Trying to stay sanely ahead of the chaos in a homeschooled large family with a small house certainly has its challenges! Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way and a few things I hope may help those who have friends who love their large family friends in their small house.

What I’ve found that works:

  •  Be CONSISTENT & DILIGENT. OH, how I hate those words but that’s the plain truth. Nothing works without those two traits in your life.
  • You’ve scheduled your homeschool day, don’t forget to schedule the cleaning, delegate the laundry, and find a strategy for dirty dishes. I suggest Fly Lady for an awesome place to get an idea of how to consistently clean your house on a schedule.
  • Make meals that use less dishes.(Think crockpot, casseroles, et cetera) I love to make a fancy meal but honestly I’m trying to get in anywhere from 3 to 5 hours of school per day while dividing my attention between 6 children, housework, finances, garden, and more.
  • Don’t hoard workbooks and textbooks that you aren’t sure you will use. When I first started homeschooling I took every book that looked like a text book and put it on my shelf. I soon had several books shelves full of useless items that collected dust and stood in the way for years. Since getting rid of them I have never looked back.
  • If someone donates several bags of clothing or items to us we don’t even allow it in the house. We go through it on the back porch only taking what we NEED and load up the rest of the items for the local sheltered workshop.
  • Declutter, declutter, declutter! If it has dust on it get rid of it. I’m not talking about the pictures on the wall but the clothes in your closet, unused furniture in your way, and items that steal space and lack any real function.
  • My children only have a few key education toys like Legos, blocks, Match Box cars, and dolls for the girls. I keep them in the living room in tote drawers (the file cabinet size tote drawers you can find at Walmart).
  • Your littlest child has the ability to fold towels and wash clothes, clean door knobs and light plated and baseboards… plus they love feeling useful. Yes, you will have to let go of your OCD because your children will benefit from the work they do even if you’re biting your nails over the sloppy towel closet. (What?! No, I don’t… okay… I still do. Sometimes I even fix it. Shh…)
  • Dishes: just hide them  Save them all for the end of the day. Yup, that’s my amazing advice for that one, well, what did you expect? A Dishes Fairy???

What I wish other people knew:

  • Our closets aren’t big enough for bored board games that we rarely play.
  • I love to talk! Believe me! Unfortunately, I don’t have time for small talk anymore. Seriously, I have to wade through whining and My Little Pony bribes to make it peacefully through a ten minute business call.
  • Although I LOVE and APPRECIATE every person who donates items to us I just don’t have room to store years worth of clothes. My four boys share one very small closet. I even limit their wardrobe. In the past when we saved clothes, they ended up not fitting the child anyway. I had two average boys followed by two slim boys. Hand me downs just don’t work.
  • My boys don’t need one more pair of blown out jeans. Seriously. They have enough of those already.
  • Gift cards for birthdays and Christmas would be so much nicer than large or noisy toys. Socks and underwear are always appreciated! LOL Seriously, my boys were so excited one year when their Aunt got them socks.

I’m still learning new things as time goes by and our household dynamic shifts. Right now this is what works for us and what we are trying to keep up with. What are your tips and tricks to keep your house while you home school?

Here is look at a few other blog posts on the same subject:

Organized Home : Home management for homes chool families.

Raising Arrows : How to keep a clean house and home school.

Weird Unsocialized Homeschooler: Getting it all done: When homeschooling and house cleaning collide.