Does both parents working full time always equal chaos at home?

(60 Posts)
HankyScore Sun 08-Dec-13 10:18:43

We never seem to get on top of anything.

There is a constant pile of laundry waiting to be put away. We are eating mainly freezer food. No one hoovered for two weeks until I did it on Friday when I was off work feeling ill.

There are piles and piles of stuff waiting to be sorted through. Everyone is exhausted all the time.

Neither of us have any more to give, and there is no money for a cleaner.

Is this just how it is?

I've been working FT out of the house for four months now, DH changed his hours to accommodate school pick up so works from 7am, I get in at 6pm, then we have Cubs, Scouts, music, riding. We are usually asleep on the sofa by 9pm.

We try to keep on top of the house at the weekends but if we go off routine (I was away last weekend for eg) , it all goes to shit.

How do other people do it? We just seem to be exhausted and messy and blah.

Help me.

monicalewinski Mon 09-Dec-13 09:54:57

Oh, and washing - NEVER let it build up.

I recently got so hacked off with great piles of washing and ironing I got rid of everyone's washing baskets and got one for all of us (with the lights/darks divider in it). This means it gets fuller quicker and it is one load when it is full, so the washing doesn't get 'overlooked' anymore - this has been a revelation for me and I should have done it years ago!!

monicalewinski Mon 09-Dec-13 09:48:35

RUTHLESS EFFICIENCY grin

When my 2 were younger it seemed I was living in a constant state of chaos - I get anxious when things like housework start to slide, and once I've lost the edge it seems to spiral so for me it was non-negotiable to keep on top of things (my husband would be quite happy to live in a shit pit).

For me, the compromise was 'public rooms tidy at all times' and this is still the rule now - so at the end of every day the living room/kitchen would be tidy so that I could actually sit down with a coffee when the kids had gone to bed without furtively looking round at stuff and shit and getting edgy.

Now the boys are 8 & 11 they are responsible for their own stuff (rooms/school bags etc) and this is done every day, and we still have a tidy round every night. Every Saturday morning was my 'cleaning day' and because I didn't let clutter accumulate over the week it only took an hour or so for a clean - however, it would only take 2 days of letting the odd thing slide for everything to be chaos so it felt like a constant losing battle!

Now I'm lucky to be able to afford a cleaner on a Friday morning, so we still keep things tidy every day but when I get home from work on a Friday, the weekend is ours with no housework - this has been bliss!

I think if you both work FT, then you can never have the perfect house unless you are prepared to sacrifice everything else at the altar of clean - which would be rubbish!

You cannot win, unfortunately fsad

FobblyWoof Mon 09-Dec-13 09:06:14

My friend works, I don't, and her house is bloody immaculate. I honestly have no idea how they do it. I know that in part it's down to them generally being tidier and more organised than we are- like taking cups to the kitchen after use, not leaving things on the stairs to take up etc- but I still don't understand how there are enough hours in the day for her to look after a toddler, go to work, come home, look after toddler, clean, tidy, get dinner ready, put toddler to bed and still have a little time to herself.

redskyatnight Mon 09-Dec-13 08:50:12

Both work full time albeit close to home so little commuting time, and we stagger our hours so that one of us is always home with the DC.

We’ve found the key is getting ultra organised.
So every night the kitchen is cleaned and wiped down, all dirty dishes away etc and prep done for next day if necessary. The lounge is left tidy (the DC do this).
Every Friday night we do a more thorough clean of the kitchen. Then Saturday morning, one of us takes the DC swimming and the other blitzes the house as much as possible. The DC come home and tidy their own rooms. Means by Saturday lunch we’ve “done” housework so can enjoy the rest of the weekend. Because we’re keeping on top of it it doesn’t seem too bad.

We also menu plan each week and shop for what we need. Have a stock of meals that take a max of half an hour (or preprepare). Every night we put in a load of washing, hang it to dry in the morning, then put away at night. Only takes a few minutes each time so doesn’t seem so bad.

We also make the DC (10 and 8) responsible for as much as they can be – so they sort their own rooms, bags for school, tidy up after themselves, organise their own homework (we will help if necessary).
We also have after school clubs 3 nights a week so there is a lot of logistics round working out who gets where when.

trinitybleu Mon 09-Dec-13 08:23:02

am smiling at how many of us are getting the kids to do chores, batch cooking, etc.

