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I live in a dirty house... HELP!

post #1 of 95
Thread Starter 
I hate living in a dirty house. And when I say dirty, I mean dirty. I mean, it's not dirty like you see in the TV show "How clean is your house?" dirty, but it's definitely NOT clean.

My DS is 6, DD is 3, and my husband and I are 34, going on 12. How can I get my house in order?

We had a nanny part-time for a couple of years, and she kept it moderately clean. However, she only came twice a week and I always felt bad when she came every Monday that she had her work cut out for her. She suddenly became a step-mom (long story), her DS was allergic to our pets, she got pregnant, had bad MS, didn't show up for work at an important time and I had to fire her to put my kids in daycare. But since she's left, no-one picked up the slack of cleaning.

I just don't know where to start, or how to start. I try tidying up the toys every day and try to keep on top of things, but everything just falls apart so fast. My kids can make the whole house look like a tornado hit in under 2 hours, and I feel so deflated when I see the mess they made after I worked so hard cleaning it up the first time. The house never gets to a "tidy" state long enough so that I can do the deep cleaning that needs to be done (of which I'm the only one in the house who will actually care about the deep cleaning) so of course, it never gets done.

It's been our pattern and cycle for years and I don't know how to change it. I've tried assigning roles to people -- "pick something that you think you can keep clean forever. One small area". We all agree on our one small area. Everything goes well for a week, and then it all stops for some reason and we forget about it, or stop doing it, and a week later we are back at square 1.

I just don't know what to do to fix this problem. Hiring a cleaning lady never worked, because we would rely on them and never do anything, so when they came they had a mountain of stuff to clean on one day. That's not fair to them, and it's not fun for us because for 4 or 5 days of those 7 we are living in filth.
post #2 of 95
Have you ever tried FlyLady? I did that a few years ago but didn't keep up with it. I'm trying to start it again now.
post #3 of 95
Thread Starter 
I did try, yes. And the same, it worked for a while, but then I stopped doing it. I think the reason I stopped is that it was HER way, and not MY way, and she lost credibility with me because I realized that she's just a bit of a nut-case. I even tried setting up my own system. I got all organized, had a filing box and everything, with days, weeks and months of the year of what tasks I was supposed to do and when. When I completed the task, I re-filed it for the next time it needed to be done.

It sort of worked out for a while (this was long before I had DD). I even fired my current cleaning lady because I felt I didn't need her any more. But everything fell apart shortly thereafter. (I can blame it on getting PG, but honestly, I don't think it was related).
post #4 of 95
There are several different things you can try to see what works for you.

Depending on the layout of your house would it be feasible to have a kids room where all their toys stay? Sadly we can't do this with our small house , but it works well for some of my friends. It REALLY cut down on the clutter to have one room where all the toys go.

What works for me personally is to do a couple of things every day. In order for this system to work though you need to start fresh with a clean house. Once the house is clean every day is devoted to doing one or two particular chores.

So, Monday would be cleaning the bathroom (wiping down the counters getting clean towels etc) and cleaning the bedrooms. This flows into also doing the laundry.

Tuesday is dusting and vacuuming/sweeping/mopping the floors.

Wednesday is cleaning the kitchen, running the dishwasher and doing the garbage/recycling.

Thursday is dedicated to doing a general run through of the whole house and getting it tidy for the weekend.

The above is just an idea of how I manage my time. I really don't spend tons of time on this stuff because I am consistent about doing something every day. Most days I spend 45 minutes or (not counting laundry of course) And that is the key. If you do a little every day, you don't get overwhelmed with stuff.

