To-do List Stress

I’ve been reading a lot the past couple weeks about de-stressing your lives by saying no to more things and having a hyper-organized day.  I’ll be honest, saying “no” to outings, projects, and other optional work has never been my problem.  My problem is that I’m a procrastinator by nature.  I can only get ahead when I can justify that the extra work I do now will save me hours in the future.  I have a to-do list posted in my kitchen and have only a few things crossed off of it this month.  These things are important and need to be done but I’m having a hard time finding the time to do them.  Between enjoying my (limited) time away from work and spending some quality time with my daughter, I tend to push off the list in favor of ‘me-time’ and other leisure activities during her 1 – 2 hour nap.  I feel like I get very little done.

On the list:

Finding new doctors – I have the hardest time picking doctors, in the past the ones that I pick wind up being terrible.  Normally I find new doctors when I have to make a hospital visit and get referred to a specialist from the ER doctor.

Applying to more jobs – I thought for sure I would have a great job by now.  I gave myself a month to get a job and its been two.  I want to get paid what I’m worth and also do meaningful work that isn’t boring.  Of course replace the word boring with “offers me challenges” for interview speak.  I interview great!  I know this because most of the jobs that have had me come in for interviews offer me the position!  Right now it seems like part of my problem is getting in that process.  It might be time to work on the resume.

All the homemaker stuff – I tend to avoid doing things when my tornado of a daughter is playing because I know that as soon as I start doing something in the she will want to be held and watch what I’m doing.  I can put her in the highchair to watch me but that only buys me about 20 minutes.  I need to find more motivation to work in some of the day to day stuff into fun time with baby.

Maintaining the me time – It is so much easier for me to stick to a to-do list when I’m at work.  I have 8 hours that I’m being paid to do certain tasks, so I just do them.  What else am I going to do?  At home its a completely different story.  I’m awake for roughly 14 hours per day, and my daughter is awake normally 10 hours during the day.  So this gives me 4 hours of time to take care of things baby free.  I normally take at least 2 of those hours after she goes to sleep to decompress and do something that is fun or relaxing or just go to sleep early.  I function best on 9 or 10 hours of sleep.  I wish I could be one of those people that happily functions on 6 hours per night, but I would be a miserable human being.

I’ve gotten a great routine down for all of the craziness that is motherhood.  No I do not keep a schedule or list for these activities – I just do them.

  • 7a – Wake, answer emails, browse the net, drink coffee
  • 8a – Baby girl wakes up, we both get dressed and then eat breakfast
  • 9a – We play and I make a plan for getting out of the house (but really I’m just waiting for her to poop before we go anywhere)
  • 10a – Go out for a walk, shopping, playground, or YMCA
  • 11a – Snack for baby
  • 12:30p – Back home and play a bit more
  • 1p – Lunch for both me and baby
  • 2p – Nap for baby and normally I’m glued to my computer for 2 hours for either work and sometimes the occasional guilty internet pleasures: blogs to read or video games to play.
  • 4p or 5p – Wake from nap, snack and more playing
  • 6p or 6:30p – Prepare dinner
  • 7p – Husband gets home, we eat dinner
  • 8p – Clean up kitchen, clean up living room, bath and bedtime routine (honestly my husband has been doing most of this lately while I run around trying to fold laundry I forgot about or other things I should have gotten done earlier)
  • 8:30p – Leisure time – no chores are done after baby is in bed
  • 10p – Bedtime for mommy

As you can see this mostly revolves around eating, sleeping and playing.   I do buckle down at least 1 or 2 days during the week and keep it all business and on those days I do get a lot done.  But the rest of those days I feel guilty that I don’t cross more things off the list.  I know this is a normal feeling and that every one will have their own personal goals to meet.  Kudos for those parents that stay home AND manage to get work done.  I don’t know how you do it since I’m lucky if I get a shower in during the day 😉

 

4 Rules for Home Cooking Done Quick

A lot has happened in the past couple of months.  We decided to move out of state to live near family and enjoy a lower cost of living and better weather.  Since we’ve moved down here I have taken it upon myself to be the best wife and parent that I can be while I look for a new job.  One of the most important things that I’m maintaining with this big life transition is how we prepare meals, eat dinner as a family and do so in a healthy and time efficient way.  I prepare all of our meals from scratch but I like to imagine sometimes that I run a prepared food test kitchen.  Here are a few of my rules for doing dinner in a  healthy and efficient way.

