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Mums with small children - how are you not doing jobs/housework the entire time?

(36 Posts)
Tinkjon Tue 30-Dec-08 09:31:10

I spend virtually all day doing jobs and it is driving me CRAZY. I have an almost-6yo and a 15mo and I never, ever get to sit down. I also feel really bad that I don't do enough with the kids - I'm always saying "in a minute, I just have to do x first...". It's DH too, not just me. I don't understand why we always have so much to do. I'm not talking about being houseproud and I don't mean jobs like cleaning windows, dusting (we've lived here for 4 years and I honestly don't think I have ever dusted shock), organising linen cupboards and so on - I mean the essential day-to-day stuff like getting the washing on and getting dinner ready and having a floor that you can walk across without tripping up! Our house is in a bit of a state - we've had an extension built and we haven't got proper storage yet, would that make a difference? I feel like I'm always tidying things away - I could spend hours every day moving things to their right places. I hate having cluttered worktops and yesterday I spent half an hour clearing everything off it but within an hour it was full again. Full of weird things like keys, gloves, a hairdryer, bits of toys, an ice-cube tray and so on, how does it get like this?! And the kids don't really play with toys, they just get stuff out and leave it around the house. We tend to do a big toy tidy at the end of the day but there is still toy stuff everywhere. Bits of one game could be spread across every room in the house. I've tried getting DD to tidy her things away and we had a 'no toys out unless the previous one has been put away first' but she can't seem to do it - am I expecting too much to get a 5yo to tidy? We have one of those stair baskets and every day I have several baskets full of stuff to go upstairs then stuff to come downstairs again. And the baby's favourite game is opening cupboards and putting the stuff everywhere - do you just have to accept that with babies?! I had plans to give him just one cupboard full of interesting things but that hasn't worked for various reasons. The playroom is a disaster - we have open shelving and toys on the floor, which I guess encourages them to get stuff out rather than play properly. Would we be better off with proper basket storage so things aren't quite as on display or would they still just get everything out? But then I don't want to be one of those parents who doesn't like their kids to play because it makes a mess! We have a toybox but everything falls to the bottom and you can't find anything in there. Maybe part of the problem is that the baby doesn't nap properly - I get an hour a day if I'm lucky, not like the 2 hours that I had with DD...

Sorry, this has been a very long post but heeeeelp, can anybody save us from constant job-doing?!

sweetgrapes Tue 30-Dec-08 09:46:07

In the same boat. Either the house is a tip or I'm running round all day like a headless chicken.

My ds is 2 so a bit older than yours but just as messy and has dropped all naps so hmm.

But I have 2 strategies that I use if I can...

I have a cupboard with a latch which they can't get into. I put all sets of games in there and control paly and tidy up of these. Other things (cars, dolls, a few puzzles, a few games) are outside and get rotated from the stuff in the cupboard. The stuff that's outside I just bung into storage type boxes. In theory I have a box for cars, another for dolls, another for bricks etc... I leave you to guess at the reality. wink

At the moment my cupboard is empty and everything is outside in a BIG muddle.grin I need to sort, take to charity, chuck and lock away. If I do this ruthlessly then we survive for a little while.

The other thing that helps is if I do cooking before they wake up and housework after they go to sleep and concentrate on them while they are awake. Then I can play with them and tidy up with/around them as we go along. Again, works for a bit but I can never keep it up. Dd is 7 and doesn't understand 'put back before you take out'.

Of course, the best one is 'let it slide'.wink

Hassled Tue 30-Dec-08 09:53:29

I agree with the "let it slide" approach. As long as the house isn't actually a Health and Safety issue then a few toys kicking around is fine. I've always made sure the bathroom and kitchen are hygienic, and not fretted about the rest. Your kids won't always be so young, and it won't always be so relentless, but while it is like this relax.

Most of our toys are in plastic storage boxes upstairs, and the rule is that if one box comes downstairs then another one has to go back upstairs - this has helped to keep on top of things and means, for example, that we'll never have Lego and Playmobil out simultanously. Which in itself helps with the clearing up - if it's all Playmobil, it's easier to sweep back into the box.

