Helpless as a Mom

Updated on October 21, 2009
D.M. asks from Eden Prairie, MN
13 answers

Ok so I am a SAHM. And I feel helpless. I feel Like I am not good at what I do. I feel Like I have no control over my life. I am alwayss trying to clean and organize my home,but with 2 kids it is a never ending problem. I know that staying at home is the most important think that I can do, but I feel like I can't even succeed at that. How do you guys have your house clean and organized and yet not feel like a failure because it does not stay clean. Sometimes I think the solution is hiring a cleaner but I don't want to spend the money( trying to save) Then I feel so lost as a mother. I feel like I don't have an identity. I get tired of hearing them whine and cry.
My one child goes to preschool 3 times a week and I go to the gym. I am involved in different activites. I wonder if the weather is affecting me because I tend to get depression. with the cold. Help I feel like I have no control!

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answers from Minneapolis on

The hardest part about being a SAHM is overcoming the whole misconception that because you are home all day you should have everything done. Well that is not going to happen because you have a house full of kids all day. It is lived in and it is a home. I know a lot of working moms who take a sick day and still take the kids to daycare and then they go home for a nice relaxing day of cleaning, watching tv, reading, etc. Us SAHM's don't get that option and personally I don't think I could do it. I would feel way too guilty not spending that bonus day with them. YES, you are doing a great thing by staying at home with them. Change things up a bit. Can your husband take the kids out on a Saturday morning so that you can have a few hours to devote to cleaning and organizing? I involve my kids in all aspects of cleaning and organizing. It makes it more fun and you really get to spend a lot more time with them. We also have a game day, a music day, library day, etc. to look forward to special things. I also do a lot at night or early morning when they are still asleep. Hang in there, you will get through this. Being happy just doesnt happen, it is a choice!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I just put a post up last week on a similar theme. I was thinking that I needed to be more productive at home. Most responses were like you are getting, don't worry so much about keeping the house super clean. You are home all day, you do live there, and it does get messy.

As far as feeling like a failure, I can relate to that as well. I stay home with my 3 (4, nearly 3, and 11 months). I often feel like crying at the end of the day because the house is a mess, I haven't "gotten anything done" and I haven't talked to anyone but the (often whiny) kids all day. I think it is normal - we ha e hard jobs! My husband is VERY supportive, and understands I really can't get anything done... I should be doing something right now, but everyone needs a break! :)

But if you feel like the depression is too much - you should get help right away. Your kids need you to be the best you can be, and you will all benefit if you get help you need. My friend swears that tanning in the winter helps her with her seasonal depression, that's not too expensive, and it will make you feel good to have a little tan :) Even if it isn't the best for your body.

Know that most SAHM probably do not have clean houses :) If you were at work all day, and no one was in your house, it'd stay cleaner.

Good luck to you,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Not all SAHM's have clean houses.
If you spend time with your kids, then the house isn't getting clean.

At nap time, I try to do 30 minutes in one room. And again at bedtime.
Sometimes I can get away with running the vaccum and my son will watch, the same with sweeping.

But I don't dwell on it.

It usually takes one parent/babysitter to watch the kids, while the other cleans.
I personally think hiring a babysitter for an hour or two, once or twice a week, would be cheaper than a cleaning lady.
The baby sitter could play with the kids, for the time it takes for you to clean the areas that are bugging you the most. Then later after bed time, you could work on other areas that won't take as long.
PLUS you'll be home with the kids, but they will have a "playmate" of sorts to occupy them while you clean.

Don't stress over the clean house or not clean house.
Work on one task a day to get done. Then you can feel like you accomplished something for the day.



answers from Milwaukee on

I swear to you I just had a conversation where I was in tears with my husband over just what you wrote. I feel you in every single way. It's easy to say to someone it's okay to let the house go, you're doing great and so on and so on, but it's really hard to believe.

I got really jealous of my husband when he had his pay raise negotiations and they couldn't stop saying good things about him and he got a nice little raise.. I should be really proud of that but I was jealous. I guess maybe once and awhile I would love to hear someone say how great of a job I was doing.. (sorry didnt want to get into my story too much just wanted to share my thoughts as well)

So yes maybe you should talk to a doctor about depression, the fall and winter months can be really tough. I myself will be going into light therapy to help battle seasonal depression. Maybe something to look into for you as well. What about getting a little part time job (nothing big just something outside of the house) to get you working and feeling productive. Even if it is just a few hours a week. I have a friend that took a receptionist job at a dentist office a few hours a week when she was battling depression and she said it really helped to get out of the house.

