Modern homemaking for the frugal urban mama.
Posts tagged declutter
After creating last week’s new housekeeping schedule, I decided to start things off on the right foot by doing a whole-house general cleaning and decluttering. My timing couldn’t be better because the donation truck is rolling through our neighborhood on Monday morning and I will be ready!
Yes, this does go against my declaration of
having claiming weekend’s off. But hopefully, this will be the last chore-filled weekend for a long while. Means to an end, people. Plus, I’m feeling especially “nesty” right now and when the urge to clean strikes, you’ve gotta seize the moment!
Yesterday, I deep cleaned the whole kitchen. Man, that felt so good. I loved getting all those little areas clean that rarely get touched. Today, I’m going to work on the master bedroom and the kids’ bedrooms. Oh, and I want to move our holiday stuff down to our new storage locker in the garage. Lots to do! All while hopefully fitting in an hour at the gym this afternoon.
In other housey news, after a search spanning many months, I found the perfect runners for our long hallway and ordered the rugs. I LOVE them and I can’t wait to see them in our space. I placed the order right before bed last night and I was so giddy about the whole thing that I fell asleep and literally dreamed about rugs all night. How sad is it that I am this excited about my new rugs? (Answer: Quite sad, actually.)
Anyway, the best part is that we paid cash (as we ALWAYS do these days because we are credit card FREE) and we got a smokin’ deal on some pieces for the house that I am really in love with. We’ve got our whole lives to get this place exactly how we want it, so I refuse to settle. Nothing is coming through our front door unless I really love it. And these rugs definitely fit the bill!
I’ll do a before and after hallway post in mid-August once our new runners have arrived!
It’s a beautiful sunny San Francisco morning and I’m really looking forward to enjoying a quiet Sunday puttering around at home. Puttering Sundays are THE BEST.
On keeping house
Now that Henry is old enough to join his big sister in destroying order around the house, I really need to step up my game to maximize efficiency. Some days I feel like I could literally clean morning, noon and night and never feel caught up.
At one point a few months ago, I came up with a “chores schedule”. It worked - sort of - but it was kinda complicated. I had everything divided up into daily, weekly, monthly, and “as needed” tasks, and it was loosely based on this method. My intentions were honorable, but admittedly, I found this housekeeping routine to be slightly too laborious. That, plus our variable schedule and my littlest one suddenly becoming super mobile, has forced me to rethink how I should spend my cleaning time.
When it was just little Maya (long before Henry came along), I would bomb around the house first thing in the morning, doing all my chores before she woke up. This worked well, and it was lovely to have everything completed before the day really got started. Flash forward a few years and another kid later, and now I feel like I can barely keep up. I swear on all that is holy that my kids seem to follow me around, immediately undoing at least 85% of my cleaning progress as I complete it. So I run around in circles re-doing chores whilst constantly trying to keep on top of the scattered Cheerios on the kitchen floor before somebody steps on them.
Efficiency? Uh, not so much.
I think at this stage of my life (and the kids’ lives), there will always be some element of constant clean-up. I will likely never get to sit back and bask in the glory of my perfectly clean house, at least not for more than 5-10 minutes at best. The laundry never ends. The dishes never stop. And oh, the Cheerios. Please don’t get me started on the Cheerios.
Currently, I run around cleaning up little messes all day, and then I do a major clean-up on the weekend when Dennis is home to help wrangle the kiddos. Yes, this approach gets the job done, but it means that I’m ALWAYS cleaning. Every single day. And in my opinion, that’s just not fair!
So how does a busy mama manage?
Simplicity. And acceptance. I’m realizing these concepts go hand-in-hand, are the keys to keeping an organized home. Simplicity and acceptance are paramount for survival.
I have divided my chores into very general categories, based on each room/area. For each room listed, I will complete a basic, no-frills clean-up. This means declutter, wipe, dust, polish, mop, sweep, vacuum, etc. I will also choose ONE drawer, cabinet, closet, etc. at my discretion, from that room, to thoroughly clean.
For example, if it’s Monday and “Kitchen” is my room for the day, then I will likely:
- remove any toys, books, mail, etc. from countertops
- wipe counters, stove, windowsills, windows
- polish stainless steel appliances
- mop floor
- and ALSO perhaps clean out the cutlery drawer
The idea is that each room/area gets my attention once a week, and most long-term cleaning projects will be negated as they are always constantly, slowly in progress. So something like a major kitchen cupboard re-org will happen, but probably take several weeks to fully complete. Make sense?
