Ours is a busy household. As you can imagine, with eight people, the sheer volume of dishes, laundry, and stuff to manage is fairly high, at least twice that of the “average” home. Coupled with homeschooling and being home-based in the truest sense of the word, our home boasts a very “lived in” look.
The walls bare fingerprints. The washing machine has a shelf life of about five years. The kitchen boasts a revolving door. Or so it seems.
Here are five tricks that I use to help me manage home and school:
1. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Once upon a time, the bulk of household responsibilities fell on me. My husband worked long hours. My kids were little, the six of them being born in an 11 year span of time. At the beginning, we had four kids under seven.
Nowadays, things are a little easier. The kids have chores. Everyone is responsible for tidying the living areas in our home, doing a kitchen job, and keeping his room tidy. Those who are eight and older have the added task of cleaning a bathroom once a week.
I could not do it all. And since I’m not making all the messes, I shouldn’t have to. Neither should you.
2. Don’t pile it all on the big kids.
That said, it’s all too easy to lump the jobs on the oldest children. I know this first hand. I was the oldest of five. That’s a lot of mental and physical responsibility.
I heard it at a homeschool conference years ago: give the task to the youngest child capable of doing it. This has served me well.
I try to share the wealth and make sure everyone has a responsibility that suits his age and capabilities. I try to make sure the older kids don’t have to do the lion’s share. The younger ones also get to help.
3. Practice bulk cooking.
One of the ways that we eat well and stay under budget is by keeping a supply of homemade convenience foods in the freezer. By cooking many meals in advance, I save time and frustration on the day of serving. This also makes it easier for the kids to help out in meal prep.
(Note from Jamie: Make sure you check out Jessica’s awesome book on bulk cooking: Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook.)
4. Set a laundry schedule.
After years of doing laundry in community, requiring the kids to help sort and fold, I finally switched to a laundry schedule. Each pair of children (roommates) has a set day for doing laundry. This not only teaches them life skills, but it takes a lot of the nagging, moans, and groans out of my life.
The kids are responsible for getting their laundry done. I help the littles, of course, but those 8 and older are able to do it on their own. Oh happy day!
photo source: California Rustic
5. Know your limits.
There are only so many hours in the day. Some seasons you might be firing on all cylinders with home and school perfectly aligned and your hair perfectly quaffed. Other days are just survival.
Be okay with the vagaries of parenting and homeschool life. Know what are “must-do’s” and put a plan in action. Be okay with letting some things slide.
Homeschooling is about a shared experience, not a picture-perfect home. It’s about making memories and enjoying life together. If it doesn’t all come together perfectly, that’s okay. It shouldn’t.
Got a trick for managing home and homeschool?