Clean+Chaos Posts

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

As a service to Clean+Chaos followers, I wanted to debut distinct cleaning profiles with personalized cleaning plans. The first cleaning profile is for families with young children.

Things to remember about the profiles:

  • This is not a strict schedule; set daily goals.
  • If following the full plan is initially overwhelming, work on adding one practice into your daily schedule, and increase each week as you feel comfortable.
  • These cleaning plans are not meant to get your home in perfect order, rather to make regular maintenance easier and faster.

Strategies to make following the plans easier:

  • Minimize clutter. The more time you have to spend picking up clutter, the less time you have to actually clean. With little ones, messes occur at every turn, and as they grow their messes multiply. However, it is possible to get a reign on the “stuff”. Storing clothes and toys for alternating seasons, and donating excess toys, clothes, towels, tupperware, etc. are good places to start. Check my post on paper clutter for tips on managing incoming mail. Most of us have way more than we know what to do with. Minimizing is liberating!
  • Aim to keep AT LEAST the dining table and kitchen counters clear of clutter. I try to only have out on the kitchen counters things that are used so regularly it would be silly to have elsewhere – coffee pot, utensil holder, sugar and tea canisters, bread basket, and fruit bowls. Everything else has a home elsewhere – cabinets, pantry, drawers, magnetic strips. You can decide what needs to be out on your counter. I’ll be posting on another profile on how to save space in the kitchen so follow Clean+Chaos!
  • Create CLEANING WIPE STATIONS. I am going to blog on this, but if you have babies who throw their food or constant messes in bathrooms, you maybe benefit from the cleaning wipe stations. I keep a box of disinfecting wipes where messes tend to occur so you can swipe and go.
  • Prepare anything that needs to be ready for the morning the night before. For example, pack kids’ lunches, set the coffee timer the night before, and set out clothes for kids. These things take only a few minutes to complete, but they allow for a much better morning. It also gives you time in the morning to clear the sink before you leave for work or playgroups.
  • The kitchen is the nucleus of the home. Keeping it clean is key to a clean home.

 

Cleaning Plan:

 

 Daily Tasks:

  • Empty sink of dirty dishes (wash or load dishwasher).
  • Wash & fold 1 load of laundry (saving it all up for one day usually means hours of washing and folding, where doing a load daily means just a few minutes and you can work it into your daily routine).
  • Make up master bed every morning (kids . . . that’s another story). Starting your day by making your bed initiates a productive mode for the rest of your day, and it’s the #1 task that makes a room look neater.
  • Kitchen counters wiped down
  • Toys picked up before bedtime

 

Weekly Tasks:

  • Toilets cleaned (Inside and out)
  • Mirrors cleaned (Bathroom, bedroom, etc)
  • Master Sheets changed
  • Floors vacuumed (Carpet and hardwood)
  • Garbage removed (kitchen, baths, bedrooms and good lord the diaper pails)
  • Kid potties washed/disinfected
  • Oven door/dishwasher door wiped down

 

Bi-weekly Tasks:

  • Showers cleaned 
  • Bathroom counters/sinks wiped down
  • Dressers, furniture, fans, vents, bookshelves dusted (Swiffer)
  • Floors mopped
  • Kids’ sheets changed
  • Entryway windows cleaned
  • Blinds dusted
  • Washer & dryer wiped down
  • Stainless appliances wiped down

Monthly Tasks:

  • Bathroom rugs washed
  • High chair cover washed
  • Doors/door frames wiped with magic eraser (hand prints, smudges, crayon, etc)
  • Baseboards dusted
  • Refrigerator cleaned out
  • Couch cushions washed (if needed)
  • Garbage disposal cleaned: Run with ice cubes and vinegar or citrus peeling to sharpen blades. Rinse with water

 

Printable Sample Week 1.1

This is not a hard and fast schedule, but rather an example of what a typical week may look like. Let me know if you find this helpful or want more printables for this profile!

Young Family Cleaning Plan1.1

 

Happy cleaning!

