Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekly Cleaning Schedule: Getting Started

Today I want to help you get started on creating a clean and tidy home using my weekly cleaning schedule. I don't know about you but when my house is in order I feel as though my whole life is in order. Less mess equals less stress! 

First, you have to stock up on cleaning supplies. Get enough bottles of whatever cleaning products you use to stock your kitchen and each bathroom, and each main floor. For example, I have three bathrooms in my home. Each one has the following underneath the sink:

It costs a little more t upfront but because you are using the supplies in their designated areas they will last longer so you'll restock less often. Under my kitchen sink I try and keep the following items for use during the week and on cleaning day:

Storing cleaning supplies in each room or area of the house makes it quick and convenient to use. On each floor of the house I keep what I need on hand to clean the main living areas like bedrooms, living and dining room, and hallways:
I prefer either Honest Company or Method cleaning products, especially with little ones around. When possible I try and use reusable cloths (old cut up t-shirts work great) but nothing gets a mirror shinier than paper towels or newspaper. I also have a Dyson vacuum and hardwood cordless vacuum & mop, a Shark steam mop, and an old fashioned broom and dust pan. Don't go crazy and run out and buy new stuff - try this out with what you currently have first. Give it a few weeks before deciding if you need to invest in other cleaning equipment. 

Once you've stocked up on supplies and have all the right gear you are ready to create your own perfect cleaning schedule! Start by dividing your home into 6 zones. Depending on the size of your house that could be 6 different rooms or 6 different areas. Next, you'll have to assign days of the week to your 6 zones plus one day for your rotating project (areas you need to keep clean and organized, but not necessarily every week). Keep your work and family schedule in mind when deciding which day to to what. Mondays are not my forte. So, I go easy on myself with the lightest rooms in the house. I do the powder room and floors on Friday so that if we have guests over the weekend the place looks sparkly clean! I reserve the kitchen and bathrooms for the weekends because they take the longest and because Sean is home to help out with the kids. Thursdays are my rotating days because usually those are my late nights at work and I might not always get to it. 

Finally, make a list of the things you want to accomplish daily and assign duties to your spouse, partner, roommate or kids as well! Be realistic. If you have to skip a day because the kids are sick, the dog ran away again, or you planned a girl's night out...don't sweat it. Because you are cleaning regularly it won't get that dirty before the next week comes around. The only rooms I absolutely never skip are the kitchen and bathrooms (ew!). That is another reason I reserve the weekend for those rooms - they have to be cleaned weekly! 

The only other thing I would recommend is taking one weekend to get the whole house clean and organized before starting your weekly routine. It is easier to keep a clean house clean! Take one to two days to get the place spotless then start with your Monday area and daily tasks. Happy cleaning!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weekly Cleaning Schedule

As a working mom it is important that I have time on the weekend to focus on what matters most: spending time with my husband + my little loves, having fun, relaxing and carving out some time for myself. The problem is, I'm a cleanaholic and cannot handle and unkept home (Disclaimer: If you tend to be on the messy side, I am not judging! My obsession with all things clean + organized is unhealthy. I'm a freak. You are the normal one). 

When we added a second tiny human to our family and moved out of our 900 square foot apartment in the city to our house here in the burbs along the coast, my one-day-a-week cleaning routine just wasn't cutting it. I was spending my entire Saturday or Sunday trying to get the house clean and was missing out on quality time with the ones I love the most. 

It took some fine tuning but I finally created a weekly cleaning schedule that keeps my craziness in check and frees up my weekends. I do a little bit each day (less than 20 minutes) and incorporate the kiddos as my assistants. Addie gets a kick out of her big girl chores and Mason follows us around with the toy vacuum. I am creating monsters. My very own cleaning monsters! 

Need help getting started? Happy Cleaning!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Oh Joy!

Addie and I walked into Target yesterday and were thrilled to find an entire new line of party and hosting decor from Oh Joy! It took every bit of restraint and self-control not to throw one, two or three of everything into my cart. Everything about these colors, patterns and designs make smile! And with more snow in the forecast (ugh, enough already!) I could use a little cheer.

