I’ll clean if you’ll clean.

Let’s face it, Mary Poppins was right.

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

Spoonful of Sugar, Mary Poppins, Disney

My mom used to make having “Kitchen Duty” a game. She used to tell me to race myself and see if I could clean it faster than I did the night before! Somehow she managed to get me to play a game all by myself while doing something I hated doing. Moms are magical, y’all.

I guess it works, because here I am about to declutter my bedroom and my main motivation is that last night on Facebook, I managed to volunteer myself for bedroom cleaning while showing support for my friend’s desire to get more organized in the new year. I shouldn’t have been typing in the dark, or I would have seen what a hot mess was waiting for me. (Before pics are coming)

I’m all about baby steps, and that’s how I’ll tackle today.

Four Tips for Tackling Overwhelming Chores

  1. Set a time limit.  I usually aim for 15 minutes, but since we are working on the whole room, I’m going to allot one hour – in four 15-minute increments. Sometimes I’ll binge watch Netflix, something I’m sure none of you ever do, but I do, I’ll admit it. I’ll finish an episode of Gilmore Girls and then set a time for 15 minutes, tackle an area or chore, and THEN I can push play on the next episode. If you’re working in the same room as the TV, you can tackle TWO 15 minute blocks per episode of Friends! 
  2. Set a simple goal. One bag of trash -or- one bag to donate -or- one drawer -or- one shelf (not the whole bookcase, Cassie!) Most often, I will end up way exceeding the goal. One bag turns into two, I get on a roll with that shelf and find myself moving on to the next one. Something about hitting the goal makes it fun. If a kid runs in and interrupts you and you can’t finish the second cabinet, or another bag, it’s okay, because you already met the goal. Keep it short and simple.
  3. Reward yourself with something that does not require others to go along. I may need to explain this a bit. I used to get so discouraged when I would work my butt off all day with the expectation of getting to have an hour alone to read, or an hour to take a hot bath, or quiet trip to Target alone, only to never get my reward because it relied on other people participating. It never failed the kids would get sick that day, or my husband would forget to tell me he had invited company over, or a friend would need me (and I have an issue with saying no- yes, I know, it’s a thing, I’m working on it.) Now my rewards are quick, and usually instant: the next episode, popcorn, the next chapter in my book, 15 minutes to write in my journal, a cookie…. literally a cookie, there’s a story there, better saved for another day.
  4. Phone a friend, or poke, tweet, message, snap, whatever the kids are doing these days, find your friends. It just takes one. Scratching off “clean nightstand” feels really good but it’s bonus fun if you’re friend can send you a “way to go party time” gif when you’re done. (Yes, Cassie, I am expecting a gif… please and thank you.)

As embarrassing as they are, here are the before pictures, taken from my current spot on the bed:

It’s almost 9 am here.

I have allotted one hour to devote to this today. I’ll do my first 15 minute sprint after I feed the chickens. My reward? Hot coffee.


The First Fifteen

I tackled my nightstand first. It was closest to me, and it is usually the spot that gets ignored the most. My timer buzzed, but I was close to finishing so I kept going a bit longer. I found a grocery bag worth of trash in, on, or around it.

Y’all, I hide a LOT of candy in there. I tossed it, because I couldn’t be certain how long it had been in there. Also, candy does not help my medical issues at all so while I had the will power I tossed it out.

I found my missing stapler. I found my hunting knife (not that I ever use it, but I know where it is now). I found my new set of tweezers that I’ve been missing since I did Steel Magnolias in the summer. See that big red mug in the picture? My kids wrote their names on it as a gift one year, so I don’t use it as a coffee mug. I has spare change in it. I also was stuffed with Reese’s cup wrappers. The wrappers are gone now. Maybe when I turn on my little black fan, I’ll actually feel the air!

Time for a coffee reward and since I can’t JUST focus on this room today, I’m going to throw some clothes in the laundry. PASSIVE cleaning is my favorite! I take 60 seconds to toss clothes in and it does the work for me.


*** The kids woke up, had to make breakfast, and start schoolwork. I started a load of laundry, found the kitchen table (it was covered in stuff from New Year’s night, cleaned dog barf off the couch, and took a trash bag through the house to gather trash from bathroom and bedroom trash cans.

Also, just got the call that my sister-in-love is in the hospital about to have baby #5!  Whoo hoo!!!  Lots about to be up in the air as we were on call to come help pet sit while they were in the hospital. He’s a few weeks early, but docs are optimistic about the little guy being okay.


