My House Overwhelms Me!

Updated on June 12, 2011
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
12 answers

Hi Ladies!
I've done some soul-searching lately. I tend to be a totally anxious and overhwhelmed when I get home from work, and I'm pretty sure the reason is because my house is a wreck! This translates into me acting like a complete b*t**, which I assure you is GREAT fun for my family! I'm a very organized person, very detail-oriented and meticulous. I'm VERY type-A personality. My desk/office at work is immaculate. When I get home, the girls' rooms are awry, there are dirty dishes in the kitchen, laundry on the couches, dirty clothes in the bathroom, old food on the table... UGH! I have two daughters ages 4 & 7, my 7-year-old is out of school for the summer. My husband goes to school. He is in summer school right now, and has a class from 9am to noon Monday thru Thursday and works part-time at night from 7pm to midnight. I work full time, M-F, 8-5. I love my career, and although I have a lot of responsibility at work, my job is not overly stressful. How do I manage my family better so that we are ALL contributing to a less stressful home environment? My kids are pretty adaptable and already have a chore chart, and love to help, so I'm not too worried about them, but my husband loves to do EVERYTHING half-assed, which drives me NUTS! I can't blame him too much though, I'm often so overwhelmed in the evenings that I end up accomplishing nothing, let alone half of a task. A friend of mine suggested following, but what else can I do? How do you manage an organized household? I know my house is not going to be immaculate- I have young children- but I need to at least get it at a level that eases my anxiety a bit. Thanks ladies!

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answers from Seattle on

For me, it's helpful to remember that a little is better than nothing at all.

I HATE doing laundry. I will put it off until it is a disaster, because the concept of doing it overwhelms me. I have to remind myself that I don't need to clean the whole darn house perfectly, in order to do one load of laundry.

It doesn't have to be perfect for it to still be helpful. I suggest you try to set reasonable goals and meet a few every day. Today I'll clean out the fridge. Tomorrow, I'll tackle three loads of laundry and clean the toilet. The next day, I'll _______.

If you try to do the whole thing at once, you may end up more overwhelmed and just give up.

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answers from Omaha on

The hubby & I are definitely type A too! We also work full time, and my husband is in the military so there are many weeks that I am flying solo in the house.

Here are some suggestions (and I by no means have the handle on my house that I would like... but it's a start for me):

Assign a basket (small/large, whatever suits your needs) to each person--random things that get left around the house (shoes, toys, books, etc) get dropped into the appropriate basket and must be emptied and put away by the owner each night before TV/outside/fun time.

Everyone clears their own plate/cup/utensils directly into the dishwasher after dinner (even my 3-yr-old does this).

Clean up cooking utensils/pots/pans as you go. As an example, while I'm waiting for the water to boil for spaghetti, I'm unloading yesterday's clean dishes from the dishwasher. After I drain the pot, it goes straight into the dishwasher; one less thing to clean up after dinner.

Serve out of the cooking dish--don't replate it into serving dishes. Just means more dishes to clean in the end!

We have 3 bathrooms--2 regularily used, 1 not-so-much. We deep clean one bathroom a weekend. The other 2 get top-cleaned only.

The hubby vacuums while our daughter and I dust. We try and do this on a weeknight because as you know as a working mom, our weekend time to do things together is so precious.

Plan out meals in advance, freeze, reheat. When I make spaghetti sauce/taco meat/pot roast, etc. I always make a double batch and immediately freeze half to eat later. That way I'm cutting my cooking in half over the long run.

I'm sure others will disagree, but my floors only get mopped once a month. I spot clean along the way if needed.

I guess more than anything, I accept that it won't all get done. I also try to break it up into manageable chunks of time and expectations. If the house doesn't get dusted this week... it'll be there next week when I have time or feel like doing it!

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I know EXACTLY what you mean and I'm a SAHM!!!

I have a schedule for cleaning - but yesterday and today? I just couldn't do it - it was over 100 degrees and the thought EVEN WITH AC of vacuuming and washing clothes?! NO THANK YOU!!! And to top it off - we are having guests this weekend so tomorrow will be hell bent for leather!! :) Wanna come over and help?!

For the girls rooms? close their door. if they need their laundry washed or sheets changed? they can bring them to you.

Pick one room and empty it out - put only back into what you NEED - chairs, tables, bed, etc. all the rest? sell on craigslist, ebay or donate it....

