Can you accept an extra level of mess as part of homeschooling?

>>My wife has been talking about home schooling some of our children. One of the concerns that I have, is that on a regular basis my wife will comment to me that she does not have enough help/time to get the daily chorus done in the home, and that the home is not as clean as she would like it and she cant function in an unclean home.

My question is if she were to home school would would that not just add it too the problems, if she cant find the time now to do the chorus and the daily house routines how would she be able to find the time when she has to spend time learning and exploring with the children?<<

There’s no question that if you choose to homeschool, there’s more activity and mess happening and less time to devote to cleaning.

Does your wife have realistic expectations of herself?  Some women are naturally extremely fastidious and often they need to loosen up and be a bit more realistic about what having children around is like.  Here are a couple of humorous descriptions that I’ve seen shared recently to describe the reality:

“Want to know what it’s like living with kids? 

1) Gather everything you own.

2) Throw it on the floor

3) Pick it up.

4) Repeat for infinity.”- (source:Topher Writes/twitter)

And another quote that I’m sure mothers all over can ruefully smile about:

“Yesterday I cleaned the house….which was dumb, because I still have kids living here.”

I’m a person who likes things to be neat and am naturally on the organized side.  But my house often doesn’t look the way that I want it to.  I continually choose the standard for our home, and my criteria for that is 1) a home that feels comfortable 2) that I can maintain with a minimum of resentment and stress.   That standard isn’t what I wish my home looked like but it’s what I can do on a daily basis from a place of emotional sanity (even though I often feel embarrassed when people stop by unexpectedly!).  I can tell when I raise my standards too much, because I start to feel irritated or tense with the state of my home or my family members and that’s my cue to cut back and reestablish a healthy balance.

Letting go of unrealistic standards isn’t something you do once and it isn’t easy.  It takes constant effort and reminders to yourself to keep your priorities focused on what’s most important to you.   If together with your wife you decide that a clean home is honestly your highest priority, then homeschooling will probably be too much pressure for your family.

Is your wife trying to hint to you that she wants you to be more involved or more appreciative of her efforts in the home or with the kids?  Often people don’t say exactly what they mean and women have a tendency to hint around rather than tell their husbands that they need some positive feedback.  If this is the case, showing her you appreciate all that she does and are happy with how the home runs would go far in resolving this concern.

Or is your wife organizationally challenged and your house is in fact overwhelmed by mess?

There are a lot of strategies to help create systems but I always suggest parents get the kids involved in cleaning up.  There’s no reason that a mother should be doing the bulk of the work on her own once she has kids who are old enough to help.  You can get even very young children involved – my three year old delivers piles of clean laundry to each room, puts his dish in the sink, helps clean up toys and helps me load the washer, etc.  It’s enjoyable for young kids to do things with you when you approach it a fun way.

By working together with you they learn life skills, children learn an appreciation of what’s involved in keeping the house together (an appreciation they’re unlikely to value until they’re on the older side of their teenage years :)) and if you use the time to connect with them and not to be a drill sergeant, you build the relationship with them!  Win-win-win.  :)

There are a number of strategies that you can adopt to help keep your home running smoothly and people of all different organizational styles homeschool effectively.  Before you start thinking about what those strategies are (a google search will turn up loads of ideas), realize you can’t have it all.  You can’t have kids home all day and expect it to look like a home in a magazine.  And would you really want to?


2 thoughts on “Can you accept an extra level of mess as part of homeschooling?

  1. I laughed out loud of your descriptions of having children home. As a mother of four grown adults, and grandmother to one very inquisitive toddler, I don’t ever have the expectation that my home will be “magazine photo ready”. But even with only the grandchild here everyday, it is a balance to keep neat and make sure the child is engaged in exciting exploring. Would I have it any other way? Only with live in maid service sixteen hours a day! Homeschooling is the best way to make sure each of your children learns in an accepting and peaceful environment, and learns what they want to know without having to cram that knowledge in around “school”. The best years in the family were those where the kids were home learning things outside the four walls of their classrooms. By all means, look to see if you can find cleaning help for your wife. That will free her up to focus on your precious gems. Best of luck.

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