Wednesday, January 23, 2008

TT#20: 13 Household Hints That Work For Me

Thirteen Household HInts

Last Thursday I listed thirteen ideas for a TT list, and a someone requested to see one of list particularly: 13 Household Hints. Well, I'm not sure these are traditional household hints. They probably would work better for a Works For Me Wednesday. But here they are for you, Thursday Thirteeners.

1. Each person has his or her own laundry basket. This means we do not have a general family hamper. If you undress in the bathroom for a shower, you take all your clothes back to your room with you and put them in your basket. The reason this is so helpful is because of tip#2:

2. Each person has his or her own laundry day. This means that today is LovelyDaughter's wash day, and she does her laundry. Tomorrow is my day, and I'll do my laundry. On the boys' days they do their laundry, with help according to their ages. No longer do I dump everyone's dirty clothes into an enormous pile and then sort by color. If any sorting needs doing, it gets done according to person. Do you realize what a time and sanity saver this is? No more sorting white socks! No more trying to remember whose shirt this is and whose jeans these are! And no more fights: "Hey, that's MY shirt!" "Who keeps stealing all my socks?"

3. I use clear plastic sandwich storage containers for leftovers. They are clear, so I can see what's in them. They are flat and square, so they stack nicely in my fridge, and seem to hold a lot in a small space. No more containers rotting away in a sour cream container because I thought it was sour cream. And no more sour cream rotting away because I thought it was leftovers!

4. Use cheap paper towels to clean the bathroom instead of rags that have to be washed. I know this sounds wasteful, but it has revolutionized my bathroom-cleaning habits. When my paper towel gets full of hair, I THROW IT AWAY and get a new one. When it gets dirty from wiping the base of the toilet, ditto. No germ worries.

5. Related to the last one-- Wipe down the bathroom after someone takes a shower. In our bathroom, everything is wet with condensed steam after a shower, and it is totally easy to quickly wipe dry every surface with a cheap paper towel, and the bathroom looks amazingly clean. Then every so often I'll do a deep cleaning with disinfectant cleaner, but the bathroom stays pretty presentable between major cleanings.

6. Here's a tip I used a lot when my kids were younger: Make chore cards. I still have a stack of colored index cards with chores written on them, like "take out trash," "vacuum living room," "sweep kitchen," etc. On cleaning day, I would sort through all the cards and choose which ones needed to be done that day. Then I would put them in stacks for the kids according to their ages-- fewer, and simpler, chores for the younger ones; more, and harder chores, for the older ones. As the kids grew, I adapted it and sometimes I'd just put all the cards out in a stack and everyone drew one off the top to do. When that job was done they came back for another. Each child had a number of cards they had to finish. This worked really well for quite a few years.

7. Five Minute Pick Up This is another thing I used a lot when the kids were younger. When the house needed straightening, I would gather the kids together, set the timer for five minutes, and then we'd all race to see how many things we could pick up and put away. I would keep a tally on the chalk board to see who "won." Sometimes I'd give prizes, like, a chocolate chip for every item. Forty-two chocolate chips is quite a snack...!

8. Room Inspection Once a week I used to inspect the kids' rooms and rate the job they did cleaning. I printed up some play money we called "Dino Dollars" and they could earn up to five bills, by cleaning to a list of standards I would check off. I kept a "Tuck Shop," which was a selection of treats that could be bought with the Dino Dollars; things like fruit snacks, or gum, or ice cream bars. Some of them cost only two dinos, but others cost five, and others cost up to ten, so there was some incentive to earn the full five dinos, while keeping instant rewards available. This worked very well for us, till the kids got old enough to no longer be motivated by earning play money, even for snacks.

9. Here's a homeschool-related tip: Keep each child's school books and supplies in their own container. I bought each of them their own Rubbermaid organizer tub, and in it went each child's text books, workbooks, notebooks, paper, pencils, math manipulatives... whatever they needed. This was another one of those time and sanity savers, because the school stuff stayed organized and put away, and each child knew exactly where their stuff was. And no more fights over pencils!

10. For the kitchen: I put my most-used recipes on index cards and then put them on metal rings. I have a ring of cookie recipes, a ring of dessert recipes, a ring of quick bread recipes. To use them, I bought a little stand for business cards and attached a ring to it as well. Then I got some magnetic hooks to hang on my fridge, and I hang the rings of cards, and the business card stand, on them. When I want to use a recipe, I flip through the cards and use the stand to display the right recipe. I love using my recipes this way.

