The Chore List Game, with Kids

I have utilized almost every form of chore list or motivational cleaning list ever created. My computer is full of e-Books and pdfs and downloads galore. I finally developed a method that worked for me, and then modified it into a “version 2” because I get bored easily and we get super busy so there needed to be a way to do the same thing in a different order.  It’s been mentioned it before, but I call it “Basically Clean”.  Our house will never been magazine ready, but it can be basically clean.

The best aspect of this list are the time limits. Every item has a time limit. For example, “Bathroom Sinks and Mirrors – 10 mins.” If the house were consistently tidy, then 10 minutes is ample time to swipe out the sinks and get the spots off the mirrors. My house, unfortunately, is rarely consistently tidy. This means that cleaning the sinks and mirrors could potentially be a 30-45 minute journey into decluttering and sorting.

The time limit means that the goal is to spend ONLY that much time on that spot, then move on. The next day, theoretically, it won’t take as long to do the quick swipe and the rest of the ten minutes could be spent tackling more of the sink that didn’t get finished the day before. Eventually, it will all get handled.

The time limits also give me an opportunity to add up all the allotted times so I know exactly how much TOTAL time I am spending on house work on any given day. When I know I have 10 hours in the day, but the actual house stuff is only going to take 3 of those hours, it seems less daunting. That’s an hour after coffee, and hour after lunch, and an hour before dinner.

My issue has always been my children constantly interrupting me (I’m on a timer!) and then things don’t get done or they take forever to get done.

It finally hit me, how to get them to stop and let me work! Bonus: sometimes they actually HELP me work. YES!

Day One of my week (which is typically Monday) has 200 minutes of work. That’s 3 hours and 20 minutes, if I did my math correctly. At the bottom of my printed list is a space for “Helpers”. ANYONE who helps me do any of the items on the list OR goes beyond their regular responsibilities to help elsewhere, gets their name put on the Helpers list.

When the day is over, I’ll add up all the time it ACTUALLY took me to get it all done, and if it’s less than the expected time, the helpers get the extra minutes banked for one on one time with Mom.

For example, yesterday had 200 minutes allotted to it. Because of other appointments, and some health issues, I only actually worked on about 140 minutes worth of chores. Those chores only took me 105 minutes to complete. That left me with 35 extra minutes. The kid who voluntarily cleaned her room while I was at the doctor gets that 35 minutes as one on one time with me!

Today, I already have two names under my Helpers. News is spreading fast. For years, they had been told that if I finished my work I could spend time with them, but now they see it, in print.


In case you’re wondering, here’s my Version Two list. It is specific to us, but you can see how I have it laid out.

Basically Clean Version Two (Day one through five) Printable List

(Not so) Alone in the Dark

I was a woman possessed and blessed today! My kitchen is CLEAN. I don’t just mean the dishes are done. I mean three bags went in the trash, two went out for freecycle and I have labels on my cabinet so I don’t have to listen to Mr. Daddy Man whine that he can’t find his water jugs. open a cabinet and LOOK INSIDE is apparently DIFFICULT
I know I did a great job when he walked in and asked who’s house this was. I actually predicted that reaction on twitter a few hours earlier!  I tossed old bottles and nipples and sippy cups that were missing pieces. I junked “toss n go” cups well passed their expected life span. I matched up bottles and tops and sippies and valves and what was left was… TOSSED.
I got rid of all those cups from Applebee’s and all the sectioned kiddie plates that cause fights at the table. My large collection of Tupperware collapsing bowl-freecycled. Old snacks long forgotten and gone stale….tossed. The set of Playtex converter and caps for my breastpump-freecycled. Window sill cleared to make way for the dandelions and wild daisies, sweet gifts from my girls stuffed into baby food jar vases.
It wasn’t what I had planned on doing today, it just happened. I would feel bad that the kids watched tv almost all day but I don’t. They kept coming in to tell me something new they learned. I heard Taderbug reading to Bubbagirl. Doodlebug spent an hour playing a quite complicated strategy game online. Normally I have to clean while constantly being interrupted by little people fighting over what to watch, what to do, who touched who or “hey mom, I have to pee”.
Not today.
Today they behaved. They shared. They laughed. I got things clean.
(okay, before you get all “she thinks she’s all that” on my.. I did NOT clean my fridge nor did I mop the floors. I ain’t THAT good)
Mr. Daddy Man came home early, we shared some coffee, and I fixed the girls fresh spaghetti noodles to go with the leftover sauce I had frozen from a few weeks ago (total Mom WIN). I had these dinners for two from Schwan’s I was going to cook up for us after the kids ate dinner. It didn’t happen.
The kids ate.
It’s currently 8:05 pm. We have not eaten. He is at karate with Doodlebug. I am at the kitchen table wearing out the battery on my laptop typing this while Peanut plays with my almost-dead phone and the other girls read the Nook in Daddy’s chair. I have two scented candles and one tea light candle and it’s getting dark.
Scented candles to not put off much light. *the more you know*
Somewhere around 6pm, as the girls were heading out to play before karate, there was a loud BOOM and our electricity went out. It seems the transformer that runs just our street thought this particular Tuesday was a fine time to go KaBlooooey!
The neighbor said the electricity doesn’t go out here very often.
They also said that when it does go out, it takes our electric company for-flipping-ever to fix it.
So what do you do when there’s no electricity?

