Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dire Straits



Just when one part of your life starts taking off and requires more of your time and energy it's only natural that another part falls by the wayside. In this case, it's the household stuff. I knew we were heading for a kind of chaos that I wouldn't be entirely comfortable with but experiencing it is something different. It's been brewing for a few months and now it's overwhelming and I actually don't know where to start. 

All I seem to be able to do is maintain the status quo and do the bare necessities which is making sure everyone's clothes are clean and that there is enough food in the house. Thismorning I had to use the milk leftover in someone's cereal bowl for my morning coffee because we had run out of milk. I then had to text Daniel to see if Flynn had even had breakfast - it was so chaotic this morning I really couldn't remember - to which he responded "yep, Eleanor gave him Weet Bix". Not good on so many levels. 

I walked through the house and tried to prioritise what needed to be done but I got overwhelmed and made a cup of tea instead and then wasted time staring into space despairing about the situation. Every room is a shambles that needs both tidying, organising and cleaning.  Do I scrape the chicken poo off the balcony or mop the floors inside? Do I clean the bathrooms or pay overdue bills? The plague of millipedes is getting on my nerves and if I find one more wet towel on the floor things are going to get ugly. I'm tired and cranky and was honestly so tempted to throw the saucepan with its 2 day old porridge stuck on the bottom through the kitchen window but opted for the bin instead. 

I need to move Flynn back to his room. He is still sleeping in the walk-in wardrobe. We moved him there to free up a room for visitors over Christmas and he is still there 2 months later. But to do that I need to clean out the spare room which has now become the dumping ground for everything including the humungous pile of clean clothes that need to be folded. I need to buy groceries but the fridge needs a clean out first. Lightbulbs need to be changed and the vacuum cleaner is broken again. The stench from the grease trap has reached epic stinking proportions and permeating into the kitchen and if I was more organised I wouldn't be getting overdue fines from the local library. I made a start on household administration but got overwhelmed again because the end-of-bench clutter has sprawled into the cupboards underneath. Yet again!

Someone unfollowed me on Instagram and I'm still upset about it. A total stranger. Goodness me, why the angst? 

Flynn had his 12 month vaccinations and I couldn't find his little blue record book which meant I had to spend hours looking for it later on and then had to make another trip to the GP just so they could fill in the blanks.  More precious hours wasted because of my disorganisation. I still haven't had a chance to go through the pile of workbooks the Kids brought home at the end of school 2 MONTHS AGO and my in-laws are still waiting on me to send through the end of year school reports. I couldn't locate them when they were visiting over Christmas because I AM SO DISORGANISED. 

I went outside to assess the neglect. It's a jungle out there too. The Veggie garden needs attention as do my eyebrows. And if I find one more pair of white socks left in the dirt next to the trampoline I'll scream. I went around the side of the house and saw the Christmas tree, laying prostrate, half dead on the ground next to the bigger pot it was meant to be repotted into 2 MONTHS AGO!!!! 

Where are those violins.

I need help. I don't have any help. I like to fix problems. A cleaner would be a good start but I can't afford one until I'm working. We are working on getting me working which is just contributing to the chaos further. Catch 22. Until then, it's just Daniel and I. No cleaner, no gardener, no personal assistant, butler or chef. No Grandparents to mind the Kids for just an hour so I can collect my thoughts uninterrupted and work out a plan of attack. Instead I just make the most of my day-time with Flynn, going for strolls along the beach or to the park, but the mess piling up home is starting to bug me. This is where I'd be telling a friend to 'go gently', 'be kind to yourself', 'don't worry', 'take some time out'. But that will not fix any of this mess will it? I have to do it myself. I could spend time getting on top of things in the evening when the Kids are in bed but by then I'm so fatigued. I do some knitting to relax when I probably should be sleeping. Right now I'd rather be tired and grumpy from staying up too late knitting than tired and grumpy from not being able to engage in a few things I enjoy. To me it makes sense on some weird level. 

I'm writing this Post for no other reason than the fact this may all be distant memory down the track and I don't ever want my children to think it was all smooth sailing navigating this particular period of my life with 5 young children, a big development on the horizon and no help. We are doing our best, trying to stay positive and focussing on the wonderful things amidst the chaos. I spend my time enjoying Flynn and the other Kids when they get home from school and have been generally able to ignore the mess up until now. I'll get on top of things eventually but right now I'm dropping balls all over the place. I accept it will be dire straits for a few months. 

I really dislike these types of Posts but I need some sound advice. Or even just a hug. 

