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How do you stay on top of everything with kids? Really how?!

(138 Posts)
FlyingDucks Mon 22-Jun-15 11:14:36

I want to start a thread that will be full of useful ideas and tips for becoming, and staying, on top of everything when you have kids. I know similar thread have been done before, but I'm in need of some new inspiration to get us through the Summer holidays and into a new and very busy school year in September.

I have 2 DC that are not yet at school, and 2 DC in infants school. We live in a 3 bed with no outside space and a tiny kitchen.

While we are lucky to have what we have, I still find it challenging sharing a bedroom with our 1 year old, and having to constantly manage a 2 and a 5 year old sharing a bedroom and toys. My 5 year old needs/loves his own space and quiet time alone. He hardly ever has the chance for this sharing a bedroom with his brother.

These are my 'problem' areas that I want to get on top of. If you have similar issues or are one of those completely organised people that I aspire to be like, please come and share your thoughts!

1. Our kitchen is a constant mess. I could spend an hour in there 3 times a day to keep it spotless. How do you keep your sink free from dirty dishes always? My oven and fridge hardly ever get a proper clean - probably once every 6 months for the oven and it's always dirty ...

2. Toys are everywhere, always! My DC's bedrooms can go from tidy to bomb site in 20 minutes. We only have few toys and they all have a place. DC have 4 small accessible toy boxes each. But still toys are always muddled up with no one having a 'full set' of something to play with.

3. I never, ever find time to clean all the hidden spots (as highlighted in another current post!). Behind furniture, outsides of bins etc never get done. Where do you find the time? I am shattered by the evening, and really don't want to give up a Saturday or Sunday to do it.

4. House admin/banking/paying bills etc. When do you get the time to do all this? I still have school photos from last year I haven't yet ordered sad

Please come and share your tips for success, or just come and commiserate with me.

FauxFox Mon 22-Jun-15 11:22:03

I feel your pain - same here, especially nooks and crannies that never see a duster or hoover nozzle...find it so demoralising cleaning when you know it will all be trashed again in no time.

Am considering a mass throw out session this week if I can muster up the enthusiasm - I'm sure I could throw out a skip load and not miss any of it.

My oven is clean though. I discovered the fire symbol setting is for self cleaning - basically it gets super hot and incinerates all the dirt to dust so you just wipe it out. It took me years to figure this out so maybe your oven can do it too? grin

PaulineFossil Mon 22-Jun-15 11:29:30

I have no idea and would like to be better at this but have pretty much given up.

LadyCuntingtonThe3rd Mon 22-Jun-15 11:30:13

I don't. I just control the chaos. I move things from one end of the room to another and my walk through the living room is like going through the labyrinth.
There is no way I could clean it up that way so everything would be put away. My flat is too small for everything and I cannot afford to get some units to hang on the wall, which would actually solve the problem.

OhItsYouAgain Mon 22-Jun-15 11:32:25

OP, I only have 1 DC and don't cope so I think you're amazing to actually get anything done!! I'm going back to work next week full time and am dreading what state the house will be in. sad I'm looking forward to reading this thread though.

DamsonInDistress Mon 22-Jun-15 11:36:11

I don't. I've accepted that we don't live in quite the same way as other people seem to. The house is never, ever completely tidy and nice. It simply isn't possible for me personally.

Wotsitsareafterme Mon 22-Jun-15 11:37:37

I need this thread. My house is a million times better than it was. When I moved here 18 months ago I was quite ill and it took a year to unpack some of the boxes. There are 3 I reckon rotting in the garage. Ah the garage. Exh cleared it out and ordered it - then the roof was replaced and everything was moved and showered with sawdust. I wanted to cry.

Our puppy is arriving next week I've got to get on top of clutter of things are going to get chewed.

I think my number one tip and lecture to myself is throw shit out!!! Decluttering is the only way to keep on top of the house - less stuff less dirt!!
That said sometimes it takes me months do get a job done and it really frustrates me. I am a lone parent of a 2 and 5 year old

NoParking Mon 22-Jun-15 11:38:05

On the oven, buy an oven liner (about £7 on Amazon). Put it in the bottom of the oven and wipe it down whenever its mucky. Much quicker than cleaning the oven.

