The Low Down on Home Air Quality
Studies show that the air quality in your home can be more than 4 times worse than the polluted air outside. Today’s household cleaners and detergents are stocked full of harmful chemicals. We have just begun to uncover how bad those chemicals can be on the health of every living thing in your home. So how do we combat the issue? Well you can scatter potted plants and trees throughout your home, turning it into a jungle, and hope that it will help keep the toxins low. Or you can change the way you clean. We believe that using safe, natural, and environmentally friendly cleaners are the best option to keep the nasty toxins out of your home and out of the bodies of those you love.
The Superhero Cleaning Club
My kids know that doing chores is just a part of life and something that needs to be done before any other activities, but they still complain sometimes. That’s when you have to spice it up and make it fun. Cleaning competitions, loud background music that you can dance to while you clean, and even bribes might be helpful, but I found one way to make it fun for the whole family. We came up with the Superhero Cleaning Club. Each Saturday, when I called time for chores, the kids -and parents- had 5 minutes to create a Superhero Costume and name. Props were welcomed as well and were usually associated with one of your chores. At first my kids grumbled, but when I came out of my room downed with my little boy’s underwear on my head, a towel cape and toilet brush in hand, announcing myself as Latrine Queen they quickly got in the mood. It was the most fun we had cleaning. They are a little older now, but we will still break out the Cleaning Superheroes when we want to have some cleaning fun!
Scheduling is your Friend
People are busy nowadays. Personal trainers will tell you in order to get, or stay, in shape you have to schedule your work outs; mark them on your calendars and then when someone asks you if you can do something during that time you can look at it and say, sorry, I have an appointment. Don’t underestimate the need to take care of yourself or to take care of your home. Mark out on the calendar times when you are not available for anything else because you have an appointment with something important, like your duster. Cleaning as you go is always a great way to stay on top of things, but setting time aside a few times a week for bigger jobs will help ensure you get those done and your weekend chore list might just shrink a little, leaving more time for fun with the family.
Keeping it together
Productivity can heavily be determined by convenience. Keeping cleaning products and supplies organized can help. The old fashion way is to have everything you need in one cleaning tote and take it around the house as you clean different rooms. I have found a way that has helped me even more. I have a basket in many areas of my house filled with the things I need to clean that particular area. Who wants to lug around a heavy tote or bucket with them when you can have everything you need in a convenient place. Bathrooms are an easy place to start. Keep a little tote under the sink with your cleaners, spare rags, a roll of paper towels and whatever else you use in your bathrooms. Each bathroom should have its own toilet scrubber too. No one wants to carry a dripping scrubber around to each bathroom. The kitchen also needs its own basket under the sink and that one can hold items needed for adjacent rooms. Other possible areas are the laundry room and closets. Keeping cleaning supplies close to the areas that need them will help get the job done quicker and will allow you to do easier touch ups .
Getting to the Bottom of it All
You can only solve a problem by getting to the root of it. If you find that you can’t throw any of your children’s school papers away, ask yourself why. What is it you are holding onto and is there a better way to do it. Or if you fear your closet will implode if you add one more item to it, consider that there is something behind that. Often when we find ourselves with areas of the house or our lives that we just can’t find a way to get under control there are underlying issues preventing progress. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us, it just means we need to take time and reflect on the WHY of it all. Take some time to ponder on your own, or with your spouse, on what could be getting in the way of your de-clutter wishes. Typically you’ll find the answer. From there you can find ways to control and release it so you can move on and learn how to let things go.
Getting in the Mood
With any goal or assignment, motivation is the key. If you have a bad attitude about cleaning you will drag through it and may never feel done or accomplished. Find ways to get in the mood. Bribe yourself if needed. It’s Ok to tell yourself that if you get a certain amount of things crossed off your cleaning ‘to do’ list then you can reward yourself with a pedicure, chocolate, or whatever gets your mind set on what needs to be done. Is there a movie coming out that you want to see? Well maybe you make a rule that you have to get that one project you’ve been putting off done before you can see it. Or you can’t read your book until the dishes are done. Anything that you can do to get yourself moving, do it! You don’t have to run to the salon after every toilet you scrub, but feel free to be proud of your accomplishments and reward yourself, especially if it comes hard to you.
Working Top to Bottom
Gravity works; make it your friend. Working from top to bottom will keep cleaning flowing and cut back on having to go back or redo things. Also, if you are doing a whole house cleaning start, upstairs and work your way down. Typically we keep our main level (or whatever level visitors would see) tidy while we let the other areas go a little more. If you start with the bedrooms and work your way through to the kitchen and living room, you’ll find you will get more done. When you start with the areas that are already decent it’s easy to say, “Well I cleaned the areas that matters so we’re good”. No. Start with the areas people won’t see because you know no matter how tired you get; you will spend time on the more visible rooms.
Save the Best for Last
When eating, we tend to save our favorite food for our last bite, the thing we want to savor and remember. Use this technique when you clean. Clean the areas you don’t like to clean first. Get those out of the way and you can enjoy the ‘fun’ tasks. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment for completing the ugly chores and finish remembering the ones you enjoyed.
