Cleaning · Household · Laundry · Organization

Chore App and Chart

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Our family is all about everyone helping out around the house. If you live here, you help here. ๐Ÿ™‚

Several months back, I was trying to figure out how to get a chore schedule up that wasn’t too permanent (I have wasted too many poster boards!), so we could try out a routine and see if we liked it. Ethan was still three then, and he was fully capable of helping with most of the things the big kids were expected to help with. So, I devised a little plan and chart (the picture above).

(I should mention my husband and I prefer a really clean home. Like, to the point where we will vacuum and clean after guests leave, regardless of how late. My husband has been known to mop the kitchen floor at 11:30 PM after our friends left because he realized at some point during their visit that the floor hadn’t been mopped in a few days. I refuse to complain about his mopping decisions because HE MOPS THE FLOOR AND LIKES IT. That is one less thing on my chore list, so I do not care what time of day he wants to mop!)

I took each of the items that get done fairly regularly and assigned them to someone a couple of times a week. The purple board is just a large magnetic board, and the letter rectangles are just cardstock that I cut out and attached a self-sticking magnet to. Easy peasy!

Since I went to all the trouble to make the chart, I wanted to be sure the kids were paying attention to it and completing their tasks. So, I took the smaller white board so they could mark off when they had completed tasks (and I could follow-up and make sure they actually got done!). The category “Jack” on the chore board is for our dog – I put Ethan in charge of him often to get his food and water filled up. And everyone around here can work our vacuums, so we all get a turn vacuuming different areas of the house.

We are a few months into using this chart and just a few things have changed, like cleaning the bathrooms more often. Iris and Lily now clean them on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. With seven people home 90% of the time, they just get messy quickly! I also changed Jack duty to a bigger variety of kids and moved Ethan into more of the kitchen and table cleaning duties. He is pretty handy with the small vacuum and crumbs in the kitchen!

I still fill in on the days no one is tending to the different areas. Laundry duty on the chore board does not mean they do a load of laundry, just that they are responsible to help me move loads from washer to dryer or fold and put items. Iris and Lily could probably do a couple of loads, but I just prefer to do it myself. I may or may not have lost a few clothing items to my husband’s laundry skills. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I don’t mind laundry at all.

For myself, I used the Motivated Moms appย (affiliate link – thanks for using it!)ย and I LOVE it! I started using it last year, and I find it to be the easiest way to keep track of everything. It has chores already programmed into it, but you can also add or remove tasks to suit you and your day! They have options for a light version of the app, a full version, and now on the website they even have printables! So many options that you are bound to find what works with your schedule. I highly recommend it!

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See how awesome that list is?? I still get to check off boxes, but it is all digital! I am a paper list person naturally, but the Motivated Moms app just really helps…I can take it anywhere I go because it is on my phone! I don’t have to worry about finding my paper list. Chores and tasks are a breeze when the app is keeping track, and I can just focus on my day and the task I am working on!

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What chart or app do you use for chores??

 

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Cleaning · Kitchen

Homemade FLOP!

I am often too prideful to admit when something I made did NOT work out.

Buuut, there is no getting around this flop…

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Do you see that clumpy NOT LIQUID mess right there?! That was dish soap. It started out as a liquid, but overnight it became a solid.

I followed the recipe perfectly…but didn’t read all the comments, which clearly showed that some people’s results were like mine. The recipe for this soap was simple but I guess the settling of it allowed the dry ingredients to absorb ALL the liquid as it sat. I added a little warm water and mixed it up again – worked great. Then, a few hours later when I came to use it again, it was solid. So, the cycle ย began – mix in a little warm water and it goes back to liquid; let it sit and it goes back to solid…and repeat like TWENTY times a day! I kept telling myself I would use it and not waste the 16 ounces I whipped up, but the inconvenience became too much after like the second day. I didn’t have time to stand there and shake it back to liquid every single time I needed to use it.

