4 Weeks to a More Organized Home: Day 1

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I’m back with my check-in from day 1 of the 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Complete a 15-minute pickup of main living areas

I worked from 2:15-2:30 and was able to work on a few piles, put things away, and find things to get rid of!

Clean out your purse/wallet/diaper bag

I just cleaned out my purse last week, but it already needed a quick cleanup!

The before/after doesn’t look much different, but I did find 5 of my 7 things to get rid of. I also put several things back where they belonged (loose change, etc.).

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Before

 

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Yuck!

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After

 

Find 7 things to get rid of

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  1. 3 receipts
  2. An informational handout I don’t need anymore
  3. An appointment card (which is already scheduled in my phone)
  4. A frequent buyer card I haven’t used in a year
  5. The key to my old car club that I don’t have anymore
  6. A hat from my husband’s work before the company changed names
  7. A tablecloth we haven’t used for over a year
  8. A set of 3 headbands
  9. A brand new pen
  10. A clutch purse I’ve only used once
  11. An old timecard for a temp agency we never worked for
  12. An expired sweepstakes card
  13. 1 magazine (not pictured)

Wahoo! I was able to get rid of way more than I originally planned!

Have you done today’s tasks yet? How’d it go?

4 Weeks to a More Organized Home: Intro

Nesting – this crazy hormone that’s driving me to:

clean all the things cook all the things organize all the things plan all the things stockpile all the things

do all the things

 

Seriously. It’s ridiculous.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started decluttering the main areas of the house. We’ve now got quite a lot of junk crammed into our storage area, much of which is destined for a future yard sale. I abhor piles of clutter, so I’ve been doing well with upkeep of organization. Other than the nursery, I don’t have many large projects on my radar yet, but my home is still not as organized as I’d like it to be. There’s still too much STUFF.

Enter the “4 Weeks to a More Organized Home” challenge. I’d been planning on starting this months ago, and now I finally have the time to tackle this head on! The appeal of this challenge is how simple it is.

5 days a week, this is what needs to get done:

  • Complete a 15-minute pickup in the main living areas
  • Do the daily task
  • Find 7 things to get rid of

That’s it! Of course, if you’re not in the habit of making weekly goals, planning out your day, or following a routine, there are tips on how to begin each of those each day as well. During the next 4 weeks, I’m going to be following this challenge. My plan is to post each weekday afternoon with the day’s task and my progress.

By the end of the challenge, my goals are:

  • To continue to build a habit of daily cleaning
  • To accomplish each task for the day & blog about it
  • To have a sizeable pile for a yard sale at the end of the challenge
  • To cultivate a sense of peace, simplicity, and beauty in my home

Want to follow along? Download the free checklist from Money Saving Mom, print it out, and start today!

Check back later today for my Day 1 update!

Building a Housecleaning Routine

For the last few weeks, my goal has been to begin and establish a daily cleaning routine. I’m embarrassed to say that when I’m in school, I don’t clean regularly. Dishes and laundry got done, but I was lucky to vacuum once a month. Tasks like cleaning the bathroom or dusting were even more seldom (I know, I know… it’s disgusting). Starting a new cleaning routine for the first time since last summer seemed intimidating at the very least. Overwhelming is more like it. The sad thing is, I have an app with a PAID subscription with a cleaning list already on my phone. I’ve had it since January. It’s called Motivated Moms, and I love it. It’s a wonderful app. It even has an option for adding in a daily Bible reading plan. The funny thing is, once I got behind on my Bible reading plan, I stopped using the app completely! Isn’t it ridiculous that I stopped using my cleaning app because I fell behind in Bible reading?! Sometimes it’s sad the way the simplest things can throw off our entire routine.

The cleaning list in the app is broken into two main categories – daily and today. The “today” tasks rotate weekly/monthly, and they’re usually bigger tasks. You can add your own tasks as you need. My daily tasks include:

  • Empty trash
  • Feed pets
  • Wipe out bathroom sinks
  • Make beds
  • Change kitchen dishcloths/towels
  • Clear/wipe kitchen counters
  • Dry/put away dishes
  • Plan/cook dinner
  • Sweep kitchen & entryway
  • Wash dishes
  • Do laundry

This past week, I decided this was the week to begin. I started with the goal of spending 30 minutes a day dedicated to housecleaning. Many SAH/WAH moms are able to do their daily cleaning tasks build into their regular schedules. I wanted to do the same, but since I work in the mornings, I decided to do my housecleaning as soon as I got home from work. As with all of my goals, my focus is on progress, not perfection.

MONDAY

Monday was the day I implemented this new routine. After going months without any semblance of regular cleaning, I severely underestimated how much work it would be to start out. I spent about an hour cleaning, instead of the 30 minute goal I had. I also had met my mom for lunch that day, so I didn’t get started until after I returned home. Here’s how my routine looked:

1:39pm – arrive home, sort mail, answer texts, open blinds

1:43pm – make bed, put away clean laundry, feed cats

1:49pm – put on music, put away clean dishes, wash dishes, clean kitchen sink, change kitchen towels

2:12pm – sweep kitchen & living room

2:21pm – rest

I didn’t even come close to finishing my cleaning list, but I decided that progress was better than nothing!

TUESDAY

On Tuesday, I had lunch with a friend, followed by running some errands. I didn’t arrive home until later in the afternoon. I still did my cleaning after I arrived home, but I was determined to finish my entire list. This time, I was able to accomplish the entire cleaning list in just under an hour!

3:07pm – arrive home, sort mail, open blinds, check social media, put on music

3:12pm – empty trash, wipe bathroom sink, (Spencer made the bed!)

3:15pm – put away clean dishes, wash dishes, wipe sink/counters

3:27pm – sweep kitchen & living room

3:34pm – rest to pet kitty (Pippin was whining)

3:36pm – pick up dirty clothes, return shoes to closet (done with daily tasks!)

3:38pm – clean out purse/wallet, dust ceiling fans, clean bathroom mirrors

3:48pm – sweep bedroom, vacuum rug

4:01pm – rest

WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday, I came straight home from work, and I was RAVENOUS. It was also watering day, and we only have one sprinkler. So making/eating lunch and moving the sprinkler every 10-15 minutes lengthened the cleaning process by quite a bit.

12:18pm – arrive home, open blinds, start lunch, change into shorts, sort mail, start sprinkler

12:29pm – continue cooking lunch, put away clean dishes (cleaning up as I cook), move sprinkler

12:39pm – eat lunch while watching 15min of Doctor Who, move sprinkler 2x

12:59pm – wash dishes, change kitchen towels, declutter kitchen table & counters, wipe down kitchen surfaces, wipe sink, move sprinkler

1:17pm – make bed, wipe bathroom sink & front of shower door, feed cats, pick up laundry, put away sprinkler

1:23pm – sweep kitchen & living room, start a load of laundry

1:30pm – rest for a few minutes

1:37pm – clean shower (I only cleaned one wall because the shower is FILTHY and I was tired)

2:03pm – declutter top & front of fridge, dust top of fridge, dust bedroom

2:10pm – rest

THURSDAY

On Thursday, I had a lunch date with a friend at 1, so I wanted to get all of my daily tasks finished before she came to pick me up. I was in a frenzy to get things done as fast as possible. I did the rest of the “today” tasks after I arrived home.

12:26pm – sort mail, open blinds, put clean dishes away, wash dishes, pick up laundry, change kitchen towels, wipe kitchen & bathroom sinks, wipe down kitchen surfaces, set out beans to defrost for dinner

12:36pm – empty trashes, fold/put away 1 load laundry

12:43pm – sweep kitchen, living room, and bathroom

12:51pm – rest/lunch date

2:27pm – arrive home, open blinds, clean mop pad, mop kitchen, dust living room & all light fixtures

2:42pm – clean microwave & inside of fridge door

3:11pm – rest

FRIDAY

On Friday, I was exhausted when I came home from work. It was watering day again, so once I finished with that, I took a nap. I didn’t get everything on my list done for the day, but I’m proud of the work I accomplished.

