Tag: cleaning

Not House Beautiful

A discussion on the Christian Unschooling Facebook group got me thinking about my kitchen and how, as unschoolers, it gets and stays relatively clean.  We still don’t do chores though we all pitch in once a week for Sabbath prep (we all take a room and clean up– not perfect just make it nice and put things away so we can have a Sabbath without concern for messes or things not put away.)  There are no battles about it, the kids all choose what they want to do and help since they know it makes things nice for Sabbath and they love showing off their work “Mom, I did the living room!  Come see how nice it looks!”


One of the keys for me personally is trying to keep clutter low (I go through and get rid of when I notice things accumulating.  Sometimes a kid helps and sometimes no.)  Another trick has been having enough storage and it organized in a way that it is simple to put things away.  Part of that for me is NOT having cupboard doors.  When I have doors I hide things behind them which means mess lurking where I don’t want to deal with it.  My kids are the same way so we use the cupboards below the counter minimally  other wise they turn into insta-traps.

I have this whole out of site out of mind thing that is kind of irritating– if I can’t see it regularly and store it in my brain that that is where it is I forget and can’t find it.  And being the person that everyone looks to when they can’t find something I need to know where things are and remember where I last saw it.  Instead of trying to make things beautiful we aim for convenient and neat looking.  When I make changes I discuss them with the family (you wouldn’t believe the grief I got for MONTHS for changing the silverware drawer without discussion).

We don’t have a lot of spare change for organizing things so I use things I find on clearance (like the baskets in the other photos), at the thrift shop, or things that are free like the clementine boxes that are my spice racks.

I also use a lot of hooks and jars (I don’t store in plastic).  I keep things I use regularly out where I see them  so I can easily access them because then I am more likely to use them (for instance baking and cooking happen more often when I can see my favorite pans and bowls without having to search the trap which is the pan cupboard down below.)  Also keeping things near where they are regularly used makes it easier for everyone.  Utensils for cooking and knives are readily available near the stove.  There are plastic cutting boards everywhere that people tend to cut (which eliminates cutting marks on my counter since they will automatically cut there whether there is  cutting board or not.)

The teas we drink regularly as well as the coffee are by our water heating tool (aka microwave).  We use fancy canning jars as drinking glasses since they are cheap, easy to hold, and have lids for quick storage when someone realizes they don’t want what they poured.  Also cool is the ridges at the top are perfect for a colored pigtail holder  to keep track of who’s cup is who’s.)
I keep my dish washing stuff close at hand since then I and the kids) am more likely to remember to do dishes and use the dish drainer and brushes (the brushes are in the pitcher on the window sill.)

Another view of our dish and tea cupboard.  We have a shelf on the counter as it is easier for the kids to put dishes away if they can reach.  Our dishes are all mismatched sets  and most of them are ones Rachel bought me for my birthday or ones given to us by a friend.  I have a thing for square plates and rice bowls so we have an eclectic mix of those.  Also we each have favorite types of coffee/tea cups so those all hang  even though we don’t need so many (no one is willing to give up their favorites.: ))  The jar set on the second shelf was made by my grandfather and is kind of tricky since some of the lids don’t fit perfectly and fall off at random– this would be why they are sitting straight up instead of at an angle.  Nothing like nearly being clonked on the head with a large wooden and porcelain lid.

The front pantry is an old metal medicine cupboard that was my grandparents.  The basket on top is full of our daily supplements, the little cups to the right are tomorrows vitamins  for the family, the red overnight suitcase is our medicine cabinet of various herbal remedies and the brown basket below is full of herbal cough drops for the cold that has been circulating our family.  This cabinet has whatever is in use daily– nuts, dried fruit, homemade grain free granola, and chocolate.

Our homemade back pantry.  Growing up my grandparents and my parents both had an awesome walk in pantry and I have been wanting one for forever.  I finally took the metal shelves from the girls room and made a red-neck version so I have a place to store all our teas,orders from Amazon, my milk run cooler, empty jars, kombucha, and other ferments.

The baskets on top of the fridge have Shamus’ pretzels and other foods that are just his so the kids are tempted to eat his stuff (still on the GAPS diet and they requested that things like that be out of site.  The two fridges hold our beef, raw milk, and ferments.  The one on the left is the regular fridge where left overs etc go, the one of the right is overflow and storage.

And if you are wondering…yes, I cleaned up and did the dishes before taking photos though no deep cleaning.  Sorry, you, dear reader, don’t warrant a deep cleaning.  I needed to clean anyway since tomorrow is Sabbath Prep so now I have one less thing to do.

Plank Pullin’: Packrat edition

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5, style.

So, I have been talking a lot about this new adventure where we don’t tell my kids to do chores anymore and they actually step in and do stuff around the house when asked (once only) or even, get this, without  being asked!  A lot?  It is the ONLY thing I have been talking about lately but that is because it is HUGE for us and it is taking up a lot of my thinky brain– you all will be TOTALLY SICK OF IT by the time I am finished, trust me. It is almost as if this whole “unschoooling” thing actually works when applied to other areas of life– who knew (and those of you who did, hush up– you have one a beautiful job not saying I told you so and I would appreciate it if you continued NOT saying I told you so. :))

So, it is still on my mind because I am still working through it so of course this week’s Plank Pullin’ is totally about that.

