Homeschooling is a full-time job, but so is keeping your home and family clean and organized. Homeschooling families have a wonderful opportunity to involve children in the daily cleaning routine. It takes a lot of work to run a household, and it usually takes a family working together to make it run smoothly. (And when I say "family", I mean "Mom telling everyone else what to do"!). From a young age, children are capable of helping around the house. After all, they make most of the messes, so shouldn't they be part of cleaning them up? The trick is to find jobs that are compatible with your child's age and ability, teaching them the correct way to do it (and you sometimes have to teach them several times), and setting up a regular routine with clear expectations.
The Right Job
Every child that can walk can help! Even toddlers can be taught to put toys away. Preschool and kindergarten aged children can do tasks that do not involve cleaners or electrical equipment. You might want to consider: sorting and putting away clean silverware, dusting, taking clothes out of the dryer to a designated spot for mom to fold, cleaning up crayons and markers from school areas, feeding pets, unloading groceries from car, and putting away all stray stuffed animals and dolls.
Younger elementary aged children are capable of a bit more. They can be in charge of the bookshelves, making sure all the books are put neatly away. Consider letting them do all the things a younger child can do, plus: clean toys out from under the bed; clean up the floor, checking for all small toy pieces before Mom runs the vacuum; fold a load of towels, socks, and underwear, then put them away; sweeping the kitchen floor, taking out the recycling; keeping their closet floor clean; and helping rake leaves.
Older children can do all this, and more! They can vacuum, clean mirrors, clean litter boxes, take out the trash, be in charge of trash cans for trash collecting days, weed, and so much more!
Work with your children, and get to know their skill level and ability. Then find household chores that they can do themselves or participate in. The whole family benefits!
So, what is a good approach to house work when homeschooling? Here are a few things to get you started in organizing your time in an effort to keep your housework from interfering with your homeschool and your sanity.
1. Not so great expectations
Obviously, if you want perfection in your home, homeschooling may not be the choice for you. Kids at home all day, learning in various ways in different parts of the house; well, it just does not lend itself to a magazine perfect home.
2. Make a plan
The best way to keep a hold on this problem is organization. Make a reasonable weekly plan that allows for smaller bits of cleaning throughout the whole week. For example, clean bathrooms on Monday, clean floors of Tuesday, do laundry on Wednesday, and so on. Breaking it down helps take pressure off. However, stick to the plan! If cleaning the bathrooms does not take long, so be it!
3. Be Flexible
If anyone ever makes a theme song for homeschoolers, I think the title should be "Be Flexible"! It is our anthem, isn't it? Like in everything else in life, be flexible with housework. Something may interfere with your cleaning schedule (illness, holiday, special event); adapt. Either do a shorter, quick clean of that area, put it off for a day, or catch it the next week around.
4. Get Help
If you can afford it, have a cleaning service come in once a week or even once a month. Even if all they do is clean the bathrooms, you will find it money well spent.
Alas! For many of us that is not an option. Even still, help is at hand. Our children, almost regardless of their ages, can help in our housework. Spouses, too, need to lend a willing hand. After all, homeschooling is a family lifestyle.
Joyce Jackson is an educational expert and consultant in northern California. For her latest book and information see Homeschooling Easy.
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