Cleaning: It Doesn’t Have to be All or Nothing

Cleaning: It Doesn’t Have to be All or Nothing

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Spring is in full swing, and spring fever abounds.

With visions of summer already dancing in our heads, we are working to control our excitement.

With only a few days left of our school year, we are zooming to the finish line.

With yearbook distribution, the last field trips, an award ceremony, and field day still coming up, our year is not yet over.

Though I am running back and forth to school for the next 2 weeks and my time at home is limited, I am not concerned about cleaning.

This is because I have a new cleaning process that is working for me. It’s called cleaning daily whereby I’m starting small and seeing encouraging results.

Cleaning Daily

Inspired by Bobby Smith’s guest post recommending cleaning daily, I tried it. The first week, I concentrated on my bathrooms.

For some reason, dirty bathrooms drag me down. I also get really tired after cleaning all of them at once. However, when I followed Bobby’s suggestion of cleaning daily, I found that I wasn’t worn out.

Starting Small

Starting small and only concentrating on one task – my bathrooms, I had to first change my mindset and remind myself that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I could take the project and break it down. So, for the first week, my daily cleaning went as follows:

Sunday: Make a plan

Monday: Clean all the bathroom sinks and surrounding areas (mirrors, lights, picture frames around the sink, etc.)

Tuesday: Clean all the toilets and surrounding areas (medicine cabinets, child’s doughnut seat, trash cans, etc.)

Wednesday: Clean all bathtubs, showers, and doors

Thursday: Sweep and hand wash all the floors

Friday: Pickup

Saturday: Rest

Encouraging Results

By the end of the week, I had 3 clean bathrooms, and I wasn’t exhausted. I was tired on some days. For example, Monday, I had to scrub the sink in my children’s bathroom because the toothpaste mess had hardened.

Also, I had a strip of plastic covered in mildew behind the shower door that needed scrubbing with an old toothbrush. Even though these tasks were tedious, I was able to concentrate my efforts on those items.

I did not need to hurry to finish cleaning that bathroom. In taking time to work with only one or two cleaning products, the cleaning went smoothly. With the first big cleaning taking the majority of my time, I now only need to maintain the bathrooms each week.

Having tackled our bathrooms on the first week, I will maintain the bathrooms and focus on laundry for the second week. Trying to re-establish a new routine with the laundry may take me more than a week, especially with being on the move so much in May.

No matter how long the process takes, I am learning and taking small steps. Thus far in this cleaning journey, I’m liking the daily cleaning with small tasks and great results.

Though my house is not in perfect order, it’s okay because it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Happy cleaning!

Question: How is your cleaning routine working for you?

Olympic Lessons: Inventing on the Spot

Olympic Lessons: Inventing on the Spot

Photograph Credit: NVT Office Clips

I’m hooked! Watching the events of the Olympics’ first day, I am glued to the television. What a thrill to watch the first gold medal of these games hang on American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg!

In an event where each participant gets two attempts, Sage had a perfect run to earn a gold medal on his first try. Of course, the other snowboarders completed their runs, but his score remained at the top.

Later, during his interview, Sage explained how he had never tried the trick he executed perfectly to win. Wow! Talk about confidence.

I’m so impressed by those who know their craft so well that they can invent on the spot even on the world’s greatest stage of competition.

Though I will not be winning any household maintenance awards, I love how Sage inspired me to know my craft, and never be so comfortable with the routine that I cannot add in a new method.

As a creature of habit, I get stuck in ruts. Doing the same routine in the same way may get the task done, but is it memorable?

For me, doing laundry, washing dishes, dusting, and cleaning bathrooms are done according to my efficient routine. But when the task is finished, it is just done. Watching Sage use his skills to try something new inspired me to add a little flare to my daily routines.

Whether I encourage a child to help, try a new product, or change the tasks order, I will add spice to my craft. Making this change won’t get me any medals, but I can bring a smile to a child’s face.

