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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Organize & Declutter › I'm not ready to keep my house clean yet, and its getting bothersome :( EDIT: Maybe I am ready?
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I'm not ready to keep my house clean yet, and its getting bothersome :( EDIT: Maybe I am ready?

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
I apologize, its a very long post:

My house is a mess. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment.

We live in the living room, and all of the stuff we live with are strewn about the floor. Exercise ball, pillows, baby contraptions/toys, our laptops, and some boxes -one needs to go to the dumpster, one has kitchen stuff that needs to get put away(has no home), the other box has been sitting there for weeks, if not months, and once held our home office/study desk. We're keeping it because the desk was a put-it-together-yourself desk, and didn't include all of the parts. We still haven't called the manufacturer about the parts yet.

My kitchen is overflowing into the dining room. we don't have a table, and pots and pans and flour/sugar containers are all over the floor too.

The kitchen sink is full of dishes. There are things to get washed on the counters. We hand wash dishes, because the dishwasher doesn't do a great job, and there are dishes to put away in the dish drying rack and dishwasher(drying rack overflow location). The cupboards. oh, the cupboards. they're SOOO unorganized. I have lentils in 3 different locations. Yesterday I discovered dried beans in a place I didn't realize I had put them. We have a Furnace in a closet without shelves that we keep some items in, we have a bunch of nice trays and containers that we have no use for---we got them for our wedding, and have duplicates. we also have spare tires in there. I keep some of our wic food overflow in there too, as well as some items that we purchase in bulk such as zip-lock bags and also plastic grocery bags.

Then theres the 2nd bedroom. An exercise step, iron and ironing board, and an incomplete office desk(whose box is still in the living room). Its usable, we've used it, we just don't have all the parts for the drawers yet, so we can't use those. Oh, and we can't use that room right now because there is a huge pile of unfolded clothing in there from when we did the laundry a week or 2 ago.

The hall closet could use re-organizing, the kind that includes a bag for goodwill.

Our bedroom is a mess too. The frame for our bed broke, but was an expensive gift that is only a little over 1 year old, and we'd hate to throw it away, but we've fixed it numerous times, and it keeps breaking. It is currently being stored behind our dresser. the crib is in our room, right at the foot of our bed(not sidecarred because out bed is too low for that now). at the head of the bed on the floor is another pile of clean clothes that needs to get folded. Theres another pile over by the window. Theres a comforter and an electric blanket and some other stuff. We have a ton of good stuff(a lot that we should probalby get rid of though) stored neatly under the crib. I suppose our drawers are organized ok, but once the whole house is cleaned(as if!), they could use a re-organization. We have a walk-in closet that is organized ok. Clothing is organized, but I have a ton of shawls/scarves that are nicely folded on the shelf in the closet. It could be reorganized though to better fit items. Theres a ton of old papers up there that i think we need to hang on to(they're my in-laws financial records or something--they now live overseas, they left them here). and a pile of dirty clothes on the floor of the closet.

the bathroom? other than cleaning the toilet or shower or sink once its been visibly filthy for a while, not much else gets done in there. theres a baby bathtub on the floor that we need to get rid of and the floor needs a good sweep and mopping.

and then the carpets need to be vacuumed.

I don't know how to get it cleaned, and I have no idea how to KEEP it clean. I'm at a loss... I've only got one kid, and I spend my day at home. on the days i'm out of the house, its even worse. We can manage to quickly clean up the living room if, say people are coming over, but that usually involves throwing junk into a different room. My husband and I get too depressed and lazy by the state of the house that we don't feel like cleaning up. I think we're not ready to keep it clean, but we can't live in such a messy place! As the wife, I'm expected to clean the house, but I feel like I just don't have time! I'm so tired all the time, and when DH comes home, he doesn't want to help me. I'm at a loss...
post #2 of 80
I think it's really something you need to schedule into your day and do conciously until it becomes a habit, both decluttering and actual cleaning.
post #3 of 80
We (DH and I) were reasonably clean and neat (though not anything near white glove) until we had DD and then everything just fell apart. For years.

We're on the journey back, and we haven't "made it" yet but as I felt better and had more energy, I worked on decluttering and that helped tremendously.

Now, the house does still frequently "fall apart" but over time we've found it's easier and easier to put it back together again. Honestly, it used to take us about 2 major cleaning days to get ready for visitors, and as of today we could be spic and span in about 4 hours I'd say. That's still a long way from the folks who are always company-ready or at least only need maybe a half hour - but it's still progress.

So I guess I'd ask you, are you feeling well? Are you energized? Free of depression? I'd tackle decluttering but even more important is to look at your health. Of course you might feel depressed and low energy BECAUSE your house is a mess or you're disorganized, but these things do go hand in hand. How is your nutrition? Are you getting enough exercise? Avoiding sweets and junk food?

I would sit there and have all the mental motivation in the world but not have the ENERGY to deal with it. I'd be thinking, it's not even just that I want a magic wand to make all this go away, but I'd be willing to sit there and tell someone in great detail, "ok, that box, can you bring it down to the porch? Now bring over that pile of clothes and I'll look at those, then you can wipe down the top of the stereo..." etc. But unable to get up the energy to get off my butt and tackle it. I had to work on feeling better first.
post #4 of 80
It sounds like you have way too much stuff for your space. You need to do some decluttering, but don't know where to start, correct? Is anything a safety hazard or health hazard? Start with that. Just set a timer for 15 minutes after you have gotten your shower and breakfast and fed the kid. Either sling him or put him down with some toys to explore. Have three containers ready--one for put away, one for trash, and one for donate. If you absolutely must, but I don't recommend doing so, have a fourth container for "I can't decide". Pick an area. Just one small area--a corner, a cabinet, a closet. For 15 minutes pick up everything. Decide, if it does not belong in that area, what to do with it, and place it in the proper bin. Be ruthless. Once the 15 minutes is up, put away the put away items, take the trash to the trash can/dumpster, and the donate to a designated place if you can't get it into your car. If you don't have a car, call the places and arrange a pickup in a couple weeks. Don't try to pull out the entire room. Do one drawer or shelf at a time. If you need to, arrange for a small storage facility. $50 a month, give or take, will give you some peace of mind and visual peace in your apartment.
post #5 of 80
Awww, mama, I really feel for you! Actually, I wish I could come over and help you for an afternoon-- I absolutely love helping other people clean and organize their spaces. I know my family probably gets offended, but I just can't help but do a bit of cleaning and throwing away and laundry when I visit them...
Anyway-- here are my suggestions: First, start really small! Pick just one drawer or table or box and just deal with it! Do the thing where once you've picked something up you absolutely can.not. put it down unless you're putting it where it goes. If you don't have a use for it, put it in the goodwill pile! No more holding on to stuff that you don't need or is broken and you're not going to fix it-- even if it was expensive! In my experience, that kind of thing only makes me feel worse every time I see it. Once it's gone, I promise you won't miss it or even think about it again!

If you're overwhelmed about taking things to goodwill, just store everything in one place, like the unused bedroom, temporarily, and then ask a thrift store to come and pick it up. Hopefully that will work in your area!

Have you heard of the Fly Lady? It's this email subscription service (free) that is supposed to help people get organized and keep their spaces clean. I tried it....it didn't work for me, but I know lots of women it has worked for. It seems like it mostly works for stay-at-home-moms.

I hope some of this is helpful to you! I'm in a bit of a rush right now, so sorry if this is jumbled. I also wanted to point out that it might help if you rewarded yourself for doing something that you've been putting off. Even with just a fancy cup of coffee (or whatever suits you)! That kind of thing works for me. I occassionally set aside 1 hour and take everything off of, say, my kitchen shelves, lump the items in "like" piles, wipe the shelves down, and then put everything back neatly. You'll be amazed and how much better that one thing will make you feel!

Keep us posted and good luck!
post #6 of 80
1-I would suggest getting out for a walk each day or a couple times a week. Getting fresh air and exercise can go a long way in improving mood.

2-Start small. Try to carve out a little niche that will be beautiful, calm and uncluttered. Just having a little oasis in the clutter can be wonderful... then, spread out from there.

3-Put on some good music. Whatever you like that will get you moving.

