Homeschooling Mess

This afternoon I took a moment to look around the house.

I came to the firm conclusion that homeschooling is a mess. 

There are hundreds of thin strips of colored paper in various locations around the living room; remains of an art project that the girls have been picking up and discarding for the last two hours.

homeschool mess
Someone decided to repaint the bathroom drawer, likely while I was doing a history lesson.

Legos and half-completed Lego structures take up residence on nearly every flat surface (and some not so flat surfaces, like the sofa).

There are library books, books we own, picture books, novels, homeschool workbooks, nonfiction books, a dictionary, notebook paper, pens, pencils, a glue stick, Sharpies, markers and water glasses littering the coffee table and floor.

There is egg and rice all over the floor, curiously around the high chair, courtesy of a certain baby who shall remain nameless.

homeschool mess
The dishes are overflowing the kitchen sink and counters. And dishwasher. The kid’s rooms look like a tornado came through.

Did I mention it’s 10 AM?

Yes folks, homeschooling is a mess.

I hear homeschooling moms say, “You can either do school, or you can do housework.

It’s true isn’t it!

Why is homeschooling so messy?

Several reasons. One, your kids are home all day! I have fantasies sometimes about my kids being gone for several hours a day. When I put something somewhere, it stays put.

When kids are home all day, they’re eating three meals and eleventy thousand at least two snacks a day. They’re creating art. They’re shedding dead skin cells (making dust) everywhere. They’re banging up and rearranging your furniture. They’re using your toilets! They’re strewing books everywhere instead of bringing them home in a self-contained backpack.

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How do you deal with your need for order and the need to create a rich learning environment for your kids?

I’ll tell you what we do to deal with homeschool mess.

At 4:30 every day it’s officially Quick Tidy Time. My phone alarm goes off, even.

I used to be one of those “clean as you go” type of people, but I found this was too distracting for the kids.

It’s easier for them when school time can have a clear “done” time. If there are numerous periods during the day when I or they have to stop schoolwork in order to tidy up, they get off course, and then I’m corralling them back into the living room.

Which is rather like herding cats. Or using spaghetti for bookends.

We also do chores after mealtimes, since most mess is created around food. 

Some days it’s just fine with me, but other days the Beautiful Disaster really gets on my nerves.

Today was one of those days where I was having to talk myself out of a panic attack because of all the visual clutter. I did my best to ignore it while doing read alouds, math, history, geography, etc. I did ok. I wish I could be more relaxed about the mounting piles, but visual clutter is a trigger for me.

Take it outside and set limits

Another thing that helps contain the mess is to do as much as you can outside. Eating al fresco especially keeps the mess down, and it’s fun. Art can be taken outside to save your dining room table, and read-aloud is lovely out of doors, especially since the toddlers and little ones can wander around while you read to older children.

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If arts and crafts projects are creating too much mess, consider limiting those to one day a week.  Put toys with multiple parts away during the school day, or create a toy library. (Lincoln Logs and wooden blocks, I’m talking to you.)

Mom’s feelings about the mess should be considered too, you know.


homeschool is a mess
Clearly, putting the shoes IN and ON the provided racks/baskets is far too much work. Kids running in and out of the house all day: more mess. We have since moved all the shoes into a nearby closet. I couldn’t take this visual!

How do you handle the mess of homeschooling?

About Carrie

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of many, autodidact, best-selling Amazon author, blogger, head chef and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book while sipping a hot beverage.


  1. Miss Lila says:

    Well of course I basically only homeschooled one little angel at a time. And both girls kinda did their “own” thing. I just monitored.
    But, if I was in your situation, I would (and keep in mind, it’s always easier to look at a situation than to actually be in the situation) say:
    Forget the mess! Russ and I look around and say, “where did the time go” Right now I would give anything to have food particles around the highchair, (oh wait, I do! lol) (guest from yesterday), or pens and colored paper around everywhere!
    When our daughters were young, I was a neat-nick! I mean you could eat off my kitchen floor! I spent hours scrubbing every inch of it with a toothbrush! But, now I wish I had spent that time more productively, like playing with my girls. Teaching them to sew or to cook. Who wants to eat off the kitchen floor anyway??

