How to Begin Cleaning an Extremely Nasty Home When You Lack Motivation!

Updated on November 28, 2010
R.J. asks from Lawrence, KS
32 answers

I am a single mother of four and over the past few years it has been extremely hard for me to keep my home clean. It pretty much started when I was pregnant with my now three year old. Before I became pregnant with her I kept an immaculate home. I kept a regular cleaning schedule that included moving out appliances and washing walls on a regular basis. After I found out that I was pregnant I was put on bed rest and things just went downhill from there.

We moved shortly after she was born and still to this day have not completed the moving process. I live in a duplex and about a year after we moved in we got neighbors and they brought unwanted friends with them....cockroaches! They have since moved and now me and my children are stuck in a roach infested messy house! I have tried to clean the entire home a few times and have even made the kids help (which I used to not do at all). But it always seems to go right back where it started. I feel really incompetent as a mother and I know my kids do not deserve to live like this! I have been given a few lease violations and have done just enough to pass inspection previously. I am tired of living like this but I am now overwhelmed. I don't know where to start and I don't have the motivation to start even for my children as much as I hate to say it.

I tend to get physically sick when I start cleaning and I try to work through it until I at least finish the task I started. By the time I am done I usually have to lay down it feels like I am having an anxiety attack or something. I get really weak, my heart starts beating really fast, my hearing is muffled or something, and I feel really nauseated. I may be depressed or something. I don't know if that may be a reason or if I have just become lazy. I also don't have any medical insurance now to try to find out what is going on with me.

It just seems so hard and now it is harder because my washer and dryer have broke and I have tons of dirty clothes and I can't afford a new washer and dryer. And my kitchen sink is leaking AND clogged and I am afraid to call maintenance to fix it until my home is clean. I don't have very many cleaning supplies because when I did used to stay on my house cleaning I started using natural and homemade cleaners and now I am out of them. I just don't know what to do I am overwhelmed please help me figure a way to tackle this.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who helped! I was able to clean the livingroom and the kitchen just enough to get the sink fixed. I had the kids help and we basically just did enough. We cleaned the floors and picked up things that didnt belong and cleaned off the countertops, table, and appliances. We got all of the dishes washed and started using paper plates and plastic ware just so we dont have to worry about that for awhile (thank you Elizabeth)! It has made it alot easier to tackle everything else since I got the sink fixed!

I really appreciate those of you who took the time out to make a plan for me to tackle this mess!!! I was really worried that I was going to get attacked for being a bad mom and I thought I was going to get yelled at for being lazy! I have not been able to find a doctor that I can afford that can see me in the near future but there is a clinic in my area that will be able to see me in March! That seems like forever away!

I failed to mention how old my kids are and they are 11, 9, 3, and 1. The older kids have been helping a lot more since I am trying to make it fun for them. I really regret not letting/making them help me before because as some of you did mention that is a life skill that they will need!

Thanks again guys for your help and taking the time out to deal with my problems because I know you didnt have to! :) And thank you for not attacking me! We are not near done with the house but we are working on it and taking it one step at a time!

More Answers



answers from Phoenix on

Here's a couple of ideas. First, you are overwhelmed so clean what is necessary; only do the heavy cleaning once a year and find a regular pattern to maintain what you have. Second, set up a routine of regular chores for your kids to help (I was mowing lawns as young as 5, though I did need my dad to start the mower). Third, find the fun in cleaning, my biggest problem is that I am lazy, but I find that when I start something small and finish I want to keep going to get more fullfillment in my day. Also, my MIL had similar problems as yours and she found help from the "Flylady"

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree with the prior posts and have a few things to add...

1. You say your house is nasty. Not only because of a lack of thorough cleaning...have you "collected" a lot of unnecessary stuff over the years? Do you still have your 3 yr old's disassembled crib, outgrown clothes, etc?

2. I agree that you should tackle one room at a time. Perhaps start with the kitchen since it's used daily and you need repairs for the sink.

3. You don't say how old your kids are, but maybe they can join in by helping...have the littlest pick up any toys/personal items and put them in each kid's room. At least then everyone's stuff is where it belongs, even if it's not organized yet. Then have the next oldest pick up any garbage/broken toys and put all laundry in a big pile. Then your oldest two can help you make a pile of "donate" items and help YOU clean and keep an eye on the littler ones.

4. Baking soda acts like "Comet" to scrub tough stains, stuck on goop, and is excellent on sinks, toilets, etc. Regular dish soap can do most everything else.

5. Once you clean a room, like the kitchen to start, have everyone in the house agree that it has to STAY clean and can't become a dumping ground for personal items, homework, etc. Make designated spaces for papers you need to see from school & mail, where the kids should put their jackets, shoes and school bags when they get home, and laundry baskets or hampers for any dirty clothes.

