...because home doesn't happen overnight.

clean house

It’s no secret that one of the perks of living small is a quicker cleaning routine. Our previous house was >2,700 square feet laid out over two floors and it took me a good 1-2 days to clean it thoroughly. At the time, I was working as a pharmacist and eventually I hired a housekeeper to come in once a month for a deep clean. (Initially, I felt extremely guilty and hoity-toity about hiring help. But the first time I came home to a clean house that I hadn’t cleaned, all negative feelings subsided.) I would try to follow a daily cleaning schedule to stay on top of things in between the deep cleans but I felt like I was constantly cleaning. Cleaning that house was the bane of my existence.

Fast forward to 2015 and cleaning still isn’t my favorite pastime but it’s much less painful in a smaller house. Not only do I have less house to clean, I have less stuff to clean. And I love it. I gave up the daily cleaning schedule in exchange for once-a-week whole house cleans. Daily cleaning isn’t necessary in this smaller space and, honestly, I enjoy an entire just-cleaned house. Otherwise, I start thinking about what isn’t clean or what I have to clean the next day.

At first, I did whole house cleans on Saturdays. I thought that everyone would pitch in and things would go more quickly. This went on for months unsuccessfully. Yes, everyone was home. Yes, everyone had a job to do. But it wasn’t quick. At all. We didn’t have a good rhythm. Not to mention, we were spending our rare family time cleaning. And as soon as the house was deemed clean, everyone was home to mess it up again in no time.

So I made the executive decision to stop cleaning house on weekends. Now I clean house on Mondays and, I have to say, it’s wonderful. We do laundry over the weekend but it’s a task that is easily broken up and sprinkled into our schedule with little disruption. On Sunday nights, we do a quick pickup of the entire house. On Monday mornings after everyone is off to school / work, (Mabrey and) I clean. I finally have a good routine and can clean the entire house in a little over an hour. I start wiping, dusting and vacuuming in the kitchen and then work my way into the living room and mudroom. Once the common areas are done, I check off the bedrooms. (Bed linens are washed over the weekend so things go quickly.) I use a Bona floor mop on the hardwoods throughout before moving on to the bathrooms. I finish up in the master bathroom where I clean the tub while I shower to save time. When I’m all done, I have several hours to enjoy a clean house before the post-school / post-work chaos ensues. I savor it.

Of course, we still have daily chores (emptying dishwasher, post-meal cleanup, litter box scooping, wiping down bathroom counters, taking out the trash, putting toys away, etc.) to attend to during the week but those are things that happen regardless. I think the biggest difference with this cleaning routine is that I’m not cleaning in anticipation of guests when I clean on Mondays. It’s more of a maintenance thing and I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor afterward. On the weekends, I’ve stopped fretting about our house’s appearance and focus on the people around me instead. Plus, I realized that most of our guests don’t really notice the difference between a Saturday clean versus a Monday clean (as long as we tidy up, wipe down the bathroom counters and swirl a brush around in the toilets before their visit). One weekend we had our good friends over and when they arrived I was folding a pile of laundry in the living room. My girlfriend said, “I’m so happy to see laundry in your living room! It’s like a real house.”

What about you? How long does it take you to clean your (big or small) home? Do you follow a daily schedule or do you prefer whole house cleans? Do you clean on weekends? Any advice for quicker cleans? Obviously, this routine works for us because I’m home. If you work outside of the house, don’t feel guilty about hiring out if you can afford it! And I would encourage you to choose a day of the week that allows you to enjoy your clean house as much as possible on your time off.

P.S. – A quick cleaning tip from my grandma: Lay old newspapers or used tissue paper on the top of exposed upper cabinetry to collect dust. On cleaning day, just fold up the papers and replace. Easy!

P.S.S. – My quick cleaning tips are: 1) Start with a tidy house. (I’m easily distracted if I have to walk into another room to put something away.) 2) Keep cleaning tools and products close to where you use them. 3) Let little kids wipe down base cabinets and call it done even if you would do it better. 4) Buy a smaller house! Get rid of stuff!

