Spring is in full bloom here in our little corner of Arkansas! The forests are dappled with the beautiful white blooms of the dogwood, our windows are open, the grass is green, and I am getting ready to tackle all of our spring cleaning. How about you?
One of the greatest challenges of homeschool mothers, and all mothers with children still living at home, is the endless cycle of cleaning and putting away. As you work to tidy one room the children do the work of ‘living’ in another. If there is one thing I have learned the hard way it is that the task of keeping our home clean + tidy is one that will never see finality. As such, it is one that works best when met with earnest intention and careful preparation.
Our home is not what one would consider a ‘tiny home’, but it isn’t large either. We have a 1970’s style ranch house that was originally 1200 sq. feet but at some point in its story the garage was closed in and became a room off of the main living room bringing our total square footage to 1400. It’s size (in combination with all of the activities we subject it to) demands that we consistently remain a step ahead of the things that can easily become disheveled . Clutter, messes, and dirtiness can consume our space rather quickly.
It is tempting as a woman to simply tackle the clutter and mess myself, after all it would be much simpler wouldn’t it? But, including our children in the process of cleaning our homes is an important responsibility we have as mothers. It teaches them the value of caring and maintaining the things that are in their possession. It also gives them a sense of ownership, they learn that the home is just as much theirs and that with it comes responsibility. But how do we get them to participate in an activity that even we don’t want to do? Here are a few things that I have found helpful.
Some Tips for Including Your Children
- Make sure to give them age-appropriate tasks.
- Be sure that you work on other home cleaning tasks while they do. This helps them make the connection that the family home is maintained by the entire family. We each play a part in keeping it clean.
- Don’t expect perfection: encourage them to do ‘their’ best, but remember that their best will not be the same quality you would expect from a professional cleaning service.
- Praise them for a job well done: let them know when they have done a great job, encourage often and with sincerity.
- Lead by example: the first few times you put your child on a specific task be sure to teach them. I like to do it myself (with them observing) the first time, let them do it while I observe the second time, and the third time they should be able to tackle it alone.
- Do not criticize: if they need more instruction go back to leading by example.
- Always look for ways to praise their efforts. Remembering always that love is patient and kind.
Currently our cleaning routine is broken into two separate categories: those tasks we do daily and those we do weekly. Our morning cleaning tasks are done prior to the start of our homeschool day and the ones labeled ‘throughout the day’ are done during morning break, lunch, and anytime we take breaks in our school routine. Some of these responsibilities I tackle alone and others my children help with.
Our Daily Tasks
- Make beds (every person is responsible for making their own)
- Unload dishwasher
- Begin a load of laundry
- Clean cat litter
- Sweep laundry room
Throughout the Day
- Swap laundry to dryer
- Fold and put clothes away
- Load dishwasher as we dirty dishes
- Pick up clutter
- Clean cat litter
- Sweep kitchen and laundry room
- Empty trash
- Load any remaining dishes into dishwasher and run
- Wipe off kitchen counters and sink
- Monday: after a full weekend we like to do a quick whole house clean on Monday. We don’t spend a long time on this, just enough to help us begin the new week feeling refreshed (vacuum, sweep all floors, dust, and tidy bathrooms).
- Tuesday: vaccuum/sweep (as needed)
- Wednesday: this is typically a day away from home. We do our daily tasks but nothing additional on this day.
- Thursday: vaccuum/sweep (as needed)
- Friday: to prepare for the weekend we do the same things we do to prepare for the week (vacuum, sweep/mop all floors, dust, and deep clean bathrooms).
In her book Simple Matters, Erin Boyle says
A cabinet full of a different product for every possible cleaning dilemma you might face is a crowded cabinet. A Cabinet stocked with a few cleaning basics is accessible and, dare I say, attractive.
Cleaning our home takes a lot of work, but it shouldn’t always have to begin with rearranging our supply cabinet just to get started. We do not need to hoard a huge assortment of cleaning products and tools to do the job, we just need the right ones.
Before we begin cleaning it is always helpful to gather our supplies. I have found we can easily get through our entire house with a well-stocked kit.
- A basket to hold products
- A small bowl with warm water
- Broom, hand broom/dustpan, and vacuum cleaner
- Mop and bucket
- Terry cloth cleaning towels
- Small scrub brush and an old clean toothbrush
- Vinegar, Baking Soda, Dawn Dish Soap, Essential Oils (Lemon is my favorite for cleaning), and Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Liquid Soap
- Spray botttles
Simple Homemade Cleaners
- Add 1/2 Cup Baking Soda + 1/4 Cup Distilled White Vinegar + 10 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil together to make a paste. Use to clean tubs, toilets, and sinks. It gets, the very hard to clean, mildew and soap scum perfectly with very little elbow grease.
- Make this as needed for each project.
All Purpose Spray
- Add 1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar + 1 Cup Distilled Water + 20 Drops Lemon Essential Oil
- Store ingredients in a glass spray bottle. Shake well before using.
- I use this mix for everything: kitchen countertops, stovetop, school table, bathroom sinks and counters as well as the outer surface of toilets.
Wood Floor Cleaner
- Combine equal parts Distilled White Vinegar + Distilled Water + 20 Drops Pine Essential Oil
- Add the mixture in a glass spray bottle and spray as you mop.
- For heavy-duty mopping add a small amount of Liquid Castile Soap to a bucket of warm water + 20 Drops of Pine Essential Oil.
- Combine equal part Distilled White Vinegar + Distilled Water in a glass spray bottle.
- Spray directly on glass and wipe down with crumpled newspaper.
I hope these little hints are helpful as you tackle your spring cleaning!
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