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Discussion Starter #1
I wanted to put this here because I'm looking for feedback specifically from the GD momma's on the board.<br><br>
While spending a great deal of time thinking about our issues lately, I've come to realize that a lot of it revolves around cleaning in some way. When my house is not clean, I feel stressed. Then I take it out on my kids (which I know isn't good and I'm trying hard to change it). When it's messy, my kids act worse because even though they aren't great about cleaning up, they really seem to prefer a sense of order and reasonbly clean.<br><br>
But when I'm spending a lot of time cleaning, that part feels better but I feel bad for not spending much time with my kids, and they sometimes act worse, probably because they aren't getting the attention they need.<br><br>
I have tried so many cleaning schedules, it's ridiculous. They never seem to work and then I feel worse. Just this week, I decided to simplify the routine and do the dusting and main floor bath on Tuesday, upstairs baths on Wednesday, floors on Thursday. Here it is, Wednesday night, almost bath time and I haven't touched the upstairs baths. And I won't, because after bath and bed for the big boys, it's snuggle time for me and the baby, then bed. This frustrates me because I can't seem to figure out what to do. I either spend more time with my kids but am grouchy because my house is a mess or I spend less time with them, have a clean house, but annoyed kids.<br><br>
I know that they are the top priority. I know that. I'm just having a really hard time coming to some happy medium where we can all be happy and live in a reasonably clean and clutter free home. I need to do some decluttering, but some of the stuff that drives me nuts is their art cart in the kitchen. That's where they do art- at the table. It's just a little 3 drawer thing, but papers are spilling out of it and all over the place. I can't seem to throw anything out without offending them, so we have this massive pile of papers going every which way. That kind of stuff really stresses me out. And hiring someone is not an option. I need to figure this out. Dh helps, mostly with dishes in the kitchen. But he works 12:30p-9:00p. I work part time until noon and then have the kids until bedtime.<br><br>
I'm just wondering if any of the GD people have dealt with this. How did you come to peace with it? I hope this isn't a stupid post. I think it seems silly to get so hung up on something like this, but I can't help myself. It is what it is. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">
 

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Are the kids old enough to help at all? I clean (not enough...but...<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">) with my 6 yo and try to make it fun; crank up the music, race, etc. It usually gets both of us out of a crabby mood.<br><br>
For the art stuff, I keep a box in the closet of the 'old' art and eventually it gets weeded out. That way it's not underfoot but dd doesn't get her feelings hurt. She's the same way, even a scribble can not hit the trash without my being called on it. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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Discussion Starter #3
They dust. We bought little dusters for them. And sometimes I give them a washcloth with water and they'll wipe down the kitchen chairs or walls.<br><br>
But for the stuff that needs done weekly, like bathrooms, vacuuming, mopping, etc, I need to do it.
 

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I had to give up on a lot of that. And give a lot of it over to DP (he does kitchens while I do bathrooms, etc).<br><br>
I had to acknowledge that it's my issue and in reality doesn't matter. I do it when I can and that's the best I can do. I'd rather have time for my kids and have it not diminish my relationship with them because I'm aggravated that I can't do x,y,z.<br><br>
Letting go of the tasks that can be let go (like only washing the floor 1x weekly instead of 2-3x daily) has opened time up to do the things that actually need to be done (like washing/drying/putting up my cloth diapers).<br><br>
Just reevaluate and prioritize. You don't have to do it all.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">When my house is not clean, I feel stressed. Then I take it out on my kids (which I know isn't good and I'm trying hard to change it). When it's messy, my kids act worse because even though they aren't great about cleaning up, they really seem to prefer a sense of order and reasonbly clean.<br></div>
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That is me! I get stressed when my house is a mess and I can't overcome that feeling. It's like an agitated, unsettled feeling. I have learned to cope with certain parts of my house being messy (the rooms where I can shut the doors!). I try to have clean zones. Like, my living room gets picked up every day and vacuumed almost every day. I HAVE to do it or it wears on me. The kitchen needs to be cleaned every day. My bedroom and the bathroom have to be tidied every single day too.<br><br>
I do relax on the kitchen and living room once they have been cleaned and tidied for the day. They are usually messy again soon after, but somehow, I'm ok with that. I've got this thing about it being clean "underneath" the clutter. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
My bedroom, however, I am not flexible on. That has to be tidy, always. I need to have one clean "zone" that I can go into to collect my thoughts if need be. It really helps to have that.<br><br>
I've also really worked on combatting clutter. That is all about baby steps. Have you ever checked out flylady.net? I used to clean the flylady way, but that in itself is very time consuming. I have, however, gotten some great tips from her. I am a huge fan of my timer. I can set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes and get quite a lot done in one room.<br><br>
I do try to keep clutter out of my main clean zones. There is very little clutter in my living room, so it is easy to clean once a day. Toys do get dragged in there every day, but it is usually a managable amount that I can tidy up and put back in the bedrooms they belong in each day.<br><br>
For the art cart, I would suggest 3 ring binders for the art work. Someone told me about that a few years ago and it works great. No need to throw things away, just hole punch it, put it in the binder and it's all organized for you to enjoy latter. It also works great for school work when you start getting inundated with that. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Ok, I wrote a book. I could just relate so much to your post. It's something I've been struggling with my whole life, but especially since I've had children.
 

