Your tips please to a happy household when working ft...

(367 Posts)
YouSmegHead Sun 07-Oct-12 11:31:12

So recently went back to work ft and haven't found my stride yet. What top tips do you have for keeping me sane smile

marriedinwhite Sun 07-Oct-12 15:23:06

I agree with you about the ironing Mandy21 DD = five school cotton blouses, DS now wears men's cotton shirts x 5 smaller versions of his dad's, DH cotton formal shirts x 5, I wear 5 tops (blouses, etc) too each week - and it's worse in the summer because sometimes I wear dresses. I don't see how you can possible not iron that sort of stuf..

reshetima Sun 07-Oct-12 15:30:34

I prepare DH and my sandwiches for the week on a Sunday and then freeze (only works with hard cheese, smoked meat not egg). Then all I have to do is add fruit, brunch bar and yoghurt in the morning.

My cleaner does the ironing of DH shirts and my linen clothes. The rest is drip dry. DS trousers and shirts just have to go on crumpled. I'm sure we're down as neglectful parents, but he's clean and that's the main thing.

Supermarket shop once a week and top up on the way home. (Almost) only cook two batches of food and pop one in the freezer or eat the next day.

Lay out breakfast dishes and cereal etc the night before. Lay out clothes and pack bags the night before.

cardibach Sun 07-Oct-12 15:35:19

I work full time and am a lone parent. I cope bu not caring if housework is done. I work (teacher, so have stuff to do at home, too) cook mostly healthy food and spend time with DD hanging out/having fun (she's 16 and it's been just us since she was a baby). If nothing else gets done for weeks on end I don;t stress. It means some rushed cleaning/tidying if people are coming round - although my friends aren't bothered on the whole - but we are both very healthy, so it isn;t killing us.
THis isn't always a very popular attitude on MN, though.

Lifeisontheup Sun 07-Oct-12 15:54:05

I work full time hours but 12 hour shifts so can be over three or four days/nights each week.
The only child at home full-time is 16 but is on AS and it is an uphill struggle to get him to help but we keep trying.
I've just started an OU degree course which needs approx 16 hours a week study so I try to do all housework in one day and then study for another full day, preferably when DH is home plus odd bits as and when.
Have got a simple organisation chart on the fridge and i write jobs on post -its and move them round according to importance. Still knackered though but we survive.

GupX Sun 07-Oct-12 15:58:04

Weekly meal plan
Online shopping
No ironing - stuff straight out of dryer onto hangers
Easy dinners (eg fresh pasta, bulk cook things like bolognaise and korma)

We can't afford a cleaner either
We clean with the kids for about an hour on Saturdays
Once a month catch up with all the paperwork - betweentimes we have a folder
After the kids are in bed, decks are completely cleared for the following day
Also slow cooker is fab.

Meal plan.
Freeze leftovers for nights when you don't feel like cooking.
Have one or two nights of beans on toast/omelette/soup type simple meals.
Only iron the bare minimum then just do them on one side only
washing done on specific days and all dried/ put away same day e.g. Towels done on a Wednesday, colours wash on a Thursday, bedding on a Friday, another colours wash on a Sunday. I have a machine with a timer which I set to come on overnight so stuff is ready to hang out in the morning.
Try and plan so that one day is free of specific tasks - mine is Saturday but I might still do a wash or clean windows etc if it's a nice day and there's nothing else planned.
Either shop online or go to Aldi (only takes 45 min as there's nothing to distract from the basics).
HTH smile

RillaBlythe Sun 07-Oct-12 16:10:20

marriedinwhite, when I was your DC age my brothers & me tool turns each week to do the ironing. 3 x school shirts, my dad's work shirts, a couple of blouses for my mum. We considered it a good job because you could do it in front of the TV (the other jobs rota'd with that one were cleaning bathrooms or doing part of the weekly shop - we also took turns at hoovering, mopping & laying/clearing table for meals)

HandMini Sun 07-Oct-12 16:11:11

Does anyone have a "housekeeper" type service as opposed to just a cleaner? Me and DP both work full time and have one DC, another due soon, and we don't have it very well sorted to be honest. I don't really know what a housekeeper would do above and beyond what a cleaner does, but would be interested to know if anyone has more success outsourcing some of the housework. I guess I'd like someone else to be doing the thinking about when we run out of lightbulbs etc....any thoughts?