Now I just need an excuse to throw a party so I can run back out and buy all of this! Is it acceptable to throw my own birthday party, two weeks later? Easter? Kentucky Derby? Mother's Day? Super fancy play date? Walking away from this aisle empty handed pained me! Okay, okay...I did get one thing. I talked myself into taking the tote bag home. After all, I might need it when I go back to buy more! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bedtime Blues

I used to suck at bedtime. I was horrible. Until recently I couldn't get Addison to stay in her bed and go to sleep without a thirty to forty-five minute circus act beforehand or constant trips up and down the stairs getting her to stay in her room. Or worse, I'd crawl into bed with her and fall asleep before she did! It was a complete chore (and calf workout). Mason? Oh, he's the easy child. Give the boy some warm milk beforehand, snuggles, a smooch on his forehead, and a cozy blanket and he's down for the count. He's also finally sleeping the whole night through so he scores double points with his momma!

Our sleep problems started about a year ago after we moved into the new house. I'm sure that initially the change was a result of her being afraid of unfamiliar surroundings. But let's face it, at some point all of our issues with getting her to bed were a result my enabling her! I let my working mama guilt get in the way of doing the right thing. I'd let her get out of bed for extra snuggles. If she yelled or cried I'd run into her room for fear that Mason would wake up. And of course she played me like a total fool.

After months of bedtime battles I knew I had to make a change. Putting your kids to bed shouldn't take more than an hour! I started by picking a bedtime and sticking to it. Now, when I go to put Mason down I bring Addison in his room with me. The three of us snuggle in his chair together and read books together. When it is time for him to go to sleep Addie gives him some love (hugs & kisses) and then slips out to her own room to pick out some big girl books. We brush teeth, go potty and read together under the covers. I leave a small reading lamp on and allow her to "read" them again after I leave her room. She usually doesn't finish flipping through one book before she is fast asleep and snoring away! I am proud to say I've got the routine for both kiddos together down to 20 minutes now! On weekends when Sean is home to help we can play man to man defense and get it done in half that time.

What's your nightly bedtime routine? What works for you and your little loves? I'm still fine tuning our routine and it will be a constant work in progress as both of my babies get older and their sleep patterns change. Help a mama out and share your "Bedtime 101" in the comments below!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mommy Needs a Vacation

 Last weekend I ventured up north with one of my very best friends for a much needed girls getaway to York, Maine. Even though I live less than 5 minutes from the beach it was like a whole new world in this coastal town. The fact that it is still winter, and snow is on the ground, just added to the natural beauty.

KT and I hit the road early Saturday morning and were checked into our hotel by lunchtime. Our room was right on the water. I couldn't get over the views. Thankfully, KT shares the same love of photography as I do and she didn't mind me stopping every 27 seconds to take a picture!

This trip came at just the right time, too. This mama needed a break from the daily grind. I love my husband and my little loves but I'm not going to lie. . .I thoroughly enjoyed 24 hours of me time! I ate my meals hot. I slept uninterrupted and woke up on my own accord. I shopped. Boy, did I shop! I shopped with two free hands and no time limit. Granted, everything I bought was for one of my tiny humans back home but that's beside the point. I tried on clothes in the store.  I shopped in peace. I drank my Starbucks hot chocolate slowly. I read a book. A grown-up book. I took a long hot shower without the threat of a toddler invasion. I sat in a hot tub and enjoyed a very fruity concoction from a Jamaican bartender and didn't have to worry about little ones falling into the pool. I had zero responsibility and I loved it! 

Every now and then it is important for moms to break away from it all. I'm talking more than a quick workout or time at the grocery store. Get away, go to a friends house for the night, plan a trip or check into a hotel all by your self. I believe that a little bit of time away from the emotional and physical demands of being a mom is healthy for your soul. I missed my family, of course, but after last weekend I feel refreshed, recharged and re-energized. 