Also, I have one rule: When my room of the day is complete, I AM NOT ALLOWED TO CLEAN ANYTHING FURTHER. No exceptions. I’m all done for the day (except for the ongoing daily chores listed below, no escaping those, I’m afraid.)
So this is what my housekeeping schedule will look like going forward:
- Mondays: Kitchen
- Tuesdays: Bathrooms
- Wednesdays: Kids’ Bedrooms
- Thursdays: Master Bedroom
- Fridays: Dining Room/Living Room/Hallway
- Saturdays & Sundays: Weekends OFF!
- Ongoing Daily Chores: Make beds, laundry, dishes, toy clean-up, garbage/recycling/compost, Cheerio management.
I like this cleaning schedule. It’ll keep each room looking tidy while simultaneously allowing for the completion of larger-scale tasks. Plus, I get weekends off from cleaning! Sounds awesome to me!
Likely there will always be a few chores that I will need to schedule separate time for. These will probably be “one-offs” and I’ll have to tackle them as needed. For example, at some point, I’d like to organize our storage locker down in the garage and this might just have to be a weekend thing.
As for acceptance, I’ve just come to the realization that messes are a part of my life right now. We don’t live in a museum. We have real lives and little kids. My inner neat freak just has to let go and unclench. Some days are just going to be messy and that’s OK. Years from now, I probably won’t remember that the Toy Story toys got mixed in with the Barbies, or the night I left some dishes in the sink. But time with my young family is precious, fleeting and indelible.
My blogging has been on the back-burner lately! I have been remiss!
Not because I’ve been lazy, mind you. Quite the opposite.
It’s finally the last week of preschool (thank goodness) and there’ve been “end of year” festivities almost every day. Tomorrow, in fact, the whole class is going on a special field trip to the San Francisco Zoo and I have volunteered to be one of the class chaperones. Plus, there’s an Ice Cream Social on Thursday and an End of School concert on Friday. Oh for crappin’ out loud, can we just end the school year already please? Sheesh.
I’ve also been Spring cleaning the everlovin’ crap out of the house. The scrubbing, polishing, decluttering and reorganizing has been quite something. Perhaps “epic” is the word I’m looking for. Or possibly “transplendent”. Either way, it’s beautiful and it brings a tear to my eye just typing about it.
I’m super behind on a bunch of HOA work, and it’s really bugging me. I seriously need to get caught up. Did I mention I’m officially the Treasurer now? Yup, it’s true. Impressed? Don’t be; “Treasurer” is really just a fancy name for “Sucker Who Does All The Legwork For The Association That No One Else Wants To Do.” At least I’m organized and task-oriented by nature, which seems to help my cause immensely. My goal is to have everything done and dusted before my parents arrive on Saturday so I can really enjoy their visit.
And now that Hen is feeling better, we’ve hosted several playdates (and mommy dates), and wandered to the park or taken long sunny walks every day. I’ve been keeping the windows and doors wide open, making lemonade, doing yoga, reading books, eating homemade popsicles, listening to Cuban music and drinking lots and lots of tea. Spring has sprung, the San Fran skies are cornflower blue and we’re all buzzing around like busy little bees. People are smiling, the city is humming, and happy is in the air. Life is
good great transplendent.
So I sorta disappeared over these last two days. It was, as I like to refer to it, “a spontaneous unplugging”. It wasn’t planned or anything, I’ve just subconsciously kept all online activities to a minimum for the past 48 hours. I was feeling so good after the first day of unplugging, I just kept rolling with it. It was a lovely little internet vacation and I’m ready to get back in the saddle today.
And what I’ve lacked in inter webs lately, I made up for in groovy weekend fun. Here’s what I’ve been up to, lo these past 2 days:
- The street we live on is having a sidewalk fair all weekend. Yesterday we walked for blocks and blocks in both directions, enjoying the activities. So much fun stuff to see and do!
- We bought a cabinet for the living room! At the aforementioned sidewalk fair. We found it at this great antique store and snapped it up for a song (and needless to say, we paid cash). I’ll post some pics at some point in the future, but I want to surprise my mom with it when my parents come to visit us in a couple of weeks. And since she reads this blog (Hi, mom!), I’ll wait until after she sees it to put it on the blog. But hey - spoiler alert - it’s antique, hand-painted and GORGEOUS! Yeah, I’m pretty much in love with my new cabinet.
- I sold a few things on Craigslist. That’s me, always trying to declutter and simplify. Feels so good.
- Lots of tea drinking and book reading has been going on this weekend. I’d like to say the tea is because I’ve quit coffee completely but no, that hasn’t exactly happened. But I’ve certainly cut back. Baby steps, right? As for the books, I’m currently reading this and this.
