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Housework really getting on top of me

(47 Posts)
Jemster Sat 02-Feb-13 20:11:46

How does everyone cope with running an efficient home with 2 small kids? I am just crap at it and try so hard to keep on top of things but I can never ever keep up and its starting to get me down.
I'm on maternity leave until mid March and feel like I've spent most of it trying to sort out our overcrowded tip of a house, getting kids stuff ready, doing dishwasher and washing endless times a day and the rest. Sometimes I don't even find time for a shower or to put my clothes in wash as baby's stuff is constantly going in there.
Some days we have no food in for tea so I ring dh to get it on way home but I am rubbish at meal planning and even when I do a big shop I haven't got enough or the right things.
I am always late for everything, rushing around and stressing at my 5 yr old ds to get him to school on time.
Everyone says enjoy your time off with baby but I feel like all I do is stay in the house trying to get on top of things. I'm upset I haven't taken her to more groups etc but there's just so much to do here always.
I am dreading going back to work and how I will cope as I can't seem to cope now! At least I will only be working mornings but the early starts are going to be stressful I can see.

Please please help me with any organisational tips as I am becoming very down and irritable with my dh and dc's. Thanks.

specialsubject Sat 02-Feb-13 20:15:46

are you a single parent?

MN044 Sat 02-Feb-13 20:19:59

At 5yo your eldest child must be at school. How old is the baby? Is there a reason they produce so much washing? To me, your problem sounds like too much stuff. I bet if you had a good clearout it would seem far less overwhelming. I'm on my own with 3dc, the youngest of whom is 10 months. The elder 2 are at school. I find I have to get things done every day. I can't leave stuff til tomorrow as it'll then pile up. I make sure the washing up is done after every meal, and make sure the washing is in the basket if not in the machine. While the dc are at school I'll often prepare their dinner to warm up later, it just gives me more time to spend with them when they're actually ay home. Since the baby has now got a pretty reliable lunchtime nap of around 2 hours I use this time to get stuff done.
You sound utterly overwhelmed though. The key is preparation. Get ds's school uniform laid out the night before, make him put it on before breakfast. When you get up, change the baby's nappy but no need for a change of clothes til you get home if you're in a hurry. Shopping can be done every day if you find meal planning a problem, it might be good for you to walk to the shop with the buggy. Small things need to become habit- a good one I've learned is to never go upstairs empty handed- there's always some toy or piece of washing that needs putting away.

specialsubject Sat 02-Feb-13 20:21:32

sorry - I see now that you aren't. Er...what does he do? (Perhaps quite a lot, you haven't said)

first - find a time slot with no kids (baby must sleep sometime!) and STOP. Make a cup of tea and have a biscuit. List the things you cook regularly, then the ingredients you need. If you have too much to think about, rotate meals for a week -if it is Tuesday, you eat x for a while. Then make that shopping list and do it, or DH does it, or order online.

second - prioritise. No ironing for a start. Beds changed once a week. Clothes in wash when dirty or sweaty, not every wear except knickers and socks.

things that will wait: hoovering, tidying, decluttering, most housework except washing up. (and don't do it after every meal or snack!) Bathroom clean; 5 mins every other day.

once that lot is under control, worry about the rest!

Jemster Sat 02-Feb-13 20:24:27

Hi no I'm not and to be fair my dh does help in the evenings tidying kitchen. But at weekends he's mostly interested in playing with ds and having fun which is fine but then jobs don't get done and. I start the week feeling overwhelmed again. We have a large laminate floor in living room which has to be mopped but I find this very hard as I have arthritis in my hands so really he has to do it and it really isn't done as often as we should. There are other jobs I find difficult so I have to wait for him to do them which drives me mad as I want them done now!
He is a great dad though. He's been away a few nights this week and I have a bad cold so I think it's all just got on top of me.

TheMaskedHorror Sat 02-Feb-13 20:34:33

Don't go to bed til the kitchen and living room is clean and tidy and the washing machine is loaded for the next morning.
Get dh to help and spend about 15mins.
Next morning switch the washing machine on and put away the clothes from day before.
This way you won't be trying to catch up with yourself and the next day will be less stressful.
You'll also probably find time to go out with the baby too.

