Done with being a great mom and mediocre housekeeper... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 12:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been feeling so guilty lately about the state of my home! I've had small children for the last 7 years, and that has been the excuse, but I am TIRED of my house being a wreck! If someone stops by unexpectedly, I hate to let them in... I'm tired of searching for things that aren't where they should be... DONE with stuff being piled up just waiting for me to put them where they belong!!

Don't get me wrong, I can clean for a couple of hours and have a totally presentable house... but a couple hours later, it's falling apart again and within a day or so, you can't tell anything was ever done!!!!!!

My particular problem spots are kitchen island, dining table, and desk... I am feeling overwhelmed, but finally motivated to make BIG changes. I will have another newborn around in a couple of months and I know that some of the daily upkeep will be sacrificed to the sheer amount of time/energy newborns require, but I NEED my house to be in order for my own sanity/sense of peace...

Any hints/tips/tricks for someone determined to be a good housekeeper with no such training/role model from childhood on? For a homeschooling mom of going-on-five 7-and-under?

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#2 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 01:57 AM
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i find that with keeping the house clean and neat, it has a couple of elements:

1. decluttering;
2. organization;
3. regular "picking up"; and
4. cleaning.

i found that when my house was cluttered, disorganized and not picked up, it made it hard to clean. when i would go to clean, i had to declutter, organize, pick up, and then clean. so, it did take a couple of hours!

by having a process in place where by clutter couldn't collect, things had a home, and i would pick things up on a regular basis, it was much easier to keep everything clean in a quick and easy way.

so, here's what happened for me.

first, we had a huge declutter. decluttering isn't as simple as just getting stuff out the door. it is a massive emotional process whereby you learn about your relationship to "stuff" and why you hold onto it. you also learn why your partner does. LOL

second, once we got decluttered--which was a lot of emotional work--we had to figure out what our organizational structure would be. this is always fine-tuned, but you start with a system that resonates wth you and give it a go. and then adjust it as you need it.

i'm going to add something here that Crayfish talked about in another thread in this forum that i can't remember the title of right now. crayfish said that in order to keep clutter from piling up, you need to have more space than you have stuff. this goes into the decluttering factor.

her example was shoes. if you have 10 spaces for shoes in your closet and 10 pairs of shoes, then when you buy a new pair, you have to immediately ditch an "old" pair, but most of us don't or can't or won't, so you end up with 11 pairs. and then you buy another and you have 12, and it just keeps on going until you need to declutter your shoes again!

so, you need more space to store things than you have things, so that you have aplace to put it when you bring it in!

that understanding really helps with organization as well. you're not afraid of it overflowing because you know you have enough space to home something until your next big purge anyway.

next, picking up became a focus for me. it is one of my "problem areas"--or was. there are times when i just want the freedom to drop and go forward. i want to leave my PJs on the floor or not wash my dishes.

but, i find that if i don't pick up, it becomes a pile up, and then it's a mess. and then it's harder to clean when cleaning time comes.

so, i had to look at my values. do i value the dropping process (and the mess that follows) more than having a home that is easy to clean, easy to entertain in if i have a drop-in guest?

it's ok to value being free to drop or leave kid messes that they may return to or whatever, but then you have to schedule that into the cleaning time and make peace with the fact that guests will come and see a mess.

for one of my friends, the mess of her children makes her home feel like home, and so she's perfecty happy to have it and to have drop-in guests see it. so, for her, that's ok.

for me, it was too uncomfortable to have ongoing mess and also too uncomfortable for me around guests. of course, if my son is playing and making a mess when a guest comes, i have no issue with that. but in the past, my house was crazy-messy and i would be embarassed to have people over.

so, i decided that regular picking up was necessary, and now it's practically ritual!

in order to motivate myself, i looked to my value of wanting a neat space, and then i used a mantra of "do it now." so if i saw something that looked like a mess, then i would say "do it now" and pick it up. eg, if my son was not playing with particular toys, i would pick them up and put them away in his baskets. if i found dirty dishes in the living room, i'd take them to the kitchen and wash them and set them to dry. when i would see that the dishes were dry, i would put them away.

over time, this became ritualized. after every meal, i wash dishes. whenever my son naps, i pick up his toys. when my DH is finished with his shower, i hang up his PJs and pick up the bathroom (hang the towel properly, put the bath mat on it's hanger to dry, etc). every morning, i make the bed as soon as i get up.

so, now, picking up is just a habit. it's easy and nearly unconscious. but, my place always looks neat, i never have problems finding what i need, and i feel good in my space and i am proud of it should someone drop by.

this leads to the fourth element, which is cleaning.

in the past, when my place was messy, it was a lot of work to clean anything! i had to declutter, organize, pick up, and then clean. so yes, a simple job could take hours!

if you are the kind of person who doesn't mind a bit of mess around (like my friend), then you just add the time necessary to pick up to the cleaning process. if the place is already decluttered and organized (and that is maintained), then picking up might only add a few minutes to any given cleaning job.

