I am 34, I am single for the first time in my adult life, I have no idea how to keep a house clean - HELP

(60 Posts)
shakinstevenslovechild Sat 15-Mar-14 12:22:56

Dh and I have recently made the decision to split.

I have been with him since I was 19/20.

He is moving out soon, and I am really worried.

In our relationship I have worked, dealt with the cooking, washing and our dc, he has worked and dealt with the majority of the housework.

I am ashamed to say that I don't even know where to start with keeping on top of the housework because he has always done most of it.

Please, please share your hints and tips with me.

I have a 3 bedroomed house, 4 dc, and work from home mostly.

I am blush that I have got this far in life and relied on him so much, so please be gentle sad

mrssmith79 Sat 15-Mar-14 12:31:25

It'll take some time but you'll find your stride and get into a routine eventually.
Don't be hard on yourself in the meantime. As long as you're all clean, fed and happy (and there's not the beginnings of a penicillin farm developing anywhere) that's all that counts at the minute. Use the threads on the GH section to give yourself a starting point and I'm sure people will be along soon with helpful tips (not me though because I'm an absolute slasttern and my dining room currently looks like it's just been turned over in a police raid. Oops).

mrssmith79 Sat 15-Mar-14 12:32:31

*slattern grin

WakeTheUnion Sat 15-Mar-14 12:34:25

Don't put pressure on yourself, mainly because you'll be going through a hugely emotional time.

My top tip for not allowing things to get on top of you: if you look around the house and see something that needs doing, do it as soon as you can.

sanschocolat Sat 15-Mar-14 12:38:07

Sorry you are going through a tough time.

Flylady is good


Some of the language is barftastic but the underlying system is sound.

Start with the baby-steps (hate that phrase) first. Just do the ones that sound sensible to you. Then start building up a few routines. YOu need to adapt the system to suit yourself.

And you can join us here if you want company whilst doing so!

Good luck!

VeryStressedMum Sat 15-Mar-14 12:38:41

Give yourself a break, you're going through a tough time and it won't matter if your house isn't spotless.
Do what needs to be done, dishes, washing, hoovering, etc and you'll find you'll get into a routine. I don't think anyone actually knows how it do it we all just learn as we go along.

Have you ever heard of Flylady it's a website run by an American woman to support people in running their households, it's a system that breaks it all down into small steps and regular routines. The tone of the site is a bit gushing but the principles are sound. She sends out an email every day with the days jobs (but if you sign up for the emails you get a lot of others which are of the gushing type). There's a long running series of threads in GH called Fledglings where someone posts the links for that days tasks every morning (and we all chat a lot). Most of us follow it semi-diligently, but it does really help. Also you can avoid signing up for the emails that way.

And don't feel embarrassed, it has been a steep learning curve for me through adulthood, my parents showed me the basics, but I didn't really have a clue how much was involved and how often when I left home.

bishbashboosh Sat 15-Mar-14 12:46:48

Just marking my place as I am not single but probably worse than youhmm

shakinstevenslovechild Sat 15-Mar-14 13:00:09

Thank you so much, I'll check out flylady when I get on the laptop, sounds like just what I need.

I'm on a mass decorating mission first of all and then I want to do a big spring clean, but it is the general day to day stuff that worries me most.

I have been really terrible for all these years walking past dishes in the sink, or noticing a mark on a window and leaving it because dh will do it while I get on with what I have to do, but now it will all be up to me eek.

I'm thinking of investing in a dishwasher to make life easier for now.

BrownSauceSandwich Sat 15-Mar-14 14:12:21

You sound like you're doing great. Decorating, working and looking after four kids is no joke, so the housework isn't going to break you. Give yourself some slack while you learn what's really needed, and where you can afford to be more relaxed. Like, keeping on top of washing and tidying is a good idea, otherwise they build up into a daunting task. But hoovering, or cleaning the oven... It's nicer when they've been done, but you're not storing up extra work for yourself by skipping them here and there.

How old are the children? From quite young, they need to take a little bit of responsibility for keeping things in order. That might start off with following rules about where they're allowed to eat, so you don't end up with half-eaten sandwiches down the back of the sofa, or milk and cocoa pops spilled over your persian rug; or restrictions on how many toys it's reasonable to get out at once. As they get older, they can take on more responsibility for their own stuff (putting toys/books away, tidying their rooms), and eventually, they can contribute to general household maintenance (tidying up kitchen and living rooms; feeding and grooming pets; cleaning the windows; vacuuming etc.)