Doing the above could also allow you to have a cleaning person come back in. If you can stay on top of some of the stuff, a cleaning person could ensure you are always starting with a clean house.
post #5 of 95
I would start by decluttering one room at the time. Anything that hasn't gotten used in the last couple of months (except seasonal items of course) get rid off. It is a lot easier to keep a house tidy & clean that doesn't have a lot of stuff in it. Then make a space (basket, shelf, box) so every item that you keep has a place to go.
My house is by no means perfect, but decluttering and getting rid of stuff every couple of months really helps.
post #6 of 95
I have this problem a little bit, too. That is, I am always cleaning up for when someone comes over, or just when I can't stand it anymore-- every couple days, pretty much, but I can't seem to keep up the neatness in a consistent way.

Here's what I've deduced in my situation. !.) FlyLady wouldn't work for me-- if I followed her system, my house would be a mess-- it's not enough! My kids are very dirty/messy and several parts of the house require scrubbing, every, single day-- plus the whole house requires picking up, every, single day. Depressing, but true. So the one thing that's going to work for me is any way I can try to cut down on the actual creation of mess.

There are several things that I have pinpointed as creating the most mess in my house--

1.) children eating ~ I created designated areas for eating (not all over the house) and started using tablecloths, bibs, and a rug under the table. Help a lot. Eating at the coffee table in the living room is now a treat, not a regular occurrence.

2.) unsupervised play ~ when my boys have the run of the house-- when I'm taking a break on the computer, pretty much-- they make a mess. They get out a toy and don't put it away before getting out another. They get into stuff they shouldn't, etc etc. So the answer here is for me to save my computer time for the evening after they go to bed, and to just be WITH them and play WITH them so they are never really unsupervised. this is a hard one though-- haven't done it yet!

3.) disorganization ~ the final thing that makes my apartment messy. There are too many things that just don't have a home-- or have several hoes. Shoes-- can go in the front closet, the boys' room closet, or the master bedroom closet-- and because none of these is a very convenient place to store them (the front closet is the most convenient but it's too over-crowded) the shoes just end up all over the floor all the time. Or the cleaning supplies- have like three different places they could "go" but none of them really convenient, so they just wind up everywhere and nowhere . . . so I am trying to work on really getting organized. Everything needs to have a place that it goes that works for me. I am using the book "Organize Now" which is very handy so far.

I think if I can tackle these main issues, my house will be a much cleaner place. HTH you too!
post #7 of 95
It sounds like you need to start with the clutter. Until you get that under control, the cleaning will seem overwhelming. First focus on dealing with the "stuff" you have littered around the house.

1. Is there adequate storage - shelving for books and games and toys, drawers and closets for clothes and shoes, baskets to catch some overflow - for everything you have? If there isn't, you need to get rid of stuff or get more storage. I'd try to get rid of as much as you can.

2. Pick a room. Take 3 boxes with you, start in one corner of the room, and pick up the stuff. One box is for things you will put away, one is for things to donate, another is for trash. Be ruthless.

3. Don't worry about getting the entire house under control in one day. That's my problem - I get overwhelmed. I have to remind myself that it's okay if I only manage to clean up the living room or the kitchen. Some is better than none.

4. Encourage your kids to put toys away before they take out new ones. They have to have accessible baskets and toy shelves - and a limited amount of toys and games. It's a basic routine in a Montessori casa for 3 to 6 year olds. I've seen children learn and follow this routine quickly - in a couple of days - so your children are at a good age to start it.

5. Many children have more toys than they need. Take a hard look at what they really enjoy, and get rid of at least half of the rest of the stuff that's really just litter in your house. If they won't get into the habit of replacing toys before taking out new ones, schedule a clean-up time (right before lunch? at the end of the afternoon? whenever it's a good time for your family) every day.

Good luck.
post #8 of 95
Are you actually ready to live in a tidy house? Are you ready to let go of the idea that your DP should do 50% of the housework (which he should) and do it all yourself without resentment or divorce, because having a nice house is more important to you than the idea that if he won't do it, you shouldn't either?

If so, I suggest that you go and clean the toilet, then declutter your bathroom (s) and clean the handbasin and bathtub. Tomorrow, I suggest you clean the toilet, declutter the kitchen sink and then clean it. If your house is tidy enough that you don't need to declutter the sink, I apologise- mine has been pretty bad at times. And so on. Whatever happens, do not let the kitchen and the bathroom slip back under any circumstances,
post #9 of 95
post #10 of 95
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by flapjack View Post
Are you actually ready to live in a tidy house? Are you ready to let go of the idea that your DP should do 50% of the housework (which he should) and do it all yourself without resentment or divorce, because having a nice house is more important to you than the idea that if he won't do it, you shouldn't either?
I don't know that I am... maybe that's my problem
post #11 of 95
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionTigerBear View Post
So the one thing that's going to work for me is any way I can try to cut down on the actual creation of mess.

1.) children eating

2.) unsupervised play

3.) disorganization

I think if I can tackle these main issues, my house will be a much cleaner place. HTH you too!
You're absolutely right! I have problems in all three of those areas.
post #12 of 95
Having a room schedule really helps. I deep clean one room a day. Then at the end of the night before bed, everything must be put away and tidy. Hubby and I pitch in and we are done in 20 minutes. It helps to have a spot for everything!
post #13 of 95
I think that first you need to make the distinction between whether your house is filthy, or your house is messy.

Kids should make houses messy, not filthy. If they are making your house filthy, you need to take away what is causing the filth. If they can't be trusted with art supplies without making the house filthy--art supplies can only be used at the table, under supervision. If they are creating a mess with eating things--eating can only be done at the table, and any mess from eating should be cleaned up immediately afterward. Both the your children (3 and 6) are old enough to do basic cleanup after eating and have it enforced that they do it EVERY SINGLE TIME (dumping trash into trash can, putting plates and etc onto counter by sink or into dish washer).

Kids making house messy: if the mess is getting deep and high, there's too much stuff for them to play with. Set up an area (basement, playroom) where they can be messy, but they are also responsible to clean up. Most of the toys in the household should be in that area. A few toys can be in other areas, but the kids are responsible for playing and putting away immediately if they chose to play there (toy A must be put away before toy B can be played with anywhere except "messy" area). The "messy" area gets cleaned up (by kids and adults) once a week.

In our house, the basement is the "messy" area, and the kid's bedroom and the first floor are the "play and put away" areas. He's 3.5, and he basically gets the rules: in reality what I end up with is one or two toys in the "put away" area at the end of the day (easily tidied in a couple minutes), and a disastrous basement area I try to pay little attention to until it's time to clean it up. But I suspect my disaster isn't quite even equal to others disaster: right now, for example the duplos are all over the floor down there, the blocks, and the box of art supplies. I could probably get that tidied in about 15 minutes, and swept/cleaned in another 15.
post #14 of 95
i did flylady, got frustrated in the same way you did, and now just clean my house in the increments and with the attitude she does, without actually ALWAYS following her schedule.

when i wake up i do 2 minutes in a "hot spot".
i try to have the dishes done before i go to bed, if not i do them right after breakfast.
i do five minutes in each room every day. which i know is not something she reccommends, but i do it anyway.
I have 15 minute cleaning frenzies where I focus on the toughest room in the house.
I do follow her deep cleaning lists if I have extra time and energy. Mostly for ideas on what to clean and how.

My advice would be to not even worry about the toy messes and only focus on cleaning your house in a way that feels good to you. So if that's leaving the toys on the floor, but clearing off the kitchen counter, or putting the laundry away, then so be it.

i literally only clean up toys twice a day. when ds goes down for a nap (before my computer/"me" time), and before we all go to bed. if i tried keeping up with that mess i'd go crazy. dh tries to keep up with toy mess on the weekend. I've tried to advise him otherwise. he doesn't listen. and he drives himself crazy. sometimes, to help him out i'll clean up some of the toys before he comes home from work, since that's what makes him feel overwhelmed. but otherwise, i worry about what makes me feel overwhelmed. Laundry. Dishes/Countertops. and Sweeping. Keeping up with those three things really has the house looking great. Laundry and Dishes get done every day. Sweeping, every other day, unless there is a mess.

