Sunday, December 1, 2013

Some Simple Homemaking Tips (for Homeschooling Moms)

I have found that the stay-at-home mom with young children who also homeschools is a pretty rare find. Especially in my situation where I also teach Classical Conversations once a week. Our lives are pretty busy. I thought I had a lot to keep up with when I was a stay-at-home mom, but when we added homeschooling, I felt overwhelmed because I replaced my morning chore time with schooling. And then when I added weekly teaching to the mix, it became even crazier because then my evenings were often busy with prepping for that. And now that Judah is doing preschool...well, you get the idea. It is busy. And keeping up with housework isn't as easy as it used to be. People might think that since I am home all the time, I must have so much time to keep up with things around the house. But when your day is full with homeschooling 2 kids and the kids are home all day to keep making messes, it is hard to keep up.
Believe me, it is a huge blessing that I get to stay home with my kids. That I get to be the one to teach them to read, about historical events, do bible time with them and get into important, deep conversations about God that matter and often end up with me sharing what God is doing in my own life. And I love staying home. And I love all things domestic. Well, maybe not all things, but a lot of things!! And over the years, I have learned a few tips, though I would in no way consider myself an expert in the domestic department. Other blogs and moms and people with far more experience than myself have better systems and ideas, but I'm just sharing some things I have learned in my own journey, and things that I have found that work for me. Some things I have shared before, and some things you may have heard before, so just take what you can from my experiences!!
1. Make a weekly chore chart. If I can focus on 1 main chore for the day, with schooling and everything else I need to do, that is enough for me. Of course I have other responsibilities during the day, but I usually have just one main thing I need to get done for the day.
Mondays - Laundry/Prep CC for Tuesday
Tuesday - off/Teach CC
Wednesday- Laundry, Office Day (Finances, Account)
Thursday - Bathrooms, mirrors, mopping (if this gets done, it's a miracle!)
Friday - Laundry
Saturday- Clean out Car, Outside chores, Kitchen Day/Cooking Day, Lessons Plans for kids for following week
Sunday - Relax with Hubby/Family, Prep CC
2. Get up earlier than your kids. I have written about this a lot. And I am not always good at this. But I have found that when I get up early, I can get a lot accomplished before my kids wake up, and I know what is on the agenda for the day. If I can spend quiet time seeking the Lord, make my to-do list, look at/balance my checking account, check if I need to pay any bills, check the calendar and know what I am making for dinner that night, then I feel like I have started my day off right. I don't feel so overwhelmed when the kids wake up because I already know what my day looks like. I have found that when I get up when my kids get up, I am grumpy because they are demanding different breakfasts and I am flustered because I want to read and relax with my coffee and my quiet time, and I do not get much of that once they are awake.

3. Exercise in the morning: for homeschooling/exercising moms: I have found this new discovery lately. I would always do school in the morning and exercise during the kids nap time. But lately, Ruth started waking up about an hour into her naptime, and I was afraid that my workout was waking her up. So I started having Maddy "watch" the little ones and play while I worked out in the morning and then I would start school with Maddy after that, and finish up during nap time if necessary. Then, my nap time was free to do other things quietly, which wouldn't wake up Ruth (though she has just been taking short naps anyways) and it has become a true rest time for me. And my workout got done in the morning when I had more energy!! This has been a huge, amazing change for me!
4. Work quickly!! I read this on another blog once, and though it seems trivial, it makes a lot of difference if you apply it!! When you get a little block of time, or a lot, just do those mundane tasks quickly! Fold laundry quickly! Scrub dishes quickly! Wash mirrors quickly!! And save yourself some time!
5. Enjoy your daily mundane tasks. Let them be your "break." When you are alone scrubbing dishes at night, take a deep breath, and enjoy the time. Listen to music. Pray. Think of others you could bless. It doesn't have to be a "waste of time" and something that we must do over and over and keeps needing done. It can feel like that. But if we offer up even the smallest of tasks to the Lord, or enjoy them, then we can have joy in them and even worship at the same time!
6. Pick up every night. Now, the house doesn't have to be spotless every night, but I have found that I like to wake up to a clean house. If you wake up to piles of junk all over the floor and can barely walk around, it doesn't exactly start your day off right. So take those extra few minutes every night and pick up the toys, the dirty laundry, the clean laundry, and trash, and just get the main areas clear. It doesn't have to have that "people are coming over" look, but just a general picking up can make a huge difference.