Actually, if you have a chart that says, these are the things that need doing daily/weekly/monthly, it'll keep you going in the right direction and it's a useful prop to tell your children "here are the things that need doing, everybody pick one and do it before dinner."

Quinteszilla Sat 15-Mar-14 14:14:01

Get a cleaner.

Good luck.

BrownSauceSandwich Sat 15-Mar-14 14:14:31

Oh, and definitely get a dishwasher if its an option... Keeps the place tidier as well as saving you time. Children can be quickly trained to put their things in the dishwasher as soon as they've finished.

Quinteszilla Sat 15-Mar-14 14:15:36

It is amazing how great dishwashers are, fabulous for labour saving.

Did your dh never want one?

shakinstevenslovechild Sat 15-Mar-14 14:31:12

Dh was the dishwasher grin

My dc are 3, 6, 9 and 13, the older 2 have some chores to do already, I have a list pinned up, they have to do one small job a day (put the rubbish out, tidy the couch up, sweep the stairs type jobs) then one big job to do on a Saturday (tidy and hoover the living room, sweep and mop the kitchen floor type things) to earn their pocket money.

Maybe I should do a list for myself until I get into a routine for now.

I wish I could afford a cleaner, there is no chance, although maybe I could negotiate a discount in maintenence with dh if he comes and does the cleaning once a week grin

Ladyflip Sat 15-Mar-14 17:37:41

I quite like this lady although she can be annoyingly American and clearly doesn't have a job. She did finally make me see that if I didn't do it, then it wouldn't do itself!

Good luck, I'm sure you will get a routine going soon.

bishbashboosh Sat 15-Mar-14 18:17:17

I have 4 children too and although my house is clean and tidy, it's not pristine! As I said before I'm rubbish at cleaning and housework, ironing, sorting wRdrobes, vacuuming etc. I've been known to crywink

Give me cooking, playing anything creative Any day! Cleaning I hate. My DH I am ashamed to admit vacuums the house. And washes upconfused

Could you possibly afford a cleaner once every two weeks??

shakinstevenslovechild Sat 15-Mar-14 23:24:26

Thank you again.

I really don't think I can afford a cleaner. Maybe if I try and physically can't do it then I could cut back elsewhere, but I'd like to try it first,

I am definitely more arty and crafty than tidy, without a doubt, my whole business is based on mess and disorganisation really.

I have had a chat with dh about how I will cope and he says he will help, but I do feel that I need to learn, so I think I will make a rota for myself for now. I feel a bit shit and childish for having to do it, but it is going to be a steep learning curve for me so I need all the help I can get really.

I can do this, I can I can I can grin

BeaWheesht Sat 15-Mar-14 23:33:23

What I'd recommend doing first is getting rid of as much stuff as possible, be ruthless.

Apart from possibly the 3 year old the kids are all old enough to sort their own rooms out and the older 2 can change the beds every week.

We don't have a dishwasher but I wish we did so if its an option I'd go with that.

Have a cleaning pack in each toilet if you have more than one containing (well in mine) bleach, loo brush shock, bathroom wipes, spray, floor wipes.

Keep a similar pack in the kitchen and keep work tops as clear from clutter as you can.

Make sure things like bags, shoes and coats are somewhere designated that the kids can put away themselves.

Don't aim for things to be perfect an dont get bogged down in tiny details. To start with I prioritise:

Emptying bins
Keeping kitchen clean
Keeping loo : sink etc clean
Bed changed
Keeping some order in the living room or wherever you sit to chill out.

Don't panic, you'll manage.

shakinstevenslovechild Sun 16-Mar-14 08:48:03

Thank you.

I have 2 toilets, so keeping a cleaning pack in each is a great idea.

From the advice here I think little and often is the key is it? Or is it better to do a massive clean in the morning?

Finding a place for everything is key, so you can keep surfaces uncluttered. I don't subscribe to the get rid of everything ethos, I like my stuff and it give me a comfortable feeling knowing that everything I need is tucked away somewhere, but do get rid of rubbish, it does accumulate in cupboards, drawers etc.

I would hate to be without my DW, do get one and have a routine of putting it on at the same time every day, my DCs (8 and 10) empty mine every morning (with a little help to put away high up stuff).

