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Is SAHM really code for "house slave" - Page 2

post #21 of 36
In your case, I might try a once a week laundromat trip. Sure, it'd be a pain to lug it all down the stairs at once (then back up), but it would all be done in one fell swoop. Probably faster, because you could have multiple loads going at once. Then, it'd be done for a whole week, and you wouldn't have to think about it again until the next Thursday or whenever.
post #22 of 36
I would first declutter, donate, and throw stuff in the tash. After some stuff has been eliminated from the space, I would do what others have said: each thing in its place. Find a place for everything.

Second, I would find a way to get all 3 kids out of the house so you can clean in peace. That way you can go room by room and finish the apartment. Instead of doing 1 room, move on to the next, and the 1st room has been visited by a level 7 tornado already. Get a sitter, a friend, or a family member to take the kids to the park just a few hrs, just 1 day a week. Even if you have to pay a sitter, it shouldnt be too expensive.

I`m a single mom to a 16 month old girl and boy can she make a mess in no time! I clean our apartment, do landry, and put everthing in order every sunday when her dad has his visitation. Her toys are usually all over the place by monday, and by wednesday she`s gone through every drawer in the house and things are verywhere. I can only imagine what it must be like with 3 kids! My ex used to count as 5 kids because he was the messiest human being I had ever met. I hope your DH helps and is not a slob.

You are not crazy! Good luck getting things under control!
post #23 of 36
I think that you probably just need a system. It's figuring out the system that's the hardest part though lol. the laundry sounds like a real pain, but what if you just did it at night time when your husband gets home? or, maybe that could be his responsibility? I don't know how much clutter or organization you have, but I know from my experience that cutting out clutter and being organized is what really makes keeping a house clean simpler. my husband and i used to be quite messy, never able to keep on top of things, never able to get the laundry done, or the dishes, etc etc. but then one day we just, got rid of stuff, and gave everything a place. and now, our house is pretty much always clean. I don't spend all day cleaning, I probably spend an hour and a half in total from wake up to sit down doing house chores and meal preparation. and that would be on a day where I'm doing a lot. Before I buy anything, I decide in my head exactly where it is going to go in my house, and if I dont have a place for it, then I dont buy it. Also, baskets are like, a lifesaver. you can throw things in baskets and it looks organized. Toys are also a huge source of mess, so we have a designated area for toys in the livingroom, and they are organized by type. like, a basket of cars, a basket of musical instruments, a basket of blocks, etc. so that nothing really gets jumbled up together, and it is obvious to the kids where things are supposed to go. I also don't buy toys that have no real point to them, or toys that I think in my head "where in gods name will i put this thing now?" if you know what i mean. Hope this helps a little... you arent crazy. you are just a very busy mommy
post #24 of 36
I agree that you need some sort of system. I have found routines to be really helpful. If we clean up throughout the day, the house stays cleaner. It can be hard to get kids to clean, but I've found it helps to give them an incentive. Often, the incentive is food... ie we'll eat lunch after you clean off the kitchen table and put your toys in the living room away. Or the incentive can be an activity they like...we'll go swimming/go to the park/get out the paints once you've cleaned up your last mess.

I've also found an after dinner or before-bed cleanup to work really well for my family. By that time DH is usually home, so I have an equal. We all work for 15 minutes to clean up from dinner and clean up the house. In 15-20 minutes we can have the table cleared, the dishes in the dishwasher, the floors vacuumed and swept, and toys put away.
post #25 of 36
I live in a 2 bedroom apartment with my husband, 2.5 year old, and I'm pregnant. Oh, and I don't have a dishwasher. My house is never totally clean. I have priorities. I work hard to keep the kitchen under control. If I go to bed and the dishes are done I consider it a good day If the toys are picked up and the entry way is clear that is big bonus. My bedroom is always, always trashed. I can always sweep the floor, but it rarely happens. I try to be really strict about no shoes in the house (the norm here in Canada, but hard to enforce sometimes with a 2 year old).