MrsMattie Tue 30-Dec-08 09:55:54

I have a nearly 4 yr old and a newborn baby and am in exactly the same boat. If you find a miracle solution, tell me!

whyme2 Tue 30-Dec-08 10:03:37

If it all gets too much for me (I have 4 dcs) we just packa picnic and go out for the day. Then I can focus on the children without feeling like I should be doing housework or tidying. Also some storage solutions are helpful and a good decluttering now and again. But the state of our house at the moment is horrendous and I haven't been brave enough to go downstairs today.
Also try and just focus on keeping one room clear like the sitting room so you have an oasis.

bronze Tue 30-Dec-08 10:05:57

I just live in a hole and let it fester

LoveMyGirls Tue 30-Dec-08 10:07:24

I have times of the day that I let it slide and times when I tidy up, dp and dd are also really helpful too.

Tidy up times are...
8.20ish for tidying breakfast mess
12.30ish for lunch time mess and a quick tidy in the living room
4.45ish I ask dd's to put the toys away (in baskets/ toy boxes so it's easy then while they are eating dinner I usually run round doing the last few bits then after dinner I wash up and sweep up/ hoover while dp does bath time then we will both do whatever else is left to do before we both sit down for the evening.

ninjinglebells Tue 30-Dec-08 10:07:51

Glad it's not just me! Again I'm not obsessive - but it feels like it sometimes. I keep thinking if I can just get this room sorted/this new storage cupboard/...

I too will be watching this for any ideas

MarlaSinger Tue 30-Dec-08 10:08:01

Could you afford a cleaner? Then you just have to spend half an hour or so keeping the place tidy...? I only haveone DS but don't do that much and the place is pretty tidy. Maybe storage is the problem?

littleboyblue Tue 30-Dec-08 10:08:14

I do an hour a day, no more. I clean bathroom when I'm in the shower so that doesn't count as hour, I wash the tiles down and the bath while I'm in there washing hair, I clean sink out whilst cleaning teeth and then give toilet quick wipe. I do that every day, I clean kitchen in bits, wipe one area everytime I go in there and do 1 room a day, monday kitchen prop, tuesday my bedroom, wednesday ds bedroom, thursday livingroom and hallway and friday whatever looks messy.

fruitful Tue 30-Dec-08 10:12:10

Mine are 6, nearly 4,and 12mo. Ds2 does nap but I've still got ds1 during that time, and actually he is more effort!

I do minimal cooking - plan the week in advance and do a lot of very quick easy stuff. I get the shopping delivered.

I clean the bathroom/kitchen while the older 2 are at school (ds1 does mornings), and the baby "helps". Dh hoovers. I tidy endlessly. It's still a mess.

The 6yo and 3yo can and do tidy their own stuff up. They need me to direct them - i.e. to say "you put all the toy cooking stuff in that box", "you take all the soft toys back upstairs". We have 9 plastic boxes in a cube-shelf thing. It does help - everything has a home - but they do still get everything out at once.

I think you just have to re-order you priorities - do the jobs after you've done what you wanted to do instead. If the jobs don't get done, never mind!

Me, I feel like I'm constantly on the school run. Which will only get better next Sept when ds1 goes full-time.

fruitful Tue 30-Dec-08 10:15:40

Oh, "tidy-up o'clock" is after tea in the evening. They're fed and happy at that point. I do the kitchen, they do the living-room, with me shouting instructions through the hatch.

We have to do "tidy-up time" every day, or they get out of the habit and get all whingy about it. Also we have a rule - "it doesn't matter who made the mess - we all tidy everything". Because otherwise they say the baby did it all. If they whinge about that I threaten to only cook for myself.

treedelivery Tue 30-Dec-08 10:22:17

2 things I can offer you. We moved to a huge [for us used to the gingerbread house] house in March and have not stopped knocking down, building up, plastering, tiling you name it - since.

