Do you ever feel discouraged, trying to homeschool in a cluttered, dirty house? I admit, this disturbs my well-being and makes it hard for me to focus. I used to wait until all the school work was done before starting myself and my girls on our chores. Then I found a fast, easy way to get the house in decent order first thing in the morning, leaving plenty of time for school and activities. I don’t use this plan everyday, by any means…. only on days I feel the mess has caught up with us.
First, let me introduce you to our housekeeping helper, flylady.net. If you are overwhelmed with housework, can’t seem to keep down clutter, or even the opposite… a too-clean perfectionist who can’t seem to rest unless everything is perfect, you will benefit from her plan. My morning strategy is loosely based on her “weekly home blessing.”
First, I write out two or three sets of chores, depending on how messy the house is. Each set contains the same number of chores as people participating… namely, myself and my children. The child who arrives downstairs first gets to choose the first chore in the first set (no signing up for the second set until we are finished with the first). I, Mom, am stuck with the last chore, the one that didn’t get chosen, which is fine because I’m just happy we’re getting all this work done!
Next, I set the timer for 10 minutes. I dramatically hold my finger over the timer’s “start” button, and say, “Ready…. set…. go!” and press the button. The girls run to start their chores, less enthusiastic about this little game than when they were younger, but with some bit of enthusiasm as it is a race to beat that timer. I have made sure that in each set of chores, people are spread out. For instance, I don’t have one girl sweeping the kitchen floor while another is unloading the dishwasher. That’s just asking for conflict. When the timer beeps, we’re done with the first set of chores, and we go on to the second.
Here is a sample list of chores:
straighten the downstairs
dust the downstairs
vacuum the stairs
sweep the kitchen
vacuum the downstairs
fold and put away the towels from the dryer
spray and wipe bathroom sinks and counters
Each set of chores takes 10 min. You work hard for that time, but if you don’t finish, no worries. It’s “good enough.” Usually, the girls finish before the timer. There’s something about that instrument that gets kids moving, the challenge of beating the time and winning, so to speak, the competition.
When we’re finished, chores are done for the day (although I try to have everyone help with meal clean up, too). We have a sense of accomplishment, and a clean, uncluttered house in which to begin our school day… all in thirty minutes time.