Rule #1:  Use your freezer as a money saving tool and not just a place to keep frozen novelties.  I hear it a lot “why would I buy in bulk if we can’t eat it all before it goes bad?”  Your freezer stops the clock on food spoilage and allows you to take advantage of lower prices.  My two favorite times to use my freeze is when I’m buying in bulk to get a lower price per pound and when meat is on ‘manager special’ and at 20% of the normal price.  I once found chicken quarters for $0.29 per lb!  That’s insane and you know I filled my cart.

When you buy a lot of food that can be frozen make a plan to freeze it.  Do not wait until the expiration date to save the old meat from the trashcan.  You need to portion and bag the food within a day of buying it.

If you freezer is already full go through and evaluate each item that is in there. How old is it?  Can you eat it within the next month?  Is it junk food that we shouldn’t be eating anyway?  Your freezer space is valuable real estate that is there to save you time and money, make sure you are using it that way!

Rule #2:  Dinner will only take 30 minutes from prep to table.  I did this while we were both working full time and wanted to eat dinner as a family before our baby needed to go to bed.

To accomplish this 30 minute rule you need to have a game plan for dinner before you open the fridge.  This is where meal planning comes in handy.

Some of my favorite meats to cook start to finish are:

  • Porkchops – use dry seasoning or a marinade on the meat when you pull it out of the freezer.  Let it thaw in your fridge for at least 24 hours.  I always let it thaw in the dish that I plan to back it in.  1/2 inch chops will bake for 20-25 min at 350ºF.
  • Tacos – use ground turkey or beef and you can brown the meat in about 10 minutes.  Add black beans to bulk up the meal and stretch your dollar even further.  Use it twice in the week for tacos the first night and nachos a few nights later.  Very popular in our house.
  • Salmon (or any fish) – Baking or grilling can be done in under 20 minutes.  We love this marinade for salmon on the grill:  1 part soy sauce, 2 parts oil, 3 minced garlic cloves all mixed together add 1 lb raw salmon and marinade for 20 minutes.  Grill over high heat for 8 minutes turning halfway through.
  • Steak on the grill – We eat steak usually once a week.  Use your favorite dry rub, and grill for 8-10 minutes over high heat flipping once halfway through.

My favorite prepare-ahead-of-time-and-freeze meals are:

  • Meatballs with pasta – the prep kills me but I love having meatballs and pasta.  If you are not a plan-ahead type of person you can always make meat sauce instead.  Meatballs freeze really well and I’ll usually cook a large batch and we will eat it once a week for about 3 months.
  • Chicken – I rarely cook chicken during the week since it is one of those meats that cannot be rushed (or served rare).  I will usually buy whole chicks and roast them in the oven for about 2 hours, sometimes 6 birds at once.  Once the meat is cooled my husband and I will spend a little time pulling the meat off of the bones, portioning meat into freezer bags and freezing.  If I’m low on chicken stock I will take the bones from one of the birds and throw it in the crock pot and make some overnight stock (which also gets frozen).
  • Chicken Taquitos – another labor intensive meal that is completely worth making a giant batch of.  I can take these puppies from frozen and bake them for about 20 minutes and we have a tasty dinner.  We have also used these as quick appetizers when entertaining or if we have unexpected dinner guests.  Serve with sourcream and hotsauce!
  • Pulled pork – Pork shoulder is a cheap cut of meat that becomes a tasty easy meal. Use either a dry rub or a bottle of your favorite bbq sauce and cook the pork shoulder in a crock pot for 8+ hours.  Once it is done, remove the meat and shred with a fork, using a strainer add the juices from the crockpot and mix together with the meat.  Refrigerate overnight and then portion into bags to freeze.

These are just a few ideas but what is most important is to cook what you like and make sure it freezes well.  So if you find a recipe you like and want to try to make a big batch next time – take a little bit from dinner and freeze it.  After a week let it thaw out and check the quality.  Make sure you do this before you cook 10 lbs of meatballs because you wont know how it freezes until you try it.

Rule #3: Use your day off to make a big batch of side dishes, prep fresh veggies and make lunches for the week.

