To homeschool and efficiently manage your home, you have to be a bit of an undercover superhero. It takes a lot of time and planning for me to feel like I'm juggling both well. I will just state here that I'm not a mom who can let things go easily. I've tried to let the housework go, and it makes me terribly uncomfortable. Our home is very lived in and it is never perfectly tidy, but I like it to be clean. When I try to skip housework or skip a trip to the store or skip planning and scheduling, I feel like it takes too much work to get back on track. I'd rather just keep up with everything even if it means a late night or missing out on something outside the house. I must say upfront that I also blog and work from home so my time has to be a little more scheduled than many other homeschool moms.
Just like homeschool planning, the routine I have for cleaning has changed over time. In some seasons it works best for me to do a little each day. For those times I generally keep a schedule and work in one area each day to stay on track. The drawback to that method is the house is never really clean all at one time. Everything stays fairly neat but there's never a day to look around and have the whole house gleaming.
My current method is the traditional get-the-whole-house clean in one day plan. With school and soccer and my husband's work schedule, that's just working best for us right now. I haven't even been very particular about which day I get it done as long as it is about once a week. I know it will take me a 2-3 hours, and I just plunge in and work my way from one side of the house to the other. Then the kids have chores all week to help keep it tidy, and I do a little "maintenance" each day.
I know many give advice to let housework go while your kids are young. As I mentioned earlier, I just don't seem to be one of those people that can do that. I think a couple of hours of cleaning and organizing each week saves us time. We aren't constantly searching for lost items (sometimes we do but it's unusual), and I'm not distracted by mess. Generally the kitchen stays clean so it isn't too often that I need to clean the kitchen or wash dishes just to prepare a meal. Plus a clean house is hospitality ready!
Some days I feel like my biggest job as a mom is to make sure everyone eats. Since we homeschool, we typically eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home. Many days my husband can come in for a meal even when he is working. All the planning, shopping, and cooking tasks tend to be overwhelming at times. This is another area where I feel like a little extra time on the front end keeps me from running frazzled on a daily basis.
The best case scenario is that I meal plan and have a complete grocery list ready before my shopping days. I print out my menu plan with shopping list and write down our evening meals for each day. Then I jot down some breakfast and lunch options for the week. After that I fill in the shopping list part based on what we will need to have on hand for all those meals. I usually keep a notepad on the fridge to jot down household items we need. When I make a shopping list, I add those to it.
I think the hardest part for me is remembering all the things we might need for a week. I tend to forget drinks or snacks. If I don't forget them then often I just won't buy enough. I also seem to be very optimistic when I'm planning. I want our family to eat better so rather than buy a box of granola bars or a muffin mix, I will plan to make my own. Some weeks there just isn't any time to accomplish those lofty goals.
Even though this is an area that I struggle in, I keep trying. Maybe I'll get it right by the time the kids move out. HA!
I miss my BIG, GIANT board. At our last house I had a HUGE dry erase board in my kitchen just for keeping up with everyone's schedules. There wasn't a great place to put it in our current home and my whole family made fun of it so I no longer use the big board. Now I print monthly calendars to keep on the fridge (because I usually end up with a calendar for Christmas and somehow I didn't this year). On those calendars, I write work schedules, sports schedules, family events, and anything else the whole family needs to know. Then I have a planner that I keep on my desk. In it I write the same things I have on the calendar plus extras like dates library books are due, my own work goals, our Sunday School lesson for each week, and so on. That planner is actually a homeschool planner I converted to a personal planner. I also have a homeschool planner on my desk that keeps up with the lessons the kids need to do every day. Sometimes I even get really important things put in the calendar on my phone (not very often though).
All these reminders are just another way I stay afloat. If I don't see tasks in front of me, I will plop down with a good book or my latest Netflix binge and totally forget any responsibilities I have for the day. It's harder to sit and play on social media if I have a "to-do" list right in front of me. On my personal planner I list days I need to pay bills, meal plan, and sometimes which day I need to clean the house. I think the disadvantage to be very scheduled is that I can very rarely say yes to something last minute. However, that isn't always a bad thing. I feel like the Lord has called me to be the mom of our family and to be the home manager. Those responsibilites come first, and when I stay on track we have plenty of down time.
Home Management is no easy task. It can be rewarding however. It is important to remember we are called to: