This is a tough one, because, with 3 small children and 2 very hairy cats, it feels as though there is always something that needs "cleaned", but my definition of "cleaning" is very broad! I do not look at "cleaning" as only the heavy duty things like washing floors or cleaning the toilet. "Cleaning" to me is everything from the simple things of making sure that things are picked up and put away when we're finished using/playing with them to keeping on top of laundry to the big things like vacuuming carpets and scrubbing toilets. SO, to be precise, I do stop cleaning in the sense that I'm not following my children around with a bucket of cleaning supplies, eradicating all evidence they are around. I have a weekly "schedule" that I follow for the big things, so that I don't have to spend an entire day cleaning, and then let it pile up for the other days. That's just me though. It works.
Since Capt is currently in pre-school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday's til 11:30, Princess is in on Mondays and has a 45 minute dance class on Tuesdays, I spend what feels like a TON of time in the car trekking about. I know I don't, and that compared to some of you, I'm a hermit!
So, here's my weekly "schedule":
- Sunday - Church and Family - we do little to no "work", instead spending time either attending services (see Saturday for the reason why!), or relaxing, playing games, going for bike rides in the warmer months, watching football, golf, baseball, or enjoying fellowship with my folks and brother, or just hanging around and getting in some much needed non-bedroom couple time. You'd be amazed at how much better our conversations are when we're hanging out in the living room instead of trying not to fall asleep in the middle of a sentence! And no, we don't schedule that sort of thing - we're still spontaneous. Stop blushing...and keep reading.
- Monday - in the morning, I either do my grocery shopping early (back before 9am whenever possible as BB takes the kids to school) and get Littlest One down for a morning nap. While she's napping, I will do all the tidying - putting tools and equipment up from the little things we do around the house on the weekend, collecting all the trash and recycling items, picking up clothing and books and toys that didn't quite make it to their appropriate home, and if there's time, I check over my menu plan for the week and make sure anything that needs special attention gets put on my calendar (making dough, letting beans soak, pulling the Salmon or Roughy into the fridge to start defrosting etc). After picking up the kids, we have lunch (usually sandwiches or things like hummus and veggies, the occasional "lunch treat" of stopping for the main dish from a fast food joint - the kids are currently enamored of Ta.co B.ell of all places...Capt will eat 2 bean burritos, and some days it's nice to have a special thing that is cheap but built into our budget). After lunch, while the kids play, I'll tidy the kitchen by making sure the counters are cleaned off, the table's wiped, the floor is swept. This actually happens after each meal as Littlest One is beginning to feed herself and isn't quite so adept yet. The kids are all required to be in their rooms for a rest time - Littlest One and Princess will usually sleep, Capt either reads, or plays quietly with his Legos, some days he actually sleeps. During this time I do all the laundry - anything that's dirty gets washed. I can get 3 - 4 loads done with my fancy Electrolux machine that has an 18-minute wash time. That works for mine and BB's things, and the sheets, but the kids' clothes get a full-on 45-minute or longer cycle. I can generally get everything ready to put away. In between laundry change-ups, I start dinner and set the table.
- Tuesday - dance class is at 10am, so leading up is get the trash/recycle bin out for collection, bring in the milk and make sure that the kids are enjoying some play time before we head out at 9:40. After dance, we come home and play some more while I make lunch (usually between 11:30 and noon). During rest time, I iron. I admit that I LOVE ironing. All BB's work shirts require it, his trousers look better when pressed and creased. I have things I wear to Church and Moms' group that need ironing. Any table linens (we use cloth napkins to save money, since I'm already doing laundry and ironing) that need it are taken care of too. The second hour of rest time finds me doing a special project - these are those "I really need to..." things and can be anything from clearing/moving the paper files to long-term storage, working on a scrapbook, catching up on correspondence, working my Mary Kay business, knitting, sketching, devouring a work of fiction, or just chilling out with a giant glass of something cold (Crystal Light classic Lemonade is my all-time favorite) and a cheese stick and some crackers, or an apple with peanut butter.
