{Guest Post} Pars Caeli: 4 Ways to an Organized Home with Kids

I met MJ a few months ago on Twitter.

Since then, I’ve grown to admire this lady.  She is a graphic designer with a great taste, chock full of helpful & creative ideas.  She has such a positive, authentic energy that makes her absolutely gorgeous.

Guest posting is always a little intimidating for us bloggers (since it’s not our own space with readers who know us), please show some love by leaving MJ a comment.

Thank you for being so kind & thoughtful, dear reader!



I’m M.J., and I write over at my web home, Pars Caeli.

It’s a little piece of Heaven (to me) where I find beauty through design, parenting, and all sorts of grown-up goodness.

Janae has been such a good friend and supporter over these first few months of blogging, and I am delighted to be able to be in this beautiful space with you.

I’m a momma of three. I started my motherhood journey over seven years ago with this little chub (love!), my eldest daughter. My husband and I share parenting and home responsibilities, both working out of our home and offices.

We’ve been blessed with three children, now 7, 5, and 2.

And our life is filled, like yours I might suspect, with the busyness of professional responsibilities, children’s activities and school, Church community and functions, and home projects/maintenance.

Our home can go from an organized, in tact, gracious space to absolute food, toy, clothing disaster in less than 35 seconds (yes, I timed it).  This summer, my husband and I decided to get our kiddos more involved in keeping our home a great place to live and play. With both of us working and desiring a happy, clean place to be, we wanted less of the midnight-house-cleaning-after-the-kids-are-all-fast-asleep.

You might also call this, “How we got our kids to do chores” because that’s true, too. 🙂

What are your thoughts on giving children responsibilities around the house?

Here’s what we do.

(I’d love to hear your tips and tricks, too!)


We plopped down all three kiddos (remember 7, 5, and 2) in front of our chalkboard wall and asked them to think about what needs to happen in order for our house to be clean?

We went through room by room to talk about washing dishes, dusting, cleaning sinks, vacuuming, etc.

This is a great opportunity to add in tasks that children might not notice or overlook.

For example, no one mentioned empty the garbage. I added it to our list, and we talked about what would happen if no one emptied the trash (lots of “ewh yucks” here).

It was also an interesting way to find out who enjoys what tasks. My oldest daughter loves to do the dishes, and my son loves to help cook. These preferences came in handy later when trying to start off our teamwork on the right foot!


So we had our list of everything that needs to be cleaned in every room (wowza), and we put stars next to activities that the kids could do.

This was a lot of fun to discuss.

Can my five-year old really wipe off the table every night after dinner? Yes, she can! And she’s even very interested in doing it.

Can my two-year old put away his own clean clothes?  Yes, he can! And he wants to! How have I been holding these children back so much?

The key here for our kids was keeping the discussion light and fun and focusing on all of their capabilities and talents. We highlighted the theme of teamwork and down-played the notion of chores.

The interesting part of this exercise for me: we found only two chores that needed just Mommy and Daddy. Curious? Mowing the lawn and driving to the grocery store.


This next step is really a matter of preference. How often does the sink need to be cleaned?  How often do we need to vacuum?

So we went through our lovely list one more time and circled the things that needed to be done every day and underlined those that needed to be done weekly. If it was something even less often (eg: cleaning out the fridge) we left it alone.

This step was an eye-opener for my 7-year old. “There are really that many things to do every day?”

Smile. Yes.


It’s time to put the team to action. My kiddos are very motivated by music. Or at least music that they love which right now includes a strange blend of Veggie Tales, Disney, Rihanna, and Sugarland (they’re eclectic).

Looking at our daily needs, we focused on how many songs it would take to accomplish each. We decided collectively that most could be accomplished in two or three songs.
This was a revelation and relief to me. We could really get each of these tasks done together – while building our family connections and learning important life skills in the process – and it might take 6-9 minutes. Suddenly the monumentous mountain of housecleaning dissolved into family fun. Nagging fairy would get a break.

Every family works differently, and schedules will dictate a lot.

When is the best time of day to accomplish these jobs? What day or days of the week? Do you work in pairs, alone, or all together?

You know best. My advice is to embrace the possibility of togetherness and enjoy the fun of hard work. And keep in mind what tasks even the smallest members might be able to do with great success. My two-year old is very proud of his ability to empty our bedroom waste cans into the big trash, and he does it well.