Uncategorized

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

August has been full of action, that’s for sure. John started crawling this month, and Jeff had his 2nd birthday party! I’ve been super busy working and taking care of the boys, and while I haven’t had much time to blog about each daily detailed cleaning task, I’ve found that my initial 25 minute plan was way too long. I have implemented a new PLUS ONE MENTALITY. I found that by doing one extra task each time I was doing an already necessary job, I was nailing detailed jobs left and right without dread and usually under 3 minutes. For example, when starting the laundry, spend a few seconds wiping off the washer and dryer for detergent residue and dust. Even if you choose only one tiny area per day, it really adds up in a week! Here are some more plus-one jobs that I have been getting done around the house:

1. Rinsing out the coffee maker with vinegar and water.

IMG_0032

2. Washing the light fixtures in the bathroom.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset  Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

3.  Taking off the deck screens and cleaning the windows with glass cleaner and squeegee.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

4. Pouring vinegar down the disposal, letting it sit, and then running the disposal for a minute. Most people do not run their disposals enough, leading to smelly buildup.

IMG_0015

5. Cleaning out the crumb tray and wiping down toaster with vinegar.

IMG_0022

Other things that have been done: microwave cleaned out, bathroom drawers cleaned and organized, and my cleaning supplies in the garage organized. The reason I blog about  this is not to say, “I’ve cleaned a  ton of stuff!” Rather, I am trying to say, “Life is super chaotic, but it’s been really rewarding to do little things here and there that make a difference.” Adding one small detail to your normal routine may take 2-10 minutes to complete, but it’s really beneficiary to your home’s appearance and cleanliness.

Let me know your tricks for getting tasks like this done or specific areas for which you’d like suggestions.

Happy cleaning!

 

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks

Day 5: Toys R (of course) Us

photo 2(17)photo 1(15)

Jeff’s 2nd birthday is coming up in a week and I am prepping for the incoming gifts. Our boys are the only grandchildren on both sides of the family so they are very, wonderfully loved. I could tell you that I’m not in favor of gifts for birthdays, but that’s just not true. I love them. Specifically, I love homemade gifts  that we can always treasure or super cheap $1 gifts that can be enjoyed and given away later on, guilt free. Jeff and I spent twenty-five minutes going through the little toys in his room – organizing into trash, donate, and toy categories. So many items couldn’t be played with well, because they weren’t together with the appropriate set. I did successfully get one full trash bag (since so many of his toys were old baby food lids and random household items) and one full donate bag.

Here is a good post on toys and minimizing: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/why-fewer-toys-will-actually-benefit-your-kids/

 

Day 6: Back Door Dirt

photo 3(8)Our entire garage door area needs work, but our back door is the most-used and thus looks the most . . . used. Taking care of little areas like this can add up over time, and lessen the burden if the time ever comes when we want to sell our house. I of course used a Magic Eraser, and voila:

photo 4(4)The scratches will need a touch-up paint job.

Magic Eraser Hint

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I love Magic Erasers. However, I love them mostly for two areas: the bathroom and for high gloss paint. I do not like them on satin walls, flat walls, anything texturized. But glossy trim, metal doors, sinks, bathtubs, and anything smooth . . . erase away.

All Natural Rip Off

I love to go to Fresh Market to browse. It’s a pleasurable array of scents, lighting and displays, and classical music. It is not where I go to shop. You can usually find the same products they offer elsewhere for better quality (organic, grass fed, etc) and significantly lower prices.

photo 3(9)I wanted to show you that they also offer Parsley Plus, for nearly double what Walmart offers. But if you are a shopper that detests Walmart, you can find it here.

photo 2(18)I also wanted to show you that this Charlie’s Soap (recommended for cleaning nearly everything) that costs $10!!! is simply water, detergent, and sodium carbonate. You can make this at home, folks! And $10! It took me a while to get over that one.

photo 1(16)Natural is good. Organic, even better. But $10 for one bottle? Nope. But this is a good lesson to always look at ingredients. Know what you’re paying for and know what you’re putting in your home, your skin, your lungs.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Money

So, I did do some detail action yesterday, but I did not blog. You are just going to have to believe me when I say it was ca-razy. In the past 34 hours we’ve dealt with colds, missed naps, busted lips, 22 time outs, and . . . strep. That’s right strep. No fever, no symptoms, but low and behold my difficult toddler was flaming with strep. I may or may not have bought him a new $3 truck because I felt oh-so-guilty for those timeouts in the midst of silent strep. :-/

Day 3: Linen Closet

Our linen closet has been in a state of disarray since Jeff was born. Jeff, my 2 year old. I am not kidding. Here is a “before” shot:

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThat pile of bottles in the middle, that’s our medicine cabinet. Clearly it takes me an hour to find what I’m looking for when an illness arises. Cortisone cream? Sure no problem, let me look through EVERY medicine acquired since our wedding day.

