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How to Keep House Clean, Organized, W/ 5 Kids

Hi all. I am in a bit of a rut and need some much needed advice. I am a SAHM and I work part time from home. I have 5 kids ages range from 9 to 1 yrs. The oldest 3 have daily chores, and we have chore charts, we alternate the chores every other week, blah blah blah...Problem is my house is NEVER clean. We can have the house looking great for the most part but the next day it is the same all over again. And heaven help us if there is ever a holiday or break from school cause the laundry piles up and the house explodes. My husband always complains about the house and for the most part doesn't do a whole lot to help. (He has his days where he vacuums but it would be so awesome to see him do some laundry, dishes, or any other deep down cleanin'.) Worst part is, my husband keeps comparing me to how his mom kept the house when he was growing up! She had 6 kids and was one of those moms you see on TV w/ the dress and pearls, always ironing w/ a smile on her face...she is a total neat freak even today. If I cleaned all day w/o stopping and did it every day, I might be able to keep it up on my own. But get real, that is sooo not me. Plus now the weather is getting warmer and my kids want to be outside...and I can't stand caging in the 3 kids I have during the day just to keep the house clean in case anyone would happen to stop by or so when husband comes home from work he doesn't freak out. So, question is, is there a way to keep my house decent w/ 5 kids, a neat freak husband, and without using up time w/ my kids, and without getting bored of the same ol' clean up cycle we get in. Any advice would be great. Thanks!!!

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WOW!!! Amazing response..thank you, thank you, thank you! I got so many ideas I had to write them down to refer to when I need motivation. Yesterday I cleaned/rearranged/reorganized my laundry room and now each kid has their own basket for their clothes. Now my couch is no longer laundry central! I tweeked our chore chart a little bit, and we will be having a family meeting to go over the changes I've made so far. I am going to invest in alot of Clorox/Lysol Wipes because that sounds like a great way to keep my sinks clean in between scrubbings. I had checked out flylady.com before and it seemed so overwhelming, but now w/ so many referrals, I can narrow the search and know exactly where to start. I also loved the ideas of 15 min cleaning spurts, 10 min clean up time at the end of the day, and showing my kids whats most important--THEM! You guys gave me so many great ideas! I am not alone in the quest for a clean house =). Again, thank you for your time and wonderful suggestions!!!!

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I just wanted to let you know that you are NOT alone. I am a SAHM with 4 kids 7, 5, 2, and 1. My house is also NEVER clean. And my husband gets very annoyed as well. I just tell him if he wants it perfect then he can do it himself, cause it just isn't going to happen with me doing it alone. Plus, I really don't like cleaning and organizing like most of my friends with pristine houses. My husband will pitch in once a month and get it really clean but he complains about how I have not kept up on it. And really, why haven't I? I know it can be done cause I h ave friends and family who do it, but I really struggle. I have even thought that maybe I have some kind of a problem that I am not aware of that prevents me from doing it. So I am so glad to know that I am not the only one and wanted to let you know that you aren't either. I look forward to reading the responses you receive. Hopefully one will help. Thanks

sometimes we need outside help. Is there anybody you may know that can help you every other day. Or hire a maid once a week as long as they don't charge you an arm and a leg. Husband should be available to help a bit more at least on his days off with the house cleaning or at least with all 5 children by taking them all out to the park, or somewhere Dad & kids agree to go.

I don't have much advice. Just sympathy. I have 4 kids ages 6 to 5mon. My house is never clean. I can have it clean in the morning and by afternoon it looks like a tornado hit it. It happens to my husband too who tries. My mother in-law comes and cleans all day and night and never sits and it looks good for her. My kids have chores. My only saving grace is that it is a home where my kids are comfortable and loved. My house is lived in. There is no other way to describe it.

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You can't carry the world on your shoulders, get help. Make a game of cleaning with the little ones. "while I make lunch.. you pick up our toys. Who ever gets done first gets to pick the snack for after nap" They love it! Make labled cubbies for toys and games to they know where things need to go. Take shoes off at the door so dirt isn't brought in the house. Let them help clean windows, sweep, fold laundry... even little guys can do a lot and they love to know they can!

Talk with your husband and let him know it hurts you when you are compaired to his mom. Raising kids today is so different than when he was little. Compair when he was a boy and could run around the neighborhood until dark to now when the kids can't even go out back without worry. Ask him to fold laundry while he is watching tv. Or make a "date" doing dishes after dinner, just the two of you so you have a chance to connect.

My mom was a freak about having a clean house so the only time I had with her (she worked 2 jobs) was on weekends... cleaning. Now she knows that it is ok if the house isn't perfect. She sits back and enjoys the grand kids. I keep a tidy house, but enjoy my kids and don't stress about the little things. Before you know it they will be grown and out of your house.

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Hi ET,

I can relate to a certain degree. My husband is very particular about the house and his mom used to be a cleaning lady. I homeschool, so we are in a "working household" every day and it is impossible to have it picture perfect all the time. I tried using Flylady.net. You might look into that. I just got tired of all the emails from them. You can customize how many you get and she does have some very great ideas. We now utilitize a chore system. I have found that I do best when I just start my day early. I try to have a quiet time before anyone gets up and then get a headstart on the day. After that I attempt to just add in extra things I need to do to work on the house (every time I walk by the laundry room I throw a load in or change a load). If I see a mess I just pick it up as I move through the room. If the floor is dirty I grab the little sweeper we have and run it over the floor. I've found that by doing it immediately and not thinking about if I want to or should I interrupt what I'm doing to get it done, I can accomplish it much faster than if I'd put it off. I also feel much better b/c it is instant gratification-the floor is clean, the laundry is going, the clutter is gone etc. I certainly don't have all the answers, but that is what is working for now!

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Go here:

flylady.net

P.

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Check out flylady.net. She helps in setting up schedules like assigning certain tasks to certain days. She also helps you divide up your home into five zones and you spend 15 minutes in each zone, each day, rotating zones each week. She also talks about hot spots, those places that have a gravitational pull to STUFF! You go through them twice a day for 5 minutes. It really works for me. You're right on with involving the kids! You should hever load or unload the dishwasher with a 9-year-old around! ;o) Contact me if you want to see my schedule I set with Fly Lady's help. I don't always stick to it because life happens but it helps to have a plan at least!

