Monday, March 31, 2014

Month 3: Spring Cleaning


A word we've all been longing to hear {and feel} for the last 5 months. And now that the sun has finally been making a more regular appearance and the temps are slowly rising…it's time to open up the house and do some SPRING CLEANING!!!

Once again, our monthly organizational post is coming in under the wire, but I found it hard to talk about "Spring" cleaning with snow still on the ground. So now that we are finally seeing the sunlight shine through our dirty windows and I am running out of room to shove toys in closets…it's time to start tackling the madness!

Because I am far from a cleaning expert, I often rely on the tips and advice I find on various blogs and websites. Over the years, I have made a list of some of these resources and I will share them below, along with some of the things that have worked especially well for me.

Martha Stewart's Spring Cleaning guide is incredibly helpful, especially now that it's broken down by rooms. She also shares basic cleaning tips and how to organize a Cleaning Kit {or caddy}. I've been using one for years and I keep it under my sink.

In it I keep:

Glass Cleaner
All Purpose Cleaner
Bathroom/Antibacterial Cleaner
Carpet Spot Cleaner
Dust Mit
Microfiber Cloth
Mr. Clean Eraser Sponge
Scrub Brush {for bathroom shower}
Disposable Rubber Gloves

I can carry this caddy from room to room when I am cleaning and have everything I need. I also keep a container of antibacterial wipes under each bathroom sink for quick clean-up.

I LOVE Real Simple's Spring Cleaning Shortcuts list because not only does it cover all the important areas of your home, but it gives you both the "Short Cut Version" for quick clean-up, and the "Long Version" if you want to be more thorough. Each area of your house is also broken down into steps and they include a handy Tool List of everything you will need. I have actually printed each list and put it in my Home Management Binder for future reference. 

I've been following Organized Home for years and I've carried around their Spring Cleaning Chore Checklist since Eric and I bought our house. It has been such a helpful list for us, I actually decided to make my own version for my planner, along with a helpful checklist for indoor and outdoor maintenance. The printables turned out so cute, I thought this post would be the perfect place to share them!

I've created the printables in 3 sizes and you can download them HERE.

You will see that one of our Spring Cleaning Tasks every year is to have a Garage/Yard sale. I know these can be a ton of work, but it is really one of the best motivators for us to clean out our house and garage. And the best part is that our town makes it easy by having a specific "Garage Sale Weekend." Charity trucks will also make pick-ups the Monday after the sale so that they can take away clothing, baby items, furniture and other unwanted items and give them to local organizations in our area. You would be surprised by how many towns will do this, so make sure you check into it if you have a garage sale planned. 

Also, if you need some helpful tips for setting up and planning your own Garage or Yard Sale, Organized Home has a special article for that too :-)

I subscribe to Parents Magazine emails and I have to admit…they share some really helpful tips! Last week I got an email titled "Spring Cleaning with Kids" and I thought it was something perfect to share in this post. The video is only a few minutes long and the mom talks about how to get your kids involved with Spring Cleaning. She suggests turning everyday chores into a game by using timers or playing fun music. The article also suggests setting up a special Chore or Reward Chart for each of your kids to use year round. I did this for my kids recently and although my 4-year-old son isn't as enthusiastic as his 6-year-old big sister, I can say that they have both been very motivated by the end-of-the-week reward :-)

In addition to the reward at the end of the week, my kids also took more of an interest in their Chore Charts when I did two important things:

1. I made their chart special by putting their name at the top and designing them with their special interests in mind. My daughter's chart has a little ballerina on it and my son's has Batman :-)

2. I made sure that the chores and tasks I picked for their chart were appropriate for their age. For example, my daughter's chart has chores like "Do the Dishes," "Feed Pet," "Make Bed," "Finish Homework," etc. 

For my son's chart, I knew that having him in charge of feeding our fish was NOT the best decision, nor was asking him to the dishes. But right now, we are practicing getting dressed ourselves and putting on our own coat so those are two chores or "tasks" that I have on his chart, along with "Pick up Bedroom" and "Put Away Toys." 

You will notice that I laminated both the charts and the chore/task cards and that is simply so I don't have to reprint a new chart every week. It also gives me the ability to change out certain chores or tasks throughout the week. For example, if my daughter doesn't have homework one day, I can swap it out with something else. All I do is use Poster Putty on the back and they easily peel right off and I can restick them over and over again.

To check off her tasks, my daughter prefers marking her squares with these little pink magnets we found at Target. My son, on the other hand, likes to use markers so we use our washable Crayola dry erase markers and they wipe right off each week.

I can't believe that both of my kids filled their entire chart over Spring Break. We got a ton of spring cleaning done and now that they have both earned their rewards…they can't wait to do it again this week!

