Too Much to Do

I work full time and have two toddlers. Since children are a job in themselves, it's like I'm working all the time. I'm exhausted and need a vacation (a real vacation) desperately.

How do people survive these days? How does a family make it on one salary anymore? My husband and I both work and are raising the kids together. Even though we have each other, it's still a struggle. The only answer I can think of is self discipline and organization.

I don't need a Super Nanny or a Wedding Planner; what I need is a Super Planner. :>)

When do I clean, well for that matter, why do I clean? Where can I find the time to shave my legs or paint my toes? Why do other people seem to have it all together?

I need suggestions on saving time and money. Is multi-tasking and cutting coupons the only way? Please share your tips.

tylerccmom tylerccmom
28 Responses Aug 28, 2008

I am a married husband with a wonderful wife, we have a sixteen year old daughter and a second one 11. My wife and I both employed and yes we both take it almost always busy at home and at work. It's not as easy as some might think. As we can't go w/o eating so there's cooking and washing dishes and of course clothes the washing and drying. Shower bath and brushing teeth and many more self care. It's as if it's a never stop. I can never wait til my day off especially when I get that 2 day weekend off,

It is unbelievably hard. Our house is an unholy mess and my husband cleans as much as I do. Our kids trash the place for fun. We don't spank or yell. We figure they will eventually grow out of it.

Trust me, almost every woman out there can relate to this... I myself am 32, singleother to a 4 year old, I work 2 jobs and live in Miami... One of the most expensive places to live. I have no family here what so ever, meaning I have no support system.. My daughters father helps, but it's very inconsistant because he is struggling to get by too... I live in a 1/1 with my daughter and pay 1100 dollars a month.. OUCH... Not to mention utilities, insurance, gas and food, and any household necessities or things for my child.. I haven't bought anything for myself in years, and you don't even want to see what my feet and toes are looking like these days.. ;p I cut out cable, Internet, house phone, and even called fp&l (power company) for ways to cut down my electricity bill... I think its called the energy efficient test or something, but it literally cut my electric bill from 200 a month to around 80 bucks a month... HUGE difference... They'll tell you what you need to do, all you gotta do is ask.. ;) as parents, we always want the best for our kids, even if it means depriving ourselves of things, but as women, we all need 'me' time as well... It really is important for our sanity, because we do tend to take on alot.. And nobody understands (except other women) that being a mother is a full time job alone.. I certainly wouldn't choose to have to work two jobs, I'd much rather spend that time with my daughter, but being a single mom I have to do what I have to do.. Sometimes I wonder myself when I'm going to drop from<br />
Exhaustion and stress, but at the end of the day, I seem to find strength somewhere... It's never easy.. But perhaps you can find comfort in knowing your not alone.. When I start to feel like I'm going to go crazy, I put my daughter to sleep and crack open a bottle of wine and pretend I'm in Hawaii for the night, lol it sounds silly but it's my 'escape'.. You just have to find yours and you'll be ok... Mind you I get NO government assistance what so ever... And yea sometimes I feel crapped on when I shell out 130 a week for my daughter to go to school, or when I see the person in line in front of me using food stamps while I'm shelling out 80 bucks for maybe 12 items at the grocery store... Or when I loose 150 bucks a month outta my check to pay for Disability, health care, and life insurance for my daughter in case something should happen to me... Hell even when I put in 10 hours a week over time to only get 100 bucks extra because the rest is taxed by the government... Yea, I get bitter, but I know it could be worse... And every day when I wake up and see that happy child of mine, all the hard work makes sense to me, and it's totally worth it. I apologize for the autobiography, lol, but I just wanted to share and let you know that everything happens for a reason... We all struggle, some more then others, but what doesn't kill us, only makes us stronger.. In the end, everything always works it way out... Stay strong and set an example, don't be another statistic.. We women create strength for each other by proving that we are strong enough to do whatever we set our minds too... And that includes you my friend... Don't give up, your good times will come, and the bad times will pass... I promise ;)

