Dear Mother/Writer – Cleaning and Writing Are Not Mutually Exclusive

I’ve been sitting staring at the computer for a few minutes, the blank template staring back at me daring me to write something. I had no idea what to write, until I looked to my left and saw the dishes stacked in and next to the sink. It’s amazing what can motivate you to put words down. It’s also amazing how easily that thing that you don’t want to do so you write leaps up at you and slaps you in the face. Let me tell you, being slapped in the face by a dirty plate can hurt, even if it is metaphorical.


But I’m not just a writer. I’m also a mother and wife and I can’t ignore those dishes, the mussed up bed, and the magically-transported-to-another-room couch cushions for long. (Magic, thy name is Little Man.)

Why, you may ask, I am writing this if there is cleaning to do?

Because I think I have a system that might help those struggling mother/writers out there.


As soon as I wrote that last sentence, I washed some dishes and put some more in to soak. I then cleaned off the table. Next, I cleared the clutter off the deep freeze which is used more as a table than keeping food frozen. When all that was done I sat down at the computer and checked out a couple of posts and articles to add to the blog round-up I do on Thursdays.

Do you see what I did there? I set myself up to be able to get what I can done in the time I have. Dishes take time to soak. Floors take time to dry after a good mopping. Laundry takes a while to get clean and dry. Sweeping the floor doesn’t take very long. Vacuuming doesn’t take very long. Dusting doesn’t either. And so when you’ve done a bit of cleaning, you can then sit down and do a bit of writing.

Not too much though! There’s still stuff to do.

Little Man won’t clean his room by himself. He will help me when I do it, making it a game of Who Does More? and That’s My Toy! Those Magically Disappearing Cushions disappeared again, and I need my handy-vac for the trail of cheese ball crumbs left on the floor I just vacuumed.


I’m not saying that you have to get everything done in a day, or to try to get everything done in a day. I’m saying, take your time, and go ahead and write for a few minutes if you want. Do this process two to three times a week and your house will be clean. Take a day off of writing once a month and deep clean (washing walls, shampooing carpets, etc) and your house will be immaculate. In the between days, all that’s left is throwing trash away and a bit of picking up after the kids.


It’s now the end of the day. My kids are in bed, Hubs is playing Stupid Zombies, and I have all the time I want to write. Yes, this blog post is going up late, and yes, this is the only writing I’ve written (so far) today. But – and this is the main point – it’s not an every day thing and my house still stays clean.* Not to mention the fact that I can stay up as late as I want to do more writing on my wips, blog posts for later, or even short stories/flash fiction. The possibilities are endless and I feel better knowing I got house work done AND wrote during the day.

What about you? How do you do your cleaning and get your writing done? 

*I didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but I’m not complaining, lol=)
Also, every time you see a – between paragraphs, that’s when I walked away from the computer and cleaned. The last one was the longest as the post school to evening time is my busiest (checking school work, cooking supper, getting the kids baths and in bed, etc)

About Katie Doyle

Katie Doyle is an avid reader, writer of NA and Adult fiction, a mom to two tornadoes that resemble an eight and six year old, and pet to a tuxedo cat named Oz and a German Shepherd/Boxer rescue named Charlie. If she's not reading, writing, or getting Oz out of a tree, she's screaming at characters on TV and trying not to curse around her kids.
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13 Responses to Dear Mother/Writer – Cleaning and Writing Are Not Mutually Exclusive

  1. breeanap says:

    So true! 🙂 I find it works in reverse for me, too. My dishes could be sitting in the sink for HOURS, and then I sit down and try to write … two sentences in, and suddenly those dishes are an emergency. 🙂

  2. Love this post! I do a little each day. My son likes to help with some of the cleaning like dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping. I sweep, he sweeps the dirt pile I make back across the floor, and I sweep it again. Usually I do one other chore a night. My hubby will entertain the little guy and I'll wash the kitchen floor or clean the bathrooms. It gets done. Then when the boy is sleeping, I can do my stuff! 🙂

  3. @breeanap I find myself more willing to do the cleaning when I've reached a point in my writing that is either disturbing (some of my short stories make me cry so hard I scare the Hubs!) or just not working out the way I want them to.@Christine HaHa! I love that your son does that! Mine does too=)

  4. Diana says:

    When I stayed at home full time with my kids, I worked around my husband's schedule and then right before he came home I would scramble like mad to pick up. I'm one that can sleep just fine at night with a dirty dish in the sink because there is more to life than that, but I tried my best to make sure most of the house wasn't in total chaos when he got home. Now that I am working, I get done what I can. He does the same and unfortunately, write when I have a spare moment.

  5. That sounds like my system! I didn't do much writing, but I did get a few blog posts done 🙂

  6. mooderino says:

    As soon as i sit down any chore that needs doing seems to prey on my mind. I used to go do them and then come back to the writing and then have less time to get things done. I can wash dishes half asleepm but not write like that, so it makes sense to do the writing first. So now i force myself to ignore chores (headphones and looud music help) until I've got words on the page.moodMoody Writing@mooderinoThe Funnily Enough

  7. Tonja says:

    What is with those cushions? That plan generally works for me, but lately my husband has been working excessive hours, often at home (while contributing to the mess), and hasn't been able to help as much (ok, not at all). I need to clean today, like all day, but I'm going to take the morning to write.

  8. Wow, this is exactly what was on my mind this morning. Thanks for the post! And what is with kids taking off couch cushions!? Mine do that too and it drives me crazy! 🙂

  9. @Diana Here's to wishing you more writing time and less clean-up time!@J. A. Bennett I look forward to reading your posts=)@mooderino Dishes are a mindless chore=)@Tonja That sounds like it can get frustrating! I get frustrated at Hubs when he comes home early or takes a day off because it messes with my routine or whatever plans I had to write OR clean that day=)

  10. ps. I posted a link to this on my blog.

  11. @RachelMaryBean Just take your time and do what you can. Both can be done at the same time!And thanks for the linkage=)

  12. Rick says:

    I use only disposable dishes. Or I eat out a lot and write at the restaurant.

  13. Annie says:

    I loved this post! I am trying to pick one big thing to do each day–laundry today–tomorrow the dreaded bathrooms! The writing gets done — a lot more some days than others — but like you pointed out, it gets done a little at a time! So glad I found your blog.

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