I can hardly believe it, but this year marks our eighth year of homeschooling! One of the most difficult things about homeschooling (aside from getting the kids to do their math!) has been keeping the house picked up. I am a bit of a neat freak. I don't know why, but I just cannot stand clutter or things piled up everywhere. It has been a long road for me to accept that a certain amount of clutter is necessary with homeschooling and that it is actually desirable! All those paintings, strewn papers, uncapped markers, pencils, books, and cups of growing seedlings are evidence of our learning and doing.
But I still need the house to be at least moderately neat, so we have been working on a routine lately to achieve that goal. I am happy to say that by following this routine, we are able to keep the house mostly in order, although there are still definite times of messiness throughout the day. And don't even ask about the garage or basement. I don't consider them part of the house, which makes it easier to ignore them!
This is our current house-tidying routine. We also clean, but that's another post.
1. Morning. After I eat breakfast I make a quick sweep through the house. I recycle last night's newspaper, stow t.v. remotes in a basket, put away magazines and books, toss shoes in a basket, and just generally tidy up stuff from the previous night. I also pick up the floor of my youngest child's bedroom. The older kids do their own rooms. They don't do a bang-up job, but every little bit helps, you know? I admit, I am way less picky about the bedrooms, which are upstairs and out of sight most of the day.
2. Morning Chore Time. My aim is to spend 20 minutes per day detail-cleaning a room. Naturally, I don't always succeed. But even a few times a week makes a huge difference in the feel of the house. In addition to cleaning, I return every misplaced item I encounter to it's proper home-which may well be the recycling bin! I stop after 20 minutes and pick up where I left off next time.
3. Schooltime. If I have free moments during our morning school hours I use them to put away books and papers that we are finished with. The kitchen counter is my command center, so I try to keep it as neat and uncluttered as possible.
4. Lunchtime Tidy. After lunch, everyone helps pick up the house. I assign the kids a certain number of items to pick up and put away, based on how messy the house is. The number is usually between 15 and 20. This helps them work more quickly, since there is an obvious end in sight. At least in theory. I assure you, this is not always a jovial time in our household. After this is done though, the mess is mostly contained and the rest can wait until later.
5. Afternoon Tidy. Before I start making dinner, everyone pitches in and we pick everything up. Everything single thing that is out gets returned to it's proper spot. I think this is the most crucial step in maintaining order. I figure, if everything is picked up once a day, how bad can the house really get?
Till next time!