Hot Spot Check Up 6: Kitchen Island in 7 Minutes

I sort of forgot about the kitchen island post until late in the morning today. I took a picture, but I was determined to make improvements. I just wasn’t willing to let it sit like that today. Hooray for determination!

So here’s my before picture:

I didn’t have time to properly clear it all off, so I decided to time myself for 5 minutes while I worked on clearing it, and then take another picture.

The five minutes seemed to fly by, and I was making good progress, so I decided to give myself 1 more minute timed.

After that, I was still super motivated and really wanted to work on it for just 1 more minute (and that’s really all the time I had anyway).

So after 7 minutes (plus a quick wipe of the sponge), here’s how it looked:

I really need to remember that timer thing again. The timer helped me to stay focused and it helped me to work fast! Now, I can get work done on the island and the clutter that is left doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

How are your clutter hot spots doing?

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We took a little vacation

Going on vacation is such a treat, but the getting ready to go part can be really stressful. It’s taken me a long time to realize how much time I really need to get ready to go. I know that the more I work on this whole simplifying thing, the easier it will get, and ultimately it will not take quite as much time. Here are some snippets of how things went this year.

I knew that I was behind on laundry, so I planned to catch up with laundry 2 days before we were leaving, then the day before was scheduled for packing. That kind of planning is progress for me!

I didn’t get to all the laundry the first day, so some of it got bumped to the packing day. I usually sort all of the laundry on the bed and then pick out which items to pack. It sort of works.

I think organized people must pack directly from their closets and drawers. Maybe I should try that sometime. Like when I’m all caught up on laundry and it’s all organized and put away. That could happen.

I had to get my suitcase from the bottom of the stairs, where it has been living for the last several months leading a double life as a baby gate.

Look at that! We found another area to declutter!

Guess what the fabulous Mr. RSS did to get us ready for our trip? He cleaned out the minivan! We were getting ready to spend about 9 hours in the car, so this was very helpful!

Before:

After:

I actually forgot to take the “after” picture until after the trip, so I’ll allow you to be impressed that this is the after clean-out and after road trip picture. 🙂

I tried an idea I read about in this post over at isavvymom about hanging a bag on the back of the headrest to use for trash. Great idea!

We left for the trip only 4 hours later than planned. That’s progress for us for sure! All of those last-minute things to grab or take care of take so much longer than it seems like they should! Next time I’ll plan more time for all of that.

And of course we had a great time on our trip!

How does packing for a trip go for you? Do you have any favorite tips for packing or road trips?


Simplifying Bedtime for Kids

I’ve been realizing that bedtime for the kids has been taking for-ev-er lately.  Bedtime around here is 8:00. That is supposed to mean they are in bed at 8:00, but too often it means we are starting the process at around 8:00, which means they aren’t in bed until 9:00!  I don’t think this process should take an hour! And that is not counting baths, which we don’t do every day.

I want my bedtime to be 10:00 (Rarely actually happens), so if the kids aren’t in bed until 9:00, that gives me less than an hour to: get things done/relax/read/spend time with Mr. RSS.

Here’s the kids’ typical bedtime routine:

  • Big kids (ages 7 and 5) get themselves ready for bed and brush teeth. I get Anna ready for bed.
  • Each big kid picks a book for me to read to them, then I read a Bible story or 2 (short – from a children’s Bible)
  • Prayer time: we each usually pray each night
  • hugs/kisses/tuck in

The things that are making it take loooonger:

  • Big kids taking too long to get ready for bed – distracted with playing, etc instead of staying focused on the task
  • As the kids get older, they are requesting longer books
  • Another thing about getting older – their prayers are getting longer 🙂
  • Chit-chat about the day, or the next day, or totally random things like how many days until their next birthday
  • Requests for water, wanting a certain stuffed animal, etc

I used to think of bedtime with the kids as a sweet time together, but I have started to dread it most nights, and that doesn’t make for a sweet time at all.

Time to simplify! Here are some things I am starting:

Starting the bedtime routine earlier

7:30 on a typical night, or 7:00 if it is a bath night. This means that I need to get dinner on the table on time! I am doing better with this.

Using a Timer

The big kids have 10-15 minutes(I’m working on figuring out the right number) to get ready for bed including PJs, brushing teeth, bathroom, getting water for themselves if they need it, and getting any animals they want with them.

If they are not ready in time, then no time for reading that night. This is working really well so far!

Simplifying Reading

One child picks a book each night, or I read a chapter book. Another thing I tried for the first time last night, is “Read on your own night.” This idea came from my friend Vicki. Love it! I actually stayed in the room and put laundry away while Ella read a book to Gabe. I’m keeping the Bible story time the same.

Simplifying Prayer Time

You guessed it, one person prays each night instead of all of us. Or maybe we’ll have one kid and one adult pray. We’ll see what works. Of course they can always pray more on their own! I have to say that I love hearing the kids pray, for lots of reasons. One time Ella’s prayer was, “Dear God, please help everyone who has boogies that won’t come out.” So sweet.

By the way, Mr. RSS often helps with the kids’ bedtime, too. The kids especially love when he reads to them, except that I’m the better pirate singer. 🙂

I think simplifying the kids’ bedtime routine is going to make it more enjoyable for all of us! I’ll be sure to give you an update sometime.


Weekly Cleaning Schedule – Week 1 Report + cake

Are you ready to hear how my first week or so of having a cleaning schedule went?

