Kids’ Clothes Clean-out!

Trying Out a New Method

Over the Christmas break, a friend recommended that I read the popular organizing book “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (2014, Ten Speed Press).  Her method, also known as the Konmari method has helped many simplify and de-clutter their homes in short periods of time by identifying items by whether they bring them joy.  I decided to check it out and see if some of the ideas might work for me.  I wasn’t sure if “joy” could realistically be the determining factor for all my belongings (who loves bills?), but maybe I could pair down to what I loved, and truly needed.  I was also skeptical about de-cluttering by type of item rather than room or section of the house, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try, so after reading, I plunged into the method’s 1st category of items: clothing.  I really wanted to dig into my own clothes, but I decided that I could face my kids’ clothes with less emotion, and their room (and our laundry baskets) were brimming with clothes.  So off I went….

My Clothes-culling Strategy

Step 1 – I started out by collecting every piece of dirty laundry I could find in my home.  I collected everything from kids’ room (I even looked behind their bed) and every room of the house, and took them to the laundry to sort.  I sorted it all into the following piles: kids clothes’, my clothes, husband’s clothes, and linens.  Then I started a load of kids’ clothes and determined to keep washing through just the kids’ clothes until they were complete.

Step 2 – Once the wash was started, I separated the clean clothes that were around the house (like the piles on my couch) into kid’s clothes, and everything else.  I folded all the kids’ clothes and separated them by kid.  The clean clothes would now be ready for when I sorted through the contents of the dressers and closet.

boys 001Step 3 – I already have the kids clothes organized by type in the dressers (shirts in one drawer, pants in another, etc.), so I knew I could just pull one drawer at a time to organize each type of item.  Since, my kids socks were all mixed up and they couldn’t find any pairs, I decided to pull all the socks from both dressers.  I brought the sock drawers into my Living room where I could sort them.  I dumped them all onto the floor and started sorting them by type.  I added in the socks from the folded laundry I had just finished, and matched up as many pairs as I could and then put them away.  I then threw out any that were ripped or were no longer the right size, or I just didn’t like the look of anymore.  I left a small pile of single socks that had no match in the living room, to match up with others later as they came out of the wash.

boys 003Step 4 – With socks done, I started drawer by drawer per kid.  I immediately eliminated any that were not in my son’s current size and put them in a donation bag.  Rather than deciding if each item brought me “joy”, I asked myself: “Does this fit him?”, “Am I sick of seeing this?”, Is it too worn or stained?”  Those questions helped me quickly divide out the ones I no longer wished to keep.  I folded them neatly back into the drawer as I went along.  I then turned to my pile of clean clothes from the washed and decided if they were all keepers.  If not, they went straight to the donation bin.  If I couldn’t fit everything in the drawer, I decided which items we had too many of, and eliminated the ones I loved the least.  **Tip – This process was so much easier with the kids at school.

Step 5 – Repeated steps with other son’s dresser.  I also checked occasionally on washer, stopping to fold up kids clothes and cull/put-away into the drawers I already completed.

boys 002Step 6 – I tackled the hanging clothes and jackets last by the same process.  I only hang my sons’ collared shirts and jackets, so it was fairly easy to cull through.  And I decided how many coats we really needed, and limited my favorites to that number.

The Result

Wow!  I can’t believe how fast this seemed to go.  In 2 hours, I had not only collected and sorted all the laundry in the house in preparation, but I cleared out and organized ALL of the kids clothes in 2 dressers and their closet (including baseball uniforms and swimsuits)!  I had been skeptical by organizing by type rather than location, but let me tell you….I loved how THOROUGH this felt!!  I knew I had organized everything!!  And as items continued to come out of the dryer, I could quickly match up the lingering single socks and cull or put-away remaining items.

I also de-cluttered 5 full bags of kids clothes!!  No wonder laundry had been over-flowing!  I only kept what we loved and used, and the kids still had full dressers.  I had thought that both kids needed new jeans because they had repeatedly come out in the mornings with too-short, holey jeans….but it turned out, the perfectly good jeans were just buried somewhere.  If I had not gone through all the clothes in such a methodical way, I would have spent money on several more pairs per kid!  In the end, I had more pairs of good pants than I needed, and even gave a few good pairs away just to keep from packing the drawers to tight.  So I managed to save $$, have plenty to give to friends or to donation, and every piece of clothes they own is organized and put away!  Boy, that was productive!  Try it and let me know what you think.

