Navigating the Homefront

Moving August 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christy @ 5:27 am

Hi Friends,

 

Thanks for following along with my musings on homemakings. As we moved our household across the world, I moved to blogging at cultivatingacongenialenvironment.blogspot.com, just as an effort to stream line my life.  My newest post is related to moving, and I hope to add a few more.

I’ll look forward to being in touch with everyone soon!

 

Christy

 

 

Removing Stains from Laundry April 28, 2012

Filed under: Laundry,Life with an infant — Christy @ 7:28 am

My mother can get any substance out of any garment using cold water and a bar of soap.    Maybe by the time I have a teenagers , I will have mastered the skill.

Who:  Whoever finds the stain—in my dream world.  In reality, it’s probably me.

What:  I keep a tub in the laundry room just for soaking stains.   Water is the universal solvent, and most common stains are gone in the morning.     Often, just rinsing a stain thoroughly in a good stream of water works.

Sunshine has great bleaching power.  I had ruined multiple baby clothes with oxygen bleach when I ran across this tip.  Sunshine is particularly great for removing infant poop stains, when the infant is nursing.  It still seems like magic to me.

For ink stains, use hairspray to loosen the dye, and rinse with cold water.

For blood stains, use hydrogen peroxide.

Where:  In my laundry room.  In some previous homes with less ideal laundry situations, I used the bathroom for stain treatments.

When:  As soon as possible.  (Thanks, mom!) I try to make sure that anything that needs to be soaked is soaking in the evening before I head to bed.  After the stain is treated, I can usually wash the garment normally.  It’s especially important to make sure that the stain is gone before placing the garment in the dryer, as high heat will almost always make the stain permanent.

What tricks have you picked up for removing laundry stains in your household?

 

My Basic Laundry Routine: Sorting April 16, 2012

Filed under: Laundry,Organization — Christy @ 6:25 pm

Wherin as much as others have written much on the details of tending laundry, I thought it necessary to write an overview of my laundry routine as well.

First Step: Sort the laundry!

My current method

I have an in home washer and dryer, and my weekly chores are usually spread out through out the week. 

Who:  Whoever wears the clothes sorts them.  Even my two-year-old can take her clothes to the laundry room.

What:  Three to five narrow hampers.  Currently my categories are cold wash, hot wash (for towels), and warm wash( for clothes).  You may want to separate by colors, or keep the baby’s clothes separate. I also have a water tight bin that can be used for soaking.  These baskets came from Ikea.

When:  As soon as the clothes are taken off.

Where:   In this home, the laundry room is located in the middle of the house, between the bath and the bedrooms, so it’s easy for the family to duck in and drop of dirty clothes on the way from the shower. When I had a home with extra space in the hallway between the bedrooms and main bath, that was where the sorting station was located.  When one hamper was full, I simply grabbed it and took it to the garage, where our washer and dryer were located.

Why:  I know which loads of laundry need to be done at a glance.  When the hamper is full, that designates one load of laundry. No wasting time to sort.

When I was single

I only did laundry every two weeks using this method.

Who: The laundress.

What:  A sturdy bag with a comfortable handle, and multiple washing machines.

When: On laundry day.

Where: At the laundry facility.

Why:   The main concern was to get the clothes easily to and from the laundry.

What tricks have you learned for efficiently sorting laundry?

 

How I finally started to get my weekly chores done February 24, 2012

Filed under: Cleaning,Organization,Saving time — Christy @ 2:01 pm

New housekeeping routines are necessary with major changes like babies, moving, and new work schedules .  It usually takes a couple of weeks to get into the swing of things and begin accomplishing all the daily tasks consistently.  I’ve learned that it’s better for me to wait until I am comfortably completing all my daily tasks each day before I start adding weekly tasks to the new situation.  By weekly chores, I mean what most of us think of when we think of routine cleaning: scrub the bath tub, empty the leftovers from the fridge.  Anything you’d prefer to do more than monthly, but don’t really need to do every day.

Do all the chores on one day each week.

People who have strongly contrasting weeks and weekends often like this schedule.   When I was a public school teacher, I did all cleaning on Saturday.  This plan worked well and felt easy as long as I had the power to define my own schedule.

If I am cleaning the whole house at one time,  the most efficient method is to do each task for the entire house.  Start by decluttering the entire house, then work from the top down, and dry to wet  Dust the entire house, sweep the entire house, clean all the wet areas, then do the floors.   ( I learned this from Cheryl Mendelsson in her excellent book Home Comforts).

When a very hungry infant entered my life, I lost my ability to define my own schedule.  Whatever I had planned might be preempted by his needs.  I found that I made better progress by working a little bit each day.

“Around the Mulberry Bush”

I decided to try this classic homemaking method: assign each chore a specific day, and do it on that particular day.  I love this idea in theory.  It’s often recommended by more seasoned moms and homemakers.  My suspicion is that if you have children who are old enough to be scheduled and  help, it works well.  If you’d like to try it, check out Clean Mama.  She has a great starter schedule, and sends out some helpful “how to’s”

In my reality, I can’t necessarily get everything done on the day it was supposed to be done.  Worse, the same thing tends to get missed every week.   I end up with beautiful bathrooms and a filthy kitchen.

My Generalized Mulberry Bush

My current strategy looks like this: Day one, living room and play room; day two, bathrooms; day three, mopping; day four, kitchen; day five, bedrooms. Days six and seven, rest.

