Never ending chores - when do you do them?(29 Posts)
Our life feels so full on and we're both exhausted. For some context. DH works full time and is on his feet all day and I work 20 hours a week from home. I am however in the process of retraining as a childminder and so setting up my own business (as well as currently about to launch an entirely separate blog) - but both of these are a bit on the back burner because of said busy life. I am also expecting DC3 so pretty tired at the moment.
I fit in most housework during my non working time and that is left to do at the weekend is a bit of washing and usually food shopping. To add to this list we usually do garden related things at the weekend and any house maintenance tasks. DH is great and cooks dinner 3 weeknights (when I am working) and either 1 or 2 weekend nights, he sorts the bins and does the hoovering. He also sorts packed lunches. I do all of the life admin (finances/meal planning/present organisation/holiday plannning/clothes etc). I feel like we have a good split and we are both mostly happy with what we each take on.
What we are not happy with is the relentlessness of it all. We feel as if we never stop and that we never sit down. DH who is on his feet all day for work especially feels this. Other people don't seem to be so busy all the time. His work colleagues have commented that he uses his lunch break to make phone calls to sort out tasks (organise doctors/call garage about car etc), in a sort of "we feel sorry for you sort of way" and most of our friends are out at the weekends with their children doing fun things but we really struggle to fit this in.
So what I'd like to know is how you organise your time? I am an incredibly organised person (DH says too organised and perhaps this doesn't help with how much there is to do) and have a good system in place to help me plan/track/organise. It's just that I'm starting to wonder if I'm not organising my/our "time" in the right way.
Apologies if there are no paragraphs. My phone occasionally decides they're not needed. Although I promise I have used them!
I got a cleaner. It's helps me massively. Lower standards.
Prioritise - what's the blog for? Is the time spent doing it worth the effort.
Find a reliable babysitter.
Are your standards incredibly high? Are you over committed time wise e.g kids doing loads of after school activities that you can't fit in?
Things I find useful are:
Online food shopping
Cook double of anything freezable like lasagne etc
Do load of washing per day so it doesn't get overwhelming
Buy a hand held hoover to dash about with daily
Get a cleaner if affordable
Say no to invites that don't excite you
Get kids to clean up own toys if old enough
You're bound to be a bit knackered if pg and managing 2 kids though
Could you get outside help? Cleaners, ironers etc.
Otherwise declutter as much as possible. We went through a 6-month patch of similar busyness so i put away lots of crickery and cutlery so had just one of everything each. So rather than a backlog of washing up, it was wash 4 plates, wash 4 spoons, wash 4 cups.
Dropping standards helps
Set a timer of 15 minutes and tidy up as much as possible. Hoovee upstairs one day, downstairs another. Put music on when tackling the washing. Get dc involved - sorting their clothes into their own pile is fun up to about age 8, even if it isn't folded.
I have a list of things to do every day eg:
Monday- wash bedding or towels (we alternate), clean kitchen.
Tuesday- clean bathroom, sweep and mop.
Wednesday- clothes wash, dust, iron.
I tidy as we go, mostly putting toys away, clothes away, organising school stuff, updating shopping list.
It is a neverending drudge, but that's adult family life for you.
We take ironing to a launderette - there isn't a great deal we have ironed anyway. I used to clean the house top to bottom on a weekly basis. Now we're in a bigger house I don't - I do what keeps on top of things, including bathrooms and loos weekly, and a full clean once a month spread over a week. I shop with Ocado online by filling the trolley with enough to book a slot then treating it like a shopping list up to the deadline.
This week I've done some decorating I'm the evenings after work too and I am shattered.
The Organised Mum Method! Search on Facebook/Instagram for The Organised Mum (or google - there’s a blog!) and it has different jobs for different days and you do 30mins of cleaning each day and that’s it.
You and your DH could split it so it’s only 15mins each and you could even get your DC involved. It helps end the relentless cleaning and gives you both time to spend time with each other
Can't really afford a cleaner, but cleaning isn't really the issue, and takes up such a small amount of time (as it gets fitted in quite easily during the week and our standards I'd say are low to average, tidy as we go and change beds once a fortnight, fit one cleaning job in a day to spread the load). In fact as far as cleaning goes I feel like we have it sussed and it's no hassle at all. Cleaning and housework is definitely not the issue. It's all the other random bits of life and house/car maintenance/sorting clutter/clearing out kids toys/sorting clothes stored in loft/meal planning/organising life admin/cutting grass etc that seem to take up so much time.
