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Bad - very bad - housekeeping!

(46 Posts)
Spocksmum Fri 24-Oct-14 13:52:39

Where do you start if everywhere you look there's just dirt and dust and clutter and even the threads on Flylady and The Magic of... feel distant from where you're at because your home is just a complete and utter tip?

It's got to be over a year since I dusted some areas of the house and when I do get time to do a bit, it's so disgusting and depressing, I feel overwhelmed.

I never get time to do more than 5 minutes here or there and can't afford a cleaner and those few minutes make no difference at all it seems. There are areas of the house with carrier bags and storage boxes full of 'stuff' to file or throw away. I can't use the kitchen work surfaces because of other piles of stuff that haven't yet gone into carrier bags or boxes to sort out - one day.

That 'one day' never arrives. I'm usually working or doing essential daily tasks to support DCs. I'm only on MN now because I'm off work sick with a flu like virus and feeling unable to do a thing but totally depressed by the chaos around me.

It would literally take me three days to tackle even one room. I know this because the last time I had a really good go at the main room DCs use, was only because they were away on a rare school trip and I took time off work to deep clean. It's amazing how little seemed to get done even working flat out for each of those three days and that room has now not been dusted for a year or more.

Can anyone else identify with this and anyone managed to drag their house back into order and cleanliness? I feel like I'd need to take a year off work and ONLY tidy, declutter and clean, to get it anywhere near acceptable!

summerlovingliz Fri 24-Oct-14 14:11:30

Ahh bless you that sounds very overwhelming.. Maybe you could start by getting a couple of huge bin liners and throwing things not used (old magazines etc), sorting more for charity and generally de-cluttering. Then you will see what's left and start working out where to put things? Bet that would only take a couple of hrs and you'd feel loads better having made a start

WaltzingWithBares Fri 24-Oct-14 14:21:48

I am generally messy and struggle to find time motivation to clean and unclutter.

Regarding uncluttering, what I have done is do one corner or one section of a room in one evening - ... so breaking it down into manageable chunks.

I now have a cleaner who does two hours a week for me. It means I've had to make sacrifices in other parts of my life (buy barely any wine now), but it's sooooo worth it for me. It also means that before she comes I have to make some indentations into the untidiness to enable her to clean effectively .... i.e. get good value for money!!!

Now that I'm more or less on top of it, it's easier to find the motivation to properly clean the kitchen etc as I feel more in control.

Good luck smile, it's just a matter of finding what works for you.

AMumInScotland Fri 24-Oct-14 14:35:55

Putting things into bags and boxes to sort later is only making things worse, not better.

Pick one thing, give yourself 30 minutes - I'm sure there must be a time in the week you can manage that? - I'd start on one kitchen surface, maybe start at one corner, or beside the sink, it doesn't really matter where. But start. Pick one thing up - can you throw it out? Does it belong somewhere else? Is it needed but dirty? Is it no longer needed but could be given to charity?

Give yourself a bag or box to put charity things in. And a bin bag to put rubbish in. If it belongs somewhere else, put it into that room. If it is dirty, put it beside the sink or in the washing machine.

When there is a lot to do, it is hard to do anything as it all seems too much. But when you have even 2 foot of clean worktop, give it a wipe-over, and can see that it is possible to get somewhere, it doesn't seem so bad.

Take the charity box/bag there as soon as you have the chance. Throw the binbag all the way out.

Then keep that bit clean and start on the next bit.

If you have real psychological issues with throwing things out - which sounds possible if your reaction to 'stuff' is to hide it away rather than deal with it - then have a think about what you think would happen if you threw something out by mistake. Would anything really terrible happen? Sometimes you just have to take that risk and get rid of things that 'might be useful one day' if that's what your space is filling up with.

Mintyy Fri 24-Oct-14 14:37:51

What is all this stuff you have?

RandomFriend Fri 24-Oct-14 14:42:20

I struggle with all of this too.

One tip I found useful is ths: If some of the clutter is bank sttements, etc. that need to be kept rather than thrown, then the simplest way of filing these is by date rather than by type. Get a big ring-binder and put everything in, and just add things as they arrive.

If you ever need to find something, you will find it according to the date of arrival. Getting rid of excess paper by filing/throwing will already make things look a bit neater.