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I am a SAHM of 12 (11 at home) and I have learned from experience that children - especially at those ages -need change more often than that. this is what we do and it usually works pretty good. Our "Job Chart" is a poster with envelopes that open at the top just big enough to hold an index card on it's end. The kids' names are on the envelopes and the jobs they do are on each index card. We started with the Oldest child gets the hardest job (At our house it's dishes)and so on down to the youngest that does jobs. Some kids are put together so they don't have to work alone- working alone seems to be too hard for the youngest that does jobs and she is 5 so she works with my 13 yr old. my 8 yr old works with my 11 yr old, etc. Anyway, when their job is done, they pass the index card to the next envelope and it becomes someone elses job. Jobs are done at the same times every day...anyone that gets done on time and helps someone else so they get done on time gets a star on their chart. WHen their chart is full of stars, they get to go to dinner ALONE WITH MOM AND DAD...sometimes they fill thier charts at the same time-they get to choose if they want to go with each other AND mom and dad, or just mom and dad.(you don't even have to go to dinner, you could just go do something special that is just for that child, go to the library-go for a walk-etc.) This seems to work pretty good. ALSO, for organization, Toys are organized in clear sterilite containers and put on shelves-cars and trucks in one--blocks in one--dolls and doll clothes in one, etc. Kids are not allowed to get the boxes of toys without permission. House has to be clean before toys are gotten down, and the kids cannot play with the next box of toys until the first box is picked up and put away. They LOVE to choose which box to get down next! GET ON A SCHEDULE--What time is given to your work? And what time is given to the children? How long does it take to get jobs done? (our kids get 45 minutes)...all this needs to be considered. Fit you schedule to work around mealtimes. That way the kids are nourished and feel good.
As far as the husband goes...Mine was the same way-his mom always has been and still is a neat freak --and I love her to death, but it took a while to get him to realize this, but I just could't do it! And I had to let him know that I try to keep things up, but I AM NOT HIS MOM. Every one has different abilities! But if I were you, this is what I would do (it's what I did!) Let him know you DO appreciate the things he does, but let him know that although he works most of the day, you do too, and in fact, when he comes home, his work seems to be over but yours will continue thoughout the evening hours and into the night. Ask that he try to do a little more at night to help - just to help the household run more smoothly (Even if all he does is sit with the kids and watch a movie so you can get some work done-that could be a big help)Guys can't -and don't even try to- read minds. If you need his help, you are going to have to ask him for it. I think it's all about communication on that one. But it is critical that you and he support each other in helping the kids be responsible. Abd when they earn their stars-he really needs to go along on the special "trip" or "time" they have earned. Anyway, that's what we have done and it seems to help the whole family to be happier and more willing to "work together"...
Hope this helps! Good luck!

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I know how you feel, I too had 5 kids, though now only one daughter is left at home, and she is 12 years-old.

If your neat freak husband is so worried about the house, he can help out A LOT, because being a stay at home mom is hard work! Very hard work! Anyway, I know it can be hard to get any help out of our husbands who work all day long, but so do we!

I had to decide long ago which was going to be more important to me....a neat, tidy, clean house, OR, my children! I of course picked my children. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't let my house go and never clean, but I would leave the dishes until later so I could play a game of Scrabble, or I would leave the vacuuming so I could go play Tag outside. A clean house meant a lot less to me than a "good" relationship with my kids. My husband also supported me in this though. Before I made that decision though, I was a clean house freak! Which made me very cranky and grouchy when my house didn't stay that way. I would yell and be a complete grump, until I decided I didn't want my kids to think of me in that way.

If anyone happens to stop by and sees that you are having fun with your kids and the dishes are waiting to be washed, they should admire you for putting your kids first!

Now, about the housework, my dear Mom had a schedule, as did my mother-in-law, like Monday was laundry day, Tuesday ironing, and so on. But, I couldn't live by their rules when I moved out on my own. A clean house was very important to me, but I found that I got a lot more done after the kids were in bed, than if I tried to mop while they were all awake and inevitably they would want something out of the kitchen right when the floor was wet. So I started doing a lot of my chores after they all went to bed. As the kids got old enough, they would have chores to help me out. Not a lot or unreasonable ones, but they loved helping to take care of their house. After everyone did their chores, we would play a game or have an ice cream, some kind of reward. But, really your husband should be helping out with some of them. One time I actually put my 2 year-old on an old towel, and let the older kids push and pull her around the kitchen floor, they didn't realize that they were also dry mopping the floor! Or I would put my husbands old socks on their hands and spray a tiny bit of pledge on the sock and let them go to dusting with their socks on! In the yard, they would get a nickel for every pine cone they picked up off the lawn, and rocks too, before my husband mowed the lawn. We also made a rule that if they got a toy or something out, they had to put it away! They would help put their laundry away, when they were old enough, maybe 3 or 4. As soon as the dryer stops though, I hang up anything that ends up on a hanger, and fold everything else! A lot less ironing to do. When my oldest daughter got about 10 or 11, she got paid to iron her dad's work/dress shirts. We paid her very close to what you would have to pay the cleaners to iron them too. They had to clear their own plates from the table, the oldest would help load the dishwasher, etc. Even the little ones are able to carry their plate and the salt & pepper to the sink for mommy. We found all kinds of fun ways to get them involved. But we thought it important to get them involved as young as possible with jobs they were capable of, and it freed up a lot of mommy's time to go to the park, or the swimming pool, and they understood that! Now they all keep their houses clean, but put their kids first too, and have fun with life. That's so important!

Good luck to you! Hope some of that information helped.

P.S. I bet your husbands Mom kept a perfectly clean house, but that was all she worried about! Did she play games with the kids? Anyway, some women are better at keeping a perfect house, but not so good at being a kid with the kids.

I have 7 kids ages 16-19 months and I have no clue what a clean house is! And my house is the same...the worst when everyone is home. We do a house clean-up every few hours, every one has to help even the 19 month old, who can put things back. House work is the same thing day in and day out there is no way around it and unless you have a maid your husband is being very unrealistic! Mine used to complain and has since learned to shut his mouth, if he doesn't like it then he can do it himself or he can wait until I find a few minutes to do it, if he wanted my attention he couldn't have it I "had" to keep the house up to his standards and when I would get the "you don't spend enough time with me" I would reply "well I am tired and you want the house kept clean to your standards so I have no time left for anyone except the kids, they aren't going to get jipped of my time cause they didn't ask to be brought into this family" it didn't take very long to get the hint.

I would also suggest talking to his mom and asking her if her house was really as immaculate as her remember, I would bet it wasn't and have her casually mention it to him, let her know how this is effecting you, I can almost guarantee she would be more then willing to help, if she lives close enough she might even come to the house on occasion and wash a dish or two maybe even lead her son in the right direction! Good Luck and remember a house full of love always looks lived in!

