Category: <span>Stress</span>

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It’s the season for travel, and it’s also the season for fruit flies and ripe produce. Most of the time when we are prepping for travel, our attention is solely on the packing, but there are a few cleaning tips that taken care of prior to travel will make your return a much more pleasant experience. The smallest bit of food, produce, trash or moisture left for a long period in a warm environment will lead to a less than welcoming homecoming. Make sure to prepare your home for your vacation as well as your suitcases.

MUST DO’S

  • Empty sink of all dirty dishes (and run disposal)
  • Remove produce from counters (discard, give away, chop and freeze)
  • Empty trash cans (kitchen trash, bathroom trash, diaper pails, etc)
  • Flush toilets
  • Run dishwasher so no dishes are left unclean
  • Make sure there is no trash or places of sitting moisture (water in glasses, food wrappers under beds, wet laundry, etc

SHOULD DO

  • Wash and dry all dirty laundry
  • Empty fridge of food that will perish while you’re away
  • Pour a little vinegar down your sink and rinse
  • Turn the AC up (but not off)

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YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID

  • Put clean sheets on bed and make them
  • Wipe down counter tops and surfaces
  • Straighten up living spaces and bedrooms
  • Vacuum

The last thing you want to come home to after a trip is work. A few things to work on the night before and morning of departure will ensure a better homecoming. And of course, if you are lacking time or energy to do these things, then make it a point to schedule a cleaning while you’re away! You would not regret scheduling a professional cleaning for the week of your vacation.

Fun travels and happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Stress

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWet wipes. I love wet wipes. Only for certain jobs, but for those jobs they are perfect. I have 3 places around the house that I always keep a tub of sanitizing wipes: the bathrooms, the laundry room, and the kitchen. This makes specific cleanups a cinch.

  • Bathrooms – I wipe down our toilets a couple times a week. 15 seconds  max, and bam! Pristine porcelain. I also wipe the bathroom sinks with them. I can be brushing my teeth, notice the sink is getting  icky, and wipe it down while I brush. It is true, the more you do something, the easier and faster it becomes. I spend under 2 minutes on most jobs around our house.
  • Laundry room – this is a perfect place for wipes. Laundry rooms can get VERY dusty. Dryer lint and detergent-spills build up on top of machines, and floor boards. Toss in a load, swipe the dryer top, hit start and there ya go! Honestly, go look at your baseboards in your laundry room – I promise you they will be dustier than anywhere in your house. You’re welcome.
  • Kitchen – I actually do not like to wipe counters with wet wipes. I prefer a cloth and spray for that. However, I LOVE them for swiping over the floor after my sweet baby eats his jasmine rice and ground beef. It makes cleaning up after a self-feeder a breeze. Wipe floor, wipe seat, dump and wipe tray – 3 times a day.

If there are supplies you use multiple times a day and at different places, create stations. It’ll encourage you to do it more often and it’ll save you time.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks Parenting Stress Uncategorized

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On Fridays my attitude towards chores and the house is something like: Leave the dishes, let the wet laundry sit until tomorrow, let’s get pizza, and give the boys extra bubbles in their bath, and we should have a Harry Potter marathon (again), and can you bring me a beer and let’s imagine what it would be like to sleep in on a Sat, and and and happy-pleasure-sigh.

On Saturdays my attitude towards chores and the house is something like: Let’s tackle this mildew, and I’ll get the coffee going (6am), I would really like to vacuum these soggy cheerios up off the floor and change the boys’ sheets, and should you or I mow the lawn while the boys nap, and THEN let’s go out and have a family outing, because . . . it is Saturday.

Tonight I was inspired to make a blogging nook in our bedroom, away from legos and toy cars, away from the sounds of the dishwasher and washing machine, away from tempting tasks and distraction. So I rearranged for the 487th time since we moved into this house (Side note: rearranging is my FAVORITE past time, and I am sadly aware that my sons will one day marry their wives with the stipulation that they must NEVER move a single piece of furniture). Sitting down to work on the new cleaning profile schedule, I thought it would be better to let readers know this blog is not intended to say you should be getting more done in your house than you are. It was not made to say: if you have spare time in your day, you need to be cleaning. I simply wanted a project of my own where I could write about what I love and do professionally, so that when readers are ready to have a Saturday mindset, they could be better equipped. There are many times that Friday perspectives should win out. Life  is brief. Life with our babies is even briefer. Balance is the goal. Good stewardship AND good relationships. Efficiency and effectiveness (in anything). Pleasure and productivity. And of course, Harry Potter marathons and bubble baths . . .

Happy Saturday Cleaning 😉

Cleaning Decorating Efficiency Love Parenting Stress

As I was vacuuming this morning I started thinking about how most people do NOT love cleaning like I do. Most people love it being done, but do not love doing it. I clean everyday. I clean for others; I clean for my family; I clean for myself.

