7 Tips For Creating Your Personalized Cleaning Routine

Ahhhh.

I am reveling in some much needed peace and quiet right now. The older kiddos have been at school all day, the toddler is napping, and even though my hubs is home today thanks to that darn windchill and our car not starting (it’s minus 50 Celsius with the windchill in Saskatchewan today. Don’t even try to imagine how cold that is!), I’ve actually had a few moments all to myself.

I took a nap. It was lovely.

Of course, I did manage to get my house back to rights beforehand. What is it about six people being home for two weeks straight during the coldest Christmas holiday ever that makes housework futile? Oh, wait. I think I just answered my question!

Just before Christmas, I nailed down a cleaning routine that actually works for me. I’ve tried to conform to other cleaning schedules for years, and I just haven’t been able to make it work. But then I wised up and decided to just do it my way. And it worked! My house is actually (usually) clean again!

I know I’m not alone, so here are my tips to help you make your own cleaning schedule – one that you will actually do!

1. Commit to making your home a haven.  No amount of planning is going to help if you aren’t first committed to following through with it. I personally believe that God has called me to be home for this season not just to look after our kids, but to also create a place that is safe and inviting for them to return to at the end of their day. A place they want to be in. But I didn’t always feel this way – I could really resent having to do housework if I let myself! Having this change in my attitude has really helped me look at keeping our home as a daily gift for my family. And for me, too.

2. Make a list of all the things you want done daily. Then weekly. Then monthly. And finally seasonally. If you know you aren’t going to dust every single day, then don’t put it on your daily list!

3. Divide your weekly list into daily tasks. We have seven days in a week to get all our work done, so let’s use them! Determine if you are an all or nothing kind of gal, who likes to get all those weekly chores done in one big cleaning spree, or if you’d rather spread them out throughout the week. Decide which days you will do your weekly tasks, and try to group similar items together. For instance, I take Mondays to wash floors and dust, Tuesdays to deep clean the bathrooms, Wednesdays to clean the kitchen, Thursdays to tackle the living room/family room, and Fridays to do all my banking, meal planning, etc.

4. Divide your monthly list into weekly tasks. Each month has at least four weeks, so plan what monthly chores you will do in week one, week two, week three, and week four. Again, group similar items together. And keep your list for each week small, three to four jobs maximum!

5. Determine which months you will do your seasonal jobs, like cleaning the oven, flipping mattresses, etc. Write them in your calendar.

6. Find a system for keeping track of your chores that works for you. Some people (myself included) have a household binder with their sheets inserted into page protectors. Others like to schedule them into Google calendar or their smartphones. I’m sure if you look hard enough, you could probably even find an app for that! As techy as I am, when it comes to my to-do lists, I still prefer pen and paper. Especially if I can cross something off. That’s so satisfying!

7. Enlist your kids’ help. And your spouse’s. Whenever and wherever. Enough said.

The first few weeks are always a lot more work when you first start out, but once you get through them, your house will seem to clean itself. Or at least the work will get done that much sooner!

What tips do you have for making cleaning routines easier?

 

On #mothergood

I’ve been thinking some more on this whole concept of mothergood. So much so, I want to declare it a movement. Even if it’s just me moving.

When I think about what it means to mothergood, it’s more than just being supermom. In fact, it’s NOT being supermom at all. It’s not about having the perfect home or perfect kids. Rather, it is about finding joy in being a mom, about serving our families in the way God has equipped us to without worrying about what others are doing and if we measure up to those standards, about raising our kids to be followers and lovers of Jesus.

If I could, I’d take all the books and articles and pins that make us moms feel less than, that make us feel like we are failing because we aren’t doing all those things someone else says we should do, and I would toss them out with last week’s leftovers that no one wanted even when they were fresh. I’m tired of striving to do, when God has called us to be.

Be women who love Him with all our hearts and souls and minds. And when we don’t, be women who come to Him with repentance.

Be mothers who love our kids with the kind of love He offers us – unconditional, just, true. The kind of love that offers itself even in moments of incredible trial, that drives us to our knees in prayer and praise when we really just want to give up.

Be women less concerned with what the world tells us and more with what God tells us. Women with eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, the One who died while we were still sinners because of His great love for us.

We mothergood when we follow the One who is good. When we say no to the joy stealers and yes to the Joy-Giver.

Our kids won’t be perfect, but then neither will we. But the glory we will bring Him will cover over our failings like nothing else.

I want to mothergood.

The 5 Love Languages of Children

Last year was a tough year.

Not that anything overly bad happened – on the surface, in fact, our live looked pretty blessed. We had a healthy baby, we were settling in to our lesser finances a little more comfortably, and our marriage was strong.

But last winter we suddenly found ourselves struggling with one of our children. It was hard and it was often ugly and by the end of most days we were exhausted and depleted and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Through much prayer we were able to get through the worst of it. But as my head cleared in the aftermath, I realized that as parents we had a long way to go in repairing our family dynamic, not just with our one child, but with all of our kids.

I love our kids. I happen to think they are fantastic, smart, funny, kind, and pretty great. They’re my favourite kids by far. And I thought I was doing a good enough job letting them know they were loved, until I started to see patterns of behaviour that indicated otherwise.

It was extremely good timing that I received The 5 Love Languages of Children to review. I had heard of the book before, so I was eager to read it.

It was eye-opening to say the least.

To know that each of my children have their own love languages, their own ways of needing to be shown love has indeed been life-changing. Not because I had to do anything drastically different in how I love my kids, but because it has caused me to pay more attention, to be more intentional in filling up my kids’ love tanks in ways that are meaningful to them.

One responds best to hugs and other affectionate touch. One responds best to encouraging and affirming words. And yet another to being helped and spending quality time.

I had become lazy in my parenting, I will admit, trying a one-sized-fits-all approach to four very different children. Understanding why that wasn’t working and making small changes has made all the difference.

There is less fighting, less stress, and more willingness to cooperate and listen. And not just from the kids, but from me as well.

Not only that, but it has helped me better understand my own love language and that of my husband’s, making me more understanding and patient on the days that I feel like being anything but.

And that is a very good thing.

This book has been provided courtesy of Northfield Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for my honest review.  Available at your favourite bookseller, including Amazon.ca.

A handy dandy laundry tip

Here’s the thing. I do laundry because I have to. So when I go shopping, I try really, really hard to stay away from things that require extra care, like hand-washing. Or ironing. I think I may dislike ironing more than the actual laundry.

But sometimes a girl sees the cutest little top or the most comfy linen pants and all that cuteness trumps the self-imposed laundry rules. Am I right?

The part I find the toughest about hand-washing is the wringing out. Sure, you can use a towel, but that just makes more laundry. Ugh!

Awhile ago, I had an epiphany while using my new salad spinner.

Oh, yes, I’m going there.

Why not use the spinner to wring my shirt out? And you know what? It worked like a charm!

(This probably works best if you have a spinner that sits inside a bowl that will collect the water for you, unlike the cheap one I had in my university days. That one would have had water everywhere.)

I actually do the soaking in the container as well. Once the soaking is done, dump the water, and spin the spinner. It may take a few turns to get all the water wrung out, and I do find that heavier fabrics require me to squeeze a the excess water out by hand afterward. But it still works wonderfully!

So there you go. Easiest laundry tip ever.

Linking up with Inspire Me Monday and Works For Me Wednesday.

This ministry of motherhood

You want to know something funny?

As I was typing the title for this post, my only-have-had-one-cup-of-coffee fingers kept typing “mothergood” instead of motherhood.

And there’s the whole point of this post.

I’m breaking my break for a moment because I feel like I have finally stumbled upon something good. This morning as I was praying and feeling sorry for myself over my lack of purpose (or, rather, my feeling of a lack of purpose), I finally got it. Back in January I shared that once summer holidays hit, I would officially be finished babysitting and that I felt God was calling me to not work for this next season. Back in January, I was really excited about that.

In June, when the repairs around the house started mounting up, I felt a lot less excited about that.

Not only my lack of excitement, but my need for doing something big in my own eyes for God, has led me to this place of discontentment. But this morning, He redirected my focus.

This morning as I was pleading with Him to clarify my calling, He clarified it by reminding me what He has already called me to.

Motherhood.

This world will have us believe, lovelies, that this is not enough. That its not enough to raise our kids to His glory, to be content building a home. That we must also pursue bigger and better things, otherwise we lose who we are.

It is in this pursuit of bigger and better that I have lost who I am.

So I am on a mission. I am driven to get out of this place of reluctantly accepting my calling of motherhood and instead find joy and passion in it. I am driven to find out how I can serve our God and my family authentically, without trying to become someone I think I should be. Because let’s face it. How many times do we resolve to be “better” moms, only to try to live up to someone else’s definition of what that is?

This is for Him. All for Him. Because there is a reason and purpose for Him calling me to this ministry and it is high time I started to view it as just that.

I want to mother good.

I feel like Mary Quite Contrary

I feel the need to preface this post with the statement “I am not a gardener.”

My green thumb is pretty black. I have lost the war to multitudes of gophers, moles, mice, birds, and unknown bugs. The fact I have a plant in my kitchen that has somehow managed to survive six years of neglect is no small miracle, let me tell you.

But I love planting things and watching them grow. It gives me no small thrill when my perennials actually come back in the Spring, despite my ignorance. Maybe my thumb is a little greener than I realized.

