Working, SAHM/D, Single Do You Stay on Top of Chores?

Updated on February 24, 2011
B.B. asks from Berkeley, IL
17 answers


I am employed full time (thank goodness because we need the money!) and of course a full time mommy :)

My husband literally works 7 days a week- over the weekends his work days are normally longer than during the week. I'm glad he's working because we really do have a lot to catch up with after both of us being unemployed. We have lots of debt, but are finally starting to climb out.

My question is- how do you do it? I have been working for 1 1/2 years since my daughter was born (she's now 2 1/2, I was unemployed for the first 10 months), and I thought that I would get into a groove and find a good pattern and I haven't! I'm SO overwhemled! Can you offer any ideas for staying on top of laundry, chores, cooking, etc? or do I just let it roll?

OH! and of course potty training has been atrocious... so add that onto the list! LOL

Thanks for your ideas!

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So What Happened?

Thanks! I will declutter, prep the night before, do a little bit at a time, check out the flylady site, and make a place for all of our things! All great ideas. I do all in a small way, but there are always ways to improve- I really appreciate your ideas!

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

hahahahahaha you said "stay on top of chores" hahahahahahaha

Ok - in all seriousness. I am WAY more on top of them now that my daughter is 10 - cuz she helps. I am a single mom who works full time outside my home AND I'm going to grad school 2 nights a week so that I can get a better job.

I do the bare minimum. I haven't 'deep cleaned' since I can't tell you when. However, I can tell you that the more scheduled I have myself the better I am at staying on top of things.....

-I do a load of laundry every day. I used to think it was gross to put a load into wash before I went to bed and then put it into dry when I woke up, but now I think that is the greatest realization ever!!!!! Plus, since I'm only getting about 5 hours of sleep a night, it's actually not that long that they sit in the washer!!!!!!
-Lots of times we eat on paper plates (I really really really do care about the environment, I promise I won't do this after I graduate).
-Everything gets 'picked up' and put back in it's place every night so it doesn't take as long and it doesn't pile up.
-I vacuum, sweep etc on Saturday night in lieu of a social life (see description of life above, if any questions about why I don't have a social life).
-My daughter cleans both bathrooms on Saturday morning while I am at class and she is with the babysitter.
-I don't make the beds (my daughter does make hers - proof she remembers life before the divorce and mommy going back to school).
-Anytime we eat out (which is more than I'd like to admit) I order the largest size (and/or an extra) and to-go containers and that way I don't cook the next night.
-I used to cook on Sundays and I would always cook enough that I had 2 or 3 days of left overs that could just be re-heated.
-I used to think it wasn't "dinner" if it wasn't something like baked chicken, salad, green beans etc. now "dinner can be a ham sandwich, an apple and some milk.

It's going to be tough until she is old enough to do some basic things for herself. At 2 they are kind of still like tornadoes wreaking havoc and destruction at various and random times (even the good ones!!!!).

Good Luck!!!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

We divide and conquer. In the evening one bathes our sons and the other frantically straightens the house. After they go to bed we again frantically clean we call it a "cleaning blitz" it usually lasts about 20 minutes and they we collapse on the couch and maybe fold laundry together. Our house is lived in, but fairly tidy most the time. And we eat a lot of healthy, but questionable dinners--grilled sandwiches and salads, waffles and fruit, black bean burritos--to make it easier on ourselves...and when I rich the first thing I'm doing is hiring someone to clean!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Check out she is awsome and motivates you to do these quick 5 minute cleans. Like today was Anti-Procrastination Day: What Project Will You Cross Off Your List Today? She has something called the 27 fling boogie where she has you run around with a garbage bag and grab 27 things to toss after you finish tie it up and throw it away, DO NOT LOOK INSIDE AGAIN. Just fun quick tips and drills to help de-clutter.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I have four kids, now older put unfortunately still little piggies! When I get mad or disgusted with the house I downsize like a mad women! The family is terrified of me when I get like this! People hide stuff in their rooms, where it should have been the whole time! With so many people in our house stuff just builds up and up and up. I make regular trips to goodwill to drop off yellow bags! We keep one in the closet whenever they or myself find something we don't need anymore it goes in the bag. You'd be amazed at how un cluttering your life makes chores not feel so overwhelming! At first my husband was horrified, his parents are notorious pack rats. After the first year he now will look around a room and says it's getting kinda crowded in here, bless his heart! Even he felt the difference. Don't beat yourself up about it! With two little ones and full time jobs let it ride, when they get older then you can have them help more. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rockford on