Jemster Sat 02-Feb-13 21:33:00

MN044 yes ds has just started school and dd is 10 months. She is very clingy at the moment, she cries if I leave the room for a second or try and do anything. She also doesn't sleep much in the day. As soon as she goes down for nap I start doing things but she won't be asleep long which means I end up leaving things unfinished to go to her.
She creates quite a bit of washing but to be honest my dh is the worst. I think he just puts everything in the laundry bin whether it's dirty or not. I've asked him to check and not put things in that could be worn again but he still does it, its never ending! He actually has a bit of a thing about doing washing, he loves it, bit strange!
I really like your idea of making their tea earlier to warm up. What sort of things do you do that can be easily warmed up?
I do find teatime mad as I'm probably not prepared enough and the baby is screaming in the other room while I'm trying to get it all ready. Our kitchen is small so they can't be in there while I'm cooking.
Sometimes I think I'm just not cut out for this but the funny thing is at work I am very organised. I think at home there's so much that needs doing I can't seem to decide what to do first.

chanie44 Sat 02-Feb-13 21:42:20

Cheat wherever you can.

I've set all the clocks in the house forward by 5 mins, so I get out of the house on time.

I have a notepad on the fridge and write down foods as I run out.

I have one of those freshness in the loo so it smells nice, even if it isn't.

I spray the bath with a daily cleaner after each use, so I have to clean it less.

My kitchen cupboards are lined with a special liner, so I don't have to worry about spills. Ditto oven liner.

I have had a major declutter and haven't missed what I have chucked out.

I have a notepad and write down literally everything in lists etc to keep organised.

Dont get me wrong, my house is still a mess, but I'm trying to proactively find things that work for me. Try different things until you find what works for you.

Jemster Sat 02-Feb-13 21:46:45

Chanie thanks for the ideas. What is the oven liner? It sounds like something I could do with.

peachypips Sat 02-Feb-13 21:51:10

I have a 5 yr old and a 2.5 yr old. These are some of the things I do:
1. Clean the bathroom when the kids are in the bath.
2. Do packed lunches, get bags ready and on back of buggy, lay out clothes for me and kids for morning, put coats and shoes out.
3. Always put washing on before I go to bed then put it out on airer while 2 yr old plays on bed.
4. If bathroom clean I whizz round and tidy upstairs when kids in bath.
5. Clean things with baby wipes (!) in any spare second!
7. Do fifteen mins of tidying when baby asleep at lunch then rest!
8. Don't ever iron!!
9. Make it routine for OH to run a Hoover round every Sat morning.

That's all I can think of off hand! But my mum said to me the other day that the one thing she regrets is bothering with housework when we were small- she said she should have let it go and enjoyed the four of us!!

peachypips Sat 02-Feb-13 21:55:24

Oh, and with food decide exactly what meals you will have every day of the week then shop for the exact ingredients in one big shop each week. We have:
Spaghetti Bol or Cottage Pie
Chicken casserole or curry
Fish pie or salmon with potatoes
Roasted veg with pasta and sauce
Beef casserole
Stir fry
Frozen junk
Takeaway Fri night sometimes

BertieBotts Sat 02-Feb-13 21:58:12

It sounds like you're exhausted - is there really no way your husband could do more? I know that he works, but he still has a share of the household chore responsibility, it's not "helping", it's just doing his share. If DP saw that I was this exhausted then his first priority at the weekends would be giving me a bit of a break - of course spending time with DCs is important too, but there should easily be time for both. Perhaps he could take charge of all of the washing as well as tidying the kitchen?