This can be done whether you work or stay at home.  Make something that you love eating so that you are more likely to stick with the plan instead of ditching it for fast food.  If you are not big on leftovers – do not pack them for your lunch at work.  Every Sunday I will make 4 sandwiches for my husbands lunch.  He will take a sandwich and a yogurt to work 4 of 5 days.  He will eat out with co-workers at a restaurant once a week.  Taking your lunch to work compared to eating out every day saves one person about $2000.

Lunch meals that can be prepped at the beginning of the week:

Sandwiches – Deli meat and cheese will hold up nicely for about 5 or 6 days.  Make sure to skip the tomato, pickles and other veggies as it tends to not keep as well.  If you love lettuce on your sandwich, throw it on the morning that you plan to eat the sandwich.

Leftovers – I’m a leftover lover.  If dinner was great (and it usually is!) I have no problem packing a container with the extras and eating it for lunch.

Salads – Every once in a while, usually a couple months before our summer vacation, my husband and I will start eating a little bit less bread and a little bit more veggies.  We will make salads for each of us for the whole week with fresh veggies, hard boiled eggs, and cooked chicken (from the freezer).  Make sure to either add salad dressing the morning that you are going to eat it or put it in a separate container.

For more ideas check out reddit’s meal prep sunday section.

Rule #4:  Make this plan your own.  Everyone has a plan that works but usually it works because they created that plan for their own situation.  My recipes and meal plan will not work for everyone because of taste preferences or food allergies.  What is important is you take things once step, one recipe, one batch of food at a time.  See what works and doesn’t work for your family.  No one goes from spending an hour in the kitchen every day to half of that without some planning, experimenting, and practice.

  • First find one meal that makes it to your table on a weekly basis.
  • Next think of ways to simplify the preparation of that meal.  What can be prepped and then frozen, what can be cooked ahead of time, etc.
  • Then make a batch and see how much time you save with the ahead of time prep.

Start by having 2 meals a week that are quick to prepare, then make it 3 and then 4.  At the moment we plan for 6 nights of at home meals and allow one to be either a night out or a cooking experiment (sometimes I need to switch things up with something fancy).  Figure out with works for you and keep at it!  Soon you will be saving money and finding more time on your hands.

Rebelling Against the Diaper Bag

Minimalist Diaper Bag!

Someone, somewhere decided that parents everywhere need to have all of this stuff with them at all times so that they could be prepared for every disaster that could possibly happen once they have a child.  Baby had a diaper leak all over their clothes?  Not to worry because I have an extra outfit in my diaper bag!  Baby suddenly has diaper rash?  Butt paste to the rescue!  We are prepared!  Let me take off my super woman cape and think about this.  How often has my baby needed a change of clothes while we are out and about?  I can count on one hand and one of those times I didn’t have an extra onesie – do you know what I did?  I cleaned my baby up and let her go naked (it was pretty hot out anyway).  

My Minimalist Diaper Bag

Here is my diaper bag.  I bring the following for trips lasting 3 hours or less:

  1. A bottle with powdered formula
  2. A couple of diapers (usually 2)
  3. Ziploc bag with 4 wipes in it

And that’s it!  I’m sure some of you are doubting that I am even a mother.  How could she travel so light and not be the sad recipient of some bad luck?   I’ll admit that the first few outings with my newborn I was a bit unsure of what to bring.  I have a diaper bag because I’m a first time mom and bought lots of stuff that I probably didn’t need.  But that’s something we can discuss another time 😉  So anyway, I thought that I had to fill my diaper bag with stuff and was having a hard time doing so.  I brought several diapers, and portable changing pad, receiving blankets, diaper cream, a container of wipes, toys, snacks for me, and a couple changes of clothes.  My bag was about half way full and I thought that it was good enough for a trial run.  I’m sure a lot of you are thinking that this sounds pretty normal – and it does.  But I’m a minimalist and I don’t like carrying extra stuff if I can do without.

Here is what I found is necessary to bring on an outing:

Food – I bring a bottle with powdered formula in it, most of the time I can find a water fountain somewhere or we end up stopping to lunch and I can get water there.  If I know we’re going someplace without running water or a cheap alternative, like an outdoor festival – then I’ll bring another bottle with just water in it or fill a water bottle for both adult drinking and mixing baby bottles later.  If we are going to be out for lunch we usually will eat out.  I had one time that I brought a small bag of cerial on a flight so that my baby could be distracted if needed.

