Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Keeping It Clean - The Rest

The final installment. The Charts. The Cleaners. The Attitudes.

This isn't the first time I have posted about how to (try to) keep a clean house. It is a perpetual issue I have. I want a clean house, I want happy children, I want love and peace to rule our home, and I really want it all to just to happen. Even when I'm not looking.

But it doesn't work that way, folks. Recently, in talking with a friend, she remarked about how clean my house stayed. I snorted out my thanks as I looked at the applesauce the kids had somehow flung on the wall and glossed over her kind comment. She went on to tell me how she had moved a lot as a child and had never learned to take care of a home. She now has four children and is homeschooling and is overwhelmed by the idea of the effort it takes to do all these things.

I can identify.

I can't remember if I've ever talked about it on this blog, and I am too lazy to cull through the posts to check, but for me, becoming a stay at home Mom was just about the furtherest thing away from a natural transition ever. I was nothing short of miserable after the first couple of weeks. I had never learned to manage a home, and now that I was staying there all the time, the place got messy. I had more 'time' in the house, but somehow, it took every ounce of that time just to keep things going at a jagged and haphazard pace. Plus, I missed the jam-packed days of teaching preschool know, where the kids went home at the end of the day. And so did I! The slower paced days of just having my two oldest (then 1 year and newborn) caused a crazy and restlessness that took it's toll in every aspect of my life.

And the house was unreal. I had no idea how to truly keep things functioning along so that this area or that area didn't start stacking up.

Then some kind-hearted soul introduced me to Motivated Moms. I have sung the praises of this system a time or two. I have recommended it to friends. I have even given it as a Christmas Gift a few times. It's not just a huge deal, except that it outlines each and every single day what your tasks are. And it breaks those tasks down into such bite-size portions that you don't ever get overwhelmed. Miss a day? It's okay! The house won't fall down around your ears. Motivated Moms baby stepped me into an appreciation of home-making. It took the hardest part and broke it down for me.

I've been using Motivated Moms for around five years now. It flows seamlessly into my life. And I have branched out and taken on things like menu making, bread baking, sewing, crafts of various sorts, and still run a business in the midst of it all.

Motivated Moms, along with my Daily Docket, reside in my Household Notebook. In all honesty, it does NOT take both for a normal person. But I like lists. I find that I can look at the Motivated Moms list for the day, and dole out some of those tasks to my underlings children. I can also add in items such as appointments, dance or music classes, people I need to call or e-mail, little things here and there to make the day run more smoothly because I have it all written down in one place.

My Household Notebook also has a Menu section that includes the current week's menu, recipes that I have pulled from here or there, and blank sticky notes so I can make quick grocery item lists. There is a section for Gifts where I keep track of gifts we have given and ideas for gifts to give for different occasions to different people, as well as a running list of what I have in the 'gift box', a place I stash little odds and ends I pick up (mostly for birthday parties or small rewards for my own children). There is a tab for the Budget, where I print out one of my beloved Excel files I have created to help us keep our finances under control. There is a small section for my Business in which I keep up with upcoming events, appointments that are actually coming to my home, and a list of items I might be in need of at any given time. There is a Contact List, naming off all the kids doctors, mine and Joshua's doctors, birth-dates, and insurance information. This puts all that information in one place so that should we need to leave it for a baby sitter, it's easy as pie. Lastly, there is a tab for School, where I jot down ideas for things to do, curriculum I am interested in, supplies we need, or crafts we can do.

In other words, that Household Notebook is the bulk of my brain.

The children have chore charts. I couldn't run this house if they didn't understand that it takes all hands to keep up with it. We started instilling in them very young the importance of helping. As soon as they learn to walk, it is their responsibility to take their diapers to the trash can or the diaper pail (depending on if we are using disposable or cloth at that time). By eighteen months, they are expected to help with the nightly routine of walking around and picking up all the toys. And so it goes. I have pretty strong ideas about having the children take on responsibility. But we'll save that for sometime when I am feeling soap-boxy, mmm-kay?

With the progression of this pregnancy, I have adopted another list. I call it the Bare Minimum. I literally went through a couple of weeks thinking, if I only do three things on any given day of the week, what would those three things be? For our family, laundry and school aren't even options. So I couldn't write those down on the Bare Minimum. It's like breathing. If you don't do it, things get really uncomfortable. No, my Bare Minimum on Mondays is to spend 15 minutes straightening up downstairs, bathe two kids, and lesson plan for the following week. It's not much, but if I do those three things, then I have accomplished something. Each day of the week, the Bare Minimum changes, ensuring that several things will be swiped at during the week, even if none of them are totally 'Done'. It keeps things from falling completely apart on those days when I just can't force myself to be uber-productive.

It is my goal to keep the living room guest ready at all times. Even if the rest of the house is in shambles, if I can just offer our guests a place to sit, then I feel as if I have achieved a hostessing coup. I mean, really, four kids in and out and all over the place and there is a chair with no stuff in it? That is Gold Star material right there, people. Two if the coffee table is discernible!

I think this wraps up everything. If you have any comments or tips to share, shout 'em out! I'd love to hear what you have to say!

1 comment:

The Farmer Files said...

I would have never pegged you as someone that did not have an easy transition into SAHM. I did not, either, am still adjusting, and I have been here nearly 7 years. I once upon a time was a teacher, moons ago. It is the lesson planning that is still in me...every day has to have a plan. So true.