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“I just don’t feel like it.” – Thoughts on Procrastination

It’s dawned on my recently the toll that procrastination is taking on my life, at work and at home.  Last fall, after weeks of worries over work, I made the New Year’s Resolution to battle against procrastination in my work activities.  I was sure that much of my stress was related to tasks I had waited on, which I then felt guilty about (causing more stress), and then finally had to deal with in a mad rush.  I haven’t been perfect in my effort to slay the procrastination monster in my work life, but I have come along way.  This year, I became more dedicated to working through a daily to-do list, and started tackling the item I dreaded most 1st.  I still have plenty of room for improvement, but I am happy with my progress, and I know that it has greatly aided me as my workload reached its highest capacity this fall.  I’ve been able to keep myself on track with much less stress.

2014-11-30 17.26.55Unfortunately, my recent heavy work load and focus to keep things done in that area, left my house to suffer.  I lost track of my routines, and despite many efforts to get back on track, I was floundering.  My husband and kids began to help more, but the house still looked like a storm had hit.  As Thanksgiving approached, things slowed down a bit at work, and I was able to turn more of my focus towards my home.  I repeatedly worked to reclaim my kitchen from chaos, but because I wasn’t faithful to my morning and evening routines, I didn’t maintain much progress.  I kept wondering what the problem was.  Last week, knowing that I couldn’t keep going in circles, I diligently started working on my Morning and Before Bed Routines, and slowly but surely, I started seeing progress again on my home!  These small tasks that I had been ignoring due to time pressures and needing to tackle other “important” things, were the very things I needed to be doing to make my life easier.  As I looked at the “disaster” areas of my home, I realized that many of these problem areas were directly related to repeated procrastination of small tasks.

mess2Time to Change

Um…yes, that is a Ziggle bike sitting in the front seat of my car (on top of a pile of junk that I have stored there, instead of taking stuff with me each time I got out of the car).  Since taking this photo, I managed to clean out the car, but the Ziggle managed to live in the car for about of week because I didn’t “feel” like taking 5 seconds to bring it into our garage.  And every time I got in the car I felt like such a slob driving to work because of this pile of items I hadn’t felt like dealing with.  Daily decisions to not bring in these items which had entered the car just a few at a time, had resulted in a huge pile that actually took quite a bit of time to sort through and deal with.  If I had taken just a minute or two to bring these things daily and dealt with them immediately, my car would have stayed clean, I would have felt better, and I would have saved all the time and energy I eventually had to put out to get my car back in order.

mess3And I was doing this everywhere!  My bedside was a wreck because a few weeks ago I dug out a box of clothes I had been saving in my closet that finally fit, but then I didn’t “feel” like putting back.  That box, that sat by my bed, attracted the daily items I had left on my bed to deal with later, but that I didn’t “feel” like putting away before getting into bed.  Dirty laundry then ended up on that stack, along with shoes, and books and garbage.  The clean clothes that needed to be put away ended up in the stack too because I couldn’t get into the closet until I “made time” to deal with the now HUGE project.   I finally dealt with that pile and as well as the other piles I had created around the room, and luckily, it only took 2 hours to deal with instead of days.  But I could have saved myself the 2 hours by simply putting the box back in the beginning, and taking a few minutes to put away stuff before bed, or maybe I could simply have applied the “Do It Now” principle and actually dealt with the items I had been laying on the bed right when I had them in my hand to begin with.  Imagine that!  Why was I making things so difficult for myself?

Progress

As you know, I’m a big believer in Flylady’s Shine Your Sink technique.  Whenever my house returns to chaos, I know that the 1st area to reclaim is my kitchen sink.  And sometimes, because I know how it easy it is, and that it usually doesn’t take as long as I dread it will, I actually give myself permission to procrastinate on it.  I think to myself, “It will only take a few minutes tomorrow to deal with it, and even if it gets worse, I know what to do”.  But if I don’t tackle those dishes, I don’t do my Before Bed Routine.  And when I don’t do that, I throw off my morning, and we are late to school….and I still don’t have my dishes done.  And then I just have a bigger pile to deal with later.  It has to STOP!!  Procrastination never makes things easier.  I lie to myself when I think that I can just do it later and not have more work to do.  Later is never as easy as now.  No matter how dreadful the current task seems, it’s always easier NOW.  I just have to make the decision to do those things right away, and make that decision daily.  That’s what Happy Habits are all about.  I can keep the chaos away by making simple daily decisions to do the necessary tasks now.  Why be harder on myself by giving myself more work later??

