How to Keep Your Home Under Control: Getting Started

How to Keep Your Home Under Control: Getting Started

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. If you are interested in the products I love and choose to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read more about my Disclosure Policy.

In the last year, I have made so much progress towards keeping my home under control. I am really proud of myself. Even with the addition of a new baby 6 months ago, my home has been clean more consistently than it was before children. There have been so many moments when I have been getting ready for guests when I have just stopped to appreciate how I am not panic cleaning at the last minute. It is a wonderful feeling. I’m happier, my husband is happier, and our home is functioning so much better. So, what am I doing differently to keep my house in order? Keep reading to find out.

This journey began after my first son was born. Keeping a clean house was always a bit of a struggle, but after having my son it seemed like an impossible task. My mom happened to stumble upon Dana K. White from A Slob Comes Clean and told me about her. I listened to a couple of her podcasts and then bought her book* (check your local library). It was this book that started this journey for me.

The first take away and the biggest impact came from her book/method.

Run the dishwasher every night.

Yes, every night. Dana says. Even if it is not full. Even if you are tired. Even if you don’t feel like it. Treat it like brushing your teeth.

Start here and just do this until you create a habit. There is no shortcut or secret. You just have to do it. And do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And forever. Acceptance (Resignation?) is the first step.

There is no rule as to when you have to unload or load your dishwasher. Find a time that seems to work best with your routine and try to do it around the same time every day. However, if you don’t get it done when “you’re supposed to” doesn’t mean you skip for the day. (More about routine later)

Before long, you realize it only takes 15-20 minutes to clean your kitchen (not just load the dishwasher) before bed and the difference it makes is worth it. It becomes a habit that you don’t even think about anymore. There is no decision. You just do it.

Add cleaning the kitchen floor.

Once you are doing your dishes without thinking about it, add cleaning the floor. Dana would say sweep, but if you have toddlers you know that sweeping just doesn’t cut it under a high chair or booster seat. I would say clean under the children after every meal or at least a couple of times a day as needed/possible.

I know what you are thinking. Twice a day? Is she crazy? I would have said the same thing 6 months ago. Hear me out.

My mom gave me a vacuum mop for my 30th birthday. It was exactly what I wanted. Nothing says 30 like cleaning products, amiright?

What is a vacuum mop, you say? Just that. A vacuum and mop combo. There is a disposable mop pad like a Swiffer that has a compartment that catches everything the vacuum picks up. It also sprays a cleaning solution. While I wish it were reusable, it is pretty nice that all the mess is contained and can be easily dropped in the trash. It has a little release thing and you don’t have to touch it at all. The mopping solution and the disposable pads are affordable and worth it overall for the benefit of consistently clean floors.

This wonderful invention allows you to mop up all the crumbs and stickiness in one very quick step. It is AMAZING!

It does not replace the need for the occasional (rare) real mopping, but it has allowed me to keep my floors clean with minimal effort and make mopping so much easier.

Pro Tip: The pads are disposable, but not one-time use. I use one for a couple of days before I change it out.

The one I have is made by Shark* and I am not sure if anyone else makes them. While this is an affiliate link for Amazon, this is not a sponsored post. I just really love this product and it has done absolute wonders for our home.

Next up is a new thing for me. I have been doing it for the past few months and I am really happy with this system. This is an organizational system, not a cleaning hack.

Keep a planner in a prominent place in your kitchen where you will look at it every day.

Yes, a paper planner. This tip was gleaned from Rosemarie Groner in a talk she did for Get Organized HQ. Here is a blog post she wrote on the same topic.

I use this planner to write down any appointments, get-togethers, birthdays, etc. and, as she suggests, go back and include any action items (such as buying a birthday gift) in my planner in advance of the day. It is not used to make a detailed to-do list for the day.

This has helped me stay on top of things and mitigate the mom brain. I also use pages in it to make a running grocery list, so any time I notice I need something I can quickly add it to a list that doesn’t get lost. I *usually* remember to take a picture on Wednesday mornings before leaving for my bible study/errand day.

Next up, laundry.

Laundry was hard for me to get under control. Dana suggests having a laundry day where you do all your laundry from the week together. I like this idea in theory and I can wash all of the laundry in a day… folding is another story. She recommends folding right out of the dryer, but that is just not possible for me. With two children two and under, folding five or more loads of laundry at a time is close to impossible. I have been experimenting and think I may have finally found a solution that works for me.

I try to do a load of laundry every day. Wash. Dry. Put away. This keeps the loads smaller and easier to actually get put away. However, there are days that this doesn’t happen and it doesn’t help get sheets and towels washed. So, I also do a laundry day to catch up and wash gentles, sheets, towels, and anything else lingering.

