I have two girls ages 9 and 12 (will be 13 in four days). And a husband. Dh works full time. I work 25 hours/week night shift. I am so, so tired of spending my nights off cleaning and picking up. The most frustrating part was dh always comes home saying the house is a mess, and my nearly 13 year old just told me last night that she doesn't want friends over because our house is not as clean as theirs.
Several of the friends have cleaners come 1-2 times a week. Another friend-- it's just her and her mom. And maybe they also are better at everyone chipping in and doing chores. And their houses are a lot bigger so they are not on top of each other like we are. I have tried chore charts, restricting fun stuff until cleaning is done, and even broken down in tears a few times. Nothing lasts. I just spent EIGHT solid hours cleaning and organizing. I can guarantee that two days from now it will be back in the state it was before. Last week I spent a total of TEN hours on my nights off. Then went back to work and got to be on my feet running around being a nurse for 12.5 hour shifts. And I come home to sinks full of dishes and messy bathrooms and dirty floors and crumbs on the sofa (when food is never allowed to be eating on the sofa).
The girls's bathroom is messy and gross and gets that way fast. They will sometimes wipe the toothpaste out of the sink but only if I ask. I literally just scrubbed poop off the toilet. Again. I do all the floor cleaning in the house. Dh will only sweep the dust from one area into a corner and usually leave it there. Or will mop only the kitchen but not the greatroom (we have tile everywhere). Ten year old leaves a trail of her stuff wherever she goes. Dh will unload some of the dishes, leave other stuff out on the counters. Leaves lunch box dishes in the sink. I could go on and on. I'm just so done. I even went on strike once and it just punished me because there was more mess to clean up after the strike (someone was coming to visit so I had to clean up and thus ended the strike).
I am clearly at my wit's end. What to do? And how do other people's house stay so clean when I pop over for a visit and see them?
Time to set-up a family meeting and express your frustrations and explain how you NEED them to help keep the house clean. It is their house, too, so why should they expect you to do everything.
Your children are, obviously, old enough to help. MAKE THEM DO SO! Take away privileges, no friends over to play or study (and, they cannot go over to their friend's homes, either).
Draw up a list of the chores that MUST be done daily (wiping down the bathroom, dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher & put away, etc.) and assign names to different chores. Even allow them to choose what they will do. But, tell them they WILL do the chores or their will be consequences. Do NOT back down from sticking to the "no-work-no-play" results, either!!!
Your dh works full time? So what? He also lives there. He can do things just as easily as you do.
Have the talk TODAY.
Well...I can tell you what my mom did when my brother and I were in elementary school...but I don't know if I really recommend it.
She wrote a short story about a mom who got fed up and left notes around the house written as if they were from her family members, saying things like, "Dear Mom, here is a fun game for you to play! You can throw these dirty sock donuts into the basket from across the room, and then you can lovingly unroll each one so they will get clean in the laundry. This will keep you busy while I'm at school." Leaving the notes on the messes, the mom went out to do a project she had always wanted to do. When she came home, she found the house all cleaned up and a note that said, "Dear Joe and kids, I love it when you help around the house! I'm glad you understand that my time and feelings are important, too! Love, Mom." My mother got her story published in a national magazine--and then it was picked up for syndication and translated into other languages and published in women's magazines in other countries! (Obviously, it struck a chord...)
We were very proud of her publication and thought it was a clever, well-written story. But we all felt hurt, too, at being portrayed as such inconsiderate slobs and having it come at us in such a public, passive-aggressive way. I mean, the actions of the mom in the story were passive-aggressive enough, but my mom never actually DID that, only wrote about it in a way that made it clear she was writing about us (the messes were very recognizable!) and she WISHED she could do that and we would respond that way. I don't know if, given the chance, we actually would have responded by cleaning the house or would have just been mad! However, the story did succeed at expressing her feelings to us, making us aware that our leaving extra work for her was triggering particular feelings for her and that she would feel more loved if we took better care of things. My brother and I shaped up significantly and became, if anything, overly conscientious about doing our share of chores in every household where we've lived since.
A family meeting, resulting in a clear system of expectations for each family member, is a better idea.
I disagree partially with Graham's Mom: Because your husband works more hours outside the home than you do, I think it makes sense for him to do PROPORTIONATELY less housework than you do. He's working 60% of the hours; he should do 40% of the adult housework. But it sounds like he's doing 10% or less. Be prepared to advocate for him doing more than he currently does but to accept that you will end up doing somewhat more than he does.
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I find when I assign chores and keep reminding them "Now it's time to do ___" they'll help, then of course forget next time so remind again, really it takes as much work as doing it myself but it's fairer and maybe eventually they'll catch the habit.
...my nearly 13 year old just told me last night that she doesn't want friends over because our house is not as clean as theirs.
Sounds like somebody needs a reality check. And a list of daily chores that must be completed BEFORE she goes over to her richer friends' house to hang out.
We can afford a cleaning service, and being a homeschooling family of six we generate quite the mess, but I have just switched to the chore-chart model because I don't like having strangers in my home, I'd rather spend the money on other things, and frankly it's hard to find a paid stranger who will clean your house as well as you can do it yourself. I put my own chores on the chart as well as the kids, which seems to make the difference. I always try to being doing one of my chores at the same time they are doing theirs. My DH is a very competent cleaner and organizer and will occasionally tackle a big decluttering project or somesuch, but does not have regular chores because he works very long hours and the rest of us are at home.
Since you are gone several nights a week, maybe you should empower your DH a little on this one. Make an ambitious list and really hold up your end on the days you are at home. Then, when your evening of work comes and he is at home, point to the list and tell him that the division of labor among him and the kids is entirely up to him, and go to work. Something tells me that he will develop great enthusiasm for training children how to vacuum and do dishes.