I am in the same situation. My job is so demanding, they want me hear all the time and then they expect me to keep the smart phone on, check the email at night, etc. etc. My 18 month old girl is still nursing, still sleeping in my bed, still waking up during the night to nurse and still very attached to mama. We don't have a dishwasher or a washer and dryer so I have to do everything by hand and haul all the laundry 45 minutes away to the laundrymat once every two weeks, when I also do all the grocery shopping (I live in a tiny rural community in VT so everything is a 45 minute drive). I also am pretty obsessed with never having processed food so I cook everything we eat from scratch - even bread and baked goods, seriously. It's really really hard. I wish more than anything that I could stay home and spend the time with my daughter, but I got a $50,000 graduate degree and now I have to work to pay off my student loan debts. <br />
<br />
You just have to buckle down and get it done and remind yourself that it is not your shortcoming, there are too many demands placed on us today. To save time, I make extras at dinner to pack into daycare lunch. I give my daughter lots of fresh, raw fruits and veggies that just need to be sliced and served. I pick out all of her clothes the night before for daycare. There is only so much that can be done. I will always feel sad that I wasn't able to stay home with my girl, but when I went to grad school not only did I not have kids, I didn't even have a man in my life so I couldn't have imagined that less that five years later my whole life would have changed. I hope you figured it out. Just remember no one is perfect and if you love your kids and do your best, they will forgive you your shortcomings.

hillbillycrone's kids sound really lucky! (besides the high priority put on the woman shaving legs & painting toenails - does the man have to go through such silly procedures?)<br />
<br />
Having kids isn't necessary, it's an optional choice. Too late for tylerccmom obviously but something for others to keep in mind

Your marriage is the most important thing. The children will grow up faster than you can imagine. Everything in your family's life turns on the axis of your marital foundation. Keep the romance alive, do shave your legs and do paint your toes, it's more important than that load of laundry or scrubbing the tub. I've been around a while ,we've raised our family, I stayed home (but, there was a trade off) we had a tiny house with one bathroom, and one car, often, we did not have cable, we did not have a computer until the children were in college, There were years that I did not shop at the mall or have an appointment at a salon, but, I promise, it was well worth it. When the children came home from school, they enjoyed fresh baked cakes and cold milk, and we sat down with their Dad for hot home cooked meals at dinner. We had time to sit and look at their papers from school, because we weren't rushing to get things done so that both of us could get out of the door the next morning. I got to BE THERE to observe the children up close and personally when they got older. If you think it is hard now, unsupervised teens are a serious worry. This is about how you have set your life up, how close you are living to your financial edge. Now, it seems to me as if couples think they should all have big homes/big mortgages, two or three vehicles, tons of electronics, cell phones, and so on. All you really need is a strong marriage, filled with love, laughter and happiness, a cozy clean home, good food, one of you carrying health insurance, and the two of you providing a strong family foundation and a soft place to fall when your children suffer lifes dissapointments and challenges. I would never say that Mom has to be the one at home, but, someone needs to be present and not bogged down by external influences and overwhelming stressers. Yes, I know this is old fashioned thinking but there were good things about old fashioned ways of raising a family, the most important being TIME. All of our children grew up with a solid feeling of family and were bonded to us and to each other. All of our children were college educated, none were ever in trouble, none were pregnant or on drugs, none of our children ever disrespected us or caused us grief, even as teens. All were loved and encouraged for who they were as individuals. All of this takes takes time focus and energy 24/7 for many years to come. Because one of us was at home, we always had time to talk to our chidlren, time to see past the obvious and really observe their behaviors, their strengths and weaknesses, we had time to love and romance one another at the end of the day, and the children felt our love and respect for one another. Today, everyone seems to feel pressure to provide the extras.. rather than the necessities. I know it is not easy, but, you may have to consider what you can do without, in order to feel less stress and enjoy your romance, your home life and your family more.

I know how you feel, I mean, I have all the same problems, plus I don't have a husband. I am a single mom of 3 boys, struggle to make money and don't succeed to keep the house clean.<br />
<br />
What can I tell you? Good luck, and be happy for having a beautiful, healthy family and a husband, and for both being employed. Sry I don't have any great ideas. <br />
<br />
I like some of the ideas by other ppl here, like Lucious, and msbhavin, I wish I could be like her. And a beautiful story, machinegunmomma. Ty. :)

Hi, <br />
<br />
There is no shortcut and there is no formula which reduce your problem... only time can solve your problem...what your facing today or doing for you children and family... its a investment which will come in good rewards in best of luck...try your best.