I feel for you. My husband has 2 jobs and I stay home with our 4 kids (9 and under). Our house is small and gets cluttered so easily. Add to that all the repairs needing to be done, I am so embarrassed about it most of the time. The FlyLady is a good "program." I constantly fall of the FlyLady bandwagon and then get fed up with the mess and have to jump back into it. That is one of the best things about FlyLady in that she is always saying "You're not behind!." I just recently found the e-mealz site which is great. For $5 a month they plan a week's worth of dinners and sides for you and make the grocery list to boot. Some plans are for 5 day weeks and some for 7day. They even line up store specials with your meals to a certain extent. I used a coupon code when I signed up to make it even cheaper. I think the word DAVE gets you $2.50 off a 3 month subscription. Just something to consider. Good luck to you! Now I am off to clean - again.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi there! Tough one, especially since you really don't get a break/help with your daughter with your husband working 7 days a week...I work full time and my husband travels and is gone 4-5 days a week so I feel your pain. We do laundry on weekends or I try to get a load done each night after the kids have gone to bed. I would also hold off on the potty training until your daughter is 3 and/or starts showing a lot of interest. We also have someone come in to clean every other week so on the off weeks it's just a matter of wiping things down and a quick vaccum here and there...I try to make very easy meals or cook ahead or do things in the crock pot. I also take my lunch break on Fridays to plan my meals for the following week and write up my grocery list. on Saturday mornings is when we do our grovery shopping...good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Our trick is doing it as a family. As for the laundry I start a load in the morning and then put it in the dryer after super. This way it is dry and ready to be folded after the kids go to bed. I try my best to clean one room a night and leave my weekends to spend all the time with the kids. I don't do any laundry on the weekends unless we need something important i.e. baseball uniform. We eat out more than we should, but try to fix meals that don't take a long time to cook. The crock-pot has become my friend :) My Hubby works 40+ hours and I work 60+ hours a week. Our house isn't perfect, but it is clean.

For the bathrooms, I clean them while I am watching the toddler play in the tub or I fold a load of clothing while sitting in the bathroom.

Doing a little bit of laundry and chores every day will go a long way. When I want to scrub the floor on my hands and knees I ship the kids to Grandma's or off with Dad so I can get it done without interruptions.

Potty Training? If you have a boy wait until summer time. Mine LOVED to pee outside and that was the quickist way to potty train him. Find his favorite tree! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

PREPLAN! Pre Plan your meals, set times of the week when you are going to do the scrubbing of the house, pick up the house every night before bed. Even the 2 yr old could pick up their toys ect. They love it especially if you make it a game. LOL
plan.. plan.. and follow through.
LOL or hire a someone to get things started. My cousin was out of work, so I paid her like 40 bucks to pick up my living room, do our dishes and scrub the bathroom. Now with three kids I can't afford it anymore. it was sooo nice though :_)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Family works together to get the chores done. Hubby works full time (5 days a week). I work very part-time (15 hours a week).

Hubby usually takes care of the garbage and recycling, unless it really needs to be done when he is not home I do it. Hubby sometimes pitches in with other things on the weekend if I am working all weekend.

I vaccum when I have a few extra mins, laundry gets done every other week (sometimes once a week), dusting, basic cleaning once a week... I have a set day to do those things, once a week I pick a day that has nothing or very little going on and do as much as I can in the one day. Once a month I pick a day that is deep cleaning day, nothing else gets put on that day besides clean, clean, clean.

It is never ending, just try to get it in here and there. Life goes on if the house is not spotless :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

you don't.. Hire a cleaning lady

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Another vote for Flylady.

Baby steps

Forget about perfection.
Get rid of clutter - 15 minutes a day.
Plan meals weekly - go shopping once.
I try to crock pot once a week.
A load of laundry a day. Wash, dry and fold. It may take 10 hours to get it done, but it's done. Very little laundry on weekends this way.
Have hubby help where he can.
Make sure you both get some kind of mini-breaks. A couple hours on a weekend or something for time for yourself.
Exercise! I work out 20 minutes M-F at home to videos. It keeps me sane and happy.

Best wishes


1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

What works for me:

- cooking like a crazy woman on the weekends, then heating up leftovers for dinner most weeknights. I found that I was spending far too much time cooking each weeknight.
- start the crockpot before work that day, come home to dinner ready after work
- I always plan the meals for the week and only go to the grocery store twice a month. Invest in a deep freeze if you do not already have one, buy what you need and freeze the rest.
- going home over the lunch hour to put in a load of laundry, then put it in the dryer right when I get home from work. That way, it is done right after dinner and I can fold and put away and forget about it.
- kids get showers/baths right after dinner - this seems to make the night go more smoothly for some reason
- I do not try to do any "big" cleaning on the weekdays - too much stress. I just have to let the "dirty" floor go until the weekend, if I can even get to it then!
- Have one room really clean at all times. I find if my living room is clean and yet the other rooms are not, I can go sit in that clean room and keep my sanity, at least for the night. =)
- You have to be able to let some things go and cut yourself some slack. My hubby doesn't work every weekend and we STILL have a hard time keeping up!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I am a full time working mom of a 5 yr old and a 3 month old. I manage to somehow keep things going as well as going to the gym before work :-)

