If your home life is anything like mine, then you deal with chores and messes around the house on a constant basis. This is a fact of life for everyone, but for the homeschooling family, a messy and loud household with many opportunities for cleaning up is an ever-present reality.
How can we best manage our homes and maintain our sanity?
Here are my 5 Best Tips for Keeping Your Home and Your Sanity:
1. Remember that this is a season!
I know that you hear it all the time, words like… “Oh, they grow up so fast!” and “This too shall pass,” and “It’s just a season.” It’s easy to just stop hearing these wise words and not really believe them anyway. As someone who has been raising kids for 20 years, I have now reached that place where I can say with emphasis, “Oh, they do grow up so fast!” But I am still raising little ones too, so I also know that 18-20 years of raising kids and helping them manage their life and messes is a long, LONG process!
Here is where I have landed on this issue… I like a clean house. I just do! But I also realize that living with children means that I will live with a little bit of a mess, sometimes a lot of big messes. My husband and I find ourselves looking forward to a home with less stuff, where everything is almost always in its place, but know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will miss the squeals and the fingerprints when we get there. So, we have resigned ourselves to a “lived in” look in our home, cherishing these years with all the mess and work that they bring with them.
But that doesn’t mean that we give up and decide that all is lost when it comes to keeping an orderly home. We have daily and weekly chores that must be done in our home both by us and by the children. Here’s how we tackle them and the big question that we ask ourselves when faced with an untidy or even downright messy house:
2. What Can You Do in 5 Minutes?
When I look around the house and I find it not up to my standards of clean and tidy, I try to ask myself this simple question… what can I do that would make a difference in the next 5 minutes? Sometimes, it’s doing a load of dishes or a load of laundry. Sometimes, it is clearing off the dining room table or the bathroom counter. Sometimes, it’s interrupting the kids and doing a quick 5 minute pick-up of the living room. If all you have is 5 minutes, you can make a measurable difference in one small portion of your home. Will your house be spotless in such a small amount of time? No, but you’ve made a difference.
When the children and I work together, we place bets on how long it will take us to accomplish a certain job. I usually hear the kids shout out anything between 2 and 10 minutes. We then work as quickly as we can, timing ourselves by the clock and see whose guess came the closest. We are always surprised by how quickly we can get a job done when we work together.
This shot was candid and not staged!
3. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
You are not the housekeeper of your home, you are the homemaker. Big difference! Teaching our kids how to work is one of our primary jobs as “homemaker” and “parent”. In our home, our children have pets that they care for, daily chores to accomplish and weekly cleaning that usually gets tackled on Saturday. They also have to clean their rooms on a regular basis, but are encouraged to keep it tidy all the time (some children do a better job at this than others, that’s for sure!).
Draw up a chore chart so your children know what chores they are responsible for on a daily and weekly basis. This will make your job so much easier as you can just check the chart if kids need reminders. Better yet, they can check the chart and not even need reminders. It seems to take maturity and diligence to get them to this point of responsibility though.
4. Shoes Make You Feel More Energetic
I learned a long time ago from the Flylady (is she still around?) that wearing shoes make you feel more ready to do work. You feel more like you are “on task” with shoes on your feet. I don’t always obey this rule. I find myself wearing slippers quite often during the winter months. But I do keep this in mind if I have some significant house work to accomplish in a given hour of my day. If my husband takes the kids on a field trip or out for a hike, I will get jazzed up by the idea of an empty house, lace up my shoes, tackle extra housework in record time and then enjoy some much deserved R&R in the solitude of my empty home.
5. Get Help
After 24 years of cleaning my own home with the help of my husband and children, I did something radical (for me!). I asked my husband if I could hire a teenager to come over every other week to clean the house. We actually argued over this one because Todd felt like we were “giving up” or not managing our home well enough by employing help. He also felt that it would make life too easy for our children if someone else did so much of the heavy cleaning. After I pleaded with him for a few weeks, he gave in and allowed me to give it a try.
We now have a young lady come over twice a month to deep clean our house. I must admit that I love it! We still clean thoroughly on the off weeks that she doesn’t come, but it gives me the breathing room that I need to focus on some other things, like school and our business.
Many people cannot or would rather not hire a maid, but it is working really well for us in this “season” of my life. She does a fantastic job and she works for a smaller fee than the large housecleaning services available. So, if you find yourself drowning in housework, employ some of the tips above. I’d rather give up some of my housekeeping duties and focus more on other things that seem more important right now. Besides let’s face it, a family of 8 will always keep me plenty busy with cooking, teaching, driving, piano practicing, and listening.
Question: What are your best tips for maintaining your home and your sanity?