Monday, March 15, 2010

Home Schooling And House Keeping, Part 1

Okay, so we all know this isn't a high traffic blog, and that when I say I 'had some emails with questions', it really equates about four people, including a question in the comments of a post. That being said, four seems like a lot. And if four of you precious readers want to know about something, then I am gonna bring it to you in all it's glory.

The questions I am getting tend toward the how's of homeschooling and running a home 'smoothly' rather than the why's or the what's. If you are interested in the what's, go here.

Smoothly is relative, y'all. Don't go thinking I have it down pat and know The Secret.

I think there is definitely an art to schooling with a buncha' young'uns and keeping up with the demands of a home. I can't speak personally for how it works when they are all school age, but for right now, I am an In The Trenches Expert on having children too young to be in school and having none old enough to be helpers when it comes to running (running, not learning to clean up) the house. Um, expert on having that, not expert on making it work out all the time. Bear that in mind.

I am tackling this question a bit at a time. I think probably three parts, two posts to field the two different aspects of homeschooling and housekeeping, and then a third one for odds and ends. Because no matter how much I think and try to edit, I forget things that I want to share.

And I am a sharer, y'all. An over sharer.

If, by chance, you are reading this blog and you do not yet have children, I can offer you no better advice than to make it a point to learn to manage house. To manage the laundry, the routine cleaning, the deeper cleaning, the organizing, the meal making. Learn to meal plan and shop smartly and efficiently. And if you really want some good advice that will put you in good stead regardless of future finances, learn to be frugal and creative.

If you already have kids, I hope you already have a routine that allows you to care for all your responsibilities and still maintain a composed appearance.

But just in case your not June Cleaver, never fear. You can do it all.

Goodness, do I sound like a commercial or what!??

Really, though, be encouraged. It is not impossible. But it's not exactly a piece of cake, either. It takes determination. And discipline. And a plan.

For the record, as I sit here writing this out, I can move my head just a little to peer around the screen of my laptop and see three largish tubs of children's clothes waiting for me to Do Something with them, a corner full of toys strewn every which way, and a quarter of the couch covered in the stuff I dropped on it when I walked in the door this evening. If you can't read between the lines, this is not a showplace!
There are several 'plans' out there that have had time put into them to help you get right to the nitty-gritty rather than fumbling around making lists of all the things that have to be done and breaking them down into functional time tables. I am sure there are hundreds of possibilities available on the web. I will only be sharing about the ones I have personal experience with.

If you are not familiar with a Household Notebook, you should certainly check into it and consider implementing one in your home. Ours in a two inch three ring binder and includes sections for everything from my Daily Docket and the School Plan for the day to Menu Ideas and Favorite Recipes to Gift Trackers to things I am doing with my home business. It is my brain when the one that was installed in my head trips. This site gives lots of tips on household notebooks.

Motivated Moms is still one of my all time favorites, but given that I am currently residing with my mother in law, it doesn't fit us right now. It has a small cost associated with it, but if you ask me, it is totally worth it. They set you up with a list of things that you should do each and every day as well as taking all the household responsibilities and breaking them down into very attainable daily increments. And if you miss a day? It's not a huge deal. Your home won't fall apart if you take a day off.

Well, I guess that depends on what the destruction level of your kids is.

Another popular site Fly Lady. Now, to me, Fly Lady was kind of tough. I just couldn't get with the program there. BUT! I did pick up some really good tips that totally revolutionized some of my house cleaning approaches. I think it was while I was doing Fly Lady that I picked up the idea to simply time your most dreaded chores. When I did that and found it tool less than four minutes to really clean the potty and the area around it, I quit hating it so much. I still follow her on Twitter, so I will occasionally see her reminders to do a quick clean up or check the laundry. It's a good reminder, since I gravitate to my computer whenever I, well, I go a lot. Let's just leave it at that.

My current favorite is the Daily Docket that Simple Mom has on her site. Because it is so general, it allows much flexibility, while still keeping me on track. I love that it has the MIT's for each day (Most Important Tasks). It is nothing more than a blank form for me to fill out, so I am free to put my cleaning activities, my meal plans, our school plans, and our outings all on one piece of paper. I can totally stay on track.

As for me, I have learned that I need to make a mark. Physically utilize a pen, pencil, crayon, marker, or lip liner. I just need the physical aspect of writing things down on paper and checking them off my list. In short, I am a tree killer. But it's what works for me. I have tried keeping up with things on my computer, either on line or simply with an Excel file on my laptop. For some reason, that is no good for me. Maybe it is for you. Find what works, though, and see it through. That's the important thing.

If you already have children, take some time to figure out what will work for you. Focus on learning to care for your home. If you need to let outings slide for a week or so, do it. You won't regret taking the time to learn to really take care of your home. A neat home promotes a sense of peace.

Note I didn't say an immaculate home, though if you can do that and still be a nice person to your family, you're my hero.

Neither did I say that a neat home makes a peaceful home. Even when our home is clean, things are rarely peaceful. We are a naturally noisy family. We define living out loud.

That's all for now! Check back on Monday for the next segment in this exciting series!!
There's that commercial again...

Oh, wait. I'm not done. Here are a few sites that I have run across, though never utilized. Maybe one of them will fit your family better than the ones I have tried.

Messies Anonymous

Homemaking 911

Donna Young