Monday, September 14, 2009

Housekeeping and Homeschooling

When I started school several weeks ago I received comments and emails asking if I would share my schedule with y'all.

As a general rule, I have learned that sharing my schedule with others can be dangerous. Often the minute I say I do something on schedule, it will change.

However, I also know that last year (my first to homeschool) I was always curious of how others ran their home and school.

Today I am going to talk about housekeeping.

Before homeschooling I did it all. I enjoy a neat and tidy home. I like things clean, clutter-free, and comfortable. I have a hard time relaxing when I have a lot of clutter.

So you can imagine my dilemma when all the homeschooling books I read said the number-one complaint of homeschooling (after math) was the keeping of the house.

Most homeschooling moms (in these books, and honestly, in real life) had learned to live with a less-than -tidy house.

I, being but a young grasshopper, set my heels in the ground and resolutely announced that "that wouldn't be me!"

Famous last words.

By December of last year I was hit over the head with the realization that I couldn't do it all. I couldn't clean, cook, shop, keep up with an acre of yard, and do school, all by myself. I also realized that there was no shame in that admission.

Something had to give.

First, I needed to own up to the fact that my need for order isn't just about being able to feel relaxed. It's also because I care too much about what others think.

We often have unannounced drop-by visitors (at least twice a week), so my vigilance about keeping things in order was not always about liking things neat, as much as it was about wanting those who come in to my home to think I have it all together...which isn't the truth.

I realized that I had done my children (and quite frankly our family) a great disservice.

Although I was always taking opportunities to teach them value of hard work, I had never taught my kids the value of house work.

Like many things, talking about hard work is never quite as valuable as doing hard work!

In the past my philosophy had been that everyone had a job here in the La Vida Casa. The Mister worked. The kids went to school. I took care of the house.

I liked it this way because I'm very efficient at house cleaning. I had a schedule. A routine. Instead of taking the time to teach my children how to fold clothes, or load a dishwasher, or sweep the front hall, it was easier to just do it correctly, it my way, my job.

Thus began lessons in Home Economics.

I started with teaching them how to use the washer and dryer. They now do all their laundry, from hamper to drawer, completely on their own.

Then we moved to training in the kitchen.

The Mister taught them how to scrub a bathroom.

I taught them how to sweep the floors.

Of course, training is different than telling.

In a perfect world I would like to just tell my kids to do something and have them go do it...and do it well.

Reality demands that I go with them. Show them. And two days later? Show them again.

That is the hard part for me.

Wether you homeschool or not, the value of teaching our kids how to keep a home cannot be measured. It not only teaches them the satisfaction of setting to a task and accomplishing it, which feels good, but it can also help build up our home and family, as well as teach skills they will certainly need in the future.

Oh, and before I forget...I have to tell you that I have learned to live (and work) with this truth: my whole house isn't going to be spotless all at the same time. Nor will things be done the way I would do them. Which means if our plans change (and they often do) and the hallway doesn't get swept on Tuesday, then it doesn't get swept. This also means that the silverware won't be put away the way I like and the pots and pans may have new places in the kitchen (within reason!) each week.

This also means that when a friend drops by, my house may be a disaster, but in the wise words of  Gretchenwe do actually live here. 

So here it is: The Daily Chore Chart. These  jobs are the ones they get paid to finish. They get paid four Monopoly dollars a week. (you can click on it to see the full size)

Yes, I really pay them in Monopoly money...but that's a post for next week!

If you have tips on how to get your kids more actively engaged in housework, or tips on how to teach kids (from preschooler to high schooler) about helping out in the house, or you just want to share your ideas, let me know in the comments!

Happy Tuesday!


Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with needing/wanting the house to be clean and neat. I had to give up some of that--still strive for it more than I should perhaps. Gracen has responsibilities that she does(reality--is supposed to do) each day. She gets an "allowance" at the end of the month with which she has to buy any gifts for b-day parties, game for DS, etc. She also has to save some for short term, long term and give some to church. Allowance isn't really the right word maybe because she has to do the responsibilities regardless. The money is more about teaching her to be responsible with money and how to save.
Balancing house stuff and home school is tough!!

Elizabeth said...

I have always wondered how homeschooling moms get anything done around the house. I don't homeschool and I'm home all day with just one toddler, and I still can't keep up. This chart was helpful! I've been meaning to make a new one for this school year and keep putting it off. Probably because the perfectionist in my finds it easier to do all the work myself. Not good! You've helped motivate me to train my kids and follow-through with making them do more. Be sure and tell us about the Monopoly money. Sounds interesting!