I have a flower bed in our front yard that I usually fill with hardy annuals that a busy mama can’t do much harm to. Not to mention that can handle being trampled by toddler feet. But after the third neighbor in a row moved in next door displaying a gift for landscaping I hold in awe, I decided to tackle my garden with an actual plan this year.

Which is funny, because I’m usually a planner. Why have I not thought to do this before?

Because I don’t have any idea what I am doing, I used the power of Google and Pinterest to help me. And you know what I discovered? bhg.com (Home of Better Homes and Gardens) has a nifty little planner that not only helps you figure out the best plants to put in based on your climate and the area your garden is in, it even plots them out for you.

Sometimes, I just love the Internet.

While some of the plants they suggested weren’t available where I live (thank you long winters short summers climate), I did manage to pick up some pretty perennials to plant in my shady flower bed. And I love how finished it is beginning to look by my front door now! (I totally forgot to take a photo on the weekend, and when I went to do it this morning, the sun was directly behind me and all you could see was my crazy-haven’t-done-my-hair-yet shadow. I thought I’d spare you that image.)

Now let’s pretend the horrible weed garden in my backyard is really filled with wild flowers and grasses native to my area and call it a day.

I’m curious – are you a gardener? What are your favourite resources to use? Or are you just naturally gifted and if you are, can you please come landscape my yard for me?

#RiskRejection: I talked myself into this

So.

I wasn’t going to even write this post. In all honesty, when I read about what the lovely Amy Sullivan is doing in regards to risk and encouraging other bloggers to join her, I was secretly glad that I felt not one iota of a even a whisper of a feeling of being compelled to participate.

(When I start to talk like that, you can know that even more secretly I am in great big denial.)

Yeah, so. As soon as I uttered the words “I’m so glad that God isn’t asking me to take any risks right now,” out loud to myself (also, I talk to myself. Only child syndrome.), all of the sudden I was gripped with ridiculous fear.

Because at that moment I knew, KNEW, with one hundred percent certainty that He was so asking me to take a risk.

Sigh. Some days I wish I didn’t talk to myself.

Alright, so I am a stay-at-home-mom. Way back in high school (please don’t ask me how long ago that was as it is getting incredibly close to my birthday and I am in a bit of denial about that, too) I knew I was being called to be a stay-at-home-mom. In fact, when I told my French teacher, the cutest little Irish man you ever did meet, that I was going to be a mom of the stay at home variety and he responded with “What a waste of your brains,” I determined to prove him wrong.

So what did I do when we started having kids? I looked for every opportunity NOT to be at home with them.

I did run a daycare for the better part of five years before I went back to work. But I was always being drawn back home. Even when I taught preschool, my dream job, I still felt a small niggling in the back of my mind that wished I was at home.

But I had bought into the thinking that a mom who *just* stays at home is worth pretty little.

And I had neglected to remember Who called me to be here in the first place.

So when the littlest mister was born, I knew it was time to listen. It wasn’t hard – I wanted to be at home with him! But I also spent the next two years after I left work wishing I was back there.

I had a lot of stuff I had to deal with – selfish ambition and jealousy being the biggies – and once I did, I was able to finally be content and even excited with this realized purpose of being keeper of our home and little family.

But it still scares me. Not working kind of puts a damper on our finances. Right now I look after a sweet little preschooler a few days a week, and while I love her to pieces, can I be honest? Daycare is not so much my thing anymore.

Here’s where the big risks for me come in.

Risk #1: At the end of June I will be finished babysitting L because she heads off to Kindergarten in the fall. I won’t be looking to fill her spot. (That freaks me out just typing it!) That means, unless God makes it abundantly clear otherwise, I will be done offering daycare in a few short months.

Risk #2: With no daycare, comes no income. My tendency in these situations is to start looking for a job to help out with the fun fund. But I am taking this call to be at home seriously, so I won’t be trying to take control and do things my way. That scares me.

Risk #3: We’ll be trusting that God will provide for our extra needs. We have four kids. Kids are expensive. And require things like clothing. And shoes. And things like braces and contact lenses. And could someone explain to me how it happens that they all need new clothing and shoes at exactly the same moment? These small things cause me to worry often, but I’m going to believe that since God has a purpose for having me be a full-time stay-at-home-mom, He’s going to take care of all the details. I just need to actually let Him.

Okay. So maybe to pretty much everyone else, these risks are fairly minimal. But they’re a pretty big deal to me. I still don’t want to hit publish on this post. But I will. Because I like Amy. And I believe that I need to take this leap of faith.

Also, I have hope that in trusting Him with this, there’s going to be a great adventure waiting for us on the other side. And I really can’t wait to see what that is!