So, I ditched it and grabbed a bottle of dish soap from Aldi. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ha! The complete opposite of the “natural” version I was trying to create, but what’s that saying….”ain’t nobody got time for that!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

I won’t say where I got the recipe because I don’t want to say her recipe was bad, but I know now to read all the comments on a post before assuming it is a perfect fit for me! It just seemed that more people had solids than liquid over time…so I won’t be trying that one again. And even though I wasted the 16 ounces (AND the bottle…because I couldn’t get it all out!), it really wasn’t much money spent on the ingredients. So, I feel ok about ditching it!

Do you make your own dish soap? Have a LIQUID recipe you could share with me?? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks!

Chores · Cleaning · Kitchen · Organization

Morning and Evening Routines

Yesterday at our church moms’ group meeting, we had a guest speaker; she was a professional organizer. For me, this was like meeting a celebrity. ๐Ÿ™‚ This woman wasn’t famous or anything, but organization is like…my thing. I love having a place for everything and putting everything in its place at the end of the day. So, I was thinking about what to share today and organization came to mind. I don’t mean the organization of rooms or closets, but I was thinking more about the organization of our days.

I was trying to search and find the last post I did on morning routines, and July 2013’s post about routines came up! It has been two and a half years since I talked about morning routines?! Obviously, it is time to chat about it again!

In case you ever missed it on here…I am definitely a left-brained gal. People ask me about cleaning, not creativity. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have two very creative daughters, bless their hearts. They, unfortunately have to go it alone with getting creative because this Mama really stinks at colors and fashion and “cool” stuff. Now, if they want to know how to unclog a drain or the best way to get a stain out of a shirt…I’m their girl! I can be a little creative when it comes to food, but I mostly just love recipes/instructions, routines, and logical things. Ha! Soooo, for the most part, I am boring. And I am cool with that.

But, I do want to share some helpful things for ALL moms, whether left-brained, right-brained, schedule-loving, free-thinking, or whatever. Because mornings and evenings can be the trickiest and toughest time of the day with kids. You just never now how they’re going to wake up – excited about the day or angry because they lost a stuffed animal in their bed. And we never know just how easy they’ll go down at night – sweet kisses… or “sweet sassy, get up again and I’m going to go bananas!”

Having the morning and evening planned out can help those crazy, challenging times run a little more smoothly. Or, at the very least, allow you to focus on that super needy child without worrying about the rest of the things to get done.

So, here are the things I do in the morning (usually almost in this exact order):

  1. Wake up and come straight downstairs to pour my coffee and sit to read my Bible.ย This is a new first item, since the beginning of January. I used to unload the dishwasher first, but I have found that (for me) if I do not sit with my coffee and Bible FIRST, I am most likely going to put it off most of the day….and my day will suck. Pardon the language there, but seriously. My day just does not start well, if I start rushing around to do a million things and have not relaxed myself with coffee and Bible.
  2. Pray with each child as they awake. Ok, this is an even newer item. Sally Clarkson shared in one (or several) of her podcasts that she got into the habit of blessing or praying with each child of hers as they got up each day and as they went to bed. She explained that it helped HER to start the day with the right attitude toward her kids. Well, since I really struggle to be pleasant in the mornings, I thought this was the PERFECT idea to help me curb my grouchiness. I have been trying to be consistent with it for about a week now, and boy-oh-boy does it make a difference. Of course, I am still trying to remember to do it each day. But I have seen how much my boys love it. I hold them close and whisper a prayer in their ear, just asking for God’s protection over them and for a good day for us. I have not yet tried this at night, as we usually pray with the kids by room (whoever shares a room gets prayed with together). I love the idea to pray with the kids as my first bit of interaction with them in the morning. I encourage you to try it. It is a little more difficult to grouch at them right after you just prayed over them!
  3. Unload the dishwasher and get out breakfast dishes.ย I dislike having clean dishes in the dishwasher throughout the day. We dirty dishes so fast, that I need to get them out of the sink and into the dishwasher right after each meal. Having an empty dishwasher before we start cooking breakfast serious calms me down. So, not only am I boring with my left-brainedness, I am apparently also weird. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  4. Make breakfast and immediately clean up. This is along the same lines as unloading the dishwasher. I cannot stand to have dirty dishes lying about, and since we use so many dishes each meal I try to clean up as we cook or immediately after we eat.
  5. Check my Motivated Moms app for the daily to-do’s. I am absolutely still loving the Motivated Moms app, and I enjoy that the items to do are in the list and I don’t have to think about them much. I don’t have to write out my list or worry about what I have done or didn’t do….because they have the check boxes! I highly recommend this app/website for getting things done. You can always add anything specific to your day and work off the pre-loaded lists as well! Wonderful way to keep track of what needs to get done each day.