I agree with some of the others, but getting your husband to agree sounds like the problem. We compromised. I taught out of the home, so any place my students saw was clean, somedays even vacuumed :). Every other weekend we had friends over for dinner. The house was spotless for that. Obviously, that was all I did that day! My husband helps a lot. The only thing he doesn't do is laundry, just to be sure he doesn't ruin anything since reading labels doesn't appeal to him. Just having the toilets and tubs scrubbed usually makes the rest bearble for me. My husband has also figured out the connection between his helping means I'm less tires, which means more fun time for him later. It's not a vindictive thing, just a fact. If I'm tired, he's less likely to get to play. If he helps, I'm not as tired. GL

5 kids! They should all be the ones cleaning up! j/k. I know how hard it is to keep the house clean. I have 3 boys and my husband doesn't help either. Here is my NEW theroy that I love so much. "if my house is too clean,(like your mom in laws and my own mom's) then someone is being neglected." So just tell your husband that. Or, go on a nice girlie getaway and see if he can keep up! I guareentee he can't! A tornado hits my house when I leave and I come home and cry! It is always worse when I leave the house. Cleaning all day long like you said, still gets messy the next day. I took alittle class that taught us to do only 1 thing a day. Like Mon: Laundry, Tues: bathrooms, wed: mopping, ect.... then you don't take too much time cleaning but it still is getting done daily! I feel your pain and remember when they are all out of the house you can be super clean and you will wish they were little getting it messy again. Enjoy!
M.

HI there, I am a stay at home mom of two and I can't even keep a clean house, and you have 3 more kids than I do!!! I have to say if your husband is comparing you to his mom tell him to move back in with her or have her move in with you and clean your house for you. you are already trying to make sure your kids are healthy, fed and are not bleeding to death. the house can wait!!!!! You can only do the best you can and at least you have older kids to help some what. I don't think it is you. as a matter of fact it is not you!!! Your husband is just as responsable for the upkeep of the house as you are and he needs to be understanding about the situation. I have come to the conclusion that if you have kids you will not have a clean house until they are in high school or they move out. you have a big family and if your friends etc. can't like you for who you are and that you have kids, and kids will be kids, than you don't need them in your house! You may want to get together outside of the house for get togethers. My husband and I have gone through the same thing that you are going through. he said he works all day and he doesn't want to come home to clean but wishes it was cleaner. well what I did was start leaving the bathroom trash until it overflowed and said I was too busy with other things and I was!! He slowly got the hint when his clothes weren't getting cleaned because they were not in the hamper in time. Your husband is an adult and you have 5 kids, what does he expect!! If you make enough money consider getting a house cleaner one a week or a month. just accept the fact your house will never be as clean as you want it right now and just pick a cleaning task one a week that needs to be done and at least you will have accomplished something. give it time and you need to talk to your husband and let him know you don't like being compared to his mom. he married you not his mom!!! good luck, pat!

Two words - Fly Lady

Someone introduced me to her and I have learned a ton from this site. She shows you how to do it right but not make it a big deal and by staying on top of it and including the kids, it will be a learning experience for the whole family - kind of fun too. I still make sure my sink shines every night. Anyway, check out her site: www.flylady.com

Good Luck K.

First of all, you can't expect the house to stay clean with 5 kids in it, unless they sit in the same spot and never move. I can't keep a clean house with two kids, and I clean all day long! I finally get the house looking pretty good after they are asleep at night, but by the next morning, after they have been up a while, it looks like a toy bomb went off in here. My kids are pretty young (almost 4, and 19 months), so they do "help" clean some, but mostly I do it. They put clothes in the hamper, hang up their jackets, etc. My son can't do much yet, but my daughter is getting better. She just need LOTS of direction, so it sometimes is more work to help her than it is to do it myself. Still, I let her do some, as training for later...I save deep cleaning for nap time, or weekends, when my husband can help. Try making a schedule for your family--laundry on certain days, vacuuming on others, etc. Some things that need to be done everyday, like dishes, can be rotated between you and your husband. My husband and I have a deal--who ever cooks, the other does the dishes.

Don't beat yourself up over what your mother in law did/does! Your husband may be remembering his childhood as cleaner than it actually was...I remember my mom keeping our house spotless, but she laughs when I say that--she tells me how hard it was keeping us in clean clothes! She says my memory is selective, especially because her house is so clean NOW (and of course it is--when you are retired and have no children around!!!)

I do a Freeze Clean up game to clean our playroom that helps some, and might work for your younger kids. I put on music, and tell the kids to put stuff away while the music is going, and freeze when the music stops. During the freeze time, I point out what still needs to be done--"there are blocks over there by the wall", etc. My son doesn't get it yet, but my daughter seems to enjoy it, and it works well when she has friends over and they make a huge mess.

Cleaning is one of those unfortunate daily tasks that just needs to be done. I certaily don't enjoy it and don't know anyone who does. If your husband is the neat freak, he should do more cleaning and less complaining. Looking after 5 kids is a huge responsibility; go easy on yourself!

When I had my son, my midwife told me "You can be a great housekeeper or a great mom, but you can't do both." I have chosen to be a great mom.

My husband and I both work full time, we have a two year old and a dog and a cat. (Definitely not equal to 5 kids...but I bet we could compare houses!) We try to pick up and do dishes in the evenings...everything else waits until the weekend (my husband definitely does his fair share of cleaning, which makes it much faster and much easier). Our house is messy at times - toys, color pages, crayons, etc... but not dirty. The house is not they way we would love for it to be, but spending time with our son and with each other is so much more important.

try flylady.net, you will love it!!!!!!!!

I think that if you husband is so concerned about having the house clean all the time, then he should pitch in and help! Sheesh! There's no reason a husband can't do the dishes or clean the toilet once in a while. My dad (very traditional in many ways) helped with the dishes when needed, and I recall him mopping the kitchen floor often! My husband pitches in quite a bit around our house because if he didn't, our house would be a complete disaster and I would be even more stressed out. :) Yes, of course the kids should have chores and such, but it's still a lot of work to keep a house clean and organized with that many people so suggest that your husband do something to help out.

personally, i think you're reaching too high. I would rather have my kids grow up thinking I was a fun mom who had time to play with them...not the mom that was always cleaning. and when you die, you're kids are not going to remember whether or not the floors were mopped every day but they will remember the times that you stopped and took the time to cuddle, or play a game, or read books. and your husband should want that for his children. Just remember, you are a Stay at home MOM...not a housekeeper.

i have 6 and my house is very well kept. I think the key is staying organized and having rules. Also Being consistent with the rules and consequences whether they are followed or not. Giving praise and encouragement when it does get done. When it's not done, follow through with dicsipline.

Being organized, saves so much time and even time managemnet is vital. I have menus planned for the whole month and it saves so much time, money and gas that way. I just make my list for that week and go shopping.

I have certain days that i will do laundry. I used to do it everyday until i got smarter. You know the saying work smarter not harder.