I'm thankful that Sean is super-hubs and that I could completely relax knowing Addie Mae and Mason were having a blast with their daddy back home. I think it was kind of special for him too because he doesn't get to see the kiddos too much during the week with his crazy works schedule. And secretly I was glad that Mason woke up in the middle of the night. Nothing would have made me more jealous than if the kids had slept through the night on the one night I wasn't home!

KT, thank you for treating me to a night away and sharing your beautiful retreat with me. It was the perfect girls weekend and I cannot wait to plan the next one! XOXO

How do you recharge? Are you comfortable leaving your kiddos behind for a night or more? Do you find yourself talking about them incessantly when you do? I sure did! Fortunately, Auntie KT loves them just as much so she didn't mind! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Making Our House a Home: Hallway Hospitality

We have a pretty decent sized upstairs hallway (the picture below doesn't really do it justice) and I'm having a tough time deciding what to do with it. Initially, I liked the idea of just leaving it open and unoccupied for a clean and crisp look. But the more I walk through it day in and day out the more I realize that it just feels like a cold and empty room.

So, next on my "making our house a home" to-do list is transforming this unused space into something warm and inviting. I toyed with the idea of creating a reading nook and play area for the kids but decided against it because a) the last thing I need is for Sean and I to be tripping over toys in the middle of the night and b) the kids have already taken over enough areas of our house as it is!

I'm leaning towards creating an adult-friendly space that might serve as an adult friendly area for our guests. A quiet space with books, a comfy chair, fresh flowers, candles and family pictures. A place for our relatives and overnight guests to call their own or at least retreat to for some peace and quiet.

Hallway Hospitality
Everything in our house is so square so I'm thinking a round rug might add a little definition to the room. I'm officially on the hunt! My biggest challenge will be finding (affordable) furniture that fits the space without making it overcrowded. Also, when the doors are closed the space can be a little dark so I'd like to brighten it up with brightly colored prints and decor. Challenge accepted!

Do you have any unused spaces in your home? What did you to make it more functional? 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Closet Do-Over Update

Last summer Addie's closet had gotten a little out of control. So I spent less than $20 for some shower curtain rods, pulled out the existing shelf, and added a spare bookcase and tote boxes we already had to make it more organized and accessible. It's been eight months and I am happy to report. . . still clean and organized! But really, did you expect anything else from a self-diagnosed OCD and organization addict?

After the holidays I decided to add a few things: responsibility/chore chart, monthly calendar, and another spare bookcase from her old room to corral the rest of her small toys. I used bins from the dollar store to organize it all and washi tape to label everything.

When you tackle a big project like organizing a room or closet how long does it usually last? Addie's closet and room have been surprisingly easy to keep clean. I wish I could say the same for our basement! I have probably organized that bad boy 4 times since moving in. I just can't seem to keep it clean!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Teaming up with Mom and Pop Photo

If you read my blog or follow me on Instagram it should come as no surprise to you that I love taking pictures of my little loves to share with family, friends and loyal readers. I'm not a photographer but I've managed to create some lasting memories using my mad editing skills. While I would certainly love to plaster my walls with professional family photos I just can't rationalize spending that kind of money several times each year (no offense to my photography friends). That is why I am so excited to share with everyone that I have partnered with Mom and Pop Photo!
Thanks to Mom and Pop Photo, I was given a free 101 course to help me improve my family photos. I start my first lesson this weekend (you can finish the course in one week, one month, whatever works for you!) and will be able to share my review of the course with you. I love the ease and accessibility of these course so much that I decided to become a Mom and Pop Photo affiliate, which means that I receive a commission when one of my readers purchases Mom and Pop Photo courses using links from my site. 
The courses are affordable and can be downloaded instantly! If you want to join me in the lab click on the link to the right, select courses, self paced courses and then choose your course! I have the 101 set but am starting with Portraits 101. If you've ever been bitten by the photography bug but don't have the means or money to pursue your passion as a degree this is an incredible alternative! Or, if you just want to get better looking family photos, like me, this is the perfect solution. Along with your purchase comes unlimited access to an online lab that offers community support, weekly "nuggets" of information and inspiration, and a place to provide or receive artistic feedback. 
Even though I am an affiliate, my opinions are honest and real, and purely my own. I cherish my reputation and creativity, and I want you to know I only share products I truly think will inspire you and make your life easier! Spring is near and it is the perfect time of year to get outside and start practicing our skills as budding family photographers. Hope to see you in the lab! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Making our House a Home: Addison' Big Girl Room Reveal