So, those are the things I do every morning. Some days do not go as I like, and I do have to move some of those around. Sickness the past few weeks did throw me off several days, but I tried hard to stick to the routine so we didn’t fall behind on anything….and so I still felt a little sane!

You might be wondering when I get my shower in, and I should mention I don’t usually shower until somewhere between 8:00 and 9:00 AM. Since we don’t typically have anywhere to be in the morning, I do a chunk of my housework before I shower (I mean, why shower if I am going to work up a sweat scrubbing counters and toilets??). And I only wash my hair every two or three days, so my showers are usually very short and easy to fit in wherever. If you need a shower early in the morning, obviously your routine would look a little different.

In the evening, I usually do the same set of tasks every night. I have identified the things that really help my mornings run smoothly if I do them at night. Like my morning routine, it just helps our household be less grouchy and keeps the mess/chaos to a minimum. In the evening, I:

  1. Clean up cookware and utensils used to make dinner as I am cooking. I may be a little over-the-top with this one, but as soon as I finish using an item to make dinner, I wash it or put it in the dishwasher. This helps keep my counter-tops clear and allows me to lay out the plates I need to fill with food. Another thing (a BIG thing) is that it gives us a lot less to clean up AFTER dinner. I don’t have a bunch of utensils or pans to wash after dinner. Usually, the one thing I have to wash is the main pan for the food (or baking dish, if a casserole).
  2. Load and run the dishwasher. As soon as we finish eating, we clear the table, load and run the dishwasher. I do not like to put it off….because I often forget later on! And then we wake up to it full of dirty dishes. One sure-fire way to start my day grouchy is to forget to run the dishwasher. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  3. Set the coffeemaker. Our coffeemaker has a ‘delay brew’ setting, which I love. I set it all up to start at 5:00 AM, and all we have to do in the morning is pour it. It is heavenly. AND, it is one less thing that will delay my Bible time!
  4. Clean up all toys and clothes. We clean up toys and things on the floor several times throughout the day, but somehow these things find their way back to the floor after dinner. So, I encourage (or force) the kids to clean up all floors before bedtime – the main level as well as their rooms. I do not always succeed at having spotless floors in their rooms….for instance, if my eldest is reminded several times and I still find her dancing and singing in her room (instead of cleaning) before bed, I may just tell her to go to bed and do it before coming down in the morning. BUT, the living room and family room are all picked up every single night. It just makes me happy to see clean rooms before bed.
  5. Pray in each kid room before saying Goodnight. I love that we do this each night. We pray in the boys’ room (and then Ethan prays for Mom, Dad, and Buddy…we always have to remind him to pray for his sisters too.), then we pray with Iris (or she prays, if she wants to), and then we pray in Lily and Addy’s room. If we somehow forget to pray, Buddy will remind me as we are leaving their room. And Lily is always quick to call us back to pray if we forget. With all her eczema and sleeping challenges the last two years, I know praying with us is extremely comforting for her at night. So, I will always love doing it. It also ends the day pleasantly with each kid – no matter how naughty they were or how short-tempered I was, we can all just take a breath and pray. Of course, if we are chasing Ethan back into bed ten minutes later…well, the calmness might have worn off! But, at least we tried to put them to bed peacefully!!

