April 08, 2008,
E.T. asks from Springville, UT on March 26, 2008
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!!!
So What Happened?™
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!!!!
S.M. answers from Provo on April 08, 2008
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
F.J. answers from Fort Collins on March 27, 2008
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.
K.H. answers from Billings on March 27, 2008
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.
T.B. answers from Colorado Springs on March 27, 2008
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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J.B. answers from Denver on March 27, 2008
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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P.C. answers from Colorado Springs on March 27, 2008
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J.A. answers from Pocatello on March 26, 2008
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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S.P. answers from Boise on March 27, 2008
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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D.W. answers from Pocatello on March 26, 2008
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.
J.O. answers from Boise on March 26, 2008
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!
K.D. answers from Denver on March 26, 2008
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