clean bedsideSince Thanksgiving, I have consistently made the simple decision each night to tackle the dishes before bed.  And that decision is working wonders in my home.  It has led me to finish off my Bedtime routine, which has led to a smoother morning and completed Morning routine.  I have reclaimed my kitchen.  I started getting on top of my  laundry, and I reclaimed my bedroom.  All that in just a few days.  Success in one small item bred success in others.  All of these little moments add up.  I think this year for 2015, I will make the New Year’s Resolution to slay the procrastination monster in my home.  No more waiting until later.  I know I won’t “feel” like dealing with big messes later, so I’ll make the decision now to do what I can at the moment, whether I “feel” like it or not.

New Season for Clean

 

Can you believe it?  It’s September already!!  This year is just flying by, isn’t it?  September to me means two fabulous things:  (1) My pumpkin spice latte is back at Starbucks, and (2) I can get out my much-loved Fall Décor!!  I love, love, love the colors of fall; they add such a warm cozy feel to my home.  I can’t wait to tear into the Fall bins stored in my garage!

new 033 Give Yourself A Reason to Clean

It’s been 2 weeks since school started, and I’m still working to catch my breath.  My work schedule changed along with the school schedule, and with those adjustments cleaning has moved to the back burner; I’ve only had time to deal with the basics.

Now’s the time to get things back in shape.  What better inspiration to tidy up, then the promise of pulling out my favorite home décor?  Here’s my rule on decorating: Never pull out decorations until the area you want to decorate is clean and organized.  I save my “play” (decorating) for after my “work” (cleaning).  By linking the two activities, I am highly motivated to clean up quickly.

decor 001Clean-Up 1st

Before getting out my bins, I selected my 1st area to clean: the kitchen.  I decided to use Flylady’s Crisis Cleaning Podcast to help me clean-up as quickly as possible.  You can find this valuable cleaning tool at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/flylady-tools/2008/04/04/crisis-cleaning.   This podcast leads you through 3 15-minute cleaning session focused on the kitchen, living room and bathroom, so you can tidy in a hurry.  I use it anytime I need a quick clean-up.  You can follow her instructions straight through all 3 rooms, or if needed, pause after each room’s session and replay if necessary.    In this particular case I think I replayed the kitchen section 3 times!  But it did the trick.  I started with the sink and worked my way clock-wise around the room tidying all the surfaces.

614Out with the Old

For most of the year, my kitchen is decorated with little chefs.  But for fall, I like to put out some pumpkins and scarecrows, so the chefs will go into hiding.  I removed all the chefs from my newly cleaned kitchen and set them all on the dining room table.  The moment I had been waiting for was here…..I could now crack open my Fall bin and get out my décor!

new 029In With the New

I particularly liked how I decorated above my cabinets last year, so I looked at a photo I had taken to preserve my display, and then just pulled out the right pieces!  Voila!  Scarecrows and pumpkins now sit above the cabinets.  I also found my seasonal candles!! 

 

new 027

A Little Something Extra

For a little fun I added just a couple new pieces to my décor this year.  I picked up a new tablecloth from my local Home Goods store, and a little centerpiece.  Now my dining area is freshened up too.

The kitchen is now done, and I can put my little chefs in the bin that the fall stuff came out of and store them back in the garage.  When I’m ready to take down the fall stuff, I’ll do a quick de-clutter of my Fall bins and remove any items I don’t love any more.

In about an hour my kitchen has gone from disarray to warm and tidy!  I can’t wait to move on to the rest of the house, and get my other boxes open.  Off I go!

 

 

 

 

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” – Benjamin Franklin.

My schedule lately has been CRAZY!!  When it comes to the Sales profession, busy is good, since it usually means more sales (in the long run), but it can also pose a challenge when the Salesperson is also a mother and a wife.  As the pace has increased and my days off have gotten fewer, I have struggled to keep a balance going between my work life, home duties, and fun with the family.  But in the last few weeks I have found a good rhythm and balance, by trying something new….Getting Up Early.  I can hear you groaning from here, but hear me out…..You may not want to get up at the crack of dawn, but awaking just a bit earlier could add a lot more calm and efficiency to your day.

time 008Getting Up Before The Family

I realized that I wasn’t going to be getting any more hours in my day, so I better just start using the hours I had a little bit better!  Staying up late wasn’t working well, even though I am more of a night person, because after a busy work day, dealing with kids, making and cleaning up dinner, I was ready to relax or go to bed.  I made the decision to start getting up early, and setting a new wake-up time….5:30.  That may sound horribly early to you, but my kids have always gotten up fairly early, so I was almost used to it.  I just needed to start waking up a little bit before the rest of my family.

