Whose Turn is It Anyways?

Posted on March 25, 2013. Filed under: Cleaning, Family, Organizing | Tags: , , |

choreHaving six children means that there is more than enough hands to go around. So why when it’s time to have those hands work for YOUR greater good, they seem to develop arthritis or some other sort of de-generating disease? Well the common phrase that usually goes around my house is “But I did it last time!” As a parent your first reaction is, I don’t care who did it last time! You do what I tell you to. Yes you can get them to comply using this method but it is totally draining for you and the kids. You’re ready for the kids to clean up. But first, you must assign tasks out and then go through, what I like to call, the re-assignment period. That’s when the kids negotiate amongst themselves and barter chores off; often times the youngest get the short end of the stick. Does this sound familiar?

So what can you do to make sense out of the chaos? It’s simple. Out of the chaos evolves the chore chart. A white wash board makes for the perfect chore chart. It’s reusable and can be easily changed. List out all the chores and rotate each child’s assignments each day. This ensures fairness as the hardest chores are rotated evenly. It also gives the kids the opportunity to learn how to do all the chores that need to be done. If you have older and younger children, partnering them up may be the best way to make sure the difficult tasks are done accurately. Our chore chart has worked out better than I ever imagined it would. The kids eagerly finish their chores as soon as they get out of school; without me having to tell them what to do. When kids know what is expected from them, it gives them a sense of empowerment. While they may not have the choice of whether or not to do the chore, they can choose when they complete their tasks. This simple sense of control actually makes the chores easier to do.

Implementing a chore chart means a united cleaning unit, right? Well, for the most part. The biggest complication has been the kids’ unwillingness to want to stray from the chart. We all know that flexibility is important to successfully running a household. Sometimes kids become reliant on the chart and if a need arises that requires them to stray from their normal tasks or take on extra, they are not happy. It is important for you to stress that the chart is merely a guide so that everyone has a task but there could be times when you may have to veer from the chart.

The one week I forgot to do the chart proved to be a complete disaster. The kids felt lost and were calling me to figure out what they should be doing. So as I complete this blog, I have just updated the chore chart for the week. While many of my ideas are short-lived; this has definitely proven to be a great resource for our household.

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Frugal Cleaning

Posted on March 2, 2013. Filed under: Cleaning, Finances | Tags: , , |

homemade productsHomemade cleaners are eco-friendly and also very cost-efficient. In searching for ways to reduce our household spending, I eagerly embarked on this new do-it-yourself task.

Keeping a few multi-purpose ingredients in your home will give you the ability to make cleaners for several different purposes.

(Tips: We buy spray bottles at the Dollar Store or repurpose bottles from commercial cleaners. This keeps our storage costs at a minimum. Also, when repurposing jars or bottles, you can get rid of any lingering smells by rinsing with vinegar and baking soda. You must make sure the containers are closed tight. This even removed the smell from a pickle jar; which is pretty much impossible to do!)

Here are the homemade cleaners that are commonly used in our home:

All-Purpose Cleaner – This is my go-to cleaner for everything. Very simple ingredients and works great. (Click here for directions on how to make this product.) I tried using the citrus peels; but sadly, I grew inpatient and ended up taking them out way too early so the smell did not linger very long. I opt to use extra drops of essential oil to give our home a fresh clean scent. At first, I was hesitant about the vinegar as I thought the smell would linger. In actuality, the vinegar smell disappears within minutes of using the product.

Glass Cleaner – Four common ingredients will get you a glass cleaner with the same power as Windex. Seriously. Alcohol, vinegar, water and a bit of cornstarch will keep glass tables and windows sparkling clean. This cleaner even works to remove soap scum from your glass shower doors. (Click here for ingredients).

Homemade Bleach – While I do not use this cleaner as frequently, it serves its purpose for those hard-to-clean stained surfaces. I used it to get the grime from my marble tile in the shower, stains that I couldn’t get out with commercial cleaners, and the results truly amazed me. The fresh lemon juice ingredient also makes for a wonderfully-scented cleaning product; a good alternative to the typical harsh bleach fumes. (Click here to make yours.)

Eyeglass Lens Cleaner – Equal parts alcohol and water and a drop of dish soap makes for an inexpensive daily cleaner for your eyeglasses. Small spray bottles can be purchased from the Dollar Store to store this product. Repurposing containers for travel-size body sprays (like from Bath and Body Works) will allow you to take this product with you on the go.