I have certain days where i will dust, vacuum etc...

hubby helps out when he can with what he can because he works such long demanding hours. But ever since the age of 3 i have my kids help around the house. The oldest is now 17 and my work has gotten lighter over the years.

time does become your friend. The older they get the more they can help, but only will help if you train them now.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

So the answer is yes it is very possible. it's just a matter of getting organized and the drive for it.

There's many ways to find practical advice on organizing everything and anything. I am an open book so fire away with questions if you have them. Or you can get books magazines or use the internet to help you with organizing tips.

one more great thing about organization is that everything has a home, everything has its place. So when you are done with something it goes right back to its home. Children can learn that as early as 2. The earlier the better it will all be. don't forget there are ways to get your children and even hubby to help out more. It's just about finding something that will work for you and your family.
Encouragement, stickers, a favorite treat and so on...motivates my kids. hubby loves encouragememnt and positive feedback. He likes lists too. so just keep trying till you find something that works. There is always HOPE!

I don't have much advice. Just sympathy. I have 4 kids ages 6 to 5mon. My house is never clean. I can have it clean in the morning and by afternoon it looks like a tornado hit it. It happens to my husband too who tries. My mother in-law comes and cleans all day and night and never sits and it looks good for her. My kids have chores. My only saving grace is that it is a home where my kids are comfortable and loved. My house is lived in. There is no other way to describe it.

I don't have advice on how to do it as I have 5 kids as well and can totally realate on how it is never quite done and then you get to start all over! However, my husband does do laundry and occasionally dishes and whatever needs to be done. He comes from a similar background as your hubby, but rarely has the nerve to get on my case for how the house looks! I guess I am meaner than you :)!
I would say if it bothers him so much, than he can either pitch in to help, or pay for you to have a cleaning service come in and help once a week, or once a month or whatever you feel would help.
I am looking forward to reading others advice... maybe something can help me too!

You have to check out www.flylady.com!!

I'm currently going through the same type of thing - only I have just three kids! The only thing that I can think of is to have a place for everything. When they come home from school, immediately go through their bags, and then put homework in a homework bin to do then or later, put papers you want to keep in a separate bin for each child, and throw the rest away. Make sure coats are hung up where they belong, and shoes put away in their closet or in a shoe basket (they get to do that, right? Those are there shoes, so they can take care of them).

And really emphasize for the kids that if they take something out, or take something off, they have to put it back away when finished with it. Our rule at our house is that you can only have one or two toys out (unless it's all part of a set, like legos), and if they get finished playing with that toy, they have to put it away.

And, I've been thinking of something else the past couple of days to see if it works - have one day to do a "deep" chore, like cleaning the bathroom, sweeping and mopping all floors . . . Of course, throughout the week you'll have to do some "maintenance" cleaning, but that's where clorox wipes comes in for me.

I don't know. I'm still struggling, and I know how you feel. If you get any other good tips, feel free to send them my way. I can use all the help I can get. Good luck.

R.

It helps when your husband helps. I have a two month old and am finding that I can use my baby's nap time to clean, and then my husband comes home and the house gets messy with just adding him. Make your kids do their chores quickly before they play, tell your husband that you do need more of his help, his mother probably didn't work a part time job at all (say this nicely :)), and a messy home is a sign that you love spending time with your kids more than appearances.

I'm sorry to hear that your husband isn't more understanding or helpful. I have four boys ranging from 7 to 2 and I have the same dilema. I get the house cleaned up and it can seem like just in hours it is torn up again. It is very frustrating. If you get any good ideas I would like to hear them. ____@____.com

I have this same problem, AND my husband gets pissy if we don't have a homemade dinner as well. (Packages of pre-made frozen food definitely don't count!) I'm pretty resourceful, but there's no apparent solution that I've been able to find. I'm planning to hire a Saturday afternoon cleaning person to just "be in the kitchen" for 3-4 hours and keep cleaning/organizing from there, because this drives me the most nuts when I want to join in the fun on Saturday, and the mess piles up while I'm outdoors/running erands/etc.

I'm a baby-boomer, and our mothers had smaller houses and far fewer possessions and far fewer hobbies. There was less to clean. There was also no soccer practice and McDonalds and Monkey Bizness and playdates. Kids played for hours on end outside (thus, clean house), and came inside for meals. And the moms were depressed and addicted to t.v., smoking and drinking, remember? So yes, they may have kept the house clean, but would you want their life? passive/aggressive, unfulfilled, depressed. Not all of them, of course, but I've seen enough.

I'm going to stick with my hobbies and have a messy house, and maybe hire some help, but I can't sacrifice my mental health over these stupid, repetitive, mind-boggling cleaning chores.

I really have the same problem. I feel like I do the same cleaning routine everyday to. I have 4 kids ages 9,7,5 and 2. My kids have there regular chores they do everyday, but getting more than that its a constant battle. Something that I have been working on is trying to get everyone to atleast pick up after themselves. We havent mastered it yet, but I am hoping it will sink in eventually. I spend most my day just picking up after everyone and then I am to tired to do anything else. So everyday I just remind them to just clean up after themselves. My husband is the same way. He likes a clean house, but he doesnt help keep it that way. Well good luck and keep trying. They will get is some day.

My husband was the same way. His mother is prefect. First of all ask him if he married you or his mother? Then I would tell him that he helped create the kids and he needs to help with work around the house. Tell him you don't get paid enough too be wonder woman and the kids are your priority until they leave home. Dirt always comes back, but kids grow up! If you want a clean house tell him he needs to hire a housekeeper or pull his weight otherwise shut up!

Good Luck
C. B

Hi!! I agree with Melanie. I have 3 girls, dog, cat and hubby..... I do one big thing a day and little things daily otherwise I get exhausted. I also do a load of laundry a day when it gets to be too much to do all one day. I also agree with Melanie to leave for a day and let DH see what it's like... Good luck to you, keep your head up.

I used to be the TOTAL neat freak. Then one day I realized that my babies were only going to be babies for a short time and my first and foremost priority was them....so the house comes second. Granted - I havent totally lost that neat freak streak...I still like my pillows on my couch lined up a certain way and my rugs have to be straight blah blah blah. BUT my house is lived in. It is not by any means "dirty". BUT, we live....it's not about how spotless your house is. Your husband needs to realize that you are NOT his mother and if he wanted someone like her to clean up after him....he should've never left home! :) You're your own person with your own family. I agree with the older ones having chores to do not only to help you out - but to teach them responsibilities. I just pick one day where I get down and dirty and really CLEAN...the rest of the time, we just pick up and kind of organize a little and make everything presentable. But if someone happens to drop by, they have to understand that there is a family in your home and there will be toys on the floor and sippy cups on the table. I would rather have a HOME than a HOUSE and a family that isn't always scared to make a mess. (they just need to realize that THEY will clean up that mess!! ;) )

I think that it works well to have jobs assigned to the day of the week-- laundry on monday,bathrooms tues, etc. The best advice I ever got was to have a 10 min clean up before bedtime. Set the timer and everyone picks up for 10 min. It is amazing how much you can accomplish when everyone is working together.

www.flylady.net This website will help you keep on track and set up a great schedule to keep you house clean and organized. HTH!

sometimes we need outside help. Is there anybody you may know that can help you every other day. Or hire a maid once a week as long as they don't charge you an arm and a leg. Husband should be available to help a bit more at least on his days off with the house cleaning or at least with all 5 children by taking them all out to the park, or somewhere Dad & kids agree to go.