74 comments :

  1. Gah! I wrote a big long comment and it disappeared! I feel the same most of the time (and I do have a cleaner!!). Have you tried setting yourself just a few achievable goals for the day? I love crossing things off lists. If you have three things you have done each day you might start to feel more on top of things. Or can you get the kids involved (I know, ha ha ha!). I haven't tried but it sounds kind of fun to set a timer and race the clock to tidy for 10 or 15 minutes. Or put on some boppy music and get everyone folding washing or picking stuff up off the floor. Flylady (crazy internet organising lady) says you can do anything for 15 minutes. Then rinse and repeat. Hugs. Cups of tea are important too xx (jillianbeans from instagram)

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    1. Hi Jill, yes the Kids help out a lot, they're pretty great with that. There's still so much more that has to be done though........I'm curious about this 15 minute thing, will check it out thanks! x

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  2. Hugs Hugs Hugs and a cup of tea too. Been where you are, 1 less child and no major development, but also no help. You know the answers, go slowly, be kind to yourself, take time out to knit, do 1 thing for 15 minutes each day. And remember in the words of my very wise son, stay strong, this too will pass.
    Hugs hugs
    gotta go the bus stop alarm is going off time to collect

    cheers Kate

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    1. Thanks Kate! Yes, I know what needs to be done, just a bit frustrating right now, I'll get there! x

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  3. Oh Mel{{{}}} Well if anyone's going to get the sheer overwhelmness of a large family's 'stuff' it's me, oh I get it{{}}
    Right time to roll up your sleeves, only so long we can live like this before we go insane. I recommend going for the 'one room at a time' approach, pick a room; two choices here, you could start with the lest messiest room in the house, or you could start with the room that is bugging you the most. Advantage of lest messiest is you sooner have the sense of satisfaction that you have completed one room, ta da! Advantage of the room bugging you the most (and I suspect it is the kitchen or Flynn's room) is an enormous sense of achievement and sanity peeks out.

    Now commit to doing that tomorrow (too late today). Sure I know some say a bench at a time per day etc but those websites aren't living with 7 people and all that entails. It could take you all day in between chasing Flynn, answering phone, school runs etc but one room at a time.

    At this stage I wouldn't do a deep sort through all paper piles and de-clutter drawers clean, that't for later. For now it's visual clutter, organisation will flow from that.

    Jill's got some great ideas, if including the kids. and Kate's right, do nurture yourself too.
    Barracking for you and wishing I was there I'd come and help, playing house at someone else's is always more fun than mine.
    You can do this{{}} be sure to come back and let us know how you got on.

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    1. I nurture myself a bit too much really, most of the day is spent enjoying my time with the Kids, evenings I do things I enjoy too. I know how important that is. I think you're right though, I'm trying to do a total de-clutter rather than just a superficial clean and tidy when all I have time for is the superficial clean and tidy! I'm going to take your advice and tackle one room at a time on a bigger level, even if it takes a week or more...thanks Erin x

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  4. Hang in there sister!
    Can I share my rule of five? When overwhelmed, I just force myself to do five things. Pick up five socks, put five things on the kitchen bench away or fold five items of clothes.
    If I have the energy after that, I do another five. …. If not, I have a cup of tea and try again later…Rinse repeat..
    I find that chunking the chaos into small manageable pieces like this really helps. And I see nothing wrong with breakfast milk in coffee xxxx

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    1. Well this is quite helpful - I tend to go from room to room often doing just 1 thing before moving onto the next, 5 things is much better! Thanks Minerva x

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  5. oh that sad little tree! ah mel, i am going to knit a magic carpet and fly over to help! hang in there mama, it won't always be dire straights!

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    1. RIP Christmas Tree :-( Just the thought of you knitting a magic carpet makes me happy, you're a gem Lori x

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  6. Oh Mel please don't beat yourself up, we've all been there! Start small ... something I used to do when things were getting on top of me when the children were little was, I would give each child a carrier bag, set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes and tell them to go round the house picking up rubbish (you may have to go through their bags!). You do it too to set an example and turn it into a game. You'd be amazed at what a difference this actually makes! I agree with Minerva. Small manageable pieces.

    My sister had a fridge magnet many years ago ... "cleaning the house when the kids ae still growing, is like shovelling snow, when it's still snowing" ... how true ...