I find batch cooking while overseeing homework works well, at the weekend. Stops me from interfering too much but I'm available to answer questions. I do use the iPad to keep the preschooler quiet, though, as otherwise it's tough on the child trying to concentrate on homework.

Oh, and I have a running list of stuff I have used up / am about to run out of in the kitchen, which makes shopping easier. I meal plan, add the ingredients to the running list, then it's done.

CookieDoughKid Mon 22-Jun-15 11:39:33

Less is more.
Clear out toys. Really, your dcs don't need that much. Cut down to 2 boxes each per child.
Buy a steam cleaner with handheld gadgets. This single item changed my life and now I find mopping floors and steam cleaning the shower a pleasure.
Do you admin the day you receive your letters and bills. Little and often is the way to go so you don't end up feeling overwhelmed.
Have everyone take responsibility in clearing up. I'm a shouter, I belt this out repeatedly including at my husband.
Delegate oven cleaning to a company. I do, best ,£60 ever spent and I do it once every 2 /3 years.
Make A point of cleaning one thing on your list everyday. I don't mean tidying the kitchen table but getting round to dusting that odd corner you always have good intentions to. Then rotate and do something else next day.
Good luck!! I'm super organised and have 2 young dcs can be done.

TheReluctantBride Mon 22-Jun-15 11:39:53

I work in special education and to try and get the pupils to put the -toys- educational resources away without loosing bits we colour code it all. it's a faff but you just do it once so all the Duplo has a red blob of nail varnish on and goes in the red box, all the playmobile has green etc... would that help the children put their things away? just a thought.
It does sound like you are doing a good job BTW!! 4 kids and there is a place for all the toys and an oven that's cleaned every 6months. That not be mumsnet standard but I'd say your well above average in RL !

NoParking Mon 22-Jun-15 11:40:03

Sorry, that's more organisation than tidiness. But I prefer batch cooking as that way it's only one (big) lot of washing up, and a tiny bit on the nights where you eat the rest of it.

wiltingfast Mon 22-Jun-15 11:43:23

1. sink - I have a dw, but still sink area is difficult, if it bothers you (!) you really have to just make up your mind to do it as you go.

2. Ah toys, nightmare, I try to make mine pick up (ie with me) what they are finished playing with before pulling out anything new. This is a bit tiresome and it is not a cure but it does keep the mayhem down. My dh does not do this and you can really see the difference. It also helps keep sets together as far as possible.

3. Hidden spots really, how much do you care? Let em go.

4. Admin; I do all that stuff online.

Now I only have 2 dc and I work so not sure if the above is any use but I hope it is helpful!

clearasmud Mon 22-Jun-15 11:45:05

NoParking, what do you batch-cook? I do this for maybe 3/4 dishes but would like to do more.

CQ Mon 22-Jun-15 11:45:20

OP you sound like you have a huge amount on your plate. I would say, be kind to yourself, but I know that having little space and everything in a mess is just overwhelming. It's hard to be kind to yourself when everything you look at is a visual reproach.

My tips for the kitchen are as follows:

Empty the dishwasher last thing at night/first thing in the morning before DCs are up. Then every dirty dish goes straight in as you've used it, it's out of sight and worktops can stay clearer. If you have lots of plastic baby ware that isn't dw-proof, fill the sink with hot soapy water, scrape off waste and chuck each item straight into the water as it's finished. Most of it doesn't need scrubbing, a good soak shifts most gunk. Then when you get 2 mins, just fish the stuff out, hot rinse under the tap and pile onto drainer. Leave to air dry. Again when you get 2 mins put it all away. Or reuse straight from the draining board smile.

Get the oven professionally cleaned if you can afford it. Then use roasting bags to minimise the build up of dirt from then on. It's roast dinners that do the majority of the mess IME. Wipe the oven down while it's still warm, most dirt will wipe straight off then.

Fridge - don't try and empty it all and tackle is as one big job. Rearrange stuff so you have one empty shelf. Then when you get 2 mins, just wash that shelf. While it's drying, wipe the walls and back of the fridge in that space, and put shelf back. Next time you have 2 mins, empty another shelf and so on.

Hope that's not too patronising - I find when I'm overwhelmed, I just break things down into baby steps and then at least I feel I've achieved something.

Can't advise on the toys I'm afraid - I'm long past that - today I'm trying to clear out the piles of GCSE revision that are blocking out the light in my study - DS has merrily naffed off on D of E and I can't stand to look at it any more.