Keeping the house clean is impossible with the little ones. I know myself I get really bummed out because I can look around the house everyday and say I busted my butt yesterday cleaning it up and it looks like a disaster again. I have no good answers.. I hope you figure something out cause it's not good to feel like a failure. I am sure you are doing a great job but it's hard to know when you are in the middle of it.



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm in the same boat.. All I can figure is mom's with spotless houses must not spend nearly as much time with their kids as I do mine.

If there was only a few more hours in a day or we didn't sleep huh?

I had a friend who's house was always spotless and she was always up past midnight cleaning.

We have a 2bdrm townhouse about 1000 sq.feet and are just packed crammed for space. I know I personally need to throw some stuff out and quit buying my kids clothes and toys. If we had a basement or adequate closet space that would help.

I try and have my house "presentable" where if someone unexpectantly came over I wouldn't be horribly embarrassed. And things like garbage,dishes get done on a daily basis. Laundry and toys get done as needed and as I find time permitting. We always have clean clothes but we dig out of the clean laundry basket alot verses a dresser drawer or closet.



answers from Minneapolis on


Hang in there, girl. I totally feel you on this one. I am a SAHM of two as well (2 year old and 8 week old). It is a lot harder on the emotional front than I thought it would be, especially with an unseasonably cool (and WET) October and fears of H1N1 keep us locked inside. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing it. I am a little OCD about keeping the house clean, and really don't feel comfortable (or even able to play with the kids) if it's messy. Sometimes, I'm able to just let that go, have a bum day, and play in the floor all day. Most days, I have to clean clean clean all day in order to feel completely sane. Anyway, that's just me, and I think I clean WAY too much! I'd be a much better mom to sit and play with my kids more!

All that aside, something that has really helped my family with organization is IKEA. They have the most attractive storage solutions you can find. For instance, they make a large bookcase with 15 cubes (5x5) that can hold baskets or bins as well as books. You can get them in smaller sizes as well (4x4, etc.) We have one in our living room, and it looks awesome and hides a BUNCH of toys in very nice wicker baskets. We also have a couple of end tables by our couch and chair that hold baskets with toys. We got an ottoman/bench (leather) from Target that holds a bunch of toys, blankets, whatever you like. That bench is still there, and goes on sale often. It has a cross shaped pattern on the top and comes in brown or black - great purchase that will go with any room. In the kids' room are more storage solutions from IKEA. Having bins to put the toys in makes cleanup a snap, and if you have the energy to make your children help, it gives them something easy they can do with their toys.

Long story short, there are ways to keep an organized house, and it often does make us feel better to have the clutter put away. That being said, I think we as SAHMs should all sit back, take a deep breath, let some things (okay a LOT of things) go, and play with our kids. That's the most important part of our job after all, is it not? I know firsthand, that's much easier said than done! :)

A. K



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree...your house is to LIVE in, not to be a showcase! I totally understand what you are feeling though..after staying home for 6 years, I still struggle with my identity.

I have started planning on what I am going to clean each day and it has really helped--i.e. laundry on Monday, wash floors on Tuesday, bathrooms on Wednesday...etc.

You ARE doing the most important job and if you need a reminder of that, just go in and look at your kids while they are sleeping...

hang in there!!!



answers from Milwaukee on

There is a great article in this month's PARENT mag about mom's feeling the stress/pressure to take care of the kids and keep the house spotless.

I work and our house is never spotless. I'm beginning to learn that it's ok though-if the kid(s) are happy then so be it. BUT it is easier said then done. Just know you are not alone.

Could definately be depression too or that is just adding to the outlook...I would look into that and talk to someone.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think that a couple evenings/weekend days a week (even just 1 or 2, you should consider volunteering or working at a place that you love. If you are an avid reader, maybe you want to volunteer at the library or work part-time at Barnes and Noble. If you feel strongly about helping people, maybe you want to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. If you enjoy crafts, maybe you want to get a part time job at a stitching or a crafts store. Your husband then gets an opportunity to spend some quality time with the children, and you get a chance to go out of the house and be an adult doing something outside of being a mom. In my experience, I've noticed that having something that you can feel good about in one area of your life can help you feel good about other areas of your life, as well.

In terms of the depression, I would recommend going to see someone. If you don't feel like it's bad enough for that, there are a couple supplements that you can try which have been shown to be effective for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Vitamin D (the vitamin our bodies make from sunlight) and the B vitamins are all important in serotonin production. Taking them throughout the winter months can help boost your mood. In addition, flax seed oil or fish oil might help. The oils in these supplements are essential for your brain and have been consistently shown in scientific studies to boost mood.

