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Why cleaning is different when you homeschool

Written by Kara S. Anderson

It was June.

A hot June, and I had committed myself to a 40-day cleaning program.

And so I lugged the vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs, sweating profusely, swearing almost as profusely, wondering why I had decided to deep clean my house during one of the warmest months of the year.

Of course, I knew the answer. We had just finished a school year, and so I had “extra time.”

The cleaning plan had promised I would be able to reset my home in just 15 minutes a day, but I had already been vacuuming for 45.

I assumed that spoke to the condition of my house, and dutifully vacuumed on.

And the challenge worked. After 40 days, we had less clutter, and our cabinets were more organized.

Still, sometimes I would notice things, like how our kitchen garbage always seemed to be overflowing; or how our dining room table ALWAYS had “clutter,” i.e. incomplete homeschool and hobby projects.

Would I ever find a cleaning plan that actually worked for me, a busy, work-at-home, homeschooling mom?

Homeschool homes are a little different

The answer is no. Although I’ve tried. Believe me.

I’ve bought books, subscribed to YouTube channels, followed Pinterest accounts, created Pinterest boards, and downloaded approximately 87 million different cleaning routines.

I’ve tried them all, and it’s a little like when you’re trying to figure out how to homeschool – many methods, philosophies and plans have good parts.

But no cleaning plan has really ever worked for me.

It took me a while to figure out why, and then recently I was reading through yet another cleaning plan and I noticed something … the assumption was that you could reset your house late in the day, and then again in the morning, but that during the hours between 9 and 4, 5 or 6, no one was making messes.

And I know you know this already, but homeschooling can be pretty messy. On a daily basis we confront lots of paper, art supplies, craft projects, toy messes, perhaps even science experiments gone wrong …

Some days we add in even more – paper maché, tiny chefs cooking or baking, a toddler who found a Sharpie …. GLITTER.

“Cleaning house while kids are home is like shoveling while it’s still snowing.” – possibly Phyllis Diller, (the etymology is dubious)

And so as homeschoolers, who are with our kids all day, we simply have to have different expectations and a different strategy for keeping our homes clean…ish.

A new homeschool cleaning routine

So I decided to create a new plan, based on real life – a plan that makes time for handling daily messes, because those are just a reality of homeschooling.

As homeschoolers, we also need to prioritize dishes, because we eat at home a lot. Back in my office days, I would grab breakfast as I left for the day, and either eat a packed lunch or grab food on the go.

But now, it isn’t unusual for us to eat three meals a day (plus 81 snacks) at home. And cleaning up after that takes time.

But we also have an advantage – those of us with older kids have built in help, as long as we’re willing to invest a little time teaching our kids how to clean.

So I want to assure you – if you struggle a bit with housekeeping – it’s not just you.

And if all those cleaning plans out there haven’t worked – it isn’t you, it’s just that those plans aren’t meant for families like ours.

How to start over with a new cleaning routine

The good news is, you can start to build a new routine right now.

As you do so, just keep in mind:

  1. Many of us are not naturally organized or natural cleaners.
  2. As homeschoolers, our situation is different than a lot of families, so “regular” cleaning routines might not work for us.
  3. This is a place where expectations can really drag us down. But if we can shift our mindset from Instagram and Pinterest images to wanting a cozy, warm environment for learning and more, it can alleviate a lot of pressure.

I’ve created a cleaning plan if you need help getting started – you can read all about it here. It includes a FREE printable that makes it quick and easy to jump right in. (Pssst … the free printable includes a coupon for a discount off the full ebook!)

I hope you’ll head over and grab it, and feel a little more peace starting now.

What’s your favorite homeschool-friendly cleaning tip? Please share!

What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!