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to finally put the finishing touches on at least one room in our new home. It has been almost one year since we moved in and some of our spaces are still hungry for some decor. Since Addie's room was mostly done I figured I'd start off with an easy one. I had created an inspiration board using Polyvore and Addison's wish list. I am so happy with the result.

Addie loves all things pink, purple, fairies, puppy dogs and princesses. She had free reign and actually helped pick the paint colors, pillows, canvas prints and toy storage bins. Giving a three year old free reign in the pillow section of HomeGoods was the best! She carefully picked out each pillow, paying special attention to the colors and patterns she liked best.

Sean and I played around with her massive bed. At one point it was centered along the wall, then we had it at an angle from the corner of the room, but ultimately we pushed it along the wall to give her the most playing space on the floor. You might be wondering why we have such a massive bed for such a little girl? We already had the mattress which as you know is usually the most expensive part of the bed. The frame was less than $100 and now we have a place for guests to sleep until we finish the attic or basement. It also really comes in handy when someone isn't feeling well or has bad dreams...I have no problem snuggling up to my girl. And, if I happen to fall asleep for the night I'm not sore in the morning! We're also hoping this bed will last through the teen years. Better bang for our buck! The dresser is actually Addie's former changing table (no longer sold) that we up-cycled with new knobs. The drawers hide small toys and dress up stuff. Her Legos are in the basket to the right and the rest of her toys are in her closet or in the orange bins on her shelf (another a HomeGoods find).

Addison loves to read so it was important for us to have a bookshelf at her level that allows her to grab as many books at a time as she wants. I love walking into her room to find her lying on her belly flipping through a book we've read together a million times. She has so many of them memorized and will "read" them out loud to herself or to Mason.

I picked up these giant clothespins in the dollar bin at Target last year and used command hooks to put them on her wall. They are perfect for displaying all of the art work she brings home from preschool and the crafts we do together in the afternoons. When we create something new we swap it out!

The table & chairs are an antique set that were purchased for my now 36 year old cousin, Martina, when she was a little girl. Since then they've been passed on to me (as a child) and my other cousins, back to my brothers, and then back to me for my little girl. They have been painted brown, blue, red and white, sanded down, restored to their natural color and then painted again. They've taken up residency in 6 different countries and on 3 different continents! Martina had her own baby girl last summer, so I'm sure they'll be packed up and shipped off again soon!

My absolute favorite part of her room decor is the gallery wall. Using wrapping paper, Coco Chanel quotes, last year's Valentine from her best bud Dylan, a picture drawn by Oma, and her very first Snap On tool and a variety of white frames from Ikea and Target I once again let Addie choose where each one went. The letters were originally white and hung in her nursery in the old place. Sean spray painted them gold for me and I love the contrast on the blue wall. 

And, in case you were wondering about how organized her closet has stayed, take a peek! We've actually added another bookshelf for toys on the left hand side. I'll have a closet update later this week to show you the rest.

There are still a few more things to get before I can officially cross her room off of my to do list. We're still on the hunt for curtains (What do you think? pink? purple? red? white?) and I still want to order the gold polka dot decals. Addie and I are also collecting fabric scraps in all of the colors she has in her room to make a banner to hang behind her bed. We're making progress. Addie's favorite part? The new bed she has for her puppy dogs!