Housework Depresses Me

I can find enjoyment out pretty much all forms of work. However, housework REALLY depresses me. And I know why. The reason I hate housework so much isn’t because of the work (although, cleaning hair out of the shower plug is the pits). No. The works isn’t the issue; it’s because I can’t seem to finish the job fully: I’m constantly interrupted, I don’t have a solid chunk of time or it’s done for like 6 seconds before I have to do it again.

I’m a goal orientated person and I find not being able to finish a job really frustrating. Oh for an hour to run through the house and get everything done without having to stop, like a million times. It takes 3 times as long and when you get to the end, you’re back to the beginning anyway. You see? It seems so pointless!

I’ve adapted and accepted that, in this stage of parenting, I have to do housework in bits and pieces. Here are some tips I’ve developed over the years to help me manage the never ending, and never quite complete job of housekeeping.

1. Accept

Like in many areas of my life, once I accept the situation I’m in, I find ways to work with what I have rather than fighting it. Before I accepted the reality, I worried that I was a really lazy person and terrible housewife because I struggled to get the housework done. I judged myself on how other people keep their homes and just felt down because I could never get it all done in one sitting. I’m not the best housewife in the world but I do have other qualities I can contribute to the family.

2. Include the Kids

I include the kids in the housework as much as I can (especially when they were little and not yet at school). Instead of seeing it as a hassle (which it really is most of the time — HA!), I look as it as an opportunity to spend quality time with my children, and to teach them. A spray bottle with water and a cloth in the kitchen or bathroom goes a long way to keep the kids occupied and happy.

Activities for preschool children: spray bottle fun and cleaning

3. Music

Playing my favourite music helps motivate me.

4. Batch cleaning

I set realistic time limits when cleaning in batches and this works well for me. The idea is to set myself a 10-15 minute limit and get as much work done as I can in this time. I put on my favourite music and go crazy. CRAZY I tell you! It’s surprising how much you can get done in 10 or 15 minutes when you set your mind to it.

5. Clean as you go

I clean as I go. This means I often vacuum only one room at a time, I wipe over the fridge as I walk past and clean the bathroom sink when I brush my teeth. I’ve given up on getting it all done in one sitting.

6. Miscellaneous basket

housework tips

I sometimes keep a dedicated laundry basket handy to keep miscellaneous items I pick up during the day. The kids can then sort out, and pack them away at the end of the day.

7. Compromise

It’s easy to think of issues in black and white. For example: The kids should clean up after themselves. Sure, that might be good in theory; however, here’s an example or reality at our place: sometimes we come home from school, smash out homework, the kids are desperate to run wild and play, I get busy preparing dinner, and BOOM: I realise we have to get to Basketball practice and so we drop everything and leave. We get home later, eat dinner and I put the kids to bed. The toys are usually left where they are on these days.  Sometimes, I’m uber organised and but honestly, my life rarely fits in a nice neat orderly box.

Things are rarely black and white. My husband is a very relaxed sort of person. I’m not so much. We’ve had to compromise when it comes to managing the house we live in together. I can show love and grace to my husband by not nagging when he leaves his shoes and socks around the house and fails to put his coffee mug in the sink. You know what? I can live with that. In turn, my husband helps with jobs around the house a lot considering how much work he does outside the home: he irons all the clothes, cooks dinner on the weekends and that sort of thing. It’s not uncommon for my husband to get home at 9pm and vacuum the kitchen area.  I’ve never asked  him to, he just helps however he can (love him for that!). When you do things motivated by love for one another, it all works out better. When you live in a home with a lot of other people, you have to compromise.

Although I’m the driver of things at home, it’s not MY home, it’s a family home and I adjust my expectations accordingly.

8. Cleaning tools

housecleaning tips microfibre cleaningI’m a Norwex convert. I’m thrilled with the results I get from microfibre cleaning and it means the only cleaning products I buy are these:

* Disinfectant (for toilet lid, buttons etc.)

* Toilet cleaner (for inside the bowl)

* Dishwashing detergent (for cleaning pots and dishwasher tablets)

* Candles because I like pretty fragrances

* Gumption

* Clothes washing powder

* Bleach (I rarely, rarely use it but I like having it on hand)

It’s wonderful not using too many harsh chemicals for general housecleaning.