    Have a lovely day

    Love Claire xxx

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    1. Best quote ever Claire! I have not heard that one, but I generally don't too much while Flynn is awake for that very reason. Thanks Claire x

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  7. Hello Mel,
    Well, we cannot pretend to understand completely what you are experiencing at the moment. We have never had children and we are fortunate to have help in the house. We feel we need it and there are just the two of us. But, whatever, you must not be hard upon yourself. Just by listing the things to be done it is clear you are conscious of what the failings are but you are not giving yourself credit for the positives of happy, healthy, busy children going about their lives with confidence. Now that is really something to have achieved.

    Whenever there have been big issues to face in our lives, we have found the best approach to be to attack things a little at a time and to afford oneself little treats when something is achieved or accomplished. So, try not to be outfaced by everything which is demanding your attention, but do something which at the end of the day you will be able to say you have finished. And then the treat of blogging, knitting or lying comatose on the sofa can come into play.

    Life is too short to worry about stray socks......let them go barefoot.......!!

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    1. Wise words Jane and Lance, I'm really taking the following part of your comment on board - "not giving yourself credit for the positives of happy, healthy, busy children going about their lives with confidence. Now that is really something to have achieved". So easy to forget when you're in the thick of it all, thank you!

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  8. I have nothing to suggest except gin and valium, and maybe setting yourself one achievable goal each day. It will pass.

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    1. Hi Sue :-) Yes, just one thing at a time instead of trying to accomplish 20 things at once! x

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  9. Big virtual hug!.

    Pick one spot, any spot really, and clean that. Then you feel better for having accomplished something! Even if its just the dishes....

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    1. This is the thing, I am actually accomplishing a lot during the day but it's just maintaining the status quo, so I'll do the dishes from breakfast and then it's time to do lunch and clean up after lunch and then it's time to do dinner and I clean up after dinner - no time left over to getting to other things that have been piling up. But I will add 1 of the things on the 'extras' list each day and deal with that too.....thanks! x

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  10. Hi Mel, I have a very different life from yours, ...but how about writing a big long list and giving yourself a month (or whatever) to complete it. That way you may feel more in control?...but not overwhelmed by what you think you need to do today? Anyway...that's something I do when I feel like every part of my life is messy and out of control. A friend of mine has a great trick. She chooses the things she is going to accomplish (or tick of her list) on any given day. But she always chooses the bare minimum. Then, when she does more she says she feels like an over achiever! :) Good luck! I hope you feel less overwhelmed soon...

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    1. I don't have a list at the moment and so I just try to get done as much as possible but therein lies the problem - no list and therefore no plan. I'll do a list tomorrow and give myself plenty of time to do each room, thanks Jill x

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  11. You are not alone! Heaps of us get ourselves into the same position but many don't talk about it.
    You'll get on top of it all eventually but in the meantime BIG MASSIVE HUGS X

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  12. Hey Mel, give yourself a break. You have 5 little ones and are running a household and farm. Frankly, I think you're doing a damn good job. You should have seen me a few months ago, with a colicky newborn, 3yo with attitude and trying to do 2 casual jobs (with no school, childcare or assistance to give me a break other than hubby who is great), keep the house immaculate and garden looking good (when everything was growing so fast you could virtually sit and watch it) - it was a bit scary.
    Everyone was telling me to just relax and let things drop but I just couldn't, that was just going to make things worse for me.
    I'm a bit of a control and organisational freak and with a 4 month old, 3 year old, 3 jobs (currently on maternity leave with the primary one but I don't get maternity leave with the other 2 casual ones), hubby who is often away and animals, house and garden to care for, I try run things according to routine and a schedule. It works for me and allows me to keep on top of things (except for when newborns come along!).
    I'm happy to give you some advice and a few packs of Tim Tams, if you wish. Or just Tim Tams and you can chuck the advice! :)
    I can email you some advice if you wish (I don't want to bombard you with advice if you just want Tim Tams), even physically give you some assistance or drop you off some Tim Tams xxx

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    1. We are hard on ourselves aren't we?! Thanks Stella, will e-mail you x

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  13. Oh, been there. Sending a hug. I always feel better after I clean ONE surface. One that you see a lot, like the kitchen/dining table, or the kitchen bench. Since I gave the kitchen bench a good declutter my life has improved in massive, unexpected ways. And not only that, but I get to admire it when I'm sitting down with a cup of tea in the living room :-)
    Pick one surface a day (or the same one everyday!) and do what you can, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Save some energy to love your kiddos and do something nice for yourself and know that one day things will be a bit easier.
    From someone whose daughter went to school in very damp (but clean!) socks the other day .. she couldn't even find some pre-worn ones ... but hey, at least my kitchen bench was clear ... ish.
    Take care xx

