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Is SAHM really code for "house slave"

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I am new here at MDC. I have only read a few posts, but I have to say I am so impressed by the way everyone conducts themselves. This seems like such a welcoming place and I'm happy to have found it.

Ok - here is my issue. I'm a SAHM with a wonderful husband and three living children, DD 9, DS 3, DD 10 months. Like most families we have to make really large financial sacrifices to make this work. My DH and I are both strongly committed to one of us always being here for our children. The thing is, I'm wondering if we are doing the right thing.

I have come to feel that my role is not about mothering my children but cleaning the house. Our family of 5 + dog lives in a small two bedroom apartment (one of the financial sacrifices) and it is always a mess - always. I have come to resent feeling like all I do is clean up after everyone without ever being able to feel satisfied that my house is clean. Believe me, the issue is not that my standards are too high . I'm starting to wonder on a daily basis - what is the point of making all these sacrifices when all I do is clean - or think about cleaning - or walk around FURIOUS that I have to clean up another mess that someone purposely (it feels to me) made for me because "I have nothing to do but clean up after all of you" (words I utter on a daily basis).

This is not what I signed up for. I want to do things with my kids - not just run around after them with a mop bucket. The other thing that really gets me is being constantly told what a luxury it is to be a SAHM. Ha! I'm tired of feeling like I should me grateful to be a really poorly paid maid.

Anyone else have similar thoughts?
post #2 of 36
I've told my 4 year old that everyone has to pick up after their self so no one ends up feeling like Cinderella. My DH works full time too, but he still helps out with house stuff one the weekends.

I did notice, after moving into a bigger place, that smaller spaces get messier faster ....... or maybe they just look messier.
post #3 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
I've told my 4 year old that everyone has to pick up after their self so no one ends up feeling like Cinderella. My DH works full time too, but he still helps out with house stuff one the weekends.

I did notice, after moving into a bigger place, that smaller spaces get messier faster ....... or maybe they just look messier.
If you have a lot of stuff (read: clutter ) like we do then yes.



Yeah, I do minor pickup on the weekdays. (Major messes, daily stuff that must get done like dishes and laundry, etc) and worry about big cleaning on weekends when DH can help (even if that means entertaining the baby while *I* do it)
post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AFWife View Post
......and worry about big cleaning on weekends when DH can help (even if that means entertaining the baby while *I* do it)
Part of our problem is that my husband is self employed and also works a part-time job so he is gone from 7am to dark seven days per week - one night a week he doesn't make it home at all. The only time he is home is when a) it's raining (he mows lawns), b) he is with the kids so I can go to my job part-time job and c) he's sleeping.

You all don't think it's crazy that I can't keep up? I really feel like I should be better at this.
post #5 of 36
No, I don't think it is crazy you can't keep up. I don't think I would even be sane with three dc from 7 am to dark by myself, even not trying to keep the house clean.

The only advice I have for you is very old fashioned - 'A place for everything, and everything in it's place'. Does everything have a place in your house that you are happy with? If not, you have too much stuff and you need to de-clutter. Most people in America have this problem from the houses I have personally been in. It is much easier to keep things clean if they all actually do have a place to go.
post #6 of 36
I don't think it's crazy that you can't keep up. I think it's crazy that you expect yourself to raise three children and do all the housework, too. Keeping up with dishes and laundry through the day, sure. Having dinner on the table.

But other stuff? Your dh should be splitting that with you when he's home. I mean, back when you both worked, did you do everything? When he's home, he needs to pitch in.
post #7 of 36
Wow! 5 people and a dog in a two bedroom!

Have you ever tried flylady.net? It really helped me figure out systems to help things run smoother, but they really can only get so smooth!
post #8 of 36
I second 'a place for everything...' and also, declutter. I mean, really take a look at what is enriching your life, and what you really need and everything else can be donated or garbage. That worked for me tremendously.
post #9 of 36
No, I do not think it's crazy that you can't keep up. The only people I know with kids and a clean house either have a maid or exceptionally tidy children.
post #10 of 36
I so hear you. I feel like my days involve me chasing after a child or three with a dustpan with a phone pressed to my ear (I WAHM part time). The clean up with children is constant! I am cleaning up one mess in the kitchen while two more are busy making messes in other parts of the house, as soon as I get them cleaned up then I am back cleaning up mess B that the first child has already created in yet another area. I declutter frequently but my biggest issue is really just the mess that 3 kids and two pets create. The dishes from breakfast, the cat litter a cat tracked through the house, someone grabbed a piece of watermelon and ate it and now there is a trail of sticky juice through the entire downstairs. Then a child goes outside and runs back with a hand full of pine needes because she wanted to show me a cool bug in it, now I am cleaning up the trail of pine needles before the 1y tries to eat them. The baby finds the box of crackers the 7y left out on the coffee table and suddenly I have crumbs ground into two rooms. On and one and on, and I know you know what I am taking about.

