How to Organize Your Life With a Household Notebook

How to organize your life with a household notebook - seriously, everyone needs one of these.

I struggled to motivate myself to complete chores as simple as doing the dishes and vacuuming my carpets. My pets and kids took over my home so much that my sister-in-law made comments about it. But my household notebook is saving me and getting me back on track. Here’s how.

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How to Meal Plan (When You Both Work Full-Time)

How to do meal planning / menu plan even when you and your partner both work full-time. This is something so many other sites overlook!

Working full-time and running a household can get a little crazy.

Meal-planning should score a high priority on your to-do list, and there’s a simple household trick to keep the workload fair, easy, and diverse when preparing your dinners for the week.

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Our Real-World Playroom Transformation

Our real-life, real-world playroom transformation. You can do this too, I promise.

This is a guest post from regular contributor, Natalie LeBlanc-Dawson, who blogs at www.becominggranola.com . 

Our first official playroom!

We’ve been living in our home now for more than 7 years. We definitely bought a bigger home than we needed at the time, knowing that we would, one day, fill it with children. And here we are, present day, expecting our third child in a matter of weeks.

There is one room in our home that has never really been used for its real intended purpose until now – a designated PLAYROOM.

Our real-life, real-world playroom transformation. You can do this too, I promise.

The basement:

Since our home has 3 floors, everything is pretty spread out. 3 bedrooms upstairs, the living room and kitchen are on the main floor, and then there’s the basement. My husband has his “Man Room” that is all decorated with New York Giants gear. There is a laundry room as well. But there is also a 4th bedroom. For years, it’s been used only as storage.


For years, it was so full of furniture and boxes that we just kept the door closed. The only reason we ever went in there was to access a freezer.

Then there were kids.

A couple years ago, we attempted to clear a small play area so that we could reclaim our living room from all the toys. But even then, there was still TONS OF JUNK pushed off to the sides of the room. The play area was barely used since the kids did not really enjoy being surrounded by all our stuff.

playroom2

Now we have puzzles, games, Legos, train sets, cars… Tons of toys that will be fairly inappropriate for an adventurous new baby to have access to. And it would be great if the kids could play freely and not worry about being too loud. So over the holidays, we finally decided to seriously transform our basement bedroom into a room they would love to play in.

The transformation:

We cleared everything out and started from scratch. We were ruthless. We made many trips to drop off donations. We cleaned out old binders from work and university for recycling. We got rid of CDs, books, textbooks, DVDs. There are still a few things that need to go but they will be tackled during the next couple weeks of pregnancy nesting.

playroom3

We organized the multitude of Lego that my husband has kept from his childhood. Our children are still too young for the complicated sets so out first organizing task was to separate the “specific to a set” pieces from the standard building blocks. It took quite some time but now I can rest assured that I will no longer go downstairs to find the whole room covered in small pieces.

playroom4

 

Since the playroom is relatively small, it was important to us to keep as much up off the floor as possible in order to give them enough room to play. I also wanted something up high enough that the kids could not take bins down by themselves.

So new wall-mounted shelves were in order. This way, I am hoping to never have all the bins emptied on the floor at once.playroom5

The room is now clearly divided in two. On one side, we have the play kitchen and accessories. It’s not used nearly as often as it once was so I see us possibly getting rid of it soon. There’s also a small table they can use for colouring.

I have my large rocking chair in the corner. It was my favourite chair to sit in growing up. I use it now for crocheting when the kids are playing. I see myself very soon nursing a new baby in that chair, so it will be staying for a while.

On the other side of the room, we have the Lego bins and their large play mat. Both kids are huge into playing with trains and cars so this has been the popular side lately.

 

playroom6

We originally only had 2 shelves but decided that a 3rd would be useful (we were right!). The top shelf has adult board games and baby toys since we will not be needing those for a while. The bottom shelves contain toys that they can pick and choose from. We are trying to get in the habit of enforcing that if they want something to come down, then other toys have to be picked up and put away in thheir places. I’m really liking the clear bins for storage.

An ongoing task

Since this is THEIR room, I’m trying to not worry about how messy it gets, but I do ask for it to be all cleaned up once a week so I can vacuum. There is still a lot of work to do. We’d eventually like to paint the room and we are still in the process of clearing out more binders and workbooks.

Purging and decluttering items from our home is a task that I believe will never truly end for us. As the kids get older, items will come and go and our needs for specific spaces will change. But I am glad that although it has taken us over 7 years to finally do something about it, this room will be greatly enjoyed for the near future.

Hi! I’m Natalie.
I’m a navy wife and mother to 2 wonderful kids with another on the way. When I’m not running or crocheting, I’m trying to figure out the best way to organize our crazy life all while trying to remain calm and feeding everyone real food. I blog atBecoming Granola, and you can find me on Facebook too.

6 Ways to Make Cleaning Fun

Tired of cleaning? Here are 6 awesome ways to make cleaning your house really fun.

You might be thinking there’s no way to make cleaning fun, but you’d be wrong.

There are a lot of little tricks and games we can play to make cleaning really rewarding, and even relaxing. I really love when I get some time alone to clean my house, listen to podcasts or books, and make everything fresh again.

6 ways to make cleaning your house FUN - these are great ideas for making homemaking tasks really enjoyable.

Here are some of the techniques I use to make cleaning fun in my home.

6. Make it “me time.”

I know that sounds so absolutely crazy, because “me time” seems like it should be going to a spa or getting a great haircut or reading a book on the back porch, but I love cleaning alone. And I’m not the only one.

Baylie of Tiny House Growing Family says, “My husband takes care of the kids, so it’s “me” time.” And I can imagine that in a tiny house, getting a little bit of “me time” is especially important!