This is a condensed version of the cleaning schedule I was attempting:

Monday – Friday
– unload dishwasher
– 1 load laundry
– 15 min a day(timed) cleaning/decluttering  in 1 room or area: 
– 5 min. (timed) focused on paper clutter
Saturday
– unload dishwasher
– 1 hour of cleaning/decluttering in needed areas
Sunday
– unload dishwasher

Here’s the story. I started the week by making a handy-dandy document with the cleaning schedule  and the ability to keep track of what I was accomplishing. Great, right? But then I couldn’t print. We’ve been having printer issues. So I decided to use a handy-dandy piece of scrap paper to jot down how I was doing instead.

Here’s how it went:

(I put the successful cleaning days in bold!)

Saturday: I really meant to do it!

Sunday: Dishwasher unloaded in the afternoon + a load of laundry!

Monday: I did it all!!! The 15 min. of timed cleaning was spent in the kitchen

Tuesday: OK, I know I did the dishwasher, and then I lost my scrap piece of paper(Grrrr), so the rest is from memory. I think I did everything on this day, too!   

Wednesday: nope

Thursday: ummm, hi.

Friday: Unloaded the dishwasher, did some cleaning for sure but forgot to time myself, no on paper clutter, yes on laundry

Saturday: Super busy day because we were celebrating all of the spring birthdays(kids) in the family at my house. So we had 7 adults and 4 kids here in the afternoon/evening. Dishes were unloaded, and there was certainly lots of cleaning, Mr. RSS and the kids did most of the cleaning because I was still finishing this My Little Pony cake: 

Rainbow Dash

For this little birthday girl:

Happy Birthday, Ella!

Sunday: Dishwasher unloaded, check!

Monday: found my scrap paper on the island, 1 load of laundry and that’s it for cleaning. Fun day with friends at their community pool, though. : -) 
I also want to add on this Memorial Day, that I am so thankful for those who have fought for my freedom. So thankful.

My 97 yr. old grandfather (a veteran), helping little Anna

So I accomplished my goals 50% of the time for my first week. I’ll take it! And the good news is that Mr. RSS fixed the printer, and now I have my schedule posted on the refrigerator! And now I’m off to eat a piece of cake…. Yum. Cake.

I linked this post up with Life As Mom’s Birthday Cake Round-up!


Weekly Cleaning Schedule – First Try

I have something of a love-hate relationship with schedules. My personality is more spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, yet I find that schedules and structure really help me. In fact, I think as I get older, I crave structure and planning more.

In the comments on my last post, Barbara gave an example of her daily cleaning schedule. I loved the simplicity of it, and decided to try something like it for myself.

I’m trying to write down key tasks instead of cluttering everything up with things that I will do anyway even without seeing it on a list. I think I have a tendency to write down too many things on my schedules and “To Do” lists.

Do I really need to put “make lunch” or “put Anna down for a nap” or “spend too much time on the computer” in my schedules and “To Do” lists? No! I will do these things without the reminders!

I think I do this because I want my lists to represent all the stuff I do in a day, so that I feel like I’m getting more done. And of course it feels good to cross things off a list! But then if I am looking at a huge list of things to get done, I get overwhelmed, and important items in the list get lost in the sea of list-stuff. So, of course, I need to simplify.

So here’s my first try at a weekly cleaning/decluttering schedule. I’m sure it will need some adjustments, but I am trying to make it simple and attainable. I have “unload dishwasher” every day right now, because I am really trying to make that a habit, but I think once it comes naturally to me, I could take it off the list.

Actually, I’m not sure that any type of cleaning will ever come naturally to me, but I can dream, right?

Monday – Friday

– unload dishwasher

 – 1 load laundry

– 15 min a day(timed) cleaning/decluttering  in 1 room or area: 

Living Room
Kitchen
Master Bedroom
Kids Bedroom 
Nursery
Bathrooms
Basement

– 5 min. (timed) focused on paper clutter

Saturday

– unload dishwasher

– 1 hour of cleaning/decluttering in needed areas

Sunday

– unload dishwasher

I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes! I love your input and ideas as usual!


I try to do too much at naptime!

This picture makes me sleepy. Zzzzzzzz

Things I am trying to fit in at naptime:

  • exercise (in the basement)
  • dinner prep
  • dishes/laundry
  • Read my Bible/work on my BSF study questions
  • make phone calls
  • Email/Facebook catch up
  • menu planning and other misc. things
  • Eat lunch with my 4-year-old son (my 1-yr-old naps through lunchtime right now, and my 6-yr-old is in school)
  • And now…blog!!!

It was ridiculous before, but now seeing it listed there, it looks just crazy! Naptime lasts about 2 hours.

I started picking different days to do different stuff (just in my head, as the week went along), but it’s still not all getting done. Not even close. I try to work on these things throughout the day, too, but it seems like I just can’t seem to get much done. It seems to take forevvvverrrrr with all of the interruptions from the kids needing/wanting attention or help.

If I don’t finish these things during nap time, then I try to finish them after the kids are in bed, or on Saturday when Mr. RSS is home and we try to all work together on things or tag-team with the kids. But it’s just not working.

Maybe I should try to write down an organized time schedule and see if I can follow it? Maybe I should give up Facebook for a while? (It was painful to write that! I love me some FB!)   

What do you think?