The blog is something I want to make money from. I've spent a lot of time doing market research, spent out on the domain and hosting site and its about 70% ready so I don't want to give it up. It's something I've wanted to do since the launch of the internet (if I don't launch it soon I won't be able to continue as I paid the initial outlay for 3 years hosting and I've been working on it for 1.5 years on/off).
Kids don't have any activities after school apart from swimming lessons. Already do batch cooking, don't find washing an issue at all as I sling a load on every morning, don't iron, shop in Aldi for cost (can't afford online), children clear up where they can (6yo and 2yo) and are fab, generally don't get many invites anyway and do turn down when we feel like we'd be stretching ourselves.
Typically on my non working days I try to fit in some of the life admin stuff around my 2yo as well as a cleaning job each of those days, but I'm not managing to tackle some of the bigger things like decluttering etc. If I start sorting something 2yo gets involved in unhelpful way lol. Nap times are used for doing computer related tasks. On my working days I do washing before work and on my lunch break I do a housework job/have lunch. After dinner each night it's the usual whirlwind of bedtime/baths/stories and by the time they're in bed it's 730. Sometimes we still need to loads dishwasher/clear table/tidy. Then DH wants/needs to sit down and stop (because he's been on his feet all day and is exhausted and really does need to because he also has a knee problem). So then everything seems to get piled into the weekends and it's relentless.
For example this weekend I need to finish decorating DDs room (it's been half done since xmas and all weekends are full now until summer hols and I have pgp so I know I won't be able to physically manage it if I leave it any later. DH needs to power wash the patio which is awful and we've borrowed a patio cleaner and have been asked to return it (so can't put it off). Plus we have our food shopping to do (it's our big monthly one which involves trips to a couple of shops to keep costs down so takes around 2-3 hours). All of that is just the Saturday and that doesn't actually include the children doing anything fun! Sunday we're out for fathers day. Every weekend is more or less like this.
So I guess I'm interested to know how other people handle the non housework aspects of life? With a third on the way we've got to find a better way of managing our time.
That was long!
Well our lives don't sound much different from yours! The key is trying to break down the tasks to little and often or smaller tasks over a longer period rather than it being a huge task to tackle all at once.
Occasional jobs like decorating I break down - I am working on repainting our downstairs loo and hall. I painted the ceilings one Saturday afternoon, skirtings over the course of a week in the evenings and of course there were other things thrown into the mix like removing a redundant phone socket and patching up the wallpaper that had been over the old cable. The handle had come off the loo door and we have guests this weekend so I've filled and sanded and painted where the handle goes so I can fix it back on and not have to remove it to paint the door.
Online shopping isn't more expensive ime - I buy store cupboard stuff in bulk to get up to the minimum for free delivery and shop every ten days instead of once a week. I save an hour and half a week doing that.
I'm afraid you've just described reality for many working parents. It's just how life is! You have small children, are starting a new business, own your own home and car, and clearly have high standards with regards to keeping everything clean and maintained. My kids are teenagers now, but I'm on the go from the moment I get home from work, and weekends are often hijacked by domestic tasks.
The obvious timewaster is supermarket shopping at the weekend. Shopping online is so quick and easy (Tesco and Asda cheaper than Ocado), and you can often do click & collect to keep delivery charges down.
I also have a weekly schedule - laundry is Wednesday and Saturday, bedding change Friday, tidy for the cleaner on Tuesday evening, online shop Monday evening.....
But there's not a lot you can trim off your "to-do" list - just accept life is busy for the next few years.
I did used to do online shopping but honestly found it more expensive. Just the tesco prices vs Aldi prices in general. We only do a "big shop" once a month (takes 2-3 hours and budget is £200), which includes all store cupboard basics and cleaning and then DH does a top up shop once a week which takes about 30 mins and budget is £15/week. We've tried a weekly shop and fortnightly, online and in store, as well as various shops, and what we do now saves us the most money. So I suppose time is the trade off.
If this is just life then I'll accept that. It's just that we see and hear most of our friends not experiencing life like this but I suppose some of them have a cleaner and some have a sahp and others aren't setting up a business.
I don't personally feel like I have high standards. I clean the bathroom once a fortnight! Maybe I do expect us to fit a lot in. To me there are always valid reasons. Can't decorate dds room at a later date as I'll be too pregnant. Can't not cut the grass once a week because it's dying in places and we're trying to bring it back to life etc.
I think what's brought me to posting this is we've had an accumulation of things all of a sudden and that's made it feel much worse. Obviously the things I have listed are just some of them.