A Quick Clean is better than No Clean
If you don’t have hours to kill cleaning, remember everything you do does count. If you’re in a hurry to rush out the door in the morning you can at least gather all the dishes into the sink full of soapy water and wipe down the counter. Or if your bathroom needs tending to, but you don’t have the time to do it justice, keep a container of disinfectant wipes under the sink. A quick wipe down of the sink and outer toilet before you hit the shower will make a big difference. Picking up items on the floor and putting them in a ‘to sort later’ basket will keep things up off the floor or from other surfaces. A few minutes of a quick cleanup will help keep the peaceful mood in the home and won’t make you feel so overwhelmed when you do return home and have to face the rest.
Maintenance Solutions for your Problem areas Part 1
There’s something to the saying that everyone has skeletons in their closets. What can be concealed tends to get overlooked when it comes to weekly cleaning. Invest in a variety of cheap, clear plastic bins with lids. The dollar store is a great place to go. You don’t have to spend much money to get your closets organized. The items you don’t need to get too often, or items out of season, should go up higher. Items you want access to more frequently need to be at your eye level or right below. As many items as possible should be stored in a closed clear container with a label of contents.
Maintenance Solutions for your Problem areas Part 2
Floors: No matter the area of the house, things tend to end up on the floor or on a surface it doesn’t belong on. We spend so much time picking up and putting things away, walking back and forth from room to room. By strategically placing baskets throughout the house we can consolidate items and get to them as needed. Get nice baskets that match your décor and don’t add to clutter. A basket at the bottom of the stairs is a good place to put items that need to go upstairs. A basket in the bedroom hallway is a good place too. If you need to you can put a small basket in each room by the door to quickly put items in. Then at the end of the day, or whenever is best for your family, those baskets get emptied and things get put away. This is really good with a house full of kids. You can get their stuff up out of the way while they are away and still have them responsible for taking care of it when they get back. It also makes for a quick clean when unexpected visitors stop by.
Maintenance Solutions for your Problem areas Part 3
Bathrooms can be a problem area, especially if your kids share one. If each child has their own space to put their hygiene items you will solve a lot of clutter problems and fights. Each child should have a container under the sink for their needs and perhaps a space in a medicine cabinet or other shelving area. I have also found that kids have different tastes in toothpaste or have different habits in how to use them. My kids each have their own toothpaste that they keep with their toothbrush. Individual hooks for their towels are also a must. For every bathroom it’s a good idea to keep a canister of disinfectant wipes and mirror wipes (or glass cleaner and paper towels). Have someone assigned each day to do a quick wipe of the sink, toilet and mirror and to take out the trash. It will keep it looking nice throughout the week and make the weekly big scrub quicker too.
Family Friendly Pantry
The food pantry is one of the most popular places in the house, especially when the kids get home from school! Keep your food pantry clean and convenient with these tips:
- First give a purpose to each shelf. Some examples are:
- Breakfast shelf (cereals, pancake mixes, syrup, etc…)
- Snack and bakery shelf
- Cans and drinks
- Packaged items and misc
- Bulk or larger items
- Paper goods
- Larger kitchen items (like your slow cooker or other things that might not fit in your other cupboards)
- Use clear containers to consolidate, keeping like items together:
- Containers with lids for: chips, crackers, cookies and other types of snacks
- Consolidate other items into clear containers, with or without a lid. Things like instant oatmeal, other packets of breakfast food, instant hot chocolate packets and more in one; dried items in their original bags can go into one larger container together(like bagged rice, beans or pasta); baking items like brown & powdered sugars, chocolate chips, muffin mixes; fruit snacks and other individually wrapped snacks; and so on.
- Keep less used or bulk items high. Keep a stool to reach items when you need it. With bulk items
- Put things you want the kids to have access at their level and items you don’t want them to get to (like your secret stash of chocolate) up high and out of sight.
- Do a quick check and rearrangement when you come home from the store with more food before you put it away.
- Most important: train your family where things go!
School work, and papers, and mail, Oh My!
Really the best advice on papers that enter the home is to first do a pre-sort. In minutes you can get rid of at least 50% of the papers that come through. From there make a sort according to what it is. If you get the newspaper, you know what you read from it. Take those sections out right away and put the rest in the recycles. Things that need attention right away should have a home. Better yet, if you can take care of it right there and then, DO! Write the check and get it all ready to be sent out. Even if you don’t want to send it out that day it can be placed in a ready pile. Kids come home with so many things from school. If it’s something you need to sign, do it right then and have them put it back into their backpacks right away. If it’s artwork, display it somewhere for one week. If it’s something they want to keep have them put it in their memory box then they become responsible. Things they like but don’t want to keep or large items can be digitally photographed and put in their special folder or thumb drive.
A Hill is Easier to Climb than a Mountain
While watching me clean up the kitchen before starting a large, messy project, my husband asked, “Why are you cleaning when it’s just going to get dirty again?” I paused and replied, “Because I don’t want mess on top of mess.” It made perfect sense to me. It’s much easier to clean as you go or clean up before another mess comes instead of having to clean up after 2 messes piled up. When we clean as we go and don’t let things start to pile up it’s much easier to set and accomplish our cleaning goals. It’s when things get out of hand that we start to feel flustered and overwhelmed. Don’t let it get to that point and if it already has, set goals for the whole family to help get it back to order.