Redefining “Clean”

Way down deep inside I am a “neat freak”.

LOVE. a clutter free home!

When the house get messy, I get frazzled.

With two kiddos in a very small house, I’m learning to not let my internal “neat freak” show too much on the outside but it is very much alive on the inside.

When my awesome husband realizes that I’m beginning to get stressed out he asks, “We need to clean the house don’t we?” and proceeds to help me tidy up!  Love him!

About a year ago, when I would throw my hands up in the air and say “LOOK at this house!” my husband gently challenged me to redefine “clean” in my mind and perspective of my home!

SO…what is “clean?”

The first thing that comes to my mind is TIDY, NO CLUTTER.

If that is my definition, than my house will NEVER be clean during this stage of our family life, unless I do all my cleaning right before I hit the hay… but then no one is even awake to enjoy it!

*Sigh*

What’s a body to do??

When I thought about it I realized clean means “not filthy or grimy”.

With that realization, my method of house cleaning began to change.

Each day I assigned myself a room/area of our home that I was going to “clean”.

That equals dusting, wiping down dirty surfaces, cleaning the floor, doing ALL the dishes, wiping out my microwave and yes, all around tidying up.

But if in 5 minutes “tidy” no longer defines that room, IT. IS. OK.

There is no filth under the clutter.

And ya know what?

As my definition changed so did my perspective.

The “mom guilt” isn’t quite so strong.

The embarrassment over a cluttery house when someone pops in wears off pretty fast. They might see toys strewn across the floor, dishes in the sink and maybe even the couch cushions off the couch. But I know that the floor has been mopped, the toilet has been scrubbed,  dishes have been done, garbage has been taken out and laundry has been washed sometime this week.

I’m learning to be a lot happier and more purposeful about my home.

AND!

I think my girls are happier about it too!

I know I’m not the only mom who has struggled with this and I would love to hear how you “clean” your home while still allowing your kids to be kids!

~ Rachel

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Ideas for Organization

Books upon books have been written on cleaning, decluttering and organizing.  It seams every housewife, and certainly moms, are interested in ideas for orderly spaces. Here are some tips from the three of us to you.

Kitchen:

  • Use square plastic baskets for small things such as pickle jars, dressings, creamer, jam etc: this helps keeps them all in one place. The basket can then be pulled out when looking for something in the back.  
  • Keep perishable produce all together in a plastic basket in plain sight; use drawers for non perishable items such as cheese, tortillas, etc. If you can see the produce every time you open the fridge, it is more likely you’ll use it before it rots. And unlike produce that might get forgotten in the back of a drawer, cheese and tortillas probably won’t get forgotten in a drawer!
  • Can’t find something? If your fridge has see-through shelves, try looking up through the shelf from underneath before you unload everything to get to the back. Looking up through the bottom of the shelf allows you to see what all is stacked on the shelf from a different angle.  
  • Label leftovers with a name and date. Have at least one meal a week where you serve leftovers.
  • Menu plan at the beginning of the week. Prep as much as you can in the morning or at lunch time for dinner. Double a meal and put in freezer for an easy supper later.

Bedrooms:

  • Clothes – Fold clothes and stack behind each other, like files in a filing drawer, instead of stacking pieces of clothing on top of each other. When clothing is lined up in front of each other, it is easier to see all of the clothes at a glance. No more digging underneath clothes to get to something at the bottom.

I started doing this with my toddler’s clothes and it has made a huge difference in helping keep the drawers from exploding every time I looked for an outfit. This also is much more space-efficient: I am able to store most of my toddler’s clothes in a 4-drawer plastic storage tote.

  • Toys- Use old deli containers with snap on lids to store crayons, rubberbands, little toy pieces like animals or legos,  etc. These keep things organized and safe from toddlers who can’t open them yet.
  • Buy large flat bins that can fit under beds for additional storage space.
  • Place old shoe or jewelry boxes in drawers to help separate socks, tights, underwear, bibs, bows, etc.

Living Room:

  • Keep a basket to contain kids books. Sometimes kids can have a hard time getting books lined up neatly on a bookshelf but placing them in a basket can be an easy way for them to help with clean up time.

Car:

  • Cut the top off of a cereal box. Put a plastic bag in it and wah-lah! You have a perfect trash can to fit between two front seats or in the side of your car door.
  • Keep a small bin for collecting random books/toys/other paraphernalia that somehow manages to make its way into the vehicle. Every weekend make it a habit to carry bin into the house and empty it.

