Not Your Mother’s “Clean”


Before I get to the question, I wanted to give y’all a little background. When I was asked to post the Questions and Answers on the HSS Blog, I first resisted. I don’t feel qualified to give advice unless I can walk the talk, and, well… I’m barely limping along. After prayerful consideration I accepted the privilege and opportunity of being able to help other homeschool moms in whatever limited way I could. And I quietly said to myself, “Please, nobody ask me about cleaning…” No one can ever say the Lord doesn’t have a sense of humor…

The Question:

“I can’t seem to have a clean house and a good school day, it’s one or the other…is that normal?”

Short Answer:
The general consensus of the Homeschool Share Team is, “Yes, it’s normal!” 🙂

Long Answer:
It depends on your definition of “clean.” My definition has changed over the years to a more realistic meaning. My “clean” is not my mother’s “clean” because unlike a house where both parents work and children are off at school, my house is occupied and busy every single day. It doesn’t get a break from activity. Proverbs 14:4 says:

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean; but much increase is by the strength of the ox.”

An empty house is a clean house, but having my children home brings many rewards. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I need to stay realistic to stay sane. Your definition may be very different than mine, but here is my definition of “Weekday Clean”:

  • Dishes don’t pile past sink rim (it helps to have a double sink!)
  • Counters are wiped down
  • Table is goo-free
  • Everyone has clean clothes to wear
  • Floors are swept
  • Bathroom is wiped down
  • Stuff is reasonably picked up and organized (hopefully as we go…)

We tackle our weekday cleaning in short bursts throughout the day, taking 15 minutes or so between subjects. It probably totals about 1 hour a day, and with all the other cooking, animal chores, and schoolwork we need to do, this is usually reasonable for us.

On Saturday we try to catch up on anything we miss during the week so we can have a restful Sunday. So “Weekend Clean” involves:

  • Floors are mopped and/or vacuumed
  • General dusting, purging, and straightening
  • Bedrooms are focused on – all horizontal surfaces straightened
  • School/desk/computer areas straightened
  • Linens washed
  • Problem areas attacked

Not a really creative plan, I know. I’ve tried FlyLady. I’ve tried Emily Barnes. I’ve learned some from both. But for now, this method works for us.

Do you have a tried and true method of keeping the balance between homemaking and homeschooling? A great tip to share? Any words of encouragement for those of us who are housekeeping-challenged? If so, please post a comment! I especially will appreciate it. 🙂


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16 thoughts on “Not Your Mother’s “Clean””

  1. Oh my goodness, I SO appreciate this post! I struggle with this so much! I have this “my mother in law keeps her house spotless” complex and really have a hard time balancing cleaning and schoolwork. She never had kids at home like I do, though, so I appreciate someone else with my same definition of clean!

  2. To help keep things “looking” clean we have baskets and rectangular pop up boxes all about our house. They are great places to store books near by the couch or wherever needed and we also have three baskets in our mudroom. One is labeled for library, one is labeled “for others”, AWANAs, church, and another one is labeled for Co-op. Whenever I have something that needs to go in one of those categories…it goes in the basket and is near the door for a quick grab and go. I also have a shoe cubby and milk crates by the back door. The shoe cubby holds some shoes but we have so many little feet that we also use the milk crates to hole each child’s set of shoes. And then there’s the mitten and hat basket.

  3. Your “weekday clean” is the exact same as mine, except I also have gotten myself into the habit of staying caught up on washing laundry. The clean laundry may sit in baskets on my bedroom floor all week, but at least it’s clean!

    1. Ah yes….Mount Washmore…
      We are line-dryers, so one load a day gets washed and hung here. On Saturdays I play catch up, and use the dryer if I need to.

  4. What a relief! I seriously thought I was the only person who is house keeping challenged. I have made up a game board to make it seem like more fun, I have tried to schedule time for everything, and I always feel behind. Thank you for this post.

  5. What I am really learning is that I have to include the kiddos, even the youngest one, in cleaning. That is really hard for me to do (I have a preschooler and a 2 year old), only because I know I can do it faster and “neater”. But if I include them in clean up during transitional times, I find that during their quiet time, I can actually sit and be quiet myself, exercise or do something they can’t help with yet. It’s much more productive. Not always easy for me, but very helpful.

    1. That is a great idea, to get your young ones involved in the cleaning chores. I figured if they were old enough to make messes, they were old enough to clean them up. 🙂 It was hard for me, too, to not just do everything myself – I did it quicker and correctly. But it was worth the effort to involve my children early on, as they now know they are expected to be a productive part of this household.

      For my pre-readers I had picture posters hung behind cabinet doors, each room with its specific chores.

      For instance, in the bathroom was a picture of a toilet paper roll, wastebasket, dustpan and brush, laundry, and spray bottle. These indicated that the child was to check/fill toilet paper, empty wastebasket, take laundry to laundry room, sweep the floor, and spray and wipe down the sink, counter, and tank. (The spray bottle just had water, which was sufficient till I did a sterile clean on Saturday.) When first teaching the new jobs, I’d do them with them a couple of times, and then they were on their own. A four year old, with practice, can have this done in about 15 minutes.

      The kitchen had pictures of: wastebasket, dustpan and brush, dishes, animal bowls, etc.

      The living room had: vacuum, books (meaning put books away), duster, and a sofa (meaning to straighten it)

      Their bedrooms had pictures of: bed, toys, books, laundry, etc.

      Ahh, the memories… 🙂

  6. I have just started homeschooling this year, I have 6 y.o. twins, a 5 y.o. and 20 month old at home. Since making the transition I am really struggling with not having that 2 hrs per day to myself to keep up on things. Now even when the baby is napping I’m doing one-on-one schooling with the older ones. Just trying to give myself permission to not be perfect. Love that scripture! I’d never heard it before. Would love to see it in a fancy, pretty printable. hint, hint

    1. Permission granted! lol Seriously though, I would recommend not aiming for that 2hrs a day to yourself, but rather spend 1 hour a day with your children, encouraging them to help you. I replied above about a way I was able to do that. I’ll see what I can do about a fancy printable ;0)

  7. This was a wonderful post! I too have a..ahem..well, all of the carpet in my mother-in-laws’ house is white if that tells you what I am up against :). We don’t have an official schoolroom so have to keep certain things caught up. The table has to be clean all of the time or school just doesn’t happen. That was an awesome verse. I am so glad you made that connection for me!

  8. I needed this! My husband travels a lot for business, I have a side business along with homeschooling. I have no family near me to help. I try to keep the main areas cleaned up the best I can. Kids also help fold laundry, dust and pick up. Seems it’s a never ending battle. I won’t even have company come over! People that don’t homeschool can’t seem to grasp the idea that we are always here and there is always a mess being made (usually by my 3 year old LOL).

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