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Family time or housework?

family time or housework

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Whether to indulge in a little family time or housework is a battle many parents come across regularly. There are any number of activities, day trips and ways to entertain your children at the weekends, but none of that gets clothes washed, school uniforms ironed, shopping done and the house cleaned. (Unless you’re lucky enough to have a cleaner, gardener, ironing service and a personal chef, in which case we’re all moving in!)

But your time with your children is precious, particularly when you’re working all week. Do you really want to spend the whole weekend doing chores?

A little adds up

You could try staggering the housework – doing a little bit each evening (on top of the cooking, washing up and laundry you probably have to do every night, of course). But few of us have the energy by the time we’ve done a full day’s work and got the kids to bed, and given the choice between cleaning the bathroom and catching up on Eastenders with a glass of wine…family time or housework

So you’re left with a looming weekend of cleaning, but the kids are clamouring for your attention. So how do you make sure you make the most of your ‘free’ time with your family, as well as getting everything else done?

What really matters?

For starters, think about what’s really important about the time you spend with your children. Does every weekend need to be packed full of action, ‘experiences’ and costly days out? In fact ‘quality time’ can simply mean sitting and reading stories with your child, or cuddling up on the sofa with popcorn and a favourite film. (Or countless episodes of Postman Pat, sigh!) Your time, attention and love are what counts, not how much you spend, how far you go or how exciting your activity is.

Sometimes simple really is best – a bit of quiet time lets everyone recharge their batteries, you included. Do some colouring together, finish a jigsaw puzzle, or try Googling some origami for beginners (you know you want to make the origami frog with the body you inflate by blowing into its bum!)

Incorporate both

Family fun time doesn’t have to rule out housework, laundry and food shopping, unless you want it to, of course. While they’re busily watching whatever, you can nip to the loo and take a few extra minutes to hang up the laundry. Wipe round the basin and toilet while the kids are in the bath (assuming they’re old enough for you to be more than inches away), and then you’ve just got the bath to clean once they’re out.

Make chores fun for the kids

You can try building chores into your playtime with the children, and hopefully some fun into the chores too. Many kids – OK mainly the little ones – like to help and to play at being grown-ups. They might love to wash the car, but make sure you have a dry set of clothes handy. Give each child a duster, and let them ‘clean’ while you do the hoovering. It might not be the most thorough sprucing your house has ever seen, but it’s better than nothing. Let them put away their own plastic plates from the dishwasher, or dry up the spoons. They can hand you clothes to hang on the line, or help pack away the shopping (the unbreakable items at least – but beware of tins, that path leads to howling and blackened toe-nails!)

Be creative with choresfamily time or housework

Make picking up toys into a game – a two-minute-tidy (set an alarm, see if you can finish in time), or a race to see who can pick up the most Lego (that’ll be the person with the dustpan and brush). For older children you can introduce a chore system, with or without incentives – making them responsible for putting away their own laundry, taking turns to hoover, or earning pocket money by tidying their rooms.

A little extra help really does help!

This might sound a bit like off-loading the chores onto your children, but are you denying you could do with a hand to keep the household running? And if they enjoy it, where’s the harm? Taking some responsibility and understanding all that their parents do is a life lesson, after all!

When it comes down to it, you can be as creative as you like, but the chores still have to get done – and your children are only young once and they need your time right now. So the key has to be balance. Handily, weekends come with two days to fill – so you can always arrange one busy day doing activities with the children, and one ‘at home’ day when you can catch up with everything else.




About Alison McKay

About Alison McKay

Alison McKay is a charity PR professional with over 15 years' experience in full-time, part-time and jobshare roles. Since being made redundant while on maternity leave, she has divided her time between working for a local museum, freelance and volunteer writing, and being chief wrangler to a two-year-old mud-magnet and an almost-seven-year-old wannabe dog-care worker with a penchant for hair accessories. Alison's hobbies include yoga, reading cookery books and putting away just enough clean laundry to keep the pile below 3ft tall.

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