Anyway I'll be on maternity leave in a few weeks and then I'll have all the time in the world hahaha (said no woman ever!).
You need a system. Have a look at 'organised mum'. She's a blogger and gives some great ideas about housework. I have based my routine on her advice :
Daily. Quick tidy of each room (cushions on sofa, books on shelves and toys in baskets etc) Whiz hoover round, take damp cloth and anti bac spray and wipe any surfaces that need it. I spend 5 minutes per room. More like 10 for the kitchen. It's amazing the difference just wiping those marks off the wall or that dust off the TV unit makes to how the room looks.
Bathroom - clean loo and sink and clean mirrors and tackle one other job. Today is to put lime scale remover on the shower screen. Tomorrow I'll clean the bath.
Downstairs loo - clean sink and loo daily.
This all takes me about 45 minutes. Normally 5 minutes per room.
Then Monday to Friday I do around 15 minutes intense cleaning or sorting for one room. Monday is hall and utility room where this week I cleaned behind the radiators, Tuesday was the kitchen where I cleaned out a cupboard, Wednesday is the front room where this week I hoovered the sofa and under the cushion, Thursday is one of the bedrooms where I emptied and organised a drawer, and today is paperwork and ironing. I iron the minimum amount and all paperwork that can wait is put in a folder to be dealt with on a Friday.
I also remove at least one item from the room I am cleaning that day to recycle or get rid of next time a recycle bag pops through the door. I have a box in my wardrobe to collect bits.
Saturday morning all the beds ar stripped and bedding washed.
Other than that it's tidying up as I go along.
Garden is done at the weekend
Agree with you - I'm also expecting dc3 and work full time and struggle to manage life admin. Am squinting while writing this as I've lost my glasses and can't work out when on earth to get new ones!
Most of my friends who are more on top of life have family around, or time at home when both kids are in nursery, cleaners or other support. Even though a cleaner or a grandma doing pickup twice a week may only save 3 hours, those three hours do give people back some leisure time!
Things that have helped me:
1. Scheduling time for me and dh to just sit down together - even just 45 mins to watch a show (no multitasking with phones/tablets allowed!) and give each other a shoulder massage is nice
2. On the weekend, doing an activity or fun thing in the morning with dcs/as a family, so that if we're doing jobs in the afternoon we've at least had a recharge together
3. More of less! Fewer after school activities, getting rid of lots of toys and house bits and bobs... Less to clean, less to organise
Other than that, think it's just life with young kids! Good luck with DC3...
It is always a trade off of time or money I find.
We food shop weekly online and it is more expensive than doing Aldi/Lidl but we rarely have time to fit in trips to these shops.
Weekend time is precious to us so we prioritise time and go for the easier option.
I dread to think how we’d fit in DC as with both of us out of the house 50-60hrs per week all the jobs get compressed to the weekend. We have a cleaner though and I do all the financial admin in my lunchbreak along with the online shop.
Wash, dry and put away one load of washing a day. Food plan Monday to Friday and online shop weekly. I use Tesco as I can collect points for cinema tickets etc. Its more than Aldi but worth it for convenience.
Decorating is broken down into small chunks. I really need to do our hall so will be doing the skirting boards at some point. Then the cupboard doors and so on.
The garden is low maintenance. Grass, beds with woodchip to reduce weeds.
All appointments in diary on phone as soon as I see them. Photo album on phone for school and all letters photographed so I am not faffing looking for bits of paper.
Duvet covers stored in matching pillowcases so they are easy to find. Socks paired when they are hung to dry. Regular chucking our of outgrown clothes and toys.
Enough uniform for 5 days in the wardrobe by Sunday night all ready to be used that week.
I'm not sure if this is just adult life or if you are very conscientious and perhaps need to prioritise and decide what to drop or delay. For example you didn't need to borrow the pressure washer and decorate on the same weekend. It can't all be vital and urgent. I'm afraid the admin has grown for us as children get older, and the evenings have receded as DH still reads with them every night. (He's upstairs now reading Hitchhikers with DD, who's 11 and perfectly able to read .)
I think Stuff tends to fill up your weekends. Maybe prioritise taking the kids out or invite friends round, or even schedule in a laxy day, and squeeze whatever else you can fit in to the other day of the weekend. Work expands to fit the time available. The only way to get on top of it is to squeeze it into a little box!
My DH is good at working out what corners to cut. I have been known to write a massive list of everything we need to do, purely so he can edit it and tell me what to drop or cut down. Chugging through it conscientiously never seems to help the list get shorter. What it needs is editing! Work smarter not harder.
