Cleaning house can be difficult when your children are home all day. After all, when no one is home, there is no one to mess up the house! The flip side is, when you have children home, you also have some helpers. Theoretically, anyways.
If I went by the amount of cleaning schedules I have drafted, I would have a house worthy of a white glove inspection all the time. However, it seems I never quite stick with them because they are not practical or simple enough. If you thought this post was going to give you a handy-dandy cleaning schedule that would solve all your housekeeping problems, I’m sorry. I don’t really have one.
Lest you think we live in a complete pig-sty, let me share a few ways we keep our environment livable:
1. We use simple cleaning products.
I used to have different cleaners for everything. I had sprays, wipes, cleansers….you name it. I had to switch cleaners from room to room and surface to surface.
When our youngest struggled with severe eczema as a baby, I began to reconsider my cleaning products. We gradually eliminated pretty much all chemical cleaners and his eczema improved. Our budget also improved as well as our general health. However, an unexpected change was the simplicity of my new cleaning routine.
Now I use a dusting regimen that is, as Laura from Heavenly Homemakers puts it, “one part water to three parts old cloth.” Simple, effective and doesn’t create a buildup of polish on my wood furniture. If I want it a little shinier, I can always use real lemons and olive oil. (Note: I usually don’t.)
I have a homemade baking soda and vinegar cleaner scented with lavender for everything else. It must be effective as a disinfectant, because since I have begun using it, we have not had a stomach illness go through the entire family at once.
I do have a concentrated glass and window cleaner from Don Aslett. I will probably switch to vinegar or something else when it is gone. I also recently started using some bleach-free disinfectant wipes in the bathroom just for convenience.
I mop with a steam-only mop and use baking soda anytime I need to scrub or deodorize something. Baking soda and vinegar shine my stainless steel sink better than any commercial product I ever used.
I use the old blue Dawn dish soap for my dishes and my laundry soap along with a few other laundry aids that are more natural (and cheap!). Hydrogen peroxide removes stains, so I keep it in a spray bottle on my washer.
2. We create a routine but know when to let it slide.
We’ve tried the once-a-week house blessing made popular by FlyLady. We’ve also tried the one task a day approach. Currently, we fall somewhere in the middle.
If our homeschool load is manageable on a certain day, I’ll say, “Oh, this is dusting and glass cleaning day!” and grab my cloth and cleaner. If we are involved in a difficult math lesson or making a library trip, I just leave it.
On Saturdays, I try to catch up on the jobs that didn’t get done through the week so our house will look and smell nice for the Sabbath.
3. We consider the training aspect of cleaning.
I know that it is important to live in a basically clean and orderly environment. God wants us to be a people of order. I try to remember that this is just one other lesson I need to teach my children. Someday, my daughter may be the keeper of her own home, and my sons may be cleaning up their own messes or making messes for their wives and marriage relationships to deal with.
For this reason, my children have more or less regular chores for which they are responsible. At meal times and every morning, I try to make their basic chores non-negotiable. Their room stays a little messy, to be honest. But we are working on it!
My main rule of thumb: Keep it clean but not at the expense of more important things like relationships.