Waking up before everyone else has some distinct advantages:

(1)  You can actually THINK!  No one is up making noise and the house is nice and quiet.  You have a moment to make yourself some coffee and then, as the caffeine sets in, you can start planning out your day.  Better to meet the day before the day meets you!

(2) You can get a whole lot more done!  My schedule had gotten so crazy that I was needing to finish projects for work the day they were due!!  When I got up even just 30 minutes early, I was able to grab my coffee, work on a project, get my Morning routine done, and get me and kids out the door.  Sometimes, to my utter disbelief, I was even able to do extra tasks because my Morning routine was done so quickly.   Experts say whether you are a morning person or not, you are actually twice as efficient 1st thing in the morning than during other parts of the day.  Try this for yourself and see how much you can get done.

(3) I can start my day with a better attitude.  There is nothing worse than waking up late, and finding that you are already running behind.  When I wake before everyone else, I can sit down and pray, read my bible, figure out what needs to be done.  Having time to actually focus prepares me for my family, so I can assist them in getting out the door too.  When I wake up late, we are all trying to rush (or I’m trying to rush while the kids are not listening, and then I’m screaming, and we are late for school…..you know the drill).  When I awake early, I set the pace for myself, and the family.  I feel in charge of my to-do list.  And that is a great feeling.

coffee 002My Morning Routine

First rule of getting up early:  Don’t hit the snooze button!!  I get right out of bed and head to the kitchen.  I get my Keurig started for morning cup of coffee, and I fill my sink with sudsy water while the coffee is brewing.  The sink is then ready for the breakfast dishes that will be coming later.  I then grab my coffee, and head to the dining room table where I do a short bible study and prayer time for about a 1/2 hour.  If I have a work project that needs to be completed, I just make my devotional time a little shorter, and then start on my project.  By 6 my kids are usually getting out of bed and grabbing their breakfast.  I grab mine as well, and then we dump our dishes to soak in the sink.  I try to finish up my work stuff by 6:30 or 7 (and I can usually do that because I can get twice as much done in the morning…yay!).  By this time my husband is usually out of bed, so I can go ahead and make my bed.  I grab my work clothes and head to the shower and spend 10 min in there max.  After I’m out and dressed, I head back to the kitchen to rinse off the dishes that have been soaking and wipe of the table.  My kids collect all the dirty laundry for me and we start our next load or put away from the clothes from the dryer.  With that, my Morning Routine is done!!  I head back to the bathroom, blow dry my hair and put on makeup.  All that’s left is packing my stuff up and heading out the door to wherever we need to go.  So much less stressful.

How Can You Start Getting Up Early?

You can either go cold turkey by picking a new wake time and then just jumping out of bed, or you can start working your way backwards by setting the alarm clock to go off just 15-20 min. earlier, and then adjusting every several days until you are setting it for your new wake-up time.  Either way, you may find that you need to start going to bed at night a teeny bit earlier too; you don’t want to burn your candle at both ends!  But start getting up early 1st, and then hopefully you’ll feel more tired at night, and just go to bed a little sooner.

Also, prepare the night before by finishing your dinner clean-up and setting out your clothes.  Your morning will go so much smoother with your kitchen clean and your clothes ready to go.  Have your kids pick theirs out too.  Good routines are a blessing for everyone.

Are you ready to start getting more out of your days?  Try getting up a little earlier with me.  You won’t believe how much you can get done!  But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!

The Kitchen is Closed

kitchen closed 2 I was thinking back to my college years and the different jobs I had: working at the movie theater, waitressing, working at a bookstore, etc.  And I realized there was an important lesson I can incorporate into my daily routines — I need to focus on my “Closing Duties”.  Each of these jobs had closing duties for those who had the last shift of the day.  As tired as we were at the end of the night, we couldn’t leave the theater without cleaning out the popcorn maker, tidying the theaters and cleaning up the concession stand.  Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be to return to a full work day if the closing duties hadn’t been tackled the night before?  No restaurant, retail establishment, or service job can function properly without completing their closing duties.  And yet, we head to bed all the time without completing closing duties for our home!  No wonder we are having trouble getting going in the mornings!  It’s time to make a change.

