Tag Archives: chores

Conquered: Cleaning!

On Monday, I talked about how I’ve conquered doing the dishes. Today, I want to talk about cleaning.

Here’s my lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. Getting the clutter off of surfaces as quickly as possible (but not in an OCD way) is the big secret to not being embarrassed when friends stop by or you have to give a maintenance worker access to your house. I start near the door and make my way back through the open areas. It’s my thing. You’ll have your own. But stick with it!

2. Don’t take on the whole house when you tidy. Stick to a room or two, and purposefully move throughout the house each day. Combine tasks so you don’t have to get the same supplies out. Mop all the moppables the same day. Spritz and wipe all the mirrors another. By the end of the week, all the major areas will have been tidied or cleaned, and you’ll have more free time for the weekend! (I don’t know where the idea that Saturday should be for deep cleaning came from, but it’s a miserable way to spend your time off. Take 15-30 minutes each day during the week, and only have a handful of chores before playtime on the weekend!)

3. Don’t be rigid about scheduling. Here’s the thing about that “schedule” for dishes or tidying/cleaning: almost everyone I’ve read has specific days for specific things and a schedule to get through the house on a regular basis. That’s great if it gets you going, but for me? Meh. I like variety. The idea of every Tuesday from here on out being “dust and vacuum day” makes me yawn. Outside of mopping (which, lets face it, is just a hassle), I like to choose a room or two to focus on each day and then just get it done, whatever “it” needs to be to make the room presentable. This isn’t the time for perfection, but the accumulated effort over time will result in low-key cleaning and the occasional deep clean, instead of daily chaos.

4. Life sometimes gets in the way. That’s okay. You’re not a failure. From personal experience, I can say that the past two months have been unusual for me and my family, so some weeks were better than others. In fact, in addition to helping a family member move, I decided to focus on my fiction writing last week, and yes, the chores suffered. But not so badly that I can’t pick up and keep on moving forward with them now that things are settling down again. Just keep up that forward motion!

5. Do it for you. Not for your mother whose voice you hear chiding you in your head. Not for the fear of friends seeing the truth. Not for your nosy neighbors. For you. And your family who lives with you, if any. Do it because when you do, you feel free. Do it because you’re giving yourself the gift of time to do other, more pleasant things, without guilt!

There. That’s what I’ve been learning the past two months of silence here on the blog. I hope some of it will be useful!

photo credit: Pragmagraphr via photo pin cc

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Conquered: Dishes!

Oh my goodness. I can barely believe it myself, but I think I’ve finally got it. I conquered dishes.

And I’m winning the battle of cleaning on a schedule, as well (more on that Wednesday).

Crazy.

If you’re like me and you have a household nemesis or two or three (*cough* laundry.dishes.mopping *cough*) and you want to conquer it/them, you’ve probably hopped on Pinterest, searched Google, talked to friends, listened to familial advice, and come up with a lot of how-to’s and do’s and don’ts and probably a lot of well-meaning but completely off-track advice for you. You may have tried some of it. You may have failed miserably. You know what? That’s what works for them. What works for you?

Well, that’s what I was trying to find out.

Here’s what I discovered. First the dishes:

1. Finish the dishes. Completely. Every day. (I know; that’s kind of a “duh” statement, but man it has not been easy for me). I let hand-washed dishes dry in the rack, but what I need is a clean counter top after every meal, or before bed, whichever fits with my daily schedule better. That counter top is my clutter barometer. If it has stacks of dishes and mail and leftover Starbucks coffee cups on it, the rest of the house goes to pot (if it hasn’t already). I’ve heard this called the broken window theory. As I type this right now, I do have dishes on my counter, but I’m about to attack them. While watching TV. Which reminds me …

2. If you can, watch some guilty-pleasure TV while you wash dishes. Or, you know, jam to those pop tunes you’re embarrassed to admit are on your iPod. It takes the edge off the misery of a thankless, daily, unending, bottomless, disgusting, boring, necessary task.

3. If you must fudge on the dishes, at least put the clean ones in the dishwasher up into the cupboard and then pile the dirty ones inside.

4. Use a nice multi-purpose spray to clean your counter and sink when the dishes are all done for the day. You don’t have to scrub, but oh it is so nice to have sparkling counters and a sink without leftover dish scum. Plus, my mom always told me this was part of the job of dishwashing.

5. If you’re in a relationship, form an agreement with your spouse/significant other: one cooks, the other washes dishes for each meal. You can share the tasks, or if you find you love dishes AND cooking you can always do both, but since dishes is one of those never-ending chores, I say make it clear that the responsibility is shared. And then, always cook. I’m just kidding! Actually, I’m more the dish-washer and Daniel is more the chef in this family. (Works for me, as my man can cook. He’s definitely a keeper.)

6. Whenever possible, only buy cookware and dishes that are machine washable. I mostly say this in jest, but I can guarantee that our copper, cookie sheets, cast iron, and stoneware have the tendency to stay on the counter, unwashed, the longest. They’re needy. And I’m a throw-it-in-the-dishwasher-and-forget-it kind of gal. That being said, nothing cooks like copper, cast iron makes the BEST biscuits, a pizza stone is a girl’s best friend, and cookies are best without rust. Just sayin’.

7. To quote Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never give up.” Not when you miss a meal or a day. Not when there’s a strange funk coming from the garbage disposal. Not when you break a glass. Not when you leave a pot soaking too long. Never.

You can do it! I did.
photo credit: E R I via photo pin cc

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I Washed the Dishes (Because the Cards Told Me To)

So, we tested out the household chores “lottery” for the first time today. And I did what was in the cards …

So far? So good.

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The Household Chores Lottery

Daniel and I are working on a joint project. He came up with the idea, we went to Target and bought 3×5 cards, we both made a list and mutually designated values associated to the listed items, and then he wrote them down on the cards.

We’re still working on a keeping place for the cards. And a post to discuss how they work. But for now, let’s just say it’s an ingeniously little low-tech way for us to randomly and impersonally assign chores each day. Daily chores should take no more than 30 minutes. Weekly chores, perhaps an hour. Monthly, semi-annually, and annual chores, either longer than that or just more infrequently than daily, weekly, or monthly.

P.s. Anyone know where to find a recipe card box? Apparently they don’t exist at Target. Who knew?

{Photo: vierdrie}

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Day 13: Daniel’s Dishwashing Hack

Today’s post is by my first guest blogger on Behind Closed Drawers … none other than my favorite geek in the whole wide world: my husband.

Daniel is self-employed as a business and computer analyst/programmer who customizes database solutions for his clients.  He is also what I like to call an “ethical hacker,” in other words, he can test your system’s innards to hunt out the weak spots and then help you fix them. His analytical style of thinking means he constantly pokes and probes to see how he can make a system–any system, not just computer a system–better.

So, it is not surprising that his personal methodical approach to doing our dishes and keeping our kitchen sink clean is a life hack that has actually improved our process quite a bit. I’ve been very pleased with the result, and I’m proud of him for being such a shining example of husbandly helpfulness.

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