July Rhythm Challenge: Housework

Welcome to the July Rhythm Challenge! This month we’re going to tackle housework. Summer is a great time to work on home routines and chores. If you can establish a rhythm around getting the work of the home done in the summertime, that will help you keep up with it all when fall hits with homeschooling and festivals and activities, oh my!

The July Rhythm Challenge: Housework | Lavender's Blue Homeschool
The July Rhythm Challenge: Housework | Lavender's Blue Homeschool

This month I want to challenge you to bring your housework into rhythm.

In March’s rhythm challenge we covered meal time rhythms, meal planning, and cooking. This month we’ll look at all the rest of what it takes to keep your house in order. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, errands. It all has to happen, so let’s make a plan that works for the ebb and flow of your family life!

I’ll walk you through a bunch of questions below. You can sign up here to download your free Rhythm Challenge worksheet.

Start by taking a couple minutes to walk around your house. How does being in your home feel to you? How do you want it to feel? 

Answering this question can help you set an intention for this challenge that will keep you motivated.

There are three basic steps to creating a housework rhythm that fits into your family life and doesn’t feel like an uphill battle:

  1. Declutter
  2. Decide on a routine
  3. Stick to that routine

Step One: Declutter

How much clutter is there in your house? Do you have just the right amount of stuff?

So many women recommend Flylady for putting a home management system in place. I haven’t tried it but I love something she says: “You can’t clean clutter.” That’s my mantra for decluttering!

I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I loved it. It’s quirky and endearing and promotes a take-no-prisoners approach to decluttering. So if the little-bit-at-a-time approach has never worked for you, it’s worth checking out. It also mentions things like decluttering your ceremonial tea collection (oh man, I love that!).

This summer I’m taking one afternoon a week to “Kon-mari” my house. Like anything, I have to adapt her approach to my own family and living situation. The author doesn’t have children, for one thing, and there isn’t a mention of toys in the book. I have a child who likes to do things like cut up pompoms into piles of fluff and put it in a jar and become attached to it like a prized possession. Etc. all day long. So we’ll see how this goes.

Here’s one more resource for you (just to prove to you that I think decluttering is an important first step): Simplicity Parenting. Such an important book for many reasons, but especially because this book makes the connection between our day to day family life and choices and our children's’ well-being. Peaceful homes support better relationships. A really great read to learn about rhythm in general and also about how to simplify your belongings to make more space for play and creating and connecting.

If you need to declutter, what’s your plan to make it happen?

A specific plan, preferably with time actually blocked off on the calendar, is the best way to make sure a project happens. You can even schedule a charity donation pick-up to give yourself a deadline for clearing stuff out. It also helps a lot to get your spouse on board or make a plan to do this with a friend and keep each other motivated.

Once you’ve cleared the clutter, putting housework routines into place will be so much easier. Yay!

Step Two: Decide on a Housework Routine

Here’s where we plan out a rhythm so everything is happening in a way that fits with the rest of your family life.

Start by listing out the household chores you need to do every day, week, and month.

Include cleaning, tidying, laundry, cooking, organizing, running errands, budgeting, and anything else you need to keep on top of for a smooth-running household.

This will be different for everyone depending on how clean you want your house to be and what kind of schedule works for you and whether you have help with it. Here’s a little roundup of different cleaning schedules if you need help to get started:

Apartment Therapy: How to Clean Your House in 20 Minutes a Day Apartment Therapy: Weekly Cleaning Schedule Simple Homeschool: Once a Month Cleaning Parenting Passageway: An Example Housekeeping Rhythm

Next, think about how your children will contribute to the work of the home.

This is super important, not only to take some of the burden off of you, but for your child’s education. Learning happens in the context of family life, not just at school or in main lesson, and contributing to the family and home and meals is an important part of that.

In the early years, housework will be more challenging and take longer with your child “helping” you - but over time your child will learn how to actually be helpful. By the early grades your child should have some independent responsibilities, and these should increase over time.

This is a blog post topic all on its own, but here’s another mini-roundup to give you ideas for what chores your child might help with:

Your Modern Family: Age-Appropriate Chores for Kids Flanders Family: Age Appropriate Chores for Children

Finally, sketch out a plan for when the housework will get done. Check out the downloadable worksheet (link at the top of this post) for charts to help you make your plan.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your plan:

  • If you already have an idea of your child(ren)'s schedule and your daily/weekly homeschool rhythm for the fall, use that as your starting point for when it makes sense to make space for housework
  • Pair chores with anchor routines to help yourself remember to do it and turn it into a habit.  For example, after you brush teeth (established habit), it’s time to put in a load of laundry (new routine).  Or after the family eats breakfast, everyone does their cleaning chore for the day.
  • Many families find that having “home days” and “out days” works well for a peaceful and balanced family life. So do try to consolidate errands and combine with other outings.
  • It might be tempting to put most of the housework on the weekend, but make sure you have plenty of downtime on the weekend too! Relaxed mama = happy mama
  • By the same token, I don’t suggest cramming housework into naptime or evening hours - those are great times for renewal, so you have energy for the rest of your life (instead, take a nap, spend time with your spouse, pursue your own interests, read a great book, plan your homeschool lessons, make some art, and just in general take care of yourself and your mind so you can be a relaxed and interesting homeschool mama!)
  • Think about when your older children will get their chores done and whether they need a set time for this.
  • Time spent working together on household chores is time well spent for your preschool or kindergarten child.  More on that here.
  • The work of the home is also wonderful for holding the space while your young child plays.

Step Three: Stick to the Routine

Now this part is a will-building exercise! It can be tough to get into a new rhythm and follow a plan consistently. But if you make the effort eventually your routine will be a habit and just part of what you do on a normal day.

What will you do to help yourself stick to the routine?

Here are some ideas that could help:

  • Write up your housework rhythm in pretty colors and display it somewhere you’ll see often.
  • If you use a day planner, calendar, or bullet journal, write down your tasks for that day and check them off.
  • Get really clear on why you want to have a housework rhythm and turn that into a mantra (for example, “I clean my house to make room for calm and creativity” - just make it something that lights you up!)
  • Have an accountability partner - this could be a good friend or your spouse. Let them know what you’re up to and send them a text every day when you finish your tasks. This works really well when your friend wants the same accountability.
  • Make it fun and sing while you work!
  • Remember that it takes work to build a new habit, but once you do the habit starts working for you.
  • Pair a new routine with an established routine or one of the anchor points in your rhythm.

What’s the one thing you can commit to doing this month that will help you develop a rhythm for the work of the home?

Remember to download your free July Rhythm Challenge worksheet here!