Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mentor Moment: Chores and Getting It All Done

This past school year I've had the privilege to mentor a new to homeschooling mom.  She had it on her heart to homeschool her kids, but was just waiting for dad to get on board.  After a hard year last year, this 2012-13 was their first year at home, and from what she's said, it has been a HUGE blessing -- challenging, but a blessing nonetheless.

We hadn't been able to meet face-to-face until just recently, but about half way through the school year, this blessed mom emailed me with a question:

"I'm wondering how to strike the balance between housework and homeschooling?  ...Originally I thought "I'll have SO much more time to get things done because we'll be going out a lot less during the day".  I quickly threw that notion out of my head because I realized how time-consuming homeschooling is.  I kept telling me husband (in August/September), "I'll figure this out" - there must be a way to have food, cook it daily, keep the house cleaned, the laundry done AND homeschool!!!  But, here it is mid-January and although I have gotten better at the whole feeding the family dinner each night thing - my house has taken a definite turn for the worse in terms of the cleanliness of it."

I totally understood where my new friend was coming from-- and I'm still there, in the trenches of homeschooling/homemaking.  She and I each have three kids, so I get how hard it is to keep it all together.  

Here were some suggestions I made to her:

  • Try FlyLady.  I don't use the system anymore (I was tired of all the emails) but I still use some principles now and again. 
  • Teach kids to help out.   Kids can learn to do a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for.  Even though things are not done to my "standards," at least sinks and toilets are getting wiped down, dusting is getting done (three times a week!), and laundry is moving through the pipeline.
Photo: wayne's eye view/ Creative Commons
  • Speaking of laundry:  Ben, Luke and Levi have each been doing their laundry for at least 5 years.  I still have to help sometimes (like moving it along from washing to drying machines), but it is a system that we have that works.  Each kid gets a day to do their laundry.  I wash all sheets/ towels and my husband's and my clothes.  This has saved me a ton of time.
  • I used to care about how things got put in drawers, but -- in the interest of survival -- if it is in a drawer, I consider that an accomplishment.  
  • We have a rotating chore chart that we started last year.  It has worked well and everyone is gaining experience at a variety of chores.  The kids' pretty much clean the bathrooms.  They vacuum upstairs and downstairs once a week, and I try to get the downstairs a second time during the week.
  • To survive, I had to adjust my standards;  the jobs aren't done exactly right, but I know in the long run their wives will like me -- and if they are single in their own apartments and they are messy, I can honestly say that I taught them what they needed to do and they are choosing to ignore their mama's brilliant instruction!
I know some will disagree with me, but I think it is worth the teaching time I've put in so that they understand what it takes to maintain a house.  I'm also hoping that as they become more and more responsible for keeping the house clean, they will keep the house cleaner so they'll have less work to do.

What advice do you have for my new homeschooling friend?  What works in your home?  Have your 'clean home' standards changed since homeschooling?

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