Cooperating Kids, Capable Husbands and Quick Tips

Posted by  | Wednesday, May 14, 2008  at 12:00 AM  
When I started to think about writing for this topic I thought I wouldn’t have very much to say because my routine has had to change since moving overseas and I really thought my ideas wouldn’t be very helpful. Leah encouraged me to write how we do things because some of you that read may live overseas or may be making plans to move overseas. As it turns out, I have a lot to say and my basic cleaning ideas have remained the same but how we do major things have changed a little.
I now have to have a part-time house helper in this dusty land to make sure we don't drown in dust piles! So, that has changed my routine a little. Cleaning here takes A ALOT more time and effort. For example, all of my floors need cleaning at least 3 times a week. In the states I only used to vaccuum once a week. Since both Matt and I are full time language students, it takes work from everyone! My house helper does the dusting, floors and changing of sheets. However, the day to day chores take the entire family! The tips listed below are things that I have implemented over time since becoming a wife 16 1/2 years ago. Places change, kids are added, focuses may shift a little, kids grow, routines change...but in all of that these tips help me keep things a little more orderly and also help meet those OCD tendencies!:)
FYI: I added pictures for variety and a little humor! :)

Have your family help you! Children can learn chores at a very early age and they really do love having responsibility. I have also found that my children love to do ANYTHING with mom. There is so much “stuff” to get done each day….having the kids and dads involved also facilitates great family time.

Trash and Toys: I started having my children throw things away in the trash can right after they started walking. This may seem trivial but it begins to teach them that everything has a place. This was also true for their toys. We kept a cute basket in our living room for toys and we frequently “picked up” each day.

Laundry: By age two each of them were also putting away their pajamas in a drawer that they could reach in their rooms. As soon as they were potty trained, they were putting away their pj’s, panties and underwear. Don’t worry about these drawers looking organized!! Let the OCD in you go when it comes to pj’s and underwear!) I also taught each of them by age 3 to fold washcloths and by age 5 they were folding towels.

Beds: Teach your children to make their beds EARLY!! At first it won’t look so great but let that go as well. By age 4, after much practice, the bed will look great

Get those DADS involved! My hubby is not the frequent housekeeper but he does do great things to help out so I can get some other chores done. Husbands are usually great bathers and teeth brushers! Matt is usually in charge of “bath and teeth time” (which the kids love because he is a lot more fun with the water) in the evenings while I finish up the kitchen, make lunches for the next day or put away that last bit of laundry. This is great daddy time and allows for those last few chores to get accomplished quickly!

Quick clean ups!

Laundry: Wash a load of clothes each day. Don’t separate unless you know you have a red or blue piece of clothing that will bleed. This really saves so much time! Every once in a while I will do a load of whites with bleach but mostly I just throw everything in together!

No need for all of those fancy cleaning products…Dishwashing soap is great for most cleaning chores (ie..bathrooms, floors). I keep my bathrooms cleaned each day by just wiping down sinks and countertops with the liquid soap in the bathroom. It takes just a few seconds to wipe down after you are finished getting ready so your bathrooms are always presentable. I also keep an old washcloth in my bathroom to wipe up the floor each day. (funny tip: I wet the washcloth and add a little soap, throw it on the floor and scoot it around with my foot while I am brushing my teeth!:) I do use bleach at least twice a month in my bathrooms but dish soap is handy and great for frequent use.


Shannon said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who uses washcloths on the floor! I hate mops, b/c I think they are so gross, so I always keep tea tree oil and water in a squirt bottle, and I use it to clean everything. Since I have little ones who play on the floor a lot, I am constantly spraying down the floor and using my foot to do a quick wipe down with a rag. And Maggie will often go grab a wet wipe and start mimicking me! :)

Shannon said...

Vinegar and water works well too, and I color-code my wash cloths, so the ones used on floors are never used on dishes! :) I even typed out what colors are used for what: blue-floors and cleaning, white-faces, green & yellow-dishes. So my husband knows which rags go where when he's putting up laundry. How's that for OCD? :)

Hollie said...

Go Shannon go! :) I love it! Tell us more about cleaning wiht Tea Tree Oil. Who taught you this? I've heard a lot about cleaning with vinegar, and have heard about TTO being anti-bacterial and great for keeping odors down with cloth diapering....but I want to know more about cleaning with it. How much do you put in your squirt bottle? What if one of the kiddos drank it? I know it's all natural, but just wondering. :) I'm holding off buying cleaning supplies because I want to go the homemade route, even though I have already transitioned to non-toxic (Charlie's Soap All-Purpose Cleaner). Homemade is best for everyday use though and cheaper!

