My 4 Favorite Homemaking Hacks for 2018

I love Christmas break. Time off from spelling tests, chauffeur duties, graded papers, packing lunches, and best of all I’m not desperately rushing everyone to not be late…..oh how I love time off.

We always spend a few days at my parent’s house and a few days at Alan’s parents’ house, and it’s such a blessing to spend time with them and soak up the rest and good conversation.

With people you see on a daily basis, it can be easy to fall prey to simply talking about your shared problems and the annoying people you have to deal with. Ha! We all have them.

But when we get together with family at Christmas, we can re-focus on what matters and gain wisdom from others. We can always do that during the everyday too, of course, but I get the best ideas when I have some time and space to read and think!

Daniel and his favorite cousin at Christmas. They were born only a month apart.

I am reading 2 books and taking 1 online course that I’m gaining immensely from. One is on grocery budgeting and the other is on marriage. The course is about planning.

Alan even found an app for us to use for grocery shopping that has also been hugely helpful. I wanted to pass those along to y’all.

The Books

1.) How to Win the Grocery Game

I’m including an eBay link above for that one, which I do not make any money from. I just found the eBay price to be slightly better than Amazon.

This is an extremely practical book about saving money on grocery shopping. However, it was written in the 1970s and is extremely outdated. I’ve had to look for more modern ways to implement some of the strategies in this book, but it’s the strategies and the meal planning tips that make the book worth while…..if you can look past the insane price amounts on everything. You have to ignore those since this book is from the 70s!!

I’ll share with you a modern app I’ve used to help me do one thing from the book later in this post.

2.) Created to Be His Helpmeet

The above link is to the Amazon Kindle edition, but it is available in paperback on Amazon and other sellers as well. I do earn a small percentage when you buy through this link.

This book doesn’t even attempt political correctness with words like “hillbilly ugly” and “submit”. Ha! You have been warned.

But I’ve found it to be practical and helpful, a solid reminder. It has also helped me understand my husband better, as she divides men up into three groups: command types, visionaries, and steady men.

The book is about becoming a kinder, more helpful wife, and by doing that, you can’t help but improve your marriage, even if you’re married to the Grinch himself. I’m only 1/3 the way through it, but so far it has helped me to straight up be a nicer person at home with my husband.

I also love that it’s written by an older woman. She has walked through all the phases of life, and she’s sharing what she has learned.

Us with Alan’s side of the fam. Greg was MIA this year due to food poisoning. You were missed, Greg!

The App

As I mentioned above, I’ve found a more modern way to implement the grocery strategy, but it isn’t foolproof. I’m not sure if the database is leaving out all the goods from stores like Aldi and the Pig because they came up less frequently than I expected. Some work may still need to be done there.

But if you want an easy way to compare everyday prices at one store with sale prices from the circulars, this is an awesome app.

It’s called Basket.

You type in your grocery list. It gives you options for brands and lines them up by price. Try it out. You may end up spending hours on it like Alan and I have.

We put in our entire grocery list, and then we hit “compare prices”. It showed us that the cheapest way to get all our groceries at one store was to go to Walmart. However, the real issue was that Walmart was the only store that carried every item on our list.

To get the best savings, you can tell it to break it up into 2 stores. That gave us Walmart and Food Depot. In the list, it breaks down which items we should buy at Food Depot and which ones we should purchase at Walmart.

Wow, huh?

It was funny how it would switch stores as we put more groceries in!

However, Alan found that not all of the prices and sizes were available at Walmart, so checking your weekly circulars is still important.

I think this is a good tool, but it doesn’t truly replace searching through the weekly grocery ads.

 

Christmas morning

Chore Looping

Another exciting tip I got this Christmas is “chore looping,” which my sister-in-law, Amy, told me about.

For those of us who have trouble with other methods of keeping up with house cleaning schedules, chore looping is the way to go.

You make a list of tasks, like this:

  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Sweep and mop the floors.
  • Scrub master bath.

etc., etc. Add whatever rooms you have.

Then you work through it until you reach the end and start over, and it doesn’t have to be all in one day, all in one week, or even all in one month. You just work through the list as you are able.

Some tasks you have to write on your list more than once, like scrubbing that bathroom that all 4 boys use…bleh…

For Example:

  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Sweep and mop the floors.
  • Scrub master bath.
  • Vacuum.
  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Tidy up dining room.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Tidy up living room.
  • Dust the house.
  • Scrub hall bathroom….lol…again and again and again…

…And the list goes on until you’ve covered all the tasks you can think of.