This and That:

  • Cut an X in the lid of an empty coffee can or oatmeal container and stuff all your grocery bags inside. A lot of bags can be packed in and one easily pulled out when you need a liner for your bathroom trash can or for a stinky diaper.
  • Use Ziploc bags or small zippered pouches for your purse or diaper bag to help keep things contained. Use one for loose pens, one for bobby pins, one for makeup, one for baby’s extra set of clothes, etc.
  • Take the inside of a toilet paper roll and cut it one time longwise. Slide over wrapping paper rolls to keep them from constantly unrolling.
  • Mail- Open up mail by trash can and immediately throw away junk mail.

It’s always helpful to find a “home” for thinks around the house, ways to eliminate the little hassles (like unrolled paper towels), and make your day run smoother! We would love to glean ideas from you! Feel free to leave us a comment!

We hope you find joy in taking care of your home today!

 

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House Cleaning Ideas

Spring time is right around the corner and with it we often find a fresh urge to do some house cleaning, but what about the other times of the year? What are ways we can work to maintain some sense of order in our homes amidst the everyday happenings? This is the question that we have asked ourselves and have had fun collaborating on. Every home will look different but we find it helpful to read new ideas/suggestions that encourage our thinking as we work to create homes that bring glory to God. So, here are some of our joint ideas for ways to keep our homes cleaner on a daily basis… not just at spring time!

Start with the simple things. Cleaning up a cluttered counter, living room, or bedroom, can feel overwhelming, but having a strategy for how you go about it can be helpful. One way to do this is to deal first with those things that you know exactly where they go. For example: if it is a dirty dish, put it in the sink to wash. If it is a spice or seasoning left from out after preparing last night’s meal, put it on the spice rack. If it is a random pen or pad of paper, put it in the junk drawer. Tackling the straightforward tasks in a job first helps the job feel much less overwhelming!

Have a set time of day to do a quick pick up.. Things often get scattered around the house during the day, so having an established time to pick up can be really helpful. For example, I have found  nap-time to be a good time for this: not only does nap-time remind me that it is now time to pick up, but it is also helpful to not have a toddler undoing my work! Or, if your child is old enough to help pick up, a quick pick-up could be right before nap-time starts.  

Set the timer when doing laundry. This helps remind you when to change out the washer and dryer.

Have someone over for a meal. Knowing that company is coming is a great motivation to at least do a quick pick up in the living room and dining room, if not also a quick touch-up in the bathroom!

Wash the dishes after each meal. I used to dread doing the dishes. However, what I’ve realized is that I don’t actually hate doing dishes. What I hate is washing dishes that have been sitting for two days with hardened food or cold liquid in them, etc. If I can get to our dishes immediately following each meal I save myself a lot of work in the long run by not having to scrub and chisel away at dishes that otherwise would have cleaned off easily.

Set a house cleaning schedule. Good habits are often formed through routine. With little ones underfoot I find that keeping a simple house cleaning schedule for each day helps me in maintaining our house throughout the week. The schedule can be broken up by rooms (Monday-kitchen, Tuesday-bathrooms, Wednesday-bedrooms, etc.) or by chores (Monday-laundry, Tuesday-vacuum/toilets/mirrors, Wednesday-bills, etc.). If I miss a day, I know that I need to save a day later in the week to make sure it gets done. This really helps to avoid those panic moments of finding out someone has run out of clean underwear or wondering when was the last time I paid the bills?  

Minimize belongings. Often when it feels like I can’t stay on top of the cleaning it’s actually a sign that I need to declutter our house. Throw things out that aren’t getting much use, rotate kids toys between the closet and attic, donate clothes I rarely wear, etc. If you really want to dive hard core into decluttering you could do a decluttering challenge that a friend of mine tried. The challenge was to throw out the same amount of items for each corresponding day of the month. So declutter 1 item on the 1st, 2 items on the 2nd, etc., etc., etc. By the end of one month you will have thrown out around 500 items. 

Work to clean up a mess before starting another one. This is especially helpful with the kids. I get out of the habit of reinforcing this with them and by nap time our house looks like a tornado has just passed through. It doesn’t take long to stop and clean up the blocks, before we can move on to pulling out the crayons/coloring books, etc., but it sure can save Mommy a lot of stress.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and focus on one room. See how much you can get done in that amount of time.