I also have five children and struggle with this same problem. I have found help on the internet to keep the mess at bay and have more time for my kids. Flylady.net is a free website and she helps keep your house from chaos. The other website that really helps with my children is the housfairy.org. This website has a small fee of 13 dollars for two years and has some great tools for encouraging little one to clean and keeps it fun. My youngest ones look forward to her visits and my older ones like to pretend because they can earn a small reward; so everyone plays along with this idea. Hang in there; a mom's works is never done and always has its challenges but it is how we handle this that can really show what type of mom we really are. Good luck.

E T,
The best thing I've found for my home is www.flylady.net It's like having a personal trainer for your house! She sets up systems for you to follow to avoid what she calls CHAOS=Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome...so that you're doing a little bit of your housework everyday to get and maintain a cleaner environment. Most of the tasks for each day take about 15 minutes! If you sign up for her online system (it's FREE) she sends you tons of e-mails, but you can quickly determine which ones you need to read and which ones to trash. It has really helped me to realize that it's all necessary maintenance to keep a nice environment for my family, so I'm less resentful having to repeat chores I thought I had just done. I don't curse the fact that I have to brush my teeth in the morning, even though I just did it before bed, I just brush my teeth. So now I don't curse the fact that I have to do the dishes, again, I just do the dishes! And she really helps address my perfectionism which has so often meant an all-or-nothing approach to housekeeping--nothing was almost always the winner! I highly recommend checking out the flylady online or reading her book Sink Reflections.
Another tidbit from me, or perhaps a plea...if any of those 5 kiddos are boys, please remember that you may be raising someones future husband. The women who vacuumed the house in their pearls (like your MIL and MINE) and didn't teach their sons to clean up after themselves and even pitch in a bit more didn't do us or our daughters any favors!
Good luck and please give flylady a look. I think it's amazing!
J

I remember so well being in a similar position although I only had two kids as apposed to your three. I wish then that someone had told me what I'm about to tell you....I had to learn the hard way and over a long period of time.

It's time to re-negotiate the boundaries between you and your husband! Have a friend or even 'Super-Grandma' come over to watch the kids while you and your hubby spend an afternoon together to discuss REALITIES. You both need to listen to each other's point of view and meet somewhere in the middle with a new set of guidelines/boundaries for what you want.
He grew up thinking 'Ultr-clean & Ultra-neat' were normal and how things SHOULD be done. He needs to understand that his old 'should's' are now his new 'could's'. example... Sometimes when I come home I could find the house spotless and tidy, although it may not be. I know that it will be if my wife has been able to apportion some free time to complete the task.

Your family will be reap infinitely more benefits and rewards by you devoting your time to playing & interacting with the kids than they will by placing your kids in front of the TV while you clean and scrub.

TIP: You can make a move closer to your husbands needs by SOMETIMES making a game & reward situation out of cleaning/tidying. Every now and then play the Clean & Tidy game and reward the kids afterwards. The kids will soon learn
that it can be fun to help mom pick up and even clean. Give them an almost damp cloth and let them rub it over the table like they're dusting. Have them go around picking up little bits of paper & crumbs off of the floor while you run the sweeper. Use your imagination to get them 'involved' in the cleaning process. This maybe twice a week will help SOMEWHAT towards your pick up and cleaning process.

Note to your hubby: Hubby - Your house will ALWAYS become disheveled and dusty and untidy, your kids however have a very limited time at home with your wife and while you're at work your wife's work,time and energy is those kids. Give her the freedom to excel at that rather than pressure to satisfy the need you have for a perfectly clean and presentable home. You'll have a happier wife and more balanced kids.

Time goes by too quickly folks....and as the previous responder said "Don't sweat the small stuff".

I don't have any advice other than to say, don't sweat the small stuff. Someone once told me "a happy child is more important than a clean home", and it is so true. Unless you are cleaning constantly, your house is not going to stay clean. I personally would rather spend all that time playing with my kids and know that as long as it is relatively clean, that is all that matters.
The only things that I can think of that might help is to 1) have everyone (that is old enough) put their stuff away as soon as the walk in the door. Shoes put away, coats hung up, etc. 2) First thing in the morning, throw a load of laundry in.
Good luck!

the best advice I think I could give would be to check out www.flylady.net. Its a totally free site that gives you sections of a house to clean daily in free emails. it lets you know you are NEVER behind and you can do it 15 minutes at a time. it has a "help I have people coming over" cleaning section. It has a Riley section that is for kids. They are kept helping with the mysterious fly fairy who leaves treats on their pillows when they have done what she asks for so long.
I personally am a HORRIBLE housekeeper and she has helped a lot. GL to you and yours!
J. in MT

Vinegar is a mainstay of the old folk recipes for cleaning, and with good reason. The vim of the vinegar is that it kills bacteria, mold and germs.

SIMPLE SOLUTION: Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—thekind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can't claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show "48 Hours" had a special years ago with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this.
Just like antibiotics, common disinfectants found in sponges and household sprays may contribute to drug resistant bacteria, according to researchers of drug resistance at Tufts New England Medical Center. Furthermore, research at the Government Accounting Office shows that many commercial disinfectants are ineffective to begin with, just like antibiotics.

Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board, and in your bathroom, and use them for cleaning. I often spray the vinegar on our cutting board before going to bed at night, and don't even rinse, but let it set overnight. The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours. Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.

ET,
Make cleaning into a game for the kids. Get all of them involved even the littlest ones. Get those bright colored baskets that look like milk crates. Have them use them as a basket like a basketball basket and have a game toss your toys in the basket. Make up little games like that.

My husband used to be the same way as yours until I had a heart attack. For 6 months I couldn't clean the house. He had to keep the house clean then. He found out how hard it was. Sometimes laundry still piles up and the house looks like a teenage and 10 month old tornado's went through it. I just had to tell him I can't do it all and he needs to help. He hates it when it doesn't get all done but now he knows how hard it is to get it all done. He has been great about pitching in now. I just save the big jobs on his days off because from the time he leaves home to back to the front door is a 14 hour day. Sit down and have a long talk with your husband. Remind him he didnt marry his mom he married you. She didn't work part-time and you do. I hope it works out. Good luck.