I pick up toys here and there, but we don't have a ton that is scattered through the house, it really is just all the "other" messes that consume all my time. No real advice here but I totally feel your pain. Maybe I just have really messy children though.
post #11 of 36
I have a 2BR too and I feel like decluttering/organizing is my hobby. We try to use vertical space for storage as best as we can and I am obsessed with boxing up and labelling things. All the kid stuff is organized as simply and easily as possible so that a three year old can handle cleanup with minimal supervision. If you look in the decluttering/mindful home management forums there are tons of ideas for small spaces.

I think one of the things that saves me the most time cleaning is keeping vinegar and baking soda and cleaning cloths permanently stashed in the kitchen or bathroom. I deep-clean only rarely but give things a quick once-over very regularly. My 3yo is used to being asked to pick up and doesn't always love it but is pretty competent. We have consistent expectations for coming in and out of the house (putting away shoes & coat) and clearing up after snack to minimize the incidental tidying. She needs reminders but she is used to it.

With all that I am still behind and here I am living it up on MDC instead of doing the dishes You're not alone.
post #12 of 36
I second the flylady recommendation. If you haven't checked out her site, you could at least try it.
post #13 of 36
I think you have a living situation that makes keeping things tidy very difficult. I also agree with others that you might want to consider doing a serious decluttering so that your volume of stuff fits the space available to you. It's very hard to keep anything tidy when there is *stuff* in every corner. Not just physically hard but it can overwhelm you emotionally.

Dh and I do "traditional" gender roles and I have no problem being responsible for the housework. Don't resent it. However, I also don't feel like "hired help" or that I'm the one doing all the work. Dh is a reasonably tidy person, so I'm not keeping up after a slobby husband, and I have three children (7 and under) who are perfectly capable of cleaning up their own toys, making their own beds, helping set and clear the table, etc. Working together, the housework is done quickly and we have lots of time in the day for the good stuff.
post #14 of 36
I also like flylady.

Part of that is that there are certain set tasks for every day. Once they are done, they are done (until the next scheduled time). That way, you're NOT thinking about cleaning all the time.

Once I do my morning routine, I just ignore the mess (usually matchbox cars on the floor here) until right before naptime, when I know that they'll be cleaned up again. It's nice for my brain to be able to shut off, not worrying about when I'm going to clean up--I *know* that I'll clean up at the next scheduled time, and everything can wait until then.

It's a little mind trick, but it works well for me.
post #15 of 36
You know, I think it's time to call a family meeting, as dorky as that sounds. (maybe you can buy some ice cream and have ice cream sundaes afterwards or something treat-y)

Your DH may work a lot, but he can have SOME tasks that he does. Your DD should be helping out. So should your three year old. Granted, your house never is going to look like a Pottery Barn catalog. But really, it sounds like don't have unrealistic expectations, you're just feeling overwhelmed and taken for granted.

IMO that is okay to share with your family when you're feeling that way.
post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottishmommy View Post
No, I do not think it's crazy that you can't keep up. The only people I know with kids and a clean house either have a maid or exceptionally tidy children.


Let some of it go.
My house isn't always (ok is rarely) tidy enough for company. But usually the dishes and laundry are at least mostly done. We function. But my home is lived in.
post #17 of 36
Not crazy at all. What you describe sounds pretty stressful.

I second decluttering, or really, super-simplifying. Not just 'a place for everything'. Get rid of all but the bare necessities. Stuff you want to keep for the future, pack them up and put them ...in the back of the closet? Rent storage? Mom and Dad's garage? Something like that.

I get being disappointed and irritated because you're spending more time taking care of stuff than having fun with your kids.

1) This is going to be a high-pressure time of your life, it just is. Makes it harder to cope with other people's messes.

2) Take care of yourself. Don't put having a neat house ahead of having fun. You need to have fun!
post #18 of 36
Seriously?? Three children, a dog, and a husband that works a lot? No, it's not crazy! Not at all. I can hardly keep up and one of my children does all dishes, all garbage, and helps me a lot. And the other one is a baby. I do great with keeping everyone fed and the floor swept, but everything else I have trouble keeping up with. I'll have to check out flylady myself. My home is not dirty, really, just cluttered. I find with more room in a house comes more stuff!
post #19 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for taking time to respond to my vent. I'm picking out a few quotes to resond to. (Hopefully I'm doing it right.)

