Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cleaning is my Heroin

Cleaning and organizing are some of my favorite pastimes — actually as my husband would say, they are my heroin.

I know I'm not normal. I know it's a foreign pastime to most, but it truly exhilarates me to go into a room and leave it with everything organized and neatly in its place. I've even been known to offer my "services" free of charge to my co-workers who might lack motivation or the nutty drive to do things like this.

So, while I'm not perfect and my house is not always clean, I want to pass on a few of my tips as a fellow earthmate/wife/mother, not as a superior.

Here's my cleaning schedule: (this is my goal, not something I achieve all the time)
LAUNDRY — I wash things on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (Never do one load at a time when you are using your dryer as opposed to the clothes line. The residual heat aids in the second load's drying time, lessoning your energy use.) I also iron the clothes that need to be ironed before putting them into the closet. That way items are ready to wear and I avoid the last-minute ironing session before church or work. I make my own laundry soap, reuse dryer sheets and use Dawn dish soap for stain stick. Organize laundry into baskets (I use one for towels and Matt's work jeans, one for regular clothes and one for whites). Fold and put away clothes immediately after they come out of the dryer — if you wait until all the laundry's done, you're more likely to let it sit there the rest of the night.
HOUSE WORK — I do a semi-deep clean every week. My bathrooms I clean at least three times a week because of my youngsters and their "aim" and I vacuum (the main areas) every day. I dust, clean glass and vacuum (more thoroughly) every Friday or Saturday. The kitchen also gets a daily wipe-down but a more thorough clean during my weekly cleaning time. I also clean my floor with just a rag. I feel like I can get the spots and grime better when I'm six inches from it rather than hanging onto a mop!
EFFICIENCY TIPS — Some of these are pretty much common sense, but just in case: Clean from top to bottom; clean glass before dusting; topical clean daily to make more thorough cleanings less of a chore; put extra trash bags into the bottom of your trash can so they're right there to replace after you take the full one out; keep an ongoing list of items you're almost out of — keep at least one extra in the cabinet and put it on the list when you begin to use your extra; reuse plastic bags and bath towels; have your kids wear their pajamas each night until the next laundry day; get rid of everything you can on surfaces so your house is less cluttered and it's easier to clean.
KIDS — It may seem ridiculous to plan things like cleaning your kids, but with four it's easy to forget the small stuff. In the winter, the kids only bathe on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but in the summer they have baths daily, which also adds to my tub-cleaning chore! I cut nails and clean ears on Saturday nights. Trimming hair is usually a monthly chore. Also, I'm working on training all the kids to make their own beds. We have a toy room and so we don't allow toys in the bedrooms. This helps with the clutter and the kids are getting better at putting all the toys in "their homes." (They are supposed to do this daily.) I prepare the kids' milk cups at night so when we get up they can get their drinks out of the fridge on their own.
GROCERIES — Well, with six people in my house and not an infinite amount of money, we've got to be creative when it comes to food. I keep an ongoing list of items we need. Each week I use the Summer Fresh ad to create a list of the sale items I want to buy. From that I create a menu. We rarely buy more than what we can eat in a week. I plan a meal for every day but will save that day's meal for another if there's leftovers to eat. I've tried to use some of the milk-extending recipes for making your milk last longer but after comparing the powdered milk/regular milk prices, it really is not much cheaper. We do water the kids' juice down and limit their milk/juice intake to a few cups of each a day.

After all that, I'm 100 percent sure I've forgotten something. To sum it up, my goal as a wife/mother is to keep our life operating as smoothly as it can with four unpredictable creatures! And somehow making lists, schedules and cleaning creates the illusion in my mind of a simple life when my life is anything but.

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