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  14. Oh, been there. Sending a hug. I always feel better after I clean ONE surface. One that you see a lot, like the kitchen/dining table, or the kitchen bench. Since I gave the kitchen bench a good declutter my life has improved in massive, unexpected ways. And not only that, but I get to admire it when I'm sitting down with a cup of tea in the living room :-)
    Pick one surface a day (or the same one everyday!) and do what you can, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Save some energy to love your kiddos and do something nice for yourself and know that one day things will be a bit easier.
    From someone whose daughter went to school in very damp (but clean!) socks the other day .. she couldn't even find some pre-worn ones ... but hey, at least my kitchen bench was clear ... ish.
    Take care xx

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    1. Thanks Fiona! I try to have one 'sacred' surface too, it does make a difference. I think my problem is I suddenly want every surface to be clean and tidy when that is completely unrealistic right now....x

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  15. I was once told, when "stuff" was overwhelming me, that it was only a phase. Have "possibilities" not plans, which meant I didn't feel I'd failed if I didn't do something. Maybe a list, breaking it down in to really small manageable bits would help? It always gives me a sense of achievement when I put a line through one thing. I also include crochet and card making time on the list. Good luck x

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    1. I'm doing a list first thing tomorrow, and will take your advice and add lots of little things that I can cross out, thank Sara x

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  16. Oh Mel, I am sending a washing basket full of hugs. It is good to write these kind of posts from time to time, very cleansing I find, and when you read it again later, you maybe feel better already because it cannot possibly be as bleak as you experienced it the time of writing, yes?

    I am not exactly a good example to live by, two many children and pets (not to mention the husband) but I find that it is the little achievements that make me happy. I know this sounds mad but I like my cooker to be shiny. I look at it, all glistening in the rare sun light, ignoring the clutter and dirt all around it and I feel good. Focusing on the small achievements helps me to ignore the bigger mess. It is just mess after all, the kids are fine and happy.
    I am a bit of a bossy boot, too. Each child has chores and I am relentlessly nagging them to do those. Sam takes James swimming and deals with all the recycling (he is 13). Annie keeps the spare room, which we all use as a dumping ground and TV watching place, tidy and clean-ish (she is 10) and she is in charge of weekend breakfast for the children. Both older kids take turns taking the little ones to be, including bath and story time. This frees up time for me to tend to me shiny hob..... James and Alistair help to clear the table (they are 6 and 5) and pick their dirty clothes up. The older ones get pocket money for helping. The little ones get hugs. Richard gets nothing but my love but and deals with garbage and compost, the garden, my occasional nervous breakdowns and everything else that I refuse to do, particular emptying the dishwasher.

    Having said all that, I am now going to Ikea for a spot of browsing, leaving 24 unpaired socks and the dust balls in the corners behind.

    Keep yer heid up hen (as a "we" would say in Scotland). Cx

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    1. taking the little ones to bed I mean of course! Oh, and it helps to keep the children's bedroom doors shut, the smell of the wet towels, dirty pants and the shocking mess remain inside.

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    2. You're right! I hesitated publishing this as it's really not my style to focus on the negative, but it really has helped and I appreciate all of the wonderful comments. Obviously I'm used to a fair amount of mess and chaos, no problem, as you say the Kids are happy and healthy but the last few weeks has been a bit insane. But you and your shiny hob, that has made my night! Thanks Christina x

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  17. Oh Mel I hope all these comments help you feel you're not alone! I feel very overwhelmed right now as we came back from holiday to school and work the following day and the dirty washing pile has reached epic proportions! I have no help, paid or family either although I have fewer children. I'm sitting here reading blogs as a way of escaping what I really should be doing on my 1 day off, I don't know where to start.
    Sending lots of hugs to you, you're doing a fab job really - the chores can wait.
    My default mechanism is probably a neat freak, a bit ocd, but living with 3 messy boys (husband included in that) and one hoarder girl I'm on a losing streak - you spend heaps of time with your kids & take time out for cups of tea - it's the right way to go.
    Lots of love to you
    x

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    1. Yes, very helpful, I was feeling like I should be on top of things a bit more. Thanks so much Jay x

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  18. Get a grip woman - as someone recently said to my mother (big mistake for so many reasons!). Send Daniel out for the day with all the children or you go and leave him to tidy. Whizz round in a concentrated manner clearing up - don't worry about the cleaning (because that's a never ending job), just clear the space and put everything away. It will make a big difference.
    I coped by not sweeping the childrens' bedrooms if I couldn't see the floor, which cut down on sweeping immensely and by shutting doors and pretending it was all beautifully clean and tidy behind the door. Oh, once I did shut myself into the cupboard under the stairs and had a bit of a shout. Might work for you if you have a large cupboard. I felt much better afterwards. Good luck Mel.