You're an equal partner in this family, and so is your husband. I'm the neat freak in my family, however I also have two children and I own two businesses. If the family isn't up for contributing to the cleanliness of the house and maintaining the family space - hire someone. Seriously. You can hire someone to come in once a month to do a complete cleaning. One of two things will happen. Either the housekeeper will help keep things clean and it'll make the in between times more manageable OR your husband will freak out at the thought of paying someone to clean the house and he'll realize he has to chip in. You're a team and that means EVERYONE is responsible for raising the children, making money, and keeping the home clean and functional. It can be done but one person can't be responsible for all of it. Good luck.

One thing....enjoy your kids...they are all too soon gone...I know....mine are! and I don't remember whether my house was clean or not but I do remember the picnics, the games of catch, the magic shows etc. etc.....Make a schedule....one day ONE housekeeping task.....get the kids involved....soon they will know that on Monday all the dirty cloths have to be ready to wash....Tuesday they have to clean their rooms....etc. etc. Leave the rest of the time to LIVE and ENJOY life. Trust me they won't remember if you were a good housekeeper or not but they will remember if you walked with them, discovered bugs with them or just sat and listened to their stories. Grandma from Nebraska

I can sooo relate. I have 5 kids too! You should google the Flylady. The website is a great resource, and you can sign up for the daily newsletter on yahoo groups. There is all kinds of info about helping get your house clean and keeping it that way. Lots of support from the other members as well. Good Luck!

I too struggle with cleaning house and I only have 3 kids. The best help I have found is FlyLady (www.flylady.com). If you actually follow her steps you will be amazed at how clean your house stays! You won't see immediate results, but think of it as a workout = if you are consistent the results will come. It's all about making new habits. Good luck!

Hi!
I think every mom out there knows how you feel! Plus, it's no fun being compared to mom, I get that with cooking! I have had really good luck with taking "cleaning breaks". I take 10 or 15 minutes periodically throughout the day to pick up real quick. It seems to work because it is a designated amount of time and when done throughout the day there isn't a whole days worth of cleaning to tackle. If you do it at the same times everyday it fits into your routine real quickly! Put one at the end of the day, right before bed so that you wake up to a cleaner house and it's not so overwhelming! Plus, can get your kids involved! They can help put toys away, dust, etc. It has helped my house out greatly! And kept me sane! I hope this helps! Happy Cleaning!!

I probably have the least helpful advice, but I'll share with you a little about me.
First, I read your post and responses so I can get help too. I'm a single mom on only one, but none the less, working full time, raising my son and have had no help what-so-ever for over 10 years until I moved in with my boyfriend, Which was a whole new challenge in its self.

Some tips that helped me is I started out setting one goal at a time. I had to keep it real simple, I couldn’t just "change" over night and expect anything to work, I'd get my house clean and say "Now I'll keep it this way" next thing I knew , It was a pigsty and I didn’t even know what hit me. So my first goal was to buy Lysol wipes, and wipe down my bathroom sink every morning after doing my hair and makeup. My sink has never been dirty since.
Another thing that helped was to buy tons of baskets, I got a bunch from all-a-dollar and some larger cute ones from the craft store but laundry baskets work well too, but one basket is for shoes, one for hair care, another for make up, another for toys (or a bunch for toys) , one for library books, one for computer chords, even one for clean laundry, folding clothes was too much for me sometimes but I hated having clothes on the beds or couch, so I put it in a basket.

I also got a bunch of box’s, the kind w/o lid flaps (like the office storage box’s or packing box’s) and I labeled each one kind of like a grocery store labels there Isles. Electrical, plumbing, hair care, sprinkler, tools, paint…etc… and in each one, I’d have the items just tossed in the box. Like in the electrical box, I’d have anything you would find in the electrical isle of a grocery store, from phone chords and extension chords to light bulbs to wall plates. Very simple.

Ok, so I have the Box’s and Baskets (which all took time in its self), and I started incorporating one thing at a time in my routine, I’d do it for a few weeks, and add another thing, like folding socks. Or hanging my shirts, then opening my blinds in the morning and closing them at night, then clearing dishes off the table after a meal. Then starting the dish washer once a day, then taking out the garbage once a day. Just what ever needed to be done while keeping it simple.
(this may all be extreme for some people but Hey, I was overwhelmed and NOTHING was getting done)
Eventually my juggling extended out to my car, I made a commitment to start grabbing any garbage that was in the center consol between the front seats, then anything on the front passenger floor, etc.
I know I’ve progressed a lot, but its taken me 8 years to get to where I’m at, and I’m always setting goals to better my life, Now my goals have reached financial juggling and savings.
I also implement the same concept for my son, we set him a goal and let him get used to the new juggle, then we add another, he is becoming very organized, clean and financially smart.
(we also work on self too, like meditation, prayer, you know, mental and emotional balance & well being)
I’ve also heard “don't touch anything twice” I’m learning that one right now, especially when it comes to mail, papers and receipts. I usually shift that stuff from one pile to another, I’m learning to take care of that business “Right Now” Not “I’ll get it later”, and that’s a real hard one for me. But a filing cabinet works great (can’t live w/o one now).

Oh! One more thing I learned off a TV morning show. Get laundry baskets and when you have to do a quick clean, like if company is coming over, don't pay attention to what your picking up, just grab everything that needs to be picked up and put it in the basket, then put the basket away in a closet or something, later put the stuff in the basket where it needs to go. Which I liked this cleaning Idea, the house looked great in less than 10 min. And I would do that and then just clean out the basket as a form of cleaning.

Anyway, I’ve talked long enough.
Good luck and I’m going to check out this Fly-lady again, I tried her once and all I got was a Really clean Kitchen sink :) I need to look farther into it. Sounds like it could be really helpful.

Get a maid. Any money spent every two weeks or weekly is well worth your sanity, time and family harmony. Skimp somewhere else if you have to. The housecleaner can focus on the larger dirty stuff like kitchen, vacuuming, baths and changing beds and you can focus attention on day-to-day stuff like laundry and tidying up. Kids still keep their chores, like cleaning rooms and emptying trash. It makes a huge difference all around and you get a a break too.
Also, as far as organization-I have cubbies off the kitchen with the kids names on them. They are responsible for unloading their backpacks each night and put their school papers, homework and other important stuff in there. Then I can look through every few days when I have a chance and throw away the unnecessary stuff. Coats go on hooks right by the door. Off as soon as they come in and waiting for them next time they leave. Shoes in a bin by the door or next to their beds in their room. Not loose on the floor roaming around the house! Seems to make a big difference with clutter. Hope this helps.