4-Stop thinking about how much you hate it and just do it! This was the biggest thing for me. We used to have a messy, cluttered apartment and I'd see out of the corner of my eye the giant pile of laundry to fold and put away. I'd think about how I should be taking care of it and not wanting to and then feeling bad and then trying to ignore it. I've had stuff sit around for a week (a month?!) before getting to it and then once I finally did get around to it, it didn't take long at all! I spent WAY more time stressing over it than it took to DO it.

ETA: A post from one of my favourite blogs about never ending chores of a homemaker.
post #7 of 80
if you lived nearby, i would be like, "i'm coming over." not because my house is any cleaner (!) but because of how you're feeling. i've felt like that before, too - just discouraged and disgusted and down, and it's hard to get the ball rolling.

here's one thing that has helped me. i made a list of the spaces in our house, whatever the rooms are currently called. then i made a separate list of the things we do in our house - what spaces we need. that's a long list, longer than the spaces, so some spaces share purposes, but essentially it helped me designate a space for each activity/need and, well i already admitted my house isn't very tidy at the moment, but it's better and it's easier to get it back in shape when it does become a mess. and something that goes hand-in-hand with figuring out what each space is for and where everything goes, is thinking about my home's potential - how it could be completely awesome - rather than how it currently sucks. it gives me something to work toward, slowly.

and i just clean when i can. it might only be 15 minutes. some nights (i woh ft), i really, truly, don't feel i can do anything. but usually once i get started, i find that i'm able to keep going to get the dishes washed, or the toys scooped up and tucked away, or the laundry put away. one thing, but i can finish it. (you sound a lot like me - a person of unfinished business!)

if there is something calling your name, go ahead and do that. who cares if you "should" do the dishes first, if you want to attack that hall closet, do it! it might make you feel better so that you can do the dishes with a good attitude. if you need to use paper plates for a few days to catch up on the housework, do that. if you want to bring a trash bag into br2 and declutter the clothes as you fold, do that.

those are some general thoughts. here are thoughts on the specific little details.

box for the desk: can you break it down flat and shove it behind the desk itself? is dh calling about it, or are you? if it's him, what if you write the info on a post-it and send it to work with him, then call and remind him during the day to take care of it? if you, how about it you do it right now? or give yourself a deadline, like 10am tomorrow.
empty box: put it outside the door. ask dh to bring it to the dumpster before he comes in tonight.
kitchen box: tuck in the corner of the kitchen or dining room.
pots/pans/flour/sugar,etc: it's okay if there isn't anywhere to put them away yet. can you stack them neatly in a corner or along a wall? would you feel better if they were put into that empty box we just sent to the dumpster?
kitchen: can the nice trays and containers be used to organize those messy cupboards? or can they be useful in for office supplies, craft supplies, other small items you need to organize elsewhere?
dishes never end, and our dw sucks too. i fill the sink with the hottest water i can get, and soap, and dishes. let them sit while i wipe down the counters and throw out trash. wipe them off as i load them into the dishwasher. run a rinse cycle (no detergent). i'm basically washing by hand, but i don't have to rinse or clear a space for them to air dry, or look at them while they dry. i also can leave them in there until i'm ready to put them away. i don't care if there's food gunk in the wash water, because they're going to be rinsed in super hot water in the dw. i love this system. (dh hates it, so he doesn't do dishes. he'd like to throw filthy dishes in there and run a "heavy wash" cycle but guess what, it still doesn't work and our dw doesn't have a disposal!)
laundry: call a girlfriend and just go to town on all those clothes. just get it all done. it can't possibly take more than an hour. or send dh out of the house with the baby for a couple hours. once you do, you'll feel so much better.
bedroom: it's okay to get rid of the bed frame. it may have been expensive, but it's worthless to you now. post it on craigslist or freecycle if you want to give someone else chance to repair it. if it's really no good, then just release it. you don't deserve to have a big broken piece of furniture in your bedroom.
post #8 of 80
Pick just one place, and focus on it as your sanctuary. Clean it first, and keep it clean. When overwhelmed, go in there and shut the door. One step at a time!
post #9 of 80
From the Nike slogan...Just Do It.

