Welcome back to this merged edition of 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents and Week 4 of our Working and Homeschooling Series! Hopefully you'll see how these two fit hand-in-hand when it comes to housework!
I'n not going to number today's tips, I'm just going to give you some honest thoughts on keeping the housework done at an acceptable level, and keeping your sanity.
Don't expect perfection: life happens, your children are at home, so your house probably won't ever look like the cover of a magazine. That's ok! Your children are much more important than a squeaky clean floor. I'm not saying to settle for a mess, because that makes everyone lazy. What I'm advocating is a reasonable level of cleanliness, and a weekly walk through with the big trash bag!
Split the chores up between everyone. Ok, in some houses Dad is not home from work long enough to do chores on a regular basis and still spend time with the children. In this case, divide the chores amongst the remaining walking individuals. If a child is big enough to walk over and take out their own toys, they're big enough to pick them up and put them back. Does this seem harsh? It shouldn't. Perhaps you just have too many toys per child. In that case, find a local women's shelter and donate some of your quality excess toys to other children.
Children old enough to write their name are old enough to help clean. Children old enough to get dressed mostly by themselves are old enough to fold towels and match socks. If your child is old enough to write in complete sentences, its time to make sure they also know how to wash dishes. The family that splits chores, shares in a bigger amount of fun, because there is time and energy left at the end of the day for fun! If you're doing it all Mama, you need to let go and start teaching some skills to your children! (More on that tomorrow!)
|No, they weren't writing in compete sentences yet, they just wanted to help... so I let them!|
Be consistent! If you can only get the bathroom cleaned once a week, then be consistent and clean it on the same day every week. Pick up the trash the afternoon before it needs to go out every single week, then it doesn't get missed! If you assign a child a chore...like feeding the dog... then make sure that child is daily doing their chore. Follow up with them until it becomes a habit. Then, teach them a new skill!
Teach skills well. You must first model to your child what you want done. Show them! Then you must do the chore with them. Then you need to watch them do the chore themselves. Finally they will do the chore independently and you'll just need to check in on them for quality control. For some children this takes a few repetitions, and they learn a new skill quickly. For others, it may be months before they can do a task by themselves.
Anticipate glitches. Your children are all going to learn at different speeds, and for a while, it will take you long to be their employer than to do it for them. Resist the urge to just do it for them. Work with them. If they need step by step instructions in either pictures or words, either write it out and put it in a sheet protector (or laminate it) or purchase one of the sets from a reputable supplier like TimesTales.com. Help them learn to work through each chore one step at a time.
Do the next thing. When you first start assigning chores, you might be overwhelmed. Take a couple minutes to walk through your home with a notepad in hand. Make a list of what you see that needs done, then you can teach/assign the chores that are easiest first and work on your own list. As you get the major things finished, you'll develop an idea of how often each thing needs completed. It's a good idea to make a chart or list of some sort to hang where everyone can see it. Once you've gotten in a new groove, your older children will know what is expected of them daily. Until you get there, write it down, and check it off.
Don't stress out about it. If you're worried about friends who like to drop by unannounced, just go to Hobby Lobby and buy yourself one of those cute signs: Sorry for the mess, we're busy making memories, or My house was clean yesterday, sorry you missed it. :)
Life is a work in progress, and shh...I'd rather have teenagers with messy rooms than not have children! So we work on the level of mess being small, and we work towards being responsible adults.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask Dad to help! There are going to be things that are just too difficult for you to do on your own ~ like sweeping behind the couches, or cleaning the top of the ceiling fans ~ where it just makes sense to ask Dad to help.
Have a happy home, clean as you go, and focus on the family you have! If you keep your house clean, you can enjoy more field trips! :)