May 25, 2012

Summer Cleaning Boot Camp


 I will freely admit to being a recovering slob.  My position on that recovery scale varies from doing really well to falling off the wagon and into the dirt.  If I stick my kids in front of the computer all day, I can usually manage to have a fairly clean (for me) house.  Dishes done, laundry done, living room vacuumed, table cleared.  But if I have to do anything else (like homeschooling) it all just falls apart.

I have mentioned before that Pigby is only in Kindergarten this year and it's my "practice" year.  I know that I still need lots of practice of balancing everything.  Scripture study, cleaning, cooking healthy meals, homeschooling, budgeting, exercising.....it's a lot for one person to handle.  I am trying to let go of my idea of perfection and settle for good enough.  But I know that I won't be able to clean up after five people forever, so I am determined to make this summer the summer where I get my act together. 

Some of my goals include 1) Simplifying our lives 2) Getting the boys working more and cleaning up after themselves 3) Come up with a usable system to maintain everything and follow through with it.

Simplifying our lives:  We have so much stuff!  Both my husband and I have mothers who are hoarders (not the mental illness hoarder, but the "My grandbabies might want this toy in 25 years" type).  We both struggle with the "we might need this someday" type of mentality.  It's been a struggle but we're both getting better.  It's taken several sessions of going through piles and de-junking and I assume it will take a few more.  We didn't collect it all in a day; it won't all be gone in a day.

We've already gone through everyone's wardrobe and gotten rid of all but 7-8 outfits.  This helps keep laundry down.  We've gone through toys several times.  We've gone through books.  My problem is all my hobby stuff.  I really, REALLY want to learn how to sew.  I have tons of patterns and a lot of fabric and a sewing machine that rarely gets used.  I love to crochet and have lots of yarn and patterns.  I used to love scrapbooking and have a lot of paper and pictures and various doodads.  All of these hobbies take up space.  I honestly don't know  if I'll be able to homeschool little children and have time to sew.  We'll see.  For now it's being put on the back burner. 

Getting the boys to work:  Pigby can follow directions and will clean without whining given the right motivation.  Since I haven't gone through the training with Digby, he's not very good at obeying and following directions.  He gets sidetracked easily.  I need to work with Pigby about not whining and Digby just needs practice and follow through. 

My hope is to get them used to their daily chores (picking up toys, brushing teeth, making beds, changing clothes, etc).  I have the Motivated Moms list that I use to give them their extra chores.  Since the list varies by day, I just pick out the ones they can do themselves and add them to the list.  To keep it simple, they are both responsible for the chore; I don't give them separate ones.  I had to make Digby be Pigby's little helper.  For example, one of the things they can do is stock the toilet paper in both bathrooms.  Pigby gets the toilet paper out of the closet and gives it to Digby.  Digby puts them in the bathrooms. 

I do supervise and teach. This takes a lot of time (and patience). It would be so much easier to do things myself.  But I'm hoping it all pays off in the long run.  For example, one of the things they can do but it's not up to super standards is sweeping the front door landing.  I've taught Pigby how to use the dustpan and it gets done.  Is it white glove ready? No. Is it better than having to do it myself for the next 18 years? Yes. Will he get better the more he practices?  Well, let's hope so.

Creating a system: I read once that it's best to keep the organizing system simple.  If the system is overly complex and tedious, you're still making more work for yourself.

What I have right now:  I have four little whiteboards on a wall by the stairs.  It's in plain sight.  One of the whiteboards is divided into four sections labeled Walmart, Winco, Costco, and Sara Lee Bakery Outlet.  These are the four stores where we do our grocery/household supply shopping.  As I run out of things or notice what we need during the day, I go write it down in the appropriate section.  All four of these stores are on my husband's direct route home, so I can call him and text him the list and don't have to worry about forgetting things.

The other three whiteboards are everyone's to do list.  My husband's mostly gets ignored.  He has a ton of stuff on it but he doesn't really pay attention to it.  The boy's share a board.  The top section has their daily chores, the bottom section is where I write their new ones everyday.  My whiteboard is similar, but I have additional things that need to get done, like grind wheat and make bread.

The system is simple to me; I just lack habit of using it.  So big goal for the summer is to just do it!  I plan on homeschooling through the summer, so we will have that to contend with.  Right now my plan is to do school four days a week (M, T, Th, F) with Wednesday and Saturday being deep cleaning days (scrubbing bathrooms, moving furniture to vacuum everything, mopping, etc). 

I'm also not above bribing myself with nail polish.  A few months ago, I promised myself a nail polish (the good kind) if I got completely caught up on the dishes and another one if I stayed caught up with them for a week.  I could have gotten them a long time ago, but never made it a high priority to go to the store and pick some out.  After a super busy month with chicken pox, catering a film production, stomach bug, and kindergarten graduation the dishes and house were again a disaster.  So I bribed myself again more polish for catching up on dishes and another one for a thorough mopping of the kitchen floor (Swiffer Wet Jet doesn't count).  It's the little things in life :-)

How do you balance everything in your life?  How do you keep your house clean while homeschooling?  How do you keep toddlers from creating extreme amounts of chaos?