Yes to keeping cleaning stuff where you need it, I keep a spray of cleaner in the bathroom and use loo roll roll to give the loo a quick once over daily and also wipe the floor round the loo. Give it a proper clean once a week.

jenipat Mon 17-Mar-14 08:13:12

If possible, try to clean the house properly-this will probably take a good few hours, but after that you can just keep on top of things/maintenance.

How's this for a plan?
Day 1 clean whole house.
After the initial clean, why not just do one room every other day from then on in. Shouldn't take more than 20 minutes.

Wash-up every day.

Do washing loads every few days (as required)

Take rubbish out once a week?

Once you've got the initial big clean and tidy done it's little things, like making sure everything gets put away as soon as it's finished with, spillages are wiped up straight away. Another vote for a dishwasher, if you pack as you go when you're cooking or whatever it takes so much less time to clear up.

I'm sorry, Shaky. I know from the other thread that you have a pretty fantastic pair of older DCs. How are you?

shakinstevenslovechild Mon 17-Mar-14 08:48:35

Thanks for all the advice. Dh is still here for now so I'm trying to have a practice while he finds a place to live.

I'm quite lucky that I can rejig my work schedule around whatever I need to do so I think clearing a Monday so I can do a mass clean is a good idea and I'm going dishwasher hunting today, I definitely need one, I hate dishes (and ironing, but there isn't a machine to do that for me grin )

I do about 4 loads of washing a day at the minute, but I'm going to look at how I can cut that back because I won't really have time. I change beds every day at the moment so I might cut that to every 2nd day for a start.

Empress thank you for asking, things with dd are just great, she is a happy, confident little girl, she has told quite a lot of her friends now and they have been really supportive, she has had a few negative comments, but the school have been right on it, and dd is getting pretty good with her comebacks now too, plus her friends stick up for her. Unfortunately I think that her coming out was probably the thing that highlighted just how different dh and I are, he took a phase of being supportive, or acting supportive anyway, but he keeps telling her that she should keep it to herself, or hide it away, grow her hair so she doesn't 'look' gay (whatever that means) or wait until she is 14 and then 'decide' if she is gay confused and it has just been constant arguments. Thankfully my dc are taking it quite well, dh will stay close by, and they are excited about having 2 bedrooms and 2 lots of presents at birthdays and Christmas grin they are so shallow grin Thank you (again) for all the support on that thread, I really don't know how I could have supported do without your help thanks

You're really welcome, I'm so glad I could help. (BTW it doesn't sound like it's needed but I also have a lot of good stuff to counter the Christian anti-gay arguments, if you ever need help there PM me).

We change the beds once a week TBH. And iron hardly anything.

FastWindow Mon 17-Mar-14 09:06:50

Hi, my top tip with small dc(especially if you have boys!) is do the bathroom first. Loos get pretty smelly ridiculously quickly.

I don't iron unless there is a special occasion where a shirt needs doing.

Try to make your bed immediately, the room looks much nicer.

Do laundry at night to save electric.

Clear the kitchen worktops.

Get gorilla tubs or similar for dc toys (and secretly give stuff away regularly)

Hoover when it looks bad!!

You'll be fine. Clean is more important than tidy.

shakinstevenslovechild Tue 18-Mar-14 11:51:06

Well that is a mass house clean done yesterday and a living room decorated and a slightly shell shocked stbxh grin

I have made myself a schedule, so I have cleared a day off work on mondays to do a mass house clean, which I'll need to after the weekends. I think I'll do half an hour then 10 min break, until I get into the swing of it.

Cut down to 2 loads of washing a day, put one in when I get up and one just before I go to bed.

Do a quick clean and hoover/mop of the kitchen and the living room every morning

Kids tidy their rooms after school for 10 mins a day and carry on with their chores which will keep the halls and stairs tidy and keep the dishwasher (which arrives next week) stacked.

I thought I was the only person in the world who doesn't really iron, dh does it all meticulously but I'm quite happy to do it when I need to, so that is one less job to do.

I'll look into more storage for the kids rooms, that's a good idea (as is giving toys away, I'm surrounded by bloody Monster High dolls just now).

Hopefully that will mean the place is pretty tidy most of the time, and written down like that it seems perfectly do-able.

