Mission impossible? - chaos - big-time!

(8 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Mon 05-May-14 10:26:39

Seeing all these threads on here about decluttering/cleaning, I'm wondering how on earth people in my own situation actually get any time at all in any day, any week of any year to find time?

I'm a single mum of school aged DCs, running a f/t business singlehandedly, working all weekdays, all weekday evenings and Saturday mornings - for the part that earns the money - and all the rest of the time, (ie Sat afternoons and Sunday) for everything else related to the business like admin/accounts etc.

However, my top priority, beyond that, is spending at least some time each day - usually no more than 30 mins, with the DCs, who I'd otherwise barely see. So that takes care of the last 30 mins at night before we all go to bed. I go to bed at a similar time to them, as I start the working day around 5.00am, with some admin, prior to the school run and it's flat out all day.

Basically, each day is packed with daily stuff to do - which involves no real time for any housework of any kind. Every week, I might swish round the toilets and bath/shower and available (but fast disappearing) surfaces in the kitchen.

But the house hasn't really been cleaned for a few years now - not since I was last able to afford cleaners - which I no longer can afford. No dusting for years. Piles of clutter left for years. Cupboards/boxes and bags filled with 'stuff to be sorted' left for years.

There's no time in the foreseeable future to tackle the chaos. I can and do find 15 to 20 mins a day to make DCs meals, wipe where available to prepare food, stack/unstack dishwasher/do laundry (but never get time to put it away in wardrobes). I

've just come upstairs from the kitchen, where I spent 20 mins clearing and wiping and dishwasher - and realised that if I could just start with a clean slate - it would be manageable. But I suspect there's about a month's 12 hr day hard graft of decluttering/cleaning to do to get it up to standard.

Everywhere also desperately needs redecorating and hasn't been done for 9 years now. Definitely can't have anyone over, even if we had time for that.

I'd love to hear inspiring stories from people in a similar situation (ie no respite from DCs ever, no helpful relatives, no money for outsourcing help and working either employed or self-employed for 6 days a a week, plus evenings) - who have found a way to get on top of things before they finally crawl into the grave. How did you do it?

newlark Mon 05-May-14 16:15:44

I'm not in your situation but didn't want this to go unanswered - that sound very difficult - hard to maintain that relentless pace although I know sometimes you don't have a choice.

How old are your dcs? Can they take on any jobs round the house? Even if you can't afford a regular cleaner could you stretch to a one-off clean for a few hours? I did this recently to give me a kick start and had someone who advertised locally round for 3 hrs. I went ahead of her tidying as much as I could (some was just sweeping things into bags or putting into piles but had a rubbish bag with me too and managed to fill it as I went. Psychologically it made a big difference and in general I have managed to maintain where we got to.

Otherwise I just try to move a little bit in the right direction each day i.e. just do something, however small that is over and above the basics. I've been loosely trying to follow the flylady system and dd (7) likes the idea of the daily mission and will help me with that if she can.

BlogOnTheTyne Mon 05-May-14 20:23:25

Thanks for the reply Newlark. Have thought about a one off paid for clean but would need to get the house more clear/decluttered before anyone could actually access most of it to clean it! I seem to be waiting constantly for 'oneday when I've got time....' to to this first step, as with everything else - but that available time never seems to come!

DCs are v busy with school work and most of their evenings are spent doing homework, as is Saturday morning. I drop them at school at 7.20am each day and tomorrow, for example, they won't be home till 7pm, as they have an after school club and will then have to start a full evening of homework.

One of them does take the cutlery out of the dishwasher in the mornings and puts it away, if I've actually had time to put on a load the days before. He will also put his dirty underwear in clothes basket each night. Other one does nothing - not on a regular basis, unless I've got time and energy to have a blazing row - which i mostly don't have.

Am doing little bits when I can to declutter/clear but what's so difficult is that within one day, a decluttered area will just get full of stuff again that i don't have time to deal with properly.

The absolute essentials - like paying bills, meals and food shop for DCs, laundry (once a week only though) get done - but that's about it.

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 11-May-14 11:00:04

Only got one reply to my OP, so I'm hoping for more today? Still would love to hear if anyone in a similar situation to mine, has managed to turn around their lives and get their home in a better condition again?

Today being my only full day off, I've already done food shop, some laundry (tons to go), breakfast at staggered intervals for self and DCs, baths/clothes ready for DCs, helped DC with homework, done a bit of business admin.

Meanwhile absolutely no time since my OP for any cleaning except the minimal areas around food prep. and in toilets. Will be starting lunch prep. in about an hour and got piles and piles of urgent business admin surrounding me on the office floor.

