We all know that the “perfect cleaning schedule” is next to impossible while homeschooling a large family. As some of you know I’m a mom to 6 and have been homeschooling for 18 years. I in no way ever had the perfect cleaning plan, but I do have a few suggestions that might make things a little easier for you. You really can homeschool a large family and have a somewhat clean house.
Yep, that’s me with 5 of my kids on Mother’s Day eons ago! It kind of summed up a typical day at our house once upon a time… mom being surrounded by adorable little children with lots of energy! And me, trying to keep it together! LOL :)
Okay, here’s my list of 10 ways to have a cleaner house while homeschooling a large family:
- If I could peep into your home while you’re reading this first suggestion, I’d probably hear a groan or two. But, it has to be said.. Wake up earlier! Oh, I know, none of us want to do that, but the truth is, if you wake up earlier you’ll get more done. It’s simple mathematics.
- Wake your kids up earlier. Ouch, I know, two stinkers, and now you most likely don’t want read on. I just wanted to get those top 2 out of the way. But seriously, your kids can help get lots of chores done early in the morning before school. You might be asking how much earlier should you wake yourself and the kids up. I used to wake my kids up at 5:30am, but we live on 11 acres and have lots of animals. They worked outside with dad for about an hour and a half. They were back inside between 7-7:30.
- Eat breakfast together. I hear lots of homeschool moms complain about each kid wanting to make their own meal and how crazy their mornings become because of it. Keep things simple and make a meal, sit down and eat, and have each child take their plate to the sink, rinse and load. You can do all this in under 20 minutes.
- Have your kids clean while you make breakfast. This is where it can get tricky. If you’re making breakfast, are the kids really cleaning? They are if they don’t want extra chores after school. I know many people don’t believe in punishing your kids with chores for not doing their chores. My experience tells me that that’s the best way to punish your kids. There are consequences to everything. If your kids watch too much TV, you take away TV time, if your kids don’t read enough, you give them more to read. Well, if your kids don’t do their cleaning assignments, you add more cleaning to the list. I’ll explain more later in the post.
- Because your kids cleaned their rooms, or whatever else during the time you made breakfast, after breakfast is done, do a ‘speed cleaning’. I would put on classical music and my kids knew that meant we cleaned as fast as we could until the music shut off. This was usually about 20 minutes. This time is for straightening up. We quickly put away toys, shoes, hung jackets, wiped down counter tops, and sometimes even got a bathroom or two clean. The classical music I played was usually faster pace piece, like this one by Mozart… this was probably my kids favorite to clean to. I don’t think they can listen to this piece without wanting to clean :) Brainwashing them at young ages! And they all love classical music which is a nice bonus!
- Have a relatively set time you eat meals and start school. I say relatively because let’s be honest, homeschooling is all about being flexible. I’ve yet to find a homeschooling family that starts anything right on time, but try to keep your meals and school time close to what you want. We ate as a family at 7:30. My husband left for work by 8:00 and we started school about 8:30. This worked well for us.
- If you have a large family, have your kids work in teams of 2 or 3 and set up cleaning stations. Some people don’t think they can do this because maybe their kids don’t get along. Well give it a try, you might be surprised at how your kids relationships start to strengthen through working together as a team. I had one older child team up with a younger child. This way the older child could be a kind of mentor to the younger ones. This was probably one of the keys to getting things done at our house. My older kids were more focused and understood that mom and dad were serious about adding extra chores if things didn’t get done in a timely manner. Therefore, they kept the younger sibling focused because it really took both of them working together to get the job done. I’m adding a copy of the cleaning schedule I used for my kids and the station areas I had set up for them at the end of this post.
- Keep your kids accountable. Don’t just take your kids word for actually cleaning the toilet or vacuuming the corners – check their work. It’s okay to ask your kids to do a job over again if they don’t do it right. It’s not a punishment, it’s important that kids learn to do a job right and take pride in their work. Of course, it’s also important to keep your child’s age into consideration. There are age appropriate jobs.
- Give incentives to your kids for doing a good job. I see nothing wrong with giving your children appropriate incentives. Just like I would add chores to their list if they worked slowly, I think it’s important for them to have a little incentive to work quickly and do a good job. We didn’t pay our kids, but if they did a good job at cleaning for the week, we’d have an ice cream party, or have a family movie night, or game night or some other fun activity. While we might have done some of these things anyway, the kids felt special because we would thank them with something they enjoyed doing.
- Clean up after school or as you go along in school. This was a biggie in our house. With six kids, we had a lot of things scattered everywhere. Everyone was responsible for their own things and the common things we had another speed cleaning after school.
And if all else fails, do what I’ve done over the years… find a teen-age girl to come in and clean a couple days a week for $5.00 an hour. There are seriously lots of kids who are willing to make a few extra dollars and it’s the best money you’ll ever spend! :)
As mentioned above, below is a sample of what our station schedule looked like. My kids would have a station for one month as a team. They were colored coded so the kids knew exactly what was expected in each station. We did the heavier cleaning after school.
I want you to be able to play with this schedule if you think it’s something you can work with. I created this in PowerPoint 2008, so if you have PowerPoint you will be able to adjust it to meet your family’s needs.
If you have only younger kids, you might find this chore system helpful
If you have any other suggestions, please comment below! I know there are lots of struggling homeschool moms trying to make everything work! These are just a few ways I made it work in our family. I hope some of this helps a bit. :)