I have found that cleaning each room in its entirety before moving on the next is the most efficient method when cleaning with and around little people.  In dry rooms (bedrooms, play room)  I declutter, then clean the surfaces as quickly as possible.    In wet rooms, I may close the door while I quickly use all the chemicals then stow them out of reach.

Ideally the seven day cycle happens every week.  But, in reality, it works fine even if stretched over two or three weeks.    Sometimes I do day one cleaning on Monday, day two cleaning on Wednesday. When I had just given  birth to my second child in eighteen months, my weekly chores got done monthly.  It wasn’t ideal, but the situation was under control, unlike the year before when I couldn’t even figure out what to ask for when someone was available to help.  Believe me, knowing what you need to do and haven’t done is much less stressful than not even knowing what you haven’t done.

I have found that cleaning each room in its entirety before moving on the next is the most efficient method when cleaning with and around little people.  In dry rooms (bedrooms, play room)  I declutter, then clean the surfaces as quickly as possible.    In wet rooms, I may close the door while I quickly use all the chemicals then stow them out of reach.

Why did you choose your current scheduling strategy for weekly cleaning?

 

How to have a clean house every day January 15, 2012

Filed under: Cleaning,Organization — Christy @ 3:29 am

Only clean needs to be cleaned every day.

I have found that what needs to be cleaned every day depends on where my home is, who is living in it, and personal taste. In Florida, I worried about mold. In the Middle East, I worry about dust. I became a lot more concerned about the cleanliness of the floor when I realized that’s where my children were living.

Daily chores are the things that must be done at least every forty-eight hours to keep the house comfortable and safe. If it can wait longer than that, it needs to be a weekly chore. Right now, my daily chores include clutter control, cooking, washing dishes, wiping down the table and counters, watering the plants, dusting, sweeping. I also check the sinks, toilets and toilet paper supplies.

Daily tasks are the ones most critical to my family’s well being, so they have to be the priority. Until I’m at the point of getting everything that needs to be done daily accomplished, it’s better to let the other chores slide. For the first few weeks in our new home, any energy and time not needed for daily chores went toward organizing, shopping and other wise acclimating, not toward weekly or monthly cleaning. Once I was able to comfortably complete my daily cleaning, the house felt good, even though it wasn’t thoroughly clean.

Designate specific time to clean each day.

Although I’ve read many theories about when a homemaker should schedule her daily cleaning times, my personal experience is that it depends on what else is going on in my life. At the moment, I do the bulk of my cleaning before the kids get up, then work in the kitchen after lunch and before bed. I’ve done everything in the opposite order too, and that worked at the time.

I learned a few good tricks to find extra time when my children were infants. Now that they’re toddlers, I purposely have them help a little each day, but some chores such as mopping are still more efficient when they are not playing in the bucket!

Starting the machines first helps me use my time more efficiently, because I can go back switch clothes to the dryer or maybe put the dishes away during the same cleaning session. I’ve found it helpful to rank daily chores by importance. The most important things should be done first, because some days I won’t get to the bottom of the list.

When do you clean each day?  What do you do first?  Why?

 

Getting things done when you have an infant

Filed under: Laundry,Life with an infant,Organization,Saving time — Christy @ 3:21 am

1. When I was getting up multiple times in the night to nurse, I would change laundry loads after every feeding.  Then, in themorning, all the laundry was ready to put away, or at least my husband could dig through to get what he needed.  It was well worth the extra five minutes of lost sleep every three hours.

2. When my daughter was an infant, I learned that if I would feed the baby  thirty minutes before her natural time to get up in the morning, she would sleep about until when my toddler got up.  That gave me a couple of hours of no baby time to get things of all kinds done in the morning.

3.  Use my nursing time.  My son nursed twelve hours per day and longer at times.  I found that it was a great time to catch up on phone calls and planning.  It’s also when I could do  memory work or read a book.

Let’s help out some moms who are just getting started!  What other tricks  have you learned to get things done while you had an infant?

 

How to keep a house clean, step one: make a plan January 2, 2012

Filed under: Cleaning,Organization — Christy @ 3:40 am

The first jet-lagged night in our new home, I sat on the couch mentally reviewing every room and writing down the tasks that needed to be done in each room (and also what containers I wanted, but that’s another subject).   I labeled each task, daily, weekly or monthly, choosing the longest time interval that seemed bearable.  I would love to wash the finger prints off the windows every day, but that takes too much time, and frankly, no one would know the difference if I did.  However, we do notice if we have plates for supper.

Here’s my list for the play room:

sweep floors—daily

Put away clutter — daily

Dust shelves and tables–daily

Sweep under the sofa—weekly

Dust light fixtures—weekly

Wash windows– weekly

Wipe down the toys—monthly

This is my tweaked list. I didn’t realize that the lights needed to be dusted until I had been cleaning for a few weeks (We recently figured out that they double AC returns!), and it took me longer than I care to admit to give up on cleaning the windows every day.

 I don’t do my daily chores every day, or my monthly chores monthly.  It’s more like five days out of seven for the daily chores and the monthly chores happen about every six weeks.  I do make the weekly chores most of the time, but when I had a nursing baby, they were really more like bi-weekly chores.

The goal is to put a plan on paper that approximates reality.   Then, I know what I need to attempt, and I have limits that make me stop cleaning.  Otherwise, my perfectionism takes over, and I get cranky and ignore the kids, or shut down and don’t do anything for the house because I’m over whelmed.   I made this plan knowing I would change it.

I think it’s helpful to learn from others.  Would you share how often you do the needed tasks for one room in your home?  And, maybe more importantly, why at those time intervals?