Mom-to-Mom Support/My house is a chaotic mess

My house is a chaotic mess

Mom of three young children asks for help with chaotic household


My house is a chaotic mess. What steps could I take to improve this and possibly get everyone to participate in the clean-up?

Dear Mom,

Designate one area of the house a no school zone. For us, we always made the bedrooms such a zone. It was ok if the children wanted to go there to do personal homeschool study, but it was understood that before the day was started, their bedrooms needed to be picked up, beds made, and laundry brought down to the laundry room.

At the end of each homeschooling day, I have what I call “checking time,” and during this time I see how much work has been accomplished and what needs to be rolled over for the next day. I also have a time called “5 o’clock clean up.” This was a time of day (which didn’t necessarily need to happen at 5 pm) that was set aside to put up school books, projects, and toys. We go through the house and get it cleaned up for supper preparation and dad’s arrival from work. Even to this day, my 26-year-old daughter will call for “5 o’clock clean up” in her own little household.

It is a great time to put the present chaos to an end and prepare for the evening. This time shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. School books, etc. need their own place or basket. Each child needs a special chore that he or she can do and be depended upon to do well. This will take some patience and time to fully appreciate, but it is a wonderful teaching moment.

Go through your house and eliminate, eliminate, eliminate….. and then eliminate some more. Have the children cooperate with you in this endeavor. Let them have a grocery bag and tell them that only the toys that fit in the bag will be out for them to play with. All other toys will be stored away in sealed plastic boxes. When it is time to rotate out the toys, those stored away toys will be like a Christmas present. You do the same with all the nic-nacs and pretties that are sitting about. Do not let your house keep you—you keep your house. Once, not too long ago, a friend visited me to share a cup of tea. She remarked on the spare nature of my decorating (except for our family altar). There are no props, if you will, on the stage of our home. I am a true minimalist. I love the monastic nature of pure clean lines, no frills, and certainly no clutter. However, my teen-aged daughters are quite the opposite. Their bulletin boards and rooms are monuments to their love of saving every little tidbit of memorabilia they can amass. For me, it is fine if it stays in their rooms…..out of sight, out of my mind.

Sit quietly and talk with your husband. It is often true that when moms begin to homeschool, they see priorities in a much different light. Your dear husband needs to know that you are slowly changing your family’s lifestyle to meet the needs of the higher priority of homeschooling.

Please make time for family prayer in the evening. If this is a custom that you have not been active in, then now is the time to change that as well. The time together need not be long, but just enough to ensure that each family member feels the peace and quietness of that moment tucked within the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Let us offer up our prayers today for all those families that are in the middle of being evacuated from areas of danger. Let us pray that they know the goodness and kindness of Jesus in action through the persons whom the Lord will send to help them. Let us pray that they are not displaced too long and that their homes will be safe for their return. Amen. Our Lady of the Seas, pray for us.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

About Rita Munn

Rita Munn is a veteran homeschool mother of ten. For many years she was a popular speaker at Catholic homeschooling conferences. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember, and she loves to use her writing skills to share her homeschooling experience with other parents. Her “family journal” reflections are featured in CHC’s Educating for Eternity e-newsletter.