 If you've been struggling to get your kids to help around the house too, or even if you have been searching for the perfect reward or chore chart…be sure to stop by our Printables shop today and check out our new line of Personalized Kids Chore Charts!!!

Right now, we have 12 different designs to choose from for boys and girls and we will be adding more soon. And don't forget, we are always happy to take custom orders :-)

Your personalized Chore/Reward Chart will also come with 2 sheets of chore/task cards that you can print and cut. Another great way to get your kids excited about their chart is to let them help pick their daily chores and tasks. I never in a million years thought my daughter would be excited about making her own bed, but once she added it to her chart, she couldn't wait to check off her first square.

I've been a subscriber to Better Homes and Gardens for a few years and I have ripped out a million articles. One of them that I kept from last year was about the importance of having your children help with chores. I thought the article was fantastic, and it also helped break down what chores are appropriate for which ages. But reading the article again got me thinking…if the whole reason we are establishing a chore or reward chart is to get kids motivated and into a routine…then why not do the same for ourselves?

I don't know about you, but I am TERRIBLE at following a routine when it comes to housework. I always try to set up a schedule and fail miserably. But maybe if we had our own little Adult Chore Chart {with or without weekly rewards} we could be just as excited and motivated as our kids! And what a great example to show them.

So with that in mind, I decided to put together a little Adult Chore Chart that you can print and hang on your fridge, or stick in your Home Management Binder or planner. It' is available in all 3 sizes.

It's nothing fancy, but it certainly does the trick! Just make a list of your household chores and then check off the days you complete them. Most cleaning gurus will tell you that laundry, vacuuming and pick-up should be done daily, while other things like bathrooms and windows should be done weekly. You can download a copy of this chore chart HERE.

Well thank you all so much for stopping by our blog today!! We hope you found these Spring Cleaning Tips, Checklists, Links and Chore Charts helpful :-) As always, please feel free to comment with any Spring Cleaning tips or tricks you might have!!

Until Next Month!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

40 Bags/40 Days Declutter Charity Challenge

For the last few years, I have participated in a challenge that I first saw introduced by the lovely Sarah over at Clover Lane. It's called the "40 Bags in 40 Days challenge" and the idea is to rid your home of unneeded and unwanted "stuff" by filling a bag every day during the 40 days of Lent. By the end, you will have donated/sold/tossed 40 BAGS of clutter.

I have to admit that the first year I did this challenge, I was a bit overwhelmed. Sarah suggests writing down 40 different areas of your home that you want to focus on during the challenge, and that was definitely helpful for me. I broke things down into very small categories and even dedicated one day to just cleaning out file drawers {not even my whole desk}. Following that daily plan of one small area at a time made things much more manageable. Also, instead of trying to fill an entire big garbage bag each day, I would focus on grocery size bags for the small projects. In the end, I had collected 21 black garbage bags/boxes and 19 grocery bags of STUFF we didn't need. Some went into the recycling bin, some went to our garage sale, and some went to charities.

As much as I enjoy the decluttering process of this challenge, I think the part that I love most is finding new charities to contribute to. Having "too much stuff" is a blessing we take for granted sometimes. There are people that would do anything to have shoes without holes, dress clothes appropriate enough for a job interview, pots and pans to make meals at home, toys for their children to play with, glasses to see with, etc. And if we have extras of these things lying around, unused, why not give them to people who need them?! Use this challenge and every day of Lent {regardless of your religion} to give back to your community. To give to people in need. To do something good with all those blessings you take for granted.

This year, I plan to use my 40 Bags/40 Days list a little differently. Instead of listing 40 areas of my home, I am going to list out my 40 "bags" and where they went. I want to be able to look back and see how much I was able to recycle, how much I was able to sell and most importantly…how much I was able to donate to people in need.

Although there are many places that will take most of your items {like AMVETS, Salvation Army or Red Cross}, there also some other wonderful charities that are looking for specific items like shoes, dress clothes, eye glasses, plastic toys, etc. Here are links to some charities I have worked with in the past and some I hope to work with again this year:

For gently used shoes: Share Your Soles
For gently worn or new dress clothes: Dress for Success
For old {good condition} eyeglasses: Lions Recycle for Sight
For gently used plastic toys: Second Chance Toys
Used books: Reading Tree
Old cell phones: Cell Phones for Soldiers
Gently worn coats and jackets: Operation Warm

I am so excited to get started on this year's challenge and hopefully get my whole family involved too. And of course, to help you all out with this challenge, here is a free planner printable to help you track your 40 bags/40 Days. 

Use it to plan out the 40 areas of your home you want to tackle in the challenge, or use it like I am and track your "bags" and where they are going.

Start Spring off right with an organized home, and a full heart :-)

Download the Large {8.5 x 11} list HERE.
Download the Small {5.5 x 8.5} list HERE.
Download the XSmall {3.75 x 6.75} list HERE.