I don't have as many kids but I worked full time as a pediatrician while raising the ones I do have. FlyLady saved my life. Her website is: www.flylady.net

You sound JUST like me. Except I only have 4 kids, and they range in age from 3 1/2 to 7 months. Something I have found that helps at least with the toys is having a toy room or toy area. My kids don't have toys in their bedrooms. They can have books (on shelves) or a few stuffed animals, but they have a toy room where all their toys are supposed to stay. I also organized their toys a while ago and got rid of a bunch of stuff that they didn't use and threw away the kid's meal toys or other cheapy things that they aren't interested in much past the restaurant. Then I put the rest in cloth bags with windows that I could tie closed. When they go in to play, they can get one bag of toys out at a time, and when they want to play with something else, they have to pick up all the toys from the first bag before they could open another. This worked for a while because my oldest was still too young to untie the bags. Once she learned how, she started getting more than one bag out, until I caught it and reinforced the rules. She's pretty good about following directions and sticking to that rule, so I'm not sure if that exact method will work for you or not, but anything's worth a try.

Before we moved here, we didn't have an extra room to make into a toy room. So we put the bags in my oldest daughter's room and they could bring one bag into the family room at a time. It really helped contain the toys, but it doesn't help with other loose things around the house. Right now, sometimes there's not toys all over the floor, but there's coats from the coatrack or shoes from beside the door. So, I don't know how to keep the house immaculately clean, but I just wanted to share my suggestion on how to contain the toys. Hope it helps. Good luck.

There is a lot of good advice here. I understand that as mothers we want to spend time with our kids, make good memories but also that when our house is crazy inside we feel crazy inside too. I have three kids(6,4,2) and one on the way.

I think the best thing that I have done with my house is to have a place that everything belongs. I use a lot of containers and my very favorite things are baskets! Stair baskets are great they are in the shape of two stairs, so they fit snugly and don't fall off. This saves on things collecting on the stairs and being hazardous. When it is full, if it is mostly toys I have my girls run it down and put everything away. I have one at the top and at the bottom.

They of course have chore charts for Saturday. They also have a daily routine to keep their rooms clean, which has to be done before they can have breakfast. ex. potty, hang up pjs, get dressed, make bed. At night it is the opposite, put clothes away or in laundry room, shoes away and put pjs on.

My favorite saying after I have asked them to do something and they protest..."I do a lot of things for you, you can do some things for me."

I also do a "ten minute tidy" when is getting a little messy. And who ever is in the house gets to join. I set the timer and when it goes off we are done. And just getting the room clean before the timer goes off is reward enough:)

The laundry is the best thing I have mastered. But you have to have room for this. Somehow I always find a way to do it because it is so much easier! I have two laundry sorters with three dividers in each. I have labeled them with colors and names on clear packing tape. Whites, (colds)brights and darks. The other one is (Warms) reds, yellows, blues. For the kids that can't read I put squares of pink red and orange, yellow green and turquoise, blue purple and black on the tape next to the words. Then every morning I grab a load, check for stains and throw it in the wash and then dryer. When it is out of the dryer, I separate it again.
I have one laundry basket for each persons room. I like my kids to share rooms so I have three baskets, and one extra for linens. I take it out of the dryer and throw it into the right basket. I do this for a couple days, then I spend a bout a half hour to hour folding the ones that are completely full(which again, whoever is home gets to help!) Once that basket is folded it goes directly to that persons room and gets put away. Once they are old enough to put it away, then I leave the clothes on their bed and they do it when they get home form school. And the basket goes back to the laundry room to get refilled.
Folding times are also our tv times. We have "No TV Days" every other day if not more. So if we get to fold laundry, we get to watch TV! They love it and they know that if they help, they get to watch.

At night we also have "the gunny bag". It is a bag that eats left over toys. Especially if I have asked them to pick up their things. They can earn it back by doing extra things for dad and me, or a secret service for someone in the house. Or by making sure they keep their things neat.
The great thing about the gunny bag is, it gets rid of toys that are not especially loved. If they don't earn them back, and its not a great toy, I give it to a thrift store. If I like the toy then I put it in the Trading Tupperware. I keep some (about half the toys) put away in this Trading Tupperware. These are toys that are waiting to be "rediscovered", when I trade them out. It cuts down on toy mess and keeps them occupied for days when I trade.
If it was an object like clothes or shoes then I put it away for the next child in line for use.

I make sure the kitchen is clean before retiring for the night. It helps me feel refreshed and ready to start a new day, when I wake up to a clean kitchen. It is also easier to keep it clean the next day.

I clean the bathrooms when the kids are taking baths. So we just rotate which bathtub we use. They have dry skin so we take baths only ever other day. I don't always deep clean it, I use the clorox wipes mostly and then on Saturdays I supervise the girls cleaning and help deep clean and clean my own. Which by the way, my four year old cleans the half bath and does a great job! The clorox wipes work well for little bitty hands:)
I also have rest and reading time. It is an hour or two after lunch, naps for those who need it, and reading time for those who think they don't. I read to them and snuggle them and then they get some alone time and I get my down time and do the things that I want to do, or need to do.

I do think it is important to have your kids remember that you tried to be clean and neat, And that you helped teach them how, but that you also made time for them. I take breaks thoughout the day to get on the floor and play.

I hope this helps, My husband too likes things clean, who doesn't? I care about what he thinks and likes because I love him, but more then that it is my sanity that I want to keep. These are just some of the ways I feel like I can do that. And I feel like I am such a better nicer mom when things are clean and orderly:)
Good luck
E.

Hello! You definetly need some comprimise on the hubby end. My hubby helps out tremendously. We do the dishes together after the kids are in bed so it doesn't take away from our limited evening family time. We do our main living area deep cleaning together first thing Sat. morning. He does trash, I do toilets/baths. He vacuums, I do hard floors. But it's the same outside. I do dog toy/poo duty, he mows etc. My man's only gripe was about our laundry. I always stay on top of it, keep it clean and folded, but putting it away is not my forte! So now that's his job, and when I see him doing it, it makes it easier to want to join in and get it done so much faster.

Good luck!

Sounds tough. One suggestion is to have the kids pitch in a little more with things that are not on the chore charts. There are some things that may be fun for them to do, like my mom never let me touch the washer and dryer, so teach a kid to do that. The ten minutes at night sounds great, and also to have each kid clean up after each activity - won't always happen, but if you make it a rule, it could at least help. Keep teaching your kids the deep cleaning stuff so that they know how you do it and why you do it that way. As far as your husband is concerned, let your kids do the shaming. If they are involved in keeping the house looking nice and esp. if you all do it together when he is home, he will be the odd man out, and they will come to ask him why he does not help. I notice now when I visit my mom's and my dad does dishes because he never did while we grew up. And if it takes that long, well, he vacuums and my dad never did that and still doesn't unless he's added onto the house and got sawdust on the floor in the process. In any case, what I hope to do is to reward my kids somehow for anything they pitch in to do. I try to remember to thank my three year old for anything he does that helps me out. That way he may remember it in the future and do it again.