MN044 Sat 02-Feb-13 21:58:35

Then we have dc the same age, ds2 just turned 10 months, ds1 is 4 and dd is 8. It is difficult, especially if they whinge when you're out of the room (I have one of those too). I tend to stick him in the Jumperoo, which he loves, but if you've not had one before now I think it'd be a waste of money to buy one now. Or simply strap him in the highchair and bring him in the kitchen with me. That way he's safe, and gets a running commentary from me and the radio, and I can give him bits of what's cooking while I'm at it.
I've been preparing things like shepherds pie, bolognaise, or even roasting a chicken and stripping the meat off before they get home. Then I can serve it with veggies that I prep and leave in pans so I can put them on to boil when we get back in, and have the rest of the meat the next day for a curry. That way ds cna generally have something hot to eat in the daytime too. Even a baked potato can be quick and nutrotious, pop it in the microwave fro 5 or so minutes, then into the over to finish off for 15.
Completely agree with having things tidy before bed. I am infinitely more stressed out if I have to get up to an already chaotic house so I just never do. Toys are put away and washing up is done before I sit down in the evening. I then feel I can actually relax rather than be surrounded by things I should be doing. Working out a routine is hit and miss really, I prefer to go out for a bit of a walk straight after dropping the older ones at school but it doesn't suit ds at all, it's better for us to come home, play for an hour or so, I'll feed him and put him down for a nap, then when he wakes up I've already done the dinner for later, perhaps had a sort out in the elder dc's room, and we can go for a walk then. That way I have more of an idea what I have in the fridge too, and what I may have run out of. I don't meal plan as such, I've just become very efficient at knowing what is likely to get eaten, and have a well stocked cupboard so I'm never in the position of having no food in. As long as you always have some pasta and some pesto or chopped tomatoes at the very least, you'll never be in a panic.
I think as well, you're still relatively new to having to deal with more than one child at once. I have 3, I'm an old hand wink but it is such a change from having one. You'll get on top of it all, you really will, you just have to get on top of it. Have regular clear outs and be ruthless. Clutter stresses me out so I don't let it build up. Every few months I'll sort the dc's clothes out and take a few bags to the charity shop. For a baby the clearouts need to be even more frequent. Don't hang on to stuff just because you think yo0u should if it actually makes life more stressful. I've already taken a bag of useless Christmas presents to be donated as they were of absolutely no use and were cluttering up my home. Same with every room in your house. I got rid of loads of glassware that was never used, ditto loads of random mugs.

BertieBotts Sat 02-Feb-13 21:59:34

Peachy you can't leave a 2.5 year old alone in the bath and I wouldn't leave a 5 year old longer than a few seconds while talking to them...

Smudging Sat 02-Feb-13 22:09:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lookslikerain Sat 02-Feb-13 22:09:57

I've got a 3yo and an almost 1yo. These are few things I try to do to keep on top of it all.

- clear kitchen before bed, sink clean, dishwasher on. Always nicer to come down to in the morning
- do some washing everyday, even if it's just a load. Colourcatcher sheets are good for letting you mix a half load of colours and whites
- kids clothes only go into wash when dirty. I make them wear trousers/jumpers etc for a couple of days. Same with us. Though obviously underwear etc changed daily
- never iron. Not worth the bother. Outsource anything that needs ironed (DH's shirts in our case)
- steam mop. Just bought one for my new laminate kitchen floor and so much less faff than mop/bucket. Not sure if that would be any good for arthritis?
- clean the bathroom when it's still steamy. Easier to clean. I often do a quick wipe over and bleach down toilet when brushing teeth. Baby wipes great for this. Okay, it's not a deep clean but is often good enough.
- anything for upstairs is left at bottom of stairs. Take something up each time you need to go up.
- use the dishwasher for as much as possible. I put pots/pans in. I'd rather empty it than do dishes and its tidier to put stuff in it than have it waiting next to sink

I agree with the previous poster who talked about getting rid of stuff. Too much clutter totally clutters my head as well as my house! It can be a long process to de-clutter but its well worth it. Less stuff = less mess. I work by "if I haven't used/worn it in 6 months, and I don't like looking at it, get rid of it". Exceptions are smart clothes because I rarely go out anymore and baby/kids stuff in case we have another. It gets bagged, tagged and goes into loft.

I also think its good to work out what bugs you the most and always make this the priority to do. I hate the floor being dirty so always Hoover/wash floor. Even if there are toys about etc, if the floor is hoovered the rest doesn't seem so bad. With the bedrooms, as long as beds are made, curtains open, a little bit of other mess is ok for me.

