Housework – HELP!

 I don’t have time for chores – how do I fit them in?
How do you homeschool and get housework done?
How do you get kids to help with housework? 
How did you get Dale to help?

housekeepingCollagesmallThese are common questions from parents whether  kids are in school or not.

I also hear from young adults out on their own for the first time who struggle with chores.

Being able to manage cooking, cleaning, and laundry is a valuable life skill. You are golden if you learn to manage these basics in way that is consistent, frees your mind and supports you as you learn, work and play.

Just so you don’t get the wrong idea,  I really, really don’t like spending my time  and energy on household chores.  I am not a housekeeping “natural”.  Like most things, I learned, and keep re-learning, the hard way.

It’s easy to get snowed under if you don’t have a system. Once you have CHAOS, or as Flylady says, Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome, it can be overwhelming. There  were a few periods, like the year I was in neck and wrist braces, that I hired help. Hiring help is great if you can afford it. But you still need some basic systems in place for all the other days when help is not available.

When I was overwhelmed after my dad died, I asked for help. And that is where a good friend and FlyLady’s system saved me when I hit the wall with housework. 

 Thanks to Karen and  FlyLady

 T’was a time I felt overwhelmed and depressed,
Sometimes I barely even got dressed.
Toys and projects, dishes galore,
Made it too dangerous to navigate the floor.

 I blamed all my miscarriages and ill relatives,
Volunteer projects, and a brain like a sieve.
I haughtily thought my tombstone would say,
“She never let housework get in HER way.”

But all the clutter was making me crazy!
And feel overwhelmed, and just plain lazy.
I talked to a friend who got so much done,
She seemed to have it together and still have some fun.

How do you do it? I moaned and I whined.
“FlyLady,” she said, “Get your sink shined!
I will show you how it is done
You wont believe it, it’s gonna be fun.”

Dear friend, she arrived in the nick of time
What a relief to see the sink empty and shined.
She got out her timer and boxes and said, “Now for the fun”
“The next lesson’s Decluttering 101”

Here’s a box for the put away, the give away, the trash
Put 27 things in each one,  just be brash.
Set the timer for fifteen, don’t think about time passing by,
Just turn the music up loud, and start to fly!

The kids were all giggling, and had fun pitching in,
Running and laughing and making a din.
The boxes got filled, dumped, and put away,
Before the timer went off, what a wonderful day!

That was the start of a lasting relation,
Between me, FlyLady and anti-procrastination.
I made routines and habits, and followed the system.
When family members helped, you bet that I kissed em!

Daily routines, and steps that make sense,
Make helping easy with less resistance.
Use a timer, a calendar, declutter each day,
And you can find peace, the FlyLady way .


My Philosophy:

  •  We ALL need to know how to take care of business, at  home, in the yard, in our classrooms, organizations, and our communities.
  • Everyone living together in a household should contribute. Use household or family meetings to talk about community responsibility and  to problem solve.
  •  I don’t believe in the use incentives, rewards or allowance for chores. I hate instilling the “what’ll I get? attitude. Have you read Alfie Kohn’s book Punished by Rewards But I do believe in trying to make anything that has got to be done as painless and fun as possible.
  •  You need clear, transparent habits, routines, and systems. Break big tasks into smaller, doable chunks and assume you need to model and teach how to do them.


Getting Kids to Help

I learned how to “marshall the troops”, so to speak when I was in the classroom.

I loved teaching with hands-on, creative big messy projects that the students designed. I liked involving the students in planning field-trips and community projects. I was doing great at getting student to own their learning, but realized it would all fall apart if I didn’t also help them learn basic cleaning and organizing skills.

When “home” has 30 different  people you have to have some clear, well defined systems so everyone knows how they can take responsibility. You have to teach, model and practice the cleaning skills. You have to schedule it.

Write it down where everyone who needs to can see what needs to be done.

We sometimes forget to do the same thing at home with our kids. Just saying “go clean your room” generally doesn’t work. The sooner you start, and more consistently you model and support good routines and habits, the easier managing life becomes and the more time you have for fun.


Flylady  has lots to offer, but her system may not be for you.

That ok. Start somewhere.

Try it.  Adapt as needed. Find what works for you and stick to it.

If you can stop thinking about what needs to be done, and just do it, one thing at a time, you can amaze yourself with what you can accomplish. You will build energy as you complete tasks. These lessons in household management build skills for focus, completion and dealing with procrastination that can transfer to any project in your life.

So, how do you handle housework? Love to hear your tips in the comments. Lisa


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