- We had tuna sandwiches for dinner last night. Ha! Sufficed to say, my trusty meal plan got a bit jumbled this weekend. It happens sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. But when it comes to meal planning, I truly believe that rigidity is a recipe for failure. Sometimes ya just gotta roll with it. The good news is that now I’ve got some unexpected meals in my arsenal for next week. And funnily enough, Dennis said the tuna sandwiches were one of the best dinners he’s had in awhile. (I’m not sure how to take that… Compliment or insult?)
- I think I’m going to make some cherry jam today. I think it’s a touch early in the season for local cherries because some of those pretty babies I bought at the farmers’ market last week turned out to be a bit tart. But we don’t waste food around here, no sir! So I shall repurpose them.
That’s about it for now! Hope you’re having a delicious Sunday.
Down with yoga pants (Part 2)
(If you missed it, here’s Part 1 of this series.)
So, last week I left you dear readers at the edge of your seats, wondering what oh what could possibly be my solution for the replacement of lowly yoga pant, the “mom uniform” of ill repute? Well, friends, I think I’ve found something that checks all the boxes and has allowed me to downsize my wardrobe significantly.
I needed a style solution that:
- is easy to wear, dress up and dress down and suitable to varying SF weather
- is comfortable and not at all constrictive, because being a mama means carrying babies, squatting down, sitting the the floor, bending over, twisting, running, etc.
- is easy to launder, no dry-cleaning or ironing, thankyouverymuch
- and - perhaps most importantly - makes me feel pretty and confident (the way that yoga pants FAIL MISERABLY in this regard)
My solution? Are you ready?
Easy, breezy, beautiful dresses. I have collected 6 of these now, in varying lengths and patterns. They’re all 100% cotton and feel absolutely dreamy to wear.
I can dress them up with boots or flats, a belt and a scarf or a cute jacket. Or I can dress them down with sandals, Toms or flip flops. In the summer, their simplicity is a thing of beauty and in the winter, I can pair these with tights and boots and a long-sleeved shirt underneath, or a cardigan over top. I can add jewelry and a cool belt if I’m feeling fancy, or I can simply wear them plain and feel just as pretty.
I LOVE DRESSES.
Look how pretty!
Dresses are just perfect for this San Fran mama’s lifestyle. I can move around freely and with ease. I can bend, lift, twist and turn just as easily as I can give a piggy back ride to a 3-year-old. All of my dresses can be thrown in the washer and the dryer. The light cotton dries quickly and with nary a wrinkle. Why have I not thought of this before?
I wore the purple one in the photo above to a Cinco de Mayo party in the park today. I wore it with leggings and slouchy boots and brought along a light cardigan although it was so hot today I really didn’t need it at all. I spent the afternoon playing with the kids, sitting on the grass, carrying Henry on my back in the Ergobaby carrier and chatting with the other parents. I overheard Maya talking to another kid on the playground, proclaiming, “That’s my mama over there. The one in the beautiful princess dress!” Yup, that about sums it up, sweet girl. Mama does indeed feel like a princess these days. Viva la dresses!
I have officially tossed out ALL my yoga pants (which were all worn out and pilled anyway) since starting my personal dress revolution, save for one pair that I will use for actually doing yoga. I’m done keeping stuff that isn’t working for me. And yoga pants were doing me no favors, let me tell you. From now on, whether I’m hanging out at home or going out for dinner, it’s dresses. I’m building my whole wardrobe around this concept. No looking back.
And, in case you’re interested, these dresses were very frugal purchases. I already owned 3 of them but 2 of them never really fit quite right so I had them altered to fit me perfectly ($16 for both of them to be altered). The other 2 I found on a clearance rack at a cool vintage shop in my neighborhood (2 dresses for $10!). And one I bought just before I realized I was pregnant with Henry and I’d completely forgotten about it, only to recently discover it again, misplaced in an old box of clothes I thought didn’t fit.
I’ll continue to be on the lookout for a few more dresses like these (and I don’t expect much trouble with this because San Francisco happens to be the hippie dress capital of the world). Because dresses are so multi-functional and multi-seasonal, I consider them to do the job of several pieces of clothing. In other words, 1 dress = at least 5 outfits. In this regard, I think having several dresses makes sense (and by “several”, I mean maybe a total of 8-10. Because aside from a couple of pairs of jeans, a few t-shirts, tank tops, and a couple of cardigans, this will be my whole wardrobe.
What, you think I’m done with this series? Not even close! Stay tuned for Part 3, coming soon!