Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Cleaning Routine

Simplify Saturdays: Simplify Your Cleaning Routine

I don’t know about you, but cleaning is a struggle at my house. My house isn’t all that big but it is time consuming to give it the attention it needs. With two children and a full time job, it is even more difficult sometimes to get the house clean.

Before I share the things I have learned, I want to make it clear that I have not completely figured it out yet. These are just a few tips that are helping me work toward finding a balance, even though I have far from found that balance.

1. Develop a routine and stick to it

Developing a routine and sticking to it as much as possible is a great way to have a cleaner house. We have tried to assign small duties to each night, allowing for flex time on the weekends to catch up on any tasks we have missed. We try to perform the same specific duties each day, but perform a different task each night. Here is our weekly checklist:

You will notice that starting the washing machine each morning is on the list. We have a washer with a delayed start and I use it daily. I throw laundry in the washer before going to bed and set it to finish as I’m getting up. This way, I wash and dry a load of laundry before leaving the house, and have one more load to complete when I get home. I still have to fold them and put them away, but the waiting game is over.

2. Delegate!

You don’t have to do everything, and you can’t. Assign chores to the other members of your household. My oldest daughter is eager to earn a small allowance for her own money, and she doesn’t mind helping me around the house. Pay your children to help you, convince your significant other to help you, but stop trying to be solely responsible for all the cleaning.

3. Set aside time for extra attention

I try to have a deep cleaning day one Saturday a month where I tackle cleaning tasks that don’t necessarily need to be done weekly, but still need a little extra love. These are areas like baseboards or dusting the door and window moldings. You could even break these deep cleaning tasks up and do one each Saturday. It’s all about your schedule and making things work for you.

4. Be reasonable

Sometimes, you won’t have time to clean because you’ve had a busy day. Or maybe you did clean, but something happened and your room is no longer clean. These are the moments when you must have grace with yourself. Your house can’t be perfectly clean all the time but neither can anyone else’s house.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips for simplifying cleaning. As I said before, I am still working to simplify cleaning at my own home, so if you have any tips for me, I’d welcome them 🙂 Have a wonderful day!

Simplify Saturday: Prioritizing Projects

Simplify Saturday: Prioritizing Projects

We’ve been blogging here for a good five years now, and in that time, we’ve had a lot of questions from readers. One question we’re often asked is this: “You all seem to always be doing something to your house. How do you do so much?” Today I’d like to share how we prioritize our projects.

1. Do projects a little at a time

We just did a small remodel of our master bathroom. We replaced mirrors, hardware and light fixtures. We eventually plan to replace the bathtub and surround and flooring as well, but it simply isn’t in the budget right now. So we started with the cheapest, easiest items on our “master bath to-do list” and we completed those.

2. Find cheaper options for the things you want to do

We love carriage house garage doors, but we neither need nor want to buy a $2,000 garage door at the moment… so we took to Amazon and ordered faux Coach house door hardware and a faux window kit for $50. We spent far less money something that looks like the real deal.

3. If you can DIY it, do it.

Custom closets are expensive, but my dad and I built this closet organizer ourselves for $100. It only took one day and it was a fairly simple project. We saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves AND it was a lot of fun.

4. Before you do any part of the project, ask yourself these questions:

1. Who will it benefit?

If it’s something that will benefit everyone in the home, bump the project up higher on your to do list.

2. Can I do the project in phases, or must I do it all at once?

If a project must be done all at once, but it’s small, it’s probably OK to raise it on your list. If it’s a big project and you can’t do it in phases, it’s probably expensive and should be lower on your priority list.

3. Do I need to do it, or just want to?

Projects that you want to do, no matter how much you want to do them, are never as important as the projects you need to do.

5. Save money for the things you can’t afford right now

Even if you can’t afford the things you want at the moment, save money until you have what you need.

How do you all prioritize projects?

Have a wonderful weekend.

Back to school: 5 ways to be more organized this year

Back to school: 5 ways to be more organized this year

I blinked in June and suddenly, it was August. I’m not sure where summer went, but wherever it went, it left quickly. My oldest daughter starts school next week. The school supplies have been purchased and the school clothes have already been washed and put away. But what else can we busy Mamas do to ensure we are all better organized for the coming school year?

1. Plan ahead

Plan out outfits, meals, and even lunches. Prepare ahead of time as much as possible. Make lists of everything you need to do and buy in the coming week and review it often. The better prepared you are, the better you will handle those unforeseen circumstances that pop up and stress us out.

2. Write everything down

You can’t remember everything and you don’t have to try. The minute you hear about a meeting or event, write it down. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to forget it. The other step is to refer back to your calendar at least weekly to see what’s coming up.