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I never, ever dust. Seriously. Like maybe twice a year. I've minimized most of our vertical surfaces, put away anything that needs extraneous dusting, and the tops of the bookcases? Well, I hardly ever see those anyway <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
I know you said hiring isn't an option, but can you afford to buy a Roomba and/or a Scooba? My Roomba isn't even the top model and it can handle all floors in the house except the main living area (carpet's quite plush there). It's a small thing, but to even have that amount of vacuuming off my hands is a help, especially because we live barefoot, so cruddy floors make me <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: The Roomba also has the added bonus that, because it's a gadget, my DH loves to clean up a room and let the Roomba loose on it <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
I mainly try to stay on top of the clutter and keeping the floors picked up. Can you make it a game, or a rule, that the kids must pick up the floors with you? Some days the game works (e.g., clean up, clean up, every Julie everywhere <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/whistling.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="whistle">, or make it a race with 10 minutes on the timer), some days the rule works (e.g., we don't start a new game/project/TV show until we've tidied). I find that if I can keep the floors clear, the actual cleaning goes more quickly.<br><br>
I typically do the bathroom while one of the kids is having a bath. I dump a load of toys in the tub, and while they play, I clean the room. I do the tub quickly after they're out of the bath, getting dressed or playing for a few minutes (or after they go to sleep). I run the Roomba in there at some other point, as needed.<br><br>
But generally, yes, I agree that you need to let some stuff slide for awhile (easier said than done, I know!). I also get very stressed if the house is messy, but for me, keeping the clutter picked up keeps the craziness at bay. Another great book to check out is Confessions of an Organized Homemaker: The Secrets of Uncluttering Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life, by Deniece Schofield. Great book, with tons of tips.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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I would just the basics during the day. Picking objects up, a little wiping of surfaces and maybe do the indepth cleaning after the little ones have settled for the night?<br><br>
Is there a possibility that maybe your DP can take little ones out for the day once per week so you can have time to focus on what needs to be done... plus have a little 'me' time too? Or does he work that shift 7 days?<br><br><br>
Peace
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll try to find or buy the Confessions of an Organized Homemaker book. Our library stinks but I can find it at Barnes and Noble I'm sure.<br><br>
As far as dh taking the boys out, he might do that, but I try really hard to have no cleaning to do on weekends and make them family time only. Dh and I each have some time to do something on our own for a couple hours on Saturday and beyond that, we try to spend time together since the boys don't see a lot of him during the week.<br><br>
I have done flylady before and was a perfectionist drop out because I couldn't take baby steps. I was frustrated when my control journal wasn't typed and in sheet protectors and completed in a day. It's a personality disorder, I think. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I do agree that she has a lot of good tips though. Maybe I'll check out the website again.<br><br>
It seems like I really need to do a good cleaning, then work hard to keep things put away. I'm more okay with needing to clean a bathroom or something and not getting to it than seeing stuff all over the place, hiding my counters and floor!<br><br>
I also think that maybe I should try to just see what needs done most and do that instead of having a schedule. I'll try to do a big cleaning soon and see if that helps.
 