Multitask during bath time. Our kids take baths several times a week. While they play, I clean our bathroom! I really appreciate a clean bathroom. Doing it this way, our bathroom stays pretty clean all the time and it’s a multitasking win!

Have the kids help. Tell them “We are going to do____________ (dishes, laundry, dust) first, then we can ____________(pull out the legos, read books, etc). Give them a chore that is all their own and make it fun. Give them things to put away and see how fast they can run back to you for another task. Don’t worry that it’s not perfect. Our preschooler loves rolling up the vacuum cord. Yeah, it’s not perfect but it gets the job done. She has fun and she is learning at the same time. When they help, praise them. One of our daughters chores is to fold the small towels. She does a great job and beams when I tell her “That is a great fold!”

Make a game out of cleaning up.
For toddlers – “I spy an elephant, a truck and a ball. Who can find them and put them in the bin first?”
For older kids- Work in teams to complete separate lists of chores. First team done gets a prize.

 

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Helping Sunday Mornings Be Less Stressful

I sat in our minivan, finally heading down the driveway, a furrow across my brow, frustration in my heart, stress in my mind and exasperation in my voice.

This is NOT how I wanted my Sunday morning to begin….

It’s SUNDAY, we are going to Church….

My heart should be prepared for  worship and fellowship.

But it’s irritated and frazzled.

Why?

Most of all it is my sinful heart that gives into frustration and anger.

Partly it is my lack of planning.

Partly it is my lack of communication with my husband who so desires to help but can’t read the mental to-do-list that floats in my brain.

If I was a betting woman I would have bet cold hard cash that this would be the scenario every single Sunday. Week after week this went on.

I wanted it to change!

After taking it to God and talking it through with Jeremiah here are some things that help calm my heart on Sunday mornings and make the day run more smoothly.

1. Pray

– When I am intentional about communing with God in prayer about Sunday morning the night before and during the morning preparation my heart is in a much better condition to deal with all the curve balls and pressing responsibilities.

– Ask God for wisdom! He promises to give it (James 1). Ask Him, that if it would be His will He would take the reins and help things to fall in place but if not that He would give you the right heart attitude to face them and deal with them wisely.

2. Set yourself up for success Saturday night

-If I take the time to set out our kids clothes then my husband is beyond willing to take the responsibilities of getting them all dressed for church.

– Set out my clothes. Taking a few minutes to choose what I’m going to wear to church saves time and eliminates indecisiveness for the next morning!

-Clean my kitchen that night. Cleaning my kitchen after each meal is not a strong point for me but a cluttery kitchen frazzles me so much when I am under pressure. Taking time to straighten up our kitchen Saturday evening makes Sunday mornings that much nicer.

3. Keep Sunday breakfast simple

-If we could just fast all day Sunday that would help a lot! Ok, ok, so I used to make a nice breakfast every Sunday morning: pancakes, french toast, eggs, or hash browns. Breakfast food is some of my favorite but when I chose to keep Sunday breakfast simple it was a big help to keep things rolling towards getting out the door on time! And when I mean simple…I mean we eat the same thing every Sunday – granola and milk or yogurt. Not only is it already made but my husband also now knows what we will always be eating and he can get the kids going without even having to ask.

4. Plan ahead for Sunday lunch

– I noticed that I was a lot less stressed if I knew we had a fellowship meal at church or knew we were eating lunch with friends. Along with my cluttery kitchen, not knowing what we are going to eat for lunch frazzled me. We are all tired and hungry when we reach home after church and not knowing what we were eating or having to take another 40 minutes to get a meal on the table boiled in the back of my brain before we even left for church. Having a meal in the crock pot or planning to eat quick quesadillas is huge in making the day less overwhelming.

5. Make lists

-You can label me a “list person” and it won’t bother me at all! Lists save the day on Sundays. I always have a list of what needs to be done before we can leave the house and a list of everything we need to take, from the baby’s binky, to Bibles, to offering, or to a side dish for a group meal.

  • I hope these tips can help make Sundays less stressful and more worshipful for you and your family! If you have any ideas or tips PLEASE leave them in the comments below!
  • Pray, plan and be peaceful on your Sunday morning!
  • – Rachel

 

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