For me, one of the hardest parts of raising kids is finding time to keep up with the day to day household stuff.
Now that we have both a 3 ½ year old and a 6 month old, this is doubly so! Although once the littlest man is crawling I know i’ll be doomed.
If it’s something I don’t do all the time like a ‘scrub all the things with bleach!’ deep clean, I can work it out easily. It just seems to slot into place.
But remind me I’m supposed to hoover, dust or finally put that folded laundry actually inside the wardrobe? Ugh. It just doesn’t seem to work for me. I get so carried away trying to fit the ‘big’ things that keep cropping up in that the little things get pushed to the back of the to-do list, until I’m dragging myself up the stairs to bed telling myself the things I missed today would totally get priority tomorrow, until tomorrow turns out the same way.
The other day I had to ask my husband to carry the laundry basket upstairs for me, I’d been putting off having to put it all away for so long I now had about six loads piled up like a precarious, jenga-style fabric tower.
The fact is sometimes you just don’t have time.
It doesn’t matter if you work full/part-time, work from home, or raise the kids full time, we’re all in the same boat at the end of the day. Raising a family and running a home is hard.
Sometimes things get away from us for many reasons, one of these which just so happens to be the biggest one for me, is the kids wanting your attention and harassing/distracting/playing up whenever you try to start a chore.
I’m not talking about children being naughty or disruptive to be spiteful, I’m talking about the normal, everyday need your child will always have to be the centre of your attention, especially when they see you paying attention to something else!
Here are a few tricks I’ve managed to stumble across in the past few years that have made a world of difference to our daily routine, I want to share them because I know finding a breath of fresh air in the day to day monotony of housekeeping is essential.
The most important thing you must remember about the ideas in this post is that it’s not just for the kids. You also need to just let go and play sometimes, this is so easy to forget! I always, always feel much lighter and have a better mood all the way through bedtime on the days we use this approach.
Four easy ways to turn everyday chores into playtime with your kids.
This one should be super easy, I’ll admit, I just hate doing it. Hate hate hate! Finding the motivation is hard, sure but when I do? Gray (my eldest), knows for sure he is getting hoovered. *queue dramatic music*
It’s the oldest, silliest trick in the book; I still remember getting hoovered by my Nan!
We have established a routine; as long as he is not on the floor, he is safe, but if he gets down from the sofa he gets chased by the hoover while I make ridiculous ‘OM NOM NOM’ noises!
Of course not in a scary way, in a ‘so excited he’s laughing uncontrollably’ way! Which always makes me smile and definitely makes the chore worth it, in fact sometimes the only reason I find the motivation to do it in the first place is knowing how much he will enjoy it! (And don’t forget, they must still get a little bit hoovered ‘by accident’ before you finish! *wink*)
Putting Laundry Away
Washing, hanging, even folding is fine! But for some reason it is a miracle if my laundry gets put away less than a few days after wash day. My basket will have to house at least 3 loads before I act.
One excuse not to is having to leave Gray to entertain himself downstairs while I do it, but not anymore; we have discovered Laundry Hide and Seek!
I put everything from the wash basket onto our double bed in piles relating to location (Daddy’s underwear drawer, baby’s vest drawer, Mummys PJ drawer etc).
Then, I loudly and exaggeratedly declare ‘I hope there’s no one hiding in Daddy’s socks!’ and a hysterically giggling toddler is running away from that location to hide in his bed.
I’ll deliberately follow with ‘I hope there’s no one hiding in Grays PJ box!’ (storage tub under his bed) and I’ll pretend to be shocked and horrified as a wildly shrieking child will burst out from under the duvet and scramble to hide in our bedroom instead. This ends with all the laundry away and a big cuddle/tickle before heading back downstairs.
Tidy Up Time
This one can be a hit or miss for us, I’ll admit. I usually ask Gray to put away what he was playing with first before getting a new toy out but some days, you just have to let them trash the place.
There is nothing wrong with that.
You are not failing as a parent if your home is not pristine at all times, I promise! One of the ways we try to keep tidying up the toys fun, especially if he’s had the messy toys out (i.e. Duplo blocks) without making the day repetitive is a competition!
I actually learnt this from a friend on a play date one day when each of our eldest kids were seemingly in ‘can’t hear you, trashing the place’ mode together. I kept trying to instruct Gray to pick up the pieces he was scattering about without joy until my friend tried ‘let’s see who can pick up the most pieces first’, and just like that they were racing to tidy up!
But how to use that if you only have the one child or your youngest is too small to participate? Use yourself!
We often forget whilst we are busy parenting that we are actually allowed to join in.
I believe in teaching kids to be independent, responsible and to clean up their own mess but that doesn’t mean you can’t still do that if you take a more interactive approach.
A few nights after the play date our tidy up time was full of the sounds of ‘No!’ and ‘Don’t want to!’. So on a whim I said ‘Well I’m going to pick up X toy first.’
Before I could blink a grinning child had pounced on the toy in question. I followed up with ‘Well I’m going to put Y toy away before you can put X toy away’ and sure enough, there was a scramble to action!
It ended with a much tidier living room than I’d seen in days and both of us breathless from laughing, rather than miserable from a clash of wills, win!
I left this one until last because for the longest time, I had no solution for this. I’m not ashamed to admit I’d usually try to distract him with TV. Somehow he just always seems incapable of leaving me alone to finish the dishes! Maybe because I was in line of sight, but had my back to him? Hmm…
One day I was in a particularly good mood. Instead of just sending him away and asking him to give me a minute like I usually had to, I decided to be playful.
I put on a voice and used the old ‘I’m going to get the next little boy that comes too near!’ approach. He immediately started giggling and froze in the middle of the kitchen with a cheerful ‘No! Don’t eat me!’
I continued with ‘If anyone tries to smack my bum, they’ll get eaten for sure!’ Thus the next 5 minutes were spent with me washing up and occasionally looking over my shoulder like in ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’
Gray would slowly sneak closer, pat my backside and then leap back again, laughing like a maniac all the while.
At the end I make sure to give chase and give him a good ‘eating’ (read: Raspberries on the tummy!) and everyone is happy!
I hope these four fun ideas can help lift the mood in your home like they do in ours! Some days it can be hard when you’re trying to make it from breakfast until bedtime with nothing to break up the monotony. It can really destroy the motivation!
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you don’t use these all the time. We all have days where we just don’t have the energy, don’t worry! But on the days you do, I promise this will be worth it.
You need to play just as much as your kids do, so why not give it a try?
If you want more tips and tricks check out my Productivity Series! How to train yourself to be productive, How to be productive even when you feel like death and How to have a productive day (even with the kids around).
It might also be worth taking a look at ‘How to cope when you snap at your child‘, for those days when you can’t bring yourself to put a smile on everything. You’re not alone x