Diapers – Of course you don’t want your baby to be sitting in poop for an extended period of time.  Diapers are a no brainer for me.  If we lived in the jungle we could just walk around naked and that would be even more minimal!  Eh, no that wouldn’t be fun.  Especially since my daughter isn’t walking yet.

Baggie with wipes – so this item can serve multiple purposes.  I have used the wipes to clean dirty surfaces that my daughter would be touching and putting her mouth on, I’ve used the wipes to clean her face after eating out or giving her a snack.  Wipes clean poopy butts of course.  The real secret weapon is the bag that the wipes are stored in.  If you have an unfortunate diaper blowout and need to remove the dirty clothes from your child the bag serves as a place to put those dirty clothes.

The best part about my must have list for my diaper bag is that everything fits nicely in my regular old purse.  Something that I made a habit was to empty the diaper bag (my purse) every time I get home, this way I’m not walking around with diapers and bottles falling out of my bag when I’m fishing around for my work ID.  This makes getting out the door super quick, it’s less to pack and less things to remember to bring.

Establishing Good Habits

It’s a new month and a clean slate.  My little one is on the verge of crawling so now more than ever do I want to keep my house in order so that I can spend my time watching her learn and grow instead of worrying about her putting random things in her mouth.

I break up every cleaning task into small twenty minute sections.  Vacuuming all the carpets in my house?  20 minutes.  Doing the dishes?  20 minutes.  Cleaning the toilet and scrubbing the tub?  20 minutes.  Doing chores with this mindset helps me stay motivated because I’m not investing a lot of time to make my house look awesome.

I’ve found that maintaining a clean house each day is a lot easier than waiting till the end of the week and cleaning like crazy for a few hours. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing some light picking up while spending time with my daughter.  I’ll talk to her but I’ll also be putting things away at the same time.  This makes cleaning seem like less of a chore and just more of something that I do as I walk around the house.

Habits that I established in May:

– Make the bed every morning
– Do a load of laundry in the morning when the basket is full
– Sort through mail immediately when I get home
– Pick up everything off the floor every evening
– Water the plants every day

Goals for June:

Career
– Study for CMA for 1 hour for 3 times a week
– Seek out new clients for 30 min once a week (I’m hoping to pick up some work doing some freelance bookkeeping/accounting for small businesses)

Organization
– Post 1 item to sell per day on craigslist/facebook/ebay (I have a lot of yard sale stuff left in the garage)
– Organize one area for 20 min every week
– complete 2 cleaning tasks per day (laundry, dishes, floors, dusting, counters, landscaping, etc)

Me Time
– 30 min of exercise per day
– 1 hour of general me time to relax, read, blog, etc.
– Spend time outside each day with the baby, weather permitting

Community
– Check my towns Buy Nothing Group pending list once a day (I’m an admin)
– Check our towns website for events and add to calendar at least once a month

This list looks a bit overwhelming in it’s current form so I’m trying to break it up into manageable chunks.  For example, if I post 7 things on Craiglist on Sunday then I don’t need to worry about it the rest of the week.  I’m also trying to use my google calendar to organize my life a bit more.  I’ve been putting my appointments and commitments in there already so I’m going to see how I like using the “goals” function that it offers.  It might be TOO much scheduling but I’ll see how it goes this month.  I’m committed to at least trying it out.

They say it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit which is exactly how many days are left in the month.  I’ve gotten in the habit of exercising before but don’t stick with it for longer than a few months.  Don’t we all wish we could be super devoted to our health?  I know I do.  We shall see how this latest clean slate motivates me.

20 Minute Tidy – Silverware Drawer

Every time I opened the silverware drawer I was greeted with a mess of random utensils that I wasn’t using.  The little silverware organizer wasn’t enough for all of the stuff in there anymore.  The top part that used to hold all of my vegetable peelers now housed the baby spoons and medicine applicators.  There was a mess of funny spreader knives and oyster forks that never get used and of course an abundance of bread bag tabs.

Last week I was browsing the container section of Wal-mart for a new organization system for my kitchen drawers that had little stuff in them.  It was mostly a fact finding mission since I didn’t have the dimensions of the drawer.  I wasn’t ready to spend $8 on a new plastic silverware organizer so I mentally added it to my list of items to keep an eye out for at yardsales.  My 6 month old has been waking up at 5am so yesterday I had a little bit of extra time in the morning.  With coffee in hand I tackled the drawer that has been on my mind for days.

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The green bags were folded and put in a ziplock, the funny silverware that never got used went into the box of fancy stuff from my grandmother (that also never gets used).  My favorite part about doing this drawer was getting to pull out my stash of berry containers to use as free organization!  A strawberry container now holds my peelers and the baby feeders are in a blueberry container.  I save any plastic containers that I think can be reused in some way.  It saves me the time and trouble of shopping for the perfect organizer because I just go look through my stash.

To organize my baby bottle pieces I’m using the container that some cherry tomatoes came in and also another blue berry container.

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I’ve also organized the top drawer of my daughters dresser using more berry containers and a round container that some hard candies came in.  This forces me to not let clutter accumulate in these small containers.  For example I can only fit about 6 pairs of socks in the container shown.  And she really doesn’t need more than that, its a rare occurrence when she wears socks.

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By limiting your space to the number of items that will comfortably fit it creates an area that looks neat and tidy and is easy to maintain.  Spending a little bit of time organizing in my home makes me feel like I’m putting the universe back in order.  What are some creative ways that you’ve re-purposed items to use for storage?

My Funny Flour Project

One of my favorite things to do is experiment in the kitchen.  A couple of years ago I started dabbling in gluten free baking and did a lot of my Christmas cookies gluten free.  The problem with all of these gluten free baking recipes is that most of them require a mixture of a lot of different flours to give you the desired texture.  This left me with a lot of expensive bags of mostly full specialty flour sitting in my pantry.

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I’ve tried to pawn the stuff off to my gluten free co-workers to no success.  It seems that they also have purchased funny flour for recipes that they haven’t gotten around to using.  The minimalist in me wants these gone so I can have my pantry space back but I hate being wasteful so I’d prefer to use up this stuff instead of throwing it out.  Most of the recipes that I’ve found only use a couple tablespoons of the funny stuff along with 4 cups of regular flour to bake something.  I don’t want to bake 20 loaves of bread to use up one bag of potato flour!

I recently went to reddit with my dilemma to ask if anyone knew some uses for these products.  Most people said to substitute directly into other recipes.  I’m probably not going to do that for anything that requires cups of flour because these types do bake very differently than all purpose flour.  One redditor did post this recipe that I’m going to try on friday since we have pizza on the meal planhttp://minimalistbaker.com/the-best-gluten-free-pizza-crust-sauce/ 

I’m looking for ideas to use these flours, if you routinely use these ingredients give me your recipes!

 

 

Home Decor Projects – Yard Sailing for Deals!

I am in search of some killer deals for my house this summer.  I set a deadline for the last day of August because if I don’t give myself a deadline then years will pass and I still won’t have my living/bed room furnished.  This worked really well last year when my daughter was born in the fall, we knew when she was coming and had her bedroom good to go well before that.  We’ve been talking about getting better bedroom furniture for years now and haven’t found anything.  We currently are using a metal bed frame with no headboard and 2 small Kmart special dressers.  While this set up is functional, it is very plain.  This has been our setup for about 5 years.  I am against spending thousands on a cheap looking bedroom set from a discount furniture retailer.  I want quality furniture that will last us the rest of our lives.  This is one of the reasons that I’m looking at second hand furniture, a lot of older items are built more solid than the manufactured furniture today. Here is my list of furniture for in the bedroom:

  • 2 Large dressers with or without mirrors
  • Bed frame with headboard
  • 2 side tables
  • decor for the walls
  • New bedspread

 


Also on our list of projects is our dining/living room.  Our kitchen is a little bit bigger than our dining room.  The plan is to get rid of the giant island in the middle of the kitchen and that will give us lots of room for our table.  The current formal dining room will be changed into a main floor living room.

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This room is huge and while it worked really well for the previous owner as a dining room with her giant china cabinet, buffet, grand father clock and large table, it just doesn’t work for our family.  Right now it is a lot of wasted space.