I agree with everything thats been said but at the time you are in this cycle life does seem such a struggle. Tiredness is so under rated - I have only been blessed with one child but I have kidney problems which have haunted me most of my life (so I'm grateful for the miracle of being a mum)! That said I went back to work when my daughter was six months old and worked ever since, she's almost eleven now. I think the problem with being a working mum is we set expectations of ourselves way too high. We feel that we should be able to cope, after all everyone else does it but they may have good family support. The only advice I can give you is to be organised, plan in advance. I now shop around and I get fresh fruit and veg from a local market. Also invest in a slow cooker, it'll take you an extra 10 mins in the morning. Then when you come home dinner is ready. Like others I make a big batch of chilli, eat some for dinner and freeze the leftovers. I'm the worst one for trying to do everything perfectly but I'm learning that as long as we have a roof over our head, food in the cupboards and fuel to keep us warm all is well! For clothes I've even rummaged the car boot sales and charity shops. I'm still learning too but most important don't beat yourself up!

I don't have enough time to sleep. when i am very tiered I just leave them playing and sleep.<br />
when I put manicure i put for them first. they get busy playing with water or other children. switch baby sitting with your neigbors. ex: invite their kids to play in your house one day the other day send them to play with their kids.

i work full-time, have 3 kids (10, 4, and 7 months old) and it is a struggle to have energy and time. our house is a wreck most of the time and we are always trying to catch up with laundry, dishes, etc. but we are busy on the weekends with trying to have a life - taking our kids out on short daytrips, going to the zoo, the park, the aquarium, the beach...even just to noah's for a bagel and a jaunt to the farmers market. it ensures that our house stays as messy as always, but it also ensures my sanity and the strength of our family. the kids don't care that the house is crazy, they enjoy the time we spend together. and i know at the end of my life, i will not regret doing more laundry and dishes, but i will wish i had more weekends with the family like the ones that we do so i regret nothing. :)<br />
<br />
hang in there, you will find your groove or just learn to love the groove you're in. :)

The way I handled it was getting up early in the morning (traditionally I'm a morning person) so I'd get up-get the stuff done before getting the kids up for the day-I had have the chores done so I could focus on the kids-when I got home from work-dinner was usually something that could be put in the oven--so I could focus on something else other than "cooking"--I was always big on doing something with the kids after the work day--ie--a walk, a hike, a bike ride, ice skating inthe park,going to the library, sitting reading to them, I used to have what we called "cuddle fests" were the kids and I would curl up in my bed and watch a TV program---there were times I'd take the kids on their sled to the library-I felt like a sled-just trudging through the snow-but-it didn't cost any money-the kids and I were together-and we were having a great time! I had my 3 kids with me at all times when I wasn't at work-were there times that I'd cry in the basement as I was putting in another load of laundry--you bet-cry in the shower as I wanted to just explode --you bet--sob enroute to work as I had yelled at one of the kids for one reason or another--you bet---and I did 90% of raising the kids myself-DH had his own life-and was okay--was better off tht way. <br />
<br />
Cherish raising your children as it is gone in a bl<x>ink--and I am sure you are--mine are now young adults-I call them now and say "let's get together for a family dinner" did it last Sunday and it was GREAT!!! Our lives have all taken different paths-now it's an effort-in a positive way-to be together for an evening.

Berry great parent! Thanks


well am no super planner but i am a single parent with two kids at home. neither one is s toddler any more but it wasnt no differant than. when it comes to the money i budget i know what money goes where. the only thing i do that probably seems a little strange to others to help me simplify my life is i dont have clutter. i have the basic. if we dont wear it i toss it. if we dont play with it i toss it. there isnt anything in my house that isnt used weekly. everything has its spot. everyone knows where that spot is if its not there put it there. everyone has to pitch in. even the toddlers. and make time for yourself. the housework will be there tomorrow. find a sitter for the weekend and just do it. sometimes you just have to put your needs first.