I use weekends to prepare for the workweek.
- I prepare our lunches. For hubby and I, I prepare them, place them in separate lunch bags, and keep them in the garage (acts as a fridge). Each evening, I place a lunchbag in our cars so it's there the next morning when we leave for work.
- I make 1 or 2 dinner items, extra, and we eat them for dinner during the week. When I don't have time to prepare dinner ahead of time (ie a busy weekend), we eat quick-to-make meals like veggie burger, cereal, soup, etc. Doesn't have to be fancy!
- I do laundry on weekends. I enlist everyone to help me fold, or the TV gets turned off.
- After dinner, I have my daughter help me clean the kitchen. Make it a game for your toddler. Each night before she goes to bed, make it a game to have her clean up her toys and the immediate living room area. The more you engage her in helping you clean, the more she will grow up learning to like and want to help with cleaning and picking up after herself.
- I have a house cleaner come once a month to attack the house. She charges 57 bucks. If u cant afford one, do your best. Clean small parts of the house at a time. Some things can just wait.
- I do errands during my lunch hour at work. (ie groceries, bank, etc)
- Overall, you just hav e to let some things go. There are gonna be days where you will have a dirty kitchen before going to bed, or toys all over the place, etc. There's always the next day to attack it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Have you ever looked into Fly Lady?
Very good tips for staying on top of things AND getting to all of those "O. of these days" types of tasks.
It does work. Check it out & jump in.
I think sometimes you DO have to "let it roll" a little--nights you stop & pick up something for dinner, the bathtub scouring can wait another day, etc., but generally speaking, the more organized you are in general, the less overwhelming things are.
Lots of people find a level of comfort in a routine and some people like to fly by the seat of their pants! You need to figure out which you prefer.
Cook double meals and freeze half for another day....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I'm a single mom and I work full time (I'm a middle school teacher). My house is GENERALLY clean... but there are certainly days I just can't pull it together.

The things that have helped a great deal for me...

Have less stuff... seriously... I'd rather do laundry midweek when we run out of clean socks than deal with an overwhelming mountain of laundry every other week.

Make sure everything has a place... seems like common sense, but I struggled for like a year with a house I could NOT keep clean mostly because it wasn't easy to get everything to be put away.

Tidy up EVERY night after kids are in bed.

Prep breakfast dishes on table, fruit cut, coffee pot ready, cups of juice poured and in covered in fridge... everything.

Prep clothes for the week on Sunday night (iron everything, even pick out underwear stockings, etc).


1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I understand your position. I work 50 hours a week, and my husband 55, so we needed to find ways to make life go a little more smoothly. A couple of things that have worked well for us -

We sit down every Sunday and plan meals for the week. Simple things, even planning what nights will be leftovers or breakfast for dinner, so we can do any prep work that is possible the night before.

Laundry has been relagated to specific days - I do all the clothes on Saturdays (family of 4), and then my husband will do a load or two on Wednesdays if needed. (which it usually is)

Cleaning - we caved in and decided to hire a cleaning lady. She comes in once every two weeks and does the "heavy: cleaning. Then we just worry anout picking up, dishes, messes, etc. in between. Even though our house isn't perfect - once every two weeks it is amazing to come home to a wonderfully clean house, and worth every penny of the $80 we pay.

Potty training will come. Is she in a daycare situation where they can help? I will be honest, my son't day-school did most of the work, we just had to reinforce on the weekend.

Good luck and CONGRATS for working so hard to dig yourself out of a hole. I've been there, and I know how hard it can be.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think you have to decide what is REALLY important and kind of throw the rest to the dogs for the time being. Some things don't really matter but we set ourselves up for failure by thinking they do. I'll bet you are doing fine, but we have to stop setting incredibly high standards for ourselves. If you see bugs rolling around in cake crumbs of course might be time to sweep the floor. Otherwise, we want to smel okay to not offend anyone (so we stay clean and deodorized), try to get a few dishes clean or soaking and make cooking as easy as possibly. So many things are precut, precooked, etc. For now in life, use those, saves time. Crockpots are great. Get into a habit if there is a washing machine at home, a load of laundry every night, not the twelve piles that added up. Like, oh so well. You'll get there and sounds like you are an incredibly wonderful mom and caring person.

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