As a stay-at-home-mom, I often get asked if I scramble to get my cleaning done when the kids are sleeping. And honestly, when the girls were babies taking multiple naps each day, that’s exactly what I would do. I’d usually shower and get dressed during their first nap, and then their second nap was a cleaning marathon. And after I’d put them to bed at night, I’d usually sweep, mop, and work through a couple loads of laundry.
But as they’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten into the practice of doing most of my chores when my girls are awake. I never want them to think that, while they sleep, a cleaning fairy shows up and takes care of all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. I want them to see that running a household is work, and I want them to learn how to do it. Cleaning with kids is not always easy, but I think it’s necessary.
Practice Makes Progress
By involving them in my daily chores, my girls are learning how to help around the house and do things for themselves. My daughters are 4 ½ and 3, and they can pick up their toys, set the table for dinner, bring their dirty dishes to the sink, put away clean silverware, make their beds, fold washcloths, carry dirty clothes to the laundry room, and more. Granted, a lot of the chores are very much guided by myself or my husband, and our girls sometimes require a lot of redirecting, but we know it will get easier. Our hope is if they learn from early on that helping around the house is normal, then it won’t be so hard to add more responsibilities as they get older.
It’s Not Perfect
There are many times that it would be easier to just do all the chores myself or to wait until they are asleep to get stuff done. Cleaning would go much faster, and it would get done correctly. And honestly, there are many times I end up doing it myself because I’m tired and don’t feel like asking and guiding and redirecting. But I have to remind myself that I’m not doing any of us any favors by doing everything for them. And I’m learning let go of perfection for the sake of teaching my girls life skills.
Nap Time is Me Time
There are most definitely days when the to-do list is too long, and I have to work on things during nap time. But I work really hard to carve out this time just for me. Drinking a cup of coffee, watching a show on Hulu, or reading a few chapters in a good book give me the energy to get back to work when the girls wake up. It’s the closest thing I get to having time off as a stay-at-home mom, so I take the opportunity to rest and recharge as often as possible. Because, after all, a cleaning fairy doesn’t live here.