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    1. Get a grip indeed. Just listen to me! There seems to be more 'shuffling' about than putting away so will get onto it. And closing the doors is an excellent tip, my Grandma said she used to do that :-) Thanks Anne x

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  19. Jeez love. Inside your head looks a lot like inside my head at the moment. Sometimes all of these things exist but don't bother me so much. Other times, like now, Anderson specially when I'm sleep deprived I feel like I'm going crazy with it all...and now this freakin iPad and it's autocorrect is going to tip me over the edge!! My only suggestion is wine (and one of these days I'm going to jump on a plane and come and have a wine / whine with you). Rachel xoxo

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    1. Agree, most of the time this stuff doesn't phase me but sometime, like now, it does. The Christmas Tree tipped me over the edge today and prompted me to write this Post while Flynn was napping instead of getting stuck into fixing the situation. One day we will share a wine and a whine, that would be so fun! x

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  20. Big hugs to you Mel. My only advice, write a list and always do 2 things of the list every day. If you are able to do more than that in a day what an accomplishment, if not at least you've achieved your goal.
    I understand your feelings of overwhelming chaos. I'd love someone to come into my house, tidy and organise everything so i could start from scratch again!!! xxx

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  21. Hang in there! From the piles of comments I hope you can see you're not the only one. I can only add the 5-minute clean sometimes helps me feel on top just a little more... I enter a room (sons in tow) with a laundry bin, set a timer for five minutes, and spend the time picking up as much as I can, throwing things that don't belong into the bin, until the timer goes off. I continue on with my day and the unavoidable (making food, doing dishes) until I have another five minutes. At the end of the day the 5 minutes tend to add up... Good luck!

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  22. I'm so glad you wrote this post. Firstly: give yourself a break. You have five kids!!! Now, write a list, a long one. It will make you feel like you have some control over the situation and I suspect it's the lack of control that's annoying you more than anything. (And do what I do and make the first thing on the list something you've already done like "start list", then you can tick that one off already!) Then, tackle a little bit each day. Just spend half an hour or an hour each day on one task, you'll get round to them all eventually, the ones that matter anyway. I know how you feel. Hang in there, everyone knows you are superwoman but you. xx

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  23. Hey Mel,

    I've been thinking about you and this post all day. It would seem that you've had a lot of sound advice and support already, but here is my penny worth. First take a breath. And stop beating yourself up. You sound overwhelmed, and I'm not surprised. Us women have a habit of taking more and more upon ourselves, and then beat ourselves up when it feels like it's all crashing around our feet.
    It's not. Lists are good. I believe in the power of a list. A good list clears your head. Then have a cup of tea. Then make a deal with yourself to tackle a few things each day. Enlist the help of the kids maybe, for things like their room. All the things that really matter to you and your home and family will get done and the rest you will see just ain't that important. Stop beating yourself up, lovely girl. Now go and have that cup of tea ;)
    With much love,

    Leanne xx

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  24. I don't have advice because I don't have any help either. But I have only two children and I'm sure that makes a huge difference. I'm not going to offer platitudes because I probably wouldn't want to hear them either. But you're in my thoughts and I hope things settle down for you soon. Hugs.

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  25. oh Mel big hugs to you. Take a deep breath and all the advice on board and you will just sail through.
    It's just a mini crisis, and no wonder with all that is going on around you.
    I have no other advice to add as I am the procrastinator queen and still trying to prod myself to tackle tasks I put off months/years ago. Just give yourself a pat on the back and be assured that you're doing a pretty good job under the circumstances!! cheers Wendy

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  26. .... and also love your wit and imagery. The baby in the wardrobe and the vegie garden and the eybrows!