We try hard to constantly declutter, but we don't like to use too much vertical space because we live in an earthquake zone. My husband job is planning for earthquakes so we just can't stand to have heavy things high on the walls. That rules out a lot of excellent space saving measures.

Your daughter is definitely old enough to help out in a meaningful way. Delegate! At that age I was in charge of folding and putting away my own clothes and keeping track of my own stuff. You might even be able to get her to help with dishes (I can't wait until my daughter can help with the dishes!) Or you might even want to give her the job of cooking once a week. It might be something easy, but she's learning a skill and after a bit of a training period that takes a big job off of you one day a week. Who cares if it's peanut butter sandwiches to begin with -- in the long run it will get better! Give her some options of ways to help out and see what interests her. Make it sound like a special, grown up privilege.

The 3 year old can be in charge of keeping his/her (sorry, I can't remember!) toys in their places. We sing a clean up song when we we clean and if my daughter doesn't help then the toys go on vacation. The 10 month old, well, I think you're stuck there

Don't be upset with yourself -- it's hard work keeping a small space clean. Everyone capable needs to pitch in. It might still be messy, but at least all the work isn't on your shoulders.
post #26 of 36
I just have this feeling that for at least a few minutes in any given day the cleaning should be done.
You are right! The thing is, you have the solution. Spend a reasonable amount of time in the morning doing some clearly defined housework (a realistic to-do list), and when you finish that to-do list, that's it: cleaning is done for the day. That doesn't mean you don't clean up spills and help the kids put stuff away through-out the day. But in your mind you know that the cleaning/straightening part of the day is finished, and you can rest easier.

The key is your attitude here. Set yourself a realistic goal and then stick to it. Anything that doesn't get done in 20 minutes or 45 minutes is actually OK. You've done what needed to be done.

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...."
He's right, little house, little kids and a busy life style equals a home that's messier than a home without those variables. And you're right, your dh and many other guys don't seem to see the mess and dirt as much as many women do.

Tell us about this untidy house character defect. Who does it come from? Yes, I'm playing dumb.

In ALL of us there are two different things that motivate us to keep our homes neat. One is external: pride/shame (what will other people think of me?), expectations, upbringing. The other is internal: a threshold of mess that is simply unpleasant to live in, for anyone. Spend some time thinking about what your external and internal motivations are, think about which ones deserve most of your mental energy.

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.
Who is judging you?

How does your house keep you from raising good kids?
post #27 of 36
I'm feeling the same way. We have 2 dc (4 and 6 yrs old), 2 cats and 2 big dogs living in about 1300 sq ft. We like our home. Its not about getting a bigger house. Its about THE KIDS CLEANING UP THEIR TOYS/GAMES/CRAFTS. We hsed this year and the mess us one of the main reasons I'm putting dd1 in school next year. She WANTS to con't hsing and I told her a month ago if she would keep her room clean and pick up after herself then we could hs next year. Well, it just didn't get though to her. So I feel, I would rather have them out of the house 3 days a week (K and preschool) and just pick up after them myself and actually have a clean house for the times we are all home.
post #28 of 36

More "real" help.

I am a SAHW soon to be SAHM and I too have struggled with the balance of keeping things clean and sharing responsibility with a husband who has a full time career at a high profile company.

What I would suggest is scheduling, planning, and delegating.

Develop a realistic chore chart and stick to it. You mentioned that in your current situation laundry is difficult for you. I can only imagine what a nightmare the laundry situation must be like with three small children, but I do know that in our home having a designated laundry day makes a big difference in keeping the pile up to a minimum. If you need to have someone over for an hour or two once a week so that you can do laundry it would be helpful to have that as a scheduled and regular occurrence. Rather than deciding to clean for three hours and see where you get, try having tasks that you do on a particular day of the week and dividing up portions of the cleaning between your children. For ex: if you are doing laundry on Sundays then having your children gather all of their own dirty laundry (the ones that are old enough) and teaching them to sort lights and darks into communal hampers would be an excellent way to get them involved. At first this may feel futile and chaotic, stick with it. Eventually the rhythm of the chart will get your house on a schedule and you will find that things become more manageable.