Good luck flowers

wiltingfast Mon 22-Jun-15 11:46:41

How to keeps oven clean btw completely escapes me! Even when i have a go it is not clean sad

VolumniaDedlock Mon 22-Jun-15 11:47:16

i don't keep on top of things really.

A small kitchen is a NIGHTMARE to keep clean - mine is so tiny (bet it's smaller than yours) that even a couple of mugs make it look a mess. The plus side is it takes seconds to clean the floor as there's so little of it grin.

Fridge I try to give a quick swipe before each online shop is delivered. In reality it;s probably every other week. I never clean the oven. Our cooker's a 1980's antique with a thick black crust (created well before we moved it). There's no point in cleaning it. I'll start doing that when we replace it.

nooks and crannies get done once in a while, but don't bother me greatly.

Admin - i take this to work and do it in my lunch break, while I'm still feeling slightly orgnaised and professional.

I've got fewer kids than you though - one at primary, one at nursery. I'm not sure that there's loads you can do with two small ones at home.

wiltingfast Mon 22-Jun-15 11:50:06

Oh yes actually a sink of soapy water actually encourages cleaning as you go. I do that too...

PurpleCrazyHorse Mon 22-Jun-15 11:51:52

Cull the toys. I find DD is more bored, the more toys she has, it's like the choice paralyses her. Plus they're easier to tidy if you have only enough toys that fit in places in your house! The other option I've done, is rotate toys via the attic. So have a cull, then put half in the attic. In 6mo, rotate them around. It's like having new toys grin. I didn't think this would work but I've just got the Happyland down for DS, and DD (nearly 6yo) has been playing with it loads.

Don't bother cleaning the hidden spots (they're hidden!)

I've paid to have our oven cleaned. It costs a bit but they make an excellent job of it, it looked brand new. Otherwise I find it's actually not so bad when I do it, seems a bigger job in my head. I get the bags you put the stuff in to do the shelves and then Mr Muscle foam to do the sides and glass in the door.

I clean out our fridge once a year. I put some kitchen roll at the bottom of the veg drawers to absorb any condensation and wipe up any spills when they happen. Most things are in packets so there's not much to get spilt.

Cull the kitchen crap too. I try to get rid of as many kitchen gadgets/dishes/utensils that we don't use as possible. Therefore keeping the sides as empty as I can to make wiping down really quick. The more stuff you need to wipe around, the longer it takes! Also, there's less stuff gathering dust and looking dirty on the sides. Easier said than done if you have a small kitchen (we've been there with a 2m square kitchen), but it's amazing how much you don't actually need.

Also, I've found our kitchen appears cleaner now we have a dishwasher... I keep it ready for loading all the time, so any dirties go straight in (therefore not on the side and out of sight). Plus the added bonus of an induction hob, where it's just a glass top, 30 secs to wipe over and it's clean. I used to hate cleaning the gas hob in our old house.

The house admin is tricky when you have two pre-schoolers during the day. I've tended to take time of work and blitzed it, when I've got loads. Just sat on the floor in the lounge with the shredder, filing box and naff TV. Impossible with kids around. Going forward, I just keep one magazine file in the kitchen, when it's full it forces me to do it, so it become an hour job rather than a half day job! I also photograph on my phone important school letters etc, then recycle the paper copies. Keeps the paper to a minimum.

Our house often still needs a good hoover and steam clean, but we only have one school age DC and I'm due DC2 any day now. Is significantly harder with more children at home.

Babyroobs Mon 22-Jun-15 11:52:02

I think any household with 4 young kids is going to be chaotic in terms of clutter etc and 4 kids leave little time for cleaning and decluttering. I try to tackle one room at a time and just have big tubs for toys etc to go in. I have regular clearouts where ougrown cothes and shoes are sent too the charity shop or pt in the loft for the next child to grow into. We turned our downstairs front room into a bedroom so that each of out 4 kids has their own space but obviously not everyone has the option to do this.

poocatcherchampion Mon 22-Jun-15 11:52:25

I do the hidden spots more than the everyday stuff. Not actual cleaning if I'm honest but all the stuff that never gets done if you see what I mean.

Dh does dishwasher filling and emptying and I'm working on the children tidying up some toys at the end of the day and I have also put them in charge of collecting all the shoes into the bins by the front door too.