We all have clutter. The key is to clean, then keep it clean by not bringing "junk" into the house, going through paperwork immediately and keeping things where they belong.

It's a lot easier to keep a house clean if you keep the NEEDS, organize the WANTS and get rid of everything else. The more clutter/undone projects/junk we keep, the harder it is to find space for it all and consequently keep things clean.

Try your best to have the kids help you get rid of stuff! The less stuff you have the easier it will be to keep your house clean.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I wish I lived near you so I could come over and help! You sound definitely overwhelmed. I've been in that place, too.

However, you have to start somewhere. I really like because of the common-sense organizational and cleaning advice. One of the main principles is: "You can do anything for fifteen minutes."

Take what you have now for cleaning, even if it's just vinegar and water and a little shampoo (which is a form of soap), set a timer for fifteen minutes, and go to it in the kitchen or the bathroom. DON'T get sidetracked by detail cleaning - just work on basic cleaning. When the timer goes off, stop. I don't know whether you'll need to rest or get some fresh air or do something else on your to-do list, but do something else. Then clean for another fifteen minutes. Alternate these quarter-hour periods. You'll be surprised at what you can accomplish, even when you're feeling bad.

Your goals will be: 1) your need to let the maintenance people come in, and 2) your desire to discourage the nasty insects. Once again, don't get caught up in the details. Don't move the non-working washer. That can come later. Right now, use fifteen-minute spurts to get the rooms basically clean and livable.

If you can somehow get a physical checkup, it would be a great idea. Who is there near you for you to talk to about your depression? If you attend a church regularly, ask there. There may be someone able and willing to help you, but you won't know until you've asked.

You have lots of good advice posted here already. While you think about all of it, go hug your children and tell them you love them. Then start somewhere - anywhere that's visible (so you can see the results). Starting is the big thing right now. Start no matter how you feel about it. It's like the old, creaky joke: "How do you eat an elephant?" And the answer, of course, is: "One bite at a time."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Hi R.---Haven't read everything but I think that the responses you are receiving make sense. Start working on one or two of them at a time and before you know it, you will start feeling better.

I totally think your anxiety and depression stem from the fact you do not like the situation you are currently living in. First, don't beat yourself up that you can't keep an immaculate house anymore. You have 4 kids that need your attention as well. Something has to give so maybe those deep cleans only happen once a year instead of twice. I'm not going to go into details as I think others have done that. I think the 15 minutes at a time thing is a great place to start. How old are your kids? Have one of them participate in each of the 15 minute sessions according to their abilities. They can then start to clean certain areas on their own. I would have to go back over and reclean a few areas but overall, my work was lessened by having basic cleaning done by them. Go in the internet and google home-made cleaning products. You don't need a lot of fancy stuff. Two or three items, baking soda, vinegar and a couple of others work for just about everything.

Start somewhere. You will most likely find that your anxiety and depression will subside once you get into a regular cleaning habit. Doesn't have to be perfect. Then be proud of what you've accomplished, whatever that may be. Drugs will not help if the underlying reasons for the condition are not addressed. Does that make sense? Prioritize those things where you need outside help for now so that the sink will be repaired. Do some basic laundry in the bathtub and then set a time to go to the laundromat until you can repair your washer and dryer. Where there's a will, there's a way. You can do this because you don't like the way things are going now.

I'll be praying a rooting for your success. Do you want to succeed? Then make it happen. You can do it. Good luck...D.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

the roaches may be causing you to get sick. I have heard that kids in the south tend to have asthma due to cockroaches and I know for a fact this was the case with my kids because we lived in GA and the duplex we moved into had them before we moved there but the ones we saw upon inspection were dead and was told the home was sprayed. Well we ended up having them and had never had them before moving there. Within 2 months all 3 of our kids had asthma and we didn't have roaches that bad but did have them. I had them sprayed every month and my neighbor also had her side done at the same time but we still had some when we moved. Anyway we only had 1 with asthma prior to moving there, then the other 2 got asthma and I was also sick a lot. When we moved from there into another apartment that didn't have roaches and they sprayed stronger stuff every 3 months we didn't have roaches anymore after 4 months of the new apartment. After we moved from there all 3 of our kids quit having asthma symptoms and I felt healthier and none of us were sick very often.

Have you tried terro? I have heard this works well, it is a gel that you put on a small card and put in your cabinets and other places and can hide it pretty well so the kids don't get into it. I haven't used it personally but have heard several people say it works well. I think that is what terminex used in one of my friends houses in Georgia and she got rid of the roaches by using that company while our bug co didn't use stuff like that and just sprayed around the baseboards and outside the house.