I’m really excited about this project but have also given myself till the end of August to complete it.  I have a picture in my head of how I want this room to look.  I will need the following pieces to complete this look:

  • Large area rug
  • Matching runner for the hallway
  • Ceiling light fixture
  • 2 upholstered arm chairs
  • Entry way table about 2 feet wide
  • 2 book shelves
  • Wall mounted TV
  • Some sort of wall feature, either wall paper or reclaimed wood
  • Cream colored sofa

One thing that my husband and I can never agree on is our taste in home decor.  He likes masculine and modern pieces.  I prefer more traditional and french style fancy things.  Our current living room was mostly picked out by my husband and consists of a large black leather sofa and recliner, and a simple coffee table/side table set.  I did get to pick out the lamps and these are the pieces in this room that I consider to be more of my style.img_06431

 

The plan is to hit up thrift/consignment shops as well as tag sales on Saturdays.   I’m also searching craigslist once a week.  I found a beautiful armchair at a second hand store that I most likely will go back and buy this next weekend if it is still there.  It is a little bit steep at $125 but hopefully I can talk them down a little bit.  I’ve had a little bit of luck so far this yard sale season.

img_06441This mirror hangs on the wall separating the kitchen from the current dining room (future living room)  I am searching for a small entry way table to put under the mirror.

img_06421I picked this piece up yesterday with no real plan for it.  It is a little project piece that I plan to sand and refinish and then put back together.  The whole piece is very loose so at the very least it will be a $2 lesson in taking furniture apart and putting it back together.

The living room project is funded by proceeds from my own yard sale and things that I’ve been selling on craigslist.  So far the fund has around $700 in it.  This will be fun to see if I can stick to the budget!  I have 14 weekends till the end of August and my goal of having these rooms completed.  Wish me luck!

 

I’m a bit lazy when it comes to cleaning…

I’ve been reading the Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn and have tried out a few of the tips that I’ve read about.  I am always looking for new, efficient ways to do things.  I want to save myself time during my day.  I chalk it up to being a little bit lazy and wanting to use my time for things other than the boring stuff.

 

Vinegar + Water: I’m not at the hardcore level of making my own cleaners but I will use vinegar to clean a few things that are stuborn or hard to clean.  My shower head had mineral build up and was spraying in all sorts of random directions.  I filled a bowl with 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water and soaked the shower head over night.  In the morning the shower head sprayed water perfectly.  I also use vinegar and water to clean out my coffee maker once a year.

Reusing bags: I’ve always liked the idea of reusing ziplocs and other storage bags.  It creates less waste and saves a little bit of money, but mostly it is a lot less garbage that we create since I store almost everything that goes in the freezer in a ziploc bag. What was keeping me from reusing these bags before was that I never had a good system for cleaning the bags.  I found it inefficient and ineffective to wash them by hand.  They would stay just a little bit greasy and this was pretty gross.  So what I learned was that you can turn the bags inside out and throw them in the washing machine with your laundry.  Wash your load with cold water and pull out the bags to air dry.  This cuts down on the stack of plastic bags that live by my sink since I do laundry every few days.

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Microwave – I didn’t read about this in the TG, but if you microwave a cup of water for 2 minutes it makes all of the dried on splatter easy to wipe off.  If only we remember to use the plate cover when we reheat food!


On my to do list:

  • Make cloth napkins.  I have tons of old curtains and other cloth that I can cut up and hem the edges.  I want to stop buying paper napkins by the end of the summer.
  • Find an effective way to mop my floor.  I’ve tried using the swiffer solution and a few other products and it leaves a weird streaky  film on the floor.  I want to find a way to make my floors look clean when they are clean
  •  Figure out how to better contain the cat box.  We have it set up in our laundry room in the shower stall but the cat will track the litter all over the house.  I’m also toying with the idea of setting up the box in a closet and having a kitty door built in so that the catbox is hidden.

Do you have any cleaver cleaning tips?  I want to hear about them!

 

My Minimalist Cleaning Schedule

Lately I’ve been trying out a lot of new things to make our household run a bit more smoothly.  In the past month we’ve moved a lot of stuff to the garage, had a garage sale, started meal planning, and have been keeping our house a bit more clean.

Cleaning is one of those necessary evils.  I want my house to look presentable for both my own sanity and for when we have guests over, but I do not like the time investment that it takes to clean my home from top to bottom.  Especially when it takes time away from my husband and child.  I’ve been trying out a new routine in an effort to maximize my leisure time during the work week and to allow us to have the full weekend to do as we want without playing ‘catch-up’ with household chores.

I wake up normally around 1.5 – 2 hours prior to leaving for work.  It takes me about 30 minutes to get myself ready and about 30 minutes to get the baby ready.

