Originally Posted by Theoretica
Ok, all sarcasm aside, how does this actually work? When we get done with dinner DH has to go finish work, I have to wrangle kids to get THEM cleaned up from dinner, then start homework (for the one kid in school), run DSS home (on nights he's with us), baths/teeth/hair etc. It easily takes 2 hours to get everyone situated, and by the time I get them to sleep I'm so exhausted I just collapse into bed myself. The youngest is 3 months and nursing several times a night, and the 2yo frequently has night terrors 1-2x a night. When I get up in the morning I hit the ground running, an it doesn't stop until I collapse into bed the next night. Rinse, repeat.
So I'm not trying to be a pain, or one of those 'no possible solution will ever work for me', I'm genuinely trying to understand this.
In order for us to have a meal at home, I have to keep the kids busy long enough to cook it without a disaster erupting. Whether the disaster is because of a younger kid, or because of an older kid, or both, just depends on the day
So the kitchen is a mess by the time I'm done cooking because I'm moving fast just to get it done in the time frame allowed, where I'm not nursing, soothing a cranky toddler, or whatever. We sit down to eat and I'm eating while nursing the baby, because at that point I've been cooking for an hour/two and she's hungry. I'm ALWAYS doing SOMETHING, and it just seems to never end.
Maybe this explains why I had a meltdown yesterday that resulted in me losing my temper at DH....
Anyways, I think that's how I get so behind. I *don't* have time to clean up after dinner. I frequently am starting my day playing clean up from the night before. And on and on....
Wow, your situation does sound much tougher than mine at this point. I only have 1 child full time, my 9 month old son. My younger DSD is soon to move in with us full time. She's 11 1/2. My other DSD is almost 14. I spend time with them and do fun things with them when they're here, but I never feel it is my responsibility to pick up after them. I generally have them pick up their things once a day (for summer vacations). I usually have to do a walk through and remind them that their dirty clothes don't go on the rocking chair/behind the door/etc. But they're big girls. I believe children should be taught to pick up after themselves. (I never was taught to pick up after myself and SERIOUSLY struggled with messy/clutter filled homes through all of my twenties and the beginning of my 30s.) I don't want to raise my children that way.
In a little over 2 weeks, DSD2 will arrive year round full time (with the exception of summer and every other Christmas). We're very excited and plan for me to homeschool her. Meanwhile certain things will have to happen so that the home runs relatively smoothly, certainly not perfectly. Supper cleanup is done in 15 minutes with DH, 2 DSDs and me, that's even considering that 1 of us may be tending to the baby. If he needs to nurse, that's me. If he needs to be entertained, one of the girls will volunteer to entertain him instead of helping to clean. But that still means that the rest of us can have focused effort. DH and I kind of presented the idea to them that we cook and do dinner cleanup as a family, that it all goes much smoother and EVERYONE gets to relax afterward.
At their home out of state, the girls switch off every week between washing the entire family's laundry and washing the entire family's dishes by hand, including drying and putting them away. One of them is fully responsible for each chore every week. So for them everyone working together to get the dishes washed, floor swept, table, counter and stove wiped clean and being done between 10-20 minutes (even from a big dinner) is much more attractive than what they're used to. As far as cooking, the older DSD jumps to entertain her brother so she doesn't have to cook. LOL Younger DSD loves to cook. This past summer we taught them both how to chop basic vegetables and what not.
I can't see your siggy right now as I'm typing this. I remember you have a 3 month old (that's tough) and a 2 year old. Your older kids are 9, 11 and 17? I would say they can all help in the kitchen, at least to clean up if not cook dinner. You have to sell the idea to them. You could tell them that if they all work together for a short time, you can watch a movie together or anything that would be a treat for them afterwards. Kids love our attention and the prospect of a parent/parent figure playing games with them can be motivating. Honestly, I don't pick up after 9 and 11 year olds. That just reinforces their bad habits. It's not mean to ask an older child to pick her dirty night clothes up off the floor and put them in the laundry basket, or to please take the empty milk jug off the table and throw it in the trash can.
So I guess I'm thinking it might be a good idea to ask your older kids for help. One might volunteer to play with the 2 year old or hold the baby. One might help you with dishes while another quickly sweeps the floor and cleans the table. Voila! Dinner cleanup is (theoretically) done. Maybe the 2 year old can do small "helper" tasks, like holding the dust pan for the one sweeping the floor, or sweep alongside that person with a child sized broom and dust pan? (ETA: This would keep the 2 year old "busy", even though she/he wouldn't really be sweeping the floor clean.
Honestly, your situation sounds loads harder than mine. I'm saying this upfront. My husband is home every evening (unless he's occasionally away on business). I don't (yet) have a toddler. My 9 month old (while he nurses a lot) does not nurse nearly constantly like a 3 month old might. I've never had a child in public school to oversee homework. Every time the girls have visited we've followed the same routine, so they know what to expect. And, Theoretica, I haven't begun homeschooling yet, so I don't know how it will throw my routine. Honestly, though, I plan to have DSD do a couple small chores every day, so that I CAN homeschool her. I generally follow Motivated Moms cleaning program. So I plan to just have DSD do habit chores like picking up after herself and making her bed. Then I plan to have her do 2 chores that don't take a long time, like wiping the bathroom sink and quickly dusting the desk or
vacuuming the living room (just basically vacuuming, not expecting anywhere near perfection) and feeding the cats.
It's amazing how fast things get done when family members work together. If each person does even a couple small things, things are much more manageable. No one person feels overwhelmed or like a martyr. I honestly believe that it's better for my family to have me less stressed regarding housework. I'm able to spend more time with them doing fun things and to occasionally relax. It also keeps me from feeling like a "wicked stepmother" because I'm more positive and bright--and they reap the results of that. ... These may not be the answers you seek, as I've truly never been in your position. But I wanted to share my thoughts with you and offer hugs.
ETA: DH and I will be TTC in about 3 months, so I could be in your position with an infant and a toddler soon. Also, my pregnancy with DS was so hard with all day sickness for over half the pregnancy. So I'm trying to come up with ideas ahead of time that will make things easier on me later when I'm pregnant and puking half the day or exhausted tending to a newborn and toddler.
Also, I plan to have DS contribute in small ways when he is able to. Maybe when he's older, I'll occupy his time having him color "place mats" for dinner or handing items to me and helping me to stir. Or if help with the preparation of dinner was not an option, I might make that time of day a quiet time: time to do activities like reading, drawing, coloring, playing with play-doh, working on homework (for your public schooled child)... That way things will feel less chaotic.