Totally overwhelmed & defeated!(19 Posts)
This might sound ridiculous but I'm feeling really overwhelmed by housework. The house is constantly messy and there are a few problem areas where clutter really builds up. I feel like every day I decide to make it better and every day I fail. I really hate mess but struggle to make an impact on it.
I have 2 young DC (age 12 months and 3 years) and we moved house about 8 months ago.
I just feel like I never get any time to actually sort anything out and when I do get the odd half an hour I don't seem to make any real progress. I feel like I spend my whole day fobbing the kids off while I try to get the basics done (like cook and clear up or put the washing on) let alone actually do any proper decluttering or organising. I really want to do the Marie Kondo method but it requires you to do things in one go and I never seem to have enough time. I feel like I'm not spending quality time with my kids nor am I getting on top of the housework. And all those memes about "the dishes can wait while my baby is young" are all very well but who wants to live in mess and dirt? You do have to do the dishes at some point!
It's starting to get me really down and I find myself avoiding inviting people over because I'm embarrassed about how messy the house is!
I wake up in the night and feel itchy and stressed about the mess all around me. It's a total first world problem but being bugged by something all the time and not being able to make progress to make it better is driving me crazy!!
I mentioned briefly to a friend the other day that the housework is the hardest part of motherhood and she said she has no problem keeping on top of it. (She also has 2 small DC). What is wrong with me!?
Not really sure what I wanted from this thread but maybe a bit of handholding and any tips!
Have you got a husband / partner / any family to take the kids out for the day and start making some headway?
You can do the Marie kondo in small categories. For instance for clothes you do underwear , or if that is too much then start with bras and then do knickers. Start with your stuff and then do the kids. You can create as many categories as you like, so accessories could be broken down into scarves, belts. Just collate everything in the category you are doing and work through it. You could have a wash basket with the category you are doing so that you can just do it when you have time . The important thing is to get rid of the things that you are not keeping, the car is a good place to put them so that you can drop them off when you have time. Hth.
Make a list (even if it's really long!) of all that is bothering you. Start with a small task and then tick it of.
Do you need more storage? For clothes, toys, general detritus?
I think it's pretty normal to have a backlog of housework to do when the kids are so little and yes I agree you have to keep on top of washing etc and that can leave little time for anything else. My kids are full time school and I still get overwhelmed by the day to day washing stuff.
Just try a little at a time, clear a shelf one day, a work top a couple of days later.
Try and stop clutter coming into the house, for instance if I have junk mail land on the door mat I leave it by the door and take it straight out to the recycling bin the next time I leave the house, rather than put it in a pile to deal with later.
I feel the same. Have you tried flylady? As a PP said, do you have enough storage? Try and do a load of laundry a day, and do any ironing (if you iron) from the wash and put dry clothes away before you do the next one.
If it's toy clutter, do they have too many, I've really learnt the hard way that less is more, if they have too much stuff they get overwhelmed and don't play with any of it, hence messy piles of stuff.
Get a bag and chuck in any obvious junk or clutter in a quick sweep around the house.
I find this an effective way of getting rid of little bits in a quick and easy way, which you can also do little and often, and then you just chuck out with the household rubbish.
Keeping on top of it when it's already sorted is a lot easier than trying to get on top of it when actually you're at the bottom of the mountain.
So don't compare yourself to your friend, you were starting out in very different places!
Moving with a tiny must have been chaotic.
I couldn't contemplate kondoing with tiny people around.
But I would do tiny things myself. So, when bathing the children, if you can let go of the baby safely, have a quick sort in the bathroom. Tiny things can make a big difference - bin the empty loo rolls and bubble baths, wipe down the windowsill, shine the taps. And if you're reading this wondering what on earth I'm suggesting since you have no rubbish lying around in the bathroom anyway, then you're not half as drowning in chaos as you think you are!
Same with the kitchen. Yes it's grim trying to do anything whilst small people are just that too small to entertain themselves anywhere else without creating mess.
We don't have carpets; I used to put my toddlers in a baby bath on the floor of the sitting room with an inch of water and a mountain of bubbles, and a cup and spoon. They'd play safely as I tidied around them; I could fokl them into thinking they were helping by passing them safe things to wash - plastic toys, odd socks, that sort of thing. And I could get quite a bit straightened out whilst they had a riot in the tub.
And the spilt water and bubbles I mopped up with big towels, and that cleaned the floor nicely too!
In theory, we have a separate play room and sitting room. In practice, they play and scatter and destroy wherever I am. So rather than fight it and get annoyed, I now have toy boxes or toy bags in every room. Toys get flung into the box behind the door, or posted into the cupboard, whenever. Means I can, when I'm motivated, have a grown up space downstairs within minutes of having put them to bed. If you have a sofa on legs, rather than solid, then you may find that underbed storage boxes fit underneath. They are brilliant for toys, especially bricks/Lego/stuff which takes up loads of space otherwise.