Closing Duties

Where do we start?  Closing duties begin before you even start cooking the evening meal, and they end when the kitchen is clean and ready for the next day.  Now, we don’t need to make it difficult for ourselves with a long list; we are not deep-cleaning the kitchen.  Closing Duties are all about putting things back where they go and preparing for the next shift: our Morning routine.  Here’s some simple things you can include to make closing the kitchen a cinch:

ingredients 1. Get Out Your Ingredients

Rather than pulling things out one at a time, using them and then leaving them around the kitchen, pull all the ingredients out together in one spot so they are ready to use.  With all the ingredients already ready, you can focus on putting away things as you use them, rather than looking for the next item.  Grab your cookbook if you need it, and put it with your ingredients.  If you haven’t already done so earlier in the day, start de-frosting your meat while you pull out the other items.

new 0012. Get Your Sink Sudsy

If you have been working with me for a while, this is not a new idea for you.  Before starting any cooking, fill your sink or dish tub with sudsy water to prepare for your cooking dishes.  The dishes are so easy to tackle when everything has been soaking for a while.

 

dishes 0383. After Dinner – Tackle the dishes

This is your main FOCUS for your kitchen closing — getting that sink empty.  Have your family put their own dishes into the sudsy sink once they have finished eating.  Then, start hand-washing or putting dishes in your dishwasher.  If they have soaked a few minutes, it should be super easy.

clean kitchen4. The Closing 3

After the dishes done, the rest of your clean-up will be a breeze.  There are 3 things I like to tackle before kitchen is officially closed:

a. wipe surfaces – dip a sponge in your soapy water and quickly wipe off stove top, counters and dining room table.  This will go even faster if you hand a family member the sponge.

b. take out the trash – this can be done if needed.  If its half full you can leave it for tomorrow

c. quick sweep of the kitchen – give the kitchen a quick sweep or run over with a vacuum.  And then you are done!  Kitchen is Closed for the night!  You are free to rest easy!  Enjoy.

 

 

New Year, Same Old Habits (Just Better)

Hello Friends!  I’m sorry you haven’t heard from me in awhile; 2014 got off to a busy start.  I’d love to share with you what I’ve been doing since the year began.  For the last few years, I have worked my way through the baby steps at www.Flylady.net for the month of January.  But this year, I decided to just do a Routine Reboot, brushing up on 4 of my most basic home habits.  I worked on just 1 habit a week, and each week added 1 new habit to the week before.  Here’s how I did it:

Routine Reboot

christmas 023Week 1 – For the 1st week, I focused on my #1 Habit – “Shining the Sink” aka “Dealing with Dishes”.  My main focus each day was to deal with my Breakfast dishes in the morning and make sure my Dinner dishes were done at night.  On day 1, I also gave the sink a good scrub to get it sparkly.  I quickly discovered that it might work well to fill the sink with soapy water while I waited for my coffee to brew in the morning.  My family often has breakfast while I am in the shower, so having the soapy water ready allows them to put their breakfast dishes into the sink to soak while I finish getting ready.  After I’m ready for work, I just rinse them off and either put them in the dish drainer or the dish washer.  In the evening, I start my soapy water before I even start cleaning, so that everything can soak before dinner even begins.  Again, my family can then just add their dishes after the meal, and I can clean-up right away.

habits 024Week 2 – This week I continued to keep my focus on the sink but I made sure to also make my bed each morning before leaving for work.  I found that the best time for me to make my bed was on my way to the shower after I had my cup of coffee.  I’d quickly make up the bed, grab my work clothes and then head to the shower.  On Day 1 of this week, I also pulled all the bedding off (including the pillow shams) and washed all of it to start the week right.  I began developing a real rhythm with each day I worked through my habits.

 

routinesWeek 3 – My new habit for Week 3 was “The 10-min Tidy.  I started out just implementing a whole family 10 minute clean-up before bed at night, and then gradually begin doing a 5-10 min. clean-up before leaving the house.  This is a habit I really need to practice.  Its the key to keeping everything looking nice (and training my kids to clean up after themselves).  I also continued my 1st 3 habits each day and night.

