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How to keep a clean home while homeschooling is a question I see pop up frequently among new homeschool families.
I’m not going to lie. It can be a challenge.
The cleaning challenges that homeschool families face are different from those of traditional school families.
We are not only home for a good chunk of the day, we are busy creating engaging learning experiences for our children. That makes a bigger mess than if the family was out of the house at school and work all day long.
Science experiments and history dioramas create a bigger mess than worksheets. Cooking a hot lunch creates more dishes than buying a school lunch. Our projects end up all over the dining room table.
How to Keep a Clean Home While Homeschooling
Set your priorities
While I want, if not need, a clean home, it pales in comparison with educating my kids and spending time with my husband. Cleaning will never be my #1 priority! And that is okay. It is still possible to have a clean home.
The keyword is HOME. A home is different from just a house. It is the feeling you get when you enter the front door. I want my family to feel cozy, relaxed, and most importantly loved.
I never want my kids to feel that they can not get fully immersed in learning because they are afraid to make a mess. The mess is worth it if kids are enjoying learning.
Set your expectations
This will look different for every family. My personal expectation for my home is that it is clean enough not to stress about unexpected visitors. I always try to keep in mind that my unexpected visitors are REAL people – other stay at home parents and our sweet retired neighbors. Royalty will not be dropping by anytime soon, so my home does not need to be ‘visit from the queen’ clean.
I want a kitchen that is clean enough to cook home-cooked meals, floors that are not sticky, and clean clothes to wear. Everything else is a bonus.
To keep my home clean I implement a few strategies
Reset the kitchen and school area every single night
I can not think in a cluttered environment so I won’t ask my kids to either. A cluttered home makes my brain feel cluttered too. It is much easier to set clear intentions for the day if the space is clear and neat.
Resetting the school area means it is ready for us each morning. We don’t have to run around looking for school books or markers. Everything is right where it should be.
Now, do I want to take the time to reset these areas every single night? No way! I would rather be relaxing and reading a book. I do it anyway though. It never takes terribly long because there is only one days mess to clean. Don’t save today’s mess for tomorrow. Dirt and clutter seems to multiply at an alarming rate when ignored.
Set a home management schedule
Setting a home management schedule means that every chore needed to keep our home running and clean is planned. I don’t worry about when I’m going to find time to vacuum or clean out the refrigerator because those chores have a scheduled place in my week.
Everyone’s home management schedule will look different and that is okay. Our expectations are different and that will be reflected in our schedules.
If you need help getting started with a home management schedule, check out the Fly Lady website for tips. I recommend slowly building your schedule. You are more likely to stick with your new schedule if you don’t add too much change at one time.
Enlist help from your family
Your kids are helping make the messes so they should absolutely help clean them up.
The best way I have found is the ten minute tidy. Seriously, the ten minute tidy is my secret weapon in keeping a clean home. I do not assign my children specific chores each week. Instead, I ask them to help me clean every day for 10-20 minutes. They get more accomplished using this strategy than when I gave them a chore chart. The tasks I request of them depend on the state of the house. They might be asked to empty the dishwasher, fold laundry, wipe down bathrooms, sweep floors, etc.
To implement the ten minute tidy, I set an alarm for 10 minutes and we all clean together. I give the kids one task at a time and they come back for another when that one is finished. Try to encourage them to get as much done as possible before the timer beeps. Then, once the timer goes off, make a big deal out of praising them for how clean the house looks. Positive reinforcement is a wonderful thing.
One advantage of the ten minute tidy is that I can use that time to teach specific chores. Taking the time to thoroughly explain the steps required of a chore means that they can do it solo in the future…freeing me up to complete a different task.
Maintaining a clean home while homeschooling takes a little practice and a whole lot of intention, but it can absolutely be done. What are your tips for keeping a clean home?