Did I mention I started a facebook group a while back, for those of us who homeschool? If you're interested in joining, request to join here.
Alright--on that said homeschool forum, there was a question about how to get it all done--cleaning, that is, and homeschooling. I think it's a bothersome question all of us face. And while I maintain that having 1 child is sometimes harder than having several children (and other times not), this is one time where having 1 child wins out. She is my biggest helper and, if it's something I just need to *DO*, she can entertain herself (for a little while at least) or watch a video.
But lately I've been thinking how I'm going to handle two or three (when we become foster parents) and still juggle homeschool, court/visitation/check-in sessions, possibly taking 1 or 2 of the children to public school (we cannot homeschool foster children according to the state) and still get meals and cleaning done.
Let's face it, I'm not that good at doing it all with just one. SO, I've come up with some thoughts that I think *might* help me, and maybe, just maybe, might help some of my friends as well. Here goes!
1. Keep a clean house. Yep, I know..that totally defeats the purpose of this post. But hear me out. If your house is a disaster right this moment, enlist the help of your husband to get the kids OUT OF THE HOUSE for the day and spend your free time (yeah, sorry, I know this is going to really not be fun) getting the house in order. Organize, purge, get it cleaned. I have Josh do this ever so often to do a big purge or clean.
2. Make it a top priority to do a 15 minute clean at night before bed. Yes, I know sometimes you're so exhausted you literally fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow. But force yourself to do the 15 minute sweep right after putting the kids to bed. NOT before you go to bed. AFTER the kids go to bed. Otherwise, you really will be too tired and will end up putting off until tomorrow. Bonus: get your husband to help and then enjoy some time together before you nod off.
3. Make it a RULE that the toys get cleaned up before bedtime. No matter if bedtime was already 30 minutes ago...the toys need to get picked up before the kidlets go to bed. This is TOUGH. Enforce it. Take privileges away if necessary. Trust me...we finally, after 5 years, have been able to follow through on this. It is so much easier to start off with a clean no-mess playroom every.single.day.
4. Institute quick pick up times throughout the day. Not only for the kids, but for you too. Look, there are some blocks on the floor no one is playing with..ok kiddos, let's have a race, who can get the blocks back in the fastest? Oh, Sally won? Well here's one mini chocolate chip for you! (Yes, bribery is sometimes good!) Running through the living room to throw that dirty diaper away and you spy three cups and a plate? Grab them!
5. Enlist the children's help. Children as young as two can have chores. And they feel pride in their work for helping. Check out this list for ideas for chores for various age groups.
6. Realize that at this season in your life, you aren't going to have the perfect house...and that's ok. (Yep, I *just* got to this stage too, after 5 years!)
7. After you've given the children chores, LET THEM HELP. Yes, I know that's redundant. But it's so hard to stand back and watch them smear the dust all over the shelf instead of actually get it clean. If you can, take a second and show them how to do it, but don't redo it (unless it's absolutely necessary)..I've had to learn this lesson the hard way too!
8. Declutter. Less stuff=less stuff to clean.
9. Don't feel bad about using videos or computer time to get something done that really needs to be done. Have 5 kids and a floor that makes you WORK to lift your foot each time you walk across it's sticky yuckiness? Stick a Veggie Tales on and mop the floor--it's really ok.
10. Make your children ask for permission before getting messy things out. That's a new rule in our house. You want to play with something messy, like oh....water? glue? craft supplies? You ask first. Same goes for snacks. Or have a drawer that they can help themselves to a snack, AFTER they ask you if that's ok. It cuts down a lot of mess!
11. Here's my own personal biggest, best idea for keeping a clean house that I have ever come up with: Every single morning, before breakfast we straighten all of the bedrooms. I may even start breakfast cooking before we begin cleaning, but we do.not.eat. until the rooms are cleaned. Talk about motivation! Sometimes, if breakfast is taking a while to cook or heat up, we'll even straighten up the living room and bathroom as well.
12. Allow toys in only one area of the house. For us, that's the playroom. Toys stay in there almost 95% of the time. There are sometimes I'll let her bring some toys out into the living room, but for the most part, the play room is where they stay. Bedrooms stay cleaner without toys and so does the rest of the house. (A side note: I allow a bookshelf full of books, sleeping stuffed animals and a basket of crayons and coloring books in the bedroom. We use the books and crayons for quiet time.)
13. If you're cooking something, just go ahead and cook double or make something else that utilizes the same basic ingredients and measuring cups. Double duty and you only clean up once.