So if you have children in your home the entire day, every day, the sorts who stay home and homeschool, you can surely empathize with me when I say getting my house neat and tidy most days is no easy task. And because of homeschooling there is always the need to have other people's children in the home, too because the kids do after all need social time. Building friendships is an important aspect of growing up and being social in society, right?
So what to do, to get the home in order? At least in to a semblance of neatness? How to declutter when I don't have enough hours in a day?
This has been my dilemma for years-no, make that decades. We have been homeschooling since our eldest was three, and he's now 23. (And thankfully happily married, out of the house and working.) It was never easy to get chunks of time to de-clutter, or tidy up. So I learned two simple tactics which helped me overcome overwhelm, tidy up and even, brought the children in to help.
The ten-minute rule. Organizing small spaces.
In tactic one, I always give myself ten minutes to start and finish a task. It can be something simple but doable in 10 minutes. Like cleaning out a drawer, or even a couple of shelves in the pantry.
Sometimes I will work on the living room for the entire week, with 3-4 ten minute tasks sprinkled throughout the day. Imagine the living room couch with cushions disarrayed and even children's books and what not's strewn everywhere. I take a deep breath, then tell myself. I will only pick up 5 items and get those out of the way, start the timer for 10 minutes, and tell the kids not to disturb me until the timer ran out. Five is an easy number. So I put away five things. And if the timer is still going, I gather another five. Until most if not all the things are gone and the couch is presentable. Finally, I get to clear out clutter, tidy up in ten minute blocks.
I actually apply this tactic throughout the house-from bedrooms to kitchen. For instance, cleaning a master tub, shower stalls, two twin sinks, bathroom floor and toilet can be daunting. So I only attack one task at a time. Remember the ten-minute timer?
That's right. Ten minutes, and if the twin sinks and counter is all I get done, that's okay. Later when there is another ten-minute block, I may attack the shower stalls. Also, when you have younger children they may not be able to leave you alone for 30 minutes, but ten minutes is acceptable to most-except for infants, naturally.
The next tactic involves the children.
This time I set the timer for them. But for 11 minutes.
I tell them, the bedroom, or living area, wherever, needed to be cleaned, spruced up, tidied, in 11 minutes. Everyone needed stop and drop everything and do the task--put away clothes, vacuum the area rug, wipe down the dinner table, sweep the kitchen floor, whatever. And when 11 minutes is done, they can stop. If they are almost done with the task I give them an extra 1 minute, and will deduct this from next time-which means they need only apply 10 minutes instead of 11.
If they take their time and dilly dally, I add two more minutes as penalty for the task for everyone so they feel the pressure to work fast, efficiently (and not gripe) and help each other out.
Our home is still not house beautiful... yet. And it's hard for me especially since I was an interior designer before. But at least we get the clutter taken care off, the superficial cleaning out of the way in an efficient and fun manner.
Best of all it has helped me and even my mommy friends I've shared this with not feel overwhelmed when we see the house messy and need cleaning and we know in our hearts the task would take at least three hours. Most of us don't have a three-hour stretch. But ten minutes? Yes.
And as for children, even 15 minutes may seem daunting. But 11 minutes seem doable. It's a psychological thing.
Funny thing is, even though my kids are older now, I still apply this technique. This week, I have to help my son pack to go off to college and the idea of getting a roomful of things stuffed in boxes sounds scary, so I tell myself, just get the beddings, or just get the kitchen stuff. One tiny bit at a time.
It's worked for me. Hopefully you can apply this too to your home.
If you are interested in homeschooling and parenting the Christian way please visit me on my YouTube channel where I discuss ideas, suggestions and mistakes, together with Biblical principles that have helped us in out walk with our children.
My husband and I have been homeschooling our five kids for over two decades. One of our kids us married and is a working professional having graduated from college, another is in college and another about to leave for one. We have two left at home, and homeschooling. Need me to discuss any particular topic of interest? Comment on my channel and let me know, and I'd be happy to oblige if I feel it is something I can handle.