April 10, 2008,
N.S. asks from Dublin, OH on April 04, 2008
How Do You Busy SAH Moms Keep Your House Clean & Organized with Children?
I have three busy children-8 1/2 daughter and 2 & 6 year old energetic boys. Between playdates, school, after-school activities, Moms group I find it difficult to maintain my 4 bed-room 3,000+ square foot home. We are not in too many activities now- 2 year old has a weekly playgroup (we don't always go every week, half the time I'm trying to play catch up with the housework before the weekend. My daughter has girl scouts only 1X a month. My oldest son usually has 1 activitiy. We go to a occasional open gym. I meet my moms group 2X a month. We don't have any family in town, so the church playgroup and Moms support group are particularly important to me. My husband doesn't realize that I don't actually "stay home" with the children most of the time. We kind of agreed that when I gave up my career, that I would take care of the children and house. LOL little did I know what a undertaking it would be, three kids later. I go to friends and neighbor's homes and they are immaculate. I don't get it. Does everyone spend every day cleaning for hours or use a cleaning service?! My dream would be to use a service but that isn't possible for us unfortunately. My husband knows I don't like to clean, does anyone! and just suggested I try a service just once to see how effectively they clean. ( so I could do a better job).Could anyone please offer any suggestions or advice how to keep a large home with children while still maintaining a social life?
C.S. answers from Columbus on April 04, 2008
Don't worry my house is a mess too! But I manage to make it presentable when I'm expecting guests. One time when I was cleaning the house, my then 8 yr old son asked if we were having company!!
It's so easy for things to get out of control, so I enlist the help of the kids. Each one (I have 3) is in charge of keeping a certain area or room neat, in addition to their own rooms. It's never perfect, but it's home!
D.N. answers from Columbus on April 05, 2008
The house cleaning services don't do an immaculate job, they just do really quick jobs. They're not nearly as thorough as I tend to be. so their 4 hour job would take me a LOT longer! I have 3 kids as well, and the kids do a great job of creating messes. I just try to make sure my house is clean for company, and then i also will prioritize and clean the public areas first. My house is far from immaculate, but houseguests probably think that it is. :-)
R.N. answers from Columbus on April 05, 2008
Mine is alwasy a work in progress. I have the kids (4) help in ways they are able. They put away thier own laundry, each has a chore to do, theya re responsible for picking up their toys and I learned the hard way to stick to it and take things away when they don't even my3 year old knows to pick things up. My down stairs isusually presentable after 4pm and the upstairs is hit or miss.
I really believe that if you are actively engaging your children, spending quality time with them and getting the most out of hte short time they are home and your house is a a little cluttered YOU ARE THE PERFECT MOM. Moms who obsess and clean and have museum homes but have no relationship with their children are really missing out on a really neat and limited time experience. they will all be in school full time very soon and then you can spend all yoru time cleaning adn missing the time you got to spend with them! Enjoy
S.B. answers from Columbus on April 05, 2008
check out a website I found www.keepingthehome.com. It's a blog by a christian woman who stays at home with her kids and home schools them. She has some GREAT advice about keeping schedules and such. She keeps a 'Home Management Binder' which helps keep everyone organized. We recently adopted the binder in our homw and it is working out great! The woman has great step by step instructions and advice on how to start your own HMB (as she calls it for short). Good luck!!
A.L. answers from Columbus on April 05, 2008
When my kids were little there just weren't big blocks of time to devote to cleaning. I developed a system I call the "Big Six" . These are your priority chores that just have to have attention every day. They are: dishes, laundry , trash and recycling, floors, bathrooms and caring for animals (if you have any.) You don't have to completely catch up every day, just spend some time moving things along. If you have only five minutes, unload the dishwasher, fold a load of clothes, run and find three small wastebaskets to empty, etc. Your two older kids can match socks, set the table, and help you in other ways. Having cleaning supplies on each floor really helps, too. That way, while you're supervising baths and toothbrushing, you can wipe down the bathroom, change the wastebasket liner, etc. You might want to check out the flylady website for other tips. Hope this helps, A..
J.R. answers from Columbus on April 05, 2008
I agree with other posters to let things go a bit in order to enjoy the time you have at home with the kids. At the same time though, I notice I feel better when the house isn't an absolute distaster so I try (emphasize try) to keep on top of it.