Since you're the one cleaning, worry about what worries you. That's it. If you're DH or kids need something to feel comfortable in their own home...then it's up to them to make sure it gets done.

And like flylady says...BABY STEPS. Don't feel like everything has to be perfect. Or that it has to be done in one day. Take frequent breaks for play AND rest. Drink lots of water. And most of all don't be afraid to reward or pamper yourself for a job well done!!

Decluttering is also great advice.

I'm guessing that you work, mama. I can't imagine what our house would look like if both DH and I worked. I'm thankful that I can focus on our home throughout the day. YOU WILL find something that works for your family though. If you're determined. And it seems like you are!!
post #15 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by flapjack View Post
Are you actually ready to live in a tidy house? Are you ready to let go of the idea that your DP should do 50% of the housework (which he should) and do it all yourself without resentment or divorce, because having a nice house is more important to you than the idea that if he won't do it, you shouldn't either?

If so, I suggest that you go and clean the toilet, then declutter your bathroom (s) and clean the handbasin and bathtub. Tomorrow, I suggest you clean the toilet, declutter the kitchen sink and then clean it. If your house is tidy enough that you don't need to declutter the sink, I apologise- mine has been pretty bad at times. And so on. Whatever happens, do not let the kitchen and the bathroom slip back under any circumstances,
great advice.
post #16 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by flapjack View Post
Whatever happens, do not let the kitchen and the bathroom slip back under any circumstances,
This is good advice. I try to always have a clean bathroom and a clean kitchen.
post #17 of 95
I find that if I keep little bits of the house clean it makes me want to make the rest of it clean.

For example

1.) clean floors (freshly vaccummed, swept,etc..)
2.) a bed that is made
3.) a clean sink (I don't do flylady, but I like to have a shiny sink)
4.) a clean (decluttered) bathroom sink

Those things generally lead to me wanting to finish cleaning because it looks so nice it's a shame to "ruin" it with laundry all over or dishes still on my counters, etc..
post #18 of 95
I'd start by decluttering. The rest is all habit. Once you get your house in the shape you want, you'll just need to figure out how to keep it that way. Clean up messes as they happen and don't let little things (school papers and such) turn into a big mess.
post #19 of 95
You need the decluttering and organizing forum

But a few quick things

1. housework is never done.
2. life changes and it's important for your systems to change to
3. it's better to just shove stuff into a box and take care of the cleaning chore than to wait until things are "tidy enough"
post #20 of 95
I'm also on a "modified Flylady" plan. DH is the at-home Dad, and he's very good about keeping the laundry clean and the dishes done / put away. He'll also sweep the dining room & kitchen most days.

When we moved two years ago, we had a period of time with most of our stuff in storage while we lived in apartments. We pulled a few boxes at a time out of storage to sort through: 1) need in the apartments, 2) keep for the house, 3) donate, or 4) trash. So by the time we moved into the house, MUCH of the clutter was gone. And there's only three of us, so it's hard to get too bad too fast.

Much of what I do is the "weekly home blessing" phased to about one per day. One day I'll sweep the floors. Another day I'll clean the glass on the windows, doors, and mirrors. Another day I'll wipe down cabinets, or mop. I'll often swish & swipe the guest bathroom while DS is bathing in that tub.

When we do a deeper cleaning/scrubbing, we try to keep it to one room at a time.

As for children's messes, DS mostly drinks water from the sippy cup. If we give him anything else (juice, soda), it's clear liquids, and we clean up spills immediately. Cow-milk stays at the table. (Mama-milk doesn't make a mess.)
The biggest issue we usually run into is art supplies: crayons or markers used on the wall. He's only two, so while it's not "okay", it's understandable. We have a Magic Eraser, but really I plan to get the walls painted in something semi-gloss soon-ish.
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