One on one time in a busy Katy household is hard to come by, but it is possible!

My children, ages 18 months and 3 ½ years, are very busy.  They (luckily) love playing together and most often keep each other pretty well entertained.  We’ve reached a point where I can even spend 5 minutes tending to a household chore while the children play nearby.  We’re in the eye of the storm: my baby has not yet hit her terrible twos, and my oldest daughter understands how to share to some extent.  It is wonderful.

Yet in this blissful break, it is also important to me that I remember my favorite poem of all time.  It is called “Song for a Fifth Child” by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, and while I never plan to have a fifth child to recite the poem to, I love the heart of the message: “The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.  So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”

I heard it said once that it takes a lot of effort to pursue your child’s heart.  Case in point: at age 3 ½, my daughter’s first response when I ask her what she did that day at school?  “Played.”  It can seem like pulling teeth to get more information out of her, and even at a young age when she still craves my time, I am well aware of how easy it would be to let time (and my children) slip away.

I’ve skated the line between getting the house clean and comfortable to live in and paying attention to my children constantly for the last 3 ½ years.  What I have finally come to as my reasonable solution is spending 30 minutes of one on one, attention focused time on each child during the day.

Since the girls nap at the same time, I am not ever actually alone with each child.  Rather, they know when their 30 minutes happens, they can choose to do anything they would like: bake muffins, paint, swing outside, play dolls.  I spend that amount of time focused on the interests of that child, allowing the other sibling to play along but not to dominate the attention. 

This accomplishes two things for me.  First, I feel so much less guilt about telling the girls no when they ask me to stop doing the dishes and dance with them.  At some point, the dishes have to get done.  If I know they will be getting (or have already gotten) special time with me, I can accept the fact that less important things (like dishes or laundry) are filling other parts of my day.  The second thing our one on one time accomplishes is that it opens the door for communication and allows me to become a teammate and a friend to them on some level.  It was during one on one play that I was able to work through a friend struggle with my oldest recently. 

I know there are many ways to balance housework and children.  I’m so thankful I’ve found one small way to tip the scales more towards balanced.

Do you have any advice about balancing housework and children?  Post a comment below!

Thanks so much! Angela McClinton

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