My only tip is to buy very simple baby clothes, and lots of them. Our DD lives in plain tights, body suits and dresses from H and M so I can just grab from the cupboard in the morning and if we don't get round to doing a wash until the weekend she's got plenty to use.

Ginfox Sun 07-Oct-12 16:12:20

Some great ideas on here, but best post so far is definitely from Cardibach. I've just gone from working 4 dpw to 5, and the house is sort of tidy but definitely not clean, whilst the (weedtastic) veg patch makes me feel guilty every time I look at it.

But as long as I manage to do the essentials - washing/ironing, feeding everyone, etc - that's fine. Because I'm not going to spend all my precious weekend time doing chores when I could be having fun with my DH and DD. They'll get done eventually. Or it will be too late and they won't need doing at all grin

Anyway, my not very original advice would be to menu plan, then do an online shop for as much as you have space for. I plan a month in advance (so we don't end up eating the same thing every week due to lack of imagination), do a monthly online shop, get a weekly fruit and veg box delivered, so just need to top up at local shop as and when. Saves money too.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Sun 07-Oct-12 16:36:46

Don't iron ffs.

If your partner requires ironed shirts, he can do his own. NOTHING else requires it, certainly not children's clothes.

Xenia Sun 07-Oct-12 16:43:31

I've worked full time with 5 children for 28 years, we both did. Youngest are 13 and someof that as single. My tips:

1. Avoid sexist marriages. By all means have clothes laid out the night before - make that your husband's job so you never even have to think about it.

2. He does all wasyhing, ironing and putting away and you do cooking or vice versa. Never take on more than him at home. Only idiots married to sexist pigs do that.

3. When we could afford it we got someone in 3 times a week who did all the cleaning and importantly emptied the washer and dishwasher (we had someone 5 mornings a week for a good few years too). We put them on before we left for work and she emptied them and more importantly oput all clothes away and changed the sheets and towels on a rota system. I've not had to change beds for about 15 years now - lucky me (but I did pick a well paid career deliberately in my teesns so in a sense we live with our choices).

4. I do not believe your local deliveries of groceries are too bad to accept. ALl the majors are briliant. You have to compromise to have happy family and working life and avoid perfectionism. So what if a ferw groceries are too old or the delivery is a bit late - it is much easier than going to a shop. We have it delvered when the cleaner is here so I don't even have to look at the stuff. The children have access to the on line food account and add what they need too to it - they are very sensible children whom I trust. I never enter a shop if I can help it.

5. Now they are older we all get our own food in the evening which makes things very relaxed and lovely although I accept not everyone operates like that. Their brother cooks for the younger two.

I do all admin on the day of receipt so I never had a back lot or in pile - this is impossible when you avhe little children. Huge 13 year olds as I have are dead easy.

If working whilst breastfeeding I did all the night feeds in year 1 and their father did all night waking (we had loads) in years 2 - 5 which is a fair division in terms of time and works well as they were not breastfeeding in those later years.

Above all acept no sexism or unfairness at home even for one day and be more than happy to let their father do lots of tasks even if he does them differently from you. the key is that he is not helping you but he is 100% responsible for all wasing always whilst you do cooking or wahtever divided you do - the key is you are not in charge of it and do not tell him what to do but that you each have tasks as adults for which you are 100% responsbile.

(I foudn it easier as I earned 10x what he did mind you - I suggest money and power help in marriages and the more you earn the easier everything is made).

