Home Management Advice for Homeschool Moms
When my children were young, I struggled with managing my home. I wanted to include my children, but I didn’t know the best way to do it. As a single mom, I was accustomed to doing everything myself. However, I wanted my children to learn responsibility by contributing to the functioning of our household. One of the ways they could contribute was by doing chores.
If you do a search online, you will find countless strategies for assigning family chores. The idea of a cute tracking chart with stickers seemed really appealing to me at first. What’s not to like about a beautifully displayed chore chart? Well, I tried it and found that this system didn’t work for us. Then I tried a card system. I wrote different chores on small cards and put them into a container. Each child would choose a card and do the chore written on it. Unfortunately, this system didn’t work for us either. I tried a few other methods and none of them felt like a good fit for our family. For a while, I gave up on assigning chores.
Then one day, when I was having a conversation with an older friend about my perceived failures with managing our home and allocating chores, I received some very helpful advice. It began with a question. Which chores bothered me the most? Out of all the tasks on my to-do list, which ones would I most like help with? She suggested that I figure this out first, and then make these the primary chores that I allocate. I had never thought about the situation this way before. So, I followed her advice.
Now, you may think that the obvious chore to allocate would have been cleaning the bathroom. I certainly don’t enjoy cleaning the bathroom, but this was not one of the chores that I chose. At the time, I was suffering from pain in my lower back. The chores that I most wanted to pass on were the ones that caused me physical pain. Emptying the dishwasher, removing wet laundry from the washing machine and transferring it to the clothes dryer, and emptying the clothes dryer all caused discomfort. So, these are the chores that I chose. Besides, my children were a little young to be responsible for cleaning the bathroom.
I chose to divide the tasks equally between my two children. Each child was responsible for emptying one rack of the dishwasher and putting those dishes away. One child emptied the washing machine and the other one emptied the dryer. These were tasks that my kids could do without assistance. I didn’t need a chart, cards, or anything else. I just verbally let the kids know what needed to be done and when. It didn’t take long to become part of our routine, and this system has worked well for years. As my kids aged, I added a few more tasks for them to do.
Occasionally, my children do need a verbal reminder to do their chores. If the dishwasher doesn’t get emptied, dishes begin to pile up, and cooking in a cluttered kitchen makes me irritable. In times like this, it can be tempting just to empty the dishwasher myself to get it done, but I resist. I have allocated the chores for a reason, and my kids need to be held accountable. I remind them that if someone doesn’t do their part, then someone else can’t do their part. We are a family unit and everyone needs to contribute.
If you’re struggling with allocating chores in your household, try thinking about what bothers you most. What are the stumbling blocks in your home? Are there age-appropriate tasks that your children can do to help your days flow more smoothly? Don’t forget that jobs can be broken down into smaller tasks. It may take some creativity, but every bit helps a busy homeschooling mom, and along the way you will be teaching your children the skills that they will need to become responsible adults. Someday, they may even thank you for it.
Heidi Kinney is a freelance writer from Massachusetts. She has been homeschooling her children since 2007. She shares homeschool resources and lessons at SharedLessons.org, and inspiration for runners at WhySheRuns.com.