If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tips for the Troops Week 6: The Cleaning Curse!

Cleaning is like laundry. The work is never done.

There's a brief moment of satisfaction -- until someone shatters a blender full of smoothie on the floor (happened to me today) or throws their dirty clothes assuming the live-in maid (you) will take care of them.

So, here's where Dina -- our Organizer-in-Chief comes in to give us some tips to help make that curse of cleaning just a bit less taxing. Your troops are at attention, Dina!

Thanks, Melinda! I can't believe we are on week 6, soldiers! I hope that you all have made some progress decluttering and organizing your homes. Even something as small as a drawer is progress!

This week I would like to offer some housekeeping tips. I firmly believe that an organized home and a clean home go hand in hand. It is SO much easier to keep a home clean that isn't cluttered with stuff all over collecting dust, or laying on the floor preventing you from cleaning the floor. But - we are all past that point now, aren't we? Or at least making progress! AMEN!

If you are an "all-or-nothing" type person you may find it difficult to get motivated to clean when you know you don't have time to do the whole house. (What Mom has that kind of time these days?) Don't let that prevent you from dividing and conquering on different days.

If you can set up a system for cleaning, that's great! I do have a system loosely in place for cleaning, more structured for my laundry.

For instance, I do laundry on Mondays, and try and clean the bathrooms on Mondays also. My house gets super dusty due to pets and no carpet, so I dust a couple times a week - pretty much "as needed". Fortunately, I don't have junk all over and it doesn't take me too long to dust. I try to vacuum my house every other day if not every day. I mop and wipe down my wood floors about once per week. Once in a while I have to mop the kitchen in between. There is this great tool that I found in the book Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck called a Dutch Rubber Broom. It's great for floor cleaning. (You have to read this book, too! Yes - that's an order!)

A tip for bathrooms: The bathrooms seem to be the most time-consuming cleaning projects, so I only get to them once per week. I do keep those handy cleaning wipes in each bathroom, though, and if it starts looking bad mid-week, I can wipe it down and it will be sparkly again.

Windows and sliding doors: I think dirty windows and glass doors are just, well, GROSS!!! Who wants to look outside through goo and slimy fingerprints?? Mine get terrible because for some reason when kids come over they do not use the handles on my sliding doors. I don't get it, but they have to smack the door with an open palmed hand and push it open. Go figure. This is another "as needed" for me. My doors stay pretty clean when it's just my family here. When the kids' friends come over I usually have to wipe them down after. There are some great products out there now for cleaning the outside of your windows. Windex makes one that simply sprays on, then you wash it off. No scrubbing required. You would also be surprised at how reasonable it is to have someone come and do your windows - inside and out. I had this done several months ago and will probably make it a twice a year "event"!

Product tip: Buy good smelling natural-based products and you might even enjoy cleaning a little more! Try Method products (sold at Target). Their Eucalyptus mint bathroom cleaner smells divine.

Are you all picking up on a trend here? If you get your house decluttered and organized it will naturally just stay cleaner. You won't feel the pressure of needing an entire day to clean everything. And you will realize you don't even need that much time to do certain tasks. AND - when you want to entertain it won't take you a week to get ready! You will know that you can get your house presentable in a reasonable amount of time.

Efficiency Tip: Set a timer and see how long it takes you to do a cleaning task - dusting, mopping, whatever. You might be surprised at how small that time is. Let's say it's a 20 minute job for you to vacuum and mop your floors. During the week when you realize your floor is yucky and you miracuously have 20 minutes to spare you can get it done! And feel better when you walk in that room! That's how I do things "as needed". I sort of know how long it takes and I can squeeze it in during the week.

Do you do laundry every day? I used to do that. The "Fly Lady" (flylady.net) suggests doing a load a day. Now, I'm not knocking the FlyLady, but I have found that I like having a "laundry day" (or days) so I do laundry twice a week. (If you work outside the home this could be difficult.) Don't get me wrong - there are times I have to do a load in between, but for the most part our laundry gets done on Mondays and Thursdays. Once I pull my clothing out of the dryer (if I even dry it), if it is a hanging item, it goes straight on a hanger in the laundry room until I get it ironed. If it's a folded item, I go ahead and fold it and it gets put in a drawer. I've never understood people folding every single thing, only to pull it back out of the basket later, then hang it up, and now it has even more wrinkles to iron out! If you hang it up right out of the dryer you won't have so many wrinkles.

Do you iron as you go or all at once? (You may not iron at all! Some people just don't anymore) I'm an all at once person. When I pull my clothes out of the closet I want them ready to wear! My mornings are hectic enough without having to iron every single day. Besides, I don't have a place to leave the ironing board up all the time. And that would feel like clutter to me. I usually iron twice a week and get it ALL DONE! (If I can do this, you can do this!) And I don't want to hear this: "Well, when I iron and put my clothes in the closet, they are all wrinkly when I pull them back out." Do you want to drop and give me twenty? You obviously have too many clothes in there. Go back to week one, please.

Well, I've given you what works for me. But I'd like to encourage you to find your own method of keeping your house clean. I've got a few book and website suggestions that might help you out, too:

Organic Housekeeping, Ellen Sandbeck
The House That Cleans Itself, Mindy Starns Clark
(Nothing wrong with getting a little help now and then!)

Great tips as always, Dina! Only two more weeks of Basic Training and you graduate, troops!


  1. Hi Melinda!

    We are moving to a different apartment this weekend. And even though I thought everything was in place, still I realized we have a lot of STUFF that we either don't need or don't use anymore. So, the moving has been a great way to purge and let go. But I feel like I am in the bootcamp by running against the clock! Today is the last pick up and pack up day, since tomorrow night we have something else to do. So, wish me luck! :)

    BTW, I try to do the idea of cleaning one area a day and laundry is my DH's job, though I don't like that he leaves the last load in the dryer! :S

  2. I have been following your clean up/organize methods and I have to tell you that I am so much more relaxed. I stoped trying to clean the whole house in one day (usually the day I am truly fed up with how bad it has gotten) and decided to take 30-60 minutes a day, sometimes after the kids are sleep so it will look like it's been cleaned, and clean up.

    You would be amazed at how much I have accomplished. I wish I had taken pictures, but one night I just started it and have continued over the last week or so.

    Thanks a lot!

  3. I too have noticed that if you have an area decluttered it is easier to clean and you dont have to do it as often either.
    I am currently working to find a schedule that works for me to get everything done. I have marked in something to do every day except the weekend so I will use it and keep revamping it till it works! Great post!


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