Don’t know how to keep a house clean while homeschooling? I didn’t either for a long time, but then I came up with a homeschool family cleaning schedule my whole family could help with.
He came into my home and made some snide comments about not being able to see the floor for all the kids’ toys. I was floored, hurt, angry, and disgusted with myself for letting things get so bad, but what was I going to do? How was I going to reverse the terrible mess our home had turned into?
Housekeeping while homeschooling was hard for me, but my dad didn’t know that when he made his rude comment. Don’t worry, I let him know he’d ticked me off. I love my dad, but he can be abrasive sometimes and I let him know when he’s pushing my limits.
I knew there had to be some way to know how to keep a house clean while homeschooling. I scoured the internet searching and Googling for a homeschool family cleaning schedule that we could fit into our routine and, by combining several tips from other homeschool moms and housecleaning and organization gurus, I came up with a cleaning schedule complete with chore charts we could work with.
1. Manage your expectations while trying to keep a house clean while homeschooling.
As homeschooling families, we’re in our homes more than most. Our homes are going to be lived in and they’re going to be messier than families’ homes where the occupants aren’t home a lot.
More than likely, our homes will never pass a white glove test, I know mine won’t, but that doesn’t mean they have to look like pigsties either. There’s a happy medium housekeeping routine in there for your family somewhere. You just need to find it.
2. Things will get messy, just don’t let them get too messy.
Kids need playtime, but along with playtime usually comes a mess. The key is not to let play areas get too messy.
Set time limits on play.
At our house, we play for a couple of hours and then we clean up. We have playtime after breakfast until a few minutes before lunch. Then, we clean up. We do the same after lunch and then clean up just before supper. Typically, our living areas stay fairly tidy after that because the kids are getting ready for bed after supper and watching some TV.
Limit the amounts of toys that are available.
Your kids can’t play with all of their toys at the same time. So why not limit them? We let our kids play with the Little People in our living room as well as wooden blocks, and, on occasion, Matchbox cars. We keep a storage tote and small storage cabinet in our living room for the Little People and their houses and we have an old plastic file box for the wooden blocks. This keeps the number of toys to a minimum in our living room. I realize the storage isn’t ideal and is a bit of an eyesore, but it works for us for the time being.
3. Chores for kids
There are parents and probably non-parents that would disagree with me, but chores are good for kids. If you don’t have a chore system in place for your kids, now is always good time to implement one.
Having your children help with chores teaches them responsibility, builds character, and gives them the opportunity to earn rewards if you so choose.
4. Try to nip clutter in the bud.
Areas a lot of people tend to have the most clutter are:
- kids’ toys
- baby items
If you struggle in these areas, I can sympathize, I have too and still do on occasion.
Here are a few ways I cut down on those types of clutter.
- I have one area designated for mail. It’s an area similar to what they talk about in this video.
- All of my kids’ toys have a “home,” if they don’t have a “home,” they get donated.
- I sell, giveaway, or donate baby items that I know I won’t be using again as soon as my baby outgrows them. Donate bags or boxes are stored in the bottom of a closet and when I fill it up, it’s taken to the donation site on my next trip to that part of town.
5. Set certain days for specific chores.
While we’d all like for our homes to be perfectly clean in a matter of a few hours and stay like that, in a large family, it’s not feasible. Nothing stays perfectly clean for long even if you can get it that way in the first place.
So why not instead of killing yourself while trying to homeschool and clean your house in one day with kids running everywhere, you spread the tasks over one week or even maybe five days?
It may take some getting used to, but at least it’s all getting done.
This is a sample of what my homekeeping routine looks like. Most of the time, I keep up with ours on a Trello board. There are occasions when the house is in a terrible mess and we just need to get it manageable, I’ll get to what we do about that in a minute.
It may not be perfect, but it works for us.
Before you look at that board and think, “Look at all that laundry!” It’s really not that bad. I used to wash everyone’s clothes individually, but now with smaller loads and since buying a larger washing machine, I can combine loads. Once a load is dry, I call for the kids with laundry in that load to sort it and put it away.
The only exception to this is if my husband or my older son did some really dirty work and, in that case, I’ll wash their clothes separately. It makes for extra laundry, but definitely worth it since the goal is to have clean clothes when they come out of the washing machine.