Xenia Sun 07-Oct-12 16:44:27

Another thing we had a few years with baby twins adn teenagers when their father work on Saturday too and I often had things to do when we hired a local teenage girl to give unadulterated attention to the twins whom she adored for 4 hours - they loved it and it made such a difference to know we could concentrate no the other 3 chidlren or just erad the paper without interruption for 2 - 4 hours.

myBOYSareBONKERS Sun 07-Oct-12 17:06:40

To those of you going FT. Do you really HAVE too? or is it expected of you and the level of profession you are at? I had to have a complete re-think after DS2 as I was getting so bogged down with everything and eventually cut my hours.

Lifeisontheup Sun 07-Oct-12 17:07:25

We sort out chores between us according to what we dislike the least so DH does all the paperwork including anything to do with school, cleans shoes, empties bins ,walks the dog and cooks at weekends and when I'm on a late finish or on nights.
I cook when I'm home before him or on days off, I clean, hoover and put washing on. Whoever is around fills and empties dishwasher and does shopping, supermarket is a three minute walk from the house so very easy.
We also have an ironing lady who is wonderful.

smoppet Sun 07-Oct-12 17:27:58

Agree with lots of the minimalism above. Lots of great advice. My two penneth:

NEVER iron - I don't buy clothes that need it, didn't own an iron til i was >30; if anyone in the family wants pressed shirts, they can do them themselves. It's a personal preference IMHO. I might be lucky that DD is in primary so in stay-pressd pinnies and skirts and horrid polo shirts - but when she's in shirts I'll go poly-cotton not cotton, and she can iron if she wants them pristine. I have plenty of work clothes that are smart but don't require ironing. DP buys shirts that are checked, so noone sees the creases!

Washing on a short economy cycle so it's out and drying the same night it goes in the machine.

Dirty house. (Clean loo, clean kitchen surfaces, clean sink/bath. Filthy floors).

Over-cook most of the time (often by accident) so we have freezer portions in double-adult and kid-size of chilli, bolognese, dhal etc.

A repertoire of easy meals (spaghetti Bol, chilli, Dahl, chakchouka, couscous and veg, bean stew, sausage and mash) and a lot of non-perishables (tinned beans, couscous, pasta etc) and frozen veg (peas obvs and sweetcorn and baby broad beans a boon!) so you can always do something from scratch dead quick sans inspiration. Pasta peas and Parmesan is a winner here. Takes as long as the pasta takes to cook.

Haven't been doing packed lunches long enough to need to but will def get to making batches of sarnies or rolls and freezing them when I'm fed up.

All grocery shopping is online - snatched minutes at work when I remember items to add to basket, and in the evenings in front of the tv.

And the DC must help out with chores - we're all part of the family, we all want to have a nice time, so we all have to help out. Otherwise mummy's a drudge, grumpy and no-one has fun.

Good luck!

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Sun 07-Oct-12 17:35:01

Grubby floors and unironed polo shirts do not a bad parent make.

I loathe hate and despise ironing and avoid it all costs.
meal plan and prep in advance what you can.
Slow cooking is great.
Lower your standards.
Drink plenty of wine grin

smoppet Sun 07-Oct-12 17:37:16

Quite, JenaiMarr!

Xenia Sun 07-Oct-12 17:44:12

IN some careers full time is the difference between potentially earning £2m a year in some professions and not too much more than the minimum wage so yes for many we prefer full time and if it means fewer chores and more done by the other half full time is way the best option. I never iron.
On housekeepers I never relaly know what that title means. When we had someone 5 mornings a week she did the cleaning and ironing and washign and putting away of clothes as I said above, uses initiative in a way I don't think all cleaners do, answered door - we get a ot of deliveries. Stuff like bring in post. Bringing in wheelie bins, putting them out on the right day, bedding and towel washing. I did a list I think years ago of what she should do each day. i am not sure it was all been stuck to - dusting often not done and I now get someone once a year or every 6 months who does windows inside and out as she never does the windows inside. I don't think she ever changed light bulbs.

