Staying on top of Everything?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I came across your site from checking your book out on Amazon.  I love how you give every day a certain task or chore or area to clean.  I did not grow up in a home where I had regular chores.  Both my parents worked so daily cleaning and upkeep was mostly pushed to the weekends.

I am doing things differently!  I am a stay at home wife/mom.  I have a husband who works, and 3 kids, ages 5, 3, 1 and a baby due in October.  We are homeschooling our kids so my home is busy with kids all day long versus any of them going to preschool or public school settings.

My question to you is do you have any advice on how to keep up with these daily housecleaning tasks while having the constant needs and demands of 3 young children all day?  I am not happy with the state of my house and home and desire for there to be changes!  I have attempted to follow your weekly chore schedule.  I just can’t seem to do the tasks to their entirety.

I saw you have a husband, 3 kids and a dog (I have one of those too!) and wonder how you manage to get it all done amidst the care of the people in your home.

Thank you for your website for your time to read this email and for any ideas you can pass on.

In the Trenches

Heather says:

I sent an answer privately, a week ago. I was going to leave it as that, just a private reply, but it has been on my mind since. Life has changed a lot for me since I wrote that book, My husband and I are no longer together, I work full-time, the kids are now 10, 8, and 6, and the dog passed away. I was open about my sisters’ passing last year, but I didn’t call much attention to the reason for the move, as it felt like a failure.

The funny thing is, even with all of those changes, I still run on the same chore schedule and when I don’t, I fall behind. Life doesn’t care, but my sanity does.

Can you stay on top of it all 1


As far as advice, all I can say is in these next few years, give yourself grace. I really wish I had. There are going to be times where everything looks like it is falling apart, but you feel okay. Just don’t let there be times where everything looks okay and you’re quietly dying inside, nothing is worth that.

There will be seasons where the house is messy.  It is okay to ask for help from your spouse. Being a stay at home parent does not give the other adult a pass on all domestic chores. Raising young children is a tough gig, but you’re in it together.

Pregnant with a whole crew of little ones is absolutely one of those messy seasons, take the nap you need, the laundry pile will still need folding when you wake up. It’s okay.

It’ll probably get a little worse before it gets better. You’re going to have a newborn and three very young children.

Feeling Desperate is the post I reference whenever I am feeling overwhelmed. There are days where the have tos are the only things that happen. Those days will eventually be outnumbered by the good ones. There is a lot of good advice from the wonderful Home Ec 101 community in the comments. Unlike many comment sections out there on the interwebs, we’ve got a good thing here with kind, intelligent, and genuinely caring people. Some of those commenters are the reason I’m still standing  thriving¹ after the last year. I’ll never fully be able to express my gratitude.

I promise, over time,you’ll get beyond the have-tos and more into the should-dos and eventually you’ll even have time and energy for the want-tos.

Keeping on top of the dishes, the trash, and the laundry probably go the farthest in making the house feel more put together than any other chores.

The kids are more able to help, now that they are a bit older, but I absolutely remember what it was like when they were the ages of yours. I started this site when I was pregnant with my youngest and now she’ll soon turn seven.

Hang in there and congratulations on your newest little one.

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¹I took off a few hours on Friday and took my minions and their sitter to the beach. I took a long walk and reflected on many things – shoes, and ships, and ceiling wax– and it hit me, just how content and happy I am. Right here, right now. I’m no longer waiting for some change, milestone, or event to make it easier to be happy; I simply am. It’s not the life I planned, it’s the one I have and that’s all that matters.


  1. Pamela on June 17, 2014 at 10:41 am

    PS Heather – I don’t comment very often, but I have been following you for a few years now.
    I’m not good at expressing these things, but seeing you feeling so much better and contented with yourself is wonderful!!
    You’ve been through the trenches yourself.
    Just know that there is someone out there who is not very obvious, but who has privately been supporting you all these tough years.

  2. Pamela on June 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

    May I encourage In the Trenches that there are seasons of life, and as you already stated Heather, to give herself some grace. This season is a messy one and no one is giving out extra points if the house is spotless. Nor is anyone taking points away.
    I also had 3 children, and also home-schooled for a period of time.
    May I suggest, very humbly, that you don’t have to start the home schooling quite this early yet? There is lots of time for this, and the children will not suffer if you wait a year or two. Or three. Really, they won’t.
    Instead, you could spend your time just enjoying the children. Read to them. Talk to them. Take them on walks. Play in the puddle with them.
    Once you do start home schooling, you will be amazed at what they have already picked up.
    I am sure that you put that part in about home schooling to let us know that you don’t get many breaks from the children, and I truly understand that part also. I hope that it has occurred to you to find a way to get a break. Dad can help with this.
    And also start working on giving each of them chores. Instead of ABC’s the 5 and 3 year old are ready for simple chores. The internet has good ideas for this.
    Looking back at my child rearing years, (my sons are now 33, 28 and 24) I wish I would have been more concerned about character development than I was about ABCs. Oh, my kids turned out just fine, thankfully, but even they agree that they should have had more responsibilities.
    Hope that you don’t consider me a nag, but felt that I wanted to get my 2 cents in.

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