The Next Fifteen

Reading, reading, writing, and math. Stopped to make some frantic “the baby is coming” phone calls, and then I headed into the bedroom for another 15 minute sprint. I tackled the dresser.

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I have a love/hate thing going on with this dresser. It’s technically mine, as far as the clothes go. Mr’s is in the closet because our room is small. I had planned to have my jewelry box on it, and my retro radio; however, since we have limited space, it ended up being the piece of furniture that held the DVD player, and the WiiU (don’t even get me started on that one. Grrr). Also, his fancy humidor can’t stay in the closet because the closet is in the bathroom and there a humidity blah blah blah, excuses, and it had to be in our room. I did get the 8000 random Ikea parts off of it, and put my earrings away. I collected all the random bobby pins and hair clips and put them in the bathroom.

I did not put the hair things where they went. That would have made sense, but it also would have wasted time I had dedicated to the dresser. They were dumped in my random basket that I will sort when I decide to spend time decluttering the bathroom. A 15 minute sprint is not the time to start squirreling off on another project….we are not playing “if you give a mom a chore” today. Focus.


No real reward this time, as all the interruptions have put me behind a bit and I just got a text asking if I could give someone a ride somewhere around 2 pm. The washer is done, so I’ll call the kids to move it to the dryer and I’ll fix lunch. I think I’ll have them empty the dishwasher too, they look bored.


The Last Fifteen

Okay, phew! Glad that’s done.

This definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could do for today (and with only 15 mins to play). The laundry pile has been put away, and the desk cleared. The stack of green and pink boxes are craft supplies I brought in from our storage barn. I’m trying to get a few items made for my Etsy store, but it’s slow going.

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That brown box on the right? That’s a shoe organizer from Ikea that I haven’t built yet. I haven’t built it because I can’t get into the kid’s room where it is supposed to be going. That’s for another day. That project will be more of a “shock and awe” event in our house. Empty to space and start over kind of thing.

But first, babies!  I’m done for today with this project, now I have to figure out what I can do to help my brother and his wife welcome their new one to the world!

Leave me a comment below and tell me what your biggest decluttering/cleaning challenge is and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!

New Plan

Bad mornings, new game plan, and accountability. Wanna play?

I’ve been awake for almost two hours. The coffee and meds are doing nothing for my raging headache. My inability to determine what caused the headache is negatively affecting my attitude. The house is only a half-step away from being trashed thanks to a last minute dinner party for 12 that was thrown together at 5 pm yesterday.
Maybe that caused the headache.
Unfortunately, I’m an adult, with four children and enough animals to start my own zoo. This means I must get up, and get going.
But how do you get going when you were overwhelmed by your to-do list? How are you supposed to make a new plan when you’re head is pounding and your body feels like an old punching bag after a workout session?
I don’t know. I was hoping you did.
New Plan
I dug through my old day planner and found my “Mostly Just The Basics” note cards that I made years ago, when I first started getting sick.  They are a bit of an old standby plan that usually can pull me out of a housekeeping hole when my brain is on overload.
Each day is split into four parts: Morning, Around Lunchtime, Afternoon Before Dinner, and After Dinner. If I remember how I did the math, each section takes no more than an hour….unless I get on a roll, which happens, just not today.
Card “Day Three”:

  • Morning: Collect Dirty Laundry, Start Load Laundry, Bathroom Sinks/Mirrors, Porches, Dust Fan & Lamps.
  • Midday: Dry Laundry, Take Out Garbage, Empty Dishwasher, Make Beds
  • Afternoon: Fold Laundry, Sweep Floors, Gather Eggs & Wash, Quick Pick Up (living room), “Mop” Floors <–totally not what you think
  • After Dinner: Load Dishwasher/Wash Pots, Clean Counters and Table

Not too bad considering the kids can totally collect the laundry, sweep the porches, move the laundry to the dryer, do the bathrooms, take out the garbage, the teen emptied the dishwasher last night when she couldn’t sleep, make their own beds, sweep the floors, gather eggs, “mop” the floors, and I can fold laundry while re-binge watching House on Netflix {It’s too soon to re-watch Supernatural}.
What also helps is that I’m in love with my Norwex and it makes swiping the sinks and mirrors and “mopping” the floors super easy. But this isn’t a sales pitch for Norwex. I’m happy to tell you about it anytime, just message me!
That leaves me with: dusting the fan (they are too short, even with my Norwex wand), folding laundry, loading the dishes after dinner, and fixing them food.  That’s 3 things, and basic survival (food). I CAN do three things today. I’ll probably do more…. once I get going. But somehow knowing that if I start feeling that bad, they can do it, helps me feel less overwhelmed.
So why am I still in bed, sipping coffee and nursing my slowly waning headache?
Because no one is here to tell me to get off my backside. I need a friend, or 15, to cheer on and to cheer me on. Accountability Friends are what really get the “Just the Basics” plan going. Won’t you join me?
Hop over to the Polka Dotted Daisies Facebook Page and let me know you’re on the team and let me know what THREE things you’re going to try and do today! Feel free to copy my “Just the Basics” list above.
When we get 15 people on the team, we’ll have a contest for a team name!
For now, I’ll share a secret to how I feel productive while sitting on my tush:
I start laundry. BWAHAHAHAHA… the sound of that machine churning away makes me feel like I’m getting something accomplished, yet… I am doing absolutely nothing! So, first, I shall start the laundry. Let the delegating begin!  {Can’t wait to “meet” you on the page!}
 