Once up and dressed in the morning, I often don't end up back upstairs until bathtime that evening so I try to get beds made, dirty laundry into basket, curtains open and a quick tidy before I come downstairs for breakfast. I do it while the kids watch a cartoon or play in their rooms.

We meal plan too then shop online. Takes a bit of getting used to but once set up, saves heaps of time, and saves spending loads in the supermarket but having nothing for dinner. I used to always do that!

I try to get dinner ready when my 1yo is napping. My 3yo doesn't always nap now so I try and get him involved. He will sometimes but often just plays with water in the sink etc while I do some chopping etc for later.

I love the motto "don't put it down, put it away" that I picked up on MN! Often find it going though my head when I'm tidying.

Finally, please don't be too hard on yourself! Can you get a cleaner for a couple of hours a week? Or get your DH roped in to do a bit more? Looking after 2 children is bloody hard work before you even consider the housework side. They'll only be little for a short time so don't feel bad about saying sod the housework and playing with the kids or going to a toddler group etc.

sweks Sat 02-Feb-13 22:14:53

I have 3 dc 2, 4 and 6. A year or so ago I was feeling like you. Then I realised I just had to get a bit more organised and let things go too. I am much more slack with housework, and we are paying for a cleaner once every 2 weeks now whic really helps. I always do a 'food menu' for the week and do an online order so that I don't have to think about what to do for tea everyday.
Have you tried your daughter in a front carrier thingy while you do washing up or little jobs. I used to do that with my eldest when she was a baby as she used to cry a lot when I left her in a chair and try to get on with stuff.
Try and give yourself a break in the day. I know how hard that is and when your little one is asleep You feel you need to do other jobs etc but I used to set myself a timer eg 30mins to get the kitchen tidy and then have a cup of tea and sit down, read a mag for even 20mins and it really helps.
It's hard when you feel you at on a conveyor belt of chores. I hope things improve for you xx

specialsubject Sat 02-Feb-13 22:26:52

why does the laminate floor need to be mopped? Wipe up spills with kitchen towel (yes, wasteful I know, but it can go on the compost). Hoovering twice a week is plenty. Slight crunch on the carpets never killed anyone.

take a leaf out of DH's book, have fun with the kids - then spend half an hour at the end of the day tidying. Unless you live in Blenheim Palace that should be plenty. Also at 5 your eldest can help a bit - even putting all the toys away makes such a difference.

Jemster Sun 03-Feb-13 08:30:27

We eat in the living room so the floor gets pretty messy with a weaning baby chucking everything off highchair. I think it needs more than a wipe in that area although you've made me think that perhaps the rest doesn't need mopping. Our hoover is rubbish in the laminate but i could use the attachment bit which works well. We have a rug too so don't suppose I need to go under there.

kitsmummy Sun 03-Feb-13 08:46:23

I'd say let the mealtimes go a bit. When I was a single parent I coped fine with a baby and keeping the house clean - DS was an easy baby.

A few years later, married and with a baby DD I couldn't seem to keep on top of anything then and life should have been easier for me then! She was so clingy the best I could do was prepare a quick and easy kids tea and tidy up from that, by the time DH was home I hadn't done anything for us.

I'm always amazed when people can prepare a proper meal - roast and veg, sheperds pie etc every day of the week - that's a good hour and a half from start to finish (including washing up pans) and I'm sure not everyone can have that amount of time with a clingy baby.

Pasta, cheese sauce and peas - that is quick, easy and nutritious, it could be worse!

Jemster Sun 03-Feb-13 09:16:45

Kitsmummy thank you for your post. I often feel I'm rubbish because I don't cook from scratch every day and when I hear what other mums cook I feel so guilty like I'm not doing the best for my dc's. Same with the weaning food, I find it hard to find time to homemake everything and when I did she didn't eat it!!
My condition does make me tired and I find cooking from scratch hard on the days when my hands are painful and swollen. I have trouble opening things and chopping. If I start and can't do something I get really frustrated and upset. Also having a clingy baby is so hard. It's not as simple as just leaving her to play or doing it in her nap because she cries her eyes out if I leave her and doesn't nap for long. To be honest when she does nap I feel like having one myself!