I would also think this is a landlord problem and they should pay for an exterminator at least every 3 months. There are rental laws and need to find out what they are in your state and you may have a case where they are required to do that especially with it being a health hazard. As for the other maintenance issues, just pick up and clean your house as good as possible, don't worry about the bugs that is not your issue, and get the things fixed or you could end up with bigger problems like sewage exploding all through the house.

Vinegar and water works well for most cleaning and is very inexpensive. Bleach and water also work well for bad dirty bathrooms to get the scum out and is also cheap.

Just start cleaning the basics and don't worry about the extra cleaning like behind appliances, furniture, and the walls. You will feel good just starting somewhere, then when you feel you have accomplished the simpler tasks then move to the extra cleaning that you used to do. It isn't expected to do those extra things like that often and is usually what people consider spring cleaning and do once a year or every few years.

I would probably move and find a place that actually has pest control provided in their apartments. I know I was so determined to never have them again that I told my husband if the roaches weren't gone when we actually moved from Georgia we were going to put all our furniture out on the curb and start over with new furniture because I wasn't going to drag roaches along with me to another state so luckily they were gone and didn't have to do that but we did have to move out of the roach infested duplex to an apartment and they had a better exterminator than the one we had in the duplex.

I tried to keep the house clean, swept and mopped the floor every night so the roaches wouldn't have any crumbs to eat from but found out they will eat their own dead to stay alive so what few the bug spray killed they would feed on to stay alive and I would clean out my cabinets about every month as that is where I would find most of the dead ones but keeping the house near spotless nearly wore me out too and even though the house was very clean we still had the roach problem. A dirty house does not cause the problem, once they get in they are there to stay until you figure out how to get rid of them.

Good luck and don't give up but as far as cleaning to make yourself feel better.. Start one room at a time and you will feel good for getting something accomplished. If you are so overwhelmed try to get a few friends to come and help you. Offer to help them clean their homes if they can help you get motivated to clean yours. You will be amazed how much that will help you to even get motivated to get started. Sometimes just having moral support from your friends goes a long way even if they don't do a lot, they are there to encourage and cheer you on.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I agree with I don't use it on a regular basis, but, if I start feeling overwhelmed I open up one of her emails and seek the advice. I got a grip on my stuff. I had a rough last pregnancy, and my house was crazy. I was sick for most of it, but, by the time my son was 1 I had 'control' again. It takes organization, completing tasks you begin, and ASSIGNING KIDS CHORES! How else will they learn for themselves? You need help, and they need to learn how to take care of themselves. Your job is to teach them. So, get a family plan together, assign daily goals, and get at them. You can do it! They can do it! Get some vinegar and baking soda, get some cheap scrubbers from the dollar store, and teach them how to use them. I would start with the kitchen, move to the bathrooms, then begin clearing out anything you don't need anymore. Take that stuff to donate, and you will feel so much 'lighter' that completing the rest will be a piece of cake! Good luck. I feel for you as someone whose been there myself. I still have a few hidden 'piles' in the corner, but I feel so much better now that I got a grip on things that getting to a pile a week feels like nothing these days. :)

For roaches- get some roach baits from the dollar store also. Those little black ones. Get about 30! Put them everywhere you can. In corners behind doors, under sinks, behind potties, next to the refrigerator. This really will help. I promise!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Glens Falls on

