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Cannot cope with all the housework! How do you manage with full time work and kids?

(35 Posts)
PolyesterBride Sun 14-Apr-13 20:29:16

Really stressed all the time about all the housework I have to do. I work full time, have two DDs (5 and 2 ) and I am responsible for literally everything. I am not a single parent but for work reasons my partner does nothing. It's supposed to be temporary until summer but I just cannot seem to manage even the bare minimum at the moment.

DDs are in childcare full time so I feel under pressure to spend time with them at weekends (and I want to) but I feel like with all the cooking, washing etc i gave no time to spend with them at all. DD1 is constantly asking me to play with her but all I say is 'in a minute' or 'a bit later'. And they are good at playing alone, it's not like they are dependent on me or anything.

I don't do anything that isn't absolutely necessary and by that I mean, I don't clean except immediate things like clean the kitchen after dinner. Almost never do the hoovering or dusting for example. I try to cook quick meals but I'm not very good at cooking and I don't want to feed the girls processed stuff all of the time. But just basic washing, cooking, tidying up after meals and tidying up toys seems to take all day.

Sorry for this long pointless vent. What I want to know is - how do other people manage? Can you do sll the household stuff and play with your children? What is your routine (I have none and am frequently searching the house for clean underwear and running out of milk).

I do meal plan and online shopping. I can't afford a cleaner (and it wouldn't save me time anyway because I don't clean).

Just stressed and depressed about the state of my house and the lack of time for my kids. Help!

onepieceoflollipop Sun 14-Apr-13 20:36:15

I think if you have no routine at all then perhaps you need to set aside one day or half day to get organised. In your position I would consider doing this say on a Saturday a.m. and get your dp to take kids out/to the park etc. while you do it.
Use that time to have a bit of a declutter organise dcs' clothes so you are less likely to run out etc. Bin/charity shop for broken items/stuff to pass on.
I dislike housework but hate the house being messy. I try and limit it to 10 minute bursts. Most tasks can be done in 10 minutes, e.g. hoover one room, or wash one floor or change one bed etc. Do a few 10 minute tasks each day. dcs may even help change bed etc.
Do one load of laundry every day. Make meals really basic and simple. e.g. jacket potatoes, cucumber and pepper instead of cooked veg. Or pasta with stir in sauce, fish cooked in foil in oven. I do fast food but fairly healthy.

redlac Sun 14-Apr-13 20:37:27

Break it up into 15 minutes - set a timer pick a room and clean/tidy/de clutter til the timer goes off

Look into flylady or if you have a smart phone download HomeRoutines - both split your rooms into zones and give you tasks to do in that weeks zone

onepieceoflollipop Sun 14-Apr-13 20:39:06

Is your dp reasonable? even if he/she has work pressure they can do a bit, surely. E.g. if they pass a shop on way home text them to bring milk, nappies or whatever. Ask them to either play with dcs for a 2 hour block (or whatever suits you) at the weekend while you blitz things OR dp does 2 hours cleaning while you play with dcs?

PolyesterBride Sun 14-Apr-13 20:48:14

Hi everyone. Thanks for the replies.

DP at the moment can do nothing. He is not around at any point except first thing in the morning and around 10 pm at night even at weekends. Basically he is working 12+ hour days, 7 days a week. So there is no opportunity for a two hour blitz or anything without plonking the girls in front of a movie ( which I do often enough as it is just to cook dinner or whatever).

Will try the suggestion about ten minute bursts. Could do a ten minute burst of tidying then a ten minute burst of playing I guess. Just seems like there is so much to do it can't be done in ten mins! Like cooking, putting away clothes (which seems to take me forever and builds up and up until I have two huge bags of clothes to put away).

onepieceoflollipop Sun 14-Apr-13 20:52:10

Sounds really stressful for you and him. Hope it gets a bit easier. Will your dcs sit at the table with playdoh or similar while you cook?

onepieceoflollipop Sun 14-Apr-13 20:53:58

Do they sleep well? If so maybe use one or two evenings to get a head start? I hate losing relaxation time, but if it had a longer term benefit? i.e. you feeling marginally more on top of things.

NorksAreMessy Sun 14-Apr-13 20:54:36

Most people lower their standards. Not everything has to be perfect all of the time. Not every meal has to be cooked from scratch. not every toy has to be put away.

If you can afford a cleaner, then do! It helps, because they day before 'cleaner day' everything gets whisked away and tidy. I don't have a cleaner any more and the incentive to have one point in the week when everything is tidy has gone sad

Batch cooking at the weekend helps (boring but necessary), child swapping helps ...if you can bear the mayhem when it is your turn, basic 'a place for everything' helps.