11. Related to this: I also keep recipes in photo-organizer books. I have three slim volumes that have clear pockets for photos, in which I slide index cards with recipes on them. One book has main dishes, one has salads and side dishes, and the other has miscellaneous, like my chocolate syrup recipe. These are all my old stand-by recipes that have been culled from many cookbooks over the years.

12. Fold laundry directly from the clothesline. This tip is probably not helpful to anyone but me. We hang our laundry on our clothesline when the weather suits, and I've found that folding the clothes as I take them down is very handy. I grew up under the system of just throwing everything in the basket till I got inside the house, and THEN folding them. But folding things directly from the line is so efficient. Everything is already smooth and unwrinkled and laid out straight, and I've perfected the technique of folding things against my body. Plus, it's another excuse to stay outside for a little while.

13. Deal with mail immediately. I know this one is a tip all the organizing books recommend, but, incredibly, I was doing it before I knew the books were saying it. I bring in the mail, and immediately toss the junk mail. I put the catalogs I want to look at into our catalog basket. I put the bills into the bill section of my organizing basket. I put the begging letters in another section. I didn't realize how helpful this was till Hubby and I went on a trip and left the kids in charge of the house. Yes, they were old enough, but they didn't know how to sort the mail, and after a week, we came home to piles of papers and catalogs and junk mail and bills, all piled together, and it was a MESS! Since then I have been pretty pleased with myself and my one little bit of efficiency.

What's your best household tip?

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Amazing Gracie said...

I just read another blogger's post about how much she accomplishes in a day. After reading yours, too, I am POOPED!
Organization is not in my DNA (although I do make attempts). I'm the "artsy-fartsy" type that cannot hold a thought for more than 30 seconds. When I do make a list, I forget where I put it. I really do admire you!!!

pussreboots said...

I'll have to keep your tips in mind. Happy TT.

Robin said...

I fold laundry straight from the clothesline too, but it doesn't help to keep me outside - our line is out the window on the eighth floor. I'd have to levitate!

Sandy Carlson said...

No. 5 saves us untold amounts of bathroom cleaning time. So easy and quick to do, too.

jayedee said...

my tip relates to your #3
i dump all the leftovers (veggies, meats, etc)into a gallon zip lock bag. toss it in the freezer. when full, i make garbage can soup. yummy, frugal and never the same twice LOL
happy tt!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I love the recipe card idea. It sounds more user friendly than the usual card box.

My clean room trick is to only let the kids keep in their rooms what they can clean up in 5 minutes. We start with a very small toy box and nothing else. If they can keep it clean (or clean it in 5 minutes) they can bring in a few more things. Anytime they feel their room is too hard to clean in 5 minutes I start them back at the beginning with a small box. This has made them take care of their stuff a lot better and saves us all a headache on cleaning day.

Nap Warden said...

Wow, I don't have any tips...I wish our cleaning woman came more than once a week;)

Babystepper said...

Great tips. I can't wait until my kids are old enough to be a real help with chores!

Becca said...

Really great list. What a novel idea for laundry day. When we have children, we'll have to incorporate that.

Cricket's Hearth said...

I used to fold my clothes right off the line also. I still fold them as I take hem out of the dryer. My daughter-in-law always puts hers in a basket and then folds them. Seems like an extra step to me.

Thank you for stopping in. I appreciate your encouragement on my weight loss challenge. i hope you will return and submit a recipe for my national Soup Month contest. There is really great prize! Blessings, Cricket

Nicole Austin said...

Great tips! We all have our own laundry baskets too. It works out very well!

Danielle said...

GREAT tips!!!

Organizing my house and my life are my number one day, I'm going to master it!

I love the laundry idea, but mine aren't quite old enough and my husband may never have clean clothes again--or at least not clean clothes that are put away LOL

I'm going to try a few of these in our house...the only good idea I use is sticky notes to help remember things. I have a 3 ring binder with calendars, an address book, recipes, and other useful stuff that shouldn't be misplaced.

Anonymous said...

I love number 3 -- that takes so much time using those containers, washing them, etc. I usually feel guilty about using so much plastic -- but you know what, it's just not worth it!

We have one laundry basket per child. Love that.

Ornery's Wife said...

A great list. And BTW, I was thinking about you all morning as I was cleaning my kitchen and baking cookies, wishing I lived nearby and we could visit in person. I don't know why that desire was so strong today, but I just thought I'd let you know someone in Oklahoma was thinkin' about cha!

slouching mom said...

I couldn't agree with you more about a lot of these, but most of all about dealing with incoming mail RIGHT AWAY.

Cricket's Hearth said...

Just a note to say, you've been TAGGED for 6. Please check out my blog to get the rules on passing "it" along. Blessings, Cricket