When it comes to folding laundry, I have discovered a few things too.

Hanging the majority of my clothes has made getting clothes put away easier. When I go to fold, I go to my closet and pull out empty hangers, hang my clothes on the hangers as they come out of the basket, and then hang them in the closet when I am finished.

Another game-changer is folding clothes standing between my bed and my dresser. Instead of making piles of socks, underwear, and pajamas, I immediately put them away. I also keep cloth napkins in a basket on the table. I will bring that basket to where I am folding and put the napkins right in the basket as I fold them. Apply this to your situation by folding the laundry wherever the majority of that load will need to be put away. Putting things away as you fold means that even if (more like when) you get interrupted you have made real progress.

Folding baby and toddler clothes and putting them away has been a constant source of stress. Especially since they usually end up getting unfolded within seconds anyway. Recently, I learned something from Dawn at The Minimal Mom. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLD YOUR CHILDREN’S CLOTHES! Did you know that was allowed? I didn’t. I stopped folding my boys’ clothes and nothing bad has happened yet. In fact, now my two-year-old puts his clothes away with direction (but needs less and less every time). To make this easier, I have a hamper for each child and wash their clothes separately to keep loads small and so I don’t have to sort them before my two year old puts his away.

Pro Tip: Allow yourself guilt-free Netflix time while you do laundry.

Well, now you know what has been working for me. I hope you can apply some of these methods to your cleaning routine to make your home a more peaceful place.

Here are some tips that have helped me:

Concentrate on one thing at a time. Make it a habit before you move on to the next thing.

If you are anything like me, you have probably written out an elaborate cleaning schedule for yourself multiple times and vowed to keep it up, but since you are reading this I am going to venture a guess that you didn’t stick to it and continue to panic clean as needed. Just me?

Small incremental change is key. Small changes over time lead to big results. I think I heard this in the book Atomic Habits* that I have been listening to while I work around the house this last week. I never would have thought that loading the dishwasher every night before bed would be as much of a habit for me as brushing my teeth, but it is now. I have built on this one small habit and it has led to my home being under control (not perfect, but not a source of stress).

Routines aren’t just good for toddlers…

Don’t get me wrong, I do not live by a strict schedule, but I have noticed that my days go better when there is a general flow to them. When my children know what to expect things tend to go more smoothly.

I’m talking very fluid here. The key features are:

1.) I make it a goal to unload the dishwasher and start a load of laundry before lunch.
2.) Clean up as much as I can after each meal.
3.) Put dishes in the dishwasher as I cook dinner.
4.) Before I go to sleep I start the dishwasher and dry any laundry that didn’t get switched during the day.

What you listen to/watch/read is what you think about and therefore what you do…

I’ve found that listening to podcasts about cleaning, decluttering, and organizing help me find the motivation to keep working on my home. Likewise, listening to finance podcasts helps me be more conscious of my spending and financial goals. This works on anything you want to improve. I have learned to listen to podcasts about whatever I want to work on in my life. It helps me stay focused and motivated.

My house is far from perfect, but it is under control. I am adding in some new layers to my cleaning “routine” and once I “level up” I will write a Part 2.

What are your biggest tips for keeping your home under control with littles?

Gift Ideas for Husbands

Gift Ideas for Husbands

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

Every time a gift-giving occasion rolls around, I try to search for gift ideas for my husband. I never seem to find a list that fits him at all. This year, I thought I would write my own in hopes of helping someone else struggling to find a good gift guide for manly husbands. You know, husbands who aren’t defined by their beard, aren’t into grilling or wearable tech, and are way past basic outdoor gear. 

These are gifts for the hardworking man who comes home smelling like diesel fuel. Gifts for the man who can drive a bulldozer, who spends hours on a bush hog, and who doesn’t take his truck in for an oil change or to get the tires rotated, but does it himself. Gifts for the man who has dirty fingernails and spends the day working outside. If your husband knows more than most employees at Lowe’s and Home Depot, this gift guide is for you. If you never fear for your safety at night because your husband is sleeping beside you and you know nothing can get through him, then this list is for you. If your husband has you so prepared, equipped, and trained that even when he is gone you never get scared at night, then this list is definitely for you! I don’t know what to call men like these, but I sure am thankful for mine! I’m sure you are too!

When I decided to write this post, I went straight to the source. I asked my husband to send me a list of gifts for men like him. The following is that list, plus a few additions of my own he didn’t think of himself. 

To start things off, we have a list of gifts that will fit in his pocket. I call my husband’s pant’s pockets his “Mary Poppins pockets”. They are an endless abyss full of useful gear. 