Week 4 – This week was a busy one, so I decided just to review my 3 habits for the week and really get my rhythm going.

house 001Week 5 – This week was all about focusing on the laundry.  After my other morning habits, I tackled my laundry with a 1-2 punch:  (1) I went on a scavenger hunt for dirty laundry throughout the house (on the floors and in the hamper) and brought it to the laundry, and (2) I worked on putting any clean clothes I spotted around the house away.  These 2 steps got my house nice and tidy before even loading the washer.  So, this became my main laundry mission for the morning.

Getting Into a Rhythm

This Routine Reboot was really wonderful for me.  I’ve been in my new home since May of last year, but I had struggled to find a good rhythm for my routines even though I new the steps to take.  Each house has its own place to put things, and has its own rhythm.  This 5 week review helped me create new efficiency, and opened my eyes to how I could be doing my routines more easily each day.  If you have been struggling with your routines, I encourage you to try this reboot, and see how it works for you.  Get a rhythm going in your home with your own Happy Habits!

The After-Christmas House Rescue

house 015Christmas came and went in a hurry, and now I’m left with the clean-up!!  Thankfully, a trashed house is evidence of many Christmas blessings and the memory of family fun this season.  I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas as well.  Now we have some work ahead of us!  The faster we can get things cleaned up, the faster we can get back to enjoying our families and preparing for the New Year.  Here are the steps I’ll be using for my holiday house rescue:

1. Get Yourself Ready

You may want to brew yourself a nice cup of coffee or other delicious beverage to get you started.  Then your 1st mission is to get dressed!  It’s so easy to linger in your pj’s (especially if they are new Christmas pajamas), but you won’t be able to focus well until you are dressed all the way to your shoes.  You need to tell your body you are ready for action, not relaxed and ready for rest.  After you are dressed, go ahead and make your bed.  This will give you a quick sense of accomplishment in our holiday clean-up!

holiday clean 0012. Set the Mood

Turn on some music to get you moving.  If you didn’t get enough Christmas music, go ahead and say farewell to the holiday with some of your favorite holiday tunes as you clean.  Otherwise, turn on your favorite CD or tune your radio to your favorite station.  You might also want to light a scented candle in the kitchen to get it smelling nice while you start your clean-up.

christmas 0233. Dishes 1st.

Before we start on all the clean-up associated with the gift wrap and gifts, let’s get those dishes tackled.  We don’t need the house smelling like dirty dishes.  Let your kids play with their toys in the living room while you get working in the kitchen.  Get your soapy water started, and get your dishes stacked and ready to be washed on one side of the sink.  Have your family members bring you any dishes from other rooms of the house.  Check to see if the dishwasher is ready to be unloaded.  Move as quickly as you can, and work your way through those dishes, one pile at a time.  Don’t stop until you get to a clean sink.  You’re one big step done on your way to a clean home!

holiday clean 0024. Get the trash out!

Oh boy, now it is time for the real Christmas clean-up!  Grab a bag or two, and go room by room through the house in search of trash.  Collect all the used gift-wrap, napkins, and other holiday trash from each room.  You might as well empty the trash cans in the bathrooms and kitchen as well.  March those bags of trash right out of the house and out to the garbage cans.

christmas 0195.  Collect the gifts

I have a few gifts that will need to go back to the store.   Decide on a spot to stack any items that need to be returned or exchanged.   As we go along, you can drop items off in this spot.  Get your family to assist you in collecting their own gifts from around the house and putting them in their own rooms.  It will take a while to find new homes in the house for the new gifts, so don’t worry about that now.  Just find a spot in each owner’s room where they can set them until you find a home in the next few days or weeks.  ***Put-away tip: When you are ready to start putting the gifts away, consider decluttering a similar item for donation.  Replace old pajamas with new ones, and an old toy for a new one.  If you don’t have a similar item, pick 2 unrelated items for donation instead.  This will get you on the right track for the New Year.

vacuum 0016. Vacuum and then resume normal cleaning.

Once the trash and gifts are away and off the floor, you can resume your normal cleaning.  You may want to do a quick vacuuming job to get the lingering little bits from the gift-wrap.  Luckily, Santa brought me a new vacuum!  Your house should be looking much better now.  Can you feel the sanity returning??  I’m going to let my decorations stay up a little longer.  I’m not ready to say “goodbye” to my tree, lights and snowmen.  At the end of the week, I’ll put away my Santa stuff, but I’ll let my snowmen stay into mid-January.