This past weekend our folks were up for Jeff’s 2nd birthday, and my dad spent over 3 hours motivating and helping me get the yard in great shape. I mowed and he trimmed the edges, bushes, trees. He even blew off the grass and leaves. It looks the best it ever has. “Too bad the satisfaction is so short lived,” he noted. Our neighbor across the street has an immaculate yard. They literally (LITERALLY) work in their yard every day. It blows my mind. Their grass is cleaner than my carpet. It shouldn’t shock me, though. I am the same way, only inside. My mom noted while I was cleaning the deck windows that she just doesn’t clean regularly. She doesn’t enjoy it like I do, and so she finds she just does it maybe once a month, and at that point it’s overwhelming.

So, back to my vacuuming . . . I was thinking how I wished I had a plan to keep our  yard looking so good. We only do the bare minimum when the whole thing starts looking like a jungle. It seems harder to me than housework for several reasons: what would I do with the kids, the labor is so strenuous and time consuming, and I don’t know where to begin.

I realized these are probably common reasons folks dread and neglect house cleaning as well. I want to help the non-cleaners become better cleaners. I want to make progress easy for you to obtain. I am going to be working on schedules and cleaning plans for multiple non-cleaner categories, like:

  • Families with young children with daily tornado storms
  • Empty-nesters with a nest full of stuff
  • Families with laundry busting out the front and back door
  • Families/couples with pets and all.the.hair.
  • Families/couples/singles who work full time/over time and have little time to spare

I will keep you posted as I update the blog with new cleaning plans. Please tell me about your problem areas or why you lack the motivation, and please let me know if you find these helpful.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks Stress

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetIf you are like us, every evening when Ben gets home our conversation goes something like this, “We need to mow the yard, and do laundry, and we have GOT to get your retirement account set up, and we should listen to a sermon together, and I need to clean the bathrooms, and I think we are due for a date night . . .”. And then the only thing we accomplish is getting the boys to bed and getting the kitchen cleaned. We have seriously put off setting up my retirement account for months. We talk about it several times a week. So I came up with a system. I don’t know if this is on Pinterest, but it should be!

How It Works

Basically, we have our days written out and then we have our category pins. We try to plan out the week on Sunday, and choose one category per day. Ben has a master reminder/to-do list that he keeps on his iPhone, and we check his list each night to see what things apply to that category. As the week progresses, if you need to switch, no problem. Ben had the idea of using magnets, but we had clothespins on hand. Being able to move the categories around is fun and faster than writing it out.

Our Categories

  • Groceries
  • Budgeting/Business
  • Home+Garden
  • Repairs
  • Laundry
  • Sermon
  • Movie
  • Family Night
  • Date Night
  • Blogging
  • Organizing

Why It Works

Having a long list of tasks is overwhelming to think of every day. Having large categories allows you to compartmentalize and focus on one area at a time. It’s not stressful. It’s actually a relief. Need to pay bills and do online banking and also need to weed the garden and clean the windows and grocery shop? Tonight’s Monday, so all we need to do is get the groceries. Tomorrow is Tuesday, we will sit down and budget then. Ben and I know that the typical time for us to accomplish the category is when the boys are in bed. We have a set time to do our tasks. If we cannot finish a category, no problem. We can move the pin to another day in the week, or rest in knowing we will get the rest of the budgeting done next Tuesday.

We talk a lot about not having time for things. I understand being in chaos mode. We are hitting the terrific/terrible-two’s, and it’s a roller coaster. But the truth is we do have at least some time each night. Strategically planning a time to do specific categories of tasks helps to knock items off the list quickly. We have a family night and date night on the schedule every week.

PLAN FOR FUN!

Hope you have a productive week, and as always, happy cleaning!

Efficiency Hacks Money Organizing Parenting Stress

photo 2(8)Let’s face it. Without a working system, we can quickly become overloaded and overwhelmed with paper, even when most of us subscribe to electronic versions of it. Piles of it come daily – bills, advertisements, information we need for our records, etc. Not to mention the papers that come home in backpacks – instructions, reading plans, trip details, artwork. For those of you who work for yourself and have to keep track of every single receipt, payment, and document, organization is a must. Every person needs a system that is easy to use and maintain. I will be explaining my system and why it works. But like I’ve said before, organization is great because it can be altered to fit your exact style and needs.

photo 1(8)My System

I’m going to explain my system for sorting and why it works. Each time I get the mail (and I mean it – EACH time), I sort through it right then, dividing it into the appropriate place. I promise you I spend less than 20 seconds doing this. Immediate sorting guarantees two things: 1. That you will not forget something that needs your attention (bills, RSVPs, etc) and 2. That you will not get overwhelmed with a giant stack of paper each week.