More cleaning-related posts: how I clean the globe lights, how I clean the wood floors.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

UPDATE: I inadvertently posted this before catching up on my blog reading and discovering that Joanna at A Cup of Jo wrote a very similar post on this very topic last week! Eek!! This post idea had been on my to do list for some time. Great minds think alike? Anyway, feel free to check out her post and the comments sections here and there for a slew of recommendations.

trader joe's 1

One of my favorite things about our little house is its proximity to a variety of grocery stores. It takes me less than 10 minutes to drive to the nearest Trader Joe’s. It’s super convenient but it can be dangerous. I try to stick to my shopping list but everything looks so good! I usually end up leaving with at least one experimental purchase. I’ve learned to look for almost sold out items. In most cases, an empty shelf is a good omen.

Here are my favorite go-to’s:

trader-joes-2

*premade salads – They make for quick and easy lunches on the busiest (or laziest) of days. I especially like the lemon chicken & arugula salad and the uncured bacon & spinach salad.

*fully cooked uncured apple smoked bacon – It crisps up quickly on the stove or in the microwave making it ideal for hurried mornings.

*ready to bake pizza dough – It’s the BEST readymade dough my taste buds have ever encountered. I use it for pizzas, bread & butter and even pretzels. It tastes best right out of the oven.

*French liquid hand soap – The orange blossom honey scent is delightful. (And the Trader Jacques branding is quite comical.) I set it out in the main bathroom on special occasions when we have guests visiting. It always generates a compliment or two.

*inner peas – I pack these baked green peas in the kids’ lunch boxes.

*dry roasted almonds with 50% less salt – Steve requests these for his paleo salads and snacks. Mabrey LOVES them.

*dark chocolate-covered anything – If you’ve been to Trader Joe’s, you know what section I’m talking about. I prefer my almonds smothered in dark chocolate, thankyouverymuch.

*dried mango slices – They’re better than fruit roll-ups in every way.

*uncured sliced corned beef – I crave these sammies.

*cookie butter – Kryptonite in a jar. And if you put it on an apple, it magically becomes a healthy snack. (Not really, but it’s still my favorite.)

*sauerkraut with pickled persian cucumbers – I love sauerkraut and I love pickles so it’s no surprise that I love this combination. I like it hot or cold (see corned beef sandwich link above).

*toasted coconut pancake mix – Just add water for a crepe-like pancake with a hint of coconut. These pancakes were an integral part of our winter survival kit.

*organic tomato & roasted red pepper soup – I pair it with a hot ham & pesto sandwich for a comforting meal.

*organic vegetarian chili – My family loves it on uncured, all beef hot dogs.

I’d love to hear what you buy at Trader Joe’s. Any recommendations? Thanks in advance!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

 

03.23.15 / Made Me Smile

Dayton Art Institute

Dayton Art Institute

dayton art institute

dayton art institute

The last few weekends have been good to us. No snow, no traveling, no big projects, lots of exploring. It’s been wonderful having a wide open schedule and making (or not making) plans on a whim. I feel like much of the time Steve and I are tag-teaming our parenting responsibilities, so it’s nice when we actually get to do something all together as a family. And it’s more fun being a present parent than a serious one with a never-ending schedule.

This past weekend we visited the Dayton Art Institute and it was perfection. The kids were in awe and asked tons of questions. (They were mostly questions about boobs.) Sometimes I forget that we have one of the best art museums for kids in our backyard. If you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, you should check it out. It’s not too big, not too small. A current exhibition, The Last Supper by Julie Green, was especially moving and it sparked an interesting conversation with our oldest. I love it when art does that.

I’m also loving…

*The hits of black and dark olive in this row house by Mazen Studio.

*Benita’s DIY bar cabinet featuring a Superfront door.

*Sunset’s special small space style issue. (So fun to see familiar homes in a different way!)

*The kid-friendly lunchbox of my dreams.

i carried a watermelon

*I carried a watermelon.

*The idea of a zero waste home. (Not sure I have the discipline to hit zero but every little bit helps, right?)

*Clare’s new large format prints. Use the discount code HOUSETWEAKING at checkout to score 15% off any purchase.

*A gauzy, floral robe for the summer ahead. (I wish it had been in my hospital bag when I had my babies!)

P.S. – It’s snowing now.

images: 1-5) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 6) etsy (listing unavailable)