I hope this little list helps you to bring some calm back into your home, so you can enjoy the rest of this year with your family.    Thanks for joining me this year to create happy habits in your home.  Bring on 2014!  God Bless you and yours!

Pre-Holiday Clean-Up Day 6: Doing Double Duty

Once again, work responsibilities forced me to put off yesterday’s task of cleaning up the kiddos’ bedroom.  But then I thought about it and realized that the kids are big enough to clean their own bedroom.  Why should I clean it for them?  Instead, I’ll guide them through their own clean-up (jumping in to assist only when necessary), and that will free me up to focus on the main bathroom.  For your own home, feel free to use the last 2 days before Thanksgiving to work on the most important spaces that need to be cleaned up ( you don’t have to do the same rooms as me), and don’t be afraid to get your family involved, especially if it involves their own rooms or belongings.

840The Kids Room

Sometime before Christmas, I will take time to de-clutter and organize my kids toys, but today is not that day.  Today’s focus will be for my 2 kids to tidy up their room, so they have room to play while on their Holiday break.  I’ll guide them down the same list we used for the Master bedroom speed-cleaning.  I’ll just give them one step to do at a time, and I’ll try to get them to race the clock for fun.  Here’s the list:

1. Make beds

2. Put all clothes on bed and sort.  I’ll help them with the clean stuff, but they can get the dirties into their own hamper.

3. Books and papers on bed to sort.  Throw away any trash.

4. Put away books

5. Put away toys (I may need to assist with this step since the toy space is getting crowded).

6. Vacuum floor

kids 045Cleaning the Bathroom

While the kids are cleaning their room, I’ll be working on my bathroom.  For most of us, the bathroom is not our favorite room to clean, but it also doesn’t take very long.  I expect that the bulk of my time will be de-cluttering my bathroom cabinet.  Here’s how I’ll be working through the room:

1. Cleaning the shower:  I don’t need to make special time to clean the shower and bath — I’ll just tackle it while I take my morning shower!  I keep a little scrub sponge in the shower caddy, and when I’ve got the conditioner in my hair, I put a little shampoo on my scrubber and quickly scrub over the walls and tub surfaces.  A quick rinse, and its all done.  You could opt to do one wall of the shower each day, and you’ll never have to work hard on the shower again!

2. The floor:  Put any dirty clothes in the hamper and collect any used towels and bath rugs for the laundry.

3. The sink:  After I’m dressed, I’ll quickly clear the sink of any toiletries and I’ll use a Clorox wet wipe to clean the sink surfaces.

4. Toilet:  I’ll put a little bowl cleaner to soak while I declutter my bathroom cabinet.  Once, I’m done with the cabinet, I’ll swish the bowl, and then use another Clorox wipe to wipe the surfaces of the toilet.  Always work from the clean parts of the toilet to the dirty parts (lid 1st, then under the seat).  Don’t forget to tackle the base of the toilet and the floor around the toilet.

5.  The bathroom cabinet:  While the toilet is soaking, I’ll quickly “pick” through my bathroom cabinet to see what items can be tossed out or put back in a better places.  On frantic mornings, things can sometimes just get tossed back in the cabinet, so I may need to just do a little rearranging, so everything will fit nicely.  After I’ve culled and tidied for a few minutes, I’ll quickly wipe the outside of the cabinet with another wipe.

6. Mirror and walls:  Clean off your mirror, and check walls for any splatters.  Also, wipe off the door of any fingerprints.

7.  Sweep and damp mop the floors:  I have a tile floor, so when I want to do a quick job, I just use a couple of Clorox wipes to wipe down the floor.  When I have more time, I’ll actually get out the mop and bucket.   You decide what will work best for you today.

8. Replenish the linens and supplies:  Make sure the toilet paper is stocked, and add clean towels to the bathroom.  Once the area is rug, you can put it back in your clean bathroom.

And we’re done!  That didn’t take long at all.  The bathroom is clean and ready for guests.  And my kids room is all tidied up.  Tomorrow, I’ll do a quick tidy through all the rooms I’ve tackled already, and then I can focus on getting the outside of my house ready for lights and decorations.  The holidays are almost here!

Pre-Holiday Clean-Up Day 5: Speed Cleaning the Bedroom

I had planned to start on my Bedroom 2 days ago, but life got in the way.  I bet you understand how that is!  No problem…I’ll just have to adjust my schedule for the next 4 days.  Today’s plan will be to Speed Clean and organize my Master Bedroom.  Day 6 will focus on the Kids Room (or room of your choice), followed by 1 day on the Bathroom, and then our last day will be devoted to cleaning up our outside areas.  We still have plenty of time to finish getting our homes tidy before Thanksgiving.