Tourniquet

This may seem like an odd gift, but it is one that could save a life. My husband has recently been made aware of the Stop the Bleed campaign. We now have tourniquets in all of our vehicles and first aid kits. If your husband is into outdoor activities (hunting, fishing, hiking, shooting, etc.) or has a lifestyle (like farming or construction) that comes with a level of risk, a tourniquet would be a great practical gift. My husband recommends buying tourniquets from North American Rescue, which is located in our state, South Carolina. You can buy their tourniquets on their website, or for a few dollars cheaper on Amazon*. Check out Stop the Bleed and NAR for more information about tourniquets, the current research, and training.

Pocket Flashlight

Behind his pen and Sharpie, the item he uses most often is his pocket flashlight*. You may be thinking who needs a flashlight with a phone in your pocket, but let me tell you this little flashlight is super convenient. My husband uses it all the time. He has given them to pretty much all the men in his life and all of them have been quick converts. Men from all walks of life, not just the farmer/ship’s mate type. His dad is an architect and my brother-in-law is a nurse and they both get tons of use out of this little flashlight*. If your guy likes practical gifts, this is a no brainer. It will quickly become a daily pocket staple. 

Hankies

This one is more for whoever does the laundry in your house. My husband needs a tissue in his pocket 24/7. It wasn’t long after we got married that I got super fed up with picking tissue fragments out of the washer and dryer. My solution? I purchased these tissue sized handkerchiefs* for my husband. They have been great. If one gets washed in his pocket, it’s no big deal, now it’s clean. He bought into using these pretty easily too. He seems to like them better. He tends to carry around one tissue for I don’t even want to know how long (ick) and these hankies hold up a lot better than a tissue. For an added touch, you (or your older child) could try your hand at embroidery and add his initials to them. I ordered my husband a nice handkerchief with his monogram from Etsy and gave it to him at the same time as these. Well, the second batch of these*. We now have quite a collection. 3 sets I think. 

Leatherman Wave Multitool

PSA from my Husband: If the gifts on this list sound like a good fit for your husband, then he probably already has a Leatherman. So, make sure to check before you make the purchase.

Another tool in my husband’s actual belt. Literally, on his belt every day. This Inspector Gadget style multi-tool* has everything a manly man could need. 18 different tools are packed into this “knife”. Check it out*

Side note: If you are looking for a good pocket knife for your man (or yourself), I recommend Kershaw knives. I’ve had this one* for years and love it! 

Continuing on our “gifts that fit in pockets” theme…

Magpul iPhone Case

Does your husband still have an iPhone SE? Not the new one that just came out that is not the same size as the original (really, Apple?), but the old one from years back. Yes, mine too. This has been his go-to phone case* for years and years. He likes that it doesn’t add bulk to his phone, fits in his pockets nicely, and is a little grippy. The fact that it is “olive drab” doesn’t hurt either. He loves it and I can’t imagine him getting anything else, but it doesn’t offer quite enough protection in my opinion. As evidenced by the cracked screen he is sporting these days. However, he has used this case for years and this is his first cracked screen. He buried a phone with the bulldozer, but no case would have helped in that situation. They have cases for newer phone models too*.

Moving on from pocket-friendly items… let’s talk about books. 

I asked my husband for a book recommendation and he immediately said The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander*. It is a leadership book where a former Delta Force Commander applies what he learned in combat to everyday life using stories from his time in Delta Force. My husband has been loaning this book around to all his friends.  

I recently gave him Elisabeth Elliot’s book The Mark of a Man: Following Christ’s Example of Masculinity*. He read it and liked it. Elisabeth Elliot wrote this book as a letter to her nephew, similarly to how she wrote Let Me Be a Woman* (one of my favorites) as a letter to her daughter. 

I could give you a ton more. My husband is a big reader. Let me know in the comments if you would like more book recommendations for husbands and I’ll see what I can do!

Continuing into the practical gift genre…

Quip Toothbrush

I recently converted from a Sonicare toothbrush to a Quip electric toothbrush*. It has been over 6 months, and while there was an adjustment period, I am pleased with the switch. I like the slimness of the toothbrush, the holder/travel case, and the affordable refill plans. For $5 every 3 months you get a new head and replacement battery for your toothbrush automatically in the mail (not required). This is great. No guessing when the last time you changed your toothbrush head, no spending time trying to find the best deals on replacement heads (I think the cheapest I found Sonicare heads was $6/each), and no going longer than you should because you’re waiting on a sale (guilty!). Well, my husband is on his third Sonicare toothbrush since we got married a little over 3 years ago. When his Sonicare gave out this last time, I gave him my handle and I switched to Quip*. It is on its last leg now and I already have a quip toothbrush waiting for him when it does give out. Sonicare provides a superior clean with less effort, but the expense and reduction in quality make Quip my choice. Quip* is an acceptable step down from Sonicare and other electric toothbrushes like it, but a big step up from a manual toothbrush.