We have a cleaner (£20 a week) which means I know the bathrooms and kitchen have been properly done at least once in the last 7 days and weekends are freer for fun stuff. Plus a good tidy weekly is easier than missing a week cos you're away one weekend and then trying to catch up ...

OH is resigning today and hoping to be on garden leave for 3 months, mainly to catch up on DIY grin

Bumblequeen Sun 08-Dec-13 19:20:40

Dh and I work full time although I am on ML with dc2.

When I worked we only had 1 dc and we were able to keep on top of housework as well as engage in outside activities including voluntary work and mentoring.

Being outside the house for 10 hours a day meant no constant tidying up.

Dd does not attend after school club yet.

Tips:
Bulk cook
Take out yours and dcs clothes/bags the night before
Do a big clean on a Saturday morning
Make daily 'to do' lists
Do not allow washing to pile up-put on a load daily
Do not sit down for the evening (unless to eat) until you have done all you need to do. I stick by this rule however tired. dh is convinced I am a machine.

nulgirl Sun 08-Dec-13 18:50:05

We both work full time and our house is lovely. This is entirely due to my dh rather than me though. He starts work early so is home by 4pm. He does an hour of housework, prepares dinner and gets the kids to do their homework before I arrive home at 6. He will then do a couple of hours of housework/ DIY at the weekend. I think we would struggle if we both worked conventional office hours or if he had my work ethic as I hate housework and loathe cooking from scratch.

Philoslothy Sun 08-Dec-13 18:39:21

One day a week I will leave work at 4pm, that day I have the luxury of just working about a 12 hour day.

Philoslothy Sun 08-Dec-13 18:38:37

Add message | Report | Message poster usuallyright Sun 08-Dec-13 15:57:23
fucking hell, working 13-16 hours a day? So you're basically working and sleeping, surely there's no time for anything else after a 13-16 hour working day?!!!

It should have been 15 not 16 . That is also just weekdays, weekends I have mostly free apart from about 5 hours.

At the moment I am pregnant so am not doing anything other than working and an hour or so with the children, I just don't have the energy and am feeling quite frustrated at not really pulling my weight.

I start work at 7am, sometimes at 6am at home and leave at 6pm. I will them do a few hours at home, that is fairly standard.

When not pregnant I manage to do some housework during the the day as well as time with the children.

Monetbyhimself Sun 08-Dec-13 18:37:06

Lone parent here and prioritising is my saviour. I use a dlow cooker a lot, I have massively reduced my laundry mountain by making jeans, fleeces etc have 2 or 3 wears before washing. Decluttering toys/paperwork etc helps massively. I have my own routine in the evenings so I have a list of things in my head.
Could you perhaps dedicate 2 hours on a Saturday morning when you all focus on housework ? I find that if Ido s big clean every week, it's easier then to give bathrooms a quick wipe every other day or whizz a mop around reslly quickly. I iron virtuallynothing apart from school shirts.

PiratePanda Sun 08-Dec-13 18:32:39

No suggestions I'm aftaid - we're exactly the same. We just about manage to keep on top of tidying, cooking and washing. It's exhausting!!!

costumething Sun 08-Dec-13 18:28:23

We both work & DH is away with work most weeks. We have 3 DC. The thing that stops it all falling apart is that we do not have after school activities for DC unless they are on school premises directly after school and the childminder can collect afterwards.
Ferrying children around in the evenings would make it all too much.

DirtyDancingCleanLiving Sun 08-Dec-13 16:14:24

We both work full time and it's fine but we are lucky with shifts.

Df works 8-6, 5 days a week (50 hour week but can't be avoided due to job type) and is off on Mondays and Sundays. I work a compressed shift so do 8-6 but only 4 days (40 hours) and am off Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

So one or both of us is home all day every Friday - Monday. On a Tue, Wed and Thursday the kids are in school at 7.45 for breakfast club and go to a cm for 2.5 hours afterwards. We both work close so we're normally all home by 6.15 on those 3 days...the kids will have already had dinner at the cms and will go to bed at 7.30 so we just cook for the 2 of us.

We make sure there are no activities on the 3 days we're both in work, and we do all housework between us on our days off. The house generally stays pretty clean on a Tue-Thurs as there's no one in it most of the day and no big family meal to cook (frequently df and I will make do with soup/sandwich/tuna salad for ease).