Buy reasonably sized (meaning small if your space is limited) toy bins or chests and allow the children to keep only what they can fit inside their chest. When it comes time to clean up they can gather their own things, fill their chest, and be done with it. Things that remain lying around are hidden and earned back with good behavior, items that are rarely used, forgotten, or never put away are given to Good Will.

If paper is your weakness try making as many aspects of your life paperless as possible. Most billing and banking can be done online and you can opt out of paper statements and bills.

Of course all of this will take time to set up and even longer to become part of the recognized and accepted routine. Do not expect your children to adapt overnight but also do not allow any family members to derail your efforts simply because they are used to you doing everything. Think of a few things that each capable person can do (in my house my husband does the dishes and a general kitchen cleaning on the weekends) and make them own that task. Part of what is stressful for me is not only cleaning by trying to constantly orchestrate everyone to "help" when I feel overwhelmed. If there are even a few small things that you no longer have to worry about you might be amazed how far that can go towards giving you some peace and room to breath.

Being married to a man who is naturally a slob means that I see and am bothered by mess long before him. If I had to rely on his instincts to get him to clean we would be living in squalor before anything got done. Make a chart and stick to it. If he knows that you do certain tasks on certain days (even if he is working) he can make sure to do his best to accommodate the schedule whether he "sees" the mess or not. (Ex: he knows that the next day is laundry day so before bed or before work the next morning he does something simple like make sure all of his own laundry is in order or helps the kids do their part).

Good luck!
post #29 of 36
I'm feeling completely overwhelmed as well. 2 of the 6 of us are out of clean undies (myself included) and I literally cannot walk through the family room w/out stepping on something. Did I mention I only got 2 1/2 hours of sleep last night b/c of teething baby! Somethings got to give!

I just found out about motivated moms. For $8 you get a daily schedule of how to keep up with your house. Seasonal things and daily routines as well. I am going to try to commit to it and see if I cannot turn things around. I feel like I'm just this side of living in a frat house!

Good luck!
post #30 of 36
you're not crazy. it's overwhelming, for sure, and can be so consuming. i'm right there with you. our house is really big, and really messy still. our kids are old enough to clean up, but they don't. dh is old enough to take his shoes off outside after mowing, but he doesn't. everyone is old enough to pull up the sheets when they roll out of bed, or hang their wet bath towels.

i'd say the 9 year old can definitely clean up their own stuff. the 3 year old can help with toys or dishes from the table.

for us, aside from the daily dropping of clothes and shoes and junk strewn about the house, i sometimes feel bad for the girls' playroom since they do need more 'containers' or spots to put things. otherwise, it's all over the desk or the floor. and that's not their fault. problem is, it's expensive to buy all that nice storage stuff. even from ikea, it adds up for sure. so my next step now that school is almost out, is to declutter like crazy i'm using the 'let's paint the playroom' as an incentive to take everything out. literally. i'll bring up boxes, and extra large trash bags. we'll keep what they want, make a donation bag, and make a big bag for trash.

but i'm right there with you. why is it that it's our responsibility to clean up everything?! and it shouldn't be...
post #31 of 36
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
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.
Love this, Linda! I enjoy listening to Flylady on her radio show, but could never do the emails because they were totally overwhelming to me. I think I will try your hour method while having her on my ipod.

To the OP...

I think it's worth investing the time to try and dump the burden of house-judgement that you place on yourself. It will take some time and a LOT of work (I grew up as a military politician's kid where appearances were everything and you most certainly were judged by your house, since you had to entertain in it every week!) but you will be healthier and a better parent for it. The fact that you can't deal with your kids' way of doing things and shut down and just do it for them raises a red flag for me--your kids do actually need to learn how to do things, and it's okay to be assertive that they meet minimum standards. Going back again to my childhood (*eyeroll* I know), we had insane standards for cleanliness and orderliness, but I was never taught to do anything at all because it wasn't right and it took more time than my mom or dad doing it (and would have for awhile). So I grew up to be a housewife who had internalized high priority on appearance of the house, complete with it being a reflection on the caliber of the people living in it while having NONE of the skills to achieve even half of my standard. Now, I don't think that you are at all imposing this on your kids. But you are imposing it on yourself, and you know how much kids absorb even when we think we're hiding our internal anxiety from them!