My life is like this. But, I don't feel so overwhelmed by things now that dc3 is 4. It uses to be full-on and exhausting from getting home at 5.30 to kids bedtime, then at least another hour of cleaning/tidying/admin afterwards. Now, the kids are older it's much more relaxed. The house is generally tidier and the kids help out with the chores.
For big ticket tasks like decorating, we tend to use some (precious) annual leave or plan for a weekend when a generous family member wants to take the kids out. It's too stressful otherwise.
I also think we've just gotten better at it over the years too. It was such a shock to the system for the first few years to constantly have to do so much extra stuff, but it's second nature now and somehow doesn't feel so exhausting. It will get easier.
Some very good points here. I like the idea of doing things in the morning with the kids on a Saturday. Our downfall I think is that we decide to do the chores in the morning and then play in the afternoon, but inevitably by the afternoon we either haven't finished our chores or we decide to fit more in. I definitely think we'll flip this.
There's definitely an element of me trying to take on too much. I do find it very difficult to decide how to prioritise sometimes (not all the time). Although the decorating and pressure washing thing isn't as it seems. We started decorating dd's room at Xmas. All it needs is another 3 sheets of wallpaper hanging but I haven't found the time yet. We were going to do it at the weekend but my pgp was really bad so I didn't. The pressure washer was loaded to us about 2 months ago and they asked for it back because we haven't found the time to use it yet (also didn't get done at the weekend). So it's not like we suddenly decided to fit it all in on the same weekend, it's just circumstance. Another example, I was talking to a friend about doing our garden up in the next couple of months and she turned up one day with loads of plants for us, so then we needed to start the garden which involved putting in a flower bed and ended up uncovering our grimy patio that needs a clean/is slippery and the kids can't play on.
We do try and schedule "free" weekends but they just seen to get hijacked. Eg DHs sister is now moving house on our next "free" weekend so we're helping her. My next 3 weekends are taken up with childminder training and then the following weekend DH has to go to work on the Saturday (unpaid overtime don't even get me started). So we have another month to go before any family time/can tackle the mountain of things to do. I think this is why we find it so hard - just so many big things that take up our time in addition to work/school/everyday life.
It will get better though once the summer holidays start as I will have finished work and we don't have so much on at the weekends.
I think what frustrates me the most is that I'm super organised - to the point that people pass comment and past employers have asked me to run organisation training. So I know I should be able to take this on and manage it but I never seem to have the time!
With the cleaning and regular tasks, I have a rota of what to do each day and if something doesn't get done for whatever reason, it is left until next week, no carrying over to the following day. That's really helped me not to feel overwhelmed by the backlog of housework - I just have to focus on today's tasks and ignore things allocated to other days.
I try to do batch cooking if making something freezable, e.g. last night we had pasta with veggie bolognaise & I made enough sauce for 4 meals.
Decluttering (Marie Kondo method) has also helped me a lot - still working on this, but it obviously saves time if there's less stuff to tidy and clean, and also Kondo has been very helpful in working out how to reorganise my storage so that things are in the most logical places, making it simpler and easier to put them away.
I'm super-organised at work too and love organising other people, but I think it's harder in your own space - much more difficult to step back and see the whole picture.
Lots of good ideas on here! I too feel like I have so many things that I need to get done that the things that I would really like to do, like decluttering or bigger jobs just fall by the wayside.
I have the impression Maverick that you have too high expectations of yourself! If you get complimented at work for your organisation skills then there's obviously something in it. But if at work you're set a task where from the outset the expectations are too high and/or the timeframe too short you'd probably go back and negotiate rather than setting yourself up to fail. At home we don't do that!
For me I'm going to try and find half an hour every day to tackle some bigger jobs, making a start even if they don't get finished. Obviously with some things like decorating it doesn't make sense to start unless you have a certain amount of time to throw at it. But I think there's also something to be said for setting a timer for half an hour to clear out some drawers etc and seeing how far you get.
At the weekends we always do something in the morning with the kids, sometimes including going out for a cheap lunch, then head home for a nap. I'm the afternoon we feel less guilty about staying at home and getting stuff done and the kids are also happy to potter round the house or garden after having been out in the morning.
@purplegreen99 and @chloechloe I think you've got it. Thanks for your suggestions. We're definitely going to start doing things in the mornings with the children. Suggested it to DH last night and he said that it's such an anticlimax to do the boring things at the end of the day and I pointed out that at the moment we're not having any fun!