I do feel lucky with the way things have fallen for us though, I would hate to have to do our Tue-Thurs routine for 5 days because there's next to no time to relax or do things with the kids.

usuallyright Sun 08-Dec-13 15:57:23

fucking hell, working 13-16 hours a day? So you're basically working and sleeping, surely there's no time for anything else after a 13-16 hour working day?!!!

kitsmummy Sun 08-Dec-13 15:57:21

In answer to your question, I think yes, two parents full time = stress and chaos and is not the optimum way for family living. I do however appreciate that for many people there is no choice (and indeed there are some weirdos grin who prefer it that way)

Yama Sun 08-Dec-13 15:53:04

We both work full time and are mainly on top of things. We just get things done in the evening between getting home and putting the kids to bed. I suppose it helps that we both get home reasonably early.

We only have two children though and only one who is old enough for clubs and sports.

UsedToBeNDP Sun 08-Dec-13 15:42:50

We both work FT (DH in a job that takes him away much of the week) and are between cleaners at the mo. We are both relative tidy freaks. Like others we manage by running laundry and dishwasher loads before we head out in the morning and transfer to dryer/hanging thing or put dishes away when we get in in the evening. We wipe down the kitchen after every meal, keeps on top of that.

DH and I split the housework/cleaning on a weekend morning. He does the ground floor, I do the others. I have more sq ft but his is dirtier/more high traffic. Kids do their own rooms and animals.

Shopping and whatnot, we do on the day. If DH is around whichever of us is home first will do the supermarket & start dinner. Sometimes it's from scratch, other times it's a defrosted batch cooked meal.

It takes a lot more organisation and we couldn't do it if both H and I weren't equally prepared to muck in.

I do feel like I don't sit down until 9pm every night though and every weekend is spent "doing" but it's fine. Busy is good and there's still time for individual wind down stuff for each of us.

Philoslothy Sun 08-Dec-13 15:25:48

I am not going to get competitive about who works the hardest, I will always lose that one, working long hours does not mean working hard. I also don't work 13 weeks of the year.

However during those weeks when I am working , running a house is more of a challenge than it would be than if I worked school hours.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 08-Dec-13 14:37:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annieorangutan Sun 08-Dec-13 14:27:01

It is part time though school hours positions are. Its a fact. Op you will get used to.it I used to moan and be unorganised when I did 25 hours ans had 1 child no I realise I was just extremely unorganised. Its because you have only just started it after a while it becomes second nature, but it does take time.

MrsDeVere Sun 08-Dec-13 14:22:46

8-4 is NOT part time.
It may be less than some people's hours but that doesn't make it part time.

Lets not get all competitive about who works the hardest.

Some people who do no work outside the home work harder than those doing a 50hr week in an office.

The OP has asked for help regarding her situation.

annieorangutan Sun 08-Dec-13 14:18:51

I would classify 8-4 as part time as well. Its less than the time most people would be actually at work nevermind about pick ups, drop offs, kids clubs etc.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 08-Dec-13 13:42:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsDeVere Sun 08-Dec-13 13:37:30

Work out what matters to you.
If the clothes not being put away drive you insane you proritise them.
If grubby windows don't' bother you, leave them.

We don't work full time but we both work and OH is disabled as is DS2. I have two other younger ones at home so I feel your pain.

The only way to go is to be organised and do something every day.

I made a series of lists.
Daily
weekly
monthly
seasonal jobs.

I wrote them on A4 and put them in a plastic folder. They go on the fridge.
That way if I have five minutes I can pick a job and get it done rather than feeling overwhelmed at all I have to do.
If OH has the energy he can do the same.

The kids have their jobs. DS can manage to strip the beds now. Its taken a long time but he now understands what to do.
DS3 can tidy up the art cupboard and put toys away. DS4 can tidy up too.

I find it helps to have a day for stripping the beds, a day for high level dusting (or whatever) etc so you are not trying to do everything in one go.

I have a bit of a 'thing' so I hoover and dust everyday but its probably not necessary. It depends on how you feel about that stuff.
Putting laundry away every day is a good idea though. Clothes lying around the place leads to more work and they always make the place look untidy.

So.
Prioritise
Make lists
Pick a separate day for each biggish job (hoovering, dusting, ironing or whatever)
Make sure there is somewhere to put everything (you can't tidy if there is nowhere for stuff to go)
Keep the kids involved.
Don't beat yourself up. There are only so many hours in the day.

redexpat Sun 08-Dec-13 13:31:35

I read a book called how to do everything and be happy. Our house looks a bit better now. It's tough. Don't beat your self up about it.

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