Archive for the ‘Housework’ Category

Procrasti- ooh, something shiny!

Ah, spring cleaning. The time of year when, after months of being cooped up due to bad weather and family gatherings, our bodies start to crave a good domestic purge. Some people love throwing stuff out and do it on a daily basis while others hold on to every scrap of paper they might need over the next 5-50 years. Unfortunately, I’m the latter. I’m not quite “Hoarders” material, but sometimes I look around at all the junk I’ve been holding onto and think “WHY??” Logically I know it’s unnecessary crap. But there’s a tiny part of my brain that thinks “this little plastic box your Venus razor head came in would make an excellent container for odds and ends!” or “what if I need to have my German phone number from 4 years ago for records of some kind??” Really? REALLY??

I’ve been slowly feeling the need to purge creep up (mostly because the piles of crap are starting to have babies all over my house) but I keep putting it off. Why? Well duh. It’s snowing outside right now! It’s still winter. Spring isn’t here, therefore I can’t do spring cleaning. That’s just logic.

… or laziness. So starting this weekend (not procrastinating, really! I’m just thinking my husband, who has contributed vastly to the copulating paper skyscrapers should help out) I will be busting out the huge black trash bags and getting rid of anything and everything I can before my neighbors glance in my window and turn me in to a self-help television show. It’s time.

So if you’re like me and putting off the inevitable, join me. It’s time. The kids will be out of school soon and you don’t want their messes mixing with your messes and producing mutant mess babies. Your home might never recover. If it seems overwhelming, set a timer for 10 minutes. That’s all I’m asking, just 10 short minutes of your 525,600 minutes this year to make yourself a nice spot on your kitchen counter (or wherever you pile your mail, bills, kids schoolwork, receipts, etc) so that you can breathe a little easier this spring. After all, you’ll probably be using that breath to sing RENT songs now that I have it stuck in your head. “Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes! How do you measure, measure a year…?”

The clean (or not so clean) you don’t see

The other day I noticed my living room was in desperate need of some dusting. We’ve recently had a bout of illness so I decided to clean with my Clorox wipes to disinfect everything at the same time. I came upstairs to grab my can and realized that my computer desk was almost dust-free. Interesting, seeing as how I couldn’t even remember the last time I had wiped it down. Then I realized- it’s maybe three feet from my air purifier. Cool, I thought. My air purifier keeps my desk dust-free! But then I started to think about it- air purifier cleans dust from air before it lands on desk. Dust in air. We breathe air. We breathe dust. Gross.

According to the EPA, indoor air can be as much as 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. The easiest way to improve it is to ventilate by opening a window or door. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do when it’s -18 outside is crack a few windows. They also recommend using vents (like from a stove or bathroom) and to change the filters on your air conditioners (remember to sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on the filter to make your house smell good!) but I barely remember to clean the lint from my dryer and I use that every day. Air purifiers like mine are an easy way to clean up- just press a button and forget it. I have a Honeywell with a lifetime HEPA filter that cost about $140 that actually had good ratings but only for smaller areas. Hello, people- just pick it up and move it around. It weighs like 8 pounds. A few hours in each room and you’re golden. No need for a $1000 Trane system. And like I said before, it practically dusts for me. Clean air, clean house. It’s like a small maid you don’t have to worry about rifling through your underwear drawer.

Did you know?

When my daughter was about two years old she got ahold of a red smiley face stamp and decided to redo my beige microsuede couch. After laughing so hard I cried (or maybe I cried so hard I laughed?) I attacked the thing with a bottle of fabric cleaner and paper towels and managed to get it all out after about an hour of scrubbing. Apparently, I could’ve saved myself a lot of trouble by using clear hand sanitizer. According to my friend Tara (another military wife and mother of two brilliant and apparently artistic kids), Purell isn’t just good after disposing of zombie corpses (or Bill Murray, for that matter- name the movie and you earn a cookie!)- it can also get pen out of furniture and clothes. I like to bathe in Purell, so I happen to have a bit sitting around. I’m tempted to give my kids some pens and say “go to town.”

Fake it til you make it?

According to Wikipedia (the final say on EVERYTHING), “‘Fake it till you make it’ (also called “act as if”) is a common catchphrase that means to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence[1]. The purpose is to avoid getting stuck in a self fulfilling prophecy related to one’s fear of not being confident.”