Some days you do 3 or 4 of them. Other days you do 1 or none at all. It just depends on when you have the time!

If you do marathon clean, then you skip the repeats. I almost never marathon clean. Why? Because it’s exhausting, and I was always hoping I’d be affording a maid by now….lol

Daniel helping with the Men’s Pancake Breakfast at church

I’ll save my excitement of my new Brilliant Life Planner and accompanying online planning course for another day. I can’t wait to show it to you. In fact, I’m definitely going to do a Facebook Live all about this planner this week, on my Stories of Our Boys Facebook page.

I hope you all had an absolutely fabulous Christmas and are as excited about the new year as I am! Actually, I’m pretty nervous about 2018. Moving…deep breaths…deep breaths…I’m going to need all the organization I can accomplish!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”    Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

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How to Spend Less Time Cleaning and Still Have a Sparkling House

 

Today I’m excited to bring you an article that inspired me all week long! I have struggled with the house cleaning ever since baby #1, and that problem has increased with every single added birth. You know how people say, “Well, once you pass X number of children, it really makes no difference.” Whoever said that is nuts! Either that, or I just haven’t passed the right number of children…

This post comes from Anna Aamone, who runs a small cleaning company in London. She loves writing about cleaning and decorating. I hope you find this article as helpful as I did.

How to Spend Less Time Cleaning and Still Have a Sparkling House

Everybody dreams about having a spotless home, but they rarely feel the urge to spend hours cleaning. Considering there are thousands of better things to do than brushing the toilet and removing limescale build-up from faucets, it is understandable why so many people want to spend so little time housekeeping. The good news is, your home could still be sparkling even if you dedicate a very small amount of time to keeping it so darn neat. Here are a few tips to make house-cleaning more time-effective.

 

How to Keep a Clean House

Focus on key areas

There are some telltale signs of why your home doesn’t look clean. The first one is your television. It needs dusting on the daily. No matter how much time you dedicate to cleaning, if dust still hangs on your DVD stacks and your television, it’s like you didn’t accomplish anything. It may sound a little “wait, what?”, but it’s not really important to have a clean home but rather a home that looks clean. So it’s wise to focus on those areas that show dirt and stains.

 

Some other key spots to focus on are your book shelves (dust), knick-knacks (dust), toothbrush holder (lots of residue), bathroom floor (soap scum, limescale, stains), kitchen countertops (food stains, crumbs), sinks (soap scum, limescale), space under tables (crumbs, stains), entryway (mud stains, dirt, soil), stove top (grease, burned food).

 

Wash the dishes right away

Do wash the dishes after your family is done with their meal. Dirty dishes look nothing but disgusting, making your home look like a sty. Because what kind of a housewife doesn’t have time to wash the dishes?

 

Get rid of pet hair on the daily

Pet hair can be difficult to remove, especially if you haven’t bothered to deal with it for a whole month. The easy way to cut down on hair and spend less time getting rid of it is to clean it on the daily. Put on rubber gloves and wet them. Run your hands over furniture or your pet’s favorite spot to hang around. Hair will get caught on the gloves and off your domestic surfaces.

 

Do one chore at a time

Because you want to do as many things as possible in the shortest time possible, you often fall into the trap of doing many chores at a time. But this is not okay. Staying focused on one task will make you more effective. So keep it simple.

 

Do small tasks every day

Cut down on clutter by doing small tasks every day. At first it may seem like you have to clean and tidy all the time, but soon you will find out that your domestic chores have been reduced to a manageable level. Because you will tackle small jobs on the daily, you won’t ever have to take a whole Saturday and spend it cleaning the house. Sweeping the floor takes about five minutes, washing the dishes is ten minutes, dusting is ten to fifteen minutes. Combine this rule with the next one to get better results.

 

Focus on a different chore every day

Monday could be vacuuming, Tuesday is organizing the shelves, Wednesday is for dusting, Thursday is doing the laundry, etc. etc. Even better, make a list of all the chores that have to be done throughout the week and distribute them evenly. You will find this to be a very good rule. Waking up knowing there is only one chore to do today makes it seem less burdensome and tiring.

This is the best way to spend less time cleaning and still have that spotless home you are willing to have. SW7 TenancyCleaning wishes you good luck!

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What did I expect this to look like???

jd

BOOM!! bounce bounce bounce

The school day is done, and I was answering blog comments, and I heard this loud noise. Don’t worry. All is well. I ran to check it out. I scanned the front yard. No one there, but it sounded like someone had hit our house with a basketball!  Weird!