Still don't know how to find/make that extra time to clear a backlog of years of 'stuff' and around 2 yrs of undone cleaning to do. Emailed a cleaning company last week asking about prices for one off cleans but they never got back to me and I had no time to chase them up with a telephone call during working hours.

Coming week is already packed from 6am till 8pm every day and also all Saturday morning too. Can't see a way out in the foreseeable future - ie foreseeable years - not weeks or months.

Who else has found themselves in this situation, with no spare time in any week to do other than the most urgent daily domestic tasks for running a household and caring for DCs? How did you turn it around? How did you find time to think/plan and organise HOW to turn it around - and still keep on top of work too?

Is it really impossible to get order out of chaos, as it feels like it is - if you have no spare cash for ongoing domestic help and no family/other adults to help out either?

Nanny0gg Sun 11-May-14 15:54:12

Few questions (hope you don't think they're rude!)

Can you afford to outsource any of your work? Also, as you are working all the hours god sends, is it profitable enough to be worth it or would you be better off with an outside job?

Are your DC teenagers? Do they have any social/downtime time? Even with homework they should be able to give more help in the home. Even if only an hour on a Sunday. They should definitely help clear up after meals and be responsible for dirty laundry heading for the basket and putting away their own clothes. Mine also had to change their own beds/do own ironing and keep own rooms clean and tidy(ish).
Could you give them a (shortish) list of jobs to do in the holidays? Can you afford to pay them or reward them in some way? Money for the cinema or something?

Nevertriedapickledegg Sun 11-May-14 16:00:40

You sound like you're putting an amazing amount of effort into your business and being totally self-sufficient which certainly keeps you busy!
I used to struggle to keep the house in order all the time and was a bit perfectionist about it so it used to get me upset (bonkers,I know).

I think routine is the key. A little bit each day, even if it's 5 minutes, and you've achieved a bit more.

I started off with fly lady too and her main message is not feeling you have to catch up, do stuff at your own pace. Her key message is to do stuff in small chunks of time - as much as you can in say 15 mins - then stop and walk away. Also she thinks you should do a load of laundry each day from start to finish. Leaving things to build up means they can seem insurmountable so a weeks worth of washing on the weekend is a mammoth task!!Stick a load on during breakfast, hang it up when you take your break/cup of tea and take in/ fold at bed time.

De-cluttering is time consuming and time is your most precious commodity. Have you thought about getting your shopping delivered? That would easily give you an hour or so where you could do a single task eg the work tops - and definitely get the kids to help...it means they'll be able to have their friends round if the house is tidy!

I DO think you can do it x

LeapingOverTheWall Sun 11-May-14 16:21:05

I think you need to create more time for house stuff - either by getting the DC to do more, or by looking at your work stuff - are you using work time in the most productive way possible? Just as an example - I read a great book which helped me sort out work emails into To Do - action in next session, To Do - Pending till a later session and File Straight Away (either store or bin) which has stopped me keeping everything in my inbox, wasting time when I need to find the "shit it's urgent should have been done yesterday" task. DH gets distracted with new emails and phone calls when they arrive rather than concentrating on completing the task he's on, which then takes more time because it's being picked up and put down constantly.

So I'd look at your day to day work tasks, and see if they are all actually necessary, are you doing them in the most time efficient manner, as a PP said, can you outsource any of it? Can you reallocate finances to chuck cash at the housework, or some of it at least? And seriously think if what you're doing is worth it - you're working majorly long hours for not enough money to pay for someone to do the things you don't have time to do because of the hours you're working. Is the payoff in the future going to be worth the stress now?

If you can find 30 minutes a day, then use them as efficiently as possible. Do the 20% effort 80% impact jobs (in my house that's clear the hallway, put out the recycling and plump the cushions grin) but I do periodically have blasts at the junk building up around my desk or the utensils drawer or the dining room surfaces. Even if it's 6 lots of 5 minutes while you make a cup of tea, it's all some clearing/cleaning you hadn't already done.

Barbabelle Sun 11-May-14 16:32:36

I can certainly sympathise. I'm a f/t working, single mum of two myself. I used to live in quite a cluttered house, but after reading Karen Kingston's book on clutter clearing I became aware of the emotional/ spiritual aspects of clutter, and it's become a priority to keep on top of it (although still far from perfect). Her blog's here:

Karen Kingston

If you started at the top of the house, you could clear a room or two and then pay for a one off deep clean of that area. It might give you more of an incentive to keep going with it. You need to keep stuff moving out regularly - to tip or charity shop - or you just end up shifting it round the house.

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