12:35pm – arrive home, open blinds, sort mail, start sprinkler, put lunch in oven

12:37pm – pick up laundry & shoes, put away clean dishes, wash dishes, set stubborn dishes to soak, move sprinkler

12:49pm – change sheets, make bed, refill soap dispensers, move sprinkler

12:59pm – lunch, put away sprinkler, nap

4:08pm – sweep porch & walkway, feed cats

4:14pm – rest

Overall, I count this week of housecleaning as a success. I’m still working on my housecleaning tasks on a daily basis when I get home from work. The apartment looks a million times better than it did, even though it’s just little things that get done each day. It’s the little things that count.

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday! I worked on planning menus for a few hours yesterday. I got this week’s and part of next week’s menus finished. I’m trying to go back to healthier choices, concentrating on more whole foods and recipes from the Tone It Up Nutrition plan for 75% of each day. I consciously choose dinners that are healthier, but still are meals that my husband would enjoy.

We also have lots of special events this week, which made planning dinners easy!

Here’s the plan for this week:

Breakfasts:

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

Bikini Smoothie

Vanilla Bean Chia Pudding with mangoes and mint

Protein Pancakes

Snacks:

Peanut Butter & Jelly Balls (TIU Beach Babe edition)

Fresh juice

Rocky Road Greek yogurt parfaits

Lunches:

Brown Butter Fish

Zesty Quinoa Bowl (TIU Beach Babe edition)

Sweet Meadows Spinach Salad with Balsamic Citrus dressing (TIU nutrition plan)

Fried rice/quinoa

Dinners:

Monday – Pigs in a Blanket, fruit salad

Tuesday – College Group pool party/cookout

Wednesday – Anniversary date night!

Thursday – Chicken alfredo lasagna roll ups, Caesar salad

Friday – Crockpot Tuscan chicken & beans, whole wheat pasta

Saturday – Family summer swim party/bbq

Sunday – leftovers

 

What’s on your menu plan this week?

How I’m Building a Daily Routine

grocery-list

I have always been a list maker. I LOVE lists. I love having notebooks in which to write my lists. Some people like to use their smartphones for this. I do that, too, but only after I’ve worked out my list on paper. I think and process things better if I’ve got a piece of paper that I can write all over. Lists make me so happy, but one of the dangers of a habitual list-making is when I have too many lists in too many different places. It’s like I need a list of lists! Not really, but kind of.

I am also a creature of habit. I know we all are, but I really crave the simplicity of a routine. Routines are simplified by creating habits. Every year when I help my mom decorate for Christmas, I put the same decorations in the same place every year. My family likes to make fun of me for this, but it’s a habit that I’ve grown accustomed to! In reality, they always know who to ask if they can’t remember where something goes (ahem). Similarly, if you create a habit of going running every morning, after a while, you will automatically reach for your running shoes when you wake up in the morning.

Since school is no longer a part of my life, my days of driving from one place to another back to back have pretty much ceased. Sure, I still have days where I have lots of errands crammed in, but on the whole, my life is normalizing quite wonderfully. I work every week day from 7am to 12pm, but my husband doesn’t get home until close to 5pm. That’s a lot of time to where I’m left to my own devices! Sometimes I’ll take an afternoon nap, and occasionally I spend the afternoon in front of the TV (while tackling an organizing project), but as a creature of habit who wants to do more than just sit around day after day, I’ve started a new daily routine.

Each morning (or the night before), I print out a daily docket. I found a free printable from Money Saving Mom. I could use a blank notebook, but I like the structure of this one with spaces for an inspirational quote or mantra, a to do list, the top 3 most important to do items, a basic schedule for the day, dinner plans, a place to keep track of healthy habits, and a space to jot down notes that come to mind throughout the day.

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The first thing I do is write down what the dinner plan is. That way I know if I need to set out any meat to defrost. Today was a crock pot meal, so I set everything up before I left for work. I noted the items I still needed from the grocery store.

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Next, I look through my daily docket from the day before. Is there anything I didn’t accomplish? Is there anything I want/need to do again today? I import these items onto my to do list for the day.

