Today’s guest post is sponsored by Oak Meadow.
Today’s guest post is a timely one. As we attempt to unpack and get settled into our new home, I am frantically looking for ways to store our belongings and get ready for the new school year in a smaller space than we are used to working in. This house will be home for the next two and a half years, so we are going to need to get really creative!
For now, our family will be back to homeschooling at the kitchen table, which I kind of love, instead of in a dedicated school space (like we had in some of our previous homes). It’s nice schooling in the main living area, because I find it easier to stay on top of my daily chores (hello dishes!) while the kids work on their independent work. If they are in a school room, it’s harder for me to keep them on track while also managing the rest of our home.
The only room in our home that I currently have unpacked. Also the cleanest you will ever see this space! As soon as we start school back up after the holidays, the table will return to being covered in books and lesson materials 99.5% of the time.
Organizing Your Homeschool Home
Homeschoolers usually spend a significant portion of their days at home. The many hours of projects, crafts, meals, experiments, and exuberant learning that happen every day in a homeschooling house can add up to a significant amount of clutter and chaos. What are some ways to keep your home and your family from getting overwhelmed by this?
Observe the patterns in your house. How are family members using the space? Where do piles of things usually grow? One of the biggest challenges in any house is keeping things up off the floor. Where do things most often get dropped? If you have a perpetual pile that grows unbidden in a particular place, it’s a sure sign that those items need a permanent home nearby. Put baskets for hats/mittens near where coats are hung. Unfinished works of art may need a shelf near the crafts area.Consider the favorite spaces that your family uses for various activities. Set things up so it is easy to clean up and start over when space is needed for another project. Make sure there is a storage area nearby for works in progress and a safe spot for anything that might need to air-dry.
Who is responsible for tidying up and when? Setting aside regular time once or twice each day for routine clean-up can help keep the clutter from growing. You may find it helpful to assign a container to each family member – a basket, bin, or box – where anyone can deposit items belonging to the owner. Put trash/recycling containers in every room where trash is generated.
If your children have a hard time decluttering, play a fun family game of “Keep or Don’t Keep?” See how fast you can sort through a pile together. Start with two containers for sorting things into – one “keep” bin and one “toss” bin. Hold up each item in turn and ask dramatically, “Keep? Or don’t keep?” Encourage your child to respond as quickly as possible for each item. Time yourselves if it adds to the excitement. When the pile is gone, you can whisk the “toss” pile out of sight to quietly dispose of later.Make it a habit to weed out and discard unwanted items on an ongoing basis. Things that are broken should be fixed or discarded. Papers can often be recycled. If you feel overwhelmed, just deal with the pile or item that you bump into first — then repeat, repeat, repeat.
Here are some things to consider adding to your home in areas where clutter collects:
- Hooks to hang things on
- Shelves to put things on
- Bins and drawers to put things in
- Baskets, containers, crates to organize things
- Furniture with doors and drawers to help to keep clutter hidden
Make sure that storage is at the right height for the people who will use it. If you have young children, store off-limits items on the highest shelves or behind cabinet doors and “help-yourself” items, such as toys and basic drawing supplies, within easy reach. Storage that is too difficult to access will not be used; same for storage that is not in the area where its items are most likely to be abandoned. Try to make it as convenient as possible.
Because I like to be honest . . . the current state of our homeschool “library”/storage space/reading nook . . . I’ve got some work to do in here to get it unpacked by next week!
Cozy nooks for reading and relaxing are important but can invite a state of ongoing disarray. What are your nooks like? Are there pillows? Soft blankets? How do you want things arranged when not in use? What does that look like? Show your children how to stack pillows, fold blankets, and leave things tidy for the next person.Consider turning a closet or cabinet into a storage space for art/craft supplies and other homeschooling materials. Sort by category and assign one bin or box to each category (crayons, ribbons/string, paint, knitting, etc.). Label everything clearly so that everyone can see what to store in each bin without having to open it to check. Use pictures or symbols if you have family members who are very visual or not yet reading.
With a proactive approach and some practice, managing clutter can become a regular part of your family’s homeschooling routine. Involve everyone in the family in the process and the results will be worth the effort as you enjoy a calmer, less cluttered home.
Original post on Oak Meadow’s Blog, In the Meadow. Author Amanda Witman is a homeschooling mother of four who enjoys learning new things, having family adventures, making music, tending her garden, nurturing community, and connecting with other homeschoolers.
Want more help getting your homeschool in order? Check out our award-winning course, Homeschool with Heart, sold in the Oak Meadow shop! This course will help you get your home back on track in no time, and help you feel organized and confident as a homeschooling parent.