It's a Why Bother day today

The kitchen is mostly clean.  The living room could probably be tidy within 15 minutes. Why can’t I get up? Why can I not summon up the gumption to just invest 30 minutes into my house to make it look better.
For starters, I need to go to the little girls room- again .  This is annoying. My daughter is in my bathroom taking a bath and yes I could go in there anyway I’m stalling.  It’s also upstairs. That increases my desire to stall exponentially.
Next, I’m not dressed.  I’d get dressed but I have nothing clean to wear.  I’ll be tossing on my yoga pants from yesterday when Lowe’s arrives today with my new washer and dryer.  *That should clear up the why does Tader have no clean clothes? question*  Being dressed would make me feel more motivated.  I could go ahead and get my dirty yoga pants on now but they are upstairs- need I say more on that?
Lastly, why bother cleaning? The little chaos makers that I love so very much will simply destroy it as fast as I pick it up – if.not.faster.  AND, I can’t clean it/organize it/put it up the way I want it so why bother.  I’m having another one of those “if I had the right stuff to hold my stuff then I’d want to put my stuff away but since nothing has a place why bother taking the time to cram it somewhere when it’s going to be the wrong place to start with” days.
I need a giant gift card to Ikea.  Or maybe just a creative professional organizer (since hubby says I have everything I could possibly need to organize I just won’t do it). Or maybe just two days alone to sew up all the cute ideas I have for organizing my house.
But then again, why bother? The kids will be here for another 18 years at least…  I can clean then right?

3 strikes…I’m done

This was my goal today:


It WAS the craft room and music room but I really needed the crib moved to it’s own room. So hubby moved the rooms around and moved my sewing stuff downstairs and this room became the school/music/ohyeahthebabysleepsinhere room.

In all the moving and with the holidays, this room turned in to a dumping ground for all things.  Today I wanted it cleaned out.  Because I want the baby to have his bed (not that he sleeps in it, but still).

Hubby doesn’t like hints. I very plainly said I NEEDED his help with the baby and the 2yo so I could work on the room.  He helped. He helped as best he could until he couldn’t help any more. 


It seems the kids wear him out fast.

The first time I had to stop was to try and settle Bubbagirl down from a T total meltdown. Still do not know what it was all about.

The second time was to nurse Peanut and put him down for a nap (that took 30 minutes).

I was making pretty good progress, when the terror that is Bubbagirl decided to start screaming about the movie she was watching and she woke up the wee little fat man named Peanut.

As I tried to nurse Peanut BACK to sleep, the diva Doodlebug and the mighty Rapunzel-Mermaid Princess Taderbug felt the overwhelming need to play 20 questions at my bedroom door regarding lunch plans.

Where the heck was their father?

So, three interruptions, three strikes and I was done.  I was so angry and frustrated. 

I kept asking myself “why can’t HE fix lunch? why can’t HE change the diaper? why can’t THEY just…..”.

(He had been helping some… but not enough for me to get this done, and I always had to ask first)

Then I felt guilty.  All of these things I’m asking him to do are my responsibility.  I shouldn’t be getting so uptight simply because my kids were being kids and they became hungry. 

