Play Versus Work – What’s the Right Balance?

When it comes to parenting and loving our families in the right way, striking a balance is usually necessary: grace and discipline, play and work – extremes in either category are usually not productive. Who's to know what's right? While every parent, child and family are different, there are a few general guidelines that will help you in deciding what's the right balance for your family.

Play Versus Work – What's the Right Balance?

What Age are You Dealing With?

The first thing you need to realize when you're considering what's appropriate for your circumstance is that what's appropriate now won't be three years from now. As children grow and develop, they naturally are able to take on more responsibility. Sometimes responsibility is thrust on to them a little earlier than feels right, so that's when you need to use your judgement.

With that being said – how old is your child, and what “work” are they dealing with? Homework is one you've likely faced, or will face very soon: teachers send it home and kids fight it. Nowadays, it starts as early as kindergarten; it piles on year after year, and by the time the child is in fifth grade, he's come to dread the after school hours because it simply means more school.

Some things to bear in mind: studies show that homework doesn't increase any chance of post-secondary schooling success when it's completed up through fifth grade. If we're being honest, the most important thing for kids in the elementary years is reading and playing outside. Sure, if homework is implemented, it's important from a character building standpoint to have it done correctly. Consistent assignments for young ones, though? Too much work, not enough play. Your child will walk away from the experience with an extreme distaste for responsibility, and that's not what you want.

Do You Practice What You Preach?

The kids are going to naturally follow your example, so you need to set a healthy one. Do you complain about work? Do they even see you working? Do you work too much? All of these things should be considered. A workaholic may find that their child puts too much pressure on themselves; a lazy man may find that their child complains about work. Look in the mirror and understand that your child's habits are often a reflection on you. If you want to see your child work hard  without complaining and play hard without a care, you need to do those things as well.

Always Err on the Side of Grace

At the end of the day, no one is perfect. There are going to be times where you simply don't know what to do: your third grader's teacher has sent home one hundred math problems for the third night in a row, and you can see it in his eyes that he's about to dig his heels in and shut down to the whole concept of homework. What's worse? You agree with him, not the teacher: it's just too much for a child. Know that when you feel this way, it's okay to go with your gut and would actually be a great lesson learned for both your child and his teacher. Advocating for him and showing him grace is something that he needs to see early on, more than he needs to do that third homework sheet. It'll prove that you're on his side, and it will validate his feelings more than simply making him do the work. It'll also give you the opportunity to show him the correct way to address a problem, as you bring it up to his teacher. If there's ever a question – show grace.

As we stated before, there's no hard and fast rule about finding the perfect balance. It's mostly just about making an assessment based on age and situation, practicing what you preach, and then going with your gut.

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Family Cleanup Day: How to Make It Fun

Family Cleanup Day

As we get closer to the holidays and the prospect of having company or family over to celebrate, the idea of a family cleanup day becomes more and more attractive.

Here are some ideas to help organize your day so everybody participates and the work gets done that much faster.

The Calendar

A family cleanup day will not be viable unless everyone has no obligations on that day.  And this is where it’s time for mom to put her foot down: no excuses.  While it would be nice to have a gold edged invitation to family cleanup day, let them know that missing it is not optional.


Sometimes having a rocking beat going on in the background makes any chore easier.  It will also give you an opportunity to dance with your family and make cleanup day a little more fun.

To be fair, put the names of your family in a hat to figure out whose music goes first, second and so on.  You could even have an award for best and worst music played during a family cleanup day.

Be Prepared

One of the worst things that can happen is if you have to stop the momentum of cleanup day to run to the store to get some supplies.  To avoid this, make sure that you’ve made a list of all the supplies you think you will need and get them ahead of time.

If there’s a chore that requires a particular item and you don’t have it on hand, skip that job and do it a different day instead of having the entire day grind to halt.


You can turn this into a mini scavenger hunt and have an award for the number of tokens found during family cleanup day.  You can use anything for tokens even chocolates wrapped in gold foil.  Those who do the cleaning and find the chocolates can certainly eat them but tell them to hang onto the foil packet as proof.

Munchies and Drinks

This is when it’s smart to have on hand a big bowl of Doritos and Chex mix or whatever favorite snack your family enjoys.  Ditto on the drinks.  If you’re like us, we usually limit the number of sugary drinks our kids are able to have during the day.  But this would be a great time to go ahead and let them have a soda or some sweet tea to keep them motivated.

Keep the Ages of Kids in Mind

When creating your list of cleanup duties, keep the ages of your children in mind as you make the assignments.  Obviously, the smaller the kid, the smaller the chore.

To go along with this idea, you might want to divide the family into teams and make it a competition.  This will allow older children to help younger children and adults to help all the kids.


Take pictures of cleanup day to share with friends and family and remind everyone how much fun they had.

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Simple Ideas to Shorten Household Chore Routines

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Four Easy Ideas to Streamline Your Chores

As if keeping up with the daily chores and errands that well-kept households require were not difficult enough, the holidays have a knack for putting additional stress on moms who want to host the perfect holiday parties. If you want to do it all, then you have to do it efficiently. Here are four easy steps to streamline your process and help you save time on your cleaning routine.