I only have two kids, ages 2.5 and 6 months, so our daily rhythm is a little different, allowing maybe some more time to keep up with it, and less mess too. That said, I find the 10 minute rule works well for me. Once the kids are in bed, I spend 10 minutes cleaning something- not picking up usually since we pick up the toys with our 2.5 yo before he goes to bed- but actual cleaning- vacuuming, dusting or scrubbing. I'm amazed at what I can get done in 10 minutes when I can focus on the task at hand and nothing else.
Like others said, it's always a work in progress (I don't think I'll have the time or energy to clean my house top to bottom in one day for years yet) but the ten minute rule helps me keep on top of it, kind of.
I talked to my husband about having a cleaning lady come in every 3 months or so to do a top to bottom cleaning. He was agreeable to that (surprise!). I know one that I like that will clean our whole house (3000 sf) for $75- scrubbing on her hands and knees, etc. Spread over the 3 months, that's $25 a month, and I can usually carve that out of what I save grocery shopping.
AND, though the house is usually never as clean as I would like it to be, when I do clean something I say (usually out loud, do all SAHMs talk to themselves??) "Well, it's better than it was." And for now, that's good enough.
H.J. answers from Columbus on April 10, 2008
Hi Nicole. I can tell you from my own experience that if your friends have children, their houses are NOT immaculate. They simply appear to be because you don't know where to look for the dirt. Personally, I clean other people's homes so I can tell you that the last thing I want to do when I come home from cleaning 3-4 houses a day is clean my own house. What do I do? I try to clean one room a day really good and just try to keep the rest of the house at a low roar until the weekend. Then on Saturdays we all pitch in and help get done what needs doing. If I were you I would try to begin teaching the children the basics of cleaning by encouraging them to pick up their own toys, maybe put their clothing in hampers.
Next trick is to buckle down and get organized. Less stuff means less mess. Basically my rule of thumb is, if it doesn't have a home, it doesn't stay in my home. Unfortunately if you are not going to use a service you are going to have to spend time cleaning...maybe even hours.
J.B. answers from Columbus on April 05, 2008
I feel your pain. This was a major problem for me as well until I implemented a couple things. First - get organized. Buy some shelves or toy boxes that make things easy to put away. Put the big stuff on shelves and the little stuff in boxes. But don't put too much in a box, otherwise things will be too hard to find and will end up getting dumped on the floor. At our house, a one-time investment in the shelves was worth it for the mental health that it provided us with. If money is an issue (which, I know, usually is!) try using leftover yogurt containers or whatever kind of container for little cars or game pieces or whatever. Then put the containers on the shelf. Oh - those mandarin orange mini-crates are great for holding toys - and they stack really easily.
Also, ask your husband for help. I felt really bad about this - I am a "stay-at-home" mom (I hear you - we hardly stay at home either) so I felt that the kids and the house should be taken care of by me. My contribution to the family, I guess. But I realized that the stress of trying to be super-mom wasn't worth my pride. I'm not the best disciplinarian so I have trouble getting them to listen when I tell them to clean up, but when Daddy asks them to do it, it's a different story. He has a way of making it fun. So I try to do little clean up here and there during the day (especially before my husband comes home from work :) but the main cleanup is in the evening. We've incorporated it into our bedtime routine. So a half hour before bedtime is cleanup time. Everybody helps. And Daddy initiates and makes it fun. (Thank you!!) All the toys get taken back to the kids' room and put away where they go (that's where I come in). So in the evening I can relax and in the morning, we start out clean.
As far as getting the dishes done, toilets cleaned, etc, I usually try to do that stuff during the kids' favorite TV show or on Saturday morning when my husband is home to entertain the kids. Try making yourself a schedule and getting into a habit. And stick with it (which I say because you mentioned you don't like cleaning). Get your husband on board (let him know what he can do to help you). Oh - and don't try to do everything at once. One goal per day is about all I can handle. I had a friend a while back who used to split up her housework into one task per day. Clothes laundry on Monday, towels on Tuesday, clean bathroom on Wednesday... you get the point. If that's not working for you, don't be embarrassed to get a cleaning service. Oh - and my guess is that your friends' houses are not always as clean as they appear when you visit :) Sometimes having people over is a good motivation to clean!
Best of luck to you!
J. (SAHM of 6-year old girl and 2-year old boy)