Beyond the cost and environment benefits, homemade cleaners provide convenience. Have you ever had to drop everything and make a run to the store to purchase cleaning ingredients in the middle of a cleaning job? This has been my fate far to often; and usually, I opt for convenience and end up paying a lot more. But not anymore. If I run out of cleaners now, I simply gather up the ingredients and make more immediately!

Homemade cleaners are also kid-friendly so you can feel free to put your kids to work without worrying about harsh chemicals harming them in any way.

What homemade products do you use? Leave a comment and share!

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Clean House – Children’s Edition

Posted on May 10, 2012. Filed under: Cleaning, Family, Life, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , |

Don Aslett is a renowned motivational speaker and cleaning expert who has written several humorous books on the topic of cleaning and organizing the home. Reading his book Help! around the house : a mother’s guide to getting the family to pitch in and clean up was my first swift kick in the you-know-what that I needed to make a major change. If I was to ever have any hope of having a life outside of constant work, I needed to get the kids more involved in the daily housework.  I, by nature, am not a neat freak. I do, however, admit to having my way of doing certain things that tends to accomplish the task and keep the chaos to a minimum. Seemingly every time I asked someone to take over one of these tasks, they could never complete it the way I could which either left me having to redo it over or thoroughly upset every time I caught of glimpse of my solid structure slowly crumbling.

 Now you might think that I am a clear case of Mommy Dearest, but I promise you I am not and if you continue to read on I will eventually humanize myself! In his book, Don points out that not only are children capable of doing very intricate tasks around the home but they may actually be better at doing it than we are. After all, they are smaller and can get into nooks and crannies almost effortlessly. Gotta love his logic! But in hindsight, I did discover that each of my children had certain strengths right out the bat while others had to be nurtured (which forced me to conjure up all the patience I could possibly muster). But even in the case of the latter, they were still capable and eventually developed the ability to complete the task.

 The first task we had to perfect was washing dishes. My preteen daughters would simply toss dirty dishes into the dishwater every which way and at the end of the wash, dishes were still dirty…But now we had a bigger problem! Food was hardened to the dish at the point adult intervention was not only desirable but necessary. If intervention did not happen the dishes were either left in the dishwasher awaiting the next load or were packed away to be addressed when someone went to use it later on. The chaos continued when putting the dishes away. Went dishes were stacked on top of each other and there was no rhyme or reason in where they were put – any open space would do! Needless to say when the time came to actually use these dishes, I spent (or should I say wasted) so much time trying to find them.

 Now does this mean my daughters’ were hopeless, of course not! But like many things in life, you have to be properly taught. Don’t assume that everyone has an innate ability to do every task. So similar to how the Fortune 500 companies handle new hires, my daughters underwent a rigorous training process. From shadowing a seasoned employee (watch me work!) to shared responsible (teamwork!) to on your own with a post-quality review. Now they do the task with no supervision. I remember when I opened their first successfully loaded dishwasher – talk about a proud Mama! And when our dishwasher was on the fritz and we had to resort to hand washing, they didn’t miss a beat as they had already been trained on pre-rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Same concept, just add soapy warm water. A great example of while it can be efficient to take advantage of available technology, technology should never be fully relied on and you should always know how to manually complete a task. During this whole process I discovered that my then observant 6-year daughter had the art of dishwashing mastered – no training necessarily! While the boys took a little longer to catch on (and a lot more hand-holding!), they too can complete the task with spotless dishes.

 While it may be more work to train your kids on the proper way of performing housework, the benefits are extraordinary. Not only do you avoid spending all your free-time working around the house but you teach your kids responsibility and prepare them for adulthood. I subscribe to the Daily Hope e-mail newsletter by Pastor Rick Warren – author of New York Times seller, The Purpose Driven Life. I recently read “Trust Your Kids with Responsibility,” where he notes that “we all need places where we are trusted, where we can grow, develop, and prove ourselves.” While housework seems rather mundane when considering all of life’s lessons to be had, being neat and organized paves the way to enjoy life and gives you more time to take advantage of what life has to offer. And as an adult who values that, giving your children the responsibility of helping you in such a profound way let’s them know that you trust and believe in their ability to be an asset to your life.

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