You are right. I give myself no flexibility at home. If it's not done then I push myself until it is, but this is because my "list" is 1.5 sides of A4. But that includes things like update name on old pension and change of x spreadsheet works. So not all immediate tasks.
Decluttering NEEDS to happen in this house. In fact I was going to do some on Monday but then never got round to it because I was doing other things. Actually had a pretty good day - made 2 x portions of chilli, 2 x portions of bolognase, 2 x portions of casserole, packed lunches for the next day, weeded the garden and looked after a 2yo. Then I ran out of time/had to stop because of pgp. I'm hoping to get some decluttering done on Friday when I'm not working but I also have a friend coming over (who's bringing more flowers for the garden) for the day so won't hold my breath. I think I've hit early nesting though because the clutter is driving me crazy at the moment and I pretty much want to throw away our entire house! I might give DH a list of things to throw out on Saturday when I'm at my training. At least then we're making a start. He wouldn't know where to begin otherwise (bit like the time he dug up all of my plants when he helped by weeding).
I think overall I feel productive but when I don't get done what I want to get done I find it enormously frustrating. Will also look at shifting housework to the following time that I do it, but tbh that's the area that mostly seems to manage itself. I'll chuck a load of washing on in a moment and because I'm wfh today I'll hang it at lunchtime and put away at bedtime when we're getting the children ready for bed. Housework just seems to easily fit it....it's just all of the other crap that I have to work so much harder with.
This post actually came about because DH had a chat with me about free time and exhaustion. He felt that other people have a life and we don't and I couldn't see the wood from the trees. He wanted to sit down in the evenings (after being on his feet all day) but also doesn't want full on weekends. So this thread was a way of finding out how busy other people really are/when people fit it all in/where my planning is going wrong (because I am the one planning everything). But I can see now that my expectations are too high (although weirdly I have low standards and accept living in chaos and not a permanently pristine house).
I think your DH is underestimating how much work there is with two (soon to be three) small children when you both work! We have one child and both work, and it's rare that we sit down on weekday evenings before 9pm - we're all home by 6, quick dinner, then one of us does bath and bedtime while the other tidies up, does the dishes, then does whatever needs to be done that evening (last night it was ironing, then online grocery shopping). Weekends are busy too - we try to have time to get stuff done on one day (one person doing stuff while the other looks after DD), then spend time together on the other day.
Add to this your training course and your new blog, and it's not a surprising that you're always busy - most people would only have one or two of those things going on in their life at the same time.
You sound like you're not very good at setting priorities for the non-routine stuff, though for the day-to-day stuff you sound very organised. We plan to do one big thing each weekend - so if the pressure washing had to be done, the decorating would go on hold again.
When you say you're helping your SIL move, is that all of you or is that DH helping while you look after the children? Will it be reciprocated - would she do childcare so you can do the decorating, for example? It does sound as though you're over-committing yourselves without getting anything back from others.
Decluttering does sound like it would help, not just with big stuff but also things like online/email/paperwork-type things - but tbh I would just write the non-urgent stuff in a notebook and add to it as you need, but not even think about doing those things until you feel less stressed by the more urgent and day to say things.
I think your DH needs to be a bit more realistic. It sounds like he's the one comparing himself to others when they probably have a wife who does everything and is a sahp. Does he want you to do everything?
He says he has no free time and then volunteers your weekend off to help his sister and takes unpaid overtime on another weekend.
I don't think he thinks there's too much to do, I think he thinks he's doing too much, but framing it as an overall family issue.
It's just life as far as I can see, stuff needs doing. He needs to be more realistic. I doubt all his colleagues are going home and putting their feet up every night and all weekend. Unless he's working with Prince William or something.
Not trying to cause a row between you both btw. Just mean he needs to adjust his expectations and accept that a lot of it is just how life is. You can both make changes like not volunteering your spare time for other people, decluttering, making a schedule etc, that will all help, but I do think his dream of all that spare time is going to have to wait.
Have you considered that you're "using up" the available free time with all the stuff you have sussed? The routine of housework jobs, washing etc is great, but that doesn't shrink these jobs into no time. Maybe your days are full of these bite sized pieces leaving no room for anything else. I still think your idea of "low standards" might be waaay higher than mine/most people's!
We divide and conquer a lot of the time - one takes the children and organises food etc, the other does The Job. The trick IMO is that sometimes it's the main childcaring parent who does the DIY and the one who WOH more does the childcare. Then you both feel like you've had more of a break.
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