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Small housekeeping tips that make a big difference


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14 hours ago, Lori D. said:

I do something productive with my hands while on the phone. I really dislike talking on the phone, but when I have to spend time on the phone for a friendly conversation with faraway family or friends, I pull open a drawer and so some sorting/organizing of the items in the drawer, or pull out and toss the expired coupons from the phone drawer

The other night, I absent mindedly folded towels while on the phone.  Once they were done, I realized it was a pile of towels that actually get hung on hooks, and I was kinda annoyed with myself, lol.

 

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When things are a struggle, getting done whatever can get done is perfectly good enough.  When there’s time and energy to really think about matching life with chores, I think that schedules/routines/systems are big game changers.

My favorite example is the fridge. My garbage day is Monday, so that’s the best day to clean out old leftovers, icky produce, check condiments, etc. so they’re not sitting in the trash for days. Since I’m already doing that, it’s the best day to actually *clean the fridge. Therefore, it makes the most sense to do grocery shopping Monday afternoon, when I can put food into a clean fridge. Since I shop weekly, the following Monday morning will leave the fridge at its most empty, making it easier to pull things out and clean it in time for garbage pick up, as well as show me if we’re too low or adequately stocked with items I may have overlooked before I hit the store.  Each task serves the next.

 

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20 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Put things away as you cook - ingredients and tools. Put things right in the dishwasher or wash them as water boils or whatever.  My 9 and 13yos aren’t exactly perfect at this yet, but they’re getting the hang of it. It’s so much easier to continue working as you gain more space, and so much less annoying to do the final clean up.

I do this, too. It’s one thing that puzzles me when dh cooks, because he doesn’t.  He has stuff everywhere. I can’t function like that. I don’t like for it to turn into some daunting, enormous job when dinner is over. I make it almost a game in my head, to see how cleaned up it can be in advance, and how little can be left for after the meal. 

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28 minutes ago, Quill said:

 I make it almost a game in my head, to see how cleaned up it can be in advance, and how little can be left for after the meal. 

I do this too!  🙂 

And I definitely agree with the PP who said to cook once/eat twice.  At least twice.  When I'm feeding my whole family, that's the best I can do.  Where there are fewer of us here, I can cook once and can freeze several meals.  I love having meals all ready to go in the freezer with no prep or clean up!  

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4 hours ago, Quill said:

I do this, too. It’s one thing that puzzles me when dh cooks, because he doesn’t.  He has stuff everywhere. I can’t function like that. I don’t like for it to turn into some daunting, enormous job when dinner is over. I make it almost a game in my head, to see how cleaned up it can be in advance, and how little can be left for after the meal. 

I do too. Thankfully dh is pretty good about it too.

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5 hours ago, Quill said:

I do this, too. It’s one thing that puzzles me when dh cooks, because he doesn’t.  He has stuff everywhere. I can’t function like that. I don’t like for it to turn into some daunting, enormous job when dinner is over. I make it almost a game in my head, to see how cleaned up it can be in advance, and how little can be left for after the meal. 

I didn't think much about it when I was growing up; I just did the dishes in the sink because my mother said I had to. 🙂

As a young married woman, dh and I briefly shared an apartment with another young couple. Mind you, I went straight from my parents' home to this apartment, and I had zero experience with most household things. Everyone worked outside except me. The other wife and I discussed how things would be handled chore-wise (they had shared the apartment with another coupled before us), and the routine for daily meals was that one person cooked and washed the dishes, and the other dried the dishes and wiped down everything. At first I thought that was fair; the problem was that I, being home all day, had time to meal prep and cook, and she raced home from work and cooked. I wiped things down and rinsed things off; she covered every surface and used every pot and pan and plate in the kitchen. When I cooked, she only had to put the dishes away; when she cooked, I spent much more time cleaning and putting away. After a month or so I suggested that each of us should just be in charge of the kitchen that night--cooking, cleaning, putting away. She wasn't happy. Also, we only made it together for about two months, then we broke up and got our own places. 🙂

Apparently that experience made a big impact on me, because ever since I have cleaned as I cooked; by the time we sit down to eat, the only dirty dishes are on the table, and it only takes a few minutes to clean up when we finish eating.

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20 hours ago, Junie said:

Several times a week (ideally it would be every day) I set a timer for 15 minutes.  Everyone in the house cleans for that amount of time and then gets a piece of chocolate when the timer goes off.  Sometimes, if the house is particularly messy, we will do a bonus 15 minutes for two extra pieces of chocolate.

