Friday, July 16, 2010

On systems, schedules and eternal messes

I have a housekeeping schedule. Its a little loose, and looks something like this:
Monday: Major Pick-up, Bathrooms
Tuesday: Groceries & Errands
Wednesday: Laundry (clothes), Vacuum downstairs, Garbage
Thursday: Dust, Pick a room and clean thouroughly
Friday: Kitchen Floors, Counters, Stove
Saturday: Laundry (non-clothes), Vacuum upstairs & downstairs
Every evening I sweep the kitchen floor (it is desperate for it, EVERY evening) and Brian does the dishes (I don't do dishes. I delegated that to him 6 years ago and he has, lovingly, stuck to it for 6 years).

Confession: I do not follow this schedule. I manage the groceries and errands on Tuesday, I manage the laundry on Wednesday and Saturday. I manage to sweep the floor every evening and nag Brian (when necessary) into doing the dishes. But the rest... I just can't bring myself to do it.

Maybe its just an excuse, but it just feels so darned fultile to try picking up or (heaven forbid) cleaning a room while I have two little people literally following me a round and un-doing everything I try to do. If I try to pick up the kid's DVDs and put them back in their storage bins, Carter will help by removing them, one-by-one, as soon as I've got them in. Same goes for the books on the bookshelf, and the toys in the bins in the family room.
Allison is super-helpful in that the second she's done with something, not matter what it is, she throws it on the floor. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I've told her not to do it, she still does.
I've been reading lots of house-keeping system books lately, trying to get a handle on my house... so that I don't feel like its always a mess. The most recent one suggests that your schedule includes an errand day, a "quiet" chore day (pay bill, balance the check book, make grocery lists and menu plans... that sort of thing), a moderate cleaning day (2-4 hours of cleaning), a heavy cleaning day (4-6 hours) and one free day, where you only do things you want to do.

Really? I only get to do things that I actually WANT to do one day a week? And further more, what am I supposed to do with my kids while I'm busy doing whatever I want? Becuase I can tell you that 1) I don't want my children getting their hands on the things I want to do for me and 2) what I want to spend my day doing and whay my kids want me to spend my day doing are two VASTLY different thing.

And what about those cleaning days? Seriously? How am I supposed to accomplish 2 or more hours or real, actual cleaning when I've got these kids following me around, asking for constant attention, fighting with eachother and whining about being bored, or hungry, or tired. Just exactly when am I supposed to accomplish that? Naptime... doesn't exactly last that long anymore. And I typically use naptime to "treat" myself to a nice, healthy lunch that doesn't consist of food leftover from my kids' lunch plates (and, furthermore, since when was a real meal a treat? At what point in my life did proper nutrition morph from need to privilege?).

So if naptime's out, and I don't want my effort undone immediatly after accomplishing it, so while kids are awake is out. I guess that leaves after the kids bedtime... so I need to spend 2 nights a week cleaning, starting around 7 and ending anywhere between 9 pm and 1 am. Wow. Sounds like exactly how I want to spend my evenings. That was my sarcastic voice, for those who didn't catch it.
Yes, I'm frustrated. Yes, I'm whining. Yes, at this point I'd think I'd prefer to just throw everything we own away so that I don't have to deal with it. But seriously, is there a system that works when you're kids aren't in school? Is there one that doesn't involve spending every spare moment I have without the kids picking up, or cleaning in the endlessly futile battle against the mess? Or is it hopeless? Should I just give up until they're all in school?

15 comments:

The Denney's said...

Oh man, do I hear ya! I have those EXACT thoughts constantly! I don't know the answer, but for now I've just had to deal the conclusion that my house (apartment actually...I can't even imagine a house!!) is going to be a mess no matter what, and even though I might have cleaned for hours that day and no one would be able to notice otherwise, I've just kinda learned to accept it. I've realized, if my house is a mess, but I've played with my kids most of the day and taught them new things, then it was a successful day. On the contrary, if I clean a lot that day but my kids feel "neglected" (even though I never would do so, right?), then by the end of the day I feel bad that I didn't spend as much time with them as I should have. There definitely should be moderation in all things of course and part of that I think, is just knowing the fact that a lot of times, the house will be a disaster. OR, you could just hire a maid everyday. I definitely would be okay with that. :) PLEASE let me know the answer if you ever figure it out! Good luck!

chapfan said...

