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My House Is Cleaner When I Play With My Kids

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You read that title right. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Do you think I have all kinds of maids or something? I don’t! This is all in my head my friends…

My focus today is on balancing housework and kids. How do you do it? Do you make a daily schedule to follow? Do you just do things when you feel they need to be done? “It’s Thursday, I need to mop the floor.” or your foot just sticks to the floor so you decide it’s time. Maybe you fall somewhere in between categories – like me – “The piano is dusty. I’m going to dust it right n- Ava! Sit on your bottom on the chair please… thank you. Adelynn, she’s okay, she’s sitting down now, thanks for helping… Hm… My list says I better start some laundry.”

I have spent as much time as anyone trying different approaches for balance- from making a schedule to follow, to flying by the seat of my pants, to somewhere in-between. Recently Dave was gone for a week and while it takes a village – and I have a village – there were things in life that were off balance. I didn’t have the emotional support in the evenings or physical help during the night that I usually have. Plus, I missed my husband and my girls missed their Daddy.

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During that same week, it was time for me to place 200+ items on a consignment sale for the first time. I had no idea how much time it takes to print, tag, label, pin and organize clothes. I was tired from that – and everything else – and I felt like a hoarder as piles of mess were seemingly taking over my house. Dishes in the sink, laundry in the hamper, toys in the basement and consignment clothes on the couches.

I was more behind than usual when Dave got home at the end of a crazy week. I had been playing catch-up and not the normal kind of catch-up where I am cleaning up yesterday’s messes – but the kind of catch-up where I am cleaning up messes from several days before. Or where I am discovering the wet dish rag my 1 year old ran off with a few days before. Or that I put clothes in the washing machine but didn’t start it.

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I have a good friend who homeschools her 6 kids. Her oldest is 10, so she has had a decade to learn what system works for her.  Because of the crazy situation I was in, I thought I could benefit from my friend’s system. She sent me her daily schedules and I personalized them. I think it’s an excellent tool. You all know how much I love lists, so it has been helpful. However, I’m not 100% tied to the list – and that’s okay! I can look at that list and say “Oh, I did that yesterday.” and take joy in crossing it off. (Let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen) Or I can say “That’s not a priority today, it can wait until tomorrow.” Or “Really, that’s not on my list until later but I need to do it today.” And that’s all okay!

What really matters is that I am finding what does work for me, and what does work for me is a little surprising. During the time Dave was gone, I was spending all my down time working on consigning clothes. (Seriously, it’s amazing how long it takes!) So the girls were getting more alone time playing together without me. And as a result, I was constantly trailing further and further behind them cleaning up their messes instead of (normally) cleaning up together. So this last week – after Dave was gone a week and having a week to figure things out, I have the solution.

I get nowhere if I don’t play with my kids.

Really! How does it make sense that I’m the most successful with my house work when I make my focus to play with my kids? I’ll tell you. It’s amazing how much I can get done if I make my focus to play with them. Everything else falls into place. When I am a more intentional and structured parent, they are more focused kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty relaxed and I pick my battles carefully, but when they have a routine and know what to expect, it makes them feel more secure, focused and better behaved. And I am better at being intentional when they are my focus. Ta Da!!

But that still doesn’t tell you how I get my house work done. I can sit on the floor and be engaged with them, but if the washer buzzes, I can get it pretty quickly and not miss much. If they are entertained, I can run off and make a quick phone call. (Inevitably someone will fall and hit their head in that 2 minute call, but that’s not the point.) Actually, they are great at playing alone, and that’s also part of the balance. Which is nice because there are things we can’t do together – like certain sewing projects or pulling food out of the oven. When we are between things, we can all stop and wash some dishes together – and everyone wins when we do chores together. Adelynn especially likes moving her magnets on her chore chart (which I will post about another time) and she likes crossing things off my paper list (me too).

The other way to approach things would be to focus on your housework and your kids in between. Have you ever had a super busy day where all you did was clean? Did it seem like your kids were more needy on that day? Well, they probably were, but it also probably seemed more severe because your focus was not anywhere near them. They sensed it, but because of the way your brain was working, it felt like more of an interruption than usual. I am sure doing a sink-full of dishes takes a few minutes when you are home alone (what does that feel like?). But it takes longer when you have helpers. It probably takes roughly the same amount of time when you are doing them alone and stopping frequently to do things for your kids. So I recommend choosing the option that makes everyone the happiest!

I certainly do not have it all together, but I feel like progress is being made! It’s amazing what a little shift in focus can do!  I hope you have found the balance you’re searching for, if not, give this method a try! Or keep working until you find what works for you! I am not saying I have found the perfect balance, but I am getting closer! What tips do you have to share with me?

My best advice is to make your main focus on playing with your kids and everything else will fall into place. And who wouldn’t want to?

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2 responses »

  1. jtothe4thpower

    I agree.
    I don’t always or even often follow this rule, but you’ve encouraged me to try it more.
    Actually, one day last week we had spent good amounts of time with Jane and then we were working on cleaning the house and she just went in her room and totally cleaned the whole thing! It was so amazing how evident it was that they learn by example. And playing with them sets a huge example of love AND for my crazies that fight constantly I can teach them kindness and direct them how to play well together for the times I need to be doing something else.
    Thanks for sharing Cassi 🙂
    Oh, and I am probably in between like you with cleaning. I make lists but def. don’t have a schedule. I just clean what is dirty and bothering me usually…or whatever I think Justin would like to have clean.

    • YES. YES. YES. YES. and Amen!
      I am glad to know that you handle your cleaning “schedule” similar to the way I do mine. I also love your point about making priorities of things that matter to your husband!


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