Newbie homeschoolers often feel overwhelmed with the idea of teaching their kids 24/7, let alone keeping up with household management! As one mom wrote:
“I’m wondering about two things and I really need some seasoned momma advice. #1 is keeping a decently clean home with homeschooling. What’s your schedule/rhythm of cleaning like while doing school? #2 is sleep deprivation. I have a 2 month old, a 2 year old, a 4 year old, and 6 year old. Only my oldest sleeps through the night regularly. So…what’s the sanity keeping advice for that combo while doing school?”
The response from our local homeschool community was fast, sympathetic (“we’ve-all-been-there!” confessions) and immensely practical. We captured some of the highlights here:
Suggestions on getting more sleep
- Make “quiet time” a requirement with naps.
Even if some of your children are too old to nap in the afternoons, many homeschool moms have found they can still take a “quiet time” in their rooms. They can play with a stack of quiet toys or read library books while their younger siblings sleep.
One mom takes it a step further, adding an extra 10 minutes to their quiet time if they leave their rooms before getting permission.
- Seek help from friends and family if available.
Sometimes a 20-minute power nap can make all the difference! If mom has any supportive relatives or friends nearby, try an arrangement where they could come for an hour or so to babysit while mom takes a nap.
Your relatives don’t just have to babysit. Many homeschool moms, particularly second-generation homeschoolers, find their parents more than happy to help with schooling a few days a week.
- Don’t stress out about it!
One homeschool mom wrote that she needed to manage her expectations, which helped her adjust during this time.
“As for sleep deprivation, it helped tremendously when I stopped stressing about it and just accepted it as a season of life,” she wrote. “A very looooong season as we have seven kiddos and my youngest three are terrible sleepers…but a season nonetheless.”
Suggestions on cleaning
- Work it into your schedule.
If it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done! So long as you have a schedule that works for your house, your chances for maintaining a level of cleanliness and order will increase.
One mom’s schedule is over the weekend: “Major cleaning/pick up on Sunday afternoons. Grocery shopping happens early Saturday. Knowing there is a certain time for activities to be completed helps me not stress.”
Another homeschool family has a daily schedule: “Bathrooms one day, kitchen the next, floors, dusting, etc. My house is never spotless, but it’s always clean.”
Each household’s cleaning will look different, but most homeschoolers agree that just putting it on the schedule is half the battle.
- Make sure your own expectations are realistic.
We covered this in our post about common mistakes that first-year homeschoolers make, but it bears repeating …
Your house will probably be in a continual state of “messy” for the next 18-20 years. Make sure your cleaning expectations are appropriate for your children’s age level!
- Teach your kids to help.
If you’ve never taught chores to your children, many homeschool moms advise starting with the oldest. Here are just a few ideas to get started:
- Emptying trash cans
- Wiping sinks
- Sweeping the floor
- Taking out laundry (if they’re still too young to load the washer!)
- Folding towels
- Unload the dishwasher
- “Clean” surfaces with a sponge and water
Another practical tip from one homeschooler is to require everyone to clean up their own messes! Even a 2-year-old can practice sweeping with a broom or using a wet sponge to mop up a spill.
Suggestions on homeschooling
- Cut down outside commitments.
It may sting at first, but homeschooling is just that – schooling at home!
While opportunities will always exist to get outside the house, many homeschoolers have found they have less stress and more productivity if they limit their outings until homeschooling is finished.
“Commitments at church and outside homeschooling can become too much and we sometimes miss those,” one mom wrote. “Reduce, reduce and reduce.”
If you have trouble saying no, see whether your spouse or someone you trust can help you make a list of everything you’re doing. They might help you catch something you’ve missed.
- Make sure your school time is appropriate for your children’s ages.
If you’ve come from a public or private school background, you may be shocked to hear that homeschooling doesn’t last all day. In fact, it can take as little as 2-3 hours for preschoolers and early grade levels!
The time will naturally increase as your child grows and subjects become more complex, but it may help you adjust your expectations, especially at the beginning.
- Tag team if you can!
Often moms can place too much responsibility on their own shoulders, especially if there are people available to help.
“My husband already helps enormously with cooking, cleaning, and the kids, but there are times when I get all prideful and try to do everything my way and it just doesn’t work,” one mom wrote. “We need to work together to figure out what is most important to get done in a day for both of us.”
This post was originally published in September 2015. It has been updated for timeliness and detail.