 

Revamping Our Homeschool, Part Two – Life Skills Anyone?

I absolutely LOVE homeschooling blogging MOMS! Ya’ll rock!  I love that we can be a community of sharing, the good ideas and the bad ones, and I love it when I find one that is brilliant and I get to post about how I’m going to steal try it myself!

I’ve read several blogs that refrained from calling the housework “chores” and referred to them as “life skills”.  Brilliant!  I hate the word chores.  Not all yucky words sound yucky but this one certainly does.  “Life Skills” sounds like something I need to do so I can be a grown up one day.  I like it. 

I like it a LOT.

On Friday, after my little Chaos Makers left for Nanny’s house, I sat down and made a chart (I even added some clip art) listing some of our basic Life Skills.  Vacuum, Help with Dishes, Gather Laundry, Make Beds, Take out Trash, Dust, Clean Windows, Main Bathroom, Mom & Dad’s Bathroom, Sweep Kitchen, Put Books Away, Set the Table. I left out “Clean your Room” on purpose.  I want that to be something they just DO, everyday. 

Across the top are the days of the week and in the cells are the name or names of who is responsible for that skill that day.  Some, like dusting, are not done daily.  Others, such as Vacuuming, include both of their names since it involves picking up the toys and such off the floors first.

I also noticed that many moms choose to have their kids do their ‘chores’ before school.  Getting the house in order, making it a more comfortable learning environment.  I have to admit, I focus with them better if the house is picked up first.  There is also less fumbling and shifting in the table is clear before we start working.  I scheduled a short “life skills” section before our workboxes, and then another after school is done, but before any playtime with friends.

I laminated it and hung it next to our dry erase board in the kitchen (it’s off to the right). 

Next, I wrote up, on florescent note cards, the “How To” for each chore.  This is to ensure their is not confusion between their ideas of cleaning something and mine.  I got very specific on some of these.

“Put the books, upright, on the bottom bookshelf.”

“Empty trash can in bathroom and take it downstairs (tied shut). Then replace the bag.”

Somewhere on each card is a note from me. 

“I love you!”
“Your looking shiny!”
“Whistle while you work…”
and more.

I found groovy magnetic clear pouches at the Dollar Tree. Their are four at the bottom of our dry erase board.  To Do’s and Done’s for each girl. 

When they finish the skill they can move it to their other pocket.  When their to do’s are all done they’ll EARN a sticker.  I’ll visit the stickers more later, they are going to be a big thing here! 

Our final overhaul: the laundry routine.  I have given everyone a day.  Today, Monday, is my day to do MY laundry.  Tuesdays is Doodlebug’s Day and so on.  My problem with laundry is mostly in the putting it away.  I hate to fold a load to find the Mr. has two pairs of pants, the kids each of three items, I have a shirt and the baby has two onesies (but not pants).  Thats a trip into several different drawers and rooms. 

My hope is that by keeping it down to one person per day, the clothes will be easier to put away.  Not to mention the help from having the girls wash and dry their own. Doodlebug can almost do it on her own already.  Taderbug will be her helper.  I’ll set a timer so they know when the washer is done and they can move their clothes over.  Saturday is towel and linen day. 

To help with this, I purchased two mesh laundry bags (from the Dollar Tree), put their names across the colored bottoms and hung them on their towel hooks in the bathroom.  They can simply take their bags downstairs and get going.

This post has already become longer than I wanted… *grin*.  I’ll end by mentioning that after laminating the cards (so they don’t get wet in the bathroom) I punched holes in the corner.  I have little rings the girls can put their daily set of cards on to carry with them while they’re working.

What is YOUR chore/life skills routine?  How old were your kids when they started helping do chores?

I’d love to hear your ideas!