If you don't wear it or play with it why not donate to kids that will?

Thanks for sharing

Wow! What a response! Thanks everyone for all the stories and advise. Most of the suggestions I already do. Maybe that's why there seem to be no more corners to cut. <br />
<br />
machinegunmomma,<br />
What a great experience you shared. I don't see how I could quit my job to stay at home. I have run the numbers and I can't fill in the differences any way I look at it. <br />
<br />
Money is what it is and the only think I can do manage it. What I find myself even more short of is time. <br />
<br />
I'd like to hear more time saving tips like these that I already do:<br />
Hang clothes straight from the Dryer and/or stack neatly instead of folding. This works great for the little ones clothes<br />
Using paper plates instead of dishes saves time at the kitchen sink<br />
Putting things away as I walk from room to room keeps the toy clutter down<br />
Lowered my cleaning standards and dust less often

you are having a tough time. I was a single mom. it is rough too.<br />
my kids are all grown now and I wish I had all of the years <br />
back. Now I help out my daughter who has a 4,3, 20 mo and<br />
6 mo. it is crazy. one thing that i know for sure is time is as important as money. some of the things that I did were <br />
going to the store before I pick up kids. laying clothes, backpacks socks and shoes the night before. I get up before everyone to get ready. then I wake up kids one at a time. in a pinch cereal bars are not too bad. <br />
I made a pre-printed list of all the stuff that I usually get at the store, keep it by the fridge and just put a check by it when I need to replace. buy 2 of stuff you use all the time and replace when you open the last one.<br />
plan your meals as best you can, avoid eating out.<br />
if you buy soda stop. find family stuff to do that is free or cheap. I always shop at thrift stores, or garage sales<br />
I had 10 sets of outfits that were for daycare/school<br />
mostly mix and match so if a shirt got messed up there were a couple that matched pants/skirts or shorts. <br />
I seriously went thru my house did sort of a clean sweep. <br />
I had too much stuff. my kids had too much stuff. they had toys they did not recognize. and I had worked all this overtime to buy them this or that. what a waste. <br />
keep your life as simple as possible. <br />
my big investments, one wax things that you dip your hands in, ahhh. my husband got me one of those heated foot spas. warm up some thick lotion in the microwave and see if your husband will rub your feet. you will feel like a new woman. good luck

John and Kate + Eight do it. They've got eight kids. If they can do it, so can we. If it's hard for them, it must be easier for us.

I live the same life, only instead of lack of time to shave legs, I lack the time to shave my beard. We live on my salary and feed two toddlers.<br />
<br />
The secret? There is no secret, it's really simple; there is no reason to want, own and have all the things we do. They are all luxuries once you grow past them. Some things you'll want your kids to experience even if unnecessary, just to avoid potential social isolation, but sooner rather than later you should tell them that most things are luxuries and they need to have reasons to own things.<br />
<br />
I don't have TV, my kids watch cartoon on my PC. I use it to watch movies and documentaries (both rarely and only select stuff). Don't have a car or most of the things most people have. I don't feel bad, I just know they are luxuries and I don't have the luxury to have them (pun intended).<br />
<br />
Once you lose all the excessive stuff, you'll feel much lighter and will have more time and money to spend on other things.<br />
<br />
Oh, and I forgot to mention, you don't need to paint your toes, in fact, they'll probably look pretty darn nice if you clean them well. Same goes for shaving legs... you don't need it silk-smooth on a daily basis. I consider this things luxuries as well. Grow beyond them. I just hope your husband won't complain. I know I tell my wife to rest instead of painting nails at midnight when completely exhausted already. I know painting nails and wearing new cloth and all can make you feel good and refreshed but it's all relative and you can find other things to get the same joy out of, things that are not luxurious and excessive (like toe painting).<br />
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I don't consider this living in poor conditions. I don't consider myself poor either. On the contrary, I think I'm very well paid. The way I see it is that most people work very hard to buy things they don't need. We are conditioned for it. There is no reason to work that hard for useless stuff. So instead of working less (I'm sure few work more than they need), I spend less... In return, I spend on the things that I really enjoy and give me maximum pleasure.