You have to start because the clogged sink is a hazard and letting a sink leak without reporting it is a liability and could get you in trouble. You really don't need too many products. You can use one general household cleaner, a bucket and rags for most things. You can use vinegar and water for windows and mirrors and baking soda for sinks and tubs. Do you have anyone that can come help you because it might be easier to keep your morale up if there is someone to help you - a friend or family member? If not, just tell yourself you have to get this done for the kids!
Here is a plan for you. Remember as you work through the plan that the easiest way to deal with a clean house going forward is to do it now. If something spills, clean it up. If junk mail comes to the house, pitch it the day it arrives. Put away things as you go - don't let it build up. Have a clean sink every night and make beds every day.
Week 1
Day 1: Start with the laundry to get it out of the way. Collect clothing, towels, sheets etc from all over the house. Recognize though, that laundry is ongoing so you'll need to make a commitment in your head that you will be back in 3 or 4 days doing it again because you don't want it to build back up. Don't let it beat you - stay on top of it! Change everyone's sheets. It will be a long day, but it's just laundry - you can rest in between loads at the laundermat
Day 2: Two solid hours in the kitchen doing all the dishes and cleaning up the counters and put away any food that is sitting out, throw out anything that you don't want or that has expired. Wipe down the inside of the fridge if there is time left. Any items that don't belong in the kitchen put in a box to be sorted through while you watch TV at night. Start picking up in the living room or wherever you and the kids gather at night while you watch TV. If the kids are old enough, assign nightly kitchen clean up (sink, counters, food put away) to them from now on.
Day 3: Two more hours. Clean the sink and the toilet in the bathroom. Put away any items that are sitting out. If you don't want the items any more, or if they are meds past expiration, pitch them. If necessary, use the box again to remove items from the room and sort things while you are watching TV. Do the kitchen floor. Continue pick up of living area during nighttime family time.
Day 4: Back to the bathroom for the tub/shower and floor. Then back to the kitchen for anything you missed there - like the inside of the fridge and wiping down the cupboard doors. Collect laundry tonight. Continue pick up in the living area. This should be looking pretty good after 3 nights so assign continuing monitoring of the living area to the kids, if old enough. They can make sure toys and clothes find their way back to their bedrooms, the laundry basket or toy storage as appropriate
Day 5: Laudermat Day. Also call maintenance. Things should be looking well enough to have them come in by this time.
Day 6: Vacuum and dust living area. Spend at least two hours so if there's time damp mop the kitchen floor and bath floor again. Then all your floors will be clean at the same time.
Day 7: Everybody does their bedrooms. Hang things up, donate old clothes, throw out unneeded items. Use the box. Finish with vacuuming and dusting the bedrooms. If the kids are old enough, make them responsible for their own rooms going forward.
Week 2- this is going to be more general because I don't really know the state of your house, but this week you need to concentrate on the deeper messes to make sure you have room to unpack. So go into closets and cupboards. Use 3 boxes -Throw out, donate, save for garage sale. Wipe down the inside of cupboards as you go. Keep up on everything else so the general kitchen (sink, counters, food put away) is done every day, the bathroom is done once a week, dusting and floors (vaccuming and damp mop) is done once a week. Laundry probably twice a week judging from the size of your family with one time including the bed linens.
Week 3 - Unpack. Keep up on regular chores
Week 4 - Start the deeper stuff, like baseboards, light fixtures, fingerprints on the wall, windows. Do this monthly. (you could do one thing once a week, like the light fixtures and rotate every four weeks)

You can do this. Once you get started, it will help make you feel good about yourself. You can, of course, make your own schedule, just have specific goals and a plan to keep it up going forward. Your kids will love being in a clean house and will be proud of you and their home. Once you are back on track, it will be easier to do things with them, too, that are an important part of their childhood memories like making cookies, playing board games. You're going to do this and it will be the first in a lot of good things to come. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on


First understand you are not a failure. Definitely have the kids help, by making it fun instead of "making" them assist. Go see and she will help guide you in the way of making big tasks into manageable units, and going one step at a time. She is very positive, uplifting, and gets rid of the guilt.

Best wishes,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Take your clothes to the laundry mat and wash them for now. I would call in a couple friends to come over and help you clean.Make it a cleaning party. Find someone to help watch the kids and get them out of the house. As far as the roaches get a bug bomb and bomb the apartment once the kids are gone and if there are any animals put them in the bathroom. It is hard. I have a one bedroom apartment and we have a lot of stuff in it and it is not all mine. I have a three year old and a fourty six year old who have a lot of stuff. I try to keep up but it is hard. Good luck

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answers from Chicago on

check out

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answers from Seattle on

My kids have chores, mainly they are responsible (with my help) for their own room. They are toddlers though and their help is slow and, of course, still needs my guidance. So, when I am trying to accomplish any huge task (house, garden, finance related) I will do a childcare trade with one of my girlfriends. Two days, for two days. I start in the morning, when my mind is fresh and I feel motivated, clear and I have energy. By afternoon, my task will have become more streamlined and picks up momentum. My body and mind might be pooped, but I have already been able to get into the groove and the task sort of continues without as much effort. Not having the distraction of snacks, mediation, pottying, playing, etc. I am able to really get down to the nitty gritty.

If you don't have friends or family who could watch your kids (or even the two younges) then perhaps see if there is someone you could trust to help you clean. Again, you can return the favor and set up a trade. I know that, for me, any task is more manageable when four adult hands are helping.

Good luck, have faith in yourself...You can do this and you WILL feel better after it's done.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita on!!!!! If you follow her plan exactly, it will get better. I'm not a "cleaner". In fact, I hate cleaning. I hate it. With that being said, it is all about changing your routines and baby steps. You didn't get into that mess over night and you're not going to get out of it overnight either.

While you may have some mental things going on, I can also tell you that a cluttered house can do that to you.