Thanks for all the tips, I feel a bit more confident now, it's a change, but change is good... right? grin

Well done, really positive steps there. Glad you've ordered the DW too. Change is definitely good!

BeaWheesht Tue 18-Mar-14 13:41:01

Well done but please don't put the washing machine on when you're asleep - it's a big fire risk

sanschocolat Tue 18-Mar-14 15:18:44

[Waves to ¨*whoknows*]

Well done shakin you've got loads done considering everything else on your plate! Couldn't live without my dw either so great you've ordered one!

With regard to appliances and fire risk: helpful to buy dws and wms with timers. Then you can set them to come on early but while you are up and about ifyswim.

sanschocolat Tue 18-Mar-14 15:19:15

Oh and have smoke detector nearby of course.

trilbydoll Tue 18-Mar-14 15:38:44

I must admit, our washing is only ever under control when I religiously put a wash on timer to come on at 6am every day. Hopefully if the machine combusts it will do so after we get up at 7am!

I am useless domestically, but I know why - I am really lazy and have no discipline, so I don't force myself to sort out the kitchen before watching tv. The minute it starts building up you're doomed, as long as you stay on top if it you will be fine.

I find if I load the WM the night before and just hit the "on" button as soon as I walk into the kitchen in the morning it is much more likely to get done than if I have to remember to bring the washing down and load it up in the morning.

I agree with the washing machine. its bad news if it needs to be hung out after lunch!
op - I had lots of good tips for you but having read further I dont think our standards are the same. bedding gets washed no more than fortnightly here, mopping about once a week, hoovering twice because I have a new hoover that I like. and we are in full scale diy and renovation with 2 babies.

what I will offer is- 1) never leave a room empty handed and 2) dont aim for perfection - aim for better than it was. its much more relaxingwink

shakinstevenslovechild Tue 25-Mar-14 21:34:17

Thank you all for the tips.

I have no standards at all really, I think it's a good day if I can see the floor generally grin

I am getting a bit more settle into a routine now, although I have decorated another room, and put new carpet down in a couple of places, hung a new door in the bathroom and am attempting to rebuild the cupboard under the stairs (the guy who lived here before knocked it out for some unknown reason) as well as a few other general DIY bits and pieces. When it is all done I should be in the swing of things a bit more though.

I made a cleaning chart for myself and have bribed the kids with a rethink of their pocket money if we bump their chores up a bit more.

Dh still hasn't moved out, but he does nothing in the house now at all, so I think I will be able to cope, but we shall see, it's a bit of a novelty just now, it may well wear off grin

You hang doors, lay carpets and rebuild cupboards?

I'm in awe.

shakinstevenslovechild Tue 25-Mar-14 22:01:41

Yep grin

It's only cleaning I struggle with. I'm a bit stuck with the cupboard just now, I've built the framework for it, but I don't really know what to do next, I'll have a wee look on you tube tonight and be an expert in the morning though an expert in my own mind anyway dh is rubbish at DIY so it was always up to me to so, I quite enjoy getting stuck in to it all.

(Oh and dds school called today, they have booked the guy from Inclusion For All to come and speak at the school about homophobic bullying, and use of language and invited me to come and listen if I want, I bloody love her school)

That's one bloody AMAZING school. Did you see the Will Young webchat?

shakinstevenslovechild Tue 25-Mar-14 22:21:11

Oh no I didn't realise he was coming on for a chat, I'll just go and have a look for it. I've heard him in a couple of interviews and he is just brilliant, I wonder if the school could book him too grin

I bet they could. He's talking about homophobic language in schools so don't see why not!

I think someone else mentioned minimising ironing - I iron once every 6 mths when I want to wear my linen shirt or dress! (plus I work FT in an office environment so need clothes to look good - I own a lot of thick jersey dresses)

Tips - launder clothes as soon after wearing as possible. Don't leave sitting in washing machine - hang up to dry immediately wash is finished, and shake out all creases.

Then hang up (or fold carefully) when fully dry - and make sure there is room in wardrobe/drawer so that you're not shoving the item in making new creases.

This method is actually no extra work - just a bit of managing timings (i.e. don't put a wash on when you're going to bed and won't be there to take it out) and hanging the items to dry carefully.

