Inside: Wondering if it’s even possible to keep a clean house while homeschooling? It’s definitely possible IF you first redefine what “clean house” means to YOU (not your mom, your friend, or Clean Mama). Once you have that definition, use these strategies to make your definition a reality.
I absolutely adore this homeschool life we lead. Seven years into this thing I didn’t think I could actually do, I now cannot imagine ever sending my kids to school.
But one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling also happens to be THE biggest downside: everyone is home, almost all day, every day. And as every homeschool mom knows, that means keeping a clean house is a serious challenge.
For those of us who need a clean house, at least some of the time (for our mental health!), figuring out how to achieve this feat is the subject of much googling and crowdsourcing.
Because let’s be real: we’re desparate.
We’ve turned to cleaning gurus and organization experts. We’ve bought all the books and printed out cleaning schedules until our printer is out.of.ink.
But I’m gonna just put this out there: mamas who have the privilege of cleaning while their kiddos are at school just don’t get it. Only fellow homeschool moms can help you because WE GET IT.
- We know what it feels like to stare down the pile of dishes created by seven people eating at home for every single meal.
- We know what it’s like, smells and all, to use a bathroom that seven people use all day, every day.
- We know that it’s a gazillion times (o.k., maybe I exaggerate just a tad) harder to declutter when everyone is home all the time.
And in between all of this, homeschool, work from home and keep life running.
After wrestling with this very real homeschool mom problem for seven years now, I’ve found these five things to be the most essential to keeping a clean house while homeschooling.
If you just did these five things, you’ll rarely feel overwhelmed or exhausted by your home.
I hope these help you achieve your clean house goals, whatever they may be!
Don’t miss the end of the post, where you can grab The Cleaning Priorities Worksheet, a free gift just for subscribers!
How to Keep a Clean House While Homeschooling
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I’ve gone through so many phases and tried so many things on the road to a clean house while homeschooling. These lessons are the product of many trials, failures, and especially exhaustion.
I’ve tried to keep a clean house through long-distance moves, starting a business, having babies, postpartum depression.
Keep in mind as you read these tips, your overall goal is to be at peace in your home. You need to figure out what level of clean you can all live with, then use these strategies to make that happen.
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1. Determine what version of “clean house” would make you feel at peace on a regular basis.
I’ll let you in on a little secret – your whole house probably won’t be Insta-worthy clean all the time while you homeschool. The sooner you embrace that reality, the better.
But June, I thought you told me I could keep a clean house while homeschooling?!
You can…sort of. Once you define what level of clean will allow you to feel at peace in your home.
That’s the goal: peace. Not necessarily Fly Lady level of squeaky cleanness, although if that’s really what it takes for YOU, by all means do it. Personally, I found that maintaining that level of clean was a recipe for homeschool mom burnout, but that’s just me.
Start this process by determining your clean house priorities, dividing this into two parts – daily cleaning and weekly cleaning.
Ask yourself, “What 1-3 cleaning tasks, if done every single day, would make me feel at peace in my home?”
For me, a clean kitchen is my absolute top daily priority. When I wake up to a clean kitchen every morning, I feel so much better about life.
I used to attempt a whole house reset every single night, but after about kid four (oh yeah, and starting to homeschool and starting an online business), this was utterly exhausting. I could no longer keep up.
A nightly kitchen reset I can handle almost one hundred percent of the time.
You can do the same thing for your weekly cleaning tasks. “What 1-3 cleaning tasks, if done every single week, would make me feel at peace in my home?”
For me, those are vacuuming, cleaning out the fridge, and cleaning bathrooms. That’s it.
Write your priorities down, the move on to the next point…
2. Make your prioritized cleaning tasks part of your daily routine.
Now that you have a short list of cleaning tasks that are a priority for you, it’s time to make those tasks part of your daily routine.
Why daily? Not weekly?
It would take about two hours a week to do my weekly cleaning tasks, and while I could possibly dedicate that chunk of time once a week, life can often get in the way.
Kids get sick. Houses break. People want to do fun, spontaneous things.
Life happens. At inconvenient times.
Breaking these up into one task a weekday means I clean about 20 minutes a day, and if I miss one task it’s not as big a deal as missing ALL my weekly cleaning tasks. My house still stays relatively clean on a regular basis, which is what I need to be at peace in my home, while homeschooling.
Here’s my super basic weekly cleaning schedule:
- Mondays – Master Bathroom
- Tuesdays – Boys’ Bathroom
- Wednesdays – Main/Guest Bathroom
- Thursdays – Vacuum Downstairs
- Fridays – Wipe Down/Clean Out Fridge (as I put away groceries)
- Saturday or Sunday – Vacuum Upstairs
Each task takes around 20 minutes a day, sometimes more. I do it first thing in the morning after drinking coffee and reading a devotional.