As far as the laundry goes, look at her suggestions for conquering Nt Washmore. They are really great. Also, cleaning products, I'm all for the all natural stuff, but honestly sounds like you need some bleach, vinegar, and baking soda. That is really all you need. And yes, right now you need the bleach!

Hang in there!!!!!

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answers from Kansas City on

I would urge you to seek help for depression or anxiety. I have experienced something similar to what you are describing and medication has helped me tremendously. It sounds like you have a LOT of factors working against you and that perhaps you are alone? I know it seems like so much, but if you could reach out to a church for someone to help you or maybe relatives...if nothing else, ask your oldest (how much depends on how old they are) to help you stick to a schedule. Pick one room and start there. Just keep doing what you can each day. Maybe the chemical cleaners are making you sick? You could start by buying natural cleaners next time you go for groceries. Set tiny baby steps as goal, and please reach out to others for help!! Hang in there!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Let me start by saying I HATE CLEANING HOUSE...

That said, I came up with a way that helps me. Start by making a list of everything you want to do. Don't get overwhelmed. Divide it by daily, weekly, monthly, etc. That makes it a little less daunting. Next get you a Journal type of notebook. Label each page with the days of the week go out a month or 6 weeks. Then start transferring your list to the journal. Start with the daily things, but them on each page, then the weekly stuff, divide that by 5 or 6 and put one thing on each page til all that is written down, then the monthly stuff, divide that by 4 weeks and enter that somewhere in the book.

Now when you look at it, you are looking at one day at a time. Start with the first day and only do what is on the list, if you don't get to something add it to the next day.

I did this a couple of weeks ago and was amazed at how quickly my house came into order and has stayed in order. I am thrilled, my husband is thrilled and I no longer feel overwhelmed. As a matter of fact last Thursday, I told my 4 year old that Friday would be girls day once our chores were done. On Friday morning she was up at 5:30 am and wanting to get the chores done so we could have "girls" day.

It works and I am way less stressed.

Good Luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

You are going to need to throw some stuff away. Just go room by room and throw away anything that is not absolutely essential. Then clean underneath it. You have to get the sink fixed immediately. Clean just enough to get maintenance in, then start with the kitchen. Go room by room, starting with the bathroom next. Then living areas and bedrooms. I can't stress how important throwing stuff away is. We always think we need stuff or should keep it, but that is the biggest hurdle to keeping a clean house. Use vinegar and water on everything for now. Use bleach and water on kitchen sink and toilet. They are cheap and easy. Baking soda is good for sinks and tubs. Also cheap. Open the windows while you clean; it's going to be warm for the next day or two. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

First of all I would try and talk to a doctor about possible depression or maybe anxiety that you need to treat before you can handle such a big project. Secondly try not to look at the big picture, you can easily become overwhelmed then. Pick a small project maybe even just a corner in one room. Try to only concentrate on that one corner and make that your goal. When you get that done decide if you have it in you do to another corner but do not make it a goal of the day.. be please with the corner you did, but I find once I start to clean and I get my one corner done I feel more motivated to move on to the next, but not always.. Definitely get your kids involved. They should be responsible for their own area. My 1½ year old will help with picking up at the end of the day. As for the dirty laundry, there again set up smaller goals. maybe just take all the whites(socks and underwear) to the laundromat and get those done. Heck it's better to just get a little done than none at all. Again make that your goal for the day and feel proud that you get that goal done. Don't forget to look at used washers and dryers. I live in Sweden and here it is quite common to only have a washer, maybe prioritize a washer first and try to save up for a used dryer. My dad bought a used washer last year and it was really nice and only cost about 100 dollars.. I know that can be steep sometimes too but try and save maybe like 20 dollars from each check and put it away somewhere and soon you'll have enough for a nice used washer.

The biggest thing is that you just force yourself up and do something.. The longer you do not do anything the worse you feel and more overwhelmed. It's always better to just a little bit done than nothing at all. small goals are very important.. You'll get through with it, do every night pick up of the areas that are cleaned up with the help of your kids to keep up with the mess. But please talk to a doctor if you can, it will make the process so much easier if you can treat a possible problem.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Clarksville on

I would see a Doctor about depression or anxiety. You said that you will do a deep clean then it goes right back to where it was before, so if you don't treat the problem which is depression or anxiety attack your house will never stay clean. Look into your local area for cheap ways to see a doctor/ therapist. Some univerisities that teach psychology will have clinics on campass that will see patients and charge alot less because you will be seeing a student.

I would also start making the kids help out more, they help make the mess and can help clean the mess. Make it a family project to get the house clean and keep it clean. Start with small goals.

