Before kids, I was a huge neat-nick. Now, I have three kids, a big ol’ dog, homeschool, and life. I have adjusted my expectations accordingly. My house is no longer clean. It will probably not be clean again until the kids have their own homes away from this one. Am I right, mamas? That said, I still find that I think better and feel better in a house that is clean-ish. The playroom can be a disaster and there can be dust and crumbs, but I like there to be a little bit of order amid the chaos. I like it to be clean-ish.
When you homeschool, you are with your children almost 24/7. It can be tough to accomplish all the things, you know: cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, etc. I find that I often feel that I should be homeschooling, and some of the other stuff gets lost in the shuffle. So, how do I try to keep my home clean-ish while homeschooling? Here are my tips.
Tips for Keeping Your Home Clean-ish
Two Words: Life Skills
Do you know what? Learning how to take care of a home (doing laundry, dishes, cleaning, organization, etc.) is a life skill. As such, I try to include my children as much as possible. It’s important for my children to learn these skills, plus it helps me out quite a bit. I found that thinking of all of my chores as life skills helped me to work them into our homeschooling routine a bit more.
Laundry haunts me, folks. I’ve tried to change my mindset, to view laundry as a blessing. Still, I always find myself wishing that the Laundry Fairy would appear and wave it all away with her magic wand. How do I get the kids to help with laundry?
- Dirty clothes– We have one of these divided hampers by our washing machine and the kiddos put their dirty clothes in it every evening. They sort by color, too.
- Helping with laundry- My children have been helping me load the washer, transfer from washer to dryer, and empty the dryer for a couple of years now. Every little bit of help counts when it comes to laundry!
- Sorting– I’ll often dump the laundry on the family room floor (yes, I do) and the kids will help me sort the clean clothes.
- Everyone has a laundry basket– When sorting, each person gets a basket. Then, they are responsible for putting that laundry away.
- Folding- I gave up on folding the kids’ laundry several months ago. They just dump it out on their floors anyway. It’s my laundry hack!
- Label drawers – A couple of years ago, I labeled the kids’ drawers with images and words so that they would know what goes where. This not only helps with independence and organization, but the print helps with early reading development! Win!
- Keep hangers accessible – I keep a pile of empty hangers in each kiddo’s closet. That way, when it comes time to put laundry away, they can put the shirts on hangers. They hang them on a door knob.
- Sheets and towels- I hate changing bed sheets. I just think it is such a pain. The task is too difficult for my children right now, however, they are able to strip their beds and gather their towels. This alone has helped. And when it comes time for making beds, they help me by putting pillows in cases.
Even little kids can help with dishes, folks! We got a set of Corelle dishes on sale for the kids. Corelle is great because they are very difficult to chip. Add some mason jars for drinking and you have a pretty durable kid combination!
- Easy access is the ticket–
- Put the children’s plates and cups in a cabinet that they can reach.
- We put a step stool in front of the kitchen sink so that kids can easily rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
I think you could sweep all day long and never achieve an empty dust pan, am I right mamas?
- Dust pans– I placed a couple of dust pans in an easily accessible spot.
- Cleaning toys– We have a broom and dust pan set for children and my children love to use it to help me clean.
- Broom and dust pan – I recently found a light weight upright broom and dust pan at Homegoods. I added it to our broom closet because it’s so easy for the kids to use. One can hold the dust pan and the other the broom. Team work!
With three kids seven and under and a big furry dog, we vacuum quite a bit around here. Our vacuum is a Dyson and it’s quite heavy. Leo loves to use it (how long will this last, I wonder??) but it’s a bit too much for the younger kids.
- Let those big kids vacuum! We use this one on our wood floors. It is lightweight and easy to maneuver for little kids, plus it’s great on dog hair.
- For younger kids, an accessible hand-held vacuum is fantastic. I’ve had this one for about six years now. It was one of those awesome Woot! deals. What I like about it is that it’s extremely powerful so it cleans great but it is extremely powerful for about six minutes. So your kiddo can clean the mess but then not fool around with it. Perfection!
We have a lot of hardwood in our house and I am in love with this steamer. I’ve had it for five years and it is still working wonderfully. I love that I’m just cleaning my floors with steam and no chemicals. The reusable pads hold up really well, as I use this thing all the time and the original pads are still alive and kicking! It is light and easy to use. Leo and T recently started using it (note: it does get hot so make sure your child knows how to use it carefully!).
Cleaning High-Traffic Areas
There are some spots in our house that are never clean. You know the culprits: dirty sinks, toilets used by little boys, windows with fingerprints and dog nose marks, textured kitchen chairs, etc. What do I do?
- Baby wipes- We are, thankfully, out of diapers over here but I still buy baby wipes in bulk. I keep them readily accessible in the kitchen, kids’ bedrooms, and playroom for easy clean-up.
- Clorox wipes – In the bathrooms, I keep Clorox wipes readily accessible. If you pee on it, you clean it, folks!
- Spray bottle and cloths- This is so simple! I keep spray bottles with water and a little vinegar and a bunch of these microfiber cloths in a place where kids can reach. They love to spray and clean and I don’t have to worry about chemicals.
It’s easier for kids to help you clean up if they know where things go. I am a huge fan of what I call “the basket system”… we have lots of baskets and plastic storage containers around here. We have a container or basket for books, one for blocks, one for play kitchen toys, one for trains… you get the idea. This makes clean up a cinch.
- Use baskets or plastic containers for easy storage and clean up. A while ago, I used our laminator and labeled the plastic bins to add a little more print to our environment. I even got these under the bed containers to hold the kids’ puzzles and busy books.
- Simplify– Have you read this book? It’s one of my all-time favorites! It is so much easier to clean when you have less stuff. Weed through those toys and save the ones that you love. Donate the rest. If you find you still have too many, donate more or put some in storage and rotate. Our playroom is filled with educational toys and I purged those that we do not use or that I found to be annoying. That leaves us with:
TGFP (Thank God for Pinterest)
Have you guys seen the Uh-Oh Jar on Pinterest? There are oodles of variations of the Uh-Oh Jar and I wish I knew who originally created it because I’d like to give her a hug. I’ve been using the Uh-Oh Jar since Seuss was just an itty-bitty. This is how our Uh-Oh Jar works:
- Grab a mason jar
- Think of all those endless chores (sweeping, fingerprints, dirty kitchen chairs, bathroom sinks, etc.)
- Write those chores on slips of paper
- Laminate those slips of paper for staying power
- Toss the laminated chores in the mason jar
- Add an “UH OH!” label
Now, the next time your children are whining, or complaining that they are bored, or whining that they are bored, say, “Uh oh!” and let them pick a slip. You get something crossed off the to-do list and your kid is less likely to do that behavior again. Simple and genius! Like I said, I’d like to hug its creator.
Tell me, folks… how do you squeeze in all the things while homeschooling? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Any life hacks? Are you okay with clean-ish? Please share them with us!
And, speaking of ISH:
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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