9. Regroup Day

I don’t have a dedicated all day cleaning day but I do use Mondays to regroup myself. I rarely oganise outside events on this day but do some cleaning to set the home up for the week.

10. Finding balance

It is a fact that my home doesn’t function very well when it is dissorgaised. But neither does the home run well when I’m nagging everyone to do things all the time. Finding this balance in the family home is something I’m constantly aware of. The best way to find this balance is to treat my family like a team. We all have something to contribute and we make up for others in the family who might be having a bad day. It’s an ever evolving thing that changes and needs constant readjusting.

In the stage I’m in right now, it’s difficult to get even 1 job finished in a sitting. I don’t like it but I’ve come to accept it and find ways to make my situation work for me. I’m sure soon, I’ll have some time on my own where I can follow through, complete tasks on a regular basis and gain satisfaction from that. Until then, I’ll compromise by replacing this question:

“How can I manage a clean, tidy home?”


“How can I care best for my family in the situation we are in?”

How do you do housework with young children around?


A lovely Grandma reader left this gorgeous encouragement on my facebook page. I’ve put it here as a reminder to myself:

“Though some of your days may never seem to be sorted enough, from a grandparent to all mums: those littlies grow up, and present you with their littlies, and some of the stuff we fret about, really is not important. Stop for a cuddle and a giggle; a game, a story. The children are little for such a short time frame; but memories of hugs and giggles together last forever.”

— Lorelie

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  • Reply
    Debra Dane
    August 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Long ago I said i was a stay at home mom but not a housewife and for me the distinction was the fact that I focus more on the child rearing / mom part and accept that I am a crap cleaner / less focus on the house part!

    I do things in bits like you and I could have written your compromise section word for word – everything there is how I operate. Hubby leaves socks on the floor in the bathroom or cereal bowl on the counter. Kids are rushed out the door by me in the middle of an activity leaving mess behind. It is quicker for me to do those things myself rather than nag endlessly. I often overlook bathroom cleaning and hubby will reach breaking point before me and tackle it. I stay on top of laundry and dishes and sweep regularly. Unfortunately I rarely get around to dusting, deep cleaning or sheet changing as much as I “should” LOL

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    How do you do housework with young children around?
    At this point, I don’t do it very well !! Still trying to figure it out with a 4month old and a 2.5yo.
    I often do it when one of the kids is sleeping, so I only have to entertain the other one and less chance of interuption. That is my big thing too – I don’t cope well with getting interupted when doing things (one of the things I have found most challenging about motherhood!!)… one of the thigns I’m wroking on! 🙂
    Thanks for the great post! 🙂

  • Reply
    Courtney @ Nobashake
    August 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I have a cleaning lady that comes every two weeks because I hate cleaning. It is the one thing that really depresses me. She came on Monday and the house was so clean and tidy. It looks like the bomb has already gone off. I find it hard to get motivated. I put 1 thing away the kids pull out 2 so I just leave the toys out, least they dont multiply. I really need to work on this though. It is my goal for the week but clearly I’m not going so well. I really need to work on cleaning as I go, especially in the kitchen. I just hate having the kids under my feet. One hates the vacuum the other tries to hold it and is in the way, so I end up with one on my hip and unable to move it.
    I think I will take your tips on board and try again. x

    • Reply
      August 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm

      Hey there, can so relate to the vacuuming thing, with one kid hating the noise and the other wanting to “help” then just getting in the way. My solution was to get one of the Electrolux Ergorapido’s. It has no cords to worry about and is fairly safe for the kids to use themselves, so when I’m vacuuming, they get to do their rooms themselves, staying out of my way whilst I’m wizzing around.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I do little bits at a time too, although I’ve come to love days when my hubby is home (he works and has uni!) and can either help out a little or look after the kids while I vacuum and mop the WHOLE house. Our home doesn’t function well when it’s disorganised either so I do my best to keep it passable. Just no one look under my son’s chair at the dinner table!