When Sterling was old enough to do what Carter is doing (pulling everything out as fast as I could put it away) I had to force myself into realizing that there was nothing I could do about kiddo mess. I decided that having the "adult" places clean, like my bed made, the table cleaned off, the laundry put away, and the floor vacuumed, was enough. It had to be because that was all I could get. I would do a quick clean every morning as part of the get ready routine and make the bed, run the vacuum in the main part of the house, wipe down the table and throw the dishes in the dishwasher. Then I could handle the rest. Knowing my house was clean but messy was good enough for me.

Good luck!! You could also have one room in your house you keep kids out of. It seems like you have enough rooms to do that. Then you could go in that room at the end of the day and ignore the toy mess everywhere else...

Rosie said...

Thanks, Sarah. :) The kids do stay out of my craft room... problem is thats not particularly clean & organized either. I feel guilty doing that room when the main living areas need attention. I would really like to keep the kids out of the living room... maybe I should be thinking about putting a 2nd TV and their movies in the play room. We'll see what kind of space we have after Allison's birthday gift gets in there... although a wall-mounted flat screen takes no space at all... and I have a little cubpoard that could hold their movies... hmmm... food for thought. Thanks for telling me that its okay to give up on the constant kid cluttery mess. :)

Steph said...

I've given up on perfect....
but decluttering helped SO much. Fewer toys= less pickup. Fewer clothes= less laundry pileup. Fewer dishes means there is no way I can let them sit for more than one meal. Yes, I do still end up with stuff all over, but I can pick it all up in ten minutes time. And I do that about three times a day but then it's done.

One trick: I clean the bathroom while the kids take their bath. I have to be in there anyway so I may as well.

Oh and get out more, then they can't be in the house to mess it up :P That's my favorite method. Good luck and don't stress too much.

Jamie said...

haha - can I cut and paste this post to my blog - because I could have written it! For sure. I think it is definetly a huge adjust ment going from an apartment(that I struggled to keep clean) to a whole house to clean. I have NO solution for you. (Although I also clean the bathroom while my kids take a bath).

cathi6 said...

Rosie, just relax and realize your house is not just your house anymore! It's your kids playland, playground, school, art easel, dance academy, and wonderland! No, it will never be clean again, yes you will have to do laundry, sweep floors, clean crayons off shirts, and clean up spilt milk every day for years and years to come. Just accept it, and be thankful you have those babies. They grow up really really really fast, and then their messes are bigger, more emotional, much much more stressful and you can't always clean them up. Enjoy the ride, girl, cuz there's no way out of it! Yes it's stressful, yes it's thankless, yes it's monotonous, no it's not fun, and yes, you will find a method to the madness, but it the meantime, it's refining you and making you who you're supposed to be. I've been there, still am there! Choose your priorities, choose your battles and just go with the flow!!! Good luck! You're not alone!!!! Every mother in the world understands your frustration!!!

Rosie said...

The question is, Cathi, will I come out of this as organized, with as beautiful of a home and as great of kids as you? Or will I just go crazy? :)

Rosie said...

Cleaning the bathroom while the kids bathe is a good idea... wonder if I could get Brian to do that... he's the bath man around here. :)

Ashleigh said...

I like the whole "keep the adult areas clean and forget the rest" idea. I wouldn't stress too much about keeping things clean, otherwise you end up like me who is OCD and tends to neglect her kids in order to have things looking tidy. It's not the way to go. I'm trying to do better by letting them have their specific areas of the house that they can destroy and I have them help me tidy up before bed.