Anonymous said...

I love your chart! I have all of my cleaning things on a schedule as well.. helps to stay motivated! Like I only have 2 things to do today and I go do them instead of feeling overwhelmed trying to keep the house clean.

well.. I never was a great house keeper.. someday I hope to be decent.. so in my attempts to get better I have started letting Sammy help. He is now putting away his toys when he is done with them. Sometimes this needs encouragement of me helping him. In the beginning I basically picked it all up except for a few things now the roles are reversed. When I want to clean the kitchen I give him a wet washcloth and let him help wipe down things.. usually he isn't much of a help but it gives me a few minutes where he is busy and I can clean ;-).. My only tips so far :-)

Gretchen said...

Thank you for this,my friend. You are the rock to my roll; the potato to my chip; the Lucy to my Ethel. I am the woman of good intentions & lots of creativity, but poor follow through. And, I struggle with perfectionism re: my house, too, even though I'm not terrific at keeping house. I am essentially home-schooling D most of the time, & these are such good skills to teach him. But the teaching/training stretch me (also of the "my job" mentality) bc often I just want the job done. Thank u for your transparency & encouragement. Lurve u.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The longer I know you, the more impressed I am. I want to be more like you! Seriously!!

I have no tips except to purge often. It's impossible to keep a neat and orderly home if you simply have too much stuff. We have a small house and therefore purge toys, books, and clothes several times a year. Whatever is not being used, worn or played with is simply taking up space and cluttering our home. I get rid of it, usually by donation.

As far as getting the kids to help, I find that it's best if presented as a privilege rather than a chore. My kids love it when they "get" to help me; not so much when they "have" to help me. We have chore charts that encourage them to earn magnets at the end of each day. That helps some, but only as long as the novelty lasts. When that happens we divvy up new "exciting" chores.

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Love your blog and am going to share it with a friend....Had a couple of hours to blog hop this afternoon...Enjoyed reading yours....Hope you will stop by my Christmas blog...There is a great giveaway drawing on Oct 1...

The Buntens said...

Oh bless you for bringing light to this!

I was just RANTING, yes, ranting about my house this evening. (not good) I feel like the personal maid service many days.

I've really been trying to give my kids more responsibility and to let go of the way I think things should be done. Like my daughter making her bed - I so want to re-make it when she does but I know to just applaud her efforts.

meh said...

Sounds like you have a good healthy plan for your casa and for your kids!

What helps me most in this area is an occasional reality check:

No, they won't do it perfectly or as good/quickly as I would...they are kids!
No, it won't stay clean past a couple of someone once wisely said, we do live here.
No, cleaning won't ever top our "favorite times" list...but everyone who lives here, cleans here so just get over it and grab some clorox cleanup!
Yes, cleaning can be fun in its own way...but you have to make it fun with rewards, and awards, and timed competitions, and music, and loads of appreciation, and just being goofy sometimes.

Woman Interrupted said...

For me, I hate to let go of cooking and shopping. Life goes on, doesn't it?

I am a firm believer that you must and should teach kids how to do things around the house. To do everything ourselves would be easier, but not better for them.

Don't forget, mothering and teaching them is still a full-time job. Hope you give yourself enough credit!

stephanie j. said...

Ingrid (periodically -- I haven't been a good enforcer!) empties the dishwasher, makes her bed, and recently, has been making OUR bed, too. She also cleans out the sink and wipes off her bathroom counter.

Brandy said...

This is good. I just created a similar chart. i think it's important to re-evaluate the chores and whose responsibility they are every so often. The need to be flexible that you described is very important too. I think just putting things down on paper really helps everyone to stay on track.

Farming On Faith said...

I have to tell you ~after 19 years of home schooling I still rewrite the plan when it is not working. We too ~have a cleaning day. Thursday is the day we clean from top to bottom of the house. We do a 1/2 day of school that day. My children all are very good
at cooking, cleaning and having fun!
Autumn Blessings~

Anonymous said...

I think you may have hit on why I fall short in this area. I teach, but then don't teach again. Then I'm frustrated because they don't do it correctly so I just do it myself.

It's a process, it takes time, and I think I'm just too impatient to work it out to fruition. AND (another area I fall short) it takes a plan (which takes a little more time).

Thanks for the encouragement. And the chore chart that I'm going to steal and modify to work for us. I'm motivated to get something going around here.