Housecleaning is often the bane of a homeschool mom’s existence. When you’re spending your days corralling kids and working on school, at the end of the day housecleaning is the last thing on your mind.
That’s why simple routines and systems are the best way to juggle homeschooling and skill keep your house clean.
It's taken me a few years to find a manageable routine to keep up with it all, but I promise you can do it too!
4 Steps to Keeping Your House Clean while Homeschooling
There's no perfect way to keep your house clean.
You need to find the methods & tools that work for you, your family, and your home.
But there are a few guidelines that will make that job easier.
First step: Clear the Clutter
Before you can really keep a consistent cleaning schedule you need to declutter.
If half your cleaning time is spent picking up clutter, you're wasting your time!
I know that getting rid of family possessions can be hard, but you'll feel so much better when your home isn't filled with clutter.
Once you've done the hard task of decluttering, it's time to find a home for everything you own.
Then, when it’s actually time for that end of homeschool day cleanup - everything has a place to go.
Half the messiness around your house is because things don’t have a place to go.
Second step: Let go of your perfectionist ways
You NEED to lower your expectations.
Now, I’m not saying that your kids should get a pass on shoddy work but I am saying you need to lower your expectations when it comes to what you can realistically accomplish in a given day.
You can't pack your homeschool schedule full and expect to get it all done (at least without plenty of frustration and stress) - and it's the same with your expectations about housecleaning.
Third step: Get the family involved
Make everyone responsible for their own space (you shouldn’t be cleaning your teenager's room). Kids are capable - they can wash dishes, take out the trash, and even do the laundry.
There’s no reason for you to be doing it all.
There is absolutely no reason for mom to be stuck managing the whole house. You have a family home -- that means the family needs to pitch in and take care of it (even dad).
This is where you need to let go of some of your high standards -- your kids probably won’t clean as well as you. But this is when you need to consider a few things -- they need to learn these skills because they’ll have a home of their own someday.
And the second reason? The value of hard work is really its own reward. Let them have that experience.
They will start to treat your home with more value if they are invested in keeping it clean.
Fourth step: Choose a system or routine that fits your family’s lifestyle
Different seasons of life will require you to reassess your cleaning system.
With small children, your plate is pretty full just trying to keep up with the mess and corral the kids. As kids get older they can help out around the house more but you’ll probably also be busier with more outside activities.
Each of those seasons will need to be managed in different ways. But when you have a solid system in place it’s much easier to tweak it to fit your current needs.
Ready to create some manageable systems?
Related: Simple Systems for Home Management
Simple Systems for Home Management
Once you’ve cleared the clutter, decided that perfection isn't your goal, and gotten the family involved, it’s time to choose the systems that will help you keep the house clean.
Here are some ways to fit housecleaning into your busy schedule:
After School Clean-up
When homeschooling is done for the day, take ten minutes to clean up the homeschool clutter and other random things around the house.
I like to use bins (we each have one for our daily homeschool supplies) and baskets (one for each child). First, grab your bins and clean up the books and school supplies. Then everyone grabs their basket and goes through the house and picks up their own belongings. Then the baskets are emptied, putting things in their proper place.
If you need to, repeat this process as part of your kid's bedtime routine. You'll love waking up to a house that isn't filled with random toys and clutter.
Daily Chore Charts
Keep a list of chores that you want to be accomplished each week (and if you want something done daily, make sure to note that on your list) and put it on your refrigerator.Every morning, before school begins (and again when school is done for the day) have each of your children select a chore to complete and cross off the list.
When everything has been crossed off, erase the list and start over (I like to use these reusable, erasable pockets). <-- Affiliate referral link!
It's basically a loop schedule for your chores.
Related: If you want to hear more about this topic listen to this podcast episode of Homeschool Snapshots with Pam Barnhill - we chatted all about keeping up with household tasks while homeschooling.
Systems for Daily Tasks
Some chores don't end up on the chore list - things like meal planning, laundry, running errands, etc. For those items, you need to work out a manageable system to get things done.
Laundry: When you think your children are old enough, teach each child to do their own laundry and assign them a day. For the remainder of the laundry, plan one day a week to tackle it all or do one load a day. Have the younger children (who aren't old enough to do their own laundry) help you sort, fold, and put the clean laundry away.
Errands: Try to organize your errands so you can take care of them all in one day - it will save you time in the long run! I like to have a 4-day school week just for this reason. We can take the extra day for errands and catching up on other things.
Meal planning: Keep it simple! Don't try to plan elaborate meals during your homeschool week. Believe me, those meal plans won't last long.
To make things easy, I like to keep a list of 30 dinner ideas I know everyone likes. When I'm making our weekly meal plan, I choose a few from the list, including a frozen pizza night, and a night for leftovers. Side dishes are whatever vegetables are in season and on sale along with a serving of rice, pasta, or potatoes. It takes less than 30 minutes (even with scanning the local sales circulars for good deals) to plan our upcoming meals.
Related: For more about meal planning, I shared some tips for make-ahead lunches at iHomeschool Network.
While a daily chore list addresses those tasks that need to be maintained on a consistent basis (like cleaning floors, washing dishes, scrubbing the toilet, etc) other things don't need to be done so often. Those items go on our deep cleaning list.
Once you've made your list, you can tackle the whole list once a month or every six weeks. We have a six-week on one week off homeschool schedule. That week off is my week to do our deep cleaning (and the family pitches in, of course). Another alternative is to tackle one area each week, rotating through your house one week at a time.
Related: Homeschooling & Housekeeping
While none of these tasks will give you a completely spotless home, remember, we're letting go of perfection and focusing on liveable and good enough. Including these types of tasks will certainly help you get there!
When you have a system it’s so much easier to keep your house clean. Do you have any housekeeping systems?
How do you homeschool and still keep your house clean?
I'd love to hear your advice - share your tips in a comment!