but, for me, because i pick up pretty constantly throughout the day, it is very easy for me to clean. i have a simple schedule: kitchen day, dust/sweep day, and bathroom day. laundry is on going every other day or every third day, so i don't really think about it as a chore, more of a picking up scenario. lol

so, for example, tomorrow is kitchen day. i chose friday because we have less food in the house, as we tend to shop on sundays and it allows me to clean the fridge and pantry before we get more food in there. lol

now, it's "tea time" right now, and after that, i'll wash the tea cups and cookie plate, and then we'll have dinner later too and i'll wash up after that. DS will be bathed and prepped for bed, and i'll do the "final sweep" pick up for the night. it usually takes about 10 minutes for me to do the final pick up.

tomorrow morning, we'll get up and i'll make breakfast. after that, i'll wash the dishes, bathe and dress myself and DS, and get things together to go to the library for reading day (actually, that's already together. the pack has the books, training pants, and other things i need already packed and by the door).

between 8:30 when we are dressed and 10 am which is library time, i have plenty of time to clean the kitchen. i put away the dishes first, and then sweep the floors. i pull out the bucket and brush for cleaning, and then make my soapy water in the bucket.

i then scrub down the surfaces that i can see--counters, outside of fridge, pantry, etc. that takes about 5 minutes.

then i start on the deeper stuff. i pull everything out of the fridge and scrub it down. it's a tiny fridge btw. about 1/2 the size of the average american fridge. maybe even smaller. normal for here. so, i scrub that down (and the freezer) and it takes about 10-15 minutes. i dry it too, and then put the food back.

i then go to the pantry, and i pull out the stuff onto the counter and wipe it down, make a note of what dry goods, spices, etc i might need, and then put all of them away. that takes about 5 minutes total.

next, i wash the floors (i do it on hands and knees, it's a small kitchen and i don't own a mop), and that takes another 10 minutes.

usually, DS is "helping" in some way, and i'm ok with that. he usually helps me scrub or dry.

so, the kitchen takes me about 35 minutes.

i'm usually done by 9:15, and i either play with DS or check email or both. LOL and then by 9:40, we leave so we can walk to the library.

on Monday, i do the bathroom--which includes wiping out the washing machine and dryer, in addition to the walls and such (it gets humid in there and cn get moldy). that takes 20 minutes. and since it's a 1 br apt, it takes about 20 minutes to dust and sweep the whole place on Wednesdays.

so, by keeping it decluttered, organized, and picked up, cleaning can be done very quickly and simply, and the cleaning is really pretty deep. of course, i wipe doen countertops every time i'm washing dishes, and i clean the toilet any time it needs it, and i dust or sweep as i need to as well--those are 2 minute jobs for me--so that is part of 'Picking up" really.

but, there you have it. that's how i went from Super Mess to Super Clean. LOL
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#3 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 09:19 AM
 
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Zoebird, that is a fantastic post. Well said.

Mama to A 8/05 and S 11/06
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#4 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 10:22 AM
 
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Zoebird, that is a fantastic post. Well said.
Wow, I could never be that organized. You've really got it down!!
I gotta figure out how to get past the "dropping process". I like how you talked about valuing a neat house more than dropping in the moment, zoebird. Picking up as I go has only worked for a day or 2 at a time, then I go back to my old ways.

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#5 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 03:05 PM
 
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Decluttering is a great first step - and be ruthless! I did a MASSIVE declutter right before Christmas. It's like I finally figured it out. It wasn't just about getting rid of the clothes that didn't fit, it was about getting rid of the clothes I never wore and the clothes I didn't like too.

I went room by room and got rid of so much stuff, I haven't missed any of it. I started with my bedroom, I decluttered and cleaned floor to ceiling. When that was done, I moved to the bathroom...but I kept my bedroom clean. The first thing I took care of everyday was my bedroom, then the bathroom, and so on until the house was decluttered and spotless.

I was on such a roll, but like zoebird wrote about, I got a bit lazy. I started to let things pile up instead of taking care of them right away. Instead of my 'daily cleaning' taking 15 minutes, it started taking a lot longer. She makes some excellent points. When the house is tidy and decluttered, the daily cleaning is quicker and easier. You can get to the deep cleaning on a daily basis. An example: I had caught up on my laundry - all folded and put away. So each day when I did a load of laundry, I folded and put it away immediately. It only took a few extra minutes. But I got tired (I am 9 months pregnant) and I started leaving the baskets of clean laundry to fold later. I currently have 6 baskets overflowing with laundry to fold and put away. About 10 loads? Eitherway, it will take me at least 2 hours to fold and put away.


I am getting back to the routine I started before, which was very successful for me. Basically a chore list, room by room. I go through the list when it's time to clean, once everything is done I maintain.

Finances (trying really hard to get better about $$ and stay on top of things, right now this comes first)
Desk
My Bedroom
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Kitchen
Office
Livingroom

*Laundry
*Kids Room

The * things I try to do as I go, so they don't build up. But if they aren't taken care of as I go, they go to the bottom of the list.



I also make a list of the bigger, not everyday chores that need to get done. IE: cleaning the fishtank, shampoo carpets. I do these things as time permits, then I can cross them off my list.

I keep my list of daily chores, and not-daily chores on a white board that is hanging in the hallway. I add to my shopping list (also on the white board) when I notice I need something. I keep an ongoing list of craft projects too

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#6 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 05:29 PM
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thanks all. seriously, i am a reformed dropper!

it is another good point that there will be seasonal chores or annual ones, etc. in our former home, for example, i would have the ducts cleaned annually--just before the cooler weather hit in late fall. here, there is no duct work, so it's not on the list. what is on the list is my bi-weekly cleaning of the dehumidifiers.

i keep a calendar (using ICal). i actually have multiple ICal calendars such as--house keeping, home finances, family activities, and work. house keeping has weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, seasonal, and annual chores on them. this way, i can't skip them. they are right where i need the reminder.

i used to use the calendar in my cell phone as well--particularly for appointments--but my current (new) cell phone is very low tech. LOL

but it is important to be *realistic* about what you are capable of. when my son was a new born, it was actually quite easy for me to have him wrapped and to pick up, do the daily chores, and so on. but once he became more active, playful, and mobile, i had less time for that and so it took a bit longer because it would pile up a bit (eg, we were ecing, but in the early days, the CDs would pile up a bit! LOL).

and since you are not only dealing with a NB, but also the other children and their play, education, and physical needs, you have to be realistic about what you can get done in regards to decluttering and organizing, what proper expectations are for you, your partner, and your children in regards to picking up, and then what the cleaning process will entail for you in light of this.

this is *very* important because it sets up the emotional feelings of success via failure. a friend of mine was very frustrated/upset because she would come to my house and it would be "perfect" (in her words), and she felt that she just couldn't keep it together with her little one.

she was holding herself to a standard that was unrealistic *for her*. she liked having more stuff, so cleaning took longer (eg, she likes opulent decorating in her home, so she has more objects to dust!). she didn't EBF like i did, so she had a pump to clean, bottles to clean, and milk to store. So, that created more steps for her in her daughter's care--which means more work.

so, i wasn't judging her for her mess, but she was judging herself for it against me as her "standard." and it was a false standard. because i EC, i have fewer diapers to wash. Because i EBF, i have no bottles anywhere. because we co-sleep, i don't have to keep a crib clean and properly made. because i baby-wear, i don't have the "clutter" of a big stroller in the entry way like she had. and, she also WOH part time, so she had even less time to do ordinary things than i did anyway!

so it is important to determine what is *realistic* for you, so that you have an expectation of yourself, but it's one that you can meet. when you can meet it, you feel successful, you feel proud.

when my friend readjusted her expectations, set up systems to keep things in a comfortable order *for her,* and was able to achieve that every day, she felt ver successful and truly proud of her home--even if there were baby bottles drying on the rack or a stroller in the entry way.

so, think hard about what is realistic for you now, in the coming months with a new born, and so on.

oh, and enlist as much help as you can. my sister and mother came the weekend before the baby was born and helped me purge, organize, and deep clean. that is what made it easier for me to keep it clean once he was born!
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#7 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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Wow, I could never be that organized. You've really got it down!!
I gotta figure out how to get past the "dropping process". I like how you talked about valuing a neat house more than dropping in the moment, zoebird. Picking up as I go has only worked for a day or 2 at a time, then I go back to my old ways.
If you find that you can't seem to break yourself of some dropping habit, or at least not in the way that you think you "should", you could build a solution into your home arrangement. For example, if you've been telling yourself for a year that you should take your coat to the bedroom closet when you get home, and for a year you've been dropping it on the sofa by the front door instead, then the answer may be to put a coatrack or a coat hook by the front door. (I say "a year", but, really, if even a week goes by with many failures on a new habit, it may be time to redesign the habit. Habits are there to serve you, after all.)

Maybe you'll get the coat to the closet later in the evening, or maybe every two or three days you'll take a stack of coats and sweaters off the hook/rack and put them away. But with this system, the coat is always in a planned place, instead of cluttering things up in an unplanned place.

If you have trouble remembering to pick up as you go, temporary holding places like this might enable you to keep the place neat with a designated "pickup session", like, say, for ten or twenty minutes before you go to bed.

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#8 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 06:29 PM
 
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so, i wasn't judging her for her mess, but she was judging herself for it against me as her "standard." and it was a false standard. because i EC, i have fewer diapers to wash. Because i EBF, i have no bottles anywhere. because we co-sleep, i don't have to keep a crib clean and properly made. because i baby-wear, i don't have the "clutter" of a big stroller in the entry way like she had. and, she also WOH part time, so she had even less time to do ordinary things than i did anyway!
Jumpin' Jehosphat! One up much?

OP, I agree to work a solution into your home for your dropping. We don't wear shoes inside so there is that clutter. I got a baby clothes organizer ( This one ) and our shoes go in the bottom two slots. It's next to our fridge which is next to the front door. We walk in, shut the door, and slip the shoes into the spots (the other spots are used for dry kitchen goods like noodles and beans). Little things like that seem to help us. Our All A Dollar/Dollar Tree has fabric boxes. I might as well buy stock in them. I have 2 in older girls' bedroom, 4 for diaper stuff, 2 in the kitchen, and 6 or so in my yarn closet. They come in all shapes and sizes. They've helped a ton!

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#9 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 07:28 PM
 
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Jumpin' Jehosphat! One up much?
I don't think she's one-upping. I think she's simply pointing out a separate set of circumstances in relation to her home.

I think moms who WOHM, use a pump that they have to clean, have a "child's room" to maintain, etc., do have more on their plates to maintain/care for than moms who don't. I'm not being mommy-war-ish, but it is just plain easier to care for your home when you're an at-home mom with the time to pick up toys and vacuum while the kids are playing than when you have to be out the door at 7 and aren't back home until 6pm and still fit all the home management stuff in. I've worked since having children, and I've also been at home, and "staying home" is easier on the cleaning/maintaining of a home. EC'ing doesn't produce as many dirty CDs. Not having a stroller means not having to step over it in your entryway. Cosleeping means not washing baby sheets.

It's just different home management issues. It's not one-upping.

Back to the discussion...

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#10 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 08:43 PM
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you are exactly right, hopeful. that was exactly my point in expressing the differences between my friend and i.

and, the point of those examples is that she needed to have realistic expectations on herself.

here we have an OP who is a mother of 4 earthside and 1 on the way, who HSs them, and who currently doesn't have any direct, clear processes in place for keeping her place neat and clean.

she needs to develop for herself a realistic standard--one where she can feel accomplished and proud of her space.

it might be entirely unrealistic for her to do dishes by hand 5 times a day (three meals and two snacks), so she uses a dishwasher. it might be entirely unrealistic for her to spend 35 minutes scrubbing out a kitchen each week when she needs to spend at least 3 hrs every am educating her children, which only leaves her 15 minutes to clean her kitchen that week.

the OP understands her circumstances better than i ever will, and i am encouraging her to set realistic goals for herself and her family. not every household is going to be managed in the same ways, and different people can live with varying levels of "mess."

as i mentioned in my first post, another of my friends loves the "messes" that her children make. she leaves them out because they make her home feel "open, loving, and lived in." so, that level of mess doesn't bother her--but she always picks up the laundry off the floor because that is "messy" for her.

so, each person has to know 1. how they live, 2. how they want to live, and 3. how to reasonably get from 1 to 2, and then how to reasonably maintain 2.

it requires thought, time, a bit of effort up front usually, and just making it work.

----

and crayfish, i have to say, you did it again! you are absolutely right about building in "drop zones."

we did this in our home because it was helpful. i grew up putting my PJs under my pillow, but my husband grew up with his mother picking up his PJs in the bathroom and putting them on his bed. i inherited, therefore, a man who puts his PJs on the bathroom floor and leaves them there.

then we went to scandinavia, and in the bathroom at the B&B where we stayed, there were hooks. he fell in love with these hooks! he wanted hooks in his bathroom for his PJs. so, when we got home, i got hooks.

i started using the hooks, but he kept putting his PJs on the floor. it took about 6-8 weeks before he started putting them on the hooks! so, even that means creating a habit. LOL

but recognizing one's own patterns is really important. if you do hang your coat on the dining room chair (our usual practice in our old home), then a coat rack near that chair is a great idea. i got one off of craig's list, and Voila! coats had a place and dining chair was free of stuff.

so, that definitely works.

it's really about understanding how you function in a space now, how you want to function (with less mess/clutter), and how to marry those two things.
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#11 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 08:57 PM
 
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I've been working on really getting our house 'in shape' for the past month or so. What I've done is every week or two tackled one "project" area - the bathroom (ours is tiny), the ice box (it really is an OLD ice box, but we keep art supplies in it), around the phone, bookshelves, etc. Today I finally got around to mopping for the first time in, oh, a year or two . I also dusted some of the walls (most of the walls in the house are wood boards, which have quite possibly never been dusted before... or at least, I *know* they haven't been dusted in at LEAST 8-10 yrs...), along with some of the other furniture that just really needed it. My next 'projects' are finishing the dusting/polishing of the walls, and cleaning out the laundry room cabinets (which are stuffed full of this that and everything - gloves, hats, sports equipment, cleaing supplies, random electronics, pet supplies... just really random stuff!!).

So, thats my advice! Find a bunch of little 'jobs' that you can do in a half hour-2 hours tops, and do them one at a time, as you have time. You'll feel *SO* accomplished when you get one done!! And then you can show DH and have him oooh and aaah over it. *My* DH doesn't really seem to care too much, but my dad is always very impressed Lots of the stuff I've been doing is stuff he's had on the 'list of things to do' for the past, oh, 5-10 yrs
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#12 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 09:49 PM
 
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wow, you all are so much better than me. i am not that organized with how i clean. it doesn't have a system really. i am a single mom to 3 so if i don't do it. . . . . well. . . . . .it doesn't relaly get done. So I create moments for little cleaning. When the litltle girls are in the bath playing and happy, i take a moment to spray the toilet and counter and sink with vinegar and water and wipe it all down and put away anything on the counter. When we all get through the shower/bath, i take a moment to put the dirty towels we've been using for a few days in the hamper and put out fresh towels instead of rehanging dirty ones. When we finish dinner, the girls all scrape their plates(even the 2 year old) and carry them to me and put their water bottles into the fridge while i wash the dishes. While I hang laundry on the line I do a quick tidy of the backyard toys(it's not much an dthey just go into a big plastic bucket). I think the success lies in not having much "stuff." Before the baby is born, I would try to do a massive declutter and purge the house of as much as possible. Evaluate whether you truly will use the item again or you are holding onto it for sentimental reasons. Be ruthless. Clear everything out. Have a yard sale if you have the energy and time and make some cash to splurge on pizzas for the family afte rthe baby is born and you don't want to cook or whatever. Just get it out. A decluttered house is easier to clean. I don't expect perfection, but I like a tidy house. I wash dishes daily and sweep daily during naptime. I expect a full clean-up before bedtime of all the kids' toys. Running one load of laundry a day helps keep it from overwhelming me. It's easy to throw in while the oatmeal is cooling in the morning for breakfast or the coffee is brewing and during preschool hours I have the 2 year old help me hang(mostly she throws the clean laundry in the dirt and I have to shake off leaves and bugs before hanging and HOPE it's still clean). And the harder stuff like vacuuming and mopping floors are done while they go to daddy's house so that the rest of the time is free to spend iwth them. I LIKE knocking over block towers(at least more than I like
mopping my floors!). So you don't have to be super organized and live in a museum. I like the charm of a tidy but lived-in home. I wish I could be organized and clean like some others on here but that's just not me. I think a few sticky fingerprints here and there add charm but my house is generally clean enough that I don't panic when someone drops a bowl of cheerios on the kitchen floor and sits and eats every.single.one off the floor.

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#13 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 10:22 PM
 
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Another great thread! I love all these tips. In Nov we'll have 5, 6 and under, and so far my biggest solution to keeping the house straightened is a good back carry in a MT. It's never going to be perfect, and I have to admit, sometimes there are little hands prints on the wall or window that are just too perfect I can't wipe them off

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#14 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 10:40 PM
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just mama:

i love it!

that is exactly the sort of thing that i find so inspiring. you have found what works for you, what creates cohesion in your processes, and is integrated with the way your family lives.

i love the idea of those "little moments" of cleaning. with three busy ones, being a single mom, the expectations are realistic and functional, and you are accomplished and proud of your home.

that's so great.

also, i might point out that i do still have pen marks on my window seat, fingerprints on my windows, and a bunch of things "in waiting" in my entry way. those are things like: a big pile of cardboard and plastic to be used in the community garden; the baby's car seat because we are going to be picked up by friends to go out this weekend; and our coats because we don't have a coat hook/rack yet for the house and we just had a southerly wind that chilled this place out! LOL

i mean, it might read like "perfection" to some, but there's always a little something that has happened. i've just been too busy with my business and my little one to scrub the pen off the window seat or wash the windows (which is something i usually do quarterly anyway).

also, my cooking has seriously stalled. there i was, doing great making from scratch, and now i'm just working my butt off to get this business organized. i'm doing the maintenance stuff to keep our house ordered and going, which means that DH has picked up the cooking--sandwiches, soup, salads, and fruit and eggs for breakfast. that is his way. LOL

but, it will all come back around once things here are sorted! and it's coming together.

i mean, getting the finances in order for business is one task, but it affects home finances, so i have to work on that too--when money comes in, when bills are paid, what goes into savings, etc! it's a lot. and don't forget, taxes in two countries under two different tax codes. good thing i have two great accountants. but seriously, it's still a lot of work.

so, you know, things also just happen!
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#15 of 29 Old 03-18-2010, 11:52 PM
 
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You are all inspiring.

When my son was an only, I had a relatively clean house (after he was about 14 months.) I bought a roomba vacuum and LOVED it. (With 4 dogs and 2 cats, we had fur everywhere.) To use the roomba I had to declutter the floor. five to seven times a week I decluttered and roomba'ed. It was great.

Then one morning we got a call about a baby just born. Less than 5 hours later I was nursing her. Suddenly we were a family of 4. My husband was sick the Sunday she was born so took 2 more days off from work, then returned to work. I was at home with a 30 month old who had no clue a baby was coming, a newborn, and an attempt to get my milk back up to full production.

The roomba battery was new. It has not been used so has died from lack of use. My saying was, "If it's not microwavable from Trader Joe's, we don't eat it." My bed, which was made every day after my son was born went over a year without being made. My once perfect finances (via Quicken) languished.

Then my son started acting aggressively towards the baby. For a year I lived with constant stress of worry if he would seriously hurt her. We got help with that and life has gone on fine.

I figured out the finances by getting a pda and pocket quicken so I could record purchases as soon as I made them. I started making my bed most days. I am now cooking fairly healthy meals--fruit and a veggie with each meal. I just put in a garden.

And my house is filthy. God awful filthy.

I feel like I only have so much energy each day and once it's used up, I am done. I'm slowly trying to get little habits back into my life. Like the bed making thing. When my son was born that was such a huge thing for me. If I made my bed, I had a good day. So now I've got that back again.

My next goal is to start doing activities with my kids. Before she was born we were always doing playdough or puzzles or painting or whatever. I haven't figured out how to incorporate that habit back into my life. I'm thinking it's probably like how I grocery shop. I make a menu for the week, shop once to the menu, and cook to the menu. It's made a huge difference to be so organized. So for activities for the kids (we go plenty of places--park, botanical gardens, story time, etc. I'm talking activities at home,) I think what I need to do is sit down each week and list what activities I want to do with them. Maybe 3 to 5 a week. I just haven't gotten the oomph to do that. I actually had a couple activities planned for this week, but I'm sick and didn't get to the store to get the supplies of popsicle sticks and balloons.

Once I get the kid activities together, I want to start cleaning my house. I see the decluttering wisdom. We have a small house and LOTS of stuff. My husband would love to declutter. Toys would be huge. Except they play with all the toys or she's young enough that we don't know which toys she will eventually play with so I hate to get rid of them.

Sorry for such a long, drawn out sob story. I'm just diggin' how organized you all are and I want to touch you so I can get some of that back in my life.

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#16 of 29 Old 03-19-2010, 12:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Zoebird and crayfish, thanks so much for the detailed suggestions! I am going to re-read this whole thread tomorrow afternoon when my husband is supposed to take the kids to the park for a while. I started before with "routines", but I see now that following someone else's plan was what wasn't working for me; not just that I can't possibly get control over my home...
I am going to have to work on this. I need 3-4 hours each day to homeschool my two older girls and do preschool projects with my almost-4 year old. I also purposefully spend time each afternoon playing with my toddler son. I DO have control over my laundry situation. I was tired of spending entire days doing laundry and have been able to successfully implement a 2-loads-per-day laundry regime that keeps me afloat on the sea of towels, CDs, and clothing! I have a habit of folding the laundry after the kids' bedtime and leaving the piles of laundry on the coffee table to be put away the next morning. (We have two antique dressers in the children's room that are SO creaky.)
I've begun a decluttering process, but it has been harder than I anticipated and I was becoming frustrated. Thanks for your words of wisdom and inspiration, ladies. I can't wait to come back and re-read everything. Right now, I've got to get in bed; it's another of my resolutions--I'm no good for anybody in the morning if I'm up half the night! It's nearly 11:30, so g'night! (and thanks again!)

Raising our babies: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012
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#17 of 29 Old 03-19-2010, 12:21 AM
 
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Wow, I came here to tell the OP that she's got a lot on her plate and being a mediocre housekeeper really isn't so bad, ESPECIALLY if you're a great mom to so many littles. I knew a lot of large (8 to 10 kids anyone? a full dozen for you, ok!) families growing up, and I know a lot now. Very few of them have houses that are neat and tidy until the older children are big enough to really help out in the house. Until then, you prioritize (there may be a billion toys on the floor but at least the bathroom is clean!), and make nonjudgmental friends, preferably those who also have a messy brood of their own!

...But then I saw all of you super moms posts and I'm in awe. Now also a little afraid of flames. But I said it anyway.

><> I'm a Christian, knitting, sewing, cooking SAHM to the fearless adventurer Jack born 11/08, and  a  USCG wife
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#18 of 29 Old 03-19-2010, 12:31 AM
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i think you are in a really good place, SC. this is about process and what you can handle in a reasonable way.

i found that looking to the waldorf concept of rhythms really helped. like meal planning or such, you just observe how your family works for a bit--when you eat, when you sleep, when kids are active, when they are less active, when they want you to engage them, and when they seem to do well on their own playing.

i noticed a distinct rhythm about my son that made it really easy for me to plan his activities daily and weekly, and then squeeze in my stuff around it. when he's napping, or in a time during the day when he plays independently, i'm able to do certain things during that time (like business stuff usually). and when he wants my attention or needs an activity (running around), then i'm out with him.

i find that this really helps me create habits over time too.

you'll figure it out. you'll accomplish what you want and need.
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#19 of 29 Old 03-19-2010, 12:43 AM
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it's not about comparisons. it's about supporting someone who says they want to do something different.

there is nothing inherently wrong with having a messy, cluttered house. most messy, cluttered houses that i know have wonderful families and are clean and safe.

so it's not an issue to live that way *unless* it bothers that individual who lives that way. and when that individual says "i want to live differently" then we can offer what we do and they can try it or not and see what works.

i'm not a super mom. i'm just a normal mom who lives this way by my own choices. my choices are not better than anyone elses. i'm not in a comparison game with any other person on the planet. i just look at how i want to live and how to make that possible. and then i strive to do that. i fail and i succeed. when i succeed, i share it with others. when i fail, i don't see any sense in them failing with it too, you know? no need to share it.

that's just what it is. we are all different people, and we will live according to our values and our desires. and we all help each other out when we are seeking input. that's the whole point of message boards, i think.
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#20 of 29 Old 03-19-2010, 12:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
i think you are in a really good place, SC. this is about process and what you can handle in a reasonable way.
Thanks for saying that.

I do feel good about all the steps I have taken. Finances, nutrition in cooking and shopping, nutrition in gardening. I've even been working out (before I got sick.) I have attended to some major stay healthy issues. Next is kids' activities, then housecleaning.

Just having a list of my priorities and being able to check them off as I figure out how to actualize them is huge.

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#21 of 29 Old 03-19-2010, 01:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
i find that with keeping the house clean and neat, it has a couple of elements:

1. decluttering;
2. organization;
3. regular "picking up"; and
4. cleaning.
Zoebird, you are my new best friend. everyone here is. lol.

I am so incredibly overwhelmed sometimes by the idea of keeping this place clean. We have SOOOOO much stuff, and SOOOO little space, and most of the space is badly organized. I think the first task is massive decluttering. (and staying decluttered. the first purge is all mine to make, since literally 95% of the stuff in the apartment is "mine". DP moved out here with one suitcase and one backpack, and other than a few books, a table we got for free, and a few things like that, the sheer clutter in the house, is ALL mine (though he is bringing home new stuff.)

I like the idea that you need way more space than stuff, though even with huge purges, I don't know how to acomplish this yet.

(but some stuff, I do know how to deal with. like clothes. I look in my clothes drawer every morning, and 2/3 of the clothes, I haven't worn in three years! now that is some clothes that need to go to goodwill. heck, for some G-d forsaken reason, I still have my middle school PE shirt. In a 350 sq foot studio with one walk through closet that has only 4 drawers for two people! now that is overly packrat-ish. I'm sure I'll never want it.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#22 of 29 Old 03-20-2010, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to say Thanks, Nerdymom. I am not afraid to admit that being "mama" to 4 kids 7-and-under and expecting another in the next couple months is HARD sometimes. I have regularly said that if you are coming to see *us* come on!! If you are coming to see our house, please call ahead! I'd like to change that to Please, stop by whenever you'd like... because, actually, we really enjoy impromptu visitors; it's the sheer chaos that greets the visitors that I'm ready to do away with.
Cleaning and keeping my house in order will NEVER be more important to me than mothering my children. I am working on a weekly chore schedule for myself, but my kids' needs will always come before "kitchen day" or whatever. I'm so in awe of some of the moms here whose houses and schedules are super organized, but I know that's not who I am. I think these message boards are like a salad bar. I take what I like and leave the rest; just because I want a salad doesn't mean I'm going to eat the pickled beets, you know?
I started this thread because I'm ready to make a change and I needed some tips and encouragement and I got just what I was looking for!! Thanks, ladies, and please continue to chime in! I'm still reading!!

Raising our babies: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012
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#23 of 29 Old 03-20-2010, 12:24 AM
 
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I don't know how I missed this thread.. oh wait, I was trying to exercise PLUS make the bed in time for the next nap PLUS play PLUS connect with my husband PLUS... well, I never did pet the dogs and I still feel sad about that.

Anyway, just chiming in to say cheers to you all, and how much I needed this thread since "How to manage it all" is the title of all my run on thoughts.

Mom of one child (2008), wife of one husband, tender of dogs, cats and chickens. Household interests: ocean life (kid), bitcoins (husband), simplifying (me).

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#24 of 29 Old 03-20-2010, 08:29 AM
 
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Any hints/tips/tricks for someone determined to be a good housekeeper with no such training/role model from childhood on? For a homeschooling mom of going-on-five 7-and-under?
Well, I had four 5-and-under at one point...the sheer numbers of little ones underfoot makes for some very challenging housekeeping.

Laundry: Mark the kids' clothes with the spot system and they'll be able to help by sorting and putting away their own (and siblings') clothes. First kid's clothes get one Sharpie dot on or near the tag, second kid's get two, third kid's get three...etc...when you hand something down, add a spot. We don't fold kids' clothes, they just tumble them into their drawers (one drawer for underwear, one for jammies, one for tops, one for bottoms)

Socks - socks are all identical (white crew socks) and color coded, or you could do all smalls in one color, all mediums in one color, etc. One basket for each size. You never have to pair them, because they are all alike. In our house some sizes have two kids in them.

Washcloths and kitchen towels (and diapers, when we did them) get tossed in baskets or deep drawers, not folded. My kids learned to fold towels around age 6-7, so your oldest two might be able to handle that.

Laundry was my biggest beast for a long time, so getting a good system for handling that helped tremendously.

Don't have any more toys than your kids can reasonably put away at the end of the day. I've had each kid choose their 2-3 favorite toys or categories of toys (help figure it out for your littles) and the rest goes into temporary storage. If they miss something or ask for it, bring that thing back out or have them trade something else for it - this is how you sort out what they really love and what can be kept in storage or decluttered. The less toys out, the less mess, the easier to clean up, and the more they'll play with the few things they do have out. I learned the hard way over too many years that my kids didn't need all our toys and we were all saner if they had fewer. For example, these are the categories that have endured: dolls/stuffed animals, dressup, wooden blocks, duplos, "little guys" (Playmobil or other figures for setting up), books, games, art supplies, musical instruments, dollhouse and castle and ship, trains, soft balls for throwing indoors. When we had babies, it was also rattles, shape sorter, stacking blocks; when my kids were littler they had a kitchen with play food. That's it.

Everything has to have a place. I am a fan of baskets and drawers. Doll basket, blocks basket, train basket, etc. We have a train table with drawers but baskets around the outside of the room work just as well - as do banana boxes from the grocery store (sturdy, good-sized, easy handle holds for carrying, and not unattractive if you use just the bottom part).

My basic routine with little ones was to clean off the living room and kitchen floors in the morning and sweep or vacuum, and put the diapers in to wash. LOL. Now we also do a big cleanup before dinner, every single day. If I don't have a set cleanup time, it piles up. Having a set time helps the kids build a habit over time where they are less likely to resist (and mine were resisters for a long time). For me, getting the crumbs up off the floor daily was a sanity-saver.

Oh, also, if you have an art/craft area, keep a trashcan and a recycling can nearby for easy cleanup, and again - easy to use containers for putting things away in.

It helped me to have one designated day per week where we never made any plans, stayed home, and I could focus more on mucking out the mess on that one day a week.

Above all else, remember that it will get easier as your kids grow older. We are in that zone now and it is fabulous. You'll get there.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#25 of 29 Old 03-20-2010, 12:01 PM
 
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For me, getting the crumbs up off the floor daily was a sanity-saver.
Which is why I have dogs. lol

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#26 of 29 Old 03-20-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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Just wanted to say Thanks, Nerdymom. I am not afraid to admit that being "mama" to 4 kids 7-and-under and expecting another in the next couple months is HARD sometimes. I have regularly said that if you are coming to see *us* come on!! If you are coming to see our house, please call ahead! I'd like to change that to Please, stop by whenever you'd like... because, actually, we really enjoy impromptu visitors; it's the sheer chaos that greets the visitors that I'm ready to do away with.
Cleaning and keeping my house in order will NEVER be more important to me than mothering my children. I am working on a weekly chore schedule for myself, but my kids' needs will always come before "kitchen day" or whatever. I'm so in awe of some of the moms here whose houses and schedules are super organized, but I know that's not who I am. I think these message boards are like a salad bar. I take what I like and leave the rest; just because I want a salad doesn't mean I'm going to eat the pickled beets, you know?
I started this thread because I'm ready to make a change and I needed some tips and encouragement and I got just what I was looking for!! Thanks, ladies, and please continue to chime in! I'm still reading!!

><> I'm a Christian, knitting, sewing, cooking SAHM to the fearless adventurer Jack born 11/08, and  a  USCG wife
And we are joyfully awaiting a new addition in April 2011! <><
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#27 of 29 Old 03-21-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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I cleaned my living room today. I mean CLEANED it as it hasn't been cleaned in awhile. You can see the top of the antique stove and Victrola! I took all the framed pictures off the piano--dusting was impossible at this point in my life and my 19 month old is obsessed with photos of Daddy. She keeps dropping them and some now have broken glass. I put them all away to come out when she's older. It's weird not having the photos, but it's great just having a flat, empty piano top. We live in Arizona and the dust builds up so fast.

This thread has really gotten my brain churning. I think we'll make it a routine to clean the living room and study/playroom after dinner. Before dinner is just to hectic with me trying to cook, my husband still trying to come down from work, and everyone being hungry. After dinner the kids currently get a bath. Problem with that is our little one so loves baths that I think she stops eating before she's full just so she can hurry to the tub. By having a clean up time between dinner and bath, she'll likely be in less hurry to stop dinner.

Thanks to all the mamas with their great ideas here. Now, if we can just make this new routine work.

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#28 of 29 Old 03-21-2010, 01:47 AM
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i think that sounds like a great routine! more leisurely dinner for you, cleaned up LR/play area, tub time for the kiddo, sounds like a good night.
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#29 of 29 Old 03-21-2010, 08:41 PM
 
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Getting rid of stuff ----> that was key for me.

It is easy to pick up 10 toys, but very hard to pick up 100.

Also I've been working on getting my 4 year old and my 7 year old to take responsibility for their own toys and clothes.

Three sets of hands can pick things up so much faster than one...even if two of the sets are easily distracted.

 

 

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