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  27. In terms of priority for those short, focussed assaults on the mess - is there an actual health hazard out there? No? - excellent. It's not all that bad then, is it now! Absolutely infuriating, but not dangerous. Yes? Well, there you are, a good place to start. Top rank - health hazard to you (lynch pin of the family, Mums cannot afford to be ill), second rank - health hazard to Flynn who is at home a lot more than the others, third rank - health hazard to the sturdier members of the family. Anything other than health hazards, I agree with the choose 1 thing that makes you feel happier first option, and then focus on the other things in short sharp bursts with appropriate chocolate breaks. Are your older kids still young enough to pay them with popcorn points for doing extra jobs(popping corn kernels they can earn and save up in a jar to cook/eat on a Friday night)? As for the ex-white socks by the trampoline problem - do they need them for school / are they in fashion over there at the mo? If not, your world can change (and your laundry halve) if you only have coloured clothing/linen in the house. Good luck!

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  28. But you are being productive, you knit at night! I crash in front of the telly and I only have 2 kids. Well done You!

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  29. Mel let's workshop this over wine at lunch next week & organise a time when your children can come to mine so you can have a window of much needed opportunity! I'd love to help out as I totally recognise your frustration! Rx

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  30. book eyebrow appointment immediately!!.....the rest will flow from there!!!....lol hang in there kiddo. It is only mess after all. Al x

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  31. ah - so familiar! I got a cleaner! :)

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  32. Okay I feel the same way however I don't have the hubby or the 3 extra kids to look after. I need to sort and tidy but every room, every surface, even the hallway has stuff everywhere and I just don't know which way to look. I did laugh about the school books from last year because I had two piles (James were in the laundry) which we stepped over every day of the 8 week school holidays and Sienna's which are in the dining room on the floor which are still there. Once the kids went back to school I went through the pile in the laundry because lets face it, we couldn't even get in there and it's only a small room so the books got done about 10 weeks after they were put there so don't feel bad. The problem is with things that may only take an hour .......get put off because we can always do it later but something that is big maybe cleaning the whole garage which might take a day has to get scheduled. I feel the same way as you do now and I'm feeling very over whelmed at where to start given everywhere I look it feels the same. HANG IN THERE THIS IS REAL LIFE!!!!

    www.oureverydaylifeinpictures.blogspot.com
    www.oursimpleandmeaningfullife.blogspot.com

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  33. Hugging you from here, Mel. It's awful when the house takes on a life of its own. Start small. Maybe moving Flynn out if the cupboard? :) x

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  34. Thinking of you Mel and sending hugs your way. Can you organise for the bigger kids to all have sleep overs at different friends all on the same weekend? That way with just Flynn at home you might get a bit more done. Either that or put all the kids to work and live with the fact that when they fold their clothes it will not be done like you would but it will be done.

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  35. Hello. I'm late to the party as always. I know the feeling, and you're okay feeling overwhelmed. Can you afford a cleaner? That's what I'd be looking into ... get the cleaner in once-a-week or once-a-fortnight to do the basics ... bathroom, vacuum, mop the kitchen, dust ... that will make you feel better because she'll (and they're generally women) do the stuff that's dirty, freeing you up to tackle the bigger mess over a longer period. And when things start to look clean, then you'll have more energy. CHUCK STUFF OUT!!! I have slowly been culling or boxing things in plastic crates and that's made my life a lot better. Also, don't set yourself up for failure ... why have you still got the damn Christmas tree?! CHUCK IT OUT!! Next year when you're on top of things, get another tree and pot it in a big pot then so you can keep it. Finally, with five kids it's never going to be magazine perfect. Sad, I know. But that's how it is. xo

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  36. Hi Mel! I've only just caught up with you. I hear you big time. My life is a series of lists. It does help me to feel a bit more in control. If it's on my list there's a chance I'll do it! I am not naturally terribly organised sadly. Those genes went to my sister" I remember when I had just the four kids someone said to me ' you must be so organised!' It was such a funny moment because I thought to myself ' that's where I'm going wrong!' It really hadn't occurred to me. Anyway love the milk story and the Flynn brekkie story. I had to ring Matt and ask if Toby had had breakfast before he went to school the other day because he said he was hungry and he 'hadn't had much'. Only a piece of toast it turned out. Again not really good enough. Anyway again. I always have a list on the go. Write a few things at the top that you've already done. Then you can cross them off! Gets you off to a good start. I really shouldn't be giving advice. My house is falling apart all around me. My admin basket untouched for weeks. Harry was going over his phone allowance big time for months before I noticed. Unopened bills. The boys music lessons from last term have yet to be paid. And it goes on and on and on. I started work part time in November and I'm really struggling. Lack of help, time, money and a big family is bloody hard. I think you are doing a fabulous job with those children and everything you have to do. They always look so happy and I lOve that you take time out for Flynn. Toby is at school now and I so regret, and knew I would, the time I spent doing and folding laundry when I should have been with him. It's just not worth it. The children won't remember a clean and perfect house but they will remember time spent with their mum. Big big hugs to you. Just look at that view and take some deep breaths! And socks by the trampoline Oh. my. God!! Xxxx Sarah