They are 1 and 3.

Upstairs I don't do much with, not many toys up there and just a few books for nighttime, washing is done and away on a Monday (new summer thing, I'm not sure how it will work in winter) and i rarely drag the hoover up there.

House is chaotic but it is mostly surface areas.

hideandseekpig Mon 22-Jun-15 11:54:23

I have one 16 month dd and I only work a few evenings a week and I STILL feel like my house is never how I want it to number one thing is don't be too hard on yourself!! I often go to other people's houses (I'm looking at you MIL smile) and come home feeling demoralised as literally there isn't a speck of dust in their houses and mine just never seems that tidy even when I've tried really hard! I don't know what the answer is really. I have had a huge tidy up the last day or two and it is much better but still not how I want it really and that's after an awful lot of effort! try and do little and often and tidy up as I go along but it is easier said than done sometimes. I also think well I'm out a lot having a really fun time with my dd so that's worth more to me than every nook and cranny being perfect. Maybe I'm just not meant to be the tidiest person in the world we are all different after all!

That doesn't help I guess but I just wanted to sympathise with you and everyone else who feels like this and say we should stop feeling the guilt!!

keeptothewhiteline Mon 22-Jun-15 11:56:43

4 kids in a 3 bed house and no garden.

Not surprised you find things difficult.

No advice .

I had two kids under 5 and ran my own business from home. It wasn't particularly difficult.

ChocolateBreakfastBalls Mon 22-Jun-15 11:57:48

I also have 2 at school and 2 at home. We have an extra bedroom though.
1. I wipe the fridge out on a Sunday evening as we get a food shop Monday morning. It's quicker and easier as the fridge is barren emptier then. The oven is cleaned twice a year by a company who charge £15 and it's worth every penny! We just wipe spills in between.

2. We have kallax units from Ikea. I used to arrange the toys into specific boxes, now I just can't be arsed, they're mixed up and shit but I don't care. Older two boys (8 and 7) have to tidy their bedrooms and also tidy away lounge toys in the evening if they want to stay up an hour after the baby too. Evil mum. grin

3. I do one of those jobs a week. I almost never clean windows, I "dust" with the end of the hoover because I have a fabulous dusting attachment. I use it for skirting boards, dado rails and the moulded doors. Every morning after the school run the smalls watch an hour of cbeebies whilst I wash up, Hoover, sort laundry and do something like changing the beds, cleaning the loo etc. Thank god for Bing.

4. I do it in the evenings. I have a bloody fabulous (if I do say so myself) spreadsheet so all I have to do is check the online banking against it. Bills etc are paid by DD so the rest takes care of itself.

As for the rest, I have a permanent ironing pile, I'm considering calling it art a la Tracey Emmin. The bathroom is cleaned when the smalls are in the bath and most of our stuff is hidden in boxes that are cluttered to shit grin

morelikeguidelines Mon 22-Jun-15 11:57:56

wilting I read dw as "darling wife" there for a moment !

Sorry reading for tips rather than giving any.

Recently dh and I were told that I good idea was to set aside a couple of specific periods each week (say 2 X 1.5 hours
hours) to clean as well as trying to put things away as we go. We are planning to do / have done once so far one session together and the other he will do while I take kids out. Seems good so far.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Mon 22-Jun-15 12:04:59

There is no beating it - there is only managing it.

First thing in the morning I fill a sink with hot sopay water and chuck last nights dinner plates in (dh and I eat late so last thing I want to do is dishes). I then add breakfast stuff to it once weve eaten that and after ive had a brew I was all the baby bottles and everything in the sink. I use the leftover soapy water to wash down surfaces. Sterilise the baby bottles while the dishes dry, sweep the floor, make the baby bottles.

Our bathroom is off the kitchen which is a blessing and a curse as I can sweep and mop it with the kitchen.

Never go into a room emptyhanded.

Make the beds at some point in the day - a made bed just looks so much nicer.

I dont separate my washing - just bung it all in together. I dont iron. As soon as clothes are dried they go into the owners bedroom. I dont always put away straight away but at least they arent lying round the living room.

Get a big box for shoes to be chucked into.

Get the kids into the habit of putting their dirty clothes straight into a laundry basket.

Have a few sets of bed linen so you arent rushing to get it washed and dried. Have enough school uniform so you only need to wash it once a week.

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