Quote:
Dh and I do "traditional" gender roles and I have no problem being responsible for the housework. Don't resent it. However, I also don't feel like "hired help" or that I'm the one doing all the work. Dh is a reasonably tidy person, so I'm not keeping up after a slobby husband, and I have three children (7 and under) who are perfectly capable of cleaning up their own toys, making their own beds, helping set and clear the table, etc. Working together, the housework is done quickly and we have lots of time in the day for the good stuff.
Quote:
Your DH may work a lot, but he can have SOME tasks that he does. Your DD should be helping out. So should your three year old. Granted, your house never is going to look like a Pottery Barn catalog. But really, it sounds like don't have unrealistic expectations, you're just feeling overwhelmed and taken for granted.
I don't necessarily have a problem with traditional gender roles. I do have a huge problem spending more time cleaning than doing things with my kids - or anyone else for that matter. I don't have a problem cleaning. I'm good at making things clean - just not keeping them that way. I just have this feeling that for at least a few minutes in any given day the cleaning should be done.

My DH is great. He does help out when he is home, but I am not exaggerating when I say he is gone from sun-up to sun-down. The thing is, he doesn't really care all that much about a tidy house. He does what he does to keep my head from blowing off - that feels like enough for him. The steady simmer the builds up in me over time doesn't matter to him - until I'm ready to blow. Also, he hasn't been hard wired to think of our untidy house as the embodiment of a character defect like I apparently was in my youth. He just says "Well it is a little house and we are busy and we have little kids so...." I feel like I carry my messy house around on my shoulders like a badge of shame. I HATE feeling like I am judged by my house. I also hate that my house keeps me from doing a good job at the work that is really important to ME - raising good kids.

Decluttering is a hobby as someone mentioned - but there is always room to purge more and I will continue to work on that. Paper is my nemesis - always has been. Toys are a thorn in my side too. I think I am going to toss everything we have now and start over with a very few really special toys and books that the kids really care about and will (hopefully) feel more compelled to take care of - or they will end up at Goodwill too. We are also working on other tricks to make the most of the space we have like lofting the beds and replacing our current horizontal dressers with verticle chests of drawers. In our house every inch matters.

Interestingly laundry is a real problem too. Since our daughter was born, I haven't been able to figure out the logistics of it. We live on the top floor. The laundry is in the basement which is accessed from an outside door. I don't feel comfortable leaving my baby alone upstairs - especially with a rammy pre-schooler. I can't haul her and the laundry up and down three flights of stairs. I don't have a sling that we both fit in - (we are both rather fluffy). I tried once leaving her in a pack n play (we don't have a crib) while changing the laundry and she was beyond hysterical when I got back - and it took her the better part of the day to recover. I am embarassed that is such a struggle for me. I mean I'm an intelligent, go get 'em kind of gal - and yet I am completely flummoxed by this. (

FlyLady sent me email messages for months years ago - but we never became real friends. I'll have to look her up again. :0)

I have never done a good job of getting my children to do their part. It is such a high intensity issue for me that I quickly get frustrated when they drag their heals and do a poor job (again - my expectations aren't very high). (My nine yo had a "rummage sale" in the front yard one day - It took 5 DAYS to get her to clean it up!!!! UGH I wanted to pull my hair out!) Trying unsuccessfully to get them to pitch in adds fuel to my fury - which makes me feel like crap - so I have given up to a large extent - I KNOW THIS A PROBLEM - I get the feeling from reading other posts that I can trust you all won't make me feel like a defective parent for confessing my shortcomings here.

Thank you again everyone - you've been so kind to offer your suggestions - please know that I am taking them all to heart. Your reassurance and encouragement are treassures to me too! )
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom2GCNJ View Post
I just have this feeling that for at least a few minutes in any given day the cleaning should be done.
I think that's unrealistic.

Cleaning house while raising kids is like shoveling while it's still snowing.

Quote:
I feel like I carry my messy house around on my shoulders like a badge of shame. I HATE feeling like I am judged by my house. I also hate that my house keeps me from doing a good job at the work that is really important to ME - raising good kids.
Your house cannot judge you. It just doesn't have mental equipment for that! This isn't a moral issue. And there's no relationship between how clean a house is and how well you are doing raising your kids.

Over the years, I've met woman with very tidy homes who keep them that way by screaming at their kids, and I've met amazing moms with really messy houses. I'm personally happiest with something in the middle.

One of my little tricks that I've modified from Flylady is setting aside one hour to focus on housework, and make a list of the 6 most pressing issues. Then I use a timer and work on each issue for 10 minutes. Then I take a 10 minute break and decide what to do next. Even though some of the jobs won't be completely done, 10 minutes is enough to get them out of crises mode.

For kids, a 10 minute pick up with a timer is VERY helpful.

the timer is your friend.
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