1 - Go to Ikea or more expensive equivalent if you like grin and buy those open drawers with plastic boxes that act as drawers, iyswim. They are in the kids bit. Line a wall with them, put them under the stairs, on a landing, behind a door - anywhere you can think of and anywhere you see a small plot of carpet.
Sling all toys and bits that hurt your feet into them. In the future you can organise it with dc's and have a Thomas box, a craft box, etc etc. They will love having this little kingdom they control. Don't have too much - do night time pounces on the play room and remove things you know are past it, they won't remember - but if you asked they wouldn't let you get rid of. Keep quality, classics and sentimental things.
Empty every drawer cupboard and wardrobe in the house and ruthlessley get rid of stuff you don't fit into, don't like, don't wear and so on. You now have a spare drawer for your hairdryer! Things you want to keep go in vacum bags under beds with a sticker on saying 'winter jumpers' 'summer dresses age 2-3 yrs' etc, until you loose your rag with them too and sling them into charity shop too. The day will come I promise you.
Be brave - do you need to hang on to a bouncy chair, moses basket etc etc. If you do, fine, but if not - or you would want another one anyway should the need arise - get rid!!
We fit an entire family kitchen into 3 units. Do you need 4 casseroles and 8 pans? Get rid! Kitchens have heaps of space for box files of bills etc etc. Put tiny hooks on the back of a kitchen cupboard door - keys go there.
Look up - the top of kitchen cupboards can take huge platic boxes in which can go photo albums, clothes, tools etc etc. Tops of wardrobes should skim the ceilings, pretty boxes filled with bedding etc etc.
You have now de cluttered. Hurrah!

2 - sod it all. If the basic fundamentals are sorted, then a tidy takes an hour. In nother hours coins, bits of paper, screw etc will have re grouped in the corner of your work top. It's normal. Sling them in a plant pot and then get out of the house to escape the 'I really ought to....' or confine yourself to one room of playing and reading etc so you don't even see the rest of the house.

This is how we did it!

swanriver Tue 30-Dec-08 11:17:53

Take all 3/4 of cds and half toys out of active circulation and put in loft or hide somewhere. FIND them again in 6 months, and put others away. My 5 yr old son once spent a whole day playing happily with a tiny plastic cow, despite being surrounded by stress inducing duplo, brio, lego, playmobil. Sabbath was made for Man, Man was not made for the Sabbath etc, because toys/clothes are there to help us not rule our lives,wear us down.

firststeps Tue 30-Dec-08 13:05:48

thank god for this thread - I was just about to post the same thing - I've got DS1 - 3 and DS2 - 12 months and every day feels like one long tidy up!!! if anyone else has any good tips they would be gratefully received

breaghsmum Tue 30-Dec-08 22:17:14

i find OH is the worst offender, im constantly saying, "lift your towel, dont leave your keys/change/recepits on the counter, take your coat and shoes upstairs." he pays that im nagging. i agree completely, i m nagging but if i let it slide it would drive me mad and i just like the look of a clear counter/ banister/ floor. i just have resigned myself to being a nag.

ruddynorah Tue 30-Dec-08 22:24:39

the key for me is not having too much stuff, and the stuff we do have all has a home.

hellymelly Tue 30-Dec-08 22:26:59

Same here,DD1 just turned four (not at school yet) and baby of 19 months.I feel as though I am always saying "in a minute"etc,always following them around trying to tidy up,and the place is a constant mess.The baby doesn't sleep well and I am still bf,so I am really tired,even though I have a very helpful husband who does nearly all the cooking.I am just hoping I will have a tidy house in a few years time!

ravenAK Tue 30-Dec-08 22:27:13

Boxes/baskets at top & bottom of all stairs (we live in 4 storey terrace). Try never to go up/downstairs without taking the basket with you & firing things back into where they should be.

Oh & lots of 9litre 'Really Useful Boxes' grin. Once eldest child can read stick labels on saying 'Lego', 'pirates', 'cars' etc - I did a load of labels on Publisher with the word in comic sans & an accompanying picture - ds (4) now scuttles round re-boxing stuff if suitably bribed.