Having set routines for morning and evening definitely allows my day to run more smoothly. With lots of people to feed and clothes and clean, it helps to not have to think about some things each day!

Do you have routines for morning or evening?! What do you love about your routines?

 

Cleaning · Eczema · Uncategorized

Homemade Hand Soap

I don’t have any pretty or fancy pictures of my hand soap. Sorry. That crappy picture of my soap bottle is all I got. ๐Ÿ™‚

Almost a year ago, I noticed Lily’s eczema was suddenly sensitive to everything. EVERYTHING. Detergents, soaps, lotions, everything! We had to change quite a bit around our house, even though we were using pretty non-toxic items already. One of the things I had to change was our hand soap. We were using a brand that was non-toxic, and I really enjoyed the light scent and how it kept our hands hydrated. BUT, it was irritating Lily’s hands, and I realized that the scent in it was the cause.

I searched online for an easy and affordable way to make hand soap and stretch it, since we have a lot of people washing hands several times a day! I came across one that uses liquid castile soap, which we already kept on hand. I decided to try it, and here we are a year later…still using it!

I have changed it just slightly in the last year, depending on the season, to use scents that coordinated. But otherwise, it stays the same. And, after getting asked this week for the “recipe”, I realized I had never shared here!

So here it is:

Homemade Hand Soap (Foam Soap….so it goes farther!)

2 ounces liquid castile soap, any brand and scent (we use Dr. Bronner’s tea tree liquid castile soap, for the antibacterial qualities of the tea tree oil)

6 ounces water

Vitamin E oil, optional

3 drops essential oil, optional (we will use peppermint for winter, lavender for spring, lemon for summer, and clove for fall….or whatever I feel in the mood for when I am mixing it up!)

8 ounces foam soap bottle (glass is best, but i use plastic because that’s what I have)

  1. Combine soap and water in bottle, add in dropper of vitamin e oil and essential oil.
  2. Place bottle lid on and shake to combine.
  3. Use as you would any other hand soap.

A benefit of this particular type of soap is that when you 8-year-old squirts your (then) 2-year-old in the eyes, nose and mouth, while they are supposed to be washing hands, Poison Control will tell you to just flush his eyes and rinse his mouth and all is well. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not thatย it has happened here or anything….

The vitamin e oil helps with keeping our hands soft, in addition to the castile soap, which is a combination of different oils. Vitamin E oil can be found at most stores that carry beauty products. We found ours at the local health store.

One of the great things about this soap is the cost-effectiveness. Using only 2 ounces at a time allows us to stretch the use of a bottle of the castile soap. And using a foam soap bottle really adds to the stretch!

This is the only soap that has not caused irritation for Lily’s hands. Unfortunately, even a lot of the ‘non-toxic’ hand soaps out there do contain irritants. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So, if you are looking for a non-irritating soap, try this one!

Do you make your own hand soap? Care to share your recipe?!

Chores · Cleaning · Household · Laundry · Organization

Routine for Clean and a REVIEW!

 

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(Photo courtesy of blog.blacknight.com)

 

*Affiliate Disclosure:ย This post contains affiliate links.*

I am tough to please when it comes to cleaning routines. I prefer to have a paper list of things to clean/complete, so I can physically check them off. Paper gets annoying, though, as I do not like clutter….and paper makes for serious clutter.

Technology is so not my thing, but I really love an app I found for a daily checklist. It is customizable and, even though it’s digital, I can still check things off! It’s a win-win, really!

The app is called Motivated Moms, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I purchased the $1.99 version to test it out. I get two months’ worth of daily checklists to try, but I see how much I like it already andย know the full year’s subscription would be perfect for me.