Sorry but there isn't any other way to get it in better shape. You and dh need to sit down and decide how you are going to get on track. Is he willing to help? Can he occupy the baby while you do things? Does he not care and is happy the way it is? Have you been messies your entire lives or did the baby put it into a tail spin? Soon that baby is going to mobile and sugar/flour containers on the floor isn't going to cut it.

I understand you are overwhelmed, it is obvious from your post. However....and I don't want this to sound wrong...but in the time you typed that big ol post you could have had quite a bit done. By no means done or even half done but the dishes could have all been put up. You just have to start. Don't worry about perfect...just start
post #10 of 80
I'm a terrible procrastinator and what I've learned over time is that if I'm thinking about being overwhelmed with cleaning, I need to just get up and clean/straighten/tidy one thing. It doesn't have to be big or impressive (one of my downfalls is an all-or-nothing attitude) but it gives me a big sense of accomplishment when I've done it. Sometimes that feeling is enough to make me keep going, sometimes it's not, but either way I can look at that one thing and feel good.

Also, less stuff is key, as someone mentioned above. I often watch the show Hoarders for motivation (we had a thread about that a little while ago, I watch it online).
post #11 of 80
Aww I feel for you Mama and know how hard it can be! My kiddos are 3 and 5 and I stay home with them. The oldest is in pre-school 4 days a week though. We are in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment for the time being because DH is in school full time and I am about to start so we are trying to save money. This winter I have had the worst time keeping the apartment clean. DH doesn't understand it since I am home most of the time just with our youngest since our oldest is in pre-school. He thinks it should be easy for me to keep it clean. For one thing we don't have a dishwasher or a laundry machine so all dishes get washed by hand and laundry only gets done every two weeks so it really piles up. Beyond that we don't have much storage. So I know how you feel. It is frustrating and depressing to have a cluttered and messy house. I have recently gotten it into fairly decent shape. I was feeling so overwhelmed that I decided just to tackle one room and not do anything else until that room was done. Now the house is pretty clean. It still isn't where I want it to be but it is getting there. I was a super clean and organized person before the kids were born, I don't know what has happened to me! Anyway pm me if you ever want to talk and good luck. You can get organized, it just takes some time!
post #12 of 80
Don't be afraid to get rid of things, even if they were expensive or special or useful in the past. If they are serving no purpose, they are not doing you any favors. Freecycle if it makes you feel better.

Start small and in one room. I would either start in the kitchen or your bedroom. Work for 15-20 minutes when you can.

Throw trash out regularly.

Once the kitchen is in better shape, wash dishes regularly.

Don't list out the thousands of reasons you can't do something now, just take a few minutes and get 3 small things done.

All the little pieces add up in both directions.

Good luck, and you can do this. It will take time.
post #13 of 80
Hugs, momma. Been there!

Do it in layers - go around the house and collect trash, dishes, laundry. Just put them where they go (you don't have to do the dishes, or take out the trash, etc. yet). Then do shoes, toys, electrical stuff, etc. Break it down into categories.

Once everything is in the space where it should be, go back and tackle each task one by one - do the dishes, fold a load of laundry, sort toys into appropriate bins, take the trash out, etc. In small increments, 15 -20 minutes at a time. Take a break for lunch, snacks, shower, kid play, computer time, whatever for equal amounts of time.

Then work on decluttering - get rid of as much as you can. This will take some time, and needs to be done consistently to stay on top of it. Set aside time every day to go through a section of your home at a time and get rid of whatever you don't use/need on a regular basis, whatever you don't love, etc. (Tons of great advice on this thread for help to do that.)

And maintaining - what do you need to do everyday? A sink of dishes? A load of laundry? Vacuum the floors? Wipe down the bathroom? Whatever is the most important to you.

Keep at it, momma. Give yourself some time to make new habits, and know it won't happen overnight...its totally a process. And come back here for support and ideas! If I can do it, you can, too...promise!
post #14 of 80
Is there anybody who can come over and help you get started? It really is a big project, and it's hard enough for one person to do it, much less one person who's also caring for a baby! It sounds like both of you are underestimating the work involved in infant care- it's HARD WORK and very difficulut to do anything else at the same time.

