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Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Photo Source: Magnus D

Thank you to everyone who completed my survey from a few weeks ago. It was very enlightening to read what you like, what you want, what you could live without. Dessert, especially chocolate, was a keeper. See how much we have in common?

Some of your questions made me laugh — in a good way. Like this one:

I would like to know HOW, with six kids, you manage to keep a home clean and the laundry caught up! I have no kids, but I get so frustrated keeping our home tidy and clean – so much so that I go through periods of time when I just STOP. That’s not working well either. You would think after 10 years of marriage I would have this homemaking thing figured out a little better – at least the cleaning part – so I’m just wondering if you have any methods or schedule that you use to keep up with the uglier side of life as a mom (or wife)?

Ah, well. Here’s the thing. I’m realizing that I can’t do all the things that I coulda, shoulda, woulda all the time. I can get the laundry done only to turn around and find that the kitchen is a wreck or someone exploded a Lego bomb in his bedroom.

Life, at least my life, is like two steps forward, one step back. For much of the day, our living room looks like this:

— or worse! Piles on tables and random stuff on the floor is just part of my life. It usually gets cleaned up by the time we go to bed at night. Or on a very, very, very good day, by the time hubs gets home at night. Messes are a part of my life.

I would love a perfectly spotless home, but that just isn’t part of my season of life. The days pass too quickly, and something’s gotta give. Currently, I’m working on “picked up most of the time” and clean clothes on our backs. Some days I get a bulls’ eye. Sometimes I miss the mark.

I try to make sure the kids do their part. I’m trying to get on a cleaning schedule. And I reassess my expectations of myself often.

I’m working on not getting too freaked out about it as well. If my husband and kids are loved, happy, and well-fed, I’m good.

Where do YOU let things slide — just a little?

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Comments

  1. I feel the same as you. I feel like I’m doing good if the family is clean, fed and in the bed :) The house comes next and I try really hard to keep it neat and tidy, it just doesn’t always get completely done.

  2. LOVE your honest living room picture!!!! It’s so refreshing.

  3. I used to think that if I didn’t get everything done on my to-do list, then I was failing. After 9 years and four kids, I’ve readjusted and am happy if I hit the half way mark most days.

  4. THANK YOU! Thank you for making me not feel like a failure. I have one child and a full time job and sometimes, I feel like I am barely holding it together. It’s very comforting to see that my living room is probably not unlike many others around me. And, that the dishes piling up are, at least, clean and just waiting to be put away. And, I’ll admit, I’ve gone out to buy new socks because all of the others were waiting to be washed.

    I’ve tried everything to try to stay organized. But you know what gets me every time? PAPER! Bills, school notices, catalogs, magazines, recipes, etc… it’s starting to take over.

    The one thing I have mastered though, is dinner. I have found that if I devote an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon, I can get ahead on my weekday meals. For instance, this weekend, while I was roasting our chicketta (like a porketta but all boneless, skinless chicken breast), I roasted extra chicken for a Chicken Divan casserole. While that was in the oven, I made the cheese sauce for homemade mac and cheese, assembled the Chicken Divan (and an extra to give to my grandparents), made the dressing for my Asian salad and made the glaze for my meatloaf.

    It only took me about and hour and a half to get everything together. Now, when I get home during the week, all I have to do is heat up/cook/bake what I’ve already pre-assembled. It takes a lot of the stress out of getting dinner on the table. Plus, I always have left overs for lunches or quick dinners later in the week.

    This is the one thing that helps keep me sane during some very hectic weeks!

    Most of the recipes I mentioned above are on my blog, http://www.itsakeeper.wordpress.com

    Thanks for letting me ramble! :)

  5. About two weeks ago I created a cleaning schedule because I too felt like I couldn’t keep up with my 3 year old, hubby and pets as well as the house. Well I have yet to follow the schedule due to life interrupting! LOL but at least I have a schedule to follow one day…soon.

  6. I loved your post so much I wanted to send a link to my husband so he could read it too. :) I too get fed up somedays and just STOP. then after my pity party I pick myself up by my boot straps and get back to work. I’m not embarrassed by my house or the state it’s in so that never motivates me. It’s life… It’s my life. So I have to say to myself “would my HUSBAND be embarassed if we had surprise company right now?” :) that is what keeps me working!

  7. Michelle T says:

    Thank you so much for this photo! I feel like I’m always trying and can’t ever get “there” with my house either. Sometimes I think my house is the only messy one because people always clean and organize (or hide things) before you go visit. I need reminders that nobody’s house is perfect, and I don’t need to feel the pressure to get mine there either.

    • @Michelle T, I think for most families it’s just a question of how much chaos! (right now, ours is a lot, with busy week and son’s birthday celebration last night.) :) One of our great accomplishments this year, is to have a weekly pizza night on Friday night where family members and friends just drop in (bringing toppings, wine, yum!) and we have a great time WITHOUT CLEANING THE HOUSE FIRST. Sometimes I feel kind of embarrassed but for sure nobody ever seems to care about needing to clear off a chair or something. They just love to eat and chat.

