...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

01.26.15 / Made Me Smile

mabrey watercolor

It’s only Monday and this week is already feeling a bit “off.” Steve is out of town for work and our schedule is all over the place. We woke up to snow (nothing close to blizzard proportions) and Mabrey and I spent the better half of the morning clearing the front walk and driveway. We managed to squeeze in some creative time. Mabrey is really into watercolors at the moment. (They’re 90% water, 10% color. Hehe.) I am crazy grateful for these little people who remind me daily that life offline is so important. It makes me a better everything.

So I’m writing this post after having put the kids to bed. I’m in my pajamas. Cheetah is curled up at my side. I’m half-listening to her nose whistle and half-watching the Australia Open, trying to stay warm. It feels like home.

A few home-related links in case you’re cooped up trying to stay warm too…

*A “365 day a year” home.

*A thoroughly satisfying junk drawer before & after.

*A writer’s cozy retreat.

*How to paint stripes on a concrete floor.

ikea kitchen raw

*The successful juxtaposition of sleek Ikea cabinets against raw materials.

*A unique garage conversion.

*Things empty nesters want parents of little ones to know.

To my friends down under, happy Australia Day! To my friends in the northeast, be safe.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Dustin Aksland

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Amanda who would play JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound along with some Wilco. So good!

aether cone 1

You know how much I loathe the appearance of TVs, surround sound speakers and subwoofers, right? You also know how much my husband enjoys these audio / visual components. We make it work by compromising. Steve gets his cinema toys but we try to disguise them somewhat so they aren’t the eyesores I think they are. The TV is recessed above the fireplace. Media components are stored out of sight in a modest cabinet. Shelves camouflage wall speakers. A plywood box covers the subwoofer. (I’m still giving the boob speakers the side eye.)

aether cone 2

Well, FINALLY, there is one media component that we both approve of as-is. It’s going to save a lot of marriages ;) Introducing Aether Cone! Have you heard of it? It’s a well-designed, thinking music player. The simple yet striking appearance reminds me of a phonograph, but the portability and learning capabilities bring it into the 21st century. The more you use Cone, the better it gets at selecting songs you love.

aether cone 6

Cone features voice command. You simply touch the button in the center of the player and ask out loud for a radio station, artist or song. It’s so easy my kids were placing requests on their own within a few minutes of setting up the player (which was surprisingly easy as well). Curses! I’m so sick of The Gummy Bear Song. And in case you were wondering, yes, the songs “I Like Potato Chips” and “I Love Pizza” do exist. Unfortunately.

aether cone 7

To jump to a similar song, turn the dial a little. To play something completely different (no more Gummy Bear!), turn the dial a lot. There isn’t a single screen to read. Pretty cool, huh?

rdio vs rdio unlimitedCone gives you free access to over 30 million songs via Rdio. For additional features, you can sign up for a $10 monthly subscription to Rdio Unlimited. They offer a free 30-day trial period if you’re interested, too.

aether cone 4

aether cone 5

There’s roughly a 30-minute window between the time Mabrey goes down for her afternoon nap and the time Everett gets off the school bus. That’s when I get Cone all to myself. I listen to The Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek or really bad good 80s and 90s music. Sometimes, I let Cone do the choosing for me.

We’ve used Cone as background music for dinner, the deejay for family dance parties and the radio for morning NPR listening. You can even listen to podcasts. It’s so versatile. I can’t wait to take it outside on the deck next summer. Come on summer! Until then, Cone is helping us survive cabin fever.

aether cone 3

Does Cone sound like something you and your family would enjoy? Aether is offering up one Cone to one lucky House*Tweaking reader! See entry details below.

PRIZE: one black & copper Aether Cone ($399 retail value)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Follow Aether on instagram here. Then leave a comment on this post proclaiming “CONE ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 19th. One random winner will be chosen and announced Tuesday, January 20th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Share which favorite song, album or artist you would request Cone to play.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking