work while you work


work while you work,
play while you play;
this is the way
to be happy each day.
all that you do,
do with your might;
things done by halves
are never done right.

this is a little poem gracie had to memorize awhile back in her grammar book and it has really stuck with me.

our days are filled with these things: work and play. but i also have to add in eating, because it takes up such a large portion of our day, too. and these things are beginning to really frustrate me, mostly because in our house we don’t separate them like the poem suggests. they are so mixed and jumbled that we can’t make it through the day without playing while we should be doing our chores, playing while we should be eating, and eating while we should be playing or working. and i know this is mostly my fault, but i have no idea how to stop it!

here’s an idea of how my morning starts:
kids playing/watching a movie until i stumble out of bed.
make breakfast because they are all so hungry.
as soon as the food is on the table they want to get down and play again.
then its time to do chores, but they’re hungry since they didn’t eat all their food.
and they want to play instead of doing chores, of course.
then its time to play, but they haven’t finished their chores yet, but then they’re hungry again….
its a vicious cycle, i tell you.

so what do you guys do?
do you have a routine?
i’m really big on my kids doing chores, even from a young age.
and i really want them to sit through an entire meal without getting up.
and i try to limit snacking between meals so that they’ll actually eat at meal times, but sometimes its so much easier (and lazier) to just give them (healthy) snacks when they ask.
suggestions welcome!

and i really need to lead by example on this, too!
i work all throughout the day, when i really should be cleaning or playing.
then i play or clean when i should be working.
do any of you work from home with kids?
how do you block your time, or do you let it all mix together like me?


ps – the pics have nothing to do with this post – i just think my kids are cute!


  1. 1

    1st, I am ancient of days, long in the tooth as it were, so take my comment with a grain of salt.

    Kids thrive best in a structured environment. I have 5 of them, and when they were tiny their dad was on the road (a LOT) trying to make ends meet, which meant I was alone and crazy.

    When I set up rules for pretty much everything and my life began to make sense again. As a 3 yr old you got to learn your colours and as a bonus you got to then sort laundry. That and much more!

    5 kids meant every kid got their own day of the week to be ___. Prayers, helper, chooser, first, lick the bowl, etc.

    Discipline and punishment were NOT the same. If you want to know my strategy for that it's here:

    Either way, setting an example, making a schedule, -in the long run- will be much easier on you than letting life go where it will.

    Good luck and THANKS for that little poem, fabulous! I am memorizing it now!

  2. 2
    Resh Rene` says:

    Ohhh hahah I have felt your pain, I only have 2 boys, but they are so close in age and so full of energy. I used to pull my hair out, especially during deployments, believe me a year is a LONG time to go with out ANY help. I thought I had tried everything, but not so much. My kids are list kids, they get it from me, before they could read I would draw little pics of the things I wanted them to do. Now I got to
    It's sooo easy. We pay our kids..they have to put a % in savings with the hopes that after "working" so long for the money they will spend it wisely!! It's not a perfect system, but with some tweaking maybe it will work for you. There are so many print outs on that site I could day dream all day LOL.

  3. 3

    I also have three children, but mine are older, and spread farther apart(11,8,3). In some ways this is helpful, but it can also make things harder for me!
    I'd like to think we have a nice balance between laziness and structure in our home. By that I mean, we do have a set schedual for when certain things are done. We also have plenty of time that is very loosely scheduled, leaving plenty of opportunity for impromptue fun and snuggling on the couch to watch a cartoon!

    I also work from home. I squeeze it in where I can and do not have set "hours" that I work. I only go sit down to get work done if I know I have at least an hour to devote to just it.

    My kids have daily chores, even the 3yr old. The consequence for not doing one's chores- no desert. It's easy to stick to :)

    Hope that helps! Life still gets crazy, but I try to plan for crazy, so that helps!

  4. 4
    Slow Motion says:

    The best thing that ever happened to me. She helps to create structure in your daily life by setting up routines through baby steps and developing habits.

    She also sends emails called "The Riley Challenge" which are little missions for your children. They can be as simple as taking the trash out of their bedroom trash can (30 seconds) or a little more involved like going through their sock drawer (15 minutes).

    Everything is based off of 15 minutes. I have been able to successfully declutter, paint, and organize my house in two months just 15 minutes at a time.