Good luck in getting your house clean and keeping it clean.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I recently had back surgery so my house has gone way on beyond what I like my BF is doing all he can to help but you know not my standard. I would say start small that's what I do I work on the worst of it for an hour each morning if I get to tired I stop with a promise to myself to get back to it when I feel better. you would be shocked how much better you feel to have gotten something done. As far as worried about the maintenance person they have seen it all plus how can they except your house to be clean with a 3 year old and a clogged sink . I use vinegar and baking soda for most of my cleaning.Plus after I take a bath and the bathroom is all steamed up I take a towel and wipe everything down it cleans well with no chemicals. I wish you the best just remember start small and work up.

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answers from Burlington on

Hi R.,

I'm in agreement with the below responses. You probably also need vitamin d and possibly magnesium. Also take your family for walks. Walking is very important for everyone who is able.

Don't overwhelm yourself with trying to get the whole house clean at once. I do this:
Monday - Kitchen
Tuesday - Pick up/ Vacuum
Wednesday - Menu planning and Grocery shopping
Thursday - Bedrooms
Friday - Bathroom and Wash linens
Saturday and Sunday - Family fun and Library
Everyday/Anyday - Exercise, Dishes, Laundry, Cooking, Family Time, Garden

Make a schedule that fits your life.

Good luck,
M. D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You sound like depression has moved in to your body. See if there is a low-cost or sliding scale mental health clinic in your area. Call your town's department of Family Services - they may be able to to help, or refer you.

Since you don't own your home, the landlord is responsible for pest control. Report that you have roaches and they must send an exterminator. No matter how much you clean, you cannot get rid of them yourself once they are there. They are in the walls and come out at night. But they are a health hazard so whoever owns your duplex (landlord or city housing, whoever) is responsible. Your dirty house didn't bring in the roaches - they came from somewhere else. It's not a question of blaming the other neighbors. The roaches are there and the source doesn't matter and cannot be traced.

Same for the sink - they can't refuse you because you place is cluttered.

Take all your dirty clothes to a big laundromat. Throw everything in a few giant washers and get it done. Sometimes kids like watching the big dryers go around. Otherwise take some games and pass the time, let them help transfer from washer to dryer and put the quarters in. They can learn to fold their own things too, or the little ones can sort socks. Make a game of it. Maybe you can find a washer or dryer at a moving sale - sometimes people don't like to move big items, or they can't fit their current machines in their new place. My daughter got a fantastic new (well, used) washer dryer, one of the front loading washers, for $200 in just that way.

Cleaning - pick ONE room or ONE type of problem. For example, choose to collect all the magazines & newspapers, and recycle them. Or choose all the toys. Or just choose the living room. Next week, choose the kitchen. Give the kids an empty wastebasket or a box, and have them pick up all of one category - all the books, all the trucks, whatever. Many hands make light work. Or tackle JUST the kitchen. Get rid of stale or expired food, get rid of the empty or clogged up bottles under the sink, clean off the counters, organize the cupboards. Start small but finish the one small job.

Use simple cleaning products like baking soda for the kitchen and bathroom counters/sinks. Cheap, not hazardous, no vapors. It does a great job. It's good for the inside of the refrigerator too - borrow a big cooler, put all your perishables in it, remove the fridge shelves and wash them (or rinse them in the shower and leave them in the tub to drip dry while you clean the fridge door and insides with baking soda & water. If you have little kids, do not let them get in the empty refrigerator!! By the time the fridge is clean, the shelves will be dry and you can put them back. Then put the food back in but organize it -- all the dairy together, all the fruits & veggies in the drawers, all the condiments like ketchup & mustard & mayo all together, and so on. Get rid of anything stuck in the way back that spoiled a while ago - we ALL have something like that lurking in the back corner and it doesn't mean you are a bad mom!!!

Just go forward one day at a time and don't look back on how organized you used to be. Just do a little bit.

Good luck!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

It really does sound like you may have depression. Or maybe even chronic fatiuge. I have a thought but it may not be enough. I've been taking breweres yeast and find that the B vitamins really do help with energy. I'm not a supliment junkie. And I was slow to admit that it was really helping my energy because it was my MIL who gave the yeast to me to begin with (LOL). Another thought, maybe a bit of exersie could help elivat your mood. In fact, just the cleaning itself is great excersise. Also, try not to get overwhelmed by looking at your whole house and feeling defeated before you start. Pick a room, or just commit to cleaning all the sinks in your house. Do the one thing and if you have time, pick another thing. Focus only on the thing you are trying to clean so you don't get discouraged. If your kids are old enough, recuit them. mentally prepare them by telling them a few days in advance what you have planned for them. Set a reachable goal with your family and tell then when you are done you can go out to pizza or ice cream. So sorry you are struggling.

