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Anti-Procrastination and Priorites, Part 2




If you didn't read part one, you can read it here.


Before I go any further, I want to make sure a few things are clear:

1. I am not in any way saying that sewing or doing crafts is a wrong use of your time.  They're a natural part of being a homemaker.

2. I am not indicating that you haven't used your time wisely if your house isn't immaculate 100% of the time.  A stay-at-home wife or mom knows that you can clean and clean and clean, but because you live there, there are always new messes being made!

3. My husband is not a domineering ogre whom I tremble before if the house is messed up or he doesn't have a hot dinner on the table when he gets home.   In fact, he normally doesn't say a word even when the house looks its worst, and most of the time he simply pitches in to help without being asked.  The reason I'm embarrassed when he sees the house dirty is because it's evidence of  my lack of discipline.  I'm ashamed of my sin, not of the dirty house.  If I've been using my time wisely all day, it doesn't bother me for him to walk in to a mess.  He understands that there are three little people who require a lot of attention (and who make a lot of messes behind my back!)


So, how do I determine when my house is “clean enough” to start on some other project with a good conscience?

I'm not saying this is what all women need to do in their home, but I know this is what I need to keep my own home a scene of inviting serenity.

I've narrowed it down to two simple things:

First, nothing needs to be done if there are dirty dishes undone. There's just nothing that screams filth to me so much as dirty dishes on the counter. The rest of the house can be entirely clean, but if there are dishes out, the whole place looks like a dump. When you walk in our back door, you're looking straight across the kitchen at the sink. What you see there makes or breaks your mood as soon as you walk into the house.  So my first strategy is, no other projects until the dishes are done.  That's all I ask of myself.

Second,  extra things need to have a time limit.  I will determine how long is a reasonable amount of time to work on a project before I need to turn my focus back over to my kids and other housework.  I will set a timer, and when it goes off, it's time to put away the project until later.   I am a very determined person, which most of the time is a good thing.  However, there are times when I get so focused on conquering something, that I lose all track of time and lots of things go undone and little people get ignored.  My sewing machine was being rebellious the other day, and I was not giving in until I broke its will.  That's fine and dandy, except for the fact that I almost made us late for church, left the kitchen an ugly mess, the kids were left to themselves for too long, and nobody got to eat dinner.

As a homemaker, my basic priorities are, in this order – my Lord, my husband, and my children.  If something, even a domestic project, is robbing my time from those three groups, it is wrong for me to spend time doing it.  Was it wrong for me to sew the other day?  No.  Was it wrong for me spend hours doing it when other, more important things were being neglected?  Yes.  Having a timer set would have brought me back to the reality of how much time I was spending.

So those, my friends, are my two very easy ways to make sure I'm doing the things I'm supposed to be doing while making sure I can find time to get to the extra projects too.


I hope these ideas are helpful to you in finding that balance between doing the extras while making sure to keep your priorities in order!




How I Survive Mondays

Monday mornings normally dawn with my house in disarray, my eyelids heavy, and my kids grouchy.  I love Sundays, but they can take a little bit of a toll on my house.  My husband and I try to get up early enough to have breakfast together as a family, get ourselves and three little ones dressed for church, and leave early enough to make sure our responsibilities as Sunday School director and pianist respectively are taken care of.  In our wake is normally a trail of pajamas, outfits that didn't work out, dirty breakfast dishes, and miscellaneous articles the kids got out behind our backs.  We come home to a quick lunch, determined to straighten up before naptime, but end up crashing and leaving even more dishes to be done.  After a short nap, we all get ready again for choir practice and evening service.  After the service we usually spend time fellowshipping and/or practicing music.  On our way home we often swing by the store to pick up bread or milk for the week.  By the time we get home it's getting late and there are hungry mouths to feed, little clothes to change, and a mess that is still staring at me as I add yet more dishes to the pile.  Any notions I may have had about cleaning up before bed are quickly fleeing as my eyelids struggle to remain open.

Monday arrives with my engine struggling to start, but I know I've got to get things under control as soon as possible.

So here's what I do.

I start in the easiest room, which is usually the bedroom.  I set a timer for 5 minutes and start straightening up as fast as I can.  I get the kids involved and send them on errands.  “Go put this in the trash can.  Hurry!  Put this in the hamper.  We have to get done before the timer dings!”  They enjoy racing the timer, and it definitely helps me go faster too.  By starting in the easiest room I get to see immediate progress which encourages me to keep at it.  When the timer dings I move on to the next room.  I spend five minutes in each room, and I am usually surprised to find that every room gets clean in that amount of time.  The kitchen usually takes longer, but it doesn't bother me too much because the rest of the house is already clean by then!

In less than an hour my house goes from looking well nigh hopeless to completely clean!  It's definitely an encouraging way to start off my week. When I try things any other way I end up discouraged and walking around in circles.   

So that's how Mondays usually start at my house.

How do you survive Mondays?  Do you have any tips we should know about?  Please, leave a comment!

This post may be linked to one of these parties.

