in my effort to manage my home.

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I have always been more of the messy kind of person. My room drove my parents nuts. I ALWAYS lost a shoe--usually right when we were 5 minutes late to leave. My proverbial "safe place" is probably a bottomless pit. When my husband and I were dating and I was living at his parents house, his mom would peek in my room and sigh--sure that our home was destined to be a disaster. The weird thing is that I have certain areas where I can't STAND mess. My kitchen is one of those places. And my bookshelves. Things have to be in order and in place when it comes to my cooking stuff and my books. My husband says I'm weird like that.

One of the biggest challenges for me, is that I am married to a neat freak. You know that show "the Odd Couple?" Well, we aren't THAT bad, but I drive him bonkers some days as he follows my tracks through the house shutting doors, and turning off lights.

Okay okay. By now you might be worried. How can I offer YOU home management tips?! Well, I won't lie. There are days when I need to read my OWN tips. But our home is tidy and comfortable. And I do the best within my own weaknesses to keep it that way as much as possible. So let's get down to it. What is a homeschooling parent to do when we have to juggle being a spouse, parent, and teacher within a 24 hour day? How can we keep our homes managed when 4-7 hours of our day is focused on teaching? When is there even TIME to clean or cook?

1. Admit your own weaknesses.

Before you freak out about home management, you need to admit your personal weaknesses anywhere in this department. For me, I know that I cannot flip a switch and become a spotless housekeeper overnight. I have a weakness of taking things out and not putting things back. I have a weakness for starting something and forgetting to finish it (LAUNDRY!). I have a weakness for not putting things where they belong. I have a weakness for putting nearly everything I possibly can as a priority above cleaning the house. Guilty as charged. 

BUT, my mom and husband have a weakness of wanting everything PERFECT which is a weakness too! It can cause just as much stress as my struggle to stay tidy can. 

Once you admit to yourself what your weaknesses are, you can move forward in making a plan to help you achieve home management IN SPITE of your weaknesses. 

Because of my own weakness, I have this mantra typed up and on my fridge so I can see it every day: If you got it out, put it back. If you drop it, pick it up. If you made a mess, clean it up. If you open it, close it.

Trust me. I have to say this to

2. Prioritize--pick 5 and then 3

There was a portion of the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner that I really appreciated. It had you set 5 high value things to get done before 11am every morning. These were the things that HAD to be done that particular day. I am dreadful about forgetting to do something I said I would do, so this idea was perfect for me. 

Here were a couple of my 5 high value things to give you an idea what I would write:

Ex. 1:
Bible study, wash dishes, wash 2 loads of clothes, call dentist to make appointment, email article to Jill

Ex. 2: 
Bible study, make grocery list, set out meat to thaw for dinner, sew curtains for classroom, write blog review

Ex. 3: 
Bible study, call eye doctor about glasses, call electric company about budget pricing, write sympathy note to Susan, write check for summer camp fees and mail

No two people will have the same five high value things, and no two days may look the same. But if you set yourself 5 things to get done by 11am every morning, that is FIVE THINGS that were important that you GOT DONE! Nice job!

Once you have these 5 high value things done, pick three more to get done by 5pm. They don't have to be big things. Just anything you KNOW you want to get done and then DO IT! By breaking it up into chunks, it is SOOOOOO much easier to embrace mentally!

I also recommend making a list of unfinished tasks for the day--then tack those on to the next days 5 high value tasks to be done before 11am! 

3. Tackle the House in Bite sized Pieces with All Hands on Deck

At our house, we have chores that get done daily as well as chores done a particular day of the week. We don't try to do every chore every single day. By chunking it up throughout the week, I don't get overwhelmed with an endless list that never seems to go away. It also allows for more focused attention on areas. I have spoken with a lot of homeschool moms who use this trick...
I space the larger chores out throughout the week!
Tiffany W. picks certain days to do her laundry as well as other chores: 
S- mine and hubby's clothes
M-boys clothes
T-girls clothes
T-clean bathrooms
F- Mop
Daily-kitchen counters, table, living room.

