Making Time for Homemaking While You're Homeschooling: My Favorite Tips and Tricks

I wish that I could tell you I was Supermom: single-handedly balancing homeschooling my children, cleaning my house, cooking meals, ensuring we have proper clothing and shoes at all times, taxiing four children to all of their activities, all while I’m nurturing deep and meaningful relationships with my husband and children. But, I’m not. I’m just not.

Usually one of the first things to go around our house is the housekeeping and the cooking. Maybe it’s because those are two of my least favorite things. The taxi driver role is pretty demanding; but, until I have a fully licensed driver, it’s one I have to make happen. Homeschooling I can usually manage to keep as a top priority. Even if we’re wading through dirty clothes and eating dry cereal for dinner, I’m getting school done. And the relationships- I try really hard to make those a priority as well.
It’s all good that I have priorities. But if my people are constantly going to bed hungry and leaving the house in dirty clothes, there’s probably going to be a problem. So how can I make any of this whole homemaking thing happen while still focusing on the more important aspects of homeschooling?

Homemaking and homeschooling

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Accept the fact that there is no such thing as perfect “balance” in all of your roles.

Over all my years in this parenting/homeschooling gig, I’ve come to realize that the idea of perfect balance is probably impossible to achieve. There will always be times when some things need to be more important and others less important.

Sometimes the best thing I can do is look around and ask “What is the most important thing right now?”

If I look around and see that we are running out of any clean clothes, laundry probably needs to take priority. If we haven’t eaten together as a family all week, I probably need to cook something good and make it possible to have a meal together. 
There are probably going to be few times no times that you can achieve perfect balance. So let go of it, and look for what’s most needed in your home keeping right now.

Let go of the idea of having things “just right” and instead just get them done.

Like the idea of balance, this idea that I’ll someday have things perfectly, just the way I want them to be isn’t something that’s likely to ever happen. In an ideal world, my dishes would always clean; my laundry would always be folded; and my floors would always be vacuumed. I live in less than the ideal.
I’ve recently let go of the idea of “just right” in regards to out laundry. Because there are often places that I am driving kids in the afternoon, I found that I was struggling to fold and put away laundry at the end of the day. Even with kids to help we were sometimes not getting it done. 
I finally decided to skip the folding. I bought a laundry basket for each child and one for mine and Jason’s clothes. As the laundry finishes now, I- or a child- will take clothes from the dryer and just sort them into baskets. It’s much quicker than folding. It’s not my ideal. I’d love to say that I have all the clothes neatly folded and put away by the end of the day. But it allows the clothes to at least be washed and divided so that everyone has clean clothes.
This principle works with many homemaking tasks. Instead of spending hours to prepare a gourmet meal, spend forty-five minutes making something more simple that serves the purpose of feeding the family. Instead of stressing over dusting every single item on that shelf in the living room, do a quick, general dusting. It’s better than not having time to do anything.
Once you can let go of the idea that things are going to be done “just right” you can actually have time to finish more that needs to be done.

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Have a system for everything.

Our house runs on routines. It’s true. We have routines for morning, routines for homeschooling throughout the day, routines for meals, routines for chores. Routines help things to run smoothly or at least more smoothly than without them.
In business, people use the term “systems.” Having a system for things you do over and over again saves you so much time because you’re automating things instead of having to reinvent the wheel every time you do the same thing again.
Systems can be just as useful for all of those homemaking chores that have to be done over and over and over again. When you stick to the system, you can save yourself lots of time.
After every meal, I clean up the kitchen in exactly the same way: put the dishes in the dishwasher; have a child to wipe down the table; wash the pots and pans that don’t go in the dishwasher; wipe down the countertops; wipe off the refrigerator. Sometimes I’m really tired after a meal and tempted to skip over part of my system, but that would mean that things would build up that I would just have to spend more time doing later. Sticking with the system means I can work quickly because I’m doing the same thing over and over; and it means that things don’t stack up, costing me more time and energy later.

Develop those systems for routine tasks and stick with the system. It will end up costing you less energy and time which will allow you more time to do all the things you need to do.

Do the same chores on the same days.

Very early in my homemaking years, I discovered the value of dividing my cleaning and housekeeping chores up into days and dividing up big jobs by months. It wasn’t until much later that I heard of the Flylady and zone cleaning and realized that’s what I’d been doing all along! 
Having dedicated days for cleaning certain spaces means that I don’t end up at the end of the week trying to clean the whole house at once. It’s much easier to find one hour to spend cleaning an area once a week than to take hours cleaning the whole house. 
The same is true for cleaning bigger areas. If I make time one Saturday a month to tackle one big area, I can spend less time than deciding the whole house needs deep cleaning and trying to do it all at once.
Another benefit of having a cleaning schedule is that the kids get to know it. My kids know I clean bathrooms on Thursday afternoons typically. Now, this doesn’t guarantee they’ll try to stay out of the way, but at least they know what to expect.

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

I have to admit that this is the one I struggle with the most. I don’t delegate well. I have control issues. And even though, in theory, having the children do chores will help me, I have a hard time relinquishing my control and biting my tongue if they don’t do it the way I would have. But delegating is important for the kids because it teaches them how to do homemaking tasks. And it’s a help to me in the long run because once they know how to do a task I can pass it on a little easier.
When the kids were young, we worked on this by having designated chores that they did at designated times. After lunch was chore time and before or after supper was chore time. That was when life was simple and everyone was on the same schedule.
Now that I have kids who are working or taking classes or off to extracurricular activities that’s not so easy. Now the rule is: “When I ask you to do a chore, you do the chore.” It doesn’t always happen that way without a hitch, but usually they are persuaded to do the chore with a good attitude when they realize that the alternative won’t be pleasant.
Sometimes when we are all home at the same time, I’ll have after lunch or after supper chore lists. If everyone does just a few things, it’s amazing how much we can accomplish in a short time.
Delegation can be difficult when you think about letting go and giving tasks over to people who may or may not do them like you would. But delegation has lots of benefits for both the kids and for you, and it definitely can help homemaking tasks to get accomplished when you can’t balance it all by yourself.

Homemaking and homeschooling

Keeping a house while your homeschooling your children isn’t easy. But it is doable if you set some realistic expectations, use systems and cleaning schedules, and relinquish some of your homemaking tasks to the kids.
Need more homemaking help? Check out The Homemaker’s Notebook. It has printable pages that will help you create a homemaking binder and get your household organized!

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