Anti-Procrastination Challenge: Getting Rid of Stuff

We have a pretty large yard sale every year, and it's so nice to get rid of the junk and make a little money too.  But inevitably there is a least one thing (usually quite a few) that I come across while we're pricing items that I can't bear to sell for only a yard sale price.  I convince my husband that we need to set it aside to sell on ebay or Craigslist so that we can get a better price out of it.  That's great and all, but the problem is that those items go right back into the attic where I forget about them until the next year's yard sale. 

I have thought about getting the stuff down to list on ebay a few times, but there is always a reason why I can't do it at the time.  “I need good lighting to take pictures, and that only happens when the kids are up.  It's too hard to try to take pictures while keeping the kids from ripping the tags off of items I want to sell as brand new.”  “Optimum times to list are at night around 9 or 10, and I'm too busy getting everybody ready for bed at those times.”

Dumb excuses, I know.  I finally got up there and just did it.  I have several auctions going right now that are doing pretty well, and a bunch of other pictures taken that I can use to finish listing my auctions while the kids are napping.   

So, my challenge to you is this – What is it that you keep saying you need to get rid of, but haven't yet?  Maybe you want to list things on ebay like me, or maybe you're needing to pull together a yard sale, or maybe you just need to be honest with yourself and realize you're never going to do the ebay or yard sale thing.  Put the box of “Someday ebay” stuff out at your yard sale and just be done with it.  Or put the box of “Someday yard sale” stuff in the car to take to Goodwill and just be done with it.

If you're just now joining our Anti-Procrastination challenge, you can read all the details here. be sure you're subscribed to email updates or follow me on Facebook to receive each day's new challenge!   

This post may be linked to one of these parties.

Spring Cleaning for the Easily Overwhelmed

Spring cleaning and I don't get along too well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm ready to get rid of the germs, dust, and cobwebs just as much as anyone else, but I get overwhelmed way too easily.  I march into a room ready to attack it full force, but before five minutes have passed I'm already ready to give up.

I want to empty every drawer, scrub it out, then re-organize it.  But before I can do that I have to try on clothes to determine what still fits and what I need to get rid of.  “Oh, goodness.  Is that a hole in that shirt?  I need to get that mended.”  
 Before I know it I'm sitting in the middle of a room full of empty drawers, piles of clothing, cleaning supplies, and now mending supplies.  I have a mess bigger than before I started, and I'm getting nowhere fast.

That is a rather drastic example, but honestly, I do have a really hard time not getting overwhelmed.  I want to do everything, and I want to do it all at the same time.  That approach gets me into a lot of trouble.

This year will be different.  My Anti-Procrastination challenge has made sure of that.  Instead of leaving every cleaning or organizing project to be a huge ordeal that takes a week to accomplish, I have been plugging away day by day on one thing at a time.

Instead of “spring cleaning” having the meaning of washing windows and curtains, moving furniture, scrubbing baseboards, and organizing drawers for a week straight, all it means to me is that I continue on doing one thing each day.  To be honest, there's really not even that much that needs to be done since I've been working on things since the beginning of the year.  We're nowhere close to 2013, but I've already decided the Anti-Procrastination challenge will be going on again in my life.  While I may not always feel like tackling one thing every day, it sure makes things easier in the long run!

What about you?  Are you dreading spring cleaning?  Are you easily overwhelmed by all that you want to accomplish?  For many of you it seems impossible to get that much cleaning done in a week's time, especially if you work or if you have small children.

Maybe you need to re-think your definition of spring cleaning.  Pick one thing to accomplish each day.  Just start with whatever it is that's bothering you the most.  Is it the cobwebs you see in the corner every time you sit down on the couch?  Or maybe the window you can't see out of because it's so dirty?  Just pick one thing and do it.  You'll only spend about 15 minutes, but you'll feel like you've accomplished so much!

Come back and tell me what you worked on today, okay?  In the meantime, I'll be spending a few minutes sucking some cobwebs out of the corners, then spending a fun-filled day enjoying my little ones!  No stress for me trying to keep them out of my way while I scrub for hours on end!

I'm linking this post to the Spring Cleaning Challenge at Amy's Finer Things 

Anti-Procrastination Challenge: Your First Task!

I shared my anti-procrastination challenge with you before this year even began, and I've been plugging away at it ever since.  I told you last week how it has affected my home, and I am so excited to see the progress I've made in just one month!  I left it up to you to establish your own rules if you want to join me, but if you're like me, maybe you work better if someone tells you what to do!  So, I'm going to start posting the challenge for the day to help spur your thinking as to what those little nit-picky things are that need to get done around the house!

Your first challenge is to vacuum or sweep under your living room furniture. 

I mean, actually move it and thoroughly clean underneath.  You may be surprised at what you'll find under there.  Perhaps you'll only find a few dust bunnies, but if you have kids there is no limit to what might be lurking under there!  You know what I just found under mine?  A clementine!  I am so glad it wasn't rotten!  Putting off cleaning under the furniture would have left a nice little odor in my house in a couple weeks!

So, go get started!  If you find anything interesting under there, let us know about it in the comments!

And be sure to keep yourself updated on each day's challenge by subscribing in the box below!

This post may be linked to one of these parties.