Just then, Joshua barged in the back door and proudly proclaimed, “I just kicked a soccer ball OVER the roof! I’ll go get it!”

Big boys. I am lovin’ it. Babies and toddlers are adorable, but big boys are WHERE IT’S AT!

wildcats

BIG week for Joshua: #2! He scored 5 points for his team on Saturday!!

 

They wipe their own bottoms, they still do hilarious things, they can get their own snacks (but then you have to guard your kitchen), and best of all, they only require minimal supervision. No, actually, the best part is that they can even help with their little brothers!!

“Ew. public bathroom. Here, Joshua. Take Daniel to the bathroom with you, and make sure he washes his hands.  Thank you!!!”

They earn their keep for sure.

dangerousplay

It’s a hazardous role.

babyhugs

but oh, so rewarding

One thing that is often mentioned in my comment section, especially yesterday, is that I am too hard on myself.

This is true. I am waaaay too hard on myself. I’m going to try to give myself a little more grace. Even my kids pick up on this.

Joshua looked at me the other day, as I was struggling to teach through the bronchitis, and said, “Mom! Go lay down!”

I adore them. Hang in there, Moms of only little bitties. Our work will pay off!

batcave

Are you afraid they will fall? 😉 They didn’t.

 

It’s ridiculous that we are so hard on ourselves, because if you step back and look at it, it’s all pretty cute and hilarious. I mean, the kids are cute and hilarious. Actually, our expectations are too!!! (She thinks she can home school 4 boys, update her blog daily, AND have a clean house, isn’t that cute and hilarious!??) Or maybe it’s just me….surely someone can relate…

We are raising four boys here. What did I think that would look like????  Ha!!!

jd

Seriously, Mom. What did you expect?

 

As I was writing this, John David needed attention, so I stopped and sat with him on the porch. I love the little balcony I have in my bedroom, and so does J.D. I asked him if he’d like to read, and he did, so we went inside to the book corner. I pulled out several books.

He insisted on Old McDonald Had a Farm. It has good pictures. Plus, I sing that one.

I finished, and I tried to move onto Richard Scary. Nope.

JD scowled and handed me back Old McDonald. I sang it again. Daniel heard and came running. He wanted Oh, David next, so we read that.

JD scowled and handed me back Old McDonald. I sang it, half hoarse, thanks to the lingering bronchitis, for the third time.

That made Daniel think of his Old McDonald game, so he begged me to get it down for him until I finally did so.

JD scowled and handed me Old McDonald.  The only way I was finally able to get out of singing it for the sixth time was, “Hey, JD, do you want to go eat a snack!?”

Food works for everything. Food is our most powerful bargaining tool as parents, well, I mean, besides guilt (also effective bwaaahahahaha). I am not ashamed, besides, it was 3:00, and I was starving.

Three o-clock has to be snack time. Who in the world can go from 11:30 pm to 5:30pm without eating?

Well, it isn’t good for your metabolism either. 🙂

Apparently, JD was hungry because he consumed a ton of Greek yogurt, which he, of course, insisted on feeding himself. I’ve just recently let him do that, and he is really good at spoons now!

Cheeeeese!

As I sat there, just watching Daniel and JD eat yogurt, I couldn’t help but notice the yarn strewn across the floor. Caleb had been “building” something. The school books weren’t put away yet. The sink is still full of dishes. I unloaded the bottom rack of the dishwasher, but I didn’t make it to the top rack before someone needed something. Two baskets of clean laundry to be put away stared at me from the stair landing.

Most of all, I noticed their adorable faces, the way the yogurt falls from their spoons to the floor sometimes, and most importantly, the way they smile at me. They love and appreciate me with their whole little hearts!

It all made me think of this blog, and yesterday, and how uptight I probably sounded. Ha! Clutter! Mess! Yogurt faces….

What a beeeeeeeautiful mess. Glorious. It all means one thing. It means that I get to spend all this time with my four favorite little boys, and at the end of the day, my favorite man comes through the door.

Wow. I am so blessed. WHY am I being so hard on myself? How ABSURD! People often use the term ‘hot mess,’ and I think that more applies to a young, attractive person that doesn’t have their act together yet.

What we have here is abundantly more exciting than that. A house full of growing children. 

Now that’s what I call success. 🙂 That is what a beautiful mess actually looks like, and I LOVE it.

Perhaps I need to chill a little bit and embrace these gifts.

 

 

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