Branching out of my comfort zone to invent on the spot may spur me on to more adventures. In using time wisely, I desire to accomplish tasks efficiently and intentionally. A little flare and spontaneity is good and beneficial which is exactly what I need.

Thanks, Saga, for inventing on the spot and inspiring me to do the same. Happy inventing!

Question: What are you finding inspirational from these Olympic games?

Frozen Pipes: Yikes! No water!

Frozen Pipes: Yikes! No water!

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Baby, it’s cold outside is an understatement. As I took my children to school this morning, the temperature gauge read 10°F. With the wind chill, we were probably experiencing temperatures around – 2°F. Brrr!

For those of you in the northern states and Canada, you are used to this weather, and bless your hearts. However, I grew up in warm-weather Florida, and I tend to hibernate when the temperature falls below 40°F.

Last night we bumped up the heat and kept the doors open on our cabinets under our sinks. This morning all was well. We all got up, washed up, ate breakfast, rinsed the dishes, and left.

After arriving home, I left the garage door open about a foot as the door opener has not worked since Saturday. (Yes, it appears that we have a long list of items to fix around our house, and the list is getting longer by the day.)

Around noon, I went to wash my hands. As I turned on the faucet, nothing happened.

Yikes! No water!

Identifying the Source

Thinking that a water main broke in the neighborhood, I called my two neighbors. They both had water, so it wasn’t a community outage.

My next call was to our utility company, who verified that there were no outages. The representative suggested calling a plumber as it sounded as though we had frozen pipes.

Thanking her for the suggestion, I decided to call Paul. Poor guy! He has dealt with a broken garage door opener, failed radio in his vehicle, painted Mr. 8’s room with 3 colors, put together 2 dressers and an organization tower, and fixed a number of small toys over his holiday break. I felt badly calling him at work to inform him of our water issue.

Knowing that it was frozen pipes, I made the call.  Thankfully, Paul was on his lunch break and looked up some solutions. Since I had left the garage door open about a foot off the floor (as the garage door opener is not currently working), we think the cold air froze our main pipes in the garage as no water was coming into the house.

Fixing the Source

Inside the House

Though the problem was in the garage, I needed to release the pressure in the pipes prior to melting the frozen blockage to give the water somewhere to go. Paul asked me to do the following:

      • Shut off the outside valves (which are housed under two sinks inside our house)
      • Turn on all faucets – sinks, bathtubs, and showers
      • Keep all the cabinets open to allow the heat from our home to thaw the pipes

Outside the House

Concentrating on creating heat in the garage to melt the frozen pipes, I followed Paul’s suggestions:

      • Opened the garage door
      • Backed out the van
      • Closed the garage door
      • Placed a space heater near the center of the floor

By the time I got the house prepared, it was time for afternoon pickup. Miss 3 and I left. When we arrived home, I opened the door to the wonderful sound of running water. The space heater melted the blockage, and water was coming out of each faucet.

Guess we have a stopped up sink in the master bathroom as I found the sink overflowing, the rug soaked, and water on the floor. However, after turning off the water, the sink drained. This is just another item on that long Honey-do list. *sigh*

Mopping up the floor and water overfill was an easy fix after not having water all afternoon. With the water on, I tested the hot water. There was none. I left the sink going on the hot setting for a few minutes. The water never got warm, so I turned it back to a small trickle.

By the time Paul arrived home, the hot water tank had refilled, and we were back to hot running water. Not wanting to drain the water heater with dinner and dishes, we used our January freebie from our Chick-fil-A calendar cards for dinner. With the extra time to heat the water, we were able to get baths and showers without having to call the plumber. 😀

Though I prefer snow if the temperatures will be this low, I am looking forward to some higher temperatures in the days that follow. If you find your pipes frozen, then try not to panic.

Having now been through the experience, we have a plan. In the future, we will proactively place an electric blanket on our pipes prior to temperatures falling below freezing.

Thankfully, I’m taking this year slowly. When life happened today, I dropped everything. The grocery lists did not get made, the laundry pile continues to grow, and the bills remain on my desk, but we have running water, healthy children, and a warm house. It was a great day, and I’m thankful for the investment of using time wisely.