Having a bit of alone time to just BE without anyone touching your body (nursing mamas, you know what I mean), to move your body and make your home more comfortable is really rewarding.

5. Listen while you work

Blast your favorite loud music, or listen to a playlist or channel made by someone else. I’m loving some of the cleaning music playlists available for free with Amazon Prime (Get a 30 day trial to see what I mean. It’s awesome).

@rachel.pearson on Instagram says, “Music. I put on a song and see how much my kids and I can get done before the song is over. It helps keep my kids motivated to work quickly.”

Or, pop in the earbuds and listen to an audio book (get 2 free if you’ve never tried Audible before) or podcast. I LOVE audio books and listen to SO many that I wouldn’t otherwise have time to actually read. I’ve even worked my way up to 3x speed so that I can listen to more books in the same amount of time.

4. Make it into a game.

If you’re cleaning with your kids or your husband, race to see who can clean their assigned room the fastest. Or, cooperatively work to see how quickly you can fill a box for donation together.

Or make a points system for the chores – maybe dusting one room is worth 3 points, vacuuming is 5 points, and cleaning the windows is 6 points. Scrubbing the stove might be 10 if it really needs it, and folding and putting away a load of laundry might be 12. See who can earn the most points in a certain amount of time, and the winner gets to choose the movie for movie night, or the loser (if you’re playing with your spouse) buys lunch or dinner at a restaurant.

If you really really don’t want to clean, and you’d rather veg out with some TV, at the very least, see how much you can rush around and accomplish during the commercial breaks. You’ll get more done than if you don’t even try, and you’ll still get to watch your show.

@themittenmom on Instagram said, “We play ‘beat the clock’ and time ourselves while we do each task. It’s a great way to use my son’s competitive streak for good instead of evil.”

3. Join a challenge

Sometimes it can feel like we’re alone in this mess – literally. But knowing there are other people out there, working at the same time to reduce clutter and make a home that’s enjoyable to live in is really helpful.

Join a challenge (like my FREE 30 day clutter-free countdown) to share your progress and cheer each other on. It’s inspiring to see other people’s before-and-after photos, and it feels great to have virtual high fives from other homemakers when we share our progress too.

Tired of cleaning? Here are 6 awesome ways to make cleaning your house really fun.

2. Do it with a few friends

I started So Damn Domestic because my friends and I used to text each other before and after photos of our rooms as we cleaned them, to motivate each other. Sometimes we still do this, but the Hardcore Homemaking private facebook group is perfect for this, too!

Or, do it with friends in person. My mother-in-law used to be a part of a group of friends who would go to each other’s houses every couple of months to DEEP CLEAN together.

They’d each take different jobs (one would be on bathroom duty, another would wash and iron all of the curtains, another would deep-clean the kitchen, and so on) and bring food for a potluck lunch. At the end of the day, while enjoying lots of fun and friendship, one person’s house was spotless.

Two months later, they’d meet at the next friend’s house and do it all over again. There were 6 of them, so once a year, everyone’s house got the deep treatment, and they had built in get-togethers all year long.

1. Enjoy the Rewards

In my course, My Best Year Ever, which teaches effective and efficient habit creation in order to meet your goals, I caution against using external rewards. But using natural rewards related to the habits we’re developing is actually a really good idea.

Just like we brush our teeth to get that tingly minty feeling (not just to prevent cavities), cleaning our home has natural rewards we can enjoy too.

What feels better than taking a long soak in a totally clean bathroom? Relaxing, knowing there’s nothing on the to-do list? Not much.

Or, make your cleaning solutions with essential oils that energize you and make you feel happy, and you’ll have an instant reward every time you clean. I use sweet orange oil and peppermint oil in mine – but lemon and basil is another great combination, too. Use a blend you love and you’ll want to clean more often.

If you feel more confident about hosting parties or gatherings once your home is clean, invite a friend to dinner or host a barbecue on the weekend. You’ll be able to relax and enjoy the company without worrying about your house. That’s a great reward!

Or maybe you’d rather get out and enjoy the world. You’ll feel less stress knowing that everything is taken care of at home, so celebrate your cleaning success by going hiking or to a class or visiting with a friend at their house. Stress-free.

Flavia of Neat House Sweet Home told me, “I always try to move things around and redecorate by ‘going shopping’ around the house. that keeps it interesting.” For sure, finding “new” decor when you’re cleaning is a great natural reward!

So are you ready to have fun cleaning?

Time to get started! Pick one of the techniques above and go!

Whether you set your timer for 15 minutes or you’re doing a weekend marathon cleaning session, you’re bound to have a great time.

The Crucial Information Your Babysitter Needs to Know

The Crucial Information Every Babysitter Needs to Know - Get on this!

A few months ago, I ran into something rare, but was very welcomed and something I think every parent should be doing if they hire a babysitter at all – even if its just a relative. I showed up to babysit for the first time, and the parents had typed up a complete information sheet.

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Emergency Laundry Catch-Up Game

Our Emergency Laundry Catch-Up Game

Suddenly, laundry catch-up inspiration hit.

What if, instead of asking or forcing my kids to help me, I wasn’t the person telling us to get the job done?

What if I invited them to play a game with me and we used a timer instead? And what if the prize for BEATING the timer was exciting enough to make it fun??

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The Best Glass Food Storage Containers

The Glass Storage Containers that changed my (kitchen) life.

I thought I would be in kitchen bliss when I changed to glass food storage containers. I was wrong. The old ones I had were totally lame. Then I found the BEST glass food storage containers, and my (kitchen) life changed.

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