- Wednesday - Bed and Bath day - beds are stripped and remade with fresh linens, furniture is dusted/polished (I rotate between damp cloth and Pledge), ceiling fan blades wiped off, windows spritzed w glass cleaner and wiped (my kids don't have blood in their veins, they have sugar water!), doors dusted off (I hate raised panel doors because of this!), baseboard molding vacuumed with my brush attachment, and carpets vacuumed. I can get the kids' rooms done in about 20 minutes total because they are responsible for putting toys/books/clothes away at night before bed. Anything left on the floor when I tuck them in goes to "Jail" and they have to earn it back with manual labor or money from their commission jars. Bathroom cleaning is almost as quick since the kids don't shower/bathe every day. I spray my cleaner on the shower/tub surround and let it work for a bit while I scrub the toilet, sinks and counter tops. I scrub any stubborn spots in the tub, rinse it off, and after shaking the bath mats onto the hall carpet, I use my hard floor attachment to vacuum any debris, and then wash my way out the door. I begin washing the bedding and towels from the kids right away, and vacuum my way down the hall to the master. It's usually lunch time, so while the kids rest in the afternoon, I do the master. I get anywhere from 30-90 minutes of downtime on Wednesday afternoons, depending on how much junk I let accumulate in between Wednesdays.
- Thursday - 2 times a month, I'm at my Moms' group, the other 2 are "down days" in which we either go to the library or go to a park. Anything that is fun and NOT housework! Sometimes we play games, or Play-doh, we color, we do crafts, we build Lego creations, we watch a Disney movie, we read books. During rest time I clean the main floor. This is all the "clear the shelf, dust the shelf, dust the stuff on the shelf, put it back on the shelf" sort of cleaning. When all the things get wiped clean, realigned in their "proper decorative state", and all the upholstery and floors get vacuumed and/or washed. The kitchen gets a thorough cleaning of actually picking up the items on the counter and cleaning under them, not just around them, the sink gets disinfected, the microwave gets cleaned completely. I do this to insure that on Friday's BB can work from home peacefully, without me having to split my time between reining in the children and housework. I also take stock of leftovers to see just what we'll need to be eating for meals over the weekend.
- Friday - BB takes Capt to school and works from the lobby of the Church. While that's going on, I do a whirlwind tidying session and make sure all things are at least corralled sort of neatly (Littlest One's toys are in the family room and can spread rapidly), the kitchen, family, living, dining, powder and utility rooms are free of as much clutter and craziness as possible. The floors get swept and vacuumed while he's gone. In the afternoon's, BB and I either catch up with each other and our DVR or do laundry. This depends on his meeting schedule.
- Saturday - projects and Church. Our Church has a service at 5pm, and this currently fits better with our nap schedule for the baby. I struggled long and hard with the idea of going to Church on anything other than a Sunday morning, but I'll tell you what I've discovered. The kids get the same lesson, sometimes a better one, on Saturday night. We get a more intimate worship time and I feel as though we're talking with our Pastor in the living room, not being preached to - it's just a smaller time, more attention to each child, the worship is like being gathered for Youth Group, or the fire ring at camp or something...like Floor Devos used to be at LCC...just freer, and more real - less busy...PLUS, the kids get to have a normal day, we can actually have an entire day of working, but we know that we have to stop early enough to get ready for Church, and then we have the entire Sunday to be with each other to not work. This works for us, because God isn't something we only focus on during Church on Sunday or Saturday. We incorporate our beliefs and teachings every day.
I will tell you that there are things that I do daily, such as sweeping and vacuuming the main floor every day. We live in these rooms, and there are always crumbs, scraps, fuzzies, clumps of black cat hair, dry grass, sand, sawdust from BB's shop...so I wipe the table and counters, sweep the kitchen and entryways, and run the vacuum. I also try to tidy up throughout the day. Before each meal and sleeping period, the toys must get picked up and put away. Capt can leave his Lego creations together, and Princess can leave her dolly things set up (baby in bed/stroller, Barbie furniture arranged), but all the unused Legos, clothes, books, crayons, markers, papers, books, blocks etc have to be in their appropriate basket/drawer.