True to my word, I spent 25 minutes taking everything out and organizing it. I divided it into sheets, pillow cases, towels, hand towels, comforters, and meds. The meds I actually separated into a storage container that was previously holding baby onesies. I separated those into Rx, OTC, and children’s. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress!

photo(10)

Organizing Tip:

The more specific you are when finding a place for items, the better your system will be. For example, if you are organizing your laundry room, you may start out by designating a place for household cleaners and laundry detergents. It’s a good start! But what you’ll find is your space can still get chaotic. A better approach (and one that takes a little more effort on the front end) is to designate places for detergents, stain removers, bleach, commonly used cleaners (like your cleaning caboodle), carpet cleaners, appliance cleaners, etc. It makes it easy to find what you need and easy to know where new items should go.

 

Day 4: Under Kitchen Cabinets

Ok, this is about to get real. Here is your warning to not look below if you are easily repulsed. You cannot see underneath our kitchen cabinets when standing, and this is an area that I have not cleaned since we moved into our house. We bought our home when I was pregnant with Jeff, and we were doing projects until he came. This area . . . well, I did not get to. I am so sorry.

photo 1(14)

I spent 10 minutes cleaning underneath all of them, and the result was not magazine worthy, but it was okay baby you can eat off the floor worthy.

photo 2(16)10 minutes. And I waited 2 years to do that? Sheesh.

Happy cleaning!

Oh . . . and watch out. Your entire family may have strep and you not know it. Kidding. Sort of.

Cleaning Organizing

For months I have glared up at the living room ceiling fan. I keep the blades dusted, but they’ve had a dark residue on them that the duster alone can’t get. I know some folks never even think to dust their fans, and they may normally have an inch or two of dust on top of the blades. I am truly a non-judgmental house guest. If I ever go to someone’s house, I do not think about what needs to be cleaned . . . unless you have fur growing on top of your fans. That is the only item I can’t un-see.

photo 1(12)I spent about ten minutes wiping down the blades, globe, and motor cover with disinfecting wipes. It’s just faster than paper towels, and they stay wet, and for whatever reason they work better than wet cloths. You can see the darkened ends, and the tops had a sticky residue as well.

photo 4(3)Finally, clean blades.

 

I had 15 minutes left, and chose to clean the dead bugs that have been shading our front door and kitchen area for the summer months. Bugs in lights are worse in the summer, I find, and I hate seeing black death in the bottom of globes. I also hate cleaning them out. It’s not hard to get the covers off, it’s super easy to clean them, but then it takes a good hour and a half of sweat and cursing to get them screwed back on right.

photo 1(13)

This one doesn’t look bad, and I actually cleaned this light back in the fall. But when the lights are on, you can see fifteen little dead bugs and that super gross caterpillar. I didn’t take an “after shot”, but let me tell you, it’s pretty satisfying to rinse these out and have bright light shine through. What isn’t satisfying is realizing you wish you could switch out every light fixture in your house.

(Confession: I have pinned those pictures of chandeliers hanging in laundry rooms multiple times. I once mentioned it to my husband, and after a good ten minute discussion about it, I still believe he thought I was joking. Light fixtures are one of my favorite things. “I love lamp.”)

I also cleaned the large overhead light in the kitchen. This one is the worst, as bugs LOVE their florescent homes. Here is the after:

photo 2(15)I know, I know. This photo is pure art. The way I captured the . . . light. Kidding. Terrible photo; terrible joke. But there are no more dead insects. 🙂

Day 2, two tasks, done in 25 minutes. Thank you, wet wipes.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Hacks

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Phew what a busy month! In the midst of working, vacationing traveling, making repairs on our basement rental, and traveling more, it’s been all I can do to make sure we have a few clean clothes and dishes along the way. Oh, the laundry. Above, my almost-two-year-old is dusting the pile of clothes; clearly, they have been there too long. We have had very little time to maintain our routine, and along the way tasks seem to have piled up in a similar fashion to the laundry.

In the moments when we are home and I attempt to get the bare necessities taken care of, I am constantly seeing areas that I haven’t had time to get to in months. Some areas I haven’t even had time to get to since we moved into our house over 2 years ago. Many detail jobs just haven’t been priorities in the midst of work, babies, regular home maintenance and life. . . ya know, like ridding the kitchen cabinets and drawers of who-knows-what and yucky-yuck, wiping the walls down, washing the air-return vents, etc.