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After that, I fill in the rest of my to do list for the day, including any meetings or appointments that I have. I put a star next to the top three most important items for my day and write those in “today’s MITs” (most important to-dos).

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Then I’ll make a list of upcoming blog posts I want to be working on. I make sure to check my old daily dockets for any ideas I may have missed.

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I take the time to jot down a quote or mantra for the day. Sometimes it’s something I find on Pinterest, and sometimes it’s just a cheesy motivational line for myself.

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I’ll put everything together in a basic schedule for the day. I write down my other to do items in my schedule because otherwise, I may not do them. This way I see them three times!

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Finally, I’ll jot down notes to myself throughout the day. In this case, my husband mentioned he needed more deodorant, so I made a note of it for when I went out to run errands today. Sometimes I’ll use this section to jot down a grocery list or just random things that I’ll probably need to add to my docket for the next day.

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It’s not perfect, nor am I. But for now, this system is working for me really well. It satisfies my crazy compulsiveness to make lists, and it provides an avenue for habits to become a routine.

Do you plan out your day in advance? Do you use paper and pencil or your smartphone? Tell me in a comment!

Menu Plan Monday

Time for another Menu Plan Monday! Last week, I was sneaky and planned two weeks of menus at a time. It took a little longer, but the tradeoff is that I only have a few groceries to buy this week. This week is going to look really similar to last week’s menu.

Here’s the plan for this week:

Breakfasts:

Egg Mugs

Protein Pancakes

Snacks:

Greek yogurt

Fruit

Banana berry smoothies

Chocolate banana smoothies

Lunches:

Brown Butter Fish, Fruit

Cobb Salad

Dinners:

Monday – Homemade White Pizza, Caesar salad

Tuesday – Fried rice

Wednesday – Slow Cooker shredded buffalo chicken sandwiches, garden salad

Thursday – Cheesy chicken & rice bake, corn on the cob

Friday – Chicken alfredo lasagna roll ups, Caesar salad

Saturday – Pigs in a blanket, fruit salad

Sunday – leftovers

 

What’s on your menu for this week?

Menu Plan Monday

Welcome back to Menu Plan Monday!

Oh how I’ve missed these posts! We’re doing well going back to our cash envelope system for purchasing groceries, and I’ve been back to planning weekly menus for the last few weeks.

Although planning weekly menus is extremely time consuming for me, I find that it saves us money, I can use what we already have on hand, it keeps us from eating out too often, and we eat healthier meals. It’s a win-win-win-win!

I plan meals from Monday to Sunday. That way, I can use some of my time on the weekend to plan for the next week. My usual strategy is to rotate breakfasts, snacks, and lunches between two or three options during the week. This helps cut down on the amount of ingredients I need to buy each week. I try to change up dinners each week. If a recipe makes more than I know we can finish, we take leftovers for lunch or I plan a leftover night. I’ve been planning one slow cooker night each week, and I try to rotate in one or two new recipes to try each week.

This week, my husband has requested homemade pizza, burgers, ravioli, and lots more salads. I happily obliged.

Here’s the plan for this week:

Breakfasts:

Egg Mugs

Protein Pancakes

Snacks:

Greek yogurt

Apples

Banana berry smoothies

Chocolate banana smoothies

Lunches:

Brown Butter Fish, Fruit

Cobb Salad

Dinners:

Monday – White Pizza on homemade whole wheat crust, Caesar salad

Tuesday – Chicken & Wild Rice, corn on the cob, garden salad

Wednesday – Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken, rice a roni, garden salad

Thursday – Burgers, mac n cheese, garden salad

Friday – Ravioli, garlic bread, Caesar salad

Saturday – leftovers

Sunday – Build Your Own Loaded Nachos/Taco Salad

 

What’s on your menu this week?

10 Weekly Goals

 

What a busy week! Between Memorial Day, graduation, party planning, and a big announcement, I’m completely wiped. I didn’t reach all of my goals this week (not even close!), but again, I’m focusing on progress, not perfection.

