While it’s not impossible to have a clean and tidy home when you’ve got kids, it does seem to make it 10 times harder to achieve.
"My late wife and I used to share the load when it came to the housework, as we were both working. We just got into a routine that worked for us - though I wasn’t good at ironing apparently, so that was off limits. Fast forward a few years and I found myself a single parent with a seven-month-old and a four-year-old, along with a mountain of housework.
"Finding the time, energy and motivation to get it all done was, and still is, difficult."
So how did I tackle it?
I work hard to keep my nights free. With busy days, the last thing I want is to get the kids all settled in bed and then be running around like a lunatic tidying and cleaning the house. I try to get a few things done during the day so that when the kids are in bed I know I can come back downstairs, sit down and relax. To do that, I need the children to help a bit.
When George was too young to help, my daughter Ayda was amazing. I’d have been lost without her. Ayda helped me with her baby brother, often relishing playing mummy, and she helped me around the house too. She seemed to enjoy having a bit of responsibility and, while it may have started through necessity, I’d like to think both Ayda and George would want to play their part in helping out anyway.
"I think it’s important for all parents that their kids appreciate there are chores that need to get done and anything they can do to lighten the load is greatly appreciated."
Ayda learned there are no magic fairies that come in the night to do it all and, with or without her help, these are all things daddy has to get done.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not running a sweat shop. I don’t have lists for the kids and it’s not necessarily a daily thing. We’re talking about putting their dirty washing in the wash basket, taking dirty dishes out to the kitchen, putting wrappers or rubbish in the bin and generally tidying up after themselves.
Some days it’s like pulling teeth, but there are other days when Ayda will do things without me even asking. She’ll tidy the toys or the shoe cupboard and she loves polishing. Sometimes she’ll just do something she feels needs doing – though never her own bedroom.
"It makes me feel incredibly proud, and often a little emotional, when Ayda bursts into a room with a beaming smile, itching to tell me something she’s done to help lighten the load. The bonus of her helping me out now and again is that George sees his big sister doing it and how much I appreciate it."
We are obviously all extremely close and enjoy doing things together. I really appreciate their help and never want to make it feel like a chore. We’ll put music on or race to see who’s the quickest at something – pairing the socks or putting the ironing away. We are spending what I’d say is quality time together - chatting, smiling and laughing, but getting a few things done around the house at the same time, before we do something more fun.
"Everyone’s routines are different and, ultimately, it’s about what works for you and your little ones."
I personally can’t rest or relax until I know I’m on top of the housework and set for the next day. During the week, I get the kids’ clothes ready for the following day, for example, as it’s one less thing for me to worry about. Mornings are chaotic and a mad rush, no matter what time we get up.
Since we sadly lost my wife, the kids’ mummy, two-and-a-half years ago, we’ve been christened ‘the three musketeers’. We’re very much a team, a unit, and I strive to ensure we stay close and do things together with smiles on our faces - whether that’s playing, watching a film together or getting a few things done around the house."