Morning prior to work:

Kitchen – set a timer for 15 minutes and clean as much as I can in that time.  If I don’t set a timer I could end up spending an hour scrubbing and dusting without realizing how much time has gone by.  This is when I load/unload the dishwasher, wipe down counters, and sweep the floor.

Laundry – If our laundry basket is full, I’ll start a load to wash in the morning before work.  If I have an extra 10-15 minutes, I’ll also fold some clean clothes.

Bathroom – I’ll clean as I go in the morning.  I organize the counters and put things away as the shower heats up.

I get done with work and get home about 30 min – 1 hour prior to my husband and baby coming home.  This gives me a little bit of time to myself in the evening.

In the evening after work:

Laundry – Throw the clothes in the dryer right after I get home.  If we watch tv that night I’ll fold clothes while we watch a show.

Cooking – If I’m preparing food I’ll do so right after I get home.  I’ve been cooking mostly batches of food to eat at a later time since dinner is planned out.  Either myself or my husband will heat up dinner for us to eat that night.

Floors – I’ll vacuum once a week and this takes about 20 minutes.

Project Area – At least once a week I’ll tackle a small area of my house for about 20 minutes.  This is normally scrubbing the tub, organizing a closet, sorting through our clothes, or mopping.

My husband will feed the baby and put her to bed every night.  I use this 15-20 minutes to tidy up.

Bedtime:

Floors – Sweeping the hardwood, I do this about once a week.

Dishes – I’ll wash the baby bottles, prepare the baby’s food for the week if it’s a Sunday.

Living room – Pick up the toys off the floor, take dirty dishes to the kitchen


I found that by breaking up the cleaning and chores into small portions it is a lot easier to handle.  Maintaining an already close-to-clean house is a lot easier and less stressful than cleaning a disaster area.  I can almost trick myself into believing that I don’t spend an hour cleaning the house every day since I’m breaking it up into 10-20 minute tasks.

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Organization – Pantry and Freezer

Lately I’ve been a little bit obsessed with groceries.  Grocery shopping, saving money on that shopping, meal planning, and trying to not be wasteful but at the same time trying to keep things organized.  Last weekend I pulled out everything from my freezer and pantry, threw out the expired and set up a new organization system.  My motivation to clean out the pantry was this crazy deal that I got on potatoes.  I bought 40 lbs for $8 at the supermarket!  So now the potatoes live in their own drawer in my pantry.  I was reading up on potato storage and found that you should not store potatoes in the fridge and should not store them with onions (I had my onions and potatoes in a drawer in my fridge…ooops).  Also if you store potatoes and apples together they keep each other fresh.  When I get some apples I’ll give this a try.

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  • Top drawer – Baby formula, pasta, crackers, snacky type things
  • 2nd drawer – canned goods, rice, juice, powdered drinks
  • 3rd drawer – POTATOES
  • Bottom drawer – Bottled drinks and garbage bags

I also organized my freezer.  I keep a white board of the current inventory that I update every 2 weeks when I make my new meal plan.  I was going to buy some storage containers to keep everything organized but haven’t found the perfect ones.  That’s why there is a diaper box in my freezer (haha).  I have box filled with meat in meal sized portions.  In the tin trays there is more meat.  I would love to get a stand alone freezer so that I could store more food but I’m delaying that decision till I can get a good rotation going in my fridge freezer.

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  • Top shelf – chicken stock, raw chicken, sourkraut, blueberries, strawberries, emergency pizza (for that day when niether myself or my husband has it in us to cook dinner)
  • 2nd shelf – cooked chicken, pulled pork, raw pork, pea & ham soup
  • 3rd shelf – banana bread, kaiser rolls
  • Bottom drawer – veggies, kaiser rolls

Having a good system for storing food is allowing me to visit the grocery store less often.  I’ve gotten down to only grocery shopping once a week.  I’m not sure if I want to go less often than that since there always seems to be a few great deals in the weekly grocery store ads.

How is this minimalist?  I may look like a potato hoarder but shopping the sales and stocking up is saving us money.  It is saving me time grocery shopping (if I have the food already then I don’t need to go get more).  This along with an organized meal plan is saving me time during the week and allowing me to spend it with my daughter and husband.  On most nights our dinners take about 10 minutes to cook sides and reheat the already prepared proteins.  Minimalism is just as much about living simply as it is about having less stuff.