The kids are getting old enough that they can help us out and they help to empty/load the dishwasher, set/clear the table, and are responsible to take their folded clothing and put it away in their dressers. When we come home from an outing, they are responsible for making sure that anything they had in the car or bike trailer gets inside the house and put away. They hang their jackets and backpacks up, and put their shoes under the cute little storage bench with hooks that we have.
I know that my schedule looks as though there's not time for me to relax. Some days, it feels that way, because life happens - kids get sick, hot water heaters break, we have service people come into give us estimates or do work, I mow the grass, weed the gardens, harvest the produce, take the vehicle for an oil change, do doctor appointments etc.
HOWEVER! Let me assure you that I do indeed take care of me.
I am an early riser. I am up around 5 every day. I get up, work out in some fashion (bike ride, Bowflex, EA Active or Wii Fit, jump rope, walk, run, kickboxing on the heavy bag), have some time to spend with God, then get showered, dressed etc. BB is up around 6:30 or 7, and the kids are up anytime between 6:30 and 8 depending the day and the child. The school day starts right now with BB leaving between 8:30 and 8:40. I leave the house by 11:15 to pick them up. We eat dinner/supper at 5 or 5:30, so the kids can have time to spend with BB after the meal, reading, or playing a game. 2 - 3 nights a week, they get a bath, and bedtime for them starts either at bath time (7ish) or 7:30. They are all in bed by 8. BB and I routinely hang out and talk, read, or watch DVR'd episodes of our shows, or watch the end of the ballgame. We head for bed around 10ish. Depending on the day, I'll stay up and read for awhile.
I do bake, but that's much less scheduled, because I know I can make BB's sourdough bread (recipe to be posted later) and it doesn't require much but assembly time, or the brownies are from the box, the cookies are by heart...I can blast them out speedily while the kids are playing.
The kids are old enough, and our neighborhood and yard safe enough that they play out of doors without much supervision these days.
I do spend about an hour each week clipping coupons, matching them up to sales, and making/adjusting my menus. I plan our dinners, complete with side dishes. Lunches and breakfasts rotate between 3 - 4 menus for simplicity and ease of preparation.
For my "me time", I read, knit, play piano, scrapbook, craft...I adore cooking and baking, so even meal preparation is "me time" because I get to be creative and imaginative while doing something that benefits my family and pocketbook.
That was a really long way to get there, but I hope that helps.
I am a tad obsessive-compulsive and an admitted perfectionist. I'd rather not do something than to have it be less than perfect...but I'm working through that now that I've got 3 kids under the age of 5 (I can say that til June 1).
I'm glad that my camping food post helped yesterday, and please, feel free to ask me for specifics about anything I've posted so far.
More to come, and keep those topics and ideas coming!!!
Inkling - I wanted to be a Boy Scout so badly...I was my Mom's greatest joy and her worst nightmare - I was her girl, but was such a tomboy...and our Girl Scout troop was just so...girly...we did a "day camp" and we didn't do anything cool to cook, we never camped for real...I made my Dad help me pitch our tent in the backyard for an entire weekend so I could camp out. And I did! For both Friday and Saturday nights I slept in that tent in the stinky sleeping bag (it was older than me!) and it was AWESOME! I didn't want to wear dresses, or have long hair, or learn to do ballet or any of those "traditional" girl things.
It's the reason I almost failed the sewing portion of my 7th grade Home Ec class! :D
Penny - check you local library and/or Amazon, Borders or Barnes & Noble online for a Dutch Oven cook book. It's a learned technique for certain, but one totally worth learning. You can even do it at home in your oven on low temps! There's a pineapple upside down cake you can do in it at home that is divine!!!!!!!
PS - if anyone has a Dutch Oven, or knows someone who has one that they don't want anymore...send them my way! PLEASE!!!!!! If my Dad still had his, I'd have commandeered it now...
Inkling, I'll ask him about the egg in the orange peel thing - might be fun for Walden to do with any younger clients he takes out. Or a blueberry crumble...
I'd love to get the Calzone recipe, that would be fantastic to do this summer.
Toodles for now, I've wasted my morning writing this post while the big kids played in the basement, and the baby napped.
Off to make some lunch!