  8. My mom had 11 children and people always ask me how in the world she did all the housework (and homeschool, too!) and was the house ever clean. My honest answer is always: “The house was constantly being cleaned.” Maybe not always (ever?) actually 100% clean, but always in the process of being cleaned;) That’s just life when you have a lot of people living in relatively small space.

  9. Sometimes the clean laundry may sit in a basket for a day or two before being put up, then there is still my husband’s shirt that is waiting for a repair–I really hate mending! We try, though to have everything picked up when we are finished with it. Some members of our household are more cooperative than the others, who-shall-remain-nameless-but-know-who-they-are!

  10. Laundry. I have no problem getting it washed and dried. After that, well… I’ve been known to watch the clean piles grow for days, like they’re someone else’s problem, and I even feel sorry for the poor soul (whoever she is) that will eventually have to sit down and fold. And fold and fold and fold. I suffer from laundry-specific denial.
    I’ve found that if I try to turn the folding into a ritual, make it a more pleasant experience, I’ll be more likely to do it. If I put on some nice music and pour myself something cool to drink, it helps. A little.
    Thanks for the great post!

    • I’m with Julia — Laundy is what I really let slide. It always gets washed and dried, but the whole family lives out of a pile of laundry baskets on the floor in my bedroom. Each morning, they get dumped on my bed and picked through for what will be worn that day. It all goes back into the teetering pile just minutes before I want to get in bed at night. My family is a wrinkley mess, but at least the clothes are clean.

      • @Jodi, I ‘m very familiar with the wrinkly mess. I tried the “fly lady” approach and iron the clothes the day after washing and I’ve yet to sit down and iron. I’ve got a pile of clothes stacked in my room still waiting to be ironed.

  11. Marilyn K says:

    My advice would be to stop worrying about being perfect and having it all “together.” We can all come up with reasons we can’t keep up with our duties. But often we choose not to clean and do something much less important. The thing that works best for me is to have one task per day. For example, Monday: Meal planning and groceries. Tuesday: Floors and dusting. Wednesday: Kitchen. Thursday: laundry. Friday: Bathroom. This way, I am only spending 15-30 minutes a day cleaning (except I guess for laundry day). It doesn’t seem too daunting that way. Of course, my boys (2 and 4) clean up their toys daily, sometimes with some help from me, and I always totally clean up after 3 meals a day right after the meal. It would be easy to say I am 9 months pregnant and tired, so I will just let it go, but I don’t. It’s so much less stressful to get it done! And if something comes up, I don’t stress about it, I just move that day’s duty to the next day and do two things. Set small goals for yourself and don’t make excuses!

  12. I remember the days when I STRESSED over trying to keep my house looking like my mother-in-laws house. Perfect. Always trying to keep up with the laundry, housework, four kids and working 40 hours a week. Now that my children are all grown, I still don’t have that perfect house but I realize that the only one that really cares was me. I played a lot with my kids but wish I hadn’t stressed so much over it and played more with them. Don’t get me wrong, my house is not a dump but those kids grow up so fast and what they should remember is not that the house was perfect but that you played with them, loved them, fed them and just plain old enjoyed being together. We do that now and we all love being together. Enjoy your families!!! Relax. The dirt will always be there, your kids won’t be.

  13. Stephanie says:

    My floors are never spotless. With 5 kids (and 3 big dogs), it’s just a never ending battle, and I always lose. My best bet is to mop right before bed. Then it’s at least clean when I first get up. Or, if I have company coming, I mop 30 minutes before they arrive, and then banish the kids to other areas..LOL
    It doesn’t help that I despise mopping. I would literally rather clean the filthiest gas station toilet than mop..
    Dishes are 2nd on my list of “never quite done”. This is shameful to admit, as I have a dishwasher. However, despite the fact that my sink is full of dishes, my counters and stovetops are always scrubbed clean. Weird!!

  14. We make our kids clean up toys every night before bedtime routine. I do laundry all in one day. I try to make sure the bathroom and kitchen get cleaned once a week. Other than that, I tell people my motto is, “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy!” My children will be the age they are for exactly one year and then they will never be that age again so I try to strike a balance between doing enough cleaning to set a good example but spend most of my time just being mom!

  15. Oh my, I feel like I’ve pretty much let everything slide over the past six months, since my son was born.

    I’ve never had strong homemaking skills, I guess because I was never a homemaker and never intended to be one – until I took one look at my little guy and said, “Nope, not going back to work!” So I’m just now learning how to do things like laundry and cleaning, while at the same time learning how to take care of a little guy. A little guy who won’t sleep AT ALL unless he is snuggled up against one of his parents. Um, yeah, that’s a recipe for disaster.

    Most days I don’t accomplsih much more than cooking and kitchen clean up. If I also get a load of laundry done, then I’m really excited. Even vacuuming and straightening up the living room is out of the question, most days, unless I decide to give myself a day off from kitchen clean up. Truly deep cleaning the bathrooms, steaming the rugs, washing the windows – well, that stuff hasn’t happened in months.