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  37. Also I agree with the 15 minute timer thing for any job you don't really want to do and are putting off. Having the list helps you delegate. Something else I'm pretty rubbish at. Some of the kids are better at helping than others but they all have their family task to do. I know yours help too. The more they do it. The better they get at it. You should see my unpaired sock basket! At half term Jem and I had a wedding ceremony for 64 pairs. Scary thing is that's only a pair of socks for each of us for 8 days! Xxx

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  38. Hi Mel, being a solo parent five days a week until recently (yay!!), I can completely relate! I only have two girls but at times our house resembled what you described in this post. I have read about a strategy called 'take 5' where at any time of the day if you or hubby call our "Take 5" everyone must stop what they're doing and pick up and put away 5 things. Of course you can increase this number if you need ;-)
    I too feel overwhelmed with my house at times and some days our clothes form more of a 'floordrobe' than a wardrobe but I find tackling one room at a time helps. Write lists and goals for each day or week and slowly work towards them rather than wanting an instant fix which is less achievable. Good luck, know you are not alone and sending a big virtual hug your way x Dre

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  39. Oh my gosh, come over here and have a huge hug!!! I don't know how you do it with five kids! I have two and lose it on a regular basis. I can totally relate to this post - I know how you feel. My house is a constant mess and I just can't seem to get on top of things. I wish I was laid back enough to just ignore the piles of washing and cluttered counters (and floors, and furniture) but it really does mess with my head. This year I've given myself smaller goals. Instead of trying to tidy the entire house while the baby sleeps, I tackle just one space (not even an entire room, just a space) and it usually helps clear and head and cheer me up. Big big hugs, Col x

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  40. Oh Mel, I was in transit when you wrote this post and could not contemplate replying on my phone. Now that I am home amidst the chaos can I say that I could have written this exact post over these exact issues any given week.
    While I only have two children I also work two ten hour days a week and alternate Saturday mornings. There is simply not enough time to get everything done and I too spend all day dealing with the immediate and never making a dent in the chaos that undermines everything else which causes endless frustration as I can never find that sock/school application/tax return/spare pen when I need it. I am however, very stubborn and now that they are both at school and I have some time I am determined to get it sorted. I am setting the timer in 15 minute bursts to tackle the things that never get done because I am doing all the things that must get done this minute. And it does actually help a bit. My advice is scrounge whatever you can for a cleaner and think very carefully about going back to work. While I love my job and it has kept me sane through several very challenging parenting years, in my case it means compressing everything else into simply less time and more responsibility and organisation. It took me six years of working part time before I felt I could justify a cleaner (ridiculous in hindsight) and that has helped enormously but there is still all the washing/folding/cooking/shopping/organisational stuff and as you know it takes A LOT of time. Anyway, must go and tackle my 15 mins before school pick up whizzes around. You are a total legend just being a mum of five kids, including a toddler. My stepmother recently told me she regrets that she did not play more with my half brother and sister as she was too busy keeping the house clean, I was really surprised that she shared this with me, perhaps to make me feel better about my messy house! mel x

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  41. look at all those wonderful comments Mel. So many people hear you, jeez I certainly hear you lovely.
    How about we say poo to everything that needs to be done, go for a swim and then coffee. (Which would be so lengthy it would probably turn into a wine.) Yep. I'd love to do that.
    ps. I was admiring a massive cobweb on a lamp before- I took comfort in the fact my flat looks a little like the Adams Family rather than sorting it out.

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  42. I can give no advice about balancing children, housework and your own needs as a person. However, I can give you a virtual hug! HUG! xx

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  43. Oh dear Mel here is your hug xxxx your not alone! I am a nanny of 2 lovely grandsons am
    and have been there where you are so many times! I totally sympathise,so many of us girls out there pressure ourselves with what we should be and how we should be acting,but the fact remains your human,not a machine, you have up days and down days, pull back and nurture yourself for a while, if you feel like its hanging on to long go chat to your fave doc or alternate therapist. nourish yourself with green smoothies(helps me)listen to your fave music and keep talking to the women in your life,hang in there love Elaine xxxx

