I'm in desperate need of advice...DH and I both WOH full-time and our 14 month-old DD goes to day care while we work. When we get home, all we want to do is spend time with her and we have about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour window to do that (including feeding her and bath time). After she's in bed, there's about another hour and a half to put lunches together and make bottles for the next day, as well as shower and get ready for bed. Weekends are filled with church, grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry, and getting lunch stuff prepared for the coming week (i.e., rinsing and cutting produce). If any other activities are going on during the weekend, it's difficult to get everything done, and then we end up with a mound of clean laundry on the dining room table that won't get folded until this weekend. Also, I have no idea where to fit exercise into the mix.
I generally feel overwhelmed at home because the house is a disaster and I feel torn between needing to get things done, but only having limited time with DD. I don't want to take time from her to do chores, but would like the house to be organized. DH and I share the chores (actually he tries to take care of most of the household stuff so I can hang out with DD as much as I want to), but it's still hard to get it all done.
Bottom line, I think we need some sort of system in place, but I don't know what that looks like. Any advice???
I'm pretty much in the same situation, with a slightly older kid (21 months). I can't say we have a "system" but there are a few things we've added in to make our lives easier that seem to help.
For lunches, we do lots of leftovers. Make extra of whatever is for dinner--that gets boxed up as lunch for the next day.
We get a whole chicken from takeout about once a week and eat half for dinner then "recycle" the rest into other dinners (e.g. tacos) or into lunches.
1 1/2 hours to put together lunches and bottles and shower sounds like A LOT--my leftover lunches take 5 minutes to put together--so that helps.
Sort laundry as you take off clothes (we have one hamper for dark colors and one for light). Can you do a midweek load? Toss the pre-sorted laundry into the washer as soon as you get in, and let it wash as you make dinner. Put it in the dryer as you eat. Fold in front of the tv after kid goes to bed.
I also do some chores with my kid. He can carry a plastic bottle down the hall with me to the trash room when I take out the recycling. He can hang out with a bowl of water in the kitchen sink and some plastic spatulas when I'm making dinner. He can sit on the bed while I sort laundry (although he's not so helpful at this one these days--he tends to grab on to his favorite t-shirts and wander off with them).
Also? It's okay to get less done. My house is not going to win any tidy awards any time soon, but we have a basic level of hygiene, and we mostly have clean clothes and reasonably healthy food, and we aren't sitting in pools of dirt. :)
Anna I wish there was a *like* button for your post!
I have a 4yo and 2yo We also make extra for dinner and divide into portions to take to lunch with us for the next day. I try to pre-cook my meat whenever possible or cook twice what I need so the next day I have half the work. I usually actually cook enough for 2 nights of dinners, 1 day of lunches...so I only have to cook every other day...on the day I don't have leftovers we eat sandwhiches or salads.
I just don't spend much time with my kids because it is so late by the time I pick them up, but, we do take a fair amount of time to sit down to our dinner at the table and chat about the day (I know you might not quite be at that point, but, it is still time spent together).
I direct the kids in picking up their toys and putting away their laundry etc from daycare while I am putting my stuff away and making dinner - again something you might not be able to do yet, but, she will be able to help before long..and mostly it just provides some interaction. Sometimes they "help" make dinner or last school year DS1 would do his preschool workbook at the table and DS2 would color, or they would both play with playdough or paint or glue etc...something educational and fun that kept them close...we were not fully interacting, but, at least spending time together a bit. I don't have to pack their lunches anymore, but, when I did I would also involve them by letting them help pack or asking them what they wanted (choices, for example, grapes or apples).
My house is messy all the time, but, I do try to keep it sanitary and so I would not be mortified if someone dropped in lol...I focus on the living room, kitchen, and bathroom - I can close the other doors and hope nobody notices the clutter LOL
On Saturdays my DH works...I have a "rule" that we do one fun thing, I sleep when the kids sleep, and I spend some time "catching up"..from there anything goes... Sundays we have church and then all take a nap and then we usually do another fun activity with DH also and then eat out for dinner that night....its purely church, rest, and family time - I NEVER clean on Sundays.
Its hard mama...but, it will probably get easier over the next couple months, I find about 18-24mos toddlers start requiring a little less attention and are more able to "help" etc...which makes it so much easier. Oh yeah, I just remembered when DS2 was around your LO's age I found wearing him for even 20mins before bed seemed to really help...just that closeness I guess after the day apart...it would really settle him down.
Kitchen/bathroom are the only rooms that get cleaned daily. Laundry, gets done somehow. I've actually started getting rid of or putting away clothes we have too many.
Dinner is sometimes just veggies and rice, as well as lunch the next day. I try to take a load off and I utilize my crock pot often! Especially on the weekends. I get up early saturday throw something in crock and then hang with my babes. Find some short cuts that won't make you uncomfortable. Involve her as much as possible. I used to put my DD1 in her Highchair right next to me when I did dishes and give her something to dry with a towel. I'd give her the little towels to fold or the socks to put together. They just care about you. You guys are her Favorite thing!
i've been taking walks at work, that's the only possible time for exercise for me. would you be able to fit in 30 mins of walking? even just around the parking lot, that can really make you feel better.
we ALL clean the house on the weekends (disclaimer: i am the only woh parent) now that i'm pg.. dd will help as much as she can, though some of what she does is pretend to vacuum, etc. i do other cleaning after she goes to sleep and while she naps.
i have no time to work on fun stuff like crafts at this point, though. our house is also sort of messy. i am considering bartering someone to help clean.
i try to cook a bunch of stuff and prep on the weekends and use the freezer. it's a good habit- if i make something that can double and go in, i've been trying to do that. the food processor is my friend.
Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?
I have 4 children and work full time. My husband is a WOHD. I guess we have a system but I definitely settle for a less than clean house. My dinners have to be prepared in under 30 minutes. The kids help do chores on the weekends with me. We try to go to the park and take bike rides together. My youngest is 15 months so he is just around while I am doing things, sometimes I wear him on my back while doing stuff. I just do the best that I can.
If you have two working parents, maybe you can afford to have someone help clean house?
I've found at various points that the biggest thing that helps overall is to have things more or less the same. So no, we don't always eat the latest Cooking Light recipe; we have about three weeks' worth of menus we rotate, but then making each one becomes automatic and I don't have to spend energy thinking about it at any end - shopping, chopping, cooking. Same thing with lunches and snacks - I don't go for endless variety or fanciness, but healthy and wholesome and relatively easy.
It's the same with cleaning. I do the bathroom and kitchen every day, try to do 15-20 min more each night, and then on weekends triage the rest. Just keeping the routine the same helps.
For laundry when I'm working I throw a load in in the morning, put it in the dryer when I get home, and fold at night, most days. Then it doesn't pile up.
I agree that part of your challenge right now is the age. It does get a lot easier. This may be the period in time that it's worth spending the money, etc. on the pre-cut-and-washed veggies or bags of salad even if it's not something you want to do long term. This is the year your garden will get overgrown. Some periods are like that.
I'm in the same place. I'm 4 days a week, soon to be f/t and it is so hard to maintain a home AND spend time with kids. DH and I have tried chore charts before and they always fail, so I think I am going to try a family cleaning day once a week. I think if I put all the chores on a weekly cycle it will kill a lot of the uncertainty/stress about X or Y getting done.
14mo is around the worst age for toddlers getting in the way when you are trying to get stuff done. I wore DD a lot at that age (DS has a sister to play with so it hasn't been as hard.) Some of my friends swear by this - http://www.mylearningtower.com/
It IS hard to keep house AND work AND take care of the kids but with both parents contributing equally it seems like you should be able to have time for the odd activity and even some free time. Just based on what you've posted it seems like 1.5 hours is a lot to pre-prep for the next day, especially if you are doing prep work the weekend before. I'm not sure where your time is going, but if there is any way you can cut back on complexity of meals or chores or your bedtime/shower routine I would do it.
You also mentioned that you want your house to be organized... I'm not sure if you mean just caught up on the chores or if you have a lot of clutter or misplaced items that are slowing you down? If it's the latter, then I would treat it as the big project that it is and call in the cavalry...get your DH on board and book the same day off work to tackle it, or use babysitters or DD's naps over a period of time to get it done. I find that unless we schedule time for a project, we rarely accomplish anything more ambitious than dishes, laundry, and "maintenance" cleaning.
Oh how familiar this sounds to me...
Right now I try to do at least one small house task every day (even if it's something as small as unloading the dishwasher or starting a load of laundry) and then catch up on everything else on the weekend. It means that my weekends are not very leisurely these days, but it also means that my house isn't a total disaster/I'm not a total emotional mess about it. Doing the little tasks during the week (usually after my son goes to bed, but occasionally when he's awake if it's something he likes to help with, like laundry) means it's not QUITE as overwhelming on the weekend.
Honestly? My dream is to someday make enough money to hire someone to clean my house for me once a week.
Mother of two great little guys, G (9/28/09) and W (1/20/12)
I know I'm responding quite a bit later, but thank you all for your ideas. It's all very helpful. Things are a bit better...DD is now 2 and as many of you have said, it is getting easier. She is able to be a little more independent and can communicate more which also makes things easier. We've made some changes so that meal prep takes less time and I've come to terms with the house being messy during the week as long as the kitchen and bathrooms are clean and sanitary. As far as exercise goes, we recently bought a jogging stroller, so I'm trying to utilize that in the evenings with DD as much as possible. It's obviously a process, but we're getting there! :)