Hopefully, you won’t find yourself saying, “Yikes! No water!” But you might find other inconveniences occurring on your pre-scheduled day. Try to roll with the punches, make the best decision you can, and focus on what you can control. Happy adjusting when life happens!

Question: How do you prepare for below freezing temperatures? 

Organizing: Stop and Do It!

Organizing: Stop and Do It!

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Josh Lowe)

I know it is fall, but I’m in spring cleaning mode. The brisk air has rejuvenated me. With my living room and dining room cleaned, I am concentrating on my kitchen.

As I was organizing my pantry and consolidating to save space, I was adding items to my shopping list. If I found our supply low on an item, I jotted it down. As I make out my grocery lists, I will check the deals for the items on the list.

Having run out of garlic powder recently, I had placed the empty container on our counter to replenish. When organizing the pantry, I sorted through the extra spices and found a full container of garlic powder to substitute for the empty one.

While rearranging and taking inventory, I found many of my spice containers on the rack less than half full. Since stopping to find a needed spice while cooking is not convenience, I try to always keep a backup of each spice I use.

I purchase spices in containers that usually don’t fit on the spice rack. So, I refill my small spice containers kept on the door of my pantry with the larger supply.

In using time wisely, I stopped cleaning and organizing to refill the spice containers to save time when cooking and needing those spices. I stopped because if I passed it, then I knew I would forget to come back. By stopping and doing, I got it done.

Now my spice containers are full, my pantry organized, and our products consolidated. With the pantry done, I’m on to more cleaning and organizing in the kitchen to get my home in order before the holidays.

As I come to a project that needs to get done, I will stop and do it! Getting it done is another item off my to-do list and saves me time later. 😉 Happy organizing!

Question: What do you do when you get to a project in the middle of another project?

Toilet Paper: Dispensing from the top or the bottom?

Toilet Paper: Dispensing from the top or the bottom?

Photograph Credit: Flicker (Masayoshi Sekimura)

From squeezing the toothpaste to placing toilet paper on the roll, many individuals have strong opinions about these topics – myself included. Though Paul and I have separate tubes of toothpaste and are on the same page when it comes to dispensing the toilet paper, we have not always seen eye to eye.

I used to just “fix” the issue myself until I realized that if I just told Paul (aka Mr. Laid Back) it bothered me, then he might “fix” it himself which is a better use of my time.

Since he did not care either way and I prefer our toilet paper to dispense from the top, we both put the roll on “correctly.” It has worked for years in the apartment, the townhouse, and now our house. Until . . . we had little helpers. 😉

With three bathrooms in our home and in the midst of Miss 3’s potty training, our family goes through rolls of toilet paper often. As Paul and I replace most of the rolls, we “correctly” put the roll to dispense from the top.

Our children just stick the toilet paper on the roll. Sometimes they get it right, but I tend to find the backwards roll when they are not present.

Poor Miss 3 was going potty and the roll had been put on “backwards.” She called saying she needed help. So, I checked on her to find her in tears because she could not find or reach the end of the toilet paper. Upon switching the roll to dispense from the top, I immediately got a big smile, a “thank you,” and a giggle which made my day.

Though dispensing from the top or the bottom is a preference, Ann Landers claims this topic as one of her most controversial subjects. Some of her readers keep the toilet paper dispensing from the top in one bathroom and from the bottom in another. I’m not sure I would go that far, but does it really matter?

Yes! Just ask Miss 3 because hanging the toilet paper “correctly” allows her to use time wisely. Though I can use a bottom dispensing roll without “fixing” it, I do prefer reaching for the toilet paper in front rather than trying to find it from behind.

Of course, if I went with a vertical holder, then this orientation issue would be moot and not as fun to discuss. If you have a conflict over which way the paper rolls in your household, then discuss it. Getting on the same page will save you from “correcting” the roll each time which saves you time and energy.  Happy dispensing!

Question: Which way do you prefer your toilet paper to roll – from the top or bottom?