    I’m trying really hard to be okay with all this, and just slow down and enjoy this precious time with my son. My husband is 100% supportive, and helps around the house as much as he is able (he works a lot of OT, so he doesn’t have a ton of free time). But I often feel like a total failure.

    So it seems I have a few issues to work on. :)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Katie Gregg, oh, I wish you could just come over and hang and know that you are not alone. God Bless your heart for spending this time with your little guy. As an earlier comment pointed out, your child will not always be there, though the house will. So, love on him. Rest. (He won’t always sleep with you – promise!) And do your best.

      Set a goal for one new habit and just focus on that. The fact that the kitchen is clean is huge! Let us know how we can help.

      • @Jessica Fisher, it’s just nice to know there are others out there going through the same struggles, and who really care! I am a SAHM living in a place where I’ve never worked or gone to school, so I know no one. I don’t drive, because I grew up in a big city, and I don’t have access to public transportation, because I’m now in a small town. My husband works long hours, and sometimes I go the entire day without talking to a single other adult. It can be very lonely, and isolating. It doesn’t help that I feel incredibly guilty for feeling this way. My husband is making tremendous sacrifices so I can stay home (before I resigned, I was earning twice what he earns – we had planned for him to homeschool our kids). I am incredibly grateful to him, and I love, love, LOVE being with my son, but sometimes I just feel so alone and incompetent. So I started a blog, and I’m delurking on some of the blogs I’ve been following, trying to make some connections and learn from the more experienced mamas out there. It helps to know I’m not alone!

  16. Ah, yes. In the past two weeks, my husband (the stay at home parent) has been very sick, then I was very sick, then he was very sick again. Now I am mildly sick with a sinus infection. Our 12 year old came home from school with lice (ew, ew, ew!) and so we have spent at least 3 hours each night checking heads, vacuuming and washing things endlessly. I *think* we are finally ahead of the curve on that one, but who knows? We also had a birthday party for our youngest boys (for friends, thankfully not at our house) and now have the family birthday party here this weekend. Add to that the activities of four kids and two adults and man, I am pooped! I just aim for the best and settle for good enough whenever I have to – our family will survive if there is a bit of dust or somethings not completely tidied up at our party. BUT, this acceptance has been a long time coming for this type-A CPA.

  17. Love your blog! It is so so true! I have 4 kiddos, work a full time job, and it’s the same, one thing cleaned only to turn around to another mess! I loved reading and can’t wait to read more!
    I’ve just recently started blogging, and I have two going! One about my 4 energetic kiddos! And another about arts and crafts, that I LOVE to do in my spare time! Hope you’ll come see me! Like I said, I’ve just started, I have a LOT of learning to do!

    http://crystal-mamatofour.blogspot.com/

    http://knot-so-average.blogspot.com/

  18. Amen Sister!

  19. Oh, boy, your room looks just like many of mine! I keep reminding myself, and my husband that we’re training our kids, and it will take awhile. I’ve been working much harder on the training for the past few months, and I can see the kids learning. I’m also learning to relax a bit myself, though I’m not as stressed about the mess as my husband. I can see the creativity in the mess which he doesn’t always see.

    This week, I started back with doing 30 minute blocks of time each day on my priorities. I don’t get everything done, but I’m already feeling like things are coming together. Life is never going to be perfect. Something will always come up like running extra clothes over to school for my preschooler or bringing over my teenager’s extra pair of glasses because he broke the first pair.

  20. You took a picture of my living room. No, really. Tiny toys here and there, piles of papers, discarded items from throughout the day. Thanks for keeping it real.

  21. Oh its so nice to know that thats what other peoples houses look like too! Thanks so much for this! :)

  22. As a mom of 3 and the youngest two ages 2 and 8 being shaken babies with special needs I totally understand being overwhelmed. I try to keep the sink and counters clean and the living room and bathrooms picked up but if it is a crazey day and someone comes..I try not to feel so bad just laugh and say I am so sorry but we LIVE here….

  23. Thank you for yet another post that coincides with what I’ve been going through! I have the same one step forward two steps back battle with the house as you do and I only have two kids. Recently I realized I’ve been waiting for that magic day in the future when I’d have the house perfectly organized, be at my ideal weight, have our lives perfectly planned and balanced, and in general everything under control. But the reality is that is never, ever going to happen. The house just isn’t going to be the way I think it *should* be nor am I capable of having everything perfectly organized at this point in our lives. I’ve been working hard on letting go of my unrealistic expectations and accepting life as a work in progress so I am able to fully enjoy every moment I can while our kids are young. There will come a day when the house won’t be trashed five minutes after I clean it. Right?

  24. TallyMichelle says:

    Thank you for the picture. I needed that.
    Thank you for you, and your honesty.
    You are a blessing to all of your readers, and I am so thankful that I found your blog right at the beginning!

    Big Hugs from Florida!

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