Good luck and hang in there.



answers from Miami on

I think that is great your a SAHM because that is something every mother would love, I am one who would love to do so but I can't yet. My little one is 3 and I wish I could SAH with her and I have to work. But remember that being a mom is the MOST AMAZING THING GOD COULD EVER DO...It is hard having the kids at home and trying to do everything because I work go to school online and have to take care of my little one and my husband who is a child as well....but the key is to have the kids get involved, I don't know the age group I am guessing one is at least 3 yrs and the other smaller, the 3 year old should do clean up and love doing it. PLay with your child and when done have he/she clean up with them and have fun doing it....and when they nap try to catch up on the things you think they don't let you do...remember your a blessing to their lives, so don't feel helpless, just ask God to give you order to organize things in a certain matter that it is easier on the whole family. I have always taught my little girl every since she was 1 and she loves to clean up and keep everything in order....everything is a choice and you can make it what you want it to! Take care , God bless you and your fmaily.....




answers from Rochester on

Wow, join the club! =) I only have one kid, and work part time, and I can't seem to keep my house clean either! For that matter, I can't seem to get it all clean at once! My husband is out of town a lot, so that doesn't help, but still, I've often had the same feelings of "How does everyone else keep everything so under control and clean and organized, etc.?". First thing is- you're not a failure just because you're not Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart isn't even Martha Stewart without having a huge staff to do everything for her.

A few things that you might find helpful:

Have some sort of a routine. It helps keep some order in your life, the kids respond well to it and know what to expect, and if things start going crazy, you can kind of get back on track easier.

Set small goals for each day- ones that you know you can accomplish. Don't plan to clean the whole house, cook dinner, do all the laundry, watch the kids, exercise, rake the leaves, and bake cookies all in the same day! It won't happen, and then you'll feel like a failure, when in reality, the kids were fed, clean, taken care of, and you probably did get some other things accomplished!

I've found that sometimes it is easier for me to make a cleaning schedule so that I just clean one thing a day (or two or whatever, depending on how small the task is). That way your house may not be completely spotless all at the same time, but it still hasn't gotten so bad by the time it is time to clean again. I also get more of my cleaning done after my daughter goes to bed and during her naptime than when she is awake.

Involve your kids in your activities. Have them help you with putting the laundry in the washer and dryer, putting the silverware in the dishwasher (and taking it out), folding washclothes, helping to stir something in the kitchen, wiping the mirror, etc. They will gain great life skills, feel a sense of accomplishment, and you will get things done while still spending time with your kid. It might take a little longer to do each task, but the rewards are so great! My daughter loves to help- she starting asking to help me before she was even 2! If your kids are older, you can divide up some of the chores to help teach them responsibility.

If you are feeling very depressed and worthless, and feel there is no hope after trying some of these things, please talk to your doctor and see if medication might help you.

You are not alone! I hope that encourages you and brings a smile to your face! =)



answers from Minneapolis on

Hey. I have felt the same way when I've taken a day off from my full-time job to spend the day with my 2 year old... I was in tears by the time my husband came home.

What I find helps me:
- Get your kids out of the house. Visit the grandparents, make playdates, take them to the gym, go to the mall, go to the playground, put on raingear and go for a nature walk in your backyard.
- Spend time outside. Get the most natural light you can.
- Spend time with other adults. Local mom's groups, playgroups, community ed classes. If you encounter a mom you think you might get along with, ask her for her number so you can try a playdate sometime. Put yourself out there.
- Limit the time that you are allowed to focus on cleaning. Maybe only while the kids are napping. Let the house get messy and play along with them.
- Structure your kids' activities. Specify time for painting. Then clean it up together before moving to the next activity.

Since you mentioned the weather, it probably is affecting you. Talk to your doctor and get their advice. There may be some vitamins that can help make up for the lack of sunshine during winter.



answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, I understand where you are coming from and I am a mom that works full time and I have 2 kids (3yrs and 20 mo.) and a 12 year old step son who is awesome. He however is also in sports so our life is very busy and 1/2 the time my husband is gone to events or what not to support him. I feel just as frustrated as you do and with what you are saying I think, yes. You need to talk to the doctor. I think you have some depression going on and that it may be beneficial for you to get some YOU time. Spend a day or whatever with friends (no kids & no spouse). I find this usually helps.

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