7. Have different "clean up" times with the kids. For me, I like to have a clean up time before naps (cleaning up from the morning play), before Daddy gets home from work (so he isn't trudging through piles and is blessed when he gets home), and before bed. This is good for Mommy's sanity, is a good time to teach little ones about cleaning up after themselves (Mommy shouldn't have to clean up after their messes all the time, especially if they are old enough to clean up after themselves), and is good to do throughout the day so that it doesn't all pile up for a huge mess at the end of the day. Make it fun! Sing songs, make it a race with a reward at the end, or make a chore chart for the kids with a prize at the end of the week. Make it fun for them so they don't grow up resenting clean up time because it always involved Mom yelling and them getting punished. I have found they do much better and have much better attitudes when we make it fun in a fun atmosphere!!
8. Give your kids age-appropriate jobs to help around the house. This is a big perk with homeschooling. They learn what it looks like to take care of a home, how much work it really is, and how to help. They are home all the time, so they can help with many different aspects of what needs done around the house, and maybe appreciate how much Mom does!! Maddy is 7 and she unloads the dishwasher (and Judah has started to help by handing her things and she puts them away), makes her bed, picks up her room and other rooms (kid messes), feeds the dogs, folds washcloths, helps take care of Ruth, and then helps with other stuff when I ask her. Judah is almost 4 and he has started making his bed, can put silverware away, helps put his own stuff away, and is learning to help with baking. Have them help you, and teach them the value of hard work, and taking care of their own things and messes.
9. Do what you can ahead of time. Do freezer cooking when you can, try to make double batches of dinners often, make food ahead of time when entertaining, use your crockpot, do some cleaning at night when the kids aren't awake, get school prep done all before that week starts (make the lesson plan, make copies, write out handwriting, get everything in order), and think ahead 1-2 weeks at a time when you are making grocery/store lists so you don't have to go back to the store because you forgot about birthday parties, potluck, entertaining, or a cookie exchange.

10. Have relaxing time for you. I think this is so important for the homeschooling mom. We are home a lot. We are with our kids a lot. And we need breaks!! Take those opportunities to go to bible study, out to coffee with a friend, to a workout class, to take a bath, read a book at night, go to a coffee shop alone, go shopping at night alone (I have been going shopping after the kids go to bed so I can whip through those stores without kids interruptions), and plan date nights with your hubby!! Make it a priority for yourself to get up early and quietly seek the Lord. All these things are so important so we can keep our sanity and be the best mothers we can be for our children! We are not defined by our role as a mother. We are God's children. We are individuals. And this time of craziness with young children will not last forever. In our weakness, we need to rely on the strength that comes from the Lord, and remember we are not in this alone. We are not superwoman!! We cannot do it all, sign up for every group and lesson, go to every event, and still remain sane. Learn when to say no, and when your family needs a break!!
And just remember that during this season, your house will never be perfect. That is one reality that I probably still need to accept. And that is ok. If we are teaching our kids to clean up after themselves, and the responsibility that what they get out, they will put away, and we are involving them in the clean-up process, then one day, we won't have so much cleaning to do. We will have little helpers who have learned to clean up what they have gotten out (hopefully)! I hope some of these tips have been helpful, and please if you have any more, leave them in the comments section below!!


  1. I'm determined to find a solid cleaning schedule that works well with homeschooling. I want to sit down and enjoy school in a clean house. What I've been trying to do is work in one area a day for a bit before we start school in the morning, in addition to doing the floors in one area. I clean the bathrooms when the littles are in the tub and alternate bathrooms. I've also made a toy closet and only bring out a few toys at a time so that there is not too much mess to clean up. Love your tips! Cleaning just might be the biggest challenge of homeschooling. :)

  2. Oh and I load laundry in the morning and fold it at nap. I've been trying to work out before they wake up, but that's tough!

    1. Great tips, Anna! Yes, I have been struggling to get my workout in before Ruth wakes up. She hasn't been napping well lately, I think she is teething. The toy closet is a good idea! I need to weed out toys before Christmas!!