Immediately Sort Into:

Recycling

On your walk from the mail box to the house, you know what’s trash (a zillion credit card offers, ads, etc) and what’s important. Don’t bring the trash inside. Just don’t do it! We have a recycling bin beside our back door. TOSS it then and there! Looking through it once is enough.

Bulletin Board

For those things that you will need to remember (save the dates, upcoming events, recitals, field trips) pin them on your bulletin board. Add them to your Google Calendar. Use Siri and set your reminder immediately. However you choose to keep track of events, do it. I also pin up any coupons if I know I will use them.

Inbox

I keep my inbox on my desk. This is where you put those things that need your action – bills, checks, etc. You don’t need to act right then, you only need to place them in the inbox. You know these things need your attention in a timely manner, so you will not forget them. I recommend having an inbox for each adult in the home. I am responsible for my inbox, my husband is responsible for his.

To Be Filed

This is where you put those things that do not need your action, but do need to be saved for your records – information regarding insurance policies, mutual funds, tax information, etc. This is also the catch-all for items that were previously in your inbox and have been completed. You’ve paid the bills in your inbox? Then move them to your to-be-filed basket.

When You’re Ready to File

I suggest filing when your to-be-filed bin becomes full. For some that may be quarterly, and for others that may be monthly. It just depends on the amount of incoming paper.

To Be Shredded

These are documents that are no longer needed, but have personal information on them. I suggest having a specific box for shredding. We keep our “Shred” pile for times when we want a fire in the back yard. 😉

Current Filing

These are documents pertaining to any active policy or account. I like to use regular file folders in a file box. If you do not already have a filing system, begin  by sorting documents into their appropriate accounts or categories. Once you’ve gone through them all, you can put them in a folder and label. Alphabetize in box.

Archive

Your archive should be a separate filing box that is for anything from past years, but still pertinent (i.e.old tax returns). Your files in this box should be alphabetized as well.

Kids

My kids are not yet to the age of coming home with trees of paper yet, but I understand it’s a fiasco. I’ve also spoken with many who are overwhelmed with their child’s artwork. I would suggest having another file box specifically for your kids. I would keep those papers you deem most important. For other items I suggest taking a snap shot with your camera and keeping in Dropbox or Copy or something like that. There are a lot of cool apps and programs out there for making digital collages with kids’ masterpieces. But I will say, it is okay to recycle some coloring sheets. I know our kids are especially special to us, but all their handiwork is not. 🙂

What You Need

If you are wanting to start this type of system, just obtain the following items to get started (you may have things around the house already that can be used).

  • Basket for mail
  • Bulletin board/calendar/Google Calendar set up
  • Inbox bin (per adult). Trays work, too.
  • To-be-filed box
  • Packs of file folders
  • Filing boxes for current filing, archive filing, and kids (you can get these super cheap lots of places and I’ve found cool ones at Target for less than $7)

Now, for those who are years behind (decades even) in filing, and this post overwhelms you, or if you would just prefer to have some help, CALL ME. I will aid in initiating a system targeted towards your needs, insuring easy and doable maintenance. Let me personally help you! (See my Page on SERVICES)

Efficiency Organizing Stress

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That’s right. No tears. It’s time to turn up the tunes and take charge. If you have kids, give them a Swiffer of their own, a cloth and a spray bottle. There are so many ways to make this fun for all parties. My son chooses to ride the vacuum! It’s just like cooking or mowing the yard – kids love to mimic us doing productive tasks. Get them involved so you don’t feel like you have to choose between kids or cleaning. Get them to sort laundry and identify colors. Turn on the music, sing into the duster, and have fun!

Cleaning Parenting Stress

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Why is it that with young children holidays can be anything but a vacation? Recently, Ben and I were out with the boys for a Saturday brunch and, of course, we are scarfing our food and guzzling our coffee to get home for their critical nap time. While hauling our boys, bags, car seats, etc in the parking lot (queue: Home Alone family running in airport), I heard a college student say to her friend, “Ok, I think I’ll go nap for a while, maybe lay out, and then head over to your house before we go out tonight.”

My jaw dropped. Was my life ever that laid back and free? What in the world did I do with so much time to myself? I spent the tear-filled car ride home day-dreaming about what I would do if I had a full day to myself. So. many. wonderful thoughts. It must be said  that our two boys make this new life far richer and more wonderful than a million personal days. Still, it’s true, I am not in a season of relaxation or personal freedom.

Our Memorial Day weekend was filled with a trip to the grandparents (and all the chaos that goes with packing up and heading out), visiting with family, and having a Monday morning meltdown. It’s 3 pm on this holiday, and it’s the first moment I’ve sat down since 5:55 am this morning. After getting the boys calmed down, fed, and in a happier state, the toddler gently pours out the entire cup of hot coffee onto the white carpet. Fabulous, son. My first thought? “Ben, take a picture for the blog!”

So, here you go, folks. The wonder of Sol-u-mel.

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Cleaning Parenting Stress