Last week’s goals:

Marriage/Homemaking Goals:

  1. Write a love note to Spencer
  2. Read A Faith Full Marriage: Building a Lifetime Love on Biblical Principles
  3. Rearrange living room, reorganize board games
  4. Declutter kitchen cabinets, cart, & cubbies
  5. Establish a daily cleaning routine

Personal Goals:

  1. Read Joshuaand Judges
  2. Drink 8 glasses of water daily (I did this three days).
  3. Walk 3x

Financial/Hobby Goals:

  1. Blog 2 Shakespeare recipes and Weekly Goals
  2. Read Amazing Coconut Oil, Healthy Snacks For Kids: Step-By-Step Easy And Delicious Snack Recipes, Detox Your Finances, and 47 Ways to Make $100 in a Day

 

I’ve got another list of goals for this week. I’m going to try to assign the organization tasks to specific days in my planner this week. On the other hand, I like the idea of leaving it open to work on what I want when I want. I’ll see how this goes and report  back next week.

This week’s goals:

Marriage/Homemaking Goals:

  1. Write a love note to Spencer
  2. Finish reading A Faith Full Marriage: Building a Lifetime Love on Biblical Principles
  3. Meal planning
  4. Do a closet purge
  5. Declutter kitchen cabinets, cart, & cubbies
  6. Establish a daily cleaning routine

Personal Goals:

  1. Finish reading Judges and Ruth
  2. Drink 8 glasses of water daily
  3. Walk 3x

Financial/Hobby Goals:

  1. Post 3 blogs

 

Do you make weekly/daily/monthly goals? What system works best for you?

10 Goals for the Week {3}

How did your week go? I found myself losing motivation once the weekend hit. I’m hoping a fresh list will rekindle the fire.

Last week’s goals:

Family:

1. Go on a date with Spencer On Friday night, we went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It wasn’t one-on-one, but it still was a great date!

2. Spend time with my mom I went out to lunch with my mom on Wednesday this past week. It was good to catch up with her, especially considering that it’s tax season.

Home:

3. Empty all boxes labeled “kitchen” and put everything away Aside from a box of cookbooks and half a box of spice jars, everything is put away. I only got 20 magnetic spice jars from Ikea, so the rest will stay in a box for a few more weeks.

4. Hang up all clothes in closet We hung up clothes until we ran out of hangers. We need a dresser – badly!

Health:

5. Exercise 4 times Done and done.

Financial:

6. Fill out our first cash-flow budget plan for Financial Peace University My husband took care of this, and I approved it. 🙂

7. Apply for unemployment Done. Now we wait.

Education:

8. Finish reading for Second Language Acquisition & finish my Summary & Response assignment – I found out I was doing this assignment waaaaaay too early. It’s not due until the 28th. Crazy, right?

9. Finish watching Richard II on YouTube It was so good. I cried.

10. Read chapter 7 for Computers & finish all assignments for the week I finished this up yesterday.

This week’s goals:

Family:

1. Go on a date with Spencer

Home:

2. Do a freezer cooking in an hour session (homemade freezer biscuits, sausage patties, slow-cooker tomato sauce, freezer pizza dough, and chili stuffed peppers)

3. Sort through 4 boxes

Health:

4. Exercise 5 times

5. Do Ab Ripper dvd 3 times (from P90X)

6. Track my calories on MyFitnessPal every day

Financial:

7. Don’t spend any money until payday (Friday)

Education:

8. Shakespeare: Locate & watch As You Like It, and begin brainstorming ideas for final project

9. SLA & Language: Finish video response paper, summary & response paper, and continue research analysis for final project

10. Computers: Read chapter 9 & finish all assignments for the week

What are your goals for the week?

10 Goals for the Week {1}

I have so much to do. Don’t we all? It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a long to-do list. I decided to make 10 goals for the week. It’s not everything on my list, but it will help a ton if I get everything done.

Family:
1. Go on a date with Spencer
2. Take Pippin to get fixed

Home:
3. Move the rest of our stuff from the old house
4. Spend 4 hours organizing
5. Do a freezer cooking in an hour session

Health:
6. Exercise 4 times
7. Call doctor for an appointment

Education:
8. Watch 1 Henry IV on YouTube
9. Read 2 chapters for Second Language Acquisition
10. Research summer classes