To make this an effortless habit, it’s easiest to “habit stack”, or add it to something you already do every day without thinking. For me, this was drinking my morning coffee.
For our nightly kitchen reset, here’s how everyone contributes:
- Two children empty the dishwasher every morning – one silverware, the other the rest.
- One child gathers all the dishes throughout the entire house every night, bringing them to the kitchen.
- I wash all the hand-wash dishes, pots and pans after I cook dinner. I also put away anything that’s not a dish, so the counters can be easily wiped down.
- One child loads the dishwasher at night and wipes down counters.
These daily and weekly routines make me feel like I have a clean house, even when it’s not tidy all the time.
3. Enlist your children’s help – the smart way.
Have you ever found yourself resenting giving chores? Like they take FAR more energy that it would to just do the task yourself?
Then there’s the nagging, and the bribing, and the charts, and the…
But you keep at it: because you are a responsible parent, dangit, and your kids WILL learn responsibility.
Yeah, I just don’t think lengthy chore charts are the most efficient way to go about this, especially when you homeschool.
You don’t have extra emotional energy to spare. So you need to be smart about what you choose to spend it on.
My kids each have a daily task related to dishes that contributes to the family, just because they live and sleep and eat here. They also do their own laundry starting at age 9.
I occasionally ask them for help throughout the day with tidying tasks. And as I said, we are working on making the 5-minute nightly tidy a thing (with consent – I never force this).
But other than that, I don’t give chores. And I refuse to feel even a little bit guilty about it.
When my kids want to earn money, I offer them one of my weekly cleaning tasks, which they happily take me up on. I pay them far less than I would pay a regular cleaner, and they earn spending money. It’s a win-win.
My kids don’t make beds, and neither do I. I decided a long time ago that for me, making beds was overrated.
When I say prioritize your family’s help, I mean it, just like you prioritized your own cleaning tasks. Be a ruthless editor and decide what task if done daily, would be the MOST helpful to you and your clean house goals.
Spend your energy helping them make that one daily task a habit, and no more.
The biggest reason that I can feel at peace in my home without a daily entire home reset is a lack of clutter. I can’t stress this enough.
If you spend way too much time cleaning, or you constantly find that cleaning is a major source of strife and resentment in your family, clutter is probably the culprit.
I know that decluttering is super challenging for homeschool moms because your people are almost always home.
Decluttering books like THESE can be helpful, or you can follow the recommendations in these posts:
- Where to Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed By the Mess
- How to Declutter When You Have No Time and a Tight Budget
- Decluttering on a Low Income: 8 Tips from Someone Who’s Been There
- 7 Rules for Decluttering Toys for Quick & Easy Decisions
If I had to give a one-size-fits-all recommendation, I’d tell you to arrange a day of childcare if at all possible.
Use that time to attack as much clutter as you can, as quickly as you can, in this order:
- Living Areas
After that, I’d transition to a “pretend you’re moving” decluttering strategy, which can work really well when you have limited time and decision-making energy. You do need a bit of storage space for a few (or more) cardboard boxes.
Put everything you don’t use on a daily or weekly basis in moving boxes, with the general contents and date on the box. Only pull things out of the boxes when you truly need them.
Whatever is left 5-6 months later, you can safely declutter, knowing you haven’t thought of them or needed them in half a year’s time.
I promise you that clearing the clutter from your home – and reducing the amount you bring back into it – will make a noticeable difference in how much effort it takes to keep your home clean while homeschooling.
5. Do other cleaning tasks as you are motivated to do so.
As for everything else, like…
- Washing Rugs
- Oven Cleaning
I do tasks like these when they start to bother me. Period.
I don’t worry about what the cleaning experts say about how often such and such thing needs to be cleaned. I’m aware that certain things needed to happen on a semi-regular basis and keep that in mind.
But for now, in this season of life, I wait for motivation. I just don’t have the energy otherwise, and I imagine this is true for many other homeschool moms.
If you’re someone who needs to put these things on a calendar or schedule of some kind because you know you’ll never feel motivated to do it otherwise, go for it.
Just make sure to space things out a little further than the typical cleaning schedule.
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You Have Permission To Want a Clean Home, Especially When You Homeschool.
Finally, I just wanted to make sure you know that it’s more than fine to value a clean home, even to need one. I think sometimes we feel guilty wanting a clean home when we homeschool.
But clutter and mess have been proven to cause anxiety. And the last thing homeschool moms need is more anxiety.
For me at least, a clean house is self-care, and therefore, a high priority.
You just need to redefine what “clean” means for this homeschool season of life. You might need to redefine it from year to year because the ages of your kids changes everything.
It might take some trial and error to find the rhythms that make a [relatively] clean and tidy home possible.
Keep trying. Don’t give up. Even if no one else in your home seems to care, your homeschool mom sanity is 100% worth it.