(Neither ds nor I are actually quite as sad as this makes us sound, btw...we just share a bit of a fetish for colourful plastic boxes...wink)

SnowballsintheSky Tue 30-Dec-08 22:30:13

I don't do a thing all day. If we're in the house then DD (11.5mo) dictates and I spend my time sitting on my arse because she won't let me do anything other than be in the same room as her. We have tried all alternatives!

Consequently, when DH takes her up to bed I have a mad couple of hours where I clean and tidy everything. Pretty much works but then I don't get to bed before midnight most nights.

thatsnotmymonster Tue 30-Dec-08 22:34:25

Me too. I have a nearly 4yo, 2.5yo and nearly 8mo (who is crawling).

The house always feels like a mess- toys litter the floor, kitchen worktops cluttered, clothes need sorting out, washing is endless and constant, dishwasher is always on.

My normal routine is
7.15am DH gets up and gives kids weetabix
7.45am I get up, change nappies, get kids dressed, have a shower, tidy up breakfast stuff and put a load of washing on.
8.30am- leave the house to take ds to nursery

While he is at nursery I will take dds to supermarket, then go home and unpack it
OR go home and do small amount of tidying, put dd2 in bed and spend some time with dd1.

11.10am- go to pick ds up from nursery
12.15pm- give them all lunch and clear up lunch stuff
12.45pm- put all dcs in bed for afternoon nap

If I'm lucky I may get 2 hours to myself in which I will either do nothing OR spend manically trying to do washing/tidy.cook dinner.

3pm- they get up from nap and it's already getting dark so all my plans for leaving the house vanish and I try to do something like baking but I invariably end up saying, 'Not now' 'in a minute' 'just let me do x first' 'when I've changed dd2's nappy' 'maybe tomorrow' and before I know it it's dinner time, then bath time, then bedtime, then dh gets home and we need to eat and I'm too tired to do anything except MN grin

treedelivery Tue 30-Dec-08 22:37:09

ravenAK - our new house is 3 storey, and 3 really steep storey iyswim.

Learnt very early never go anywhere empty handed!

Also share your box thing [mines the IKEA plstic drawer thing] it really works. The pics and labels are really good too, we did that. Like play school, so dd just kind of does at home what she does there.


Shitemum Tue 30-Dec-08 22:39:21

I went apeshit at everyone today because of I am so sick of the mess. The detonator was that I discovered DP had gone through a bag of rubbish and retrieved some plastic tat that I'd thrown out and gave it to the DDs to play with. He does this regularly, I tie up a bag of rubbish and later on discover things from the bag back in circulation. It drives me NUTS.

Am wondering if the only solution to toy mess is to lock everything away or put it on high shelves so they have to ask for it and tidy it away before something else is brought out. Designated play times might help where I say 'do you want to do a puzzle now?' for example, then I get one out for them.

It's not only their mess tho. Today I opened 3 months backlog of bank letters and chucked aimless bits of paper out that were floating around the house. EVERY SINGLE surface has random miscellaneous junk piled on it. Every drawer is stuffed full of stuff. Looking for anything is like doing an archeological dig. I found an advent calendar I made for DD1 when she was 2 at the bottom of a heap of stuff on a table recently, she is 5 now.

We only moved in to this house in August but I don't think that counts as an excuse when we moved boxes and boxes of unsorted paperwork from the last 20 years with us shock

What is wrong with us? Why can't we get rid of stuff and file everything properly?

Tinkjon Tue 30-Dec-08 22:41:09

Some good suggestions there, ladies. And I'm very relieved to know it's not just me!! You all inspired me to declutter a bit - one set of drawers is done, just the odd million bits to go then...

Tinkjon Tue 30-Dec-08 22:41:32

Some good suggestions there, ladies. And I'm very relieved to know it's not just me!! You all inspired me to declutter a bit - one set of drawers is done, just the odd million bits to go then...

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