    She really is a godsend. :)

  5. 5
    The Weaver Family says:

    My womens bible study went through a teaching this week called "power of a focused mom". Let me know if you want the notes and I can email them to you. some points I really liked:
    scheduling your time so that you are not overwhelmed by a continual "to do" list. having freedom to enjoy your time in the moment because it you know the other things on your "to do" list have their place and you don't always have a nagging guilt of I should be doing something else. and my favorite – having a schedule breaks you from always feeling a slave to the urgent, to laziness, and to the emotional. This schedule is not a task master but a prayed out ask the Holy Spirit what fits best for you as a mom and for your destiny to be what he has called you to be in all areas. Anyhow this is what I'm doing this week. Asking the Holy Spirit for help.

  6. 6

    we had that poem in 1st grade.

    i think noah memorized it.

    you know i rarely mix work and play.

    having a schedule is easier.
    sticking to it does make things easier. especially because once you have stuck to it they know what to expect each day, and that makes for happier kids.

    BUT i do admire your ability to have it all happening at the same time. i'm trying to compromise bit by bit. hard for someone whose wired to be o.c.d.

  7. 7
    kaylin rose and mara anne says:

    oh, i am with you…i try really hard to have a schedule. but i have found that i am working a lot…on the computer, cutting fabric, sewing…when i should take 15 minutes to play with the girls.

    day to day…we do have a schedule…get up eat…2 days they eat in the car, because we have to be somewhere at 9AM…and they roll out of bed around 8:15. and then we have other activities they are in. but, there is no getting up from the table at any meal, if they get up, they are done…no snacks later is the rule in our house…it is hard, but they do learn to eat at the table. nap time is around the same time everyday and bedtime is the same too…

    right now, i need to be a better job of being in the present…playing with them, not just being at home. and once they are happy doing an activity, go clean the house…while they play vs. sit at the computer or the sewing machine…i am going to try to avoid those 2 things as much as possible during awake times.

    hope that helps…another thing that helps me a lot in our house…i have days for laundry…and what gets done on those days…mondays-bedding/towels, tuesdays/thursday-girls stuff, fridays-our stuff…that really helps with the laundry thing!

    another tip…a good book that i am reading…1,2,3 magic.

  8. 8
    kaylin rose and mara anne says:

    ps…the pictures…LOVE them! so cute!

  9. 9

    oooh, all these comments are so helpful!

    well, i don't work from home anymore, after I had our third, i just couldn't manage it all!

    but, I do homeschool part time…we do classical ed. as well. :) What helps me is I always try to get up an hour before the boys so that I can have some time with the Lord and get myself somewhat ready for the day. Then as soon as they get up (7) we eat breakfast, get dressed, make beds and then start school. I find my boys do the best at their school work if we start first thing in the morning. I don't let them play or watch any shows before school work…or else it would just be a battle to turn it off. and we'd lose a bunch of time b/c I'd probably think, "oh, they're occupied, I'll just check my email real quick". . . then an hour later….you know how it goes. :) Also, we don't get up from the table during meals. "pretend your bottom is glued to the chair"…i say that a lot! We try to get all the school work done by lunch time, usually with one break in the middle, depending on the day. Then lunch, "rest time" and then they have the afternoon to play.
    What i really need is a schedule for myself! I have trouble not getting sucked into reading emails, blogs, etc. I am really working on being present for my boys and forgoing getting "something done" for just playing a game with them or looking in their eyes and listening to them tell me whatever they want, etc.I can see it really paying off in our relationship with each other.
    Okay, now I need to go check out these links the other commenters left!
    oh, just to make this comment a little longer, check out my post i just did on our chore charts. just started this last week and it's working SO WELL!

  10. 10

    Beautiful pics of your kids. I love the tint on them.

  11. 11
    Mommy Laity says:

    I've just been thinking the same thing! It's time to get back on a schedule!
    I'm tired of survival mode. But as Joy kindly reminded me the other day, sometimes it's okay to just be in survival mode. If that is all I can do right now, it's all I can do. And that is okay.

  12. 12

    I work at home….about 25 hours/week. And not a fun job. But…it allows my boys to be here with me, and not at daycare. They are 5 and 13. Older, but definitely still a challenge. I also set aside 45 min for Bible study and 45 min to work out each day. Add in chores, cooking, eating, sleeping etc… and I think it adds up to about 30 hours a day. Argh. I am working really hard, like someone else mentioned, at not getting sucked into email, blogs etc…. Right now, I am taking a 15 min break before I start my work. I don't know that there is a perfect way. I believe in structure and routine, but I also believe in impromptu fun and cuddling on the couch (stole that from another reader!). I think we do our best to do what is best for our family. The less time we spend feeling guilty about what we SHOULD have done….the more successful we can be at just moving forward and getting stuff done from there!