Elaine has routine that's a bit different, by only doing meals that take 10 minutes to put together throughout the week (relying on her crockpot and freezer):
I do laundry on Mon, general pick-up at the end of each day, and actual cleaning on Fri. I also only make 10 minute meals during the week, and only serve more elaborate meals on Fri eve.

Tiffany S. reserves chores for Friday:
Chores (except for laundry and dishes) are reserved for prep day (Friday)..we do not school on Fridays ever.

Did you notice back when I spoke about chores, I said...we. That's because in our house EVERY person has chores. Mommy doesn't do it all and Daddy doesn't expect Mommy to. We are a team and everyone pulls their own weight. Just as I have my special chores, Love-Of-My-Life has ones that he takes upon himself to take care of. And yes, even the boys (Aged 10 and 6) have daily AND weekly chores. And it's not little piddly stuff. 

Because we do a 4 1/2 day school week, the boys main cleaning day is Friday. On Friday they are required to do their daily chores (beds, bedroom, daily laundry, dishes, petcare, chickens), but also their weekly chores. They are responsible for vacuuming all the bedrooms which means they have to clean up the floor in their own bedroom first. Little Britches dusts the living room and bookshelves. Baby Britches does the dry Swiffer through the living room and hallway. They boy clean their bathroom--Little Britches wipes down the toilet, tub and sink, Baby Britches wipes down the wall and vanity, Little Britches sweeps the bathroom, Baby Britches takes the rug to shake out. The boys get the garbages ready for Daddy--Little Britches pulls the big one from the kitchen while Baby Britches gets all the little garbages. They empty them and change out the bags. Baby Britches final job is to use the Wet Mop Swiffer in the kitchen to give it a preliminary mop job. 

As the boys get older, they will continually take on more responsibilities. In our home, Mommy is NOT required to do everything. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back. Have you shared your workload among your children? If not, get started! They will grumble and complain at first, but be firm and clear that unless they start helping, you will have to charge them for your services! (seriously. I had to have this talk! LOL) And even the toddlers can help! They love to put away pots and pans. Baby Britches first job was to put away the silverware I handed him from the dishwasher. He also helped me load/unload the washer/dryer with glee! Make sure of a stool and get them involved! The more you involve them, the lighter YOUR load and the more they will be able to take care of themselves when they are teenagers, young adults, and adults on their own! Some day their spouse might thank you for taking the time to make sure they knew how to work!

You can read a past post I wrote on this same theme: Share the Wealth (aka. Don't Make Yourself a Houseslave)

4. Remember that as long as it gets done, it doesn't matter when it happens!

My kitchen sometimes looks like this all through the morning until I do a round of cleaning at lunch time.
I don't have a set time I do chores. I work on them throughout the day, even through the middle of school. If the boys are doing their Veritas Press Bible Curriculum, they don't need my help at all. So I make use of this time for some of those HIGH VALUE things that need to be done by 11am. I can listen to poetry recitation or times tables while I am loading the washing machine. Baby Britches can read to me while I am folding the laundry next to him on the couch. These are some smaller daily things I can do EVEN when we are homeschooling.

Want to know the time I get the MOST done?
When the boys are in bed. 

I am a night owl and can be very productive once they are in bed. I really like scrubbing my kitchen during this time or finishing up my laundry. Sometimes I do 5 High Value Things before 11pm! LOL.

Because our Sabbath is Saturday, Sunday is a day I use for a LARGE amount of the big stuff to get done...but I try to save Sunday for more of the big projects. When I take on organization projects or a deep cleaning of my pantry that has piled up. (ahem. Which is something I need to do actually) I might also knock out some cooking that day, making things that will provide leftovers for the week which will save me time. 

Use this tip in regards to errands too. If the only time you have to go do something is at 10pm, then fine! Go do it! Can't pull a late night run? Then go ahead and do one during the day. Take an hour or so and have your kids ride with you. Let them do their reading in the car, or work on a worksheet, or do Tower Math app for their math lesson that day. 

If you would rather set aside a day to get completed everything that needs to be done, then add one into your week! I could do all my housework on Sunday if I felt like it, and sometimes I do!