JoanneWatson Wed 09-Apr-14 17:55:30

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Maisie0 Thu 10-Apr-14 16:01:41

My ammunitions are:
- domestos domestos domestos (lots of it, remember to rinse!)
- micro fibre clothes from pound shops (they work SO well)
- dettol for bathing (to reduce bacteria growth)
- anti-bacteria tooth pastes (yes, it does work so much better)

Just do it slowly. Break it down by a little bit each day I think. That is how I do it. If I do too much each day I get too stressed.

colditz Thu 10-Apr-14 17:38:44

Maisie, seriously don't bathe in dettol. Also, go to the doctor. It's not normal to bathe in antiseptic and bleach everything.

bunjies Thu 10-Apr-14 18:44:07

I'm not surprised you end up doing 4 washing loads a day if you're changing bedlinen every day shock. Do yourself a favour & cut down to once a week. You won't catch anything promise grin.

gamerchick Thu 10-Apr-14 18:50:50

maisie seriously man you don't need to do all of that. Use bleach sparingly and you don't need to bath in dettol hmm

You don't really bath in dettol do you? confused

Feminine Thu 10-Apr-14 21:07:04

I'm wondering if she means she cleans the bath with it? :-)

gamerchick Thu 10-Apr-14 21:10:56

I really hope so.

Maisie0 Fri 11-Apr-14 11:05:19

Well, I use the light diluted bleach mostly for floors and kitchen wipe down. In case of bacterias there with food. (And yes, I have had tummy bugs before with handling some pork. So I am extra diligent these days. I am also considering to switch to organic now.)

I have started to use dettol to bath this year, and started to soak the skin to get rid of bacteria on the skin. I always used to use shower, but it is not truly that effective I find. It's one of those "saves time, lasts loner" option for me. blush

Maisie0 Fri 11-Apr-14 11:07:08

=I mean to bathe in.
=It lasts longer.

Feminine Fri 11-Apr-14 11:08:40

maisie the bleaching is one thing. I think those baths of yours are going to dry your skin. Honestly, you could never be that dirty!

coffeeinbed Fri 11-Apr-14 11:09:07

Tidy forst.

then work your way left to right, top to bottom, dry to wet.

Feminine Fri 11-Apr-14 11:09:08

What 'lasts longer' btw? smile

Maisie0 Fri 11-Apr-14 11:19:52

Haha. I meant that the effect of reducing the number of bacterias on your skin will mean your skin is cleaner for longer. ;)

It does dry the skin only the first time, but after that it doesn't. It is not strong dilution as well. Just a lighter one. I am a bit of a skin freak these days, because I realised what makes it glow that bit more. I am trying to stay away from spa and use good dead sea bath salts with dettol, every once a while. Sorry, I didn't mean to use dettol, AND bleach AND the tooth pastes to clean with. blush

Maisie0 Fri 11-Apr-14 12:06:29

Just to say that, you guys are hilarious. I just joined mumsnet. I miss girly chats, I do I do. smile

"=It lasts longer." Did I really write that ?? blush

Feminine Fri 11-Apr-14 12:24:02

Okay Maisie grin

I'll bet your bath tub stays quite clean too!

Maisie0 Fri 11-Apr-14 15:24:47

Feminine !

Hehehehe.... blush blush wink

HolgerDanske Fri 11-Apr-14 15:38:03

Wow you certainly don't need to change bedding every day! Once a week at the weekend smile

YellowStripe Thu 24-Apr-14 18:15:15

My mum used to bath me in Dettol! I still love the smell of it grin I have been known to sniff it as I walk round the supermarket ....

oscarwilde Fri 25-Apr-14 16:38:21

You change all your sheets every day ? <faints>
Well that's 1.5 hrs or more every day that can be spent whizzing around the house.
Unless you live somewhere pretty tropical then once a week should be fine.

shakinstevenslovechild Fri 25-Apr-14 16:49:38

grin I have started doing bedding twice a week and we haven't caught anything as yet, I have no idea why I did it every day, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I think I'll stick to radox baths and leave the dettol for.... actually I don't know, I have a bottle and have never used it for anything.

He has moved out now, a couple of weeks ago actually, and my house isn't perfect, but it's not bad either. I do a big clean on a monday and have a bit of a routine going for the rest of the week now. The kids get pocket money for chipping in with the chores, and I officially love my dishwasher, I really wouldn't have coped through this difficult time without its support grin

Thank you for all the tips, and for recommending flylady I am not the scruff I once was, I'm still no Anthea Turner though grin grin

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