We are a family of 6 living in a small cottage with far too much stuff, clothes, etc etc. Drawers overflowing, artwork piles up, laundry just manages to get done and the floors are usually in need of a vacuum which might get done every three weeks or so. So, I am usually feeling like I am chasing my tail regarding home chores and I never ever get there. Its always a mess! My time over everything is spread so thinly that nothing every really gets organised or cleaned properly and so there's always clothes and books and toys on the floor. I feel like I need a week just to sort through clothes, art, books etc so I can weed out all the stuff not needed anymore as I know this would make a difference to daily living but daily immediate requirements and needs come first and so this organising spring clean time never happens. I just wanted to say that before I say what I am bringing here, which is how to reconcile home duties with spending lots of time with your children.

I would love to spend more time just being with them (all four at different times doing different things), watching movies (I do get to sometimes which is fun)... but if I did that all day, tea would not be cooked, we would have no clean clothes to wear and life would be even messier and more chaotic that it already is. And it is a very homely lived in messy little house!

When I do get into the girls room to clean it up and put their clothes away they love it. Its a complete mess again two days later and my energy only stretches so far. I don't know how to stretch myself to the point of keeping the house in order (which I know my children appreciate when I can find the time and energy to do so) AND be with them eating bickies watching movies on the couch. I feel so torn all the time.

I am with them at different times for different lengths of time, but not as much as I would like to be. I don't like being torn away by the piles of laundry that need putting away or the tea that needs to be cooked. These things are important part of my job too in the overall care of the home and the children... but I would much rather play a game with them! How do you reconcile all of this? I feel like I need another two of me to satisfy all the demands that are around me and I get so exhausted.

Oh and I do ask for the children to help and sometimes they do but mostly not. They're usually engrossed in a movie or some other activity anyway which I don't want to pull them away from to help me with something just because I feel overwhelmed by the endless job list!

(Funny, just as I finished posting this, our 7 year old came to inform me that she had just finished tidying up their room except for a few clothes still on the floor. I didn't ask her to do that)

Ali Zeljo

Hi, I also have 4 children and the chores go undone very often. I recently made a list of all the tasks that need doing for household maintenance. I came up with 14 tasks. Our house is pretty big, so I divided by level for some items like mop floors on top level, mop floors on main level, vacuum basement. I figure if I do 1 thing per day, everything is done in 2 weeks time. If my husband also does 1 per day, the whole house is clean in 1 week. If sometimes one of my children joins in or does 1 task on his own, that's great but not necessary. I hung this on the wall to remind me. I am finding it a relief to have it sorted out into tasks and to not be trying to do everything at once. Not all my children have noticed the list. But my 11 year old has and he told me he could help with my list.

Now this doesn't include daily tasks like preparing meals, doing dishes, doing laundry, feeding dogs, etc. I am thinking about keeping a list of those items too and putting that up. Those are tasks my children can more easily help with. They are also tasks that are so mundane that I can do most without much thought. So I can fold laundry while I watch a child play minecraft, or play 20 questions while doing dishes. They are mostly tasks I can do a little now, a little later- interruption is no big deal.

You also mention wanting to spend time alone with each child. I have that desire too. I think it's a common desire as a family grows larger. I miss my older kids! I am often coming up with ideas for getting time alone with each regularly but it doesn't happen so easily. My youngest is 4, and he's still with me almost all the time. I have come to treasure the 20 minutes in the car on the way to/from my oldest son's primitive skills group. It's a rare time I get to talk to him while his brothers are watching videos in the back seat. I have come to appreciate all the unplanned moments together, rather than focusing on a prescribed time that we will get to be alone together.