6. Work on established messes or areas to declutter.
I’m still in the process of working on several of these areas in my home. (Yes, I have several, please don’t judge me.)
And, sometimes it seems I get one knocked out and another pops up. This is an area of self-improvement I’m working on, but I live with kids and another adult so everything is not totally within my control.
One thing I’m doing to help me tackle my clutter-catching areas is to make a list of them all.
If you decide to try this, save yourself some frustration and only add the ones to the list you can do something about. For instance, don’t add the top of your husband’s chest of drawers to the list unless you’re the one responsible for cluttering it up. If he made the mess with his stuff, he might take a hint from you or he may clean it up if you ask, but trying to force him to do it, or doing it for him will never work long-term.
Only thinking about areas I can control, I decide what area I’m going to work on, set a timer for 15 minutes, sort through everything in that area, and decide if it’s kept or pitched. (By pitched, I mean donated, given away, or trashed.) If I’m keeping it, it needs to have a “home” that won’t clutter another area.
7. Designing your homeschooling and housecleaning routine.
We all have different living and working situations — some families are single working parent households, some have two work-at-home parents, in some families one parent is at home all day while the other parent works two jobs. Only you know what will work and what won’t in your home.
Don’t know where to start making your family’s plan? Take a week and journal what you already do. Now, if you don’t have all day to journal your every move, maybe just start with your morning tasks. You may already have a plan in place that just needs some tweaking.
If you don’t have a morning routine, know you need one, and don’t have a clue what to do first thing in the morning, here’s a sample…
Example of a Daily Homeschool Cleaning Schedule
6 a.m. – Wake up, get coffee, read devotional.
6:15 a.m. – Get dressed for the day.
6:45 a.m. – Make the bed, gather dirty clothes and deposit them in a basket or hamper.
7 a.m. – Wake up the kids, have them get dressed, make beds, and straighten up bedrooms.
7:30 a.m. – Start a load of laundry, have kids begin chores (feeding animals, wiping down bathrooms, emptying the dishwasher, etc.)
8 a.m. – Breakfast and cleanup
9 a.m. – Have kids brush their hair and teeth. (Time involved will depend on the number of kids you have.)
9:30 a.m. — Take a walk with the kids or maybe read aloud while the kids play.
10 a.m. – Change over the laundry. Have the kids get pencils and school boxes ready for the day.
10:15 a.m. – Get each child started on their schoolwork.
11:30 a.m. – Prepare lunch with help from kids.
12 p.m. – Cleanup and rest time for younger kids, one-on-one homeschool help time with older kids.
Tweak the plan as needed.
If something is not working, don’t beat a dead horse. Change up the plan a little here and there and find what works.
Where to start cleaning up your really messy house
What do you do when you’ve been sick and the house looks like a tornado came through and picked it up and shook it?
We all have these times, right? Mom’s sick and no one else knows how to do anything, the whole house gets sick, or you’ve got sports tournaments all weekend and you’re only home for breakfast and supper if you’re even home for those.
Look, things are going to get messily out of hand sometimes. It happens! And, even though we wish we could wiggle our noses and right all the messes, we can’t.
What we can do is recruit help – kids, spouse, grandparents, or hired help (a sweet neighborhood teen) to help us get our home back.
Another thing that’s a big help for my family is a timer. I use the timer on my cellphone, but we’ve used an egg timer, like this one, to help get the job done.
How using a timer helps keep a house clean while homeschooling…
Any time my house is turned upside down, I gather the troops, decide what we’re going to work on, and set the timer for 5 minutes 3 or 4 times, then we take a 5-minute break and begin again until the house is presentable.
Here’s an example…
1st 5-minute set – Pick up all the trash and dishes in two designated rooms.
2nd 5-minute set – Gather all the toys and items that don’t belong in the two rooms and put them in a basket.
3rd 5-minute set – Vacuum or sweep the area, while the kids put away their toys or other items.
You get the idea.
You can continue this in the other rooms of the house and the kids’ bedrooms. It would be fun if you made a competition out of it or offered rewards for jobs well done. That would create motivation for the future.
Routines keep a house clean while homeschooling.
It may take several attempts to find the right house cleaning routine for you and your family, but don’t give up. You will find one that works for you.