SAHD Quandary: Quality Time vs. Cooking/Cleaning Time

Another stay at home dad (SAHD) once told me that he didn’t care how much his wife complained about the unkempt house when she got home, he wasn’t going to spend all his time cleaning up throughout the day when he felt his primary job was to spend quality time with his kids. He told me he didn’t want to do things like his own homemaking mom had done when he was a kid, staying home and keeping the house in impeccable shape, but not spending much time interacting with her own kids. For me it’s really a question of balance and prioritizing because the truth is that our job involves keeping up the house and taking care of the kids both, not one or the other exclusively. And taking care of the kids does not just mean feeding and clothing them and keeping their room clean, there’s more to it than that. Especially when they are young and they need and want so much interaction on the part of their caregiver. And therein lies the problem, because there’s really no end to the attending of the children and no end to keeping the house in order and either duty could easily take up all the time of the day (and night). Even after I have finished the short term chores of necessity like meal making, washing dishes, and doing the laundry, there are those other chores that need doing, like, the cupboards could stand to use some wiping down and that rug in the entryway needs a good beat down. How about a mop on that floor and the dust building up in the corners? These are the long term cleaning duties that no one notices right away but are in need of being completed on a regular basis if the house is going to continue to be habitable. And it’s not as if the kids don’t need constant attention themselves. Even when they are miraculously playing nicely on their own they’d still rather be listening to me reading them a book, or wrestling with me, or playing tag or just sitting on my lap and scratching my stubbly facial hair and talking about whatever. These are the moments we treasure as parents, and these are the moments that are so important to our relationship with our kids and I refuse to miss out on these moments because I want my bathroom fixtures to sparkle. Alas, I choose kids over cleanliness!  …Just not to the point where my wife would complain about a dirty house.

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1 comment
  1. 0joo said:

    this is my constant struggle too – having that good balance. i find that somedays, like the days when my girl is sick or teething, spending time with her outweighs the clean house. or most of the time, i loose sleep in order to clean the house, while everyone’s asleep. however, what i can do is very limited because i have to keep the noise level down. i wish i could divide it up – one full day just to clean (without kid/kids) and another full day dedicated only to kid/kids.

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