There are a lot of household chores that can be done in 15 minutes: clean a bathroom, vacuum a room or two, sweep, clean up the kitchen, empty and fill the dishwasher, do some laundry, wash some windows, wash bathroom mirrors, dust, clean out a drawer...

The chocolate part is brilliant. For me, housecleaning has always been one percent perspiration and 99 percent inspiration.

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5 hours ago, Ellie said:

I didn't think much about it when I was growing up; I just did the dishes in the sink because my mother said I had to. 🙂

As a young married woman, dh and I briefly shared an apartment with another young couple. Mind you, I went straight from my parents' home to this apartment, and I had zero experience with most household things. Everyone worked outside except me. The other wife and I discussed how things would be handled chore-wise (they had shared the apartment with another coupled before us), and the routine for daily meals was that one person cooked and washed the dishes, and the other dried the dishes and wiped down everything. At first I thought that was fair; the problem was that I, being home all day, had time to meal prep and cook, and she raced home from work and cooked. I wiped things down and rinsed things off; she covered every surface and used every pot and pan and plate in the kitchen. When I cooked, she only had to put the dishes away; when she cooked, I spent much more time cleaning and putting away. After a month or so I suggested that each of us should just be in charge of the kitchen that night--cooking, cleaning, putting away. She wasn't happy. Also, we only made it together for about two months, then we broke up and got our own places. 🙂

Apparently that experience made a big impact on me, because ever since I have cleaned as I cooked; by the time we sit down to eat, the only dirty dishes are on the table, and it only takes a few minutes to clean up when we finish eating.

In dh's family the policy has always been that the person who doesn't cook does all the cleaning up.    He's a messy cook but its still worth it to me because I hate to cook. 

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I have a love hate relationship with this thread... It reminds me of when we lived with my parents the first months after we moved back and before we bought our house. She would tell me things like, “I do all my laundry on one day...” and it made me very aware how much more work we did as a family with a bazillion little people, lol. 
 

We call the dishwasher and the wash machine the lazy maids. They are put to work first thing in the AM. 
 

The runner tip? Completely legit. I gave my table runner to the piano. I desperately need another. 
 

You need a plan to manage books if the dining room is your school space. We recently flipped the living room and the dining room. I no longer have the giant shelves right next to the table. The upside? The shelves stay far neater. The downside? The table is far messier. It’s not okay. 
 

Do not live on a dirt road without AC. ‘Nuff said. 
 

Clean the bathrooms daily - quick wipe down. Deeper cleaning weekly. Bathrooms are gross. 
 

I DESPISE dishes in the sink. Stack them on the counter if you must, but keep ‘me out of the sink. 
 

Garbage out means ALL the way out. Don’t stop until you have delivered it to the outer can and put the lid on. 
 

Open mail and go through immediately. 
 

If you’re 8, you can absolutely learn to sort laundry, run a washer, switch to the dryer, fold, and put away your laundry. Zero excuses without some sort of legitimate inability. 

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2 hours ago, DorothyNJ said:

In dh's family the policy has always been that the person who doesn't cook does all the cleaning up.    He's a messy cook but its still worth it to me because I hate to cook. 

Whereas my sister and I tried this at our camp, and she's such a messy cook that I would rather eat a sandwich than clean up after her, lol. I don't hate to cook, though. 

On 10/8/2020 at 11:44 AM, PeterPan said:

 Want a clean dining table? Put on a runner. Took me 20 years to figure that one out, lol. I buy a new, snazzy table runner and then it's forbidden to put things on it. It becomes the great marker that it's really high time to put away whatever accumulated. And it means less accumulates, lol.

I don't understand this one. We can just as easily set things down on a table runner than the table itself. Is it just that the table runner makes everything pretty, and people who are more thoughtful than us would think twice about stacking stuff on it? 

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5 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

I don't understand this one. We can just as easily set things down on a table runner than the table itself. Is it just that the table runner makes everything pretty, and people who are more thoughtful than us would think twice about stacking stuff on it? 

I agree. I love the idea and personally I take better care of things when I have updated and/or decorated them. However, I think the other folks in my house won't give a flip about a pretty runner and then I will only be more annoyed that they are messing with my pretty table. 

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15 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

I have a love hate relationship with this thread... It reminds me of when we lived with my parents the first months after we moved back and before we bought our house. She would tell me things like, “I do all my laundry on one day...” and it made me very aware how much more work we did as a family with a bazillion little people, lol. 
 

We call the dishwasher and the wash machine the lazy maids. They are put to work first thing in the AM. 
 

