TEACH CT - The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers

Managing Household Tasks

Q -

Yikes! Summer is winding down, and I’m already back to my typical homeschool year chaos! I can never quite figure out how to get everything done.
I pretty much keep up with my household management tasks during the summer; but when I have to add homeschooling back into the mix come late
August, chaos ensues. What makes things worse is that I’m not much of an organizer, so I usually end up flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to homeschooling my kids. Any suggestions?

A -
I learned early on in our homeschooling journey that organization was going to be essential toward helping me juggle homeschooling along with the myriad of other responsibilities I have as a mother, helpmate to my husband, and homemaker for our family. Jumping into home-schooling each day without at least an outline of a plan was only going to result in chaos.

When I came to this realization (through experience), at first I overcompensated for the lesson learned. I lost a whole summer that year to planning out just about every single detail of our next school year. I had pages and pages of Word documents that I typed and printed and 3-hole-punched into a binder for myself. The simple reality is…life happens. Not too far into that school year, the pages ended up with so many cross-outs that the binder became more burdensome than helpful. That was when I realized I needed to arrive at a happy place halfway between flying by the seat of my pants and over-organizing.

What I ultimately discovered was this: The key to my successful homeschooling lies in my planning the basics, while trusting the Holy Spirit to help me work out the details. In a way, I use what I think of as a Proverbs 16:9 planning method: “Humans plan their course in their hearts, but the Lord directs their steps.” In other words, my homeschool cannot flow smoothly if I do not spend time planning my basic course of homeschooling. I do this by spending time each summer writing out my basic plans for the year, and by spending time each school weekend fleshing out my basic plans more for the upcoming week. At the same time, my homeschooling also cannot flow smoothly without me handing over those plans to the Holy Spirit with an open palm (instead of a clenched fist), and asking Him to give me wisdom as to how to detail, tweak, and even outright change those plans as He sees fit.

Once I have my homeschool plan basically figured out, I then weave the other aspects of my daily life into that plan. If there are tasks the children can do, I add those into a life skills component of our homeschooling. Depending on the ages of my children, such tasks have included housecleaning, meal planning, writing grocery lists, etc. Honestly, there are components of basic housecleaning that even two-year-olds can do. Let them help, even if you think you will just have to go back over what they did. It helps train them in house-keeping skills for when they are older. For the non-daily tasks for which I am primarily responsible (like household finances), I include those in my weekend lesson planning time.

Another housekeeping strategy I use is to do only the basics on the weekdays, saving deeper cleaning for the weekends as I am able. I try to keep in mind that I ought to strive to be prepared at all times to be hospitable toward unexpected guests (Hebrews 13:2). I will certainly “feel” more hospitable (and less mortified) if at the very least my basic housekeeping has been done. This might seem like a low standard for myself, but over the years I have come to realize I am not Superwoman. I only have so many hours in the day, so I need to stick to the basics to avoid burn-out. For me, my basic weekday housework “to do” list includes bed-making, laundry, dishes, trash, straightening up, wiping down counters and table tops, vacuuming/sweeping, and  meals.

I will admit there are times when even keeping up with the basics can be a stretch for me. During those times, I remind myself that…

“I can do all things [God has called me to do] through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13