  • Reply
    Kelly Lock
    August 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I have found that my kids do love to help! And once they got to about 4 or 5, the help was actually helpful!! Though before this I have tried to turn their helping into productive chores.

    My 2 year old will dry plastic dishes. My 6 year old and 5 year old will wash plastic dishes and empty the dishwasher. They each get a turn vacuuming their room (while I tidy and put things away) and then I go over it quickly again. I have taught my 13 year old Aspergers son how to clean the toilet, take out the bins, and empty the dishwasher. All my kids put their dirty laundry in a tub in their room and bring it out at the end of the week. Then, for toy tidying, I group the toys into “categories” (depending on where they live) and get the kids to put them away. If the kids are actively helping, they tend not to get more things out while your putting it all away… (though if they find something they want to suddenly play with, they have to put it aside and help clean up everything else first).

    I have given up trying to keep the house looking nice. I just try and keep on top of it. Sigh….

    Having one room that you keep tidy all the time helps… like an adult lounge room, or just concentrating on cleaning the kitchen each day… then when you get depressed, you can go into that room and take a deep breath! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Answer to your question – “How do you do housework with young children around?”….I don’t!! Not the way I’d “like” it to be. It’s not so much about lowering standards, because I still want a clean house, for me it’s letting go of my perfectionist expectations and realising that my home will never feature in Vogue…and that’s ok! My list is pretty much the same as yours…(although I haven’t heard of Norwex. Might check out the link).

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Beautiful blog… well done….

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I clean in batches too ! Not as often as I would like, but if the bathroom is clean and the kitchen is clean, I can be reasonably happy. One thing that really depresses me is clothes on the floor – clean or dirty drives me bananas !!! I decided about two weeks ago, that I wasn’t going to pick up these clothes anymore without being paid for it so we introduced reverse pocket money for Miss 9 and Miss 7 (and Mr 40 something !!). You start off the week with a set amount of money to be given at the end of the week (say $5) and then deduct 20 cents ($20 for Dad) for each item of clothing that needs to be picked up by you from the floor. During the first week Miss 7 lost 1.80 and Miss 9, manged to hang on to the lot ! Neither of them have lost anything this week. Mr 40 something has contributed around $200 to mt girly weekend away account !! I recommend that anyone who has this a major contributor to their housework woes, gives it a try.

    • Reply
      April 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      I love this idea especially for the Mr30 in my household!!!

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    What a sensible post on a topic that sends me a bit batty!

    One of the best things about being a working mum is that three days a week I don’t have to be in my house. And that means my kids aren’t there messing up the place either.

    The worst thing about being a working mum is that I work from home on Fridays and I can never ‘just leave the house’ so I have the most frantic, stressful day trying to do the house and my job at the same time. Ah well.

    Thank god I have really low housekeeping standards! x

  • Reply
    Kate @ Puddles and Gumboots
    August 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I find housework depressing too! Mainly because it feels so pointless, you get everything clean and tidy and then half an hour you can hardly tell lol! I am definitely finding it more challenging to get as many things done as I’d like now that the twins are a lot busier

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I am loving the idea of a miscellaneous basket! Brilliant, I am definitely going to set that system up, starting first thing. Thanks Kelly xx

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    i can so relate to this….

  • Reply
    August 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Love this post, and your 1st section, Accept – beautifully written, Jo

  • Reply
    August 26, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I agree with Lorelie. But the sad thing is, I didn’t accept this when my son was young.

    One of the best things I’ve done for myself recently is to buy one of those cordless vacuum cleaners. It’s on a charger and I grab it, whiz through in five minutes, picking up the chunky bits. It doesn’t get rid of dust, but if I take my glasses off, I can’t see that anyway!

  • Reply
    August 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Yes, yes and yes. Especially to Norwex and music. Cleaning the bathroom is SO much easier now that putting music on is my first step.

  • Reply
    Crystal B
    April 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    My daily battle! It frustrates me that I can’t get the housework done. I have to constantly remind myself that it doesn’t get done because I’m feeding, playing and looking after the kids. Pretty good reasons the house isn’t spotless!

  • Reply
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