Keeping a Clean(ish) House in the Midst of Chaos

”Clean” does not have to mean ”perfect.”



     Raising and homeschooling ten children can make housekeeping a bit… well, difficult. While my house will never be featured on ”Better Homes and Gardens”, I can assure you, it is possible to have a house that would be presentable for company, even when people are home all the time!
     Here are a few tips that may help you keep your sanity.

Assign chores to your children- even little ones can help. All of my children down to my 5-year old have daily chores.
     Our Chore List

– 14 yr. old- responsible for
   cleaning the litter box, cleaning
    the classroom, and washing
     dishes on Su, W, and F

– 13 yr. old- responsible for
   cleaning the dining room and washing dishes on M, Th, and Sat.

– 12 yr. old- responsible for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom (it’s tiny), and dishes on M, T, and F

– 9 yr. old- responsible for the living room and dishes on Sa, Su, and W

– 8 yr. old- She is our ”floater.” She covers the others while they’re washing dishes and dishes on Tu and Th

– 6 yr. old- responsible for cleaning the upstairs hallway

– 5 yr. old- He does the odds and ends jobs, like carrying dirty laundry downstairs, cleaning the landing of the stairs (our family’s catchall), or helping others if their rooms are especially messy

While our 2 & 4 yr. old don’t have assigned chores, they always ask where they can help, so I’ll just give them little things, like wiping things down with a rag, to do.

Do cleaning in short spurts throughout the day. I find it makes things so much easier to clean for a few minutes several times a day, rather than waiting until the mess will take hours. We usually aim for 9 am, 3 pm (before my husband comes home from work), and  sometimes after dinner. Most of the time I will do the after dinner clean-up myself. These cleaning bouts usually only take 10-15 minutes each. The kids will usually straighten their bedrooms 30 minutes before bedtime.

Let your older kids help with cooking and laundry. Having 12 people in the house means a lot of cooking and a lot of laundry. My 3 oldest each have a scheduled day to do their own laundry (I still end up doing a lot of theirs myself), and, as of right now, they each make dinner once a month. My 12 yr. old will often cook more than that because she loves being in the kitchen.


One of my daughter’s culinary creations

Have periodic ”deep cleaning” days. We honestly don’t do these very often (usually before holidays), but occasionally we will spend about 3-4 hours cleaning and organizing things that tend to get skipped. It’s like getting a clean slate. So refreshing.



Photos from our November deep cleaning session

With all this being said, though, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that ”clean” does not have to mean ”perfect.” While it’s important to have a home that is tidy, having a goal of perfection, especially if you have children, is only going to take you away from the things that are truly important.






A godly woman once said to me, ”What are your children going to remember when they grow up? How clean the house was, or how much you played with them?”

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Changes in the Air

Oh, how unexpectedly things can change; or, perhaps, how unexpectedly. For the past year I have immersed myself in blogs, books, and anything else I can find on unschooling. I’ve always felt drawn to it- drawn to the absolutely ironic simplicity of it. Children are natural learners. It’s so obvious. And yet, this method has always seemed like something I would only ever dream about, even long for.

As of last Friday, though, I’ve taken the plunge. We are officially unschooling. Why did it take me so long to do it? Maybe fear. Our state has notoriously strict homeschool laws. Maybe doubt- doubt that my kids would find productive things to do on their own. Perhaps the largest reason is control or loss of control. For 5 years I’ve been in charge of planning and facilitating my childrens education. Lessons plans, unit studies, language arts, math- everything was left for me to decide. And admittedly I do like to have control of things. I can blame the fact that I have 11 kids on my need for control. But in all honesty I was the girl in high school who actually used charts to decide what outfit she was going to wear. It’s just natural for me. I know God is in control. I do. I’m working on it.

Which brings me back to unschooling. I am no longer in charge of their curriculum. They are. That might sound risky, but I’m totally at peace with it. Will they learn? Absolutely. They will learn while they’re digging up slugs, snails, salamanders, and any other slimy critter in our backyard. They will learn as they research what these creatures eat and what type of spider they just discovered. They will learn while they’re fishing, making power bait, and catching crayfish at the creek. They will learn as they write reports and learn geography ON THEIR OWN.

What will they learn this year? Beyond confidence and independence, I have no idea. But I’m so excited to find out!