DefiniteMaybe Fri 24-Oct-14 14:43:10

If you have 'stuff' that's been lying round in bags or boxes for a year or more you don't need it. Could you just throw it all away, no sorting would make the job so much easier.
I have a rule that if I've not looked at/used something for 6ish months then it needs to go unless it's memory box stuff or photo albums, but they are stored in a big cupboard out of the way.

grassroots Fri 24-Oct-14 14:43:13

How about starting with just one room? Forget the rest of the house, pick somewhere small like the bathroom, and just work on that one room. If you can get that properly clean I bet it will make you feel amazing. One room at a time - you can do it!

PinkSquash Fri 24-Oct-14 14:49:53

Is there anything in easy reach you can bin straight away? Put 5 things in the bin and you've made a start.

It didn't get to that level in a day, it takes a while to make a big indent into it but don't seek perfection.

Spocksmum Fri 24-Oct-14 18:46:16

Thanks everyone. I don't have any problem with throwing things out. The big problem is lack of time on any daily or weekly basis to do anything other than top priority stuff. If there's something that's not top priority, like filing some paperwork, I don't get it done and stuff it in a box or bag, even though I've got a filing cabinet and system set up.

However, there is a part of me that thinks there's almost no point in doing a tiny tiny bit of stuff as there's just mounds and mounds of it and really important things like passports or DCs certificates for achievements are all mixed in with other stuff that I'd happily throw away if I had the time to sort through it all.

About once a year, I get an unusual block of time - like 1 to 3 days when I'm not working nor looking after DCs - and I seem then to get part of one room done. That feels great. But then the next opportunity that comes to do any proper clearing, might then be a year away or more - so by that time, the previous clear out isn't even visible.

I think I need just to keep doing tiny bits of stuff but we're talking mini mini bits of time - like 2 to 3 minutes here and there. If I had that thirty mins that someone mentioned, I'd usually be fitting in making a meal for DCs, doing paperwork for my work, putting away some more shopping that has been in bags on the kitchen floor all week, answering work emails, putting clean and dry laundry in a basket - that never gets put away - and stacking the dishwasher - most of this all at the same time.

If I took that thirty minutes to start tackling the backlog, the daily priority wouldn't get done and the one thing I do keep on top of is the necessities of basic daily life.

I feel like I need a big block of time to make a proper difference to the 'stuff' and dirt everywhere - but that block of time won't be until the DCs have probably left home!

I'm feeling really ill today, which doesn't help but whilst making DCs supper just now (only a microwaved meal I'm afraid) I started to sort through about 30 cms of kitchen surface. I haven't even got to the bottom layer of that tiny section! It's a mix of food wrapping, dirty socks (left by DCs!), small change, post/mail that needs filing, unread magazines, a pile of socks with holes to mend plus mending kit, receipts - some of which I need and others I don't, uneaten fruit that's not been unpacked properly from shopping bags, miscellaneous 'stuff' that needs sorting into throw/keep to file/ shred and just loads and loads more - but mounds of it!

I know I should feel pleased to have done a tiny bit of this but I just see everything left undone! As well as doing this and getting DCs meal ready, I was also putting in another load of laundry and taking out rubbish sacks and feeding cats and checking work emails - so even in the space of a few minutes, I can't even just do one task as there'a always so much to do and so little time!!!!!!!!

ChillingGrinBloodLover Fri 24-Oct-14 19:20:17

Are you a single parent?
Do you children have special needs?
Do you have a long term illness?

What is it that is making you so short of time?

AMumInScotland Fri 24-Oct-14 19:49:32

How old are the DCs? They should at least not be causing more of a problem even if they're not old enough to be any real help. For instance, why do they think its ok to leave dirty socks on the worktop? Don't you have a laundry basket? It takes as much effort to put something in the wrong place as in the right place, and it sounds like you are all doing that.

I think you need to think about what the patterns of behaviour are which put so much random clutter on the nearest surface - the stuff you mention - food wrapping goes in the bin or the recycling basket as soon as it comes off the food. Receipts - when you take them out of the bag or your purse, that's the moment to decide if you need to keep them, and then put them in the bin or in a sensible place - I have one drawer which is 'important things I haven't filed properly yet' which I go through and file when it gets full. Small change stays in my purse or DHs pocket. Food that was put in the wrong place when it came out of the shopping bag - well, why didn't it get put in the right place first time around?

I'm not trying to be snarky, but I don't get why there is so much stuff all mixed up together when each thing had to be moved to put it there in the first place. Having to then go through everything to clean up is a second set of moves and choices - get it right the first time and you don't have to spend your life sorting it later.