Referral Offer: Free $5 Refill when you use my link!

The Necessities: Food and Water

My husband took on a huge project in 2018. It required very strenuous physical labor and a 2-hour commute every day. It took him almost a year to finish it and he did an amazing job. I have never seen him more exhausted and I’ve never been more proud. I will have to dedicate a whole post to this project at some point, but for now, it is just an intro to the next two gift ideas. I purchased the next two items for him during this project and they served him well. 

Lunch Box

What dad doesn’t need a manly lunch box? My husband was pleasantly surprised when I got this one* for him. He had been using my nice lunch box and getting it all dirty. This is more his speed than my floral one. He, of course, got a green one, but it doesn’t look like they sell it anymore. This same brand has this new model that looks good though. This lunch box* spent a year doing its thing and taking a beating and it is still in good usable condition, however, my husband doesn’t use it much anymore now that his project is over. 

Water Jug

In addition to a lunch bag, a large water jug is a summer must-have for the hard-working man. My husband was a slow Yeti covert just like me. He, also like me, thought it was a marketing gimmick. Fast forward 3 years and several Yeti products later and he is a reluctant convert. While we both think most of their products are a little over the top, we do like their drinkware. I got him the big 64-ounce jug and it was literally life-sustaining on his project. We used these big ice cube trays* to fill it with ice each morning. The ice lasted all day and he was able to refill it as needed and have ice cold water all day, even in the middle of a hot South Carolina summer. I don’t think he would have survived without it. He just pulled it out to start using it this summer. We did purchase a straw cap* for it to make drinking from it easier. He didn’t actually use the internal straw though, he just tilts it up to drink. If your husband works outside in the hot summer months, I highly recommend a Yeti jug. Unfortunately, they retired this model. They have a new half-gallon model* though that actually looks more functional. They also have a 36-ounce option* that would probably work well too if you refilled more often.

Pro Tip: I usually order direct from Yeti. They have free ground shipping and sometimes their prices are better, so make sure and check. You can also add an engraving. I won’t get a commission if you do, but that’s ok. 🙂

Now, moving into the spoil your husband category…

Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul

My husband grew up in Colorado where his family loved having a real fire in the fireplace as much as possible. As a result, he is no stranger to splitting wood. Every year, when we go visit, he still spends a morning or afternoon splitting a huge stack of firewood for his parents. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the need for firewood in South Carolina is mainly for outdoor fires on summer nights. Regardless, every self-respecting man owns a good splitting maul, so he put this particular, really nice, splitting maul* on his gift list. I gave it to him for our first married Christmas. He used it this week actually and commented on how nice it is to use. *Bonus* Watching your husband split firewood is pretty hot. Just saying… 

Scotch

You can’t go wrong with a nice scotch (unless your husband doesn’t like scotch or he doesn’t drink). Is there a nice bottle of Scotch your husband has been wanting to try or own? If you don’t know your husband’s version of a nice Scotch, you could always go to a nice liquor store and tell them what your husband does like and ask what they would recommend. My husband recently tried Lagavulin and wasn’t a big fan at first, but it grew on him and now he would be very happy to have a bottle of his own. Personally, the only scotch I genuinely enjoy is Aberlour. That probably means it is a good one for husbands who are interested in dipping their toes in the world of scotch. 

The next best thing…

I am sure you know of one piece of equipment your husband would love to upgrade. You know, that item that seems to always need upgrading. I wouldn’t go this route unless you are familiar with what your husband has already and what he wants next. These types of items can be like trucks, don’t buy your man a “Chevy” when he is a “Ford” man. Or Toyota in my case. You know your husband and likely already have an idea of what this item would be for your husband.  If not, ask him. He will probably love to tell you all about it. Maybe the gift could be a “coupon” to upgrade an item of his choice?

Night Away

When I asked my husband for ideas for this post, this last one surprised me. He usually isn’t a getaway type of guy. Since he works away from home half the year when he is home he usually wants to be home. I say all that to say, your husband may secretly want a night away with you too. Give Grandma a call to watch the children and see if you can find a nice B&B nearby and get away for the night. This might pair well with the splitting maul. 😉 

Well, there you have it. The gift guide for the man who comes home smelling like diesel fuel.  

What would you add to the list to help other wives? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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