How to cheat at cleaning

Greetings peeps! Miss me yet?

I took a break from blogging late last week because I was away for three days on business. Then, low and behold, I lost my wallet at the hotel where I was staying and had to deal with that drama for a few days until I finally got it back yesterday. Yes, everything is still in it (praise God). I swear; someday I will get through an entire day without doing something ridiculous. Someday.

Any-hoo, I’m back and my wallet is back and life is good.

Today, I want to share with you some tidbits from the book “How to Cheat at Cleaning” by Jeff Bredenberg.

This book was gifted to me by my sweet friend (and pastor’s wife), Becky. Not only is she a fun gal to hang out with, but she is also a serious bargain babe. I mean serious, people. This lady uses coupons for everything. Plus she’s always scouting for store discounts to match with her coupons. She can sniff out a deal from a few counties away.

I asked Becky a few weeks ago at church how much her outfit cost. Are you ready for this? She said, “$1.50.” That’s ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS for the pants and the blouse. Apparently, she added a $5 coupon to some items that were already on clearance and … I don’t know how she does it. It’s a gift.

Well, Becky’s amazing thrifty skills are a subject for another whole post. Right now, we’re talking cleaning shortcuts.

I’m only going to scratch the surface of this book today (mostly because I haven’t gotten through the whole thing yet). I’ll update you with more good stuff as I get there. We’ll take this journey to a cleaner home together, OK? 😉 I’ll try to add a few of my own tips and tricks as we go along.

Let’s get started.

In my opinion, the most important thing you can do when you long for a cleaner home is to set some goals on how you’ll get there. They should be S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (I also like realistic) and time-bound.

These are the main goals outlined in “How to Cheat at Cleaning”:

1. Keep a safe and healthy home. If you have to choose between killing germs and dusting your Hummels, kill the germs.

2. Be able to find your possessions when you need them. Oh boy, I struck a nerve there, didn’t I? The truth is, nobody wants to waste 15 minutes (or 30 minutes) looking for something, nor do they want to waste money purchasing seconds and thirds of an item they can’t find. I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there every time we move. And that has been a lot.

3. Keep the kind of home you are happy with. You are the one who has to be pleased with your surroundings, not your mother-in-law or your next-door neighbor (or your favorite blog writer). Stop drowning in all that “perfect home” guilt and instead focus on disciplining yourself to create and maintain the home your family wants to, well, come home to.

OK, on to our next mini lesson. What is Susan’s first cardinal rule of cleaning?

LESS IS MORE! That is, less stuff means more freedom from laundering, dusting, organizing, etc. Folks, I know you’ve heard this a meeeellion few times before, but you have got to get rid of that clutter! You will never be motivated to clean if all you see when you’re done is some dust-free piles sitting everywhere. Your eye — and your bottom — need a place to rest that isn’t filled with stuff. And please don’t bring anything into your home that you don’t absolutely adore or that doesn’t serve a useful purpose.

“How to Cheat at Cleaning” has a Clutter Buster’s Pledge. Here it is:

1. Every possession has to earn its keep. It must have a function in my daily life.

2. Every possession will have a home. No more setting things down “just for now.” (Oh boy am I guilty of that!)

3. I will not measure my personal value by my possessions.

4. Sentimentality is a home wrecker. I will use it sparingly when deciding what items to keep and what items to dispose of.

5. De-cluttering is an ongoing lifestyle, not a finite project.

6. Absolutely everything I own will, at some time, become of no use to me. (This sure puts things in perspective, no?)

7. No one, not even my kids, will ever establish a museum devoted to my worldly goods. (Well, this is debatable. I have seen some of the stuff in your homes. It is farreaky.)

So have you gotten the hint that, before you even begin to think about having a truly clean, peaceful home, you must rid yourself of excess clutter? Good.

Well, before I go today, let me impart one more golden nugget of knowledge. Don’t worry; it is not about de-cluttering. I think I’ve guilt-tripped you enough about that for one day.

“How to Cheat at Cleaning” offers a helpful chart on age-appropriate chores that I want to share with you.

Here’s a look at duties that children can start tackling at various ages, according to experts:

1. Preschoolers: They can take plastic plates to the sink, help set the table, put toys away, put coats away and dust (within reach).

2. Ages 5-8: Make bed, put book bag in order, put clothes in hamper, set table, rinse dishes, load dishwasher, wash pots, do some bathroom cleaning, rake leaves, shovel snow, sweep.

3. Ages 9-11: Sort laundry, vacuum, dust, take out garbage, clean windows, scoop out cat litter boxes.

4. Ages 12 and up: They can do just about any cleaning duty, including running the dishwasher, cleaning bathrooms and laundering clothes.

Hope this was helpful!

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2 Responses

  1. December 21, 2011

    […] me on the far left. Bargain babe Becky is beside me. We left in the morning about 7 a.m. in our tricked-out church van. This photo was […]

  2. March 25, 2012

    […] The handmade Easter bunny in the basket was created by my friend (and pastor’s wife) Becky. I affectionately call her Bargain Becky. […]

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