The app allows me to assign tasks to different rooms or people. I have my Quiet Time on the checklist, as well as our group reading time and a variety of other home and school items. It even reminds me of little things I forget to do like regularly restock toilet paper in the kids’ bathroom! (I tend to forget to check on that….and only remember when I hear a little voice yelling “MOM! There’s no toilet paper for me!”)

This week, it reminded me to clean out my toaster. MY TOASTER! I haven’t cleaned that thing since my youngest was born…3 years ago. I almost didn’t do it, but my need to check things off won and I emptied all the crumbs out of the toaster. It was disgusting! I even scrubbed the top and sides of it. The thing looks brand new now! And I would not have ever remembered to clean it had it not been for this app.

The Motivated Mom app is available for iPod/iPad/iPhone, as well as for Android. It comes with a ton of pre-loaded tasks, and they can be sorted by room. That is how I prefer, so I can see what needs to be done in each area of the house that day. As I complete them, I just click the box and it checks it off and moves it to the bottom of the list. Laundry and Feed Pets are on the lists every day, which is great because we have to do both every single day!

While I do love being able to add custom tasks to the lists and choosing how often they appear (daily, weekly, etc), the only “negative” thing on the customizing is that the pre-loaded tasks’ names and frequency cannot be edited. So, for instance, the unload/run dishwasher task was pre-loaded. I prefer to have them as two separate things (since I have to unload in the morning and then run it at night). Ok, so it is not really a negative; I am just very particular and like to check off as many items as possible! I realize I have a problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

To change it, I hid the pre-loaded item and just added two custom tasks- “unload dishwasher” and “run dishwasher.” And my need to check things off is satisfied with each. ๐Ÿ™‚ It took a whole 45 seconds to add the two items, so I am not at all complaining!

The custom task adding is great, though! You can choose the name, when it’s due, if it repeats (and when), who the task is assigned to, and what room it belongs in. This is like heaven for an organizing freak like myself!! You can set appointments on there, if you want and just had a due date and not have it repeat.

It really is a great app and a test run for two months at only $1.99 is amazing! $8 for a year’s worth of tasks isn’t bad. Sure, it is more than a typical app (and you have to renew it after a year for another $8), but it is a daily use app and if you break down the cost….$8 divided by 365 days? That’s only $.02 a day!

I highly recommend trying at least the $1.99 version to see for yourself. They do offer a Motivated Moms Lite version for $.99, which covers one month of tasks. Whichever one you try, I am pretty certain you will find it useful and convenient!

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Do any of you use this app?! What do you think about it??

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Cleaning · Homeschool · Household · Laundry · lessons in love

That’s a Wrap!

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What a tough week!!!

Tuesday morning, about 2:00 AM, Lily woke up to vomit. Then again at 3:30AM, as well as a few other times after that. (It is all a blur now…)

We had been hit with that crazy stomach thing going around! I have heard of so many families from church having it since the New Year, but I thought for sure we had dodged it. NOPE! And it is the craziest bug ever. Lily slept for about an hour around lunch time, and then she felt totally fine the rest of the day. The next morning, she felt nauseated again and threw up once after having some kefir to drink (that was my fault!).

Iris ended up with a bad stomach ache all day Tuesday and ended up vomiting just once around 3:00PM, and she has been fine ever since. No fevers for either girl, and no one else got it. Such a goofy thing. Not long-lasting but just enough to make ya feel gross.

So, Monday we were able to do some schoolwork. Tuesday turned out to be crappy. We did a little group reading while the sickies laid around, but that was about it. Wednesday was a little better. Disinfecting took priority, though, so we mostly just read our history and group reading book. Thursday Dad was off, and I had a meeting, so we didn’t do much. Today we are getting some math, history, group reading, Bible, spelling, and copywork done. (Talk about cramming a ton into one day!!)

I am so ready to be done with this week. We missed all kinds of appointments/playdates, the girls missed their church club on Wednesday night, and I racked up $3.00 in library fines because I kept forgetting to renew a movie and we hadn’t left the house to return it! UGH!!

