Can housework wait?

A blogger on a popular parenting website recently expressed her frustration with people telling her that 'housework can wait'. She protested that jobs have to be done, and children need to learn that and not expect their parents to play with them all the time.

She has a valid point. Of course parents can't - and shouldn't - spend all of their time playing with the children. That would be neither normal nor healthy. Children need to learn to entertain themselves and all of us need some 'me-time' in the midst of our busy lives, as well as ensuring the essential jobs are done.

On the fundamental question of whether housework can wait, however, I believe it can.

The dishes will not multiply if left for half an hour; no one will die if the ironing or dusting is not done until tomorrow; the world will not end if I don't clean the bath today.

What can't wait is that fleeting idea your child wants to share with you, her excitement at the cloud in the sky that looks like Grandad's face, or his wonder at the butterfly that just landed on his shoulder.

I was never a great housework enthusiast, but now my kids have grown up and gone I have no regrets about unwashed floors or smudgy windows. If I regret anything it's that I didn't spend more time with them.

It's probably to be expected that none of my three children has grown up to be house-proud or even particularly tidy. What I have noticed, though, is that in both their personal and professional lives, they all have time for people. And I am proud of them for that!