Finding the Time, Part 2

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I’m so excited to be participating in my very first “31 Days” series! All this month, join me every week day as I write about the place that we’re in: 31 Days of Classical Homeschooling in a Large Family!

Yesterday, I started off my 31 Days of Classical Homeschooling in a Large Family with an introduction to the outline of our homeschool schedule. When I wrote that I had scheduled between 7 and 10 hours each day for homeschooling, some of my readers messaged me and said “You have got to be kidding! How do you clean your house?!” Well… lucky for you, I already had today’s post scheduled to tell you, in a sweeping overview, how I keep my house clean. {No pun intended…. although I enjoyed it… a little.}

Day 2


before you start to think that I’m all about perfection or I’m a neat freak or SuperMom- I’m not. And the answer to that question –“How do you keep you house clean?”- sometimes, that answer is “I don’t.” There are days when it’s just entirely too much on me trying to explain why an English speaking person needs to learn how to diagram a sentence and why demonstrative pronouns sometimes get diagrammed alongside the adjectives, and explaining the difference between “cardinal” and “commutative” and what each have to do with multiplication, and explaining five different layers of the earth and why we call this a theory and why it’s important to understand the difference between “theory” and “fact” and how one turns into another and come up with 500 words that rhyme with cat and explain why “cat” and “kangaroo” will never be rhyming words even though they both start with /c/ plus whatever lesson plans and assignments I already had planned for the day plus trying to train the children to not kill their siblings and to work hard and to keep the noise level below 100 decibels so I’ll be able to hear the peace and quiet for the five minutes I’m awake after bedtime. Cleaning? Yeah… some days I don’t have the RAM left over to process that request. So what follows is a “normally I” post, not an “I always”.

My Secret to Housecleaning:

Are you ready for it? I cheat!

I have this handy app on my phone called MLO {or My Life Organized} where I can program in all the activities I have to do in a day, a week, a month, biweekly, seasonally, annually, etc. Then I check it off as I go! That’s really the entirety of my system. Yeah, yeah…. I know. I’m going into more detail! ;- )

When I decided I wanted to be mostly paperless {after reading Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winckleran affiliate link, btw} I spent quite a bit of time using Evernote, like Mystie suggests. However, it just wasn’t a great fit for me in the housekeeping arena… probably because I  was doing something wrong. However, MLO… awesome fit for me. {FYI, if you download the app, you have 45 days of free premium, then it’s $9.95. TOTALLY worth the cash!}

Day 2 MLO

I have mine set up so that even if I only ever get my morning routine completed, my house and yard are clean enough and can easily be picked up if someone stops by expectantly. It was also really, really important to me to have a system in place where I could completely clean my house and be mostly finished for the day in less than an hour each morning, since we drive my husband to and from work {because of his seizures} each day and  we homeschool and  I work. I have “routines” for four times a day {Morning, Mid-Day, Afternoon, Evening}, plus the heavier chores, but if the day gets crazy and I’ve only done my morning routine, the house still ‘passes’ for clean.

This is my morning checklist:

  • Work in Holiday Planner {Recently added since we’ve begun the countdown to Christmas! It’s first, although I usually leave it until last.}
  • Eaten breakfast?
  • Get dressed.
  • Wearing shoes?
  • Face
  • Feed the kids.
  • Make my bed.
  • Dishes.
  • Acknowledge and put out hot spots. {This leads to another sub-list that I’ll cover below.}
  • Shine the sink.
  • What’s for dinner?
  • Where’s the laundry?
  • Work on Journal.

This is my hot spot checklist:

  • Straighten school shelves. Can’t find anything!
  • Coffee and end tables. Pile on the tables as tall as the children!
  • Computer desk (kitchen) Clear the clutter from desktop/ Floor in computer area has accumulated too much.
  • Desk (family room) Piles over the edge
  • Desk (my bedroom) Can’t see the surface!
  • Fold afghans Afghans all over everywhere!
  • Tidy/ Straighten family room Totally not suitable for company!
  • Tidy/ Straighten kitchen Totally not suitable for company!
  • Top of refrigerator It’s a jungle up there!
  • Junk drawer. Twilight Zone in there!

The bits that are highlighted are a separate check… so I check it if it needs to be done, then check it off after I’ve cleaned it up. :- )

Because I do them, these two checklists are usually completed by 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, and allows me to ‘fake it’ if someone stops by and I haven’t done any deep cleaning in two weeks a little while.

The “Tidy/ Straighten” items on the checklist mean, to me, surfaces. I straighten the couch, clear the fireplace, put away toys, and sweep the floor in the family room. In the kitchen, I put away dishes, wipe the table, wipe the counters, sweep the floor, and take out the trash. 10-15 minutes each, and people usually comment that my house is ‘so clean for six children in it all day!” {This is me snickering… mainly because I know the last time I cleaned under my couch.}

During the Day

Obviously, cleaning done at 7am is not going to last until 7pm with 8 people, plus friends and family in and out all day long! My answer is Five Minute Tidy’s, twice per day. After lunch and right before we leave to get Daddy, we set the timer for five minutes and run around like crazy people putting everything back in it’s place. When it’s all back together, or mostly back together, I sweep really quick (takes me another 5-10 minutes to do the living areas of the house) and call it good. I have my routines that remind me what needs to be done, and when, so I’ll periodically pull up MLO to see where I’m at in the day and what else needs to be done.

This is my Mid-Day Routine:

{Usually done after lunch and after the 5 Minute Tidy so I can mark off anything we accomplish in those five minutes.}

  • Clean kitchen counters.
  • Straighten kitchen table.
  • Straighten family room.
  • Walk/ Run {Don’t check this one off nearly as much as I should!}
  • Swish toilets

This is my Afternoon Routine:

{Done after my husband gets home from work, or about 3pm… whichever comes first.}

  • Drink some water.
  • Did you eat lunch??
  • Empty inside trash cans
  • Have you walked or ridden your bike today??
  • Start dinner.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Where’s the laundry??

This is my Evening Routine:

{This is done after supper, but before I put the kids to bed.}

  • Acknowledge and put out hot spots.
  • Lay out tomorrow’s clothes for you and kids.
  • Wipe kitchen counters.
  • Shine the sink.
  • Put out clean sponge and dishtowel.
  • What’s for breakfast?
  • Brush teeth.
  • Face.
  • Pajamas.

That’s basically it! On days when I have extra time or energy, I work on the deeper cleaning chores. However, I’ve discovered that at this stage in my life, those chores are the ones that will keep until the next day or the next week, and we won’t really hate ourselves if I forget to clean the crown molding once a month! ;- ) It’s all about finding what level of clean you can handle, and then breaking that down into manageable bites for you to accomplish during the daytime.

Hopefully, you’re going to join me for the rest of 31 Days of Classical Homeschooling in a Large Family! Tomorrow, I’m going to let you in on the secret of how I handle the spills and accidents that come with having a houseful of little ones while not killing an entire day’s worth of time!