These kind of weeks happen now and then, and I am learning to just go with it. Sickness just stinks. Even though we are home, doing schoolwork makes them more nauseated, I think. Unless they have been lying and just trying to get out of doing things…hmmmm.

Anyway, I am calling it for the week – That’s a wrap, people! I am spent. My washer and dryer have really gotten a lot of use this week. My emotions have been on a roller coaster with all the “my tummy hurts” claims ย – some unfounded, by the way….it’s amazing how quickly a three-year-old picks up ways to trick mom! My nerves are shot. I have probably had a gallon of coffee this week. It’s just been rough. And I wasn’t even sick! I can only imagine how the girls’ bodies feel now.

While we didn’t accomplish much this week, I am going to go ahead and high-five myself for keeping people alive, fed, and clean. I am also going to high-five myself (without telling my husband! HA!) for not burning down the house when I left the stove on for over an hour after reheating some soup for the kids’ lunch Wednesday. So thankful there was at least a little bit left in the pot, so it didn’t burn and start a crazy fire!

Definitely time to end this week!!

Anyone else out there have a crazy, out-of-the-ordinary week?? Please tell me I’m not alone!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Chores · Cleaning · Household · Organization

Summer Slump

Summer just started about 4 days ago, and I have already fallen off track with my cleaning routine. I just shared on My Own Ripple Effect about keeping your home guest readyย and I am not even following my own advice about it!

I just overwhelmed myself with a few activities – not bad activities, just not activities I needed to give attention to right now – and now I am scrambling to find my routine again! Thankfully we are not doing any formal schooling right now, or I would really be losing it. I am just going to start over, adding back into our day the things I should be doing and focusing on, and say “Not right now” to the things that maybe I would love to be doing but just know that this isn’t the season for them. We have been learning (and talking about at each meeting) this very thing in our Titus 2 group at church. We talk about the seasons we go through as wives and mothers and how our needs and abilities change with each one. And it is so interesting to see how I mismanage this season ALL. THE. TIME. ๐Ÿ™‚ I keep saying “I just need to step aside and lay down my desires and let God lead.” Aaaaand then I pick it all back up and get in front of God again. Grrrr! When will I learn?!

Today went rather well, though. After several days of screaming and crying (and the kids were pretty bad off as well), I decided to FINALLY do what I keep saying I need to do, and I let God lead….for the most part. Still tried to hold on to a few things today, and almost immediately watched our happiness wash away. Also, I decided last night there is entirely too much TV watching happening here. I was using it as a rainy day option, but then it became an everyday option. And we were/are all addicted, so when I would try to turn it off, the kids were crying for more. So, I would give in to have some quiet. Bad idea.

Last night, I decided I would give them a few things they had to get done before the TV could go on. The few things for today were:

Read Proverbs 25 (since it’s the 25th)

Make your bed

Get Dressed

Brush hair.

I figured just a few to start this transition was a good idea. Boy am I glad I did not give more than those four! I am certain they would have tried to attack me!! Poor Lily was awake last and was NOT a happy camper when she could not eat until she finished those four items. The other kids were done with them and had eaten and were off playing. But she just wanted to come right down to eat. I stayed firm and sent her back up with the instructions, and I ended up reading Proverbs 25 while she followed along…so she didn’t feel so left out.

Next week, my husband has a few days off, and I would like to use some of that time to really nail down a new routine/schedule to be able to start some schoolwork up again in a few weeks. Whether or not that will happen is unknown. I know we plan to go to the zoo one of his days off and do some running around on another day. Praying that I can get some alone time worked in there to sit down and organize my ideas and plans and schedule!

And before I forget, I was featured again this week on My Own Ripple Effect!! I am really enjoying contributing! HERE is the article that was posted over there this week! It is about cooking from scratch. Mmmmm, makes me hungry thinking about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do any of you struggle with Summer slumps? Or do you have any tips for staying on track with schedules through the Summer??