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I think the 6 and 4 year olds could totally help you out. I use vinegar/baking soda/water in the bathroom and kitchen to clean. I strip my DS down (will be 4 at the end of January) to his underwear, give him a quirt bottle of the above cleaner and a sponge, and he goes to town on the tub while I do the toilet, then he does the sink while I do the floor. He can do the kitchen counter and sinks too while I tackle the floor and stove. Sure, his parts aren't perfect, but they're clean enough and I can go over any really missed spots. He helps fold/put away laundry, he runs the vacuum with me, he uses the mop on the hardwoods. Kids are a lot more capable of helping clean than many people think - and if you approach it as an activity to do together, then it's more like a game and less like work. You just have to get over things being done "right" and accept the way they are done by their little hands as good enough. Even 17-month-old DD is getting in on the act and likes to use a wet cloth to wipe places and it's "her job" to load the dryer - I hand her one item at a time and she throws it in and then closes the door when done. She LOVES doing this.<br><br>
Heck, half of the reason I had kids was to help with housework! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/duck.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Duck">: <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> Seriously though, they don't help me every time, but they do help about half the time. They help with tidying as well, though I don't push it yet if they are refusing - usualyl what helps is to be specific (you put the red blocks away and I'll do the green) instead of general (clean up your stuff).<br><br>
If the art stuff is really bothering you, maybe you could take digital pictures of all their stuff so they can have an 'archive', then tell them that they can pick out X number of favorite pieces to keep, and the rest are going away.... I started taking digital pics of all of DS's preschool artwork so I don't have to keep all of it. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/bag.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Bag">: I'm like the anti packrat. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> Or maybe you could use their nonfavorites as wrapping paper or cards, or something?<br><br>
Hope that helps!
 

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One of my daughter's favorite things to do is to clean the kitchen floor. I have a spray bottle I keep a cleaning solution in (you can find recipes for lots of safe non-chemical cleaning solutions online) and give her a few rags and off she goes.<br><br>
She doesn't like to clean up as much but if I start, she almost always seems to help. I don't know how you'd get that going if the kids haven't always helped you though. That part seems tricky.<br><br>
I know someone who bought a real vacuum cleaner that's made for kids that has a picture of Scooby Doo on it that the kids use to vacuum. I've been thinking that sounds like a good idea but I haven't gotten one.<br><br>
My daughter also helps with laundry. She's not very good at folding but she is moderately good at sorting (I always double-check because that can cause such problems) and very good at putting it and detergent in the washer and turning it on, and she's good at checking the lint trap and getting the clothes in the in the dryer and turning that on.<br><br>
Just keep giving them little jobs, and don't make it sound like chores. If I have something I think maybe she can do, I'll say, "Hey, do you want to try doing the laundry?" It makes her feel so grown up to do that kind of thing. She'll draw pictures of her doing it and show off to her friends that she's allowed to do laundry. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
At least if they're busy cleaning, they aren't making more messes during that time!
 

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All the tips have been great! Another thing that has worked for me lately is sometimes when I have a few minutes I *don't* do the most obvious job. FE I know I will always get the dishes done (eventually <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">), so a lot of times I will do a quick orginizing of the bookshelves if I have 2 min, or clean behind the toilet or another job that doesn't scream out at me. It keeps the whole house looking a bit nicer IMO. Also a friend of mine does a room a day, and that works really well for her. You just have to play with it until you find something that works for you. Good luck <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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A 6yo and 4yos with normal capabilities can do much more than dust and wipe stuff down. Seriously. At those ages my kids were capable of<br>
-sorting laundry<br>
-folding certain items (washcloths, socks, pants, shirts)<br>
-wiping down the breakfast table<br>
-sweeping the floor<br>
-vacuuming<br><br>
and loads of other things. When I work, they work along side of me. It got me kid time and taught them valuable skills at the same time. Have you seen the site <a href="http://www.forsmallhands.com" target="_blank">www.forsmallhands.com</a> ? It's my inspiration. I was a small child, and I hated not being able to do anything because I was too little. So I made sure my boys would never have to feel like that. I picked up a Montessori at home book at the library and started reading up on ways to teach them how to do what they already were wanting to do - I got a canister vac so we could all vacuum, I shortened a Swiffer for their use (stack of old rags next to it), I found miniature, working, brooms, mops, laundry baskets, etc. so that everything was their size - and stored it all where they could reach it.
 