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answers from Kansas City on

take baby steps. set a reminder alarm for the same time every day ( i use the alarm on my cell phone) and clean for only 5 min. get the kids in on the fun. each person get 1 room, you may need to supervise younger children for this. But when the timer goes off after 5 min, you have to stop! you cant do anything else.
Or try cleaning during the commercials of tv shows.
Also, if you rinse or wipe out pots and pans right after u use them, its do much easier, the food is soft, and you may not even need soap! (that is my secret to easy clean up after thanksgiving dinner!)
and start using paper plates until you get ur kitchen under control. i know how frustrating it is to almost get the kitchen clean, take a break for an hour or 2 and turn around and find more dishes to clean!
and above all, ur kids live in the house with you? then they need to help clean it too. I got my kids dust busters for Christmas 2 years ago, (at 6 yrs and 9yrs old) and it is the only present they have ever received that they still use (aside from bean bag chairs). They are mounted on their walls in their room, and they are still eager to use it. Just make sure they know how to empty it and how to shake out the filters lol.
you may be feeling a lack of motivation and overwhelming due to the clutter you see every day. i know how it is. try taking these steps first and see if they help. If they dont or u cant stick to them, then you may need some professional help like a psychiatrist or something. could be some sort of extended baby blues? i dont know. i do know that it is easier to keep the house clean once it is clean.
good luck

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answers from San Diego on

Just wondering. When you get cleaning you said you start getting sick. Are you remembering to drink enough water and grab quick snacks to replenish the extra energy you're using? I've had days when I have a massive project to tackle and I get so busy I forget to take care of my basics. I start to feel exactly as you describe until I sit down and drink some water (sometimes a couple cups worth) and get a snack. Our house flooded not that long ago and we're still dealing with the after math of all the ill packed boxes from the construction crews. I found out I was pregnant with my third while living in the hotel during the reconstruction so when we could move back in the house we had to move everything around for the new baby instead of dealing with the disaster the crews made of our belongings. We had to rent a storage unit just to function in the house again. I'm slowly working on sorting though all of that now while taking care of 3 kids. I totally relate to your feeling overwhelmed!
Baby steps. I tackle one corner for 5 minutes sometimes. The other day I tossed out a bunch of old magazines I didn't want that got unpacked onto a bookcase in the library (not by me) and put the books I actually wanted on the shelf. That's all I got done that day, we were sick, but it was one something done that needed to be done that made me feel better.
Best of luck! You can do it!

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answers from New York on

I would still try to see a Dr to rule out any conditions ....but my suggestion is to check out has a great system for slowly starting routines and has a great way of getting things done 15 minutes at a really works....and she even gives you challenges to do that don't take more than 15 minutes. I'll bet that you can see a difference in a few days....AND you may even find your motivation to do more than 15 minutes!!!!! it all starts with a shiny sink:) Good luck!

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answers from Las Vegas on

perhaps you can begin with one room at a time.. get it super clean... you don't need much in terms of supplies. Additionally, the roach problem will only get worse unless you get the house properly cleaned up.. Roaches love a mess..
Also, they carry lots of germs and bacteria (another reason and perhaps motivation) that you should clean up.. you and your kids can become sick from the roaches.. get the older kids to help... put all those dirty clothes in bags and cart them off to a laundry mat and clean them all at once... I used public laundrymats for years.... you can get a lot of wash done at one time..
Also, think of it this way... you have four kids... they deserve a clean place in which to live...
This is one of those things where you have to start step by step... as mentioned, one room at a time.. make it a goal... if you don't start now, the house might just get worse and worse.. .eventually, someone might call social services and report it. Why? because roaches alone can bring so much filth and disease to a place, I fear your children could be at risk.. let alone you.. remember, just start small.... go to the laundry mat and get all those clothes cleaned... also, clean out the kitchen sink as much as you can.... roaches love old food and will stay until you get rid of it... then use come comet (you can get it at the dollar store) and scour that sink.... you have to start somewhere.. perhaps make a list and go about it that way..??
best of luck