Yet I feel angry whenever I’m working on something big and can’t find peace to complete it. 

This time the project wasn’t even for me (something related to my hobby or reading for fun). This time it was something very much related to my job as manager of our home.  I was trying to create a tidy and organized environment.  I was attempting to prepare my house for school to begin next week.  I endeavored to provide a sleeping place for our son so that we might have an occasional five minutes alone once in a while.

None if it helped my already weary and wobbly attitude.

It’s almost 2:30pm. Lunch is done. Hubby, surprisingly, helped clear the table.  Our girls emptied the dishwasher. They also broke another dish.  I can check off “clean kitchen floor” on my to do list for this week.

Hubby has 15 more minutes to play online before I disappear back into that room to try again.

Am I the only one that finds it this hard to get things accomplished?


**I am hoping to post a video of my room redo as a response to my friend Linda’s vlog**

Fail to plan, plan to fail..

Not so. At least not with me.
Here I am again. Trying to get the kids to go to bed, or at least settle down for some quiet time.  Reading tweets from other moms whose kids have either BEEN in bed for a while already or they are skipping off to put themselves to bed nicely.
I feel lost.  I feel defeated.   I’d give just about anything for them to go to bed without a fuss.  It will be another two hours before everyone is asleep.  We’ve tried bedtime routines, soft music, white noise, aroma therapy, quiet time, down time, warm jammies, hot baths…I even told my oldest to pray for people until she ran out of names.  (well… it puts me to sleep!)
So for the next two hours I will sit here on the couch, trying to keep quiet, and I’ll make up my mental plan for tomorrow.   In a few minutes I’ll get up to go to the little girls room (wait for it, I have a point to this) where I will notice how much their bathroom could use a good cleaning.  I’ll think, “gee, that wouldn’t take more then 15 minutes or so”, and I’ll put it on the to do list.  I’ll pass by the load of laundry piling up in the hallway and think “gee, I should take that downstairs”, and put it on my list.  Sometimes I’ll even put time limits next to the things on my list.
Dishes  10 min
Vacuum 2 min
Dust 5 min
Bathroom 15 min
Make beds 5 min
I work fast, and I HAVE had my house pretty tidy in under an hour.
I make a plan.  I feel good about the plan.  I go to bed and dream about the plan.
Then I wake up.  The plan begins to fail almost immediately.
The drama. The whining. The unexpected phone call. The burnt lunch.
Then it’s 5 o’clock.
Hubby is home. Nothing will get done now.
Even as I’m typing my plan of what this post would be has failed.  I did have a point.  It was a good one too I think.
Oh well.  There is much grumbling upstairs…. and I must find my notebook and pencil.  I must plan for tomorrow.

Review: Hoover SteamVac Silver – Momma Got New Carpet

Today my husband treated me to a new "toy".  After selling our riding mower, he went out and bought me a carpet cleaner!
I know, he’s SUCH a romantic right? Back off ladies, he’s mine.

We haven’t had carpet in our home in over five years.  Now that we are renting AND have carpet, he’s a bit touchy over how the house looks.  We used to own a Bissell.  My mom owns a Bissell.  It’s in my garage right now. I borrowed it before Christmas when we thought the landlord might stop by for a visit (I told you he was touchy).  Unfortunately, mom had twisted a seal on it and it leaked a lot. Not Bissell’s fault. Just made it a hassle to use. Which is why I haven’t used it again.

I went online to ask my friends for their suggestions and they all said they had Bissell’s, more specifically the Bissell ProHeat 2X, which is the newer version of the Bissell I used to own.

After a little online research, and a considerable difference in price tags, hubby picked out the Hoover SteamVac Carpet Cleaner with Clean Surge, F5914-900

Hoover SteamVac Silver

My father in law helped him put it together. It took them less then ten minutes total. Then they spent another ten arguing over how to hook up the hose (which was extremely easy, but you know how ‘boys’ are). As soon as our company left the building, I set out to see if it worked as well as the reviews stated it would work.

Here are the before and after pics:

 CIMG1271 CIMG1277

CIMG1272 CIMG1278

CIMG1273 CIMG1279

I started at 3:01pm.  The water/cleaner tank was easy to handle, easy to fill, and the cap doubles as a measuring cup. 

