How to manage housework while homeschooling
There are usually two options when you’re homeschooling and trying to keep a clean and neat home. You tend to focus on one and evade the other – it’s a rare family where everything is tip-top even most of the time.
Here are some tips I found helpful when homeschooling – and please chime in in the comments with your own secret weapons for conquering housework while homeschooling.
1. Train your children to help
You will never get on top of your housework if you do not train your children to work and help. It’s a basic life skill and your whole family needs the help. Start when they are young (as soon as they can walk) by teaching them to put their toys and books away. Teach your children to take charge of their own space and be responisible for “their part of the world”.
It’s not only a simple matter of teaching your chidlren how to work, but they also need to learn to “see dirt” and “see what needs to be done”. So, when you’re teaching them, make them aware of the mess and dirt, especially in the hidden areas like window sills, corners, ceiling, under beds, etc. When a child learns to “see mess”, they can take initiative.
If all you ever do is teach your kids to read, do maths and clean up – you have taught them the principle of how to care for themselves and others. If you don’t take the time to teach your children to help you, you make a rod for your own back.
2. Choose good tools
First up, if you don’t have antibacterial cleaning wipes in your laundry stash, you need to get some. They are the best tool for getting a quick clean before visitors come, or daily if your bathroom sink is gunk factory. Keep a pack in the bathroom cupboard and choose a child to give your vanity a wipe every day.
One of the best tools I have is a long handled window mop/squeegee. It’s especially helpful if you are pregnant or have trouble kneeling or squatting. I use it to celan windows to reach up high, and to clean the shower screens. The large surface area mop means cleaning takes half the time and the squeegee leaves a nice drip free finish. Try and get one that has a sponge and brush combination, rather than just a sponge. I got mine at Bunnings.
Buy a good quality stick vacuum cleaner. This is a big investment and may not be a priority for many families, but if your kids are home all the time, you will have plenty to vacuum. Stick vacuums are lightweight and easy to get out and use, and often come as cordless. Don’t get a cheap one (been there, done that), save a little longer and get a Dyson or similar quality. You won’t regret it.
3. Organise your cleaning stuff
Having a cleaning caddy is a great way to keep everything you need in one place. I use washable cleaning cloths and wash them all about once a week. Keep a couple of old toothburshes and a skewer to get into small spaces and crevices, a window cleaning squeegee mop/brush, gloves, vinegar solution and any other cleaners you need in the caddy. Store it on a high shelf in the laundry. Rinse your brushes, mops and other tools after use to avoid bacteria build-up and smells.
4. Work hard and fast
Hard physical work can be a good workout, so go at it hard when you’re cleaning. Do your squats, push the mop hard, and scrub like a ship’s mate!
Timing your tasks is a really good idea as it helps you know just how much time you actually need to devote to cleaning. It takes less than five minutes to clean the toilet. Once you know how quickly things can be done, and can allocate time slots to your schedule, the overwhelming feeling fades.
5. Keep a “going out” bag near the front door
This tip comes from an older friend of mine. She kept a bag near the front door to put everything they need to take somewhere. Do a quick check the morning before you’re due to go out to make sure everything is in there. This is a great tip to avoid having things left all over the house.
6. Teach your kids to cook – ASAP
What a life saver it was the day my kids learned how to cook! Not only did they stop nagging me for something to eat, they stocked up the snacks for everyone. When my kids turned eight, I taught them how to make muffins – they don’t need much mixing, only take 20 minutes to cook and can be eaten warm.
When teaching your children to cook, it’s important to include clean-up as part of the process. This can be done while the food is cooking and by the time they’ve finished, the food is ready.
It’s also a good activity for that child who is at a loose end while you are busy teaching one of the others.
7. Clean the kitchen and do the dishes before you go to bed
I know this one is obvious, but there’s nothing like waking up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes to discourage you and delay your whole day. Make sure you roster the kids on to do dishes every night. I officially retired from dishwashing when my firstborn learned to do dishes. We bought each of our kids a dish mop and a teatowel for their fifth birtdhay (party pooper, I know). But they actually loved playing with it and because it had a long handle, it meant they could have the water a bit hotter.
Dishwashing in our home also included wiping down the stove, benches and table. Make sure your kids wipe every inch of the benches – no racing tracks! And put dishes away as soon as they dry them, not on the counter.
8. Dry your floors after you mop
When I was growing up I remember my mum shooing us out of the house after she had mopped while we waited for the floors to dry. Seriously. If you want a strategy to keep your kids outside, then it’s a good one, but it’s a lot harder than you think.
Keep old towels in the laundry for this purpose. After you mop, lay the towel on the floor, stand on it and walk your way around the floor to dry it. The kids can do it, following you while you mop. Alternatively, use another dry mop. You cannot afford to leave wet floors with a house full of children.
After all that, put your feet up, babe! You deserve a nice coffee, kids on your lap and a good read aloud. Take a few hours if you like 😉