Do one room a will feel better knowing you have tackled the clutter and helped someone else out in giving them things you no longer need!!


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answers from Dallas on

One thing that helps me is to have a routine. Also if my kids were older like yours, I would put them to work too! For example, Saturday mornings is wash all laundry, change all sheets and put laundry away. Sunday is grocery shopping and organizing - everything must be put away by sunday afternoon, even all the weird things you dont know where to put. During the week I only focus on cooking dinner, running dishwasher and light housekeeping - no laundry or major house projects. When I get home, even though i want to turn on tv and pour wine - i hold off and make sure to have 30-45 minutes of no tv, just clean up time beforehand. I turn on music and it has helped so much. Not only in getting house in order but it is much more relaxing too. Good luck!



answers from Boston on

I am a lot like you, but I was home with my kids until they were 7 and 10. When the kids were little I put all their toys in big Rubbermaid bins in the basement marked by category (Blocks, Legos, My Little Ponies, Little People, Webkinz, paints, beads, Barbies, Poly Pockets, etc). They could each choose a bin, but before I would let them have more stuff they would have to pack up the bins they already had out. This way there was not much laying around AND every thing they already owned seemed new since they had not seen it in a while.
Now that they are older and I work again, I bought 2 mesh hampers that sit upstairs and I told my girls that anything they want washed had to be sorted in white or colors. I lug laundry down, one puts it in the washer, the other moves it to the dryer, then I remove it and fold it while watching tv at night. The kids are responsible to take anything they brought downstairs back up to their rooms. I will remind them but if they do not, it gets thrown out (have not have to do that yet, they come running when I remind them). I saved Uno's take-out bags (they are huge) so if they have lots of stuff they can lug it upstairs in one of those. We use the dishwasher and run it about every other day and my husband (bless his heart) seems to like unloading it. For the kids' rooms we bought cubicles (9 cubbies) in cheap white pressboard at Target that were easy to assemble. They keep their books and toys in those visible in their rooms. They also have stacking bins/shoe bags/hanging sweater organizers in their closets that have more toys and purses and beads and Beanie Babies, etc. Their clothes are actually in a 3 drawer dresser each, although the teen seems to keep them in stacks on top of the dresser lately!
The kitchen is usually pretty messy with mail and recycling and library books and homework, but since it is mostly confined to the kitchen I can live with that. I taught the girls to rinse their plates and cutlery and put it in the dishwasher after dinner or snack, and if I find piles in the sink I make them come to the kitchen to load the dishwasher. We talked about how mom is not the only one that makes laundry or dirty dishes or garbage, so everyone has to help clean it up. Since it started as part of play (help mommie put these blocks away) and was explained as something everyone needs to do, they seem to not mind helping out. I think at 4 and 7 they can begin to help with some of these things, mine did at that age, and once you get the older one to help the younger one will want to be part of things too. The youngest one really liked using the Swiffer Duster, both the floor one that I could take one stem out of to make it short for her, and the hand held one to dust the tv and such. Good luck.


answers from Williamsport on

My house is a wreck, and I'm a stay at home mom! Even though I am always cleaning, I've got 3 under five destroying everything right behind me. Yes they pick up some stuff of theirs, but are too young to really clean. Every day, I do the SAME major chores several times, the dishes, the living room, the toy room (they do help with that), put away clothes. Sometime during the week I fit in the laundry, bathrooms and vacuuming on top of those things which need doing every day..all this on top of dealing with a major administrative hassle for my husband who travels and my "office" is the dining room table...which is where my daughter also does her school work.....arrghh..sometimes I have to leave ALL the messes and stay out all day on errands, come home. make dinner, zone out with a book and go to bed with NO cleaning tackled......

My ONLY salvation is that I don't CARE if it's not perfect and if there are some manageable periphery messes, but the main areas are functioning, I don't mind. BUT. The real trouble starts when my husband is around, because he is an OCD neat freak and the mess makes him SUPER ANGRY. He realizes from when I've been gone and he's in charge, that the mess truly does constantly regenerate itself and truly does take CONSTANT CLEANING, so he gets it that I'm not slacking and we don't have excess clutter...but he's so MAD all the time, and he can't control it.