3. Do a “back to school” dry run

Wake up early one morning before school starts and drive to the school at regular time. This will help you become familiar with the traffic patterns, the route, and will help you anticipate any hazards or obstacles that may make you late. Of course, there will still be unforeseen things from time to time, but having driven the route once before helps put your mind at ease.

4. Set up a logical routine and stick to it

Does homework come with tears and tantrums in your house? Having a set “after school routine” can take some of the fuss away. Set the expectation early in the school year that homework is done as soon as you walk in the door and stick to it. I always tell my daughter that it I better to get homework out of the way first thing and then you no longer have to worry about it. Having set morning routines can also eliminate some of the morning rush as well.

5. Wake up earlier than you think you need to

Who likes being in a hurry? Not I. When I’m hurried, I get stressed and I end up forgetting things. Which stresses me out even more. Waking up earlier allows you more time but also allows you time to eat breakfast. Studies have shown eating breakfast improves brain function and helps sharpen your focus. It’s hard to concentrate on anything when your stomach is growling!!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a fabulous first day of school.

Simplify Saturday: How to live with less

Simplify Saturday: How to live with less

We have been actively purging our home for a few weeks now. We’ve cleaned out closets, we’ve donated items, we’ve given things away and we’ve thrown away or repurposed other things. It’s easy to get rid of some things, but others, it’s more difficult. How do you decide what to purge and what to keep?

1. Take a tour of your home and note everything you use regularly. It’s easier to do this room by room. If you don’t use it regularly, how long has it been since you last used it? If it’s been more than one year, don’t keep it. If it’s clothing that no longer fits, don’t keep it. If it’s broken, stained, or damaged, throw it away. If it’s something you don’t need, but may need someday, don’t keep it. If it’s something sentimental, keep it or take a picture of it to keep.

2. Living with less creates a sense of calm. Cluttered living stresses you out and keeps you from being able to relax. It’s also true that living with clutter distracts you from being able to enjoy items you truly love. After all, the secret to happiness isn’t having what you want, but appreciating what you have, right?

3. Don’t buy material items for your family but invest in experiences together.

We have been trying to both reduce our number of things in our home, but also to save money. This can be hard when you have kids. When Christmas or birthdays roll around, you may potentially receive a lot of “things.” What if families put money toward experiences, such as a zoo trip, or a paint your own pottery class? Our kids have college fund accounts that their grandparents contribute to for holidays and birthdays. Another popular idea is to have party guests bring an item to donate to a local charity, such as pet food to be donated to an animal shelter. I think in today’s society so much emphasis is placed on having “stuff” and I think it’s important to teach our kids to value one another instead.

4. You get what you pay for

There was a time when if I needed something, I’d just go buy it for as cheaply as possible. I ended up having to replace a lot of things. If you’re purchasing something you’ll use a lot, buy quality. It may seem like you’re spending more money up front, but items of a higher quality last longer and don’t need to be replaced as often. This actually saves you money. I have even found this to be true of clothing: higher quality fabrics wear better and look nice for much longer than cheap clothing. It’s worth the higher purchase price to be able to use it longer. Spending more means you’ll be less likely to purchase duplicate items, too.

5. Make it a point to purchase only what you need

I’m not saying you should never buy things you want. You can, but you must do it sparingly, or you’ll end up spending a lot of money on things that sit around taking up space. Make it a point to buy only what you need and splurge on your wants occasionally. Your home will be lighter but your wallet will not.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for simplified living. Have a wonderful day.

Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Vacationing can be relaxing and fun, but it can be stressful as well. The trick to vacationing with your little children is to be as organized as possible. With the following tips, your family vacation will run much more smoothly.

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1. Plan ahead as much as possible.

Where will you be going? How long will you be there? What will you need to take with you?

Make a checklist so you will be less likely to forget to pack the things you’ll need. If there are things you need to buy, make sure you create a shopping list as well.

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2. Pack snacks for the trip itself.

Hungry kids are grumpy kids, and sometimes it’s hard to stop for snacks. Pack a small bag of non-messy snacks to keep your kiddos happy while you’re driving or flying.

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3. Pack a “boredom box.”

Take along coloring books, puzzle books, something to read, or anything else to combat boredom. No one likes hearing, “Are we there yet?” every few minutes. If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, bring movies. An occupied child is less likely to get bored and get in trouble.

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4. Explore the area amenities before you book.

If you’re staying somewhere unfamiliar, check into local attractions before you book. This way, you’ll already know what is available to your family before you book your trip, and you can plan accordingly.

Remember to plan outings for everyone. Plan fun things to do with your kids, but don’t forget to include some fun for yourselves as well. Being less stressed means you can relax and enjoy one another more.

Have a wonderful weekend.