The list that we created as a family can be downloaded, here.

Cheers to a happy home, and independent, confident kiddos with a sense of responsibility and teamwork!


More of MJ:
& Pinterest.


  1. Alisa
    on August 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm said:

    Oh. My. Goodness. Deciding how many songs it will take to finish a job? GENIUS! I am so doing that starting tomorrow with my three little ladies ages 1, 3, and 5. We also like to dance around so this will be so much fun. Thank you!

    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 20, 2012 at 11:04 am said:

      Ha! Thanks, Alisa. We don’t always get our work done within two songs, but by the end of the songs, I’m satisfied enough that everyone has done their part. We can then have a full out dance party to one last tune at the end! XO, MJ

  2. Julie
    on August 18, 2012 at 8:28 am said:

    Great idea to time/structure the chores with music! I might use that with pre-teens too…use the iPods. If there is an estimated or predictable end time and they see how quickly jobs can actually be done…you’ve got me thinking…thanks for a thought inspiring post!

    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm said:

      Great idea to use the iPods! I’ve found that we’re all more psychologically capable to take on the task of cleaning if we know we only have to do it for 1-2 songs. 🙂 XO, MJ

  3. Jess
    on August 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm said:

    This is great! Especially loved the downloadable chore list. My kids are 2 and 4 and already they are able to help out around the house. I like the idea of sitting as a family and talking about it, seeing who can do what.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm said:

      Thanks, Jess! My kiddos just kind of expect that Mommy and Daddy will handle the clean up since most of it happens when they’re asleep, but it’s great to see their sense of accomplishment when they complete the jobs, too…even if it does come with grumbles at times. XO, MJ

  4. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy
    on August 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm said:

    what great tips! i love the “who can clean it” game! great post!

    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm said:

      Thanks, Caralyn! It was a little shocking to realize that most of the jobs could be done by all of us (with supervision). XO, MJ

  5. Katie
    on August 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm said:

    Great idea. I love how you made it a family discussion. My oldest is 2, but by golly, you gave me some ideas on how I can get him to help. Thanks!

    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm said:

      Thanks so much, Katie. With my 2-year old little guy, it’s all about telling him what a great job he’s doing and letting him know that his help is really important. Then again, I kind of like hearing that myself! XO, MJ

  6. Melanie
    on August 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm said:

    I need a cleaning team. Maybe I should rethink the having one child thing. 😉 Nathaniel just turned two and your post has inspired me to think of ways he can help out!

    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm said:

      Hahahaha! You crack me up. With my kiddos, two has been a great age to turn energy into help. My guy gets really proud of his “big muscles” when he brings in the groceries from the car. Little things. XO, MJ

  7. lfwfv
    on August 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm said:

    Ooooh, i love these ideas. We are just expecting our first baby in October, but i am already thinking about how to raise a responsible child, how to teach life skills, and how to have a pleasant home and family atmosphere. I am bookmarking this post under “parenting resources”. Thanks!

    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm said:

      That’s so sweet of you. Congratulations!! So wonderful. Parenting is a great big daily adventure. Wishing you all the best. XO, MJ

  8. Marsha
    on August 17, 2012 at 11:14 am said:

    Beautiful blog! My 17 month old is now helping with picking up her toys. Well, for the most part. She tries. 🙂 Picks up one, puts it away, finds another she LOVES, takes it out to play some more. She’s learning though.

    Great ideas for when she’s closer to 2. I love the chalkboard! She is a fan of reward so I think stars are in order as well.

    Thank you, MJ!


    • MJ @parscaeli
      on August 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm said:

      Thank you, thank you! You know, I think the picking up and concentrating on one thing at a time is such an important skill. And then the learning to put it away when the focus is lost is an easy follow up. XO, MJ
      PS. our chalkboard wall is my favorite thing in our house. Totally do it if you have the space to accommodate.

  9. MJ @parscaeli
    on August 17, 2012 at 11:02 am said:

    Thanks so much for letting me house-sit for you, Janae! I’d love to hear how you get it all done with your four kiddos. 🙂 Enjoy your time away. My hubs and I celebrate 10 years today. Yay for marriage. XOXO, MJ