I know how you feel, I have been there, seen it, done it and couldn't afford the damn Tee shirt so.... I gave away all of my stuff except what would fit into 6 suitcases and moved to the other side of the planet where time seems to run more slowly, people are not impatient and my children are safe to play in the street. As far as being able to offer advice to anyone living in North America well... I can't, I couldn't do it I had to start my life over possession and debt free, I guess most people don't get "do overs" but if we are really determined to get a fresh start it can be done you just have to find the corner of the universe where you are the most comfortable and stop living according to everyone else's expatiations.

Second hand stores and dollar stores can save you soooo much money. They have everything from clothing to cleaning products.

Well, I am a wife, mother of 4; ages 13,4,3 & newborn plus I work fulltime and on that job I am responsible for a whole lot that is not in my job description! You ask how do some people make it look easy. I must say that I really don't know. I just do it and try not to complain because it could be worse. I think about all the women that have had a miscarraige or just can't get pregnant. I think of all the women who wish they had a good husband and provider and then my life doesn't look so bad. I continue to tell myself that GOD does not make mistakes and that each of my children were ment to be here and that's how I maintain. My husband and I do not have the support system of our family because mine is out of town and his family wants you to beg (Not happening) so we do not have much me time. I do a lot of praying and we depend on each other. But women, let's be real, the majority of it all falls on us. I just do it and think nothing of it because again, it could be worse.

Cut down on what is least important and leave the dishes once in a while so you can paint your toenails or whatever you want to do for yourself.

These days many people are working towards that house car great furniture paying off a good tv etc. Maybe its time to look at how you can reduce how much money is going out, look at what you want in your life most of all, we all fall into the trap of wanting to have it all, have all the nice things, but when the kids grow up and have left home, you will look back and realise all those things were not important at all.<br />
<br />
I raise two children on one income, its tight yes but its possible. Trust me when I say, if you reduce what you feel you should have in your life, get rid of any debts and make an issue of keeping life simple, eg... eat out maybe once a month, do outdoor activities that don't cost a lot eg... parks, beaches etc. Make sure you don't shop for things that are not necessary all the time, eg clothes, we don't need to have lots of these, and believe me it can save on washing.<br />
<br />
If you and your husband put your mind to it and look at how you can rearrange your lives, then maybe one of you/you can stay home with the you won't regret being there for them, we only regret not doing things for other people at the end of the day, none of the materialistic stuff has meaning really.

My heart goes out to you esp. b/c it reminds me a lot of my own mother's struggles. Unsure how she did it but in our earlier days she kept the fam together while fighting off gov't aid (ie.foodstamps) & keeping us all in school w/a steady eye on our grades. Higher education was critical to her & now to us all as well. <br />
<br />
Surely there were hand-me-downs, thrift spending, budget meals, revolving group day-care, plus the occasional restricted entertainment (minimal TV time & no movie outings). But none of us felt completely deprived though the wants & needs are always constant.<br />
<br />
Somehow we all managed to escape the status quo of falling victims to gangs, drugs, violence; at the time, the neighborhood we lived in were fair targets for such tragedies. Now everyone is passed the age of 25, college educated, w/the youngest being a lawyer. Remembering our mom's hardships kept us plowing through the books & holding off marriage/family until things seem more secure (even though that's elusive). <br />
<br />
How she did it: tried a couple of home-based careers; though many failed, she kept going, even to this day. Gradually, w/the help of a great community & strong economy, she started her own retail business that multiplied into several. Meanwhile, our stepfather was great pitching in, becoming Mr.Mom to us 3kids. His support was crucial to helping her achieve her career/financial goals. <br />
<br />
On the homefront things were always kept orderly through hard discipline by rewards & punishment system. Our parents made sure each person were accountable for our own mess & responsibilities. Though we didn't lack any 'lost childhood innocence', there was a lot of quick growing up to do. Mainly, we learn to take care of each other too.<br />
<br />
Now, after selling off most of her retails, structuring rental income, & amassing a sizable fortune she became a full time investor in various businesses. And she never forgot to return favors to her community by staying active w/fund drives & continuous multi-charity contributions.<br />
<br />
So the point here is w/focused dedication & tenacity to keep it all together, you'll make it. Setting achievable goals were her priority. She didn't have to be super organized to do that either! But we were definitely blessed w/a mother who had a strong inner drive & desire to create a better life for us, as I'm sure you're certainly willing to do for your kids.<br />
<br />
She wasn't always the perfect mom, being so strict & frequent absences b/c of work, but a very loving one. For that, she raised 3extremely appreciative, healthy, happy-oriented adults who can handle hardships as they come.<br />
<br />
Hope this account helps give inspiration when things seem bleak. Looking back, even our entire family are still quite astonished how much has been & can be accomplished through the heart of one strong-willed, determined woman.