To quote Hoover, it’s pretty nifty.


The brushes do not rotate around like a vacuum cleaner. They are circular, and rotate to scrub the carpet.


At 3:43pm I was done, and able to SIT on the floor to test out the attachment on my couch.  Mr. B came inside a few moments later and was shocked to find 90% of the floor totally dry.  He was able to move all the furniture back in. 

What I won’t share are pictures of what the exit water looked like.  Horrid about covers it.

I spent roughly five minutes rinsing it out and getting it ready for storage.  I love it.


I used the cleaner that was boxed in with the product.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall to far away from the manufacturer’s directions so my review would be accurate and fair. 

It was loud, but not any louder than my Kirby vacuum cleaner.  I’m 29 weeks pregnant, and it was easy to maneuver across the floor. 

At a price tag of $140, it was well worth the investment.  My mom just paid a cleaning company almost $300 to come do two rooms (remember, I have her old, broken carpet cleaner).  It’s not as wide as my regular vacuum, so it is now taking up a handy residence in the kitchen. Little children spill things often, and the Hoover SteamVac is so quick and simple I won’t mind taking it out whenever the need arises.

From WalMart’s site, here are the details listed:

  • 12 amp motor
  • Beltless – no belts to break or replace
  • Heated cleaning for better cleaning action and quicker drying
  • 2 tanks keep clean, warm, water and dirty, cold water separate
  • Spin Scrub Brushes clean all sides of carpet fiber
  • Spin Scrub Brushes clean all sides of carpet fiber
  • Brushes are removable for easy cleaning
  • Brush Shut off for easy removal of spills
  • Upholstery Hand Tool
  • 21-foot cord
  • 8-foot hose

It weighs just under 28 pounds.

I think I’ll go bake my baby some chocolate chip cookies.  He earned them.

Wasn't there a challenge?

blue clothes
Image by Avagirl_Taderdoodles via Flickr

Ah yes… on TUESDAY it seems I challenged myself to finish putting the girls laundry away.
Well, aside from getting school work done and moving the blogs I haven’t done much of anything.
That’s okay though. The laundry is all washed, it’s just that PILE of clothes for the girls that need to be sorted.  I’m considering taking on the task this evening.  Hubby is still out of town for work and since I don’t watch “our shows” without him, I can put a movie in for the kids and hang out upstairs to sort, fold and put away.
Once it’s done I know I’ll feel better.
Then again, I have no plans for this weekend. Netflix on the laptop while folding laundry on my bed sounds like a plan too.

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Tuesday: Tackling the Laundry…my 15 minute challenge for today.

**Follow my progress on twitter: #tbtc15  , and share yours!**

It’s shocking just how well our new “one persons laundry per day” rule is working out!  I was feeling ill over the weekend and had to do our towel day on Monday, along with my laundry, but even being about a half day behind we’re still doing great!  Having Bubbagirl’s day be on Wednesday gives me a good buffer for catching up mid week.  Her loads are never full loads (her clothes are tiny), so it’s easy to toss in Doodlebug’s and get caught up quickly.

Our piles of dirty laundry are minimal.

It’s the clean clothes that are now piling up.

I STILL haven’t sorted through the big girls items to take out the too-small-or-too-dirty stuff. 

oh pick a color LOL

This is a lovely picture, taken by my Taderbug, from weeks ago!  It’s worse now.  So today, I want to try and tackle it.  It’s overwhelming.  Pair it with my discomfort from the pregnancy and I just don’t want to do it.

I hate how it looks though.

I hate listening to the girls whine about not being able to find clothes when OBVIOUSLY they have clothes to wear!

So today, WE (the girls too) are going to do at least two 15 minute challenges focused entirely on this pile of clean laundry!  To be accountable, I’m going to take pictures and show them in my twitter feed!  Follow along with the #tbtc15 (Too Busy To Clean 15) hashtag and share with us what YOU tackled today!

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It WAS a productive morning…

We woke up happy.
We enjoyed some cartoons.
I even put on shoes.. just for my fly lady friends.
Even Bubbagirl played the flylady game.
Some food? Muffin Tin Monday Style
A quick pick up of the toys…
and then vacuuming…
Too bad it couldn’t still look like that when Daddy got home.