Same with stuffing things into bags and boxes - you're moving it, only to have to do it properly later, so it eats into your time even though you haven't solved anything.

Spocksmum Fri 24-Oct-14 19:54:46

Yes. Yes. No - except got flu like virus today. Just always either working of caring for DCs and basic daily needs.

fuzzpig Fri 24-Oct-14 19:56:42

I am in the same place as you. I am only now starting to accept that even a tiny bit IS better than nothing. It's incredibly demotivating when you don't know where to start though.

Spocksmum Fri 24-Oct-14 20:05:57

Was answering Chilling's post above.

AMumInScotland - DCs are teens with SN and will take off school socks and drop them where they land when your come in but do at least put pants in washing baskets later on! This is where it all gets a bit silly though....

Got 2 washing baskets but always seem to have 'still wearing' clothes piled up on top of them or stuff to go to drycleaners piled on top, so not easily accessible.

Bins - various ones for different recycling - in kitchen - get overflowing before I get time to take out rubbish to dustbins - so end up with carrier bags of various rubbish on floor next to bins and then when still haven't had time to take out anything to then I'll start leaving 'clean' food wrap - like what you get apples in or something - left on side of kitchen...and then other 'stuff' gets put on top of that and I'm always, always literally running from one task to the next. There's never a the odd five minutes between anything to clear up properly.

Uneaten fruit should go in fruit bowl but fruit bowl 'lost' beneath mountain of other 'stuff'. Tins of food or cleaning materials - that don't need immediately putting in fridge - will often stay in carrier bags on floor till used as I'm usually dashing madly from supermarket to a school run or to work and don't get the time to sort and unpack everything. Later in the day - I'm cooking for DCs or working again and don't get what most people call an 'evening' - ie never ever watch TV etc.

But I think if I could only start with a clean slate, it'd be so much easier to keep on top of things like putting things in the right place soon after I've processed/used them. I think maybe this is my mistake that I feel so overwhelmed by the mountain on undone tasks and 'stuff' that there's no 'reward' in doing just a bit as the progress is far outweighed by the remaining stuff to be done.

happyyonisleepyyoni Fri 24-Oct-14 20:11:45

OP you sound completely overwhelmed and need more help on a day to day basis. Is there anyone you could ask to help either getting the house sorted or dealing with the kids while you get on with the house?

Kaffiene Fri 24-Oct-14 20:19:24

OK this is what worked for me, it's a kind of modified fly lady. I divided the house into days so
Mon kitchen, Tue Bathroom, Wed Living Room, Thu bedrooms, Fri Car
On those days I set a timer and have to do 15 mins of clearing in that room. If you miss a day you don't try and catch up just do that days room. If you really don't know where to start, start clockwise from the door. For me it was important to have an achievable goal. I needed to start putting a housework routine into my life. It is amazing what you can achieve in 15mins of focused cleaning, tiding or sorting. After a couple of weeks I felt like I had started to make a difference. My kitchen, bathroom and car are under control. Bedrooms and Living room still a work in progress but most nights I go to bed with clean kitchen! The beds get changed most weeks and the washing and hovering are sort of under control.

AMumInScotland Fri 24-Oct-14 20:27:04

You do sound desperately overwhelmed by it all. I guess I can't imagine life with SN teens. Is there any prospect of getting even a little bit of time from anywhere? I guess not, or you already would be!

Could your DC learn to do tasks like take the rubbish out to the bin, or unload the carrier bags into the cupboard, or is that just not realistic for them?

CarolBornAMan Fri 24-Oct-14 20:37:12

where do you live - I would be happy to come over and spend a day helping you get some control over your home as you sound so overwhelmed .. I cannot imagine how you cope on your own and I am lucky to have time to spare ..

magicgirl74 Fri 24-Oct-14 21:48:02

Ditto what carolbornaman said I would be happy to help if your not to far from me as I know how difficult special needs teens are as my 13 year old has adhd and aspergers.Im fairly lucky as although I have long term health problems my hubby is a great help and also my parents but to struggle on your own like you are doing is not good as you could end up making yourself I'll through stress.Would your local mencap be able to ofer help with your children?there must be some sort of help you could get,I found the senco at my sons school helpful she put me in touch with a holiday club for my d
Son and also I got funding for someone to help me with him I think I got 150 hours help a year I think that was through mencap.You shouldn't have to struggle like this on your own there must be some sort of help you could get xx

ChillingGrinBloodLover Fri 24-Oct-14 22:26:16

It is really difficult with teenagers who have special needs, it can be very demanding on your time and energy sad

I'm sorry, I don't recognise your posting name, so not sure how much help you are getting (friends/family/professional or if their Dad is on the scene in any way or anything else. I haven't seen you on the SN board, I don't think.