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answers from Modesto on

One room at a time is the only way to begin.
Sort your dirty clothes and stick them in pillow cases and make a trip to the laundrymat.... make it a fun adventure, take coloring books and stuff for the kids while you enjoy that task.
Clean the kitchen and the bathroom.
Throw away JUNK that you dont need anymore... including toys and clothes. This is not a time to be picky and sort stuff out for Goodwill... just get rid of the stuff.
Once your kitchen sink, counter and dining table are all cleaned up hit the toilet, tub and bathroom sink.
Make the beds. Made beds do wonders for a messy bedroom.
Living in a gross mess is bad for your psyche and for your kids psyche.... you cant even have the maintenance guy come in because you are so embarrassed..... come on, get a grip. When my tenants know I'm gettin ready to do an inspection they clean their places up.... they know I will get rid of them if they are living in unsanitary conditions that help breed insect infestation. Even if your neighbor brought them in, you are letting your environment be a happy breeding ground for them as well so you cannot blame your neighbor. You must remove the source. Roaches love to hide in piles of stinky laundry, dirty dishes in the sink, etc.
Just think if you had a job outside of the home and you had to punch a clock and work for 8 whole hours. Your house is your job, take 8 hours and concentrate on it. You can do it in a day, it is not that hard.
A really unsanitary house means there is a mental problem going on... have you talked to a doc lately about depression?
You might have a good friend that will come help you even, I did that for one of my overwhelmed girlfriends one time. She had dirty dishes under the couch... the place was horrifying. But we had fun, I kept joking with her and we got the place spic and span in one 10 hour shift. It is possible.
Good luck, and have fun at the laundrymat..... you might even make some new friends there... it is sometimes a meeting place for gals w/o washing machine pleasures ya know.

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answers from St. Louis on

I have been right there with you. I had 2 surgeries and had separated from my husband in less than six months and because of medical problems had not been able to clean or do too much of anything for over 9 mos before that. I also have a 16 year old daughter still at home and my 8 year old granddaughter moved in this last summer which added even more to my platter trying to incorporate her into my household. Yes, I was depressed and yes my home was a mess but I had a wonderful friend who has come and helped me as I still have some limitations to what I can and cant do. Let me tell you the relief I feel is so wonderful. The girls have slowly started helping and I can do this. I work, volunteer and get them to their outside activities with so much less stress. Please find a friend or two that you can talk to and let them help you get your life in order by starting with your home. One thing about the washer and dryer is there someone you could ask to borrow theirs and maybe make them dinner or some other way to help pay them back other than outright cash? I would love to come and help you out but you live way too far away......Know that you are not alone and many of us have been there you can do this hugs and good luck

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answers from Kansas City on

I think you should see a doctor. Moving appliances to clean on a regular basis is not really normal -- nor is it normal to experience anxiety attacks or debilitating depression when you CAN'T clean to that level. You have not just "become lazy" -- there's something going on.

Maybe there's a better way to go about this - but I would go to the Walgreens clinic and just have someone there check you out. Maybe they can refer to to a low-cost doctor or therapist who can help you further. Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

It is important to get the house in shape. Get someone to watch your kids for the day and DO IT! The anticipation is worse than the doing part.
Do you think you may have OCD or hoarding tendencies? If so you might need a therapist to get through it.



answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like your home maybe more than just really dirty..or something you can tackle on your own. It sounds like you may have gotten to the point where realistically you need professional services to get it liveable again. Unfortunately, the best solutions are going to cost time and money, and it sounds like you're short on that. But ideally, if there is anyway possible, I'd hire a company like "Got Junk" or any other trash removal service and have them take any all broken and useless clutter, furniture, and appliances from your home.

Once you've eliminated the clutter, hire an exterminator and have the house bombed.

Once that's over, hire a cleaning service like Merry Maids to disinfect, shampoo rugs, polish floors, and whatever else needs freshening up.

Once you've gotten the house cleared and cleaned, I'd look into finding used appliances from a site like or check craigslist or the paper. Often people will just give away their old washers and dryers, or you can find a set for very cheap. They may be old, but they work. You can't live without a washer and dryer. These are a must as going to a laudromat will be far more expensive over the longhaul versus making a small investment in a washer and dryer for your home.

If money is an issue, call your city hall or housing authority and see if there is any program to help with a situation like this. I know housing inspectors do not like condemning homes, but if they become a health risk to those who live in and around them because of infestations etc. they would probably help you find a way to remedy the situation at low to no cost. If you've already been getting notices, it's probably a matter of time before you get evicted or action is taken against your landlord. CPS might get involved if the conditions are so unlivable the kids are at risk. Maybe work with your landlord to find a solution as soon as possible.

For Housing Authority in Lawrence, see:



answers from Kansas City on

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

I agree with the others to check out

Keep it natural when possible. I do most of my cleaning with a baking soda paste, then pour white vinegar over to bubble, then rinse well with water. Naturally cleans and disinfects with NO harmful chemicals or fumes. It smells quite fresh and clean afterwards.



answers from Boston on

Maybe you should ask for help from another adult- such as your friend, sister or mother. and maybe take some essential laundry to the laundromat. You getting overwhelmed maybe depression, or anemia- if you cannot see a doctor immediately, at least start a multivitamin, and iron pill daily.

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