  13. 13
    It'll Be Fine says:

    My girls are a little older, 8 and 6 and then I have a 2 year old. But, since last year, I've found that making checklists helps a lot. My girls love to get up in the morning and have their own "list" of things to do. They are responsible for them and check them off as they complete them. I'm not structured enough for reward systems, marbles, charts, or any of that so this is what I found worked for me. Also, with eating, I hate to make them clean their plates but they do goof off big time when they sit down for meals. Setting a timer has helped. And they're not allowed to eat anything else after meal time for at least an hour.
    Hope this helps!

  14. 14

    Hi just found your blog. Love it! Anyway I haven't tried this, but have heard great things about Children's Miracle Music. Check them out at It's basically a CD that you turn on in the morning and it tells your kids what to do such as making bed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, an act of kindness. Then music plays and by the time the music has finished they should be on to the next task. Once again I haven't tried it but want to. I think it would be a great way to get your kids to do things without nagging, and it becomes kind of a game. Then once they get used to the routine you don't have to use it so much anymore. Hope that helps.

  15. 15

    I only employed this technique once, but it worked. When my (then) three-year-old son was being super fidgety at the dinner table and wouldn't stay in his chair, I told him he would lose his "chair privilege" the next time he got out. Sure enough, he got out, we took away his chair and made him stand at the table for the remainder of the meal. Worked like a charm. Now he always sits like a little gentleman!

  16. 16

    I have 5 littles, all under 7. I'm not a pro but I'd suggest you pick one area and work on it till it sticks. Maybe you all do your chores (esp. you) before any play/work in the morning. When you are in a routine of getting the house organized and clean before anything else (we always eat breakfast first) then you can work on structuring the children's chores. If it isn't your habit, you won't successfully make it their habit!
    Also, just reading and loving "Home Comforts- The Art and Science of Keeping House." Fly Lady is also really good.
    Of course, it always starts with the first small step :)…
    There is no perfect system. Just try to stick to a system that you choose!

  17. 17

    Thank you so much for sharing this challenge you are having. It seems to be something that we all wrestle with and I'm thrilled to hear all of the great advice and tips. Here are a couple of tools that work for me (when I'm disciplined enough to employ them):
    – As another mom said, it really helps to get up an hour before your kids to clear your mind and prepare for the day. For me this means being very disciplined with my own bedtime, i.e…getting of the computer at a decent hour : )
    – Use of fun charts with pictures. One for morning, one for afternoon, one for evening. Then I can ask in a very fun, "I'm such a silly forgetful mommy who needs your help" sort of way, "what do we do next before play time"
    – A timer. I use the good old kitchen timer. So we can say…we are going to play, work, rest, etc for X minutes. It helps me as much as my son (my daughter is too young yet)…he knows when a dreaded task will end, and I am able to put aside the endless to-so list in my head a focus on the present.
    – activity place mats. when you have finished your meal you are welcome to color on your place mat until the rest of the family is finished. I have a bunch of good educational place mats that I got at Walmart for $1 each and Melissa & Doug (the toy co.) has great one too. All can be used with wipeable crayons.
    – lastly, I find it really helps to outline the next day with my son as I tuck him in.."tomorrow is a shopping day…" I outline the day for him is as great of detail as possible, "then we'll go to the store and check off all of the food on our list and you will be so helpful". He seems to really like this and wakes up with a clear expectation of the day.
    – last off, as you drift off to sleep don't harp on what was done or not done or is to be done, instead think of the fun you had and that you were a huge success in providing another day that your children felt loved and adored.

  18. 18

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  19. 19

    Hello Lindsey, i love your blog. I was googling the poem, “Work” and found the link to this post (although i’ve come to your blog many times :). That’s a great idea to have kids memorize this poem (i was just trying to find a crossstitch pattern of it, but so much better to memorize- that was a “duh” moment for me! :). I was just curious what grammar book you found this in? I’m a homeschooling mom too…just curious, b/c i LOVE that a grammar book would include memorization. Thank you!

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