As the DC get older, they will help more, and what a great thing that will be to have helpers. My DS (16) is the BEST kitchen tidier EVER because he has always helped from a tiny tot

Good luck*poly*.

lborolass Sun 14-Apr-13 20:59:02

Planning is the key here.

It takes a little while to start with but if you can get into it I'm sure you'll find is saves time.

Meal plan for the week and as much as you can try and make sure you don't need to do any top up shops (this will depend on how big your frige and freezer are).

Identify your must do jobs and plan like you would for work - I put them in my phone calendar so that it takes away the worry about what you have to do each for.

I work part time so do have some time during the week that I can do housework - I have a reminder for when I wash each set of bedding and towels which means that I only have one load a day max of other washing. I iron en masse one evening (I agree putting the washing away is a pain but I make myself do it).

If I can I do the cooking for the next day on the previosu evening esp on days I'm at work so I ust have to heat up or put the oven on when I get back.

I'm sure you'll find it gets easier if you take the plunge and start planning.

BranchingOut Sun 14-Apr-13 21:00:52

Sounds hard and as if you are quite tired...

Get the five year old to help you with some tasks?
Buy a mini Hoover or ask for one on freecycle.

If you have two huge bags of clothes to put away, do you have more clothes than you actually need? Will putting some away help?

LadyMetroland Sun 14-Apr-13 21:01:36

You say you can't afford a cleaner but unless you are really broke, isn't there something you could go without on order to pay for one? I would seriously forego a family holiday or a nicer car in order to keep mine. Yes, she won't be there every day but it means you'll have clean bathrooms, floors and kitchen as a bare minimum. I now don't do ANY cleaning inc hoovering etc.

Washing, cooking etc are inescapable but try to cut yourself some slack. Only put clothes in wash when they're actually dirty not just because they've been worn once or twice. Get a tumble drier and don't iron anything except absolute essential work and uniforms. Change sheets once every 10 days instead of once a week (or whatever).

As for cooking, I don't feed my kids any crap but nothing I make takes longer than 10mins prep. Eg tonight was posh sausages, new potatoes, parsnip chips and some other veg just bunged in roasting tin with olive oil and herbs. Total prep less than 5 mins. Jackets tomorrow. Chicken and veg fried rice night after - nothing takes long.
With online shopping I do agree it's hard to be really organised when you're working ft. I find Ocado phone app has really helped with this - can quickly book a next day early morning delivery slot on commute in to work, hold it with 40 quid worth of nappies or something, then put proper shopping in basket that evening. I do two small deliveries a week (pay 6.99 per month for unlimited deliveries)

Tidying is major headache I agree. But aren't your girls old enough to help with that? Mine are v small and I leave it til end of day after they're in bed. Not great and a bit depressing to face after long day.

conorsrockers Sun 14-Apr-13 21:10:14

It is so frustrating. I was in the same position as you, but with 3. We ate a lot of soup/ravioli and macaroni cheese with cucumber and carrot sticks! I'd cook straight when we got in from school/work while they watched the TV for 20 mins then we would sit up to the table, eat, do prep/colour/read, then go upstairs and do stories and bed. By 8 I would be back downstairs with something inane on the TV and a glass of wine, stick in some washing, tidy up the kitchen and get stuff ready for the morning. I never went near the lounge as if I sat down I'd never get back up again. About 10pm I'd collapse in bed and then do it all again .... clothes very often didn't get from the radiators up to the bedrooms, the fridge wasn't cleaned for months and the bedrooms were rarely hoovered - but there was always clean clothes, something to eat and a tidy kitchen in the morning. ... mine are a wee bit older now so they tidy their own rooms, put their clothes away and do their prep while I cook tea (and then sit on the Xbox until bedtime). It does get easier... promise wink

PolyesterBride Sun 14-Apr-13 21:20:16

Thank you everyone.

It seems the key is to get organised! (And cook less complicated meals!). I think the poster who suggested approaching it like a job is right - my own job doesn't really come naturally to me but I sit down and work out logically what I need to do and when I should do it.

I also guess I need to do more in the eves. I am always just focusing on that moment when I can flop in front of the telly. It's usually about 9 pm by the time I finishing tidying up, getting clothes ready for the next day etc. but I guess if I just set myself a 10 minute task to do every night that wouldn't take away too much flopping time!

Starting to feel a bit more positive...

PolyesterBride Sun 14-Apr-13 21:26:37

Conorsrockers that all sounds so familiar! Especially the bit about not cleaning the fridge for months - mine is absolutely minging. Glad to hear it gets easier.