Greene family said...

I use Seventh Generation products. They are all natural and it says on the back that if they are swallowed by accident to just chase it down with a glass of water. They make everything from cleaners to laundry detergent. I'm not sure if I have the time to go homemade but these products are great! You can get them at Target or Kroger....I'm sure other places sell them too

aje said...

Stacey and Krista, Thanks for sharing your tips and how you get things done overseas. My husband, daughter, and I also live overseas. We were 2 years before Ella came and now with a little one, I am still figuring out how all this works! Being a Mama and working outside the home AND living overseas is not a simple task, is it? ;) Its great to hear how you incorporate all your kids into the housework. I am beginning to work on that with Ella. I also smiled when I read about the dusty country you live in, I know all about that too! We haven't done the house helper thing yet because in our city there are very few foreigners and the locals don't really understand hiring someone to clean your house, so I love all the tips, especially the washcloth/dish soap tip! I will start doing just that in my bathroom. Thanks! ~Jen

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

I need some suggestions in the following areas if anyone has any tips:

When do you do your ironing? I'm afraid to have the iron plugged up when Carli is up and about, I nap with her in the afternoon then start supper, then she wakes up. After supper when she is in bed, I'm too tired to iron.

Any suggestions for coupons? Any good websites? Our budget is getting tighter with increasing gas and food prices.

When do you do your bill paying? Daily as the bills come in, after your little one is in bed?

How often do you bathe your dog(s)?

Thanks for any advice!


Anonymous said...

Here are my suggestions for your questions-
1. Ironing- I can't help you too much here. Since moving to Wake Forest 3 mos. ago, I haven't touched an iron! (kind of embarrassing) but we ONLY buy "wrinkle free" fabrics and I IMMEDIATELY hang up everything when it comes out of the dryer, so wrinkles aren't a problem- when they do pop up, I hang them in the bathroom my husband showers in because it takes INFERNO HOT showers and the steam makes the wrinkles drop out.

2. Coupons- is a good site. You subscribe (I don't remember how much but it wasn't a lot) and pick your stores you shop at. Then weekly, check the site and she tells you what coupons to use (out of the Sunday papers for the last month) to use where, what to stock up on (because they will be almost FREE,) and what to hold off on if you can. It is pretty amazing the amount of money you can save if you do this.

3. Bill paying- we have EVERYTHING set up for autodraft that way we don't have to pay bils. I have a budget program on my mac that I downloaded that I keep updated (it is based on the Larry Burkett envelope system) and so we know the money is always there. It is a life saver because I have a desk that looks like a tornado hit it and when I sit down to clean it, I always find bills (after their due date) and just breathe a sigh of relief.

4. Dogs- I don't know what size dog you have but, we have a little 11 pound Mountain Feist (similar to a rat terrier) and he gets his bath weekly. He actually enjoys it- which makes me laugh. On Saturday mornings, when my husband takes his shower Peeper gets in the tub or shower with him and gets his bath too. It works out well and Travis doesn't get his clothes all wet and dirty, so I am happy too!

Here is my question:
I am VERY INTERESTED in making my own cleaners, but I have no idea how. Are there books that you gals recommend? Right now since our baby hasn't arrived yet, I have time to create cleaning stuff, but I don't know what to do. I would appreciate the help!


Shannon said...

I keep all my home-made bottles labeled and out of reach. I keep a small, 10-12oz spray bottle in the kitchen with water about about 10 drops of tea tree oil.

Although I really like using tea tree oil for lots of things (including laundry) it would not be good for your little one to get hold of this and drink it! Just a warning there.

A little baking soda and warm water is good for cleaning cribs and toys. You can use plain white vinegar and water to disinfect too. I often clean the bathroom with vinegar. If you want something to sprinkle in the toilet that you can let sit and scrub away later, try baking soda or borax. (Although borax is a naturally occurring mineral, keep it out of reach.)

Some of this information I got from Super Baby Food. And girl, you know I read like a mad-woman... I also have a few books on natural remedies that I read through for fun.

I also really do like the Method brand cleaners, but I figure baking soda and vinegar are super cheap and easy!
Have fun.

Leah said...

Krista recommended a book in her post, and this website:
has several recipes for cleaners. I have made a couple of cleaners from these recipes--they are not hard to make, super cheap, and last forever!

O'Behave said...

I've been making my own cleaning products for about a year now, I use lots of baking soda, vinegar, Dr. Bronners, and essential oils. The best book my opion is Better Basics for the Home- simple sloutions for less toxic living, by Annie Berthold Bond. It has saved us tons of moola and they are super easy!

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