Let’s put this in the perspective of being the Perfect Housewife. According to the “fake it til you make it” theory, if you act like a Perfect Housewife, you will start believing you are a Perfect Housewife and will eventually BECOME a Perfect Housewife. I dig. But how do you pretend to be a Perfect Housewife? I’m not encouraging you to become a total snot and go bragging to anyone who will listen about how awesome you are (although I’m sure you are). Being a Perfect Housewife isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s about making your life and your families life better by being the best you can be. Who cares what your neighbor thinks, as long as you husband and kids think you’re the best thing since apple pie and you happen to agree.

I think the easiest way to “fake it til you make it” is to make yourself feel like you’re doing a good job. This doesn’t mean you have to do things the hard way. Let’s take house cleaning. You don’t need to get down on your hands and knees and scrub your kitchen floor every night. My little cheat is to vacuum. I put it on the bare floor setting and go to town. So much easier than sweeping! Then I take my Swiffer wet, do a good once over and throw out the manky cloth. Granted, every once in a while you still need to get down and dirty and do a good job, but a vacuum and a Swiffer can make your kitchen look so much better, which will make you feel better.

Tonight I did a Google search for cleaning cheats and was appalled at what I read. While I support doing things the easy way, I do NOT support some of the disgusting things going on in some people’s homes. Blowing dust off surfaces with a hair dryer? Good way to put dust, dust mites and allergens into the air, people. Grabbing all your clutter and shoving it into a closet? That’s an easy way to forget about it, but it doesn’t help. Eventually your closet’s going to explode. Using the blue tablets in your toilets- at least people will think that they’re clean! Gross. I’m sorry, but you need to actually CLEAN your toilet. You poo in there. Not to say the drop-ins aren’t worth it (heck, I use them!) but they are NOT a cure all! And my all-time favorite: spray yourself with detergent and turn on dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer right before your husband gets home so he thinks you’ve been working all day. That’s just deceitful and lazy.

So here’s my list of ways to make your house look better without killing yourself in the process- NO CHEATING INVOLVED!

1. Wash the bathroom mirrors and wipe up the faucets with the paper towel when you’re done.
2. Have your kids help you pick up. This isn’t child labor, they are learning life skills.
3. Vacuum. In order to vacuum you have to pick up first. You’ll kill two birds with one stone… ish.
4. Do your dishes, or at least put them in the dishwasher. This one chore will make your kitchen look 500% better.
5. Add a few drops of essential oil to your vacuum’s filters. This will make your house smell nice while you vacuum.
6. Take 5, 10, or 15 minutes (depending on if company is coming or if you’re running behind) and run around the house with a trashbag, throwing out as much as you can. This will make cleaning later a lot easier.
7. Buy a bunch of hangars. Hanging clothes up is a lot easier than folding them! Plus then you don’t get creases.
8. Baby wipes do a lot more than clean baby butts. They’re good at getting smudges off walls, dust of end tables and handprints off the fridge.
9. Close your shower curtain. Not only does this hide all the ugly shampoo bottles and kids toys, it keeps mold from growing in the curtain folds.
10. Clean top to bottom. For example, clean your counters and then your floor. Otherwise when those inevitable crumbs fall, you won’t have to worry about them falling on your freshly swept (er, vacuumed!) floor.

Have any more tips or tricks you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

5 chore, 5 minutes, 5 days you WON’T be sick!

Yes, it’s another chore list. But this one is really easy! It should only take about 5 minutes to finish and it’ll save you a lot of misery later. How? These 5 chores could help you to NOT get sick.

First we’re going to clean our toothbrushes! You can do this a few ways. The quickest way is to put about an inch of mouthwash (with alcohol) into a cup and put in your brush, bristles down. Swish it around and voila! Germ-free toothbrush! If you want it really clean, run it through your dishwasher, top shelf only so it doesn’t melt. By the way, my dental hygienist recommends keeping your toothbrush upright when you’re not using it. When you lay it flat the water and germs collect in between the bristles. Nasty!

Next we’re going to grab a bottle of Clorox Anywhere.
Clorox
This stuff is awesome. It kills 99.9% of bacteria on hard surfaces. Now you’re going to go and spray every doorknob in your house. This may seem like a lot, but it seriously takes less than a second per knob. Not that big of a deal.

Keep out the Clorox! We’re not done yet. Go spray down your telephone. If it’s really nasty, take an old toothbrush to it. Do the handheld, the base, the cord (do they still make phones with cords?), everything.

Now on to the remotes. If you’re anything like me, you have a few. Lay them out on a table and spray them with the Clorox. Flip and repeat. Leave them to dry.

Last but not least, the keyboard and mouse. Just spray to coat, don’t soak it. I don’t want to receive any emails about how you drenched your electronics and now they don’t work.

And that’s it! Five chores, five minutes and 5 days you won’t spend in bed miserable with the flu. You’re welcome.

Five Chores You Shouldn’t Ignore

I’m all for “beautifying” chores- you know, the chores you do that make your house look better but that don’t take a lot of time or effort? But sometimes you just have to get down and dirty for the sake of cleanliness. Here’s my list of five chores you shouldn’t put off anymore!

1. The Bathtub. You’d think what with all those soaps and washes being rinsed into the tub that it would be sparkling clean. But remember that along with those soaps are all the germs, dead skin and dirt that wash off your body and a lot of that gets left behind. Make sure you’re cleaner when you get out than you were when you got in!

2. The Kitchen Sink. Studies have shown that there are more germs in your kitchen sink than in your toilet. That’s pretty disgusting. Make sure you clean this frequently (I clean mine every day) and don’t forget the faucet, handles, and drain. This is a good time to throw your sponges in the dishwasher to disinfect them, too.

3. Bedding. Most people spend at least 8 hours in bed (or you should, at any rate) and not all of us take a shower right before getting in between the sheets. Sheets and pillowcases should be changed frequently (at least once a week). While you’re washing, vacuum your mattress. This will get anything extra left behind (*shudder*).

4. Carpets and Rugs. Think about it. You walk on these all day. Anything you might have stepped in gets tracked through your carpeting. Your dog wipes his butt on it every time he sits down. Carpets are disgusting. Vacuum frequently, more so if you have young kids who are crawling around, and get them professionally cleaned twice a year. Or you can invest in a carpet steam cleaner and do it yourself!

5. The Refrigerator. This is where we store our food. It should be totally clean, right? Unfortunately, it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Things spill, containers leak, and that carrot you had in the drawer that you forgot about now looks like a cucumber. Make sure you clean up any spills as they happen and regularly take everything out, shelf by shelf, and santize, throwing out anything that looks like a science experiment. I do this before I go grocery shopping so that I can both see what I need and clear space for the new food.

When running errands becomes your full time job

In the past week I’ve had five doctors appointments. Count ’em- FIVE. On top of these appointments I had to take my daughter to school, go grocery shopping, get gas (I haven’t been that close to empty in a while!) and make sure I had the kids to daycare in time to make it to the hospital. I feel like I haven’t been at home all week! As a result, my house has suffered. I’m about 3 loads behind in laundry, my sink is full of dishes waiting to be transferred to the dishwasher and my kids’ puzzle pieces seem to have exploded across the entire house. I’m exhausted from running all over town, but the sight of my house makes me want to walk right back out the door.

The easiest solution for me is to start a load of laundry. I generally don’t mind doing laundry. It’s the folding I detest! But the wonderful thing about laundry is that you can throw a load in and walk away.

Next we’ll go to the front door. Step outside, close the door and just enjoy some fresh air for a moment. Now open the door. What’s the first thing you see when you walk into your house? Clean it.

Now go to the room you spend the most time in. If it’s the living room, vacuum. This is doubly good- you have to pick up before you can vacuum the floor. If it’s the office, clean off your desk. If it’s the kitchen, clean your largest counter and/or your sink (this includes dishes, woman!).

Chances are by this time you’re ready to stop. That’s okay. At least you got some major stuff done! The most important places in your home to clean (for aesthetic reasons) are the room that you see when you first enter the house and the room you spend the most time in. That way you’re always company ready and you don’t feel overwhelmed in your own house. These are two things that will lower your stress and make you more likely to keep cleaning and not feel hopeless and give up!