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  44. Oh sweet girl, I have no advice for you that someone else hasnt already given or you already know, but I have hugs for you - shitloads of them. Big virtual squishy hugs xx

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  45. Jeepers it's getting crowded in this boat we're all in together. All I can say (and all I can do, too) is one bite at a time. X

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  46. I'm sending you a big cyber hug. I know exactly what you are going through, believe me. My three are at school now, and I still feel overwhelmed with things on a regular basis. But you are doing what is important, and that is spending time with your little people. Everything else can wait. I hope you are feeling better about things very soon. CJ xx

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  47. When your job is the same day after day after day, plus some from time to time, is it any wonder us mums suffer from burnout. Sometimes it's all just a little overwhelming, and it would be so nice to have a break, even an hour, but it often just can't happen. Can't really offer any advice but just to say that things will get better. Hang in there! I've missed visiting your blog xo

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  48. I tried to comment on this the other day when i was on my mobile, didn't happen.
    But just so you know we're on the same page, I have a frangipani lying next to a bigger pot too! x

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  49. Oh mel! sending you the biggest virtual HUG ever! I thinks as mothers we are our hardest critic, and expect to be the best mother, the best wife, the best housekeeper, cook, cleaner you name it! but we are human and will drop those balls and that is ok, because you know what? your kids are happy, they are self sufficient (i.e., helping themselves to breakfast) and you do know that slowly you will get there! Do take care of yourself, and I promise by spending those few minutes knitting each day, it will help you feel more happy about attending to the other stuff! much love! B xx

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  50. How on earth did I miss this?! It certainly sounds familiar ... those were the days! When my four were much younger and I was working part time I had a priority list. Food/clean dishes/clean kids/pet care/clean clothes/clean bathrooms, anything else was icing on the cake! And if things really got bad Ted would take a day off to help me clear the decks and we would then pay for a maid service to come in for a day. As a once or twice a year cost for a 'reset to clean' it's not so bad.

    Hugs x

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  51. Oh, hello, lovely Mel! I've been away from the blogging thing for so long, and here I am today reading this and nodding along. The other day we turned up late to Lola's first ever piano lesson and forgot the folder and bag I'd been told to bring. And the week before we drove half an hour to P and S's swimming lesson, arriving late, only to discover I'd left the bag with the swimmers/towels at home. I have been telling everyone I see lately that I have never felt so disorganised, constantly racing to catch up, always making excuses to people about why I didn't call back, didn't reply to their email, couldn't show. I have never felt less on top of things ever ever ever. So maybe there's something in the wind, or the stars, or the tides. It'll get better, surely, won't it? If you like, I could ditch my chaos and come and help with your chaos for a while...change of scenery... Repeat my mantra that got me through a very tricky year last year - "Just keep knitting." Sending big love your way xxxx

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  52. Oh Mel, sending you big virtual 'I understand where you're coming from hugs'. If only I lived closer I'd come and help you tackle at least one part of the house that's annoying you :) I SOOOO get what you're getting at... over the past few weeks, I've felt so incredibly overwhelmed and had the 'where do I start' dilemma... and I've only got two children not 5!!! Your line about sitting down staring into space not knowing what to tackle first sounds just like me!! For me, when things reach this point, I always write a HUGE list, a bit of a brain dump/vent session... a list of all the things bugging me... larger things like a disorganised pantry down to simple things like our untidy bench or the fact that we constantly run out of toilet paper :) Then, I prioritize... I make a list of 'would like to do but are not essential' items and then things I must get onto ASAP and I tackle the urgent list slowly, bit by bit. I've only just made a dent in my list (no cleaner or outside help here either) Hang in there Mel. Sending you lots of hugs lovely xx

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  53. I just read this! Holy-moley you got a lot of lovely comments, I haven't read them all, but I hope there is some good advise in there. I have none for you except that we live so much closer now and when we move in properly (next week hopefully!) I would love to come and hang with Flynn. I;m not sure that would be productive or counter-productive for you. But maybe you could take 10 mins to lie down with cucumber over your eyes ;) Talk soon xx

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  54. Hello there! I have just come over to see you after reading a comment you left on Annettes My Rose Valley blog. After reading this post I think you sound wonderful and I although I don't want you to feel miserable you have made me feel so much better as I am always trying to catch up and always feel disorganised. You write really well and it feels like you have put a lot of my feelings into words. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing your feelings, I know what you mean about so much of what you have said. Do take care of yourself though, you seem to be doing a fab job to me. sending love from Bedford, UK Sam xx

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