808Speed Cleaning Your Bedroom

When I was young, my father taught me an easy, focused way to clean my messy bedroom, and I still use his plan to this day.  Just follow these 6 simple steps, and your bedroom will be clean in a jiffy:

1. Make your Bed:  In any bedroom of the house, always begin cleaning by making the bed.  Your bed will be come a sorting station while you clean, so be sure to either make your bed, or strip the bed of its linens and take them to the washer.

8092. Collect all clothing:  Bring all the clothing stashed around your room to your bed, starting at the floor and then the surfaces of the room.  1st, separate the clean clothing from the dirty clothes, and then put the dirty pile in the hamper or take it straight to the laundry.  Fold or hang up the remaining clothing on your bed until the bed is clear.  If you find anything that no longer fits, throw it in a bag for give-away.

8103. Collect all papers & books:  Any books or papers around the room should be stacked neatly on your bed.  Grab a trash bag and dispose of any trash from your pile of papers.  If papers need to be filed, put in a container to be filed later.  Then put away all the books where they belong.  By now, most of the mess in your room has likely been dealt with!

4. Miscellaneous:  Finish clearing any left-over items from your floor and put where they belong (if it’s not too big of a job, include the floor of your closet in the clean-up).  Clear your night stands and dressers of miscellaneous items and trash.  Don’t worry about cleaning out your closet or dressers at this point, just get the outside surfaces clear.

8245. Surfaces and mirrors:  You should have the room clear enough to start dusting.  Grab a feather duster, microfiber cloth or even a lightly damped rag, and begin dusting the furniture in your room.  I like to work clock-wise around the room, making a quick pass over all the surfaces, including pictures and mirrors.

6. The Floor:  Last on your list are the floors.  If you have carpets, start your vacuum.  If you have hardwoods, dust mop and then damp-mop your floor.

You Did It!!

Congratulations your room is now clean and tidy!  Its going to feel great to sleep in your clean room tonight!  As a finishing touch, you might want to spray a little disinfecting spray or light a candle to leave your room smelling nice.  If you laundered your bedding earlier, now is the time to make up the bed.  Now, go grab yourself a little something good to drink and relax for a while;  you’ve earned it!!

 

Pre-Holiday Clean-up Day 4: De-clutter the Living Room

home 002Daily Tune-Up
Before we move forward with our cleaning/ de-cluttering, lets take a few minutes to freshen up the areas we have already worked on in the kitchen and living room. Check your hotspots and see if there are items that need to be put away, check for dishes that need to be dealt with and dispose of any lingering trash. A little daily maintenance will keep everything nice. Once that is tackled, head back to the living room. If you didn’t get a chance to start or finish your Speed-cleaning yesterday, go ahead and work on that today. Once your cleaning is done, you are ready to move forward with de-cluttering or any deeper cleaning.

I’m Ready to De-clutter

Today, I have 2 tasks I’d like to accomplish:lr 001

1.  A Quick Mini de-clutter of my CD’s, books and videos.  All 3 of these areas are full to the brim and I’d like to make some breathing room.  I’m going to quickly peruse each area and just pick a few items in each area that I’d be willing to donate to Goodwill.  My goal is 5 items from each category.  Once I’m done, my bag will go immediately out to the garage or trunk in preparation for a donation run.

 

living room 0022. For weeks I’ve been wanting to tackle organizing my red living room cabinet.  I use it to house my CD’s, work files, extra books, bible study binders, greeting cards and in-box trays for my papers.  I need to get it a little more organized and functional.  Rather than pull everything out of the cabinet and start organizing, I’m just going to pull one category of items out at a time to de-clutter, organize and put back in place.  If I have to stop and start on my project, it will be easier to put back quickly if I’m only dealing with a few items at a time.  I’d love to get the whole cabinet done today, but I know I have lots of family activities to attend to this afternoon, so I’ll just do as much as I can.  Any de-cluttering I can complete will be progress!

What will you choose to do today to make your Living Room a more comfortable space to spend time with your family?  What cleaning or organizing do you need to do in there before you can decorate or put up your tree?  Pick 3 things and move toward your goal.  You can do it!