I laughed at one of my friend's responses about home management: 
"Well we do school work 1st and I do clean up after."

She just does school and then when it's done, she shifts to taking care of everything else. This works for a lot of people, so if it does for you, just go with it! Another group of friends school 4 1/2 days a week--saving the second half of Friday for all their extra chores. We do this too. 

Find a routine that will work for you and go for it!

5. Let It Go!

Be kind to yourself. There are going to be things that you will just have to let go in order to keep your stress levels down. This goes with your priorities. Write down the things that you feel like HAVE to be done EVERY day/week. And please, be realistic. 

The spare bedroom no one goes in wouldn't be on that list. 
Deep cleaning your closet wouldn't be on that list. 
Organizing your cupboards wouldn't be on that list.
Scrubbing all the windows in your house probably wouldn't be on that list either.
Scrubbing your shower...well it's not on MY list for a weekly job, but I do have it as a twice a month job. 

BUT maybe these WOULD be on your list:

Wash/dry/fold/put away two loads of clothes every day.
Load the dishwasher and turn it on before going to bed every night.
Cook from scratch three days this week--enough for leftovers the rest of the week.
Vacuum the bedrooms on Monday and Wednesday
Wipe the bathroom down every Tuesday.

Want to know my rule of thumb in regards to staying on top of keeping the house clean?

I want to keep clean DAILY every thing I can see the minute I walk into my house--this means my laundry room and kitchen. It brings me satisfaction when I come in from outside and it's nice and tidy as soon as I look around. This also means that if there are any drop-by guests, I know that what they see the minute I open the door will be clean.

Every NIGHT, I try to make sure the living room/dining room is tidy. This is something I do after the kids are in bed and I know they won't be making a mess anymore for the day. I also might go through to make sure the kitchen is tidy before I go to bed--turning on the dishwasher one last time for the day. 

If I do these two things, I can keep my house tidy and it doesn't take a long time to do it. I have had to learn to let go ever being the kind of person who will have a spotless house. It's just not going to happen...unless my hubby takes over the house cleaning. Now HE'S the one who could make this house shine! LOL! But you know what? HE had to learn to let it go. He knows that something has to give and for him, he'd rather have a good home cooked dinner every night than a clean bathroom every day. He recognizes that I can't be EVERYTHING all the time. If he wants me to be by his side in the evenings, than I have to "let go" whatever chore I wanted to get done, which means we might go to bed with some part of the house still unclean. And we are both okay with it.

How About a Free Printable?

Because I know how hard it is to create new routines, I decided to help you out a little bit. Chore charts ARE useful--especially when you want to work on spreading your chores throughout the week. I have created a very basic weekly chore printable for you--it's like the one in the picture earlier in this post. I have given you a category for "Daily" chores, and then the rest of the days of the school week (not weekends) to delegate chores. Remember-if you spread the overall cleaning throughout the week it is much easier to stay on top of! So whether you want to use this for yourself, or for your children, I hope that it can help! 

In summary, to achieve home management during your homeschooling experience, you need to recognize and accept any weaknesses you have (you can change!), start prioritizing with 5 high value things to get done before 11am and then 3 more for the day, share the wealth of responsibility for the upkeep among your family members and do it in bite sized pieces, work it in whenever you can in the routine you currently have, and remember that you might have to let some of the things you want to get done go for now. The good news is that every week is a new week to get started again. Make small changes so you can maintain what you want to get done and accept that you will have to build a habit for it to stick. But it IS possible to have a clean home and homecooked just requires you to work out a healthy balance of your time and it won't be easy. But it will be worth it in the long run...and just for the record...I'm still trying to find that balance! LOL.

5 Days of Homeschool 101
Today was the third day in our 5 Days of Homeschool 101 Blog Hop for the Schoolhouse Review Crew! Monday was all about curriculum, yesterday was focused on planning, and today was all about home management--so make sure you go and visit the posts of other contributors to our fabulous hop today! Stay tuned the rest of the week as we dive into 2 other aspects of basic homeschooling stuff.

Here are the posts I've already shared this week in case you missed them!

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