Blah, blah, blah. I can think of lots of advice. One other idea would be to assess if there is something organization wise that is making it tough to clean. You can almost never have enough baskets and bins, and I constantly assess whether we need this or that, and try to wear an outfit two days if I can get away with it and have my kids do the same.

The next time your husband asks why something is dirty, perhaps you could ask him to direct his question to one of your children. They might soften him up.

Of course you know best. It's just so fun to give advice, so thanks for the opportunity. :D

I clean houses for a living and then you would only have to keep it pcked up and hire me to clean once a week.. I will be gone till april 15th taking a trip to help a friend. J.

I just wanted to let you know that you are NOT alone. I am a SAHM with 4 kids 7, 5, 2, and 1. My house is also NEVER clean. And my husband gets very annoyed as well. I just tell him if he wants it perfect then he can do it himself, cause it just isn't going to happen with me doing it alone. Plus, I really don't like cleaning and organizing like most of my friends with pristine houses. My husband will pitch in once a month and get it really clean but he complains about how I have not kept up on it. And really, why haven't I? I know it can be done cause I h ave friends and family who do it, but I really struggle. I have even thought that maybe I have some kind of a problem that I am not aware of that prevents me from doing it. So I am so glad to know that I am not the only one and wanted to let you know that you aren't either. I look forward to reading the responses you receive. Hopefully one will help. Thanks

(1)Welcome to the club! This is my biggest challenge. (2)You need to have a family pow-wow to make up the chore list. Your husband needs to be included in the responsibilities. (3)No one died saying they wished they had a cleaner house. But they wished they spent more time with their kids. (4)News flash to your husband: He married YOU, NOT his mom. That's a good thing. (5)Every once in awhile treat yourself to a professional house cleaner (Christmas, birthday, mothers day). (6)After dinner each night set the timer for 15 minutes and EVERYONE chips in to straighten up. (7)5 kids (6 counting husband!)!!! My god!!! You've got your hands full with caring for the children --- let alone other domestic responsibilities and a part-time job. (8)Your husband needs to walk in your shoes for awhile. You need to go away for AT LEAST 24 hours to leave him to do YOUR job. (9)Your husband and your children may not do the work the way YOU want it done -- but that's ok. Don't go back and re-do it and don't nag them about how they did it wrong. Or else they won't do it again. Give a lot of positive reinforcement for any help you get. (My husband knows that helping out at home, in a sense, is a form of foreplay. :) (10)Chin up. You're doing a good job.

Hire a maid or give your husband some of the responsibility in helping with the children. I am having the same problem with the exception of I'm a single mother with 1 child and a full-time job. I think you have to ask yourself at the end of the day which is more important in life. Are your children going to remember a clean house or a mother who took the time to play with them.

Much has been said on the subject and all has merit. Just thought I would add a little from my experience. I had 11 children avg. 18 mos. apart then added 6 more from my husbands first marriage (the most we had living at home at one time was 14). So I do speak from experience. I tried many things - finally hit on one that worked for MANY years. (All are raised and on their own but one - he is 18 and still follows this plan.) I am going to give you the 'nutshell version' here. If you want more detail, feel free to send me an email and we can talk.

First, if there are 5 making a mess, there are 5 to clean up.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

From there EVERYONE owned an area. All had their bedrooms even if there were 3 or 4 in a room. Then they had another area that was totally their responsibility. They picked that area and kept it for 3 months. (That way I didn't have to try to remember who was doing what this day or this week, etc.) I developed details on what was expected to keep each area clean and put it in writing. It was broken down into daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly duties. (Younger children who can't read were given things to do that were on their level or worked with an older sibling.)

I did not remind or nag. I made little inspection slips that I marked each day and set on the table - only took 10 - 15 minutes of my time. If they had done their chores they got a special reward. If they did not do them, then they were given an extra chore and did not have privileges until both were done. Privileges were the 4 F's - food (special treats/dessert), friends (hanging out, going places - even if planned), fun (TV, video games, outdoors etc.)and phone (self explanatory).

By the time they were 8 yrs. old, they did their own laundry. Prior to that they were expected to sort their own clothes. Even my toddlers learned how. Lights from darks, socks turned the right way, etc. Each person had a specific laundry day. If they missed it, then they waited until the next week or had to work out something with someone else on their day.

Everyone helped with meals and dishes. Menus were planned in advance and assignments given.

If they left their things out of their place and I found them, I took them and they had to earn them back. It usually only took a time or two and they discovered it was easier to take care of things right away.

The key to the success of this was planning, consistency, follow through and a weekly family council where all gave input, helped make rules and talked about areas where we could improve as a family. This was a family program not a parents vs. children plan. Because they "owned" it, they cooperated with it. The house was clean and orderly which helped keep things peaceful and calm most of the time.

This is actually a common theme in busy families! I would suggest that you have a family meeting and get everybody on the same page. Talk about what YOUR family's standard of clean is, not what you or your husband's home was like growing up, but what you can both be comfortable with. Once you decide then as with alot of things in marriage, you both work to meet in the middle. Talk about who is responsible for what "chores" around the house and decide how to handle it best based on what makes home comfortable for everybody. I work with families all the time trying to help spread the weight of caring for a family and home without bulking it all the shoulders of 1 person. My website is www.yourmanagedlife.com and I have a free resource there for having the conversation with your family on who is responsible for what. Schedule time to talk with your husband without the kids and listen to his feelings on what makes home a great place to be. Then tell him your goals and talk about how you can work together to make your home run more smoothly.
Use what I call the 10 minute maximum set the timer for 10 minutes every afternoon, evening whatever works best for your family, turn on fun or peppy music and give everybody an assignment, (some one sort the laundry, some one wipe down the bathroom, some one sort through the mail pile) The goal here is that it won't take forever, but you will accomplish alot and since you don't need to do the same thing every night you may find that the house is looking cleaner in a week. The other advantage is that you are all doing it together and know that when the timer goes off, kids are free to go out and play.
These are just a couple of ideas that have helped with other families I have worked with.
Good Luck
S.

I highly recommend an older book called "The Side-tracked Home Executive" has great ideas and ways to get the kids involved-- have also heard that the Fly Lady program is good (online)-- neither one is about having the house perfect all the time, but keeping up with it all so that it is mostly done all the time.

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