With most of Americans at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children who normally attend public school are at home with parents who are balancing schooling, trying to work from home, and keeping tabs on a house that is not used to having all the people there, all the time.
So how do veteran homeschoolers deal with home management while homeschooling?
I'm laughing as I'm writing this because as I write this, I look over my open concept living-dining-kitchen area in a combination of shock and awe. My daughter is beside me at the dining table, putting together a Junior Ranger building block kit, the washing machine and dishwasher are running behind me in the kitchen, and the living room looks like it's been attacked by a whirling dervish called a cat tornado, which is extraordinarily accurate.
There are some things I do, though, to get a handle on managing house cleaning, cooking, homeschooling, and generally not losing my mind. I don't always do these things every day, because life happens, but flexibility is the name of the game.
Clean as you cook
When I cook, I clean. If I use flour, when I'm done with it, I put it away. If I use a measuring cup for just water, I dry it and put it back in the cupboard. Now, it would be exceedingly helpful if others in the household did this too, but alas.
My dining area is right beside the kitchen (again, open floor concept) so when my daughter is working on an online educational game, I am five steps away from her, refilling the dishwasher, putting things away, or starting dinner in the slow cooker. When dinner is over, most nights, I'm too tired to clean the kitchen again. So the dirty dishes get put in the sink with hot soapy water to soak. Before I go to bed, I either load the dishwasher or just let them sit.
Complete transparency here: I have a lot on my plate, from homeschooling, to referring my daughter and my 25-year-old son who has autism (but developmentally he's nine), to helping my paraplegic husband when he's home from work. Sometimes, doing dishes is a low priority.
I am a firm believer that children need to have chores. It teaches responsibility as well as life skills for when they are on their own. In my house, chores like scooping cat boxes; feeding and watering the dog and cats; emptying the dishwasher; taking the trash to the dumpster (and on Wednesdays, to the curb for pickup); mowing the grass; cleaning the hall bathroom (since it's used by the two children at home); and picking up the floor to be vacuumed are all done by my son Sam and daughter Laura. Laura, since she is the only one being homeschooled, also has to keep the weekly homeschool supply shelf organized.
There's another reason for chores. I cannot do it all, and I'm not the only one who lives here. Even my paraplegic husband, though he works outside the home, folds laundry and takes care of his para supply cabinet.
Having systems or routines in place for every day tasks help a lot. I usually put a load of laundry in the wash in the morning, while the dishwasher is cleaning the dishes that have been soaking last night. Soaking the dishes is a pre-wash to the dishwasher; because I do this, I can run the dishwasher on the "express wash" cycle, which saves on water and electricity. Running the washing machine in the morning means by lunchtime that load of clothes is going into the dryer. By the mid-afternoon, it's folded and put away.
Usually, I take any meat out of the freezer that I want to cook for dinner that night to defrost -- or to put in my slow cooker. As someone who has autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses, utilizing my slow cooker in the morning when I have energy helps me in the afternoons when it's time to cook dinner, when my energy is depleted.
MInd you, all this is happening while I'm working with Laura on spelling words and talking her through her math lesson and assigning her problems to do in her math book. We take any reading that needs to be done to the sofa -- she learns best when I read her science and history chapters to her first, then she reads them, and answers the chapter questions.
Managing a home and being actively involved in your child's education is a delicate balancing act. The key is to set your priorities, plan, and work the plan. Enlist your children and husband's help and make home making a family affair.
(C) 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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