At the momen in most places there are loads and loads of people from students to general unemployed who will almost kill for any kind of job like cleaning and housekeeping at the minimum wage or if you can afford it above (except in rural areas) so it is not hard unless you don't earn enough to pay someone.

By the way when I had 3 chidlren by age 26 and worked full time we no way had help because the childcare was 50% of each of our salaries so I certainly very much appreciate now 20 years on being able to afford more help.

scottishmummy Sun 07-Oct-12 17:52:36

batch cook& freeze
shop online
groceries online
lay all week clothes out in advance.do mine and kids
dp gets his shirts laundered and ironed
pack bag night before
make packed lunch night before
get a spreadsheet on laptop of parties,a/l, events - map out schedule
direct debit for bills,mortgage
to do lists,review regularly and action tasks
cleaner
window cleaner
gardener
don't cool Friday it's fish & chips or takeaway
ignore the precious moments mamas and why have em if you work fulltime crew

I love working and any wee tome saving tip is a blessing
working mums coach is that like a mc life coach. I'm sceptical.I don't need to be coached

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 07-Oct-12 17:59:10

Yes to all the above, especially the bits about not worrying about not living in a show home, making sure your other half and older children are doing their fair share around the house, and dealing with admin as soon as it comes in

marriedinwhite Sun 07-Oct-12 18:15:38

Oh Xenia - you weren't that different from us except that DH earns more than 10 x my salary!! I knew when we had the DC that I was at the top of my earning potential and that it was likely to go down; the City was rocky, I was 30s and you don't go back to selling eurobonds once you stop. DH was the one with the potential. But it didn't stop me going back after a few years and carving a new career and getting professional quals. I think if he had had to come home in the early years and do half the chores after putting in a 13 hour day, plus weekends and many evenings - I think he'd have thrown in the towel and we would have much much less coming in now. Glad I was at home for a while - I think it paid off and it worked for us - and I'm sure we are both better off after 23 years having compromised and worked together. And nothing he has ever done has ever made me want to call him a sexist pig.

BTW I have a cleaner twice a week and she helps with the ironing. I do about 1 to 2 hours of laundry a week, all the shopping and cooking (I like the shopping and cooking) and no cleaning. Like you once a year I have in a company to do a complete spring clean, incuding all the windows, glass, stair rods, etc., and every other year they do the carpets. Nothing is ever quite perfect - it can't be when two people work full time it was when I didn't go to work but then I couldn't whip out a cheque book on whim and entirely without consultation. I am very very glad I went back to work and think I am in a much better place than the mums who are now early/mid 50s like me and who have been at home for 20 years and who are probably almost unemployable and could be in a very bad place if suddenly they had to work or even if they were suddenly on their own and had no financial problems but an empty nest. At least for the next 15 years or so I will have purpose if the worst were to come to the worst.

I think giving him a bit of slack on the household front helped us all.

DottyDot Sun 07-Oct-12 18:18:09

We never iron - as in, haven't even unpacked it since last moving 4 years ago! Clothes get hung up to dry then put straight away. Uniforms look fine, as do work clothes. Can't see what ironing would add and I can't imagine where the time would come from to do it!

Admittedly this is probably backlash from growing up with a mum who (still) irons everything - including socks and pants!

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 07-Oct-12 18:34:42

just thought of something else, as I'm doing the pre-Monday routine: buy more / bigger stuff. Eg DS needs a clean school jumper every day, so he has five so that I don't have to worry about getting a couple through the wash during the week. And we have a big wash basket so that it isn't overflowing after a couple of days.

prettybird Sun 07-Oct-12 18:39:04

One bit of advice my best friend (mum of 4, GP, married to another GP, home cooks, makes her own curtains I hate her wink) gave me was to wear the same outfit twice.

I couldn't bring myself to do so two days in a row, but I did alternate two days. It meant I only need to think of/get ready 3 outfits in a week, rather than 5.

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