This isn't going to turn on a dime (or even a quarter). But the more you can work on healing your anxiety and slowly getting your kids on board, I bet your stress level will go down--after the initial rise as you start implementing things in baby steps.
post #32 of 36
I have so many similar thoughts that honestly, I can't even post much more than you did. I'm just posting to sub here because I love posts like this... I feel less alone.
post #33 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply to my post. I especially appreciate knowing I am not alone - that in itself has inspired me to keep going.

Just for a little update: We have put in an application for a three bedroom. We have been looking for quite some time and this is the first affordable one to come up in months. We live in a very small town with very few rentals, so competition for them is fierce. The other thing is it is a very nice apartment in a much nicer building than what we are in now. Part of the shame I feel is not only about how clean or not clean I am able to keep the house, but also just that - no matter what I do - the place is kind of a dump. I was planning to paint on our own dime (landlord didn't before we moved in and won't even pay for the paint so I could do it myself) this summer just to freshen things up a bit - but if we are offered this new apartment - I won't have to! As much as moving is a pain in the behind, it does make for a perfect purging moment. Here's to a fresh start - keep your fingers crossed for us!

Also, I ran across a chore/behavior improvement system that seems really user friendly to me that we might invest in. Its called "Accountable Kids". Has anyone our there used it? I've tried chore charts before with little success. This seems like something that might keep all of us on track a little better. I'm attracted to the durable tactility of it. I'm not usually one to spend money on this sort of thing and I almost never buy anything new, but I really need to try something different - I can't keep beating my head against the wall the way I have been.

Anyway - thanks again everyone. You are all great!
post #34 of 36
Oh, and Mom2GCNJ- One thing that's helped me deal with the cleaning is to think of it as "cycling" not "doing". The rotation is ongoing all the time. It never, ever will be done. Ever. The best I can do is to get into a good cycle and not get all jammed up (a jam is, for example, when someone has no clean underwear, when I can not walk through the hall, when the bathroom floor is a health hazard to the baby).

It has really helped me deal with this type of work which can be so demoralizing otherwise. Also, I schedule in park and play times. Lame but it helps me realize that housework never ends, LOL.

And I came from a clean but not obsessive house with a working mom. We got privileges taken away for not cleaning. But that was a different time- she was allowed to leave us at home at nine. I babysat at eleven! Sigh. So hard to raise kids these days.
post #35 of 36
Originally Posted by Mom2GCNJ View Post

My DH is great. 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 think you need to emulate your dh. Seriously.

My dh is the same, and I used to get so frustrated/furious at always picking up the house. Every day, evry hour. And I homeschool my 3 kids, so there's no window when I have hours to fix it al up.

And after years of being mad and crying etc and dh saying he understands but literally, like yours, cannot do more, I clicked into logic.

I'm here to be with my kids. That's the ultimate thing. So today, for example, there are train sets all over the livingrom, pillows askew, blankets on the floor, snacks on the table . . . and we are all cozing watching the FIFA games. I've learned not to 'see' it, like dh does. and not to feel judged or judge myself. I don't have loads of folks over. I have the few friends who get it, who get me, and who enjoy our company, not the state of our house, and we have them over.

My eldest is almost 10, and I've spent his entire life ignoring him to clean our house, which just gets messy again, and can get tidied eventually, when needed. And like you, 5 people, 2 bedrooms. nd we do de-clutter. but that's all beside the point.

It's about being with them. You know it, and want it. so you need to heal the part of you that thinks the other stuff matters. it doesn't. the *people* in your home do matter. And they'd love more time with you.

post #36 of 36
I can't imagine, mama~! We have two little ones in a two bedroom. (no dog ). We manage ok... but with a 9yo in the mix? I wouldn't have a clue!
My best advice, a very organized closet, with shelving. Basically, a place for everything, as previously mentioned...and many places!
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