I can't do fly lady's 15 minute tasks when I'm surrounded by grouchy children either. But I can do two minutes. So when I boil the kettle for a drink, I unload the dishwasher so it can be loaded again. Or shove a load of washing on. Or take a scrubby thing to the sticky patch on the work surface where someone left a yoghurt coated spoon and three sugary teabags.
And if you do all these things already, and think I'm being ridiculously patronising, then please know some of these are fairly new ideas to me - and you're not drowning quite as deep as you think you are!
12 months and a 3 year old is a difficult combination. Is the 3 year old in preschool? one thing which helped me a lot was that rather than have 5 mornings or 5 afternoons, I had 3 mornings and 1 full day. That gave me a day when we had no timetable at all, so could go off and have fun, and another day when I wasn't constantly either dropping off or picking up, which meant there was just a bit more time to get things done.
It gets easier. They get useful. Ish.
I've been where you are & really sympathise but I'm telling you: you can do this. You just need to make a start, declutter & get yourself into some routines that you do automatically.
Totally agree with PP, you need to make a list of exactly what is bothering you to focus. You need some quick wins to begin.
The biggest for me was laundry which I struggled to do as my toddler made separating it a nightmare & he was constantly pulling it down from where it was drying. Now I have 3 bags nailed onto wall in our (tiny!!) loo for darks, lights & whites & some retractable IKEA racks above the loo for drying. Perhaps not a beautiful solution (how I long for an American-style utility room!!!) but the best we could do in a small two bed flat & I have to say it is extremely effective!! I also now use my tumble dryer far, far more than I used to & have accepted that's ok.
The result of the pre-separating bags is I can throw a load on in 30 seconds without thinking about it (where to separate, how to occupy toddler etc) so I just do it.
I also find a messy kitchen really stressful (ours is teeny!) as after one meal it looks chaotic. Now I unload dishwasher first thing in morning whilst DS has breakfast so that all day every dish, plate, spoon goes straight in dishwasher leaving surfaces clear. Put things away, not down - that's the motto.
The other great tip I got was keeping cloths & cleaning products close to where you are going to need them. For example my sweeping brush didn't fit in my kitchen so was in hallway cupboard. I bought a muji retractable telescopic one & nailed the parts & dustpan onto the inside of my cupboard under the sink. Because it's RIGHT THERE it only takes a minute to sweep up so I do this constantly during the day. Similarly I keep bathroom spray & cloths in bathroom cabinet so I clean sink/taps after I wash DS hands after his meal. Kitchen stuff in kitchen with cloth out to wipe spills immediately. Again as it's there, I do it. And I keep a Microfibre cloth in bedroom to remove the finger smudges on mirror wardrobe straight away. Takes seconds but I wouldn't do it if the cloth wasn't there.
Clutter is the enemy. It makes things difficult to clean. Cleaning my bathroom is so much easier now all my bottles, razor etc are in a plastic box in cabinet & the bath toys, bath foam etc are in another. Each box gets pulled out when it's needed & put away when not in use. The bath itself is clear so can get a 10 second wipe down easily (with the cloth & cleaner nearby).
Clear the clutter & give everything a place. This is key. Try the fly lady tip of 15 mins de-cluttering a day. Well worth looking at October Fledgling thread also.
Sorry the post is so long but I hope some of this helped. Trust me, if I got on top of it, you can too. It is so worth it in the end.
Ok breath . So you have two small children and have recently moved so of course your overwhelmed. Who wouldn't be. I haven't had a chance to read through other responses yet but I'm sure you've already had some good advice. I quickly read a suggestion about doing a list. That is a very good idea. List everything no matter how small of what bothers you. Then redo the list putting it in an order of what you should do first. Now really think about de cluttering before you start cleaning. You need to get rid first. This could be a mad ten or fifteen minutes a day with some bin bags. Then I would get it straight in the car and down the nearest charity shop / tidy tip. Start thinking about storage solutions ikea is great for this. Do these things first. List, de clutter and storage and everything will start to fall into place. Keep us posted there is loads of support on here. Xx
Your friend must be a superwoman as I also have 2 young DC (2 and 8 months) and I also hardly find time to do anything as they take up all my time - so you are not alone!
It drives me crazy as I can spend an hour cleaning when DH is home then blink and it's back to what it was before.
Im starting to just accept I will have a messy house until DC are that little bit older and not so dependant on me!
If you can (and I appreciate it isn't easy), try to get your 3 year old to join in with tidying up at the end of the day. My DD (2.8) loves tidy-up time before dinner. She now puts away all her own toys - it really helps straighten out the living room and kitchen (and her own room!).
Another thing that helps me is giving everything a place - for example, my under-sink cupboard is v tidy and organised now because I have 4 of these: one for cleaning things, one for laundry things; one for tea towels and bibs; one for surplus. So I know where everything is, and where it goes. And I use a similar system for toys in DD's bedroom and the living room.
I am increasingly ruthless when it comes to clutter - I too feel stressed and oppressed by too much clutter and untidyiness. I do recommend trying to squeeze in some time to KonMari - as a previous poster said, start with a small category - I started with socks and knickers and it was so satisfying to have that one really tidy drawer.
