Six Simple Housework Hacks
Need things to be easier? No available budget monies for a cleaning service? Boy, do I hear you! Here are six simple things I've started doing to maintain housework sanity on the home front.
It never ceases to amaze me just what an elbow grease saver these really are. I love having them in all shapes and sizes for different jobs. Nail brushes, regular scrub brushes, old toothbrushes, you name it. They are all fantastic for jobs you would otherwise struggle with. Bathroom sink handles getting goopy around the bottom edges? Residual leftovers in last night's frying pan, even after the overnight soak? Still got some raw chicken goop under your fingernails, and you are ready to start chopping green salad? Having a collection of the correct types of brushes when and where you need them will cut down scrubbing (and running around looking for them) time dramatically.
Take off your shoes.
Seriously. Just take off your shoes. As soon as you enter the door, as far as I'm concerned. This requires (and here's the catch) getting your whole family into the game as well. Trucking in extra dirt, grime, grass clippings and lord only knows what else if you have animals of any sort onto your floors and carpet is just an extra job you don't need. I realize when you are in the middle of large outdoor projects and you are home alone this can be challenging, particularly if you are a laced up work boots type of person. But the ringing telephone really can go to voice mail if you let it, and it takes way less time to take off your work shoes than it does to scrub the floor. Again.
The upstairs / downstairs basket system.
While I appreciate the free stair master workout replacement, making individual trips up and down for something as small as a comb or tech gear charger just isn't time efficient. My answer? A basket / bucket / receptacle of some sort at both the top and bottom of the stairway. When we are at either level of the house and notice something that needs to make a trip in the other direction, we go to the basket and toss it in. Granted on shopping day the bulk toilet paper doesn't exactly fit. But you get the picture.
Then for example, once the downstairs basket has been walked up, and everything dropped off at its necessary location, that now empty basket becomes the one to toss new things in at the top of the stairs, and the full one goes back downstairs with me for the same drill. Obviously, this is most helpful if you have a two story home. However, if you have a long hallway in your house that feeds off into various rooms, you could still have one that you carry from one end to the other, dropping off and picking up items for distribution in each room that you hit.
Certainly this is a helpful tip for any household, but I think it's of particular note to those who are multi-tasking in their home to a greater degree for things like an at home business, home schooling, or in-home care of a loved one. Every bit of time efficiency tweaking helps in those situations.
Stock your work stations.
Nothing frustrates me any more than going to a spot to do a job and having nearly nothing there to actually pull off the project. I realize that with some home projects, this is unavoidable and a fair amount of set up is required. But for your basic everyday stuff, you can cut down on the stress a fair amount by having things like lotion, cleaning spray, scrub brushes, cleaning rags, hand soap or sanitizer, spot treatment and more available. While each family has different needs and situations, nearly every home could stand to have stations stocked at the following locations: kitchen sink, each bathroom, the laundry room and if you have one, the mud room.
These can be extremely helpful for a couple of reasons. First, even having all the items your work station needs stored in the cupboard won't help as much if they are all loose and falling around. This is hardly conducive to taking care of business. Second, things will inevitably happen in areas of the house where this is no work station. For example, at our place the living room is adjacent to the kitchen. But there is no sink in there, so it is clearly not a place where a stash of cleaning supplies is easily incorporated.
Enter, the cleaning caddy. This can be either a coated wire basket with handles, a cleaning bucket or an empty gallon vinegar jug with the front top half cut out. Store a cleaning spray, spot treatment, an old toothbrush or smaller sized scrub brush and some clean rags, as well as anything else you think you might need for on the fly clean up such as salt for red wine spills. If you have an unexpected spill or pet accident in the living room, you can grab the caddy only and have whatever you need in one trip. If you are working at the kitchen or bathroom sink on something, you only have to reach in and grab one item as well, versus dealing with all kinds of tipped over containers and things piled on top by well meaning guests.
Let it be.
This one was tough for me, as I like to have things look a certain way in our home. However, I also like not being a shrew to my husband , and having time for other projects and writing assignments. And, as we all know, there is only so much time in every day. When I have to choose between not dusting or not putting up an article, the dusting is what falls by the way side. Another way I prioritize is to ignore the things that don't create chaos first.
Here's an example: Skipping the floor cleaning might bug me, but it doesn't cut down on efficiency. Skipping the dish washing can throw an immediate wrench in the gears of our household machine when the spatula or carrot peeler are not available. So I might ignore the floors for a week or two if need be (remember, we don't have toddlers crawling on ours so your choices might be different) but keep things rolling on things like dishes, laundry, etc. Like I said, this wasn't easy for me to do. It really does bother me, especially if someone is coming to my home for the first time, if things look less than sparkling or even cluttered. It also impacts my creative energies, so I try not to let it get too out of control. That being said, there have definitely been times when the depth of dog hair on the carpet was . . . well, disgusting really.
How did I get comfortable with it? By buying into the belief that being nasty or cranky with my spouse from being too stressed out was worse than having my house look less than stellar. I'm not saying I pull this off perfectly mind you, but I do try to bear it in mind. Great partners are hard to come by. Vacuum cleaners are not. Your call.
That's it, people. Six simple housework hacks that make our lives simpler. I invite you to consider our strategies and share any others you have found helpful.