The runner tip? Completely legit. I gave my table runner to the piano. I desperately need another. 
 

You need a plan to manage books if the dining room is your school space. We recently flipped the living room and the dining room. I no longer have the giant shelves right next to the table. The upside? The shelves stay far neater. The downside? The table is far messier. It’s not okay. 
 

Do not live on a dirt road without AC. ‘Nuff said. 
 

Clean the bathrooms daily - quick wipe down. Deeper cleaning weekly. Bathrooms are gross. 
 

I DESPISE dishes in the sink. Stack them on the counter if you must, but keep ‘me out of the sink. 
 

Garbage out means ALL the way out. Don’t stop until you have delivered it to the outer can and put the lid on. 
 

Open mail and go through immediately. 
 

If you’re 8, you can absolutely learn to sort laundry, run a washer, switch to the dryer, fold, and put away your laundry. Zero excuses without some sort of legitimate inability. 

LOL. This one is so true. All 3 of my kids could easily do their own laundry by 10yo. Between 10 and 13ish, we shifted from being able to do it alone....to they always do their own (or they run out of clean clothes).  Some kids took this role over faster than others LOL.  8 is a completely appropriate age for this task and I think bigger families are better at teaching individual housekeeping skills. Maybe out of necessity, maybe because old kids can teach younger ones (so mom doesn't have to do all the teaching). I have so many friends who are amazed that my kids do their own laundry.  It is a task that so many people don't realize kids are easily capable of. I teach them to do 2 loads (lights/darks). And if they have special fabrics, how to handle those. DD21 had a lot of hand wash clothes that she washed in the bathtub and laid to dry. She liked expensive clothes with nice fibers, open weave sweaters, and fragile lace etc. She knew that if she wanted them, she had to take care of them.

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14 hours ago, marbel said:

Table runners, flowers on the table, etc., don't do a thing around here.  Everything ends up on the kitchen table.  

LOL. In our house, the table cloth/runners end up on the floor as dd13 takes over the table for a puzzle. It becomes part of the problem. 

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If you keep the clutter cleared decently and don’t let dished accumulate, your house can be “company ready” (as long as your company isn’t gonna bust out the white gloves and start testing surfaces) in a matter of minutes. I try to do a daily run through and just clear clutter off of the counter. Just takes a few minutes.

Also, I am bad about procrastination on even small tasks. I’ve tried to get into a habit of doing small tasks the instant I notice them, and it helps quite a bit, even imperfectly  executed.

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2 hours ago, Tap said:

LOL. In our house, the table cloth/runners end up on the floor as dd13 takes over the table for a puzzle. It becomes part of the problem. 

I used to let the kids use my large, plastic sewing cutting board for puzzles. Then the puzzle-in-progress could be moved if the table was needed.

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On 10/9/2020 at 3:47 AM, Kassia said:

I do this too!  🙂 

And I definitely agree with the PP who said to cook once/eat twice.  At least twice.  When I'm feeding my whole family, that's the best I can do.  Where there are fewer of us here, I can cook once and can freeze several meals.  I love having meals all ready to go in the freezer with no prep or clean up!  

I miss being able to do this. 2 teen boys eat as much as 2 grown working men and one as much as 3 then my daughter, husband, and I need to eat too. Cooking for 10 takes long enough without trying to double. Stir fry requires batch after batch. Stock pots for chili and soups help but.... 

 

Some day I will do this again though. 

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My tips to myself: lower expectations, especially now when I have a house full of semi-stressed teens (3 boys + 1 girl), two doing on-line university, and I'm also doing on-line grad courses.

- I try not to do a job twice, by just moving it from one place to another

- I clean when I have energy and time, otherwise I ignore the mess

- The house is safe, no one will die from the mess, and the clutter is going to be there tomorrow whether I clean it now or not 😉

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3 minutes ago, frogger said:

I miss being able to do this. 2 teen boys eat as much as 2 grown working men and one as much as 3 then my daughter, husband, and I need to eat too. Cooking for 10 takes long enough without trying to double. Stir fry requires batch after batch. Stock pots for chili and soups help but.... 

 

Some day I will do this again though. 

Yes!  I have three sons and a dd.  Two of the boys are HUGE eaters (always trying to gain mass so they eat even more than they are hungry for) and one is a big eater.  Feeding them is very stressful!  I love having them home, but am not used to shopping and cooking for such big eaters.  I remember when they were younger, they would be looking for more to eat after dinner while I was still cleaning up!  It was so frustrating.  Definitely too hard to cook for multiple meals in that situation.  

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