I think during the week is actually easier than the weekend because I can just get everyone out of the house, go to work, pick them up and do the bedtime routine. The weekends just seem like chaos and everything competing for my time.

doublecakeplease Sun 14-Apr-13 21:38:22

You sound shattered - x

I would have a week on crap meals (jackets, tins, packets...) whilst you get on top of the clothes. I downscaled all of ours before i went back off maternity leave and its made such a difference. I also got on top of all the washing, ironing (i know - waste of time etc but its the one chore i quite like) so i have very little kicking about. I do probably 3 loads per week for me, DH and DS plus bedding and towels once a fortnight (slattern i know) which get ironed and put away in one go (prob an hour and a half a week max). They get put on the bottom of the pile (i sorted all the drawers too) so the same things don't constantly get worn and ruined.

Honestly - took me a good few hours to sort initially but saves so much time in the long run - no panic searching etc.

Have a couple of weeks to get into the habit of keeping on top of the washing then have another crap meals week to get on top of something else.

LimeLeaffLizard Sun 14-Apr-13 21:44:30

If I am trying to get a job done whilst my 2yo is asking me to play, I invite him to clean with me. I give him a baby wipe and he 'cleans' whatever surface I ask whilst I work. His attention span is short so this only tends to work for 10 minute bursts BUT at least I don't feel like I'm neglecting him and he really likes helping.

Getting the kids to help you tidy up their toys is also a good idea as they can be quite good at that.

PolyesterBride Sun 14-Apr-13 21:50:25

That's not a bad idea. I think the girls would like spaghetti hoops in toast and stuff like that for a week!

I think my problem with the washing is that it has to be done every day - washing, hanging out/up, taking down and putting away, and if I drop the ball for a day or two, which I frequently do when I get exhausted, it just builds up into an unmanageable pile. Maybe I need to move to a naturist colony.

PolyesterBride Sun 14-Apr-13 21:54:53

Yes the two year old likes cleaning! The five year old doesn't unfortunately and goes into full on Cinderella mode about how she's made to work so hard if I so much as ask her to bring a cup from one room to another. But maybe I could pay her in chocolate buttons or something!

middleeasternpromise Sun 14-Apr-13 22:13:57

Go as minamalist as poss and buy lots of storage from the likes of Ikea. By stripping the house down to just what you actually need to use - theres instantly less crap to maintain. Vacum store clothes by season so you only have in the drawers what you will wear over the next couple of months - if you keep everything together theres more to sort; you cant find what you are looking for and that means you wear and wash more stuff. Have a work as you go routine so everything gets put away as you use it esp in the morning - nothing worse than coming home to breakfast mess. Get the kids involved and dont have all their toys out for access all at once - thats more tidying. Keep some in the loft and circulate it keeps things fresh for them.

Cybbo Sun 14-Apr-13 22:21:07


Even every fortnight. It would cost you £15ish a week. YOu must be able to rustle that up between you

PolyesterBride Sun 14-Apr-13 22:32:29

Yes if I worked as I went (iykwim) then there would be much less to do once I'd put the girls to bed. I really obsess about getting them upstairs as early as possible (in bed by 7 if I can) because I'm do frazzled by that time I just want up be on my own. But it might be better to relax a bit, get them to help me tidy up and then go upstairs a bit later. They never go to sleep then anyway do I spend the next hour stressing them about why they're not asleep yet!

We really can't afford a cleaner - already going overdrawn every month with literally no extras, holidays etc. that's a whole mother thread though - why we cannot survive on out salaries. Would love to have one though and agree it should be the first think we do when our finances improve a bit!

BlueChampagne Tue 16-Apr-13 15:17:34

Consider paying 5yo some pocket money for helping out?
Cook casseroles, curries, pasta dishes but double up so you don't have to think another night. Batch cook as kids' activity?
Half an hour an evening, one room at a time, while DCs relax in front of TV before bed? Might help free up the weekend.
Good luck!

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 16-Apr-13 18:56:36

I've got three kids, my husband is living hundreds of miles away, and I work full time cleaning other people's houses.

When I come home, the last thing I want to do is clean my own home.

BlueChampagne Wed 17-Apr-13 13:34:38

Organise clothes washing the night before so you can stick it in the washing machine as soon as you get home.
Get milk delivered by milkman - or buy in bulk and freeze.
Do DDs not get main late afternoon meal at child minder/nursery?

Phineyj Wed 17-Apr-13 13:48:10

I would considering paying the 5 year old to put the clothes away. In her Cinderella frock if she wishes! When funds allow you could go to IKEA and get colourful bags/boxes/crates and colour code everything so clean pants for 5 old immediately get thrown in designated pant box (or whatever).

Do you have any nice friends or relatives who could pay a cleaner instead of your next birthday or Xmas present? You could get a voucher for one of those quarterly deep cleans maybe. I'd be happy to get a friend or relation that instead of guessing what they might like. Surely friends must be horrified and sympathetic when they hear the hours your DH works?

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