Im there right now too, up to eye balls in debt, tight funds, two kids, and yes I have a husband and yes he helps with anything and everything but it just spreads us both thin, thinner and try not to vanish! We barley make it by on two incomes and daycare robs us blind! I understand where your coming from, some times people begrudge a people who have partners because they are not doing it alone but it does not matter a hardship is a hardship no matter how it comes about. hang in there!

Luscious said it all.<br />
<br />
I have been in your shoes; I have no family anywhere near, so there is not built-in-support system. One thing that took me a long time to digest were words from my mother. "Do what you can to your best and remember that the dirty dishes will be there tomorrow."<br />
<br />
Now, I try to maximize on my time, but there are days that I pick my battles.<br />
<br />
Big hugs!

Wise words

First of all, hugs and support and energy to you. It's such a difficult stage to go through! And even though eventually the kids will get older, go to school, and be more autonomous (ie, potty trained!), that doesn't get you through today and tomorrow and next week.<br><br />
<br><br />
Other people don't have it any more "together" than you do. "Leading lives of quiet desperation" and all that. Just keeping the family together and loving is a huge success. Don't take that for granted! The stress and exhaustion undermines a lot of relationships and it sounds like you guys are holding on well. :)<br><br />
<br><br />
You can lower your standards about how "clean" the place has to be, btw. If friends/visitors are uncomfortable with the clutter or the undusted counters, why, they can pick up a dustrag. But I bet when you have visitors they are there to see you and your family, not to judge your surroundings. (And if they don't like it, they can pick up a broom and put it the way they want it, right?)<br><br />
<br><br />
Saving money. Hard to give tips when I'm not sure what you're already doing. Restaurant food adds up, and when you're crunched for time it's hard to have groceries and make lunches and stuff. If you have a Trader Joe's near you it's a compromise to buy prepared meals, at least for lunches; more expensive than huge sacks of rice and beans to make things from scratch, but saves on time.<br><br />
<br><br />
I think the real trick is to find other moms and trade off kids on a Saturday. Drop yours off there, go home, and sleep. Then the next Saturday, she brings hers to you, and she goes home and sleeps. The shaving of legs and painting of toes has to wait until the kids are 8. ;)<br><br />
<br><br />
It's really hard to get through this stage without a handy grandma or aunt or other support. I think women especially get very hard on ourselves because we think we should "do it all" and also perfectly. But that can't be done. So you do the best you can, accept that it means a messier house than you want and unpolished toes, and try to prioritize the "musts" ... which are feeding, loving, hugging, bathing, stories, and sleeping. For the whole family not just the kids. ;)<br><br />
<br><br />
Hang in there. It'll get easier.

My heart goes out to you. I lived it for years. I had a period of three years in my life where I teetered on the edge of bankruptcy all the time. There is no real secret other than great resolve and budgeting. For a while I didn't even have a home phone or cable. People tend to think of these things especially cell phones as a necessity. They are luxuries that once they are gone you don't even really miss that much. I used to shop at three different stores to get certain items cheaper. I bought and cooked in bulk and froze stuff a lot. I bicycled to work. At one point I even delivered flyers and catalogues for a bit of extra cash to get by. It is tough for sure but it does build character. In time, it does get easier. Best of luck<br />
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