I'm now doing a mixture of jars and home food for dd but I would like to do better for ds. Anyway I'll work on that.

MN044 Sun 03-Feb-13 09:32:43

Oh gosh don't feel guilty! In a way, I think being a single parent, even with 3 dc makes it a but easier for me. The pressure is only coming from me if that makes sense. There's no one to walk in at the end of the day expecting a clean house and a hot meal. If I want to eat super noodles then I can! I used to have wooden floors and honestly never mopped them. Swept every day with a dustpan and brush (even the rug) and a quick wipe with a baby wipe. With ds weaning I have bought a big piece of wipeable tablecloth type material from the haberdashers to put under his high chair. That way if you can't physically clean it, you can just pick it up and fold it away til dh can do it? Cooking shouldn't be something you feel a slave to or guilty over. I do it because I enjoy it and no way does a meal ever take me an hour and a half. Bunging in a chicken you can or get about it for an hour, peeling veg takes me no time though I appreciate that'd be harder for you. Pre prepared food is your friend. And don't feel bad about the jars either. I weaned my eldest on jars and she's the least fussy of all. Weaning is disgustingly messy and I hate it tbh. My ds's favourite things right now are mercifully easy to prepare though- some boiled carrot sticks and all the smelly veg- sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are all winners. If you want quick food, nigella express is a great place to start, you should be able to get it from the library. I use that book lots and its all very quick and easy. How does the baby sleep at night? My 10 month old still wakes every 2 hours an its a killer. Everything seems harder to cope with when you're sleep deprived x

HellesBelles396 Sun 03-Feb-13 09:44:00

I chuck meat and some veg into the slow cooker and, with some frozen yorkshires or chips or crusty bread or - well you get the picture - we have a cooked meal every night. I also use frozen chopped onions, garlic, etc to save time.

wash stuff up as soon as you're finished eating. it is easier and then not hanging over you.

use bath towels a couple of times before washing (you're clean for goodness sake).

use a towel that's ready for wash to wipe over sink, bath and bathroom floor.

make sure you wash towels at 60c!

know where things belong and put them straight back there - then the clutter won't build back up.

get a large square of oil cloth or similar for under high chair.

it can be taken outdoors and hosed off at the end of each day - should reduce need for floor washing.

tell ds you'd like to have fun with kids so he has to do half the housework on weekends so you can enjoy family time as a family!

InNeedOfBrandy Sun 03-Feb-13 09:49:22

Every night get everything you need the next day ready.

Get an organised mum diary and look at it

Drink wine. A lot! Seriously drink cleaning is the way to go, I blitzed the house last night think skirting boards, windowsills kitchen sides and cupboards. Drunk cleaning with music is one of my favourite things.

Also when your on the phone don't sit down do things, fold your washing, do your dishes wipe down the doors.

forevergreek Sun 03-Feb-13 10:27:57

Try buy things like chopped onions/ peppers etc frozen. Then you can just grab a handful when needed.

I use those little metal disposable cooking trays with kids. One small one is enough for 2 little ones with side veg ( fine without for little ones). It means if I make say lasagne, I will make enough for 8 meals and freeze so it means not having to prep that again for weeks

We do a tidy up of toys every day before dinner ( 1 and 3 year old), obviously at this age The adults are doing most, but I think starting young helps make it normal. And I set specific things ie: 3 year old to tidy all the Duplo, 18 month old finds say the dinosaurs and puts in box, and either me or dh will tidy the rest. It means they contribute at their level, and we don't have toys everywhere in the evening.

Def get 5 year old involved. They can help lay out school clothes the night before, can help entertain baby whilst you heat food, lay the table for dinner ( just mat/ cutlery).

Whilst baby is still small now, as they grow gradually get them 'helping' also. 18month here likes getting his bowl for breakfast and puts his rubbish in the bin ( banana peels etc), he has also started wanting to load his things in the dishwasher ( doesn't save time as obv I help but I see it as progress for later). They also always both take shoes off at door and hang coat on low down pegs.

Maybe get one eve a week when you and dh do majority I cleaning together. 45mins of both doing it will get floors done/ bath room clean/ washing folded and kitchen done

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