If people only read your opening post they might not realise you have this additional pull on your time.

I am another one who (after the holidays) could spare some time to come and give you a hand if you are close enough. I do understand how hard it is with children with sn and judging you would be the very last thing on my mind OK... on any of our minds. It's not good for you living like this, let us help you get you back to square one.

Spocksmum Sat 25-Oct-14 14:51:31

You are all lovely offering to help. I will cope. I've got proper flu today, (can barely move) one DC vomiting with migraine and other DC coming down with flu - so now housework is lowest priority! When everyone better, will look at more solutions.

Like your idea Kaffiene - with dividing house into days. Think I just need a system and to persist with this no matter what.

DCs SN are mild but do interfere with ordinary life - one has HFA and the other mild ADD. Both also have recurrent migraines/vomiting. Neither are disabled enough to get any outside help and we've not had any family available - it's just me. I used to have a cleaner but it was even more stressful trying to tidy up before she came and trying to get DCs to help me. Used to pile an absolute mound of 'stuff' on my own bed but then it'd take ages to put it on floor again and never any time to actually find proper places for it.

HFA DC helps most but is obsessive with things and can throw a tantrum if some chore he's doing is interrupted or changed. ADD DC still needs me to organise his own life - school books, remembering anything - and is the one most likely never to put anything in any bin, let alone consider taking out rubbish. He also throws up easily if he smells rubbish bins or sees spiders!

Now I've not really got excess money for a cleaner but have thought of getting a one off clean done. But I'd have to find time to tidy enough that anyone could clean anything at all. To be honest, I'm embarrassed even to have a cleaner here. We don't have anyone over anyway as HFA DC has no friends these days, other ADD DC has some but rarely meets them at home and I don't have any time at all for friends!

Being sick today and stuck unable to do much other than care for DCs basic needs is making it even more depressing sitting surrounded by mess! Have cleaned one sink however. So I suppose I should focus on this rather than the millions of other stuff left undone.

NotSoSkinnyNow Sat 25-Oct-14 15:23:04

Sounds a lot like my house. One tip that has really helped to get me started is emptying the kitchen bin every night before I go to bed...even if it's not full to the brim, and then put a fresh bag in ready for tomorrow.

DP has a terrible habit of leaving rubbish & wrappers everywhere, but at least now there's always space in the bin, so no more small bags beside it waiting to go out.

I do a quick (30 seconds!) dash about trying to fill the bin before putting in out, and it has made a real difference - fruit still in packaging etc was a regular occurrence here too. Now whenever I come across rubbish, it's straight into kitchen bin rather than it piling up on top of paperwork/sock mending pile/random stuff still to be sorted pile.

The house is still a mess but at least I feel like it's untidy rather than dirty IYSWIM

leeloo1 Sat 25-Oct-14 19:15:42

Can the socks to be mended not just go straight in the bin -I know there's a cost implication, but still... it sounds like your time is worth more right now. It is so hard when things get on top of you that you need to make life easier where you can.

I really don't want to sound critical, but it sounds like you're always trying to do 10 jobs at once. Do you think you could be more effective if you concentrated on 1 thing at a time (or 2, so cooking & counter clearing?). So every time you're waiting for the kettle to boil clean as much of the counter as you can. As another poster said, make sure the bin is emptied each day & if you made sure the washing machine was empty too then you could quickly put rubbish in bin, washing in machine and have a pile of 'papers to be sorted'.

Re the piles of stuff to go through, if you can't get time to yourself/time off work/stay up late to do a bit each night (I appreciate you probably need an early night if dc wake you in the night) then could you employ a decluttering service instead of a cleaner. As once your things are organised you'd find it easier to keep on top of the cleaning maybe?

Good luck though, I hope you find a good resolution.

Candustpleasefuckoff Sat 25-Oct-14 19:34:36

I think you should ask for help. You sound overwhelmed and although it is difficult to let your guard down and ask for help, the process will be a lot easier and a lot more successful if you do.

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