As far as keeping things clean, I tidy things more than I deep clean. That way, the house FEELS like it's clean, and I haven't killed myself over it. Then when Saturday comes around, I pick a couple of the deeper clean things to do and tackle them when I can. It means that my toilets are not constantly scrubbed, and my floors have dirty spots, but eventually I will get to them when I want to.

Kari said...

I am feeling much the same. It takes FOREVER to clean a whole house! What I do, is make the girls help clean up their rooms before bed. During the day, Bailey helps me clean. She puts the silverware away, and even fold laundry. I know Allie isn't as old as Bailey, but I bet she can do some of those things too. Then, at night, I try to do a quick clean of everything... but only if I'm not too tired. And my house definitely isn't always clean!

Rosie said...

Allison is pretty good about trying to keep things in order in her room... it helps that we don't allow toys in their rooms (we found that it interfered with her sleep too much once she was out of the crib), but she can put her dirty clothes in the hamper and she tries to make her bed (and I try to not redo it!). I've been thinking about what Allison can do to help... we need to be better about having the kids clean up the toys in the play room before bed. Being three next week, I'm sure there are some chores that I can start assigning to Allison. I'll have to poke aroud and figure out what I think is age appropriate for her.
I also think it might be time to introduce the Gunny Sack around here... that was the clutter-eater at my house growing up for a while. If you leave it out and the Gunny Sack gets it, you lose it for a week... or you have to pay to get it back. That might help in a few months, if I can start getting the kids in the habit of picking up themselves, and not just leaving it for mom and dad. :)

Mom T. said...

Can I wax philosophical/spiritual? There is so much in life that is repetitious that isn't fun. But do we give it all up when it gets hard. Well, maybe sometimes. The question to ask, though, is WHY are there so many mundane things that are like that?I really think Heavenly FAther has something for us to learn from wiping up spills, putting things away, cleaning the bathroom...over and over and over again. So you might want to think about what He wants you to learn from it, then pray to be happy in doing the everyday things that SERVE your family.

My goal when the kids were little:
I had 5 daily basics--dishes, bed, sweep, pick up, and the bathroom or laundry, but not both in the same day. Then I had a goal of doing 2 other cleaning things during the week. That's it.

Rosie said...

its not so much the doing of the work, or the serving or even the redundancy and mundaneness (is that a word) thats getting to me. That, I can handle. Its the frustration and the discouragement and the feeling of failure and feeling so incapable of doing the things I should be doing (and that, darn it, are THAT hard without all my helpers) that gets me down and makes me crazy. I certainly don't think I'd mind cleaning the bathrooms every Monday. I do mind feeling like a house-keeping failure (which makes me sad and cranky) becuase I can never manage to get the bathrooms clean...
I probably need to lighten up on myself.

Mom T. said...

I know you're not a morning person, but I am, and that was something I took advantage of. I'd sometimes get up earlier than the mess makers and clean, say, a bathroom (1 spray bottle with bleach water and 2 rags)in quick speed mode in about 15 minutes. Or unload the dishwasher. Any of the things that kids undo as fast as they do them. But, remember, this too shall pass. It seems like a really, really long time from your perspective, but believe me, the day WILL come when you can clean to your heart's content or your house's need and not have it destroyed immediately. don't be so hard on yourself. If you keep the public areas picked up and the toilet clean just before they get there, then guests will never know if it's been a month since you washed the sheets. Enjoy your kids. And if we come to visit, I'll help with kids or cleaning or both. Love you, Rosie!

Rosie said...

thanks mom. :) Are you thinking of visiting? We certainly love to have you come, and you know our kids love grandparents. And my last comment was supposed to say that the things were NOT that hard without my helpers. I'm hoping that I can find a good groove in the fall... Allison will be in Joy School this fall, so most weeks I'll have less help for 4 or 5 hours. And, luckily, Brian does all the dishwasher unloading for me, and does help me a lot. He's a keeper.