I still have the junk room (or rather, spare room!) to contend with - but I can close the door on that disater zone!
Good luck - it isn't easy. But small steps make a big difference.
I just remembered a tip I also learned on MN which has made a massive difference to me: if you see something that can be done in less than 2 mins, do it then and there.
Is there any chance you could afford a cleaner, even if just a few hours as a one-off, short-term solution? I´m thinking that if you didn´t have to struggle to keep on top of the daily/weekly things then you might manage to make some time to declutter and organise rather than firefighting all the time.
Agree with breaking Kondo down into really tiny categories, as small as they need to be. If you do it properly then you won´t need to revisit a category: it will Just Stay Done.
If I´m struggling to keep on top of things then I normally prioritise laundry and dishes, two things that really make a difference. It´s easy to do a very basic clean of bathrooms and kitchen, as in literally wipe over sinks and loo and put bleach down loo.
In the longer term I think that decluttering and routines are key to stress free housekeeping. You could ask your friend if she has any tips, or just look and see what she does differently from you in case any of it might be relevant?
I always found that until the youngest child is a bit older the house will be less tidy than I would like, this is especially hard if you have a pre-schooler as well! the bigger they get the easier it becomes so I would hang in there OP and don't worry too much as it won't be like this forever.
Are you doing things that save you time in other areas so that you have more time to do the things you need? I cut every corner I can and take every short cut, so: dishwasher everything, no ironing, use ocado, don't bother separating the washing just use colour catchers, ready meals for days when it's really busy (which has been most days this week at my house), use wet wipe to clean the kitchen floor and loo.
Going out also helps, it always feels worse when you are indoors too much imo!
I did do the Marie Kondo book but you have to totally adapt when you have small children (or any children probably). I would read the book if you get a chance and then work out a way of making it work, I dumped all of the 'to go' stuff in a big pile in the shed and loaded it up at the weekend when DH was around, it was a huge amount of work but totally worth it.
Thank you all so much for your kind words and advice!
Yesterday my parents took the DC for a couple of hours so I managed to make a bit of headway - now I have lots of piles of stuff "to sort". But then one of the DC was ill so I haven't managed to finish anything and the mess is building again.
I have read both of Marie Kondo's books and will try the micro categories - need to just get on with it. I wonder if trying to schedule the time will help otherwise I am always chasing my tail just trying to get the dishwasher loaded or the laundry done (for example over the last 24 hours I have had to change and wash two full sets of bed linen due to various accidents, 5 outfits for one child and 3 outfits for the other along with 1 set of my clothes and 1 set of my pjs plus a lot of towels AND the usual tea towels and regular clothes that are already in the wash. That has been a bit more than usual due to rather a lot of vomiting but it feels like there is always something!!).
I'm going to make a list of all the tips you have given me and it has been really nice to hear that I'm not alone in finding this a struggle!!!
Hi Fineline, I have a nearly two year old and a baby on the way so my hands aren't as full as yours yet but they will be soon. When I start feeling a bit overwhelmed with 'stuff' I try and make sure I sell something. I use local Facebook sites and I have got rid of quite a lot. When I have a bit of money for a bag of baby clothes or some crockery I'll never use again it spurs me on.
If you are drowning in stuff, storage won't help, it's more to tidy and more to move when you need to clean.
Look to use what storage you do have better. I have a coffee table in my living room with two drawers. I have sorted our crap out and got rid of all the stuff in one drawer. DS now uses it for his toys, it'a great. A quick swipe at the end of the day and my living room is small toy free (I do have the bloody obligatory jumping zebra thing and a ride on truck in my living room but hey ho).
If you can afford it, a cleaner might help in the short term. I have recently started having someone to clean for two hours every fortnight. I still have to clean but it certainly helps.
Another tip is to make one area your sanctuary, if it's your bedroom or living room. Somewhere you can really get into top top shape and feel really comfortable there. It motivates you to know you can do it but also provides a rest for you if the rest of the house is getting on top of you.
Thank you lovely! And congratulations on your pregnancy!
That is all really good advice. I know that I need to get rid of more stuff - sometimes I feel like just hiring a skip and grabbing a shovel!! But I like the idea of having one area that is calm and tidy. And I definitely need to think about how we are using the storage we have. Because we moved recently a lot of stuff has been shoved "away" rather than carefully or thoughtfully placed or stored!
It's hard to do though. I find it exhausting and really don't enjoy it. It's something about the constant decision making. Do I keep this? Where should I put it? Oh that storage isn't working, but I don't have time to do anything about it because I need to wipe someone's bottom / make tea etc etc
Thank you Fineline, I get what you mean about decisions and that's where Marie Kondo has helped me. I couldn't do things her way. If I put all of my clothes in a pile they'd probably still be there, but picking things out of a wardrobe and thinking nah made me realise that I didn't love them so they belonged in the charity shop. I filled about 15 bags over a few weeks by keeping a bag by my front door for all the things I didn't love.
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