So! For the rest of this month, I am going to be detail-cleaning one area of my house each week day and blogging about it. I guarantee I will spend 25 min or less on each task.

I have two priorities here:

  1. That I will actually CLEAN some of these areas I’ve had to overlook the past two years, and make visual improvements on our home in short segments of time.
  2. That it will help some of you be able to tackle areas of your home that are usually overlooked or under-looked.

Some items may not apply to your house (or your cares), but hopefully my efforts will stimulate motivation in you. Your tasks may require more than 25 min to complete, but just remember: Progress Not Perfection.

It’s August. School is starting back. Schedules are getting back in the swing, and I am going to tackle (quickly!) these little things that have been irking me for months!

Day 1: Kitchen Cabinets & Floor Vents

I do not have a “before” photo, but you should thank me. It could have induced vomiting. But it took only 5 minutes to clean the floor vents in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom. They were DISGUSTING. I washed with water and dish soap, and here is the after:

photo 3(6)Note: The glass of wine is a must for these 25 min detail jobs. So is Pandora.

I had 20 minutes left to work on a problem area, and so I chose the kitchen cabinet doors. Ours are white, and they keep no secrets. They tell all your dirty past, friends. All of our cabinet doors contain this grime in the molding, and this photo does not do the filth justice:

photo 1(11)20 minutes later . . .

photo 2(13)I used a wet washcloth and Method All Purpose Cleaner (grapefruit). You can just use dish soap and water. The trick is just wiping it down!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s task.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Tips From Your Realtor

When you decide to put your house on the market, most realtors will give you a list of goals for your house, which probably consist of:

  • Walls painted a neutral color
  • Reduce family photos to create more neutrality
  • Reduce clutter and move it into storage
  • Create a welcoming front doorway/walkway and make any necessary repairs
  • Reduce closet clutter and organize
  • Use this in-depth checklist for more tips

Tips From A House Cleaner

Speaking from a house cleaner’s point of view, I would add these suggestions:

  • Beds made (always)
  • Floors picked up and vacuumed (keep bins around for easy toss and store – you can find really neat wire and metal bins for under $15 at places like Marshall’s and Lowes).
  • Kitchen counters and appliances cleaned and wiped down (SINK EMPTY and wiped down)
  • Bathroom mirrors cleaned, counters cleaned, and showers free of mildew
  • Scent. Okay, many realtors will tell you to bake cookies or light candles. I say throw this in with “don’t spray fragrances.” This may be just a personal thing, but I would shoot for NO scent. So, empty ALL trash cans before viewers come, make sure the disposal is cleared out (pour vinegar down to help), and all toilets flushed. Also, if you have pets, make sure your vacuum bag is or filter is clean, otherwise it can smell like you just vacuumed and pet hair is burning.
  • Keep blinds and curtains open to allow light. I am a HUGE fan of natural light and you want your house to appear bright. Also, it will allow you to see areas that need a quick dusting/wipe down (Swiffer, baby).
  • If you don’t have time to mop, just look around for any stuck-on food, trash, etc, and use a wet wipe to clean.
  • If you have time, clean any entry-way windows with a glass cleaner and squeegee.

Tips From A Home Maker

Speaking as a home maker and as someone who spends way too much time thinking about houses, I would say make your house feel like the viewer’s potential home. This may mean rearranging rooms. Try to think in terms of spaces. People are looking for the places they are going to spend their lives, so create rooms that allow for the maximum use. Brainstorm what it is you love when you visit B&B’s or friends’ houses. You may not think you have a special laundry room or space for an office, but I guarantee you there is potential for more in every home.

Spaces for:

  • Cooking
  • Creating/Crafting
  • Business
  • Reading
  • Relaxing
  • Visiting
  • Laundry
  • Cuddling babies
  • House guests (guest room/bath)

Another tip specifically for small spaces is mirrors. Mirrors are great for making a small room seem bigger. And try to arrange furniture in a way that flows with the room. As you walk through a room, try to keep it balanced and allow for easy access. And of course, if you would like help maximizing and staging YOUR space, then call me! I would love to help.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBest of luck in selling your home!

Cleaning Decorating Money Organizing

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