Megan is the mom to three adorable children (Pigby-boy age 6, Digby-boy age 3, and Chuck-girl age 1).  She enjoys reading and singing and crocheting.  She doesn't enjoy washing dishes or putting laundry away.  Bathrooms aren't a problem, she just has a hard time finding the time to get it done.

8 comments - Add a comment below -:

Tristan said...

Ahh,it brings back memories to think back where the oldest is just 6! You will be so amazed as they all get just a bit older how helpful they can be if you train them to help. Even at their ages they can do quite a bit.

At my house we have 7 kids ages 10, 7, 6, 4, 3, 1, and 4 mos. Everyone above the 1 year old has chores. The 1 year old is pick up patrol and helps mommy or an older sibling on other things too. We use chorepacks to get habits entrenched and we do a summer retraining session to brush up on our skills. We also give the children a new 'responsibility' each summer which they will have for a whole year. This is something they become completely in charge of and learn to do really well. We train them on the new responsibility each summer. Here is this summer's new responsibility switch:
10yo - floors (sweep, mop, vacuum)
7yo - downstairs bathroom (toilet, sink, mirror, floor, toilet paper, trash)
6yo - upstairs bathroom except tub/shower (same things as the other bathroom)
4yo - Porch patrol (put shoes on shelves, jump ropes/balls away, water plants)
3yo - wiping down table, chairs, and booster seats (desparately needed with 4 kids age 4 and under!)
1yo - pickup patrol and helper

I amso excited to finally have worked my way out of doing floors! That is my biggest joy this summer. And I don't usually do dishes anymore either, all the kids over 1 have dish duty. :)

Len said...

Thank goodness my two oldest (almost 9 and 6) help now. I can't imagine going back now!!! It's amazing what a few years will do in the "helpfulness" department. Our house is still not "clean" but it's no longer so messy I wouldn't have anyone over :-). Our 3 year old is the most challenging, old enough to know better but not old enough to know better :-). Just love them, the messes will slowly get better. Thank you for the post, I can defiantly relate!!!

Donna said...

You are so brave to put in a picture as well. I don't know how every latter-day saint women isn't lined up for one of those hoarding shows. year supply of food, family history, homeschooling/teaching our kids, FHE resources, journaling, books, books books, we all know the knowledge thing we need it for the next life so that comes with a book shelf or 20. Scripture study comes with resources. Then we have to eat well and treat our bodies like a temple. Some days i want to take a black marker and block out the house of order scripture!!!
Having had 6 children now 2 married and one on a mission it does get better the more you stick with the teaching them when they are young. My married girls are so thankful for the training and how prepared they were when they got a place of their own. It is the same on the mission field. my number 1 rule is when they leave they take all their stuff with them.

Donna said...

You are so brave to put in a picture as well. I don't know how every latter-day saint women isn't lined up for one of those hoarding shows. year supply of food, family history, homeschooling/teaching our kids, FHE resources, journaling, books, books books, we all know the knowledge thing we need it for the next life so that comes with a book shelf or 20. Scripture study comes with resources. Then we have to eat well and treat our bodies like a temple. Some days i want to take a black marker and block out the house of order scripture!!!
Having had 6 children now 2 married and one on a mission it does get better the more you stick with the teaching them when they are young. My married girls are so thankful for the training and how prepared they were when they got a place of their own. It is the same on the mission field. my number 1 rule is when they leave they take all their stuff with them.

Megan said...

Eep! That's not a picture of my house! I'm not that brave. My downstairs looks better than that on a given day, but my bedroom....Well, let's just say it's my hoarding room. Whenever company comes, most stuff gets thrown in there.

I do hear you on all the stuff. So much stuff.

And thank you Tristan for your comment. That's a really good method; one I might have to steal every summer!

Thank you Len. My three year old is so hard to deal with. It's like he reverted in his chaotic behavior. He was always getting into trouble, getting injured, making messes when he just didn't know better. Then he got better. Now he figures he's old enough to do more, but still just doesn't have the common sense not to. Or at least that's what I'm assuming. It's hard to imagine what goes on in the mind of a three year old

Heather said...

My husband attended a work training this spring and came home and taught me that when we have 1-3 things to get done, we can get all three things done. When we have 4 or more things to do we get 1-2 things done. I thought about what he said and the more I thought about it the more I was amazed at how true that was. So now I try to focus on no more than three things at a time. I might have a lot more than three things to do, but when I can focus on three at a time I can make my way through the day getting things done.

Sallyseashell said...

Great post! I think keeping the house clean becomes part of homeschooling in itself, as it teaches our kids self-reliance and responsibility! I commend you for your efforts! I have 3 boys the same ages as your kids, and I am trying to continuously teach them to clean. They are pretty good at doing there stuff. We have a morning routine we consistently follow which includes breakfast, brushing teeth, chores, getting dressed, morning prayers, and family scripture story. Once they are complete with that we can move onto the rest of the day. I don't have a reward system for doing it, as I feel it's something that needs to be habit. I do, however, really like the idea of rewarding myself with something like nail-polish! lol Brilliant! Because it truly takes a lot of work and patience to teach our little ones. Thanks for this great reminder!

Katharine said...

Lots of little Pick Ups during the day, everybody works together instead of separately and you pick your battles. Your house will never be perfect but if the floor is clean and things are picked up it looks 90%

Also try Fly Lady, she is really helpful. Routines are the key.