1. Make a List

Cleaning, decorating and planning for the holidays can quickly become overwhelming when you look at your house and mentally compare it to all the Pinterest projects you want to do. Instead of sitting around, unsure of where to start or wandering aimlessly from room to room without getting much done, save time by making a list. Lists help you save time by keeping you on task so you can get your chores done. Just go straight through and check off one task after another.

2. Prioritize

Real life parties rarely live up to their Pinterest standards. Instead of stressing over every small detail, prioritize your tasks and decide which chores truly need to be done, and which chores you will get to only if you have extra time. This does not mean you have to go strictly in order of importance, as some important tasks such as taking out the trash and getting dressed should be done last before the party starts, but prioritizing helps you save time because it helps you avoid working on unnecessary projects.

3. Schedule and Multi-task

Completing tasks at specific times can help streamline your process. For example, you can clean the bathroom during your small children’s bath time while you are in there supervising anyway. You can run the dishwasher overnight and put the dishes away in the morning while you are in the kitchen eating breakfast. You can wash kitchen counters and dishes while you are in there cooking dinner. If you clean as you go, you won't end up with a big pile and dirty counters.

4. Delegate

If you have family members around, put them to work. Husbands can pick up forgotten ingredients from the store on the way home, saving you a trip. Teenagers can vacuum, dust, do laundry and clean the bathrooms. Even small children can help with easy chores like picking up toys or unloading the silverware from the dishwasher. Get everyone involved at once and it will get done much quicker. Make a game out of it, with the winner getting something they really like, such as an extra cookie or extra time on the tv/computer/electronic game.

Hosting the perfect holiday party is possible, it just takes planning and efficiency. Make a prioritized list, check off your chores one after another and then relax and enjoy your holiday!

Teaching Kids to Help Around the House

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Teaching kids to help around the house is something that should begin from an early age. You should teach your child to clean up the toys when finished playing. This is a fundamental building block of individual and group responsibility.

A child should be given some basic chores as soon as they can handle them. Some common responsibilities could include putting clothes in the hamper, cleaning up toys or even making the bed. As long as your child does his or her best to do the job, right then you should give them some words of praise. Some children are naturally able to begin chores sooner than others, so try out some simple tasks and see how it goes. You will be able to tell rather quickly whether or not your child can handle the workload.

Anywhere from the age of 4-7 is usually a good time to begin chores. A chore list can be used to help guide the child in this endeavor. You can create one with a word processing document or simply draw one out. You may want to list the chore, and then leave a space for the child to mark off the task when it is finished. If possible, develop the chore list with your child and explain your expectations.

Young kids usually like to assist with the cleaning, so keep their desire going. Many children love to sweep, wipe and vacuum the floors. This is a great way to introduce your children to tasks that they will need to help with now and in the future. It is important to continue to praise the work that your child does. You may have to redo the work that your child did, especially at an early age, but keep your comments as positive as possible.

There are other things that kids can do to increase self-sufficiency. Find some easy things that need to be done around the house. If your child is very resistant to cleaning, try to make a game out of it. You may also want to find some of their favorite music and play it while you are all cleaning together. Children are more apt to assist you with a project when you are working with them.

You really need to figure out when your child is ready. You will be able to tell they are ready when they desire to work with you, and they are independent enough to do some easy jobs.

Do Kids Still Get Allowances?

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Moms have an array of options when it comes to giving their kids a bit of spending money each week. As has been the case for generations, young boys and girls can often earn some extra cash by doing some chores around the home that will keep the household functioning optimally. In fact, allowances are still an excellent way to teach kids the value of money. When they learn that it is precious and needs to be spent as resourcefully as possible, they will develop responsible financial habits as they grow into adults and eventually strike out on their own.There are surely alternative ways that kids can get their hands on money, such as cash gifts at birthdays and other holidays. These are usually handed over by doting relatives, especially grandmothers and grandfathers, and children have every right to receive them. During other times of the year, such as the vast entertainment wasteland that is summer vacation, boys and girls should be given the chance to bring in some money for themselves.Household chores are the best way for this to occur. Younger children might be given the chance to rinse their dinner plates and make their beds. Some moms might wish this to extend to cleaning entire bedrooms from time to time. Most kids should be able to handle these kinds of tasks. For example, a dust rag and a spray bottle of cleaning fluid can quickly clean most of the dirt and grime off furniture and other surfaces. Some kids might also be responsible for vacuuming the house or helping in the garden. If this is not appropriate, moms can look for alternatives that will keep their children busy.Moms might also ask for some help with dinner on work nights. For example, boys and girls who are a little older might be asked to cut up a few vegetables or set the table. This way, when parents arrive home from work, the final touches can be added to what should be a perfectly elegant meal. On certain nights of the week, kids might also be asked to do the dishes. This could involve anything from washing the dishes by hand to loading and unloading the dishwasher.

Ultimately, though alternatives are available, allowances should certainly remain part of the child-rearing process. Children might even be rewarded for receiving good grades during their kindergarten and elementary school years. When they understand that hard work will be rewarded with hard cash, this particular lesson should remain with them into the realm of adulthood.