I've told him if he needs it to look like a 5 star hotel with no trace of human life than he needs to HIRE someone to CLEAN for me while he's gone, or at least for right before he comes home but it's not in the budget. Honestly, it's a lot less stressful when he's just not home. He keeps his flawless little office like a museum exhibit with everything arranged, but the rest of the house is my responsibility and a"disappointment". Honest to god when you manage to keep three kids fed and happy and healthy with meaningful busy activities in their days and a spouse comes home and focuses on a lego by the coffee table leg, it makes one want to commit violent acts. Not saying you're like that.

If the mess is truly not reasonable in the community areas which are not your desk, etc, you need to find a way financially to get it handled if your husband is not capable enough and you don't have ample time for cleaning. Otherwise, there is no common ground. He probably CAN'T clean it any more than he is, due to his personality, and you CAN'T accept it, due to yours. Someone else has to step in and do it.



answers from Dallas on

I think you hit on something that a lot of us can relate to. We have a "five minute clean up" every evening. Everyone is assigned a room (bed, bath, kitchen, etc). The timer on the microwave is set and everyone rushes around picking up their assigned area for five minutes. You'd be surprised how much can get accomplished.

Good luck! My grandmother has a saying: "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy":)


answers from Dallas on

With watching 4 kids, plus 2 of my own anywhere from 7:45am-8pm, 6/7 days a week, I was getting totally overwhelmed. On top of the flylady that I told you about, I started bedtime rountines 30 minutes earlier and divied out extra chores for Don and Julia. While I give Aubrey a bath, vacume and pick up, they are in charge of dishes, the kitchen floor and making tea/koolaid for the next day. So from 7:30-9, everyone is working together. It has saved my sanity! At 8:30, we read Aubrey a story and tuck her in and then we tackle folding laundry while we catch up on our shows. I put them away usually in the morning before your kids come over. :) HTH!


answers from St. Louis on

I am just like you. My older daughter worked with me for a while. The first time she saw my office she said it looks like nobody uses your desk. So I bought picture frames and put up pictures, she said now it looks like someone is trying to make it look like someone uses your desk! :(

What works for me is to keep my bedroom clean and organized. When the rest of the house gets to be too much I hide in there and recharge.

As my kids got older they learned that it is best to be organized so they started cleaning up after themselves. My ex didn't, I guess that is one of many reasons he is my ex. Troy cleans up after himself and is actually more anal retentive than I am so he can stay. :)



answers from Joplin on

You need to down size. Get rid of clutter, get a routine and get everyone on board...I have struggled with being organized all my life and I am finally getting a grip on it, Thanks to FlyLady = ) You can find her just google flylady, it is free!
I just had one of those birthdays that makes you look at your life and, I am getting older and the things that bugged me 10 years ago are still bugging me...isn't it time I change that? I clean houses for a living...and I LOVE cleaning those houses, and yet I DREAD cleaning mine....the difference???? CLUTTER...the women I clean for have nice clean counters and no clutter, it makes cleaning easy and my house? Clutter...on counters on the table on every surface...I vowed I wanted to be as happy to clean my house as I am to clean others...clutter either found a home or went in the trash. I have re-arranged cabinets and closets and drawers and got rid of all the "THINGS" that served no purpose and were sucking the life out of me...I too was filled with anxiety just being in my own I am starting to feel like my bedroom is my sanctuary, that my bathroom is like a vacation get away, and that my living room is truly some place I can call home. My kitchen is inviting and does not want me turn heel and run in the opposite direction...and Mount Wash-more ( the laundry) has been banished. I feel so much more relaxed now, and the routines are easy! Baby steps! Look into will not be disappointed.



answers from Washington DC on

I agree with Cheryl.
I can ony take flylady in small amounts. I get too distracted or the room she says to clean scares the heeie jeebies out of me, like my closet.

I do try to get one thing done a day, unless it was to happen this week, I live by CHeryl and it is HOT!!! I too am a SAHM mom and I homeschool and sometimes nothing gets done.

Find a place you can stash things. A basement, an attic, somewhere out of sight. If you find yourself going into the space looking for something stashed then it;s something that needs to live in the famiy space. Otherwise you really don't need it, so either get rid of it or leave it in the stash and forget about it and let your grandchildren find it when your dead.



answers from Los Angeles on

I think it would be helpful to have a "let's cleanup" for 15 minutes when you get home. Everyone should help and contribute. You can tell your daughters that you want them to participate. You can also ask your husband to help out during that time to get the house to a reasonable state. Your home is not going to be perfect--it just can't be with little ones. But, fix the things that will give you peace of mind. Then let go of the rest...

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