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I have a very high needs 15 month old, and it is really hard to keep the house clean. But like you, I get really, really unsettled if it's not. I even start having crying, depressive, nervous little fits. Panic attacks. Etc. I will say, first, though, that Zoloft has helped with that. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/duck.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Duck">: I can now handle the house being a little untidy, as long as it's not clutter-filled. But it definitely contributes to depression for me, especially PPD!<br><br>
Here's what works for me. I clean in the tiniest spurts imaginable. For example, to do the dishes after lunch might take me (easily) three attempts. I will wash a dish or two, then DS will tire of swishing his water in his dishpan and want to be picked up. I'll pick him up, go play in the living room for 10 minutes, then return. I can usually get a decent chunk of the dishes done after that, because his tank is "full" of attention. Then I might get another interruption (maybe 3 minutes later) and return to finish them up.<br><br>
The key, for my son, is to drop what I'm working on nearly immediately and attend to his needs. I know that's sort of counter-intuitive, but I find that when I try to put him off for a minute or two, he is collapsing on the floor sobbing, and then he is clingy for the rest of the day. If I just stop what I'm doing, give him my attention for a minute (or ten), then I can resume.<br><br>
I might also leave the dishes for a moment, give him attention, and then have him "help" me put the laundry in before trying to get back to the dishes. I can never work on what I really want to get done, but if I keep chipping away at all of it, bit by bit, and clean as I go, it all gets done.<br><br>
It may be different with your kids, depending on their ages (DS has improved substantially in this regard... I can now at least finish the dish I'm washing, LOL). But the principles might help, at least?
 

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Those swivel sweeper vaccums are great for kids to use. They do a decent enough job but aren't too loud to scare kids. My dd begs to use it, so I saved the $500 on a roomba and I still don't have to vaccuum.
 

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Instead of giving you house cleaning suggestions, I'm going to suggest that maybe it's not that bad to not spend every waking moment with your boys. I know that you're worried about them being aggresive with each other, from your previous posts, but can't they play together too? Can you say, "Go outside, I don't want to see you for ten minutes!"<br><br>
And, I totally agree with getting them involved. My dd is getting really helpful, she can actually clean things and do a pretty good job. My ds1 still makes a bigger mess than he cleans up, but now that I know that kids can learn, I'm pretty patient with it.<br><br>
I have no advice for you about the art supplies, though. My kids' art supplies are always a huge mess. I'll clean them all up and then ten minutes later dd will decide she must do a huge collage with every single sequin, scrap of paper, and sticker.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I just wanted to post an update on how things are going. February has been a wonderful month for us so far. My boys behavior is better, I'm not freaking out about things and we're just generally enjoying each other much more. Here are things that I changed.<br><br>
1. I got rid of the art cart. We have an island with two big drawers. One drawer now has their markers and blank paper. The other is for completed art. They know that when it's full, we go through and decide what to get rid of and they're doing really well with it.<br><br>
2. I gave them a cabinet for snacks. I keep cereal bars, fruit snacks, crackers and dry cereal in it along with some plates and mugs. That has gone over better than I ever would have imagined. They went nuts eating stuff at first but now that they know it's pretty much always there, they do good with it. I think they like the independence of not needing to ask me for something.<br><br>
3. I started "Kitchen Jobs". We rotate jobs each Monday. We have an Assistant Cook who helps me prepare the meal. A Host sets the table and assigns seats to everyone. The Cleanup Crew brings the dishes to me and uses the Swivel Sweeper while I clean the dishes. They love this and I enjoy teaching one at a time about cooking.<br><br>
4. They are doing lots of other cleaning. They clean the bathroom sinks (I just use vinegar/water or baking soda to clean). They "skate wash" the tile floors. I get a washcloth wet with hot water and the skate around to clean it. They help with laundry. They take their sheets off of their beds every Monday so I can put clean ones on. They spot clean walls and clean windows. And they love it all!<br><br>
6. I cut down on the amount of toys available at a time by a lot again. I also put an unused laundry basket in the front closet so if toys are all over, we drive they "toy truck" around and pick them up. Then it's one trip to the playroom.<br><br>
5. I have relaxed my standards by a lot. It just hit me that I am wasting precious time worrying about silly things. I'm finding that we can maintain a tidy home that is pleasant for all of us. It isn't spotless, but everyone is happy and that's more important.<br><br>
6. I've cut down my computer time. I think I was getting into bad habits and spending too much time online, which cut into my time with my kids and cleaning time. Not good.<br><br>
7. I've started doing the 10 minute challenges as discussed in Mindful Home Management. Sometimes I'll get the boys in on it. Mostly though I know that everyone is okay for ten minutes, so I'll get something done quickly. A couple or few of those a day keeps things looking pretty good. And I've started doing the bathroom cleaning while they're in the bath like Melissa suggested above. I have no idea why that never occurred to me before!<br><br>
So we have made a lot of changes and our home is really feeling it, between the family and the way it looks. Thanks everyone! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 
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