    Try to forget the ugly mess and look at the beauty of the mess. Like this morning I looked around the house at the mess from yesterdays visit of my awesome family and it looks lovely to me. I remembered what caused the messes and it made me feel warm and loved. Yes, Legos everywhere, kitchen, livingroom, bedroom and bathroom! Don’t care! Dolls, doll clothes, playhouses everywhere, don’t care! Love those that played with them! The Wii, games for the Wii, game cubes everywhere! Don’t care! Love that boy that left them laying there! And love watching him play those games!

    I know that as a young mother with small ones, it does get frustrating, the constant messes, but little ones grow up TOO FAST!! They won’t remember a spotless house like they will the TIME you spend with them. I guess what I’m trying to say and taking the long route to do so, is, DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF! Play, teach and love. Houseworks boring anyway!! LOL

    Crazy Lady Lila 😉

  2. i dont handle it well at all… i am a person who really ‘needs’ clear space for energy & motivation, & spiritual growth..
    3 boys 8 & under & i pretty much have a meltdown every month… likely in ‘that’ time of cycle.. and then i get angry at myself because i get into a negative spiral..

    gosh i really am thankful for home/un-schoooling blogs like this, that make us all remember, no matter how alone we are feeling in our ‘mess’ or other issues.. there are other mums/families going through the same mojo stunting stuff..

    i get so annoyed at people [including husbands/partners] who say, well just send them to school then.. what if i dont want to send them to school.. there IS a middle ground somewhere here people!

  3. While I guess I can’t say I’m officially homeschooling yet, I still have the mess. I have designated one room as the messy room (the family room), and every so often when I’m going through the house and see toys in other part of the house, I ask DS to put them where they belong.

    If we are feeling stubborn at the moment, all I have to do is say, “Benjamin can put them where they go, or Mommy can put them where Benjamin can’t reach them.”

    @meagain: LOL, I have that “time of the month” challenge, too. I thing DS feeds off my negativity, which causes him to act up, which makes me angrier, etc. You are not alone in that. 🙂

  4. I have mess. I am sort of homeschooling. Would love to do it full time.
    When i have her home we do homeschooling stuff and then I look at the house and well it looks like a war zone. hahaha

  5. Kevin Crotty says:

    We started homeschooling when our eldest was entering 1st grade. I loved it for many reasons. My wife now homeschools our 8 and 6 year olds. She also cares for our 4 and 1 year old. I now hate it for many reasons:

    The house is a mess.
    I have a very difficult time getting work done (sales career 70% home, 30% travel).
    Noisy talk and yelling disrupts my work phone calls which are needed from at least 7-3 to support the family.
    My 2 youngest don’t get enough attention during the day.
    My home sounds and looks like a nursery most of the time.
    My kids don’t have friends they see regularly.
    The simplest tasks take too long to get started due to yesterday’s mess being out.
    I am not going to sit down with my wife and talk schedules because no agreement will be adhered to for more than a day.
    There is always some exception to the rule.
    Kids are learning that excuses, exceptions to the rule, and chaos are to be tolerated.
    The situation is the boss rather than us controlling our time.

    I do not think public school would be a much better learning environment. I do however think that less kids in my house all day would equal better home life and productivity. I am getting angry and sick of it. I want my life back. I am sick of the mothers that use homeschooling and a million other to drag the entire family down a path of clutter, mess, and unproductive lifestyle.

    I don’t know what to do anymore, and I fear the option to home school may be stripped from us eventually due to homeschooling itself.
    Homeschool + lagre family = mess and chaos
    Mess and Chaos + trying to work at home = not producing consitently
    Not producing leads to phasing myself out of a job
    If I fail at my job I will have to take a lower paying job locally.
    If I take a lower paying job (or 2) my wife will have to go to back to work.

    I have been able to support the family with wife at home for approx. 9 years.

    There is a school 5 minutes from our house.

    What the hell?

  6. Hi Kevin.

    Uh… wow. I’m not sure exactly how to reply to your comment, but it’s obvious you have some strong feelings about your family situation at the moment. Definitely some heart to heart talks with your wife are in order. As big a fan of homeschooling as I am, I don’t believe it’s *always* right for *everyone* *all of the time*. And it could be that your wife is as stressed as you are by the situation and doesn’t see a way out. I don’t think it has to be an either/or proposition however, maybe some creative solutions and adjustments will result in continuing the homeschooling

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