Since your dishwasher ins't functional, maybe consider using disposable plates and utensils for a while- so you don't have the strain of daily dishwashing on top of the big decluttering project.

You really need to get your house in safe order before the baby starts crawling. At the very least, the rooms you use need to be safe for the baby, even if the second bedroom is a disaster area.

You need to get the extra clutter out of the house. See if you can Freecycle stuff you don't want that's still usable, or drive it over to the nearest thrift store. Or, if you're REALLY overwhelmed, don't feel bad about throwing out stuff that's potentially useful for somebody.
post #15 of 80
I almost wrote this exact post 3 days ago... have you read it?

http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1179448

Lots of great suggestions there!

I've realized at the end that it really boils down to choice. I'm not cleaning my house because I should, I'm not cleaning because I have to, I'm cleaning my house because I choose to live in a clean house. I have made a conscious choice that I can't stand living this way any more, and if I don't do something about it, then I will feel miserable. I don't like feeling miserable. So I am doing it. I choose cleanliness.



It's easy for me to say that (above)... It's only been three days. Lets see what happens three weeks from now!
post #16 of 80
Fly Lady totally changed my life and I highly recommend her. I am a working mom who spends 2 hrs commuting every day and her techniques are perfect for me. I now have a peaceful, comfortable home. I can observe the Sabbath because all my cleaning isn't left until the weekend. Our Christmas vacation time was wonderful because I didn't have to do a ton of New Year's decluttering or anything else.

It's just a regular, simple routine and a different mindset that doesn't let me go into screaming cleaning fits just because I'm overwhelmed.
post #17 of 80
I agree with the idea of starting with one room - make it great and work on maintaining it. Then slowly move on to another area of the house.

Even now when I'm overwhelmed I start with the bathrooms. The reason is threefold: 1) It's relatively easy to decide what does and doesn't belong in a bathroom. 2) It's a small space so you can have it looking prefect in only a few hours. 3) If company comes over I can live with a messy house but would be embarrassed by a filthy bathroom.

If I were you I would get your bathroom sparkling, then spend 15 mintues every morning wiping out the sink, making sure there are no clothes on the floor, putting toothbrushes away, etc. Once a week do a bigger clean - toilet, bathtub/shower, quick mop, etc. When you are confident you can maintain the bathroom move onto a bigger job like the bedroom or office.

In the meantime start getting rid of stuff by any means possible -freecycle, Craig's List, etc. It sounds like you have too much stuff for your space.
post #18 of 80
my house has gone totally out of control as well the last month. It is normally not too bad but I am now 10 weeks pregnant with my fourth and the sickness has been awful this time,anytime I start tidying or cleaning I end up being sick which bring the whole thing to a halt. I need to just do it bit by bit but its got so bad now that I just dint know where to start!my husband is out of the house 12 hours a day so he isnt that much help!.

I am ashamed by most of my house at the moment.
post #19 of 80
I really wish that I could come and help you. I love to to help and clean and organize. I hope that I can be of help here with my support at least.

Like other have said start slowly. Choose either one task or one room each day and do that. So you can either choose to go around the house with a box and put in anything that you wish to donate and get it out of the house fast,even if you just out it in the car for now until you can stop by the donation place. Or choose to clean and organize one room that day. If doing the while room is to big of a job for one day break the room down into sections or little jobs within that room. So go around the room with your get rid of box and fill it then go around and start to organize a cupboard or counter space. Soak the dishes in the sink while your doing this and wash a few at a time if you need a small break from the rest of the work.

Sometimes you have to do this while your all alone and it's quiet or with music on,depending on your mood and energy level. Ask you DH to take the little one out or better yet arrange a play date for the little one and you and your hubby work together on the house. Take little breaks together every 45 minutes or so and look over each others progress and support one another.

It really helps to have a list of what needs to be done in each room and to check things off when they are done. If you're doing this with the hubby then make a list of what you know you want thrown out and what you want kept.
post #20 of 80
If you don't know anyone who can come over and help you out, can you afford to hire someone once or twice or even regularly? It may be less common for a SAHM to hire help, but if you are able to afford it, there's no rule against it.
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