Here is the thing: I am messy. I like to have things look neat and deliberately get rid of clutter so it is easier to keep things neat (used to be a total pack rat–took 6 moves to make me stop)– when we have a lot of stuff I stash things and pile all the stuff I don’t know what to do with in one corner/drawer/cupboard/out of site.   My husband is fairly messy as well– he likes things neat and clean (no bugs) and will keep his desktop clean (well he declutters a lot more often than I do– you do NOT get to see my desktop but just know that as long as I have a spot for my water bottle I am happy) and if something starts bugging him he will do something about it, not complain to me about it.  He is also my absent minded professor– so when someone asks who left the cheese out, it was probably him. 🙂

So WHY am I surprised that my kids are packrats and tend to leave things behind when they are doing something (my oldest especially.)  They get it from US!  And my biggest pet peeve, the stufing and putting off doing something?  ME! ME! ME!  They get it from ME!


You see, this week I helped my oldest rearrange her room (so she had a “wall” between her and her younger sister’s bed) and whilst doing that helped her clean the pile of junk she shoved into the closet when she was having company.  I was angry and irritated about that pile.  REALLY irritated.  I had been asking her to clean it up for over a month.  This time I stopped asking and just helped because I knew she hated the mess and was overwhelmed by it.  I was also upset that she still had a laundry basket full of clean clothes sitting on the floor.  She gave me all sorts of excuses and I just got cranky about it.

The things is?  I have a similar pile in my bedroom. Several similar piles.  Sure they aren’t full of garbage like hers (well the bottom of my closet might be since that is where presents get stashed and all those little wrappers and tags end up there, and there might be packing materials and random bits of stuff mixed in with the big pile but…..)  I also have a pile of clothes that I can’t be bothered to hang up (because I forget what I have if I hang it up–the closet door closes and I can’t see through it :)) and a huge pile of things that I have move from other parts of the house as we cleaned– because I didn’t know what to do with this stuff.

Did you see the excuses?


See God keeps showing me that MY attitude and actions are what the kids are seeing and copying (also that some of this stuff is just hereditary–you should see all the stuff my brother’s collect, and my dad, and my grandparents:)).  So whether I choose to clean up my own act I REALLY need to remember that I have my own messes to deal with first, THEN I can help them clean up theirs.

I have also found that when something really doesn’t work for them I need to adapt things so they WILL work for them.  Which is why my kids don’t have drawers– they, like me, stash things in drawers then forget about them (every drawer in our house is a junk drawer except those in the kitchen cabinets that hold designated items).  They used to dump their drawers on the floor every time they got dressed.  So we got rid of the drawers and put in shelves.  We find that having too many clothes leads to mess–they get overwhelmed looking for things that actually fit/feel right, so we go through and get rid of what doesn’t fit or feel right.  If a certain type of storage doesn’t work for me, I get rid of it and move to something that does, so we do the same thing for them. 🙂

Just had some tea with my oldest and discussed all the things that we have in common, that drive each other crazy– the messes, staying up all night playing video games, the interrupting, the… you get the idea.  And she pointed out how angry she used to get when I would yell at her for something that I do.  Yeah.  Working on it.


A Day in the Life 28: The Messy House– Determination and Maintenance Mode

I am determined to have a relatively clean house.

I am determined to eliminate most of the clutter.

I am sick of the constant mess my mess makers leave behind.


It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how much they have more with their inability to remember to put something away when done with it. (One year we took away all but a couple clothes and toys for the summer–instead they left a trail of paper messes and their drawers were constantly empty of clothes.)

Part of the problem is that I am bad at maintenance, my husband is bad at maintenance, and thus so are our children.


I am very good at doing a big clean up and getting a room to look good for a day or two, maybe even a week if the kids are spending all their time outside. The problem is that once a room is clean the kids descend on it like bees to honey and promptly play there until there is a huge mess. They then move to another location to play instead of cleaning up their mess. Since I am often occupied elsewhere when this occurs I don’t realize it until later and by then they are off somewhere else making new messed. And if the place has already been relatively messy? Well, then I don’t even notice the new mess.


You see my husband and I are both project people. He is a left-brained thinker–always a list and he is motivated by what is on that list. His list includes all his work projects, exercise, eating, and his office. He stays focused on that list and doesn’t notice what is outside that list–unless he steps in something wet or has to step over toys or search for a clean dish. This is why my main goal is keeping his path clear (and he has a set path) so that he can focus on his work. Occasionally he will notice something beyond what is in his path–which is usually when we kick things into cleaning gear.


I on the other hand am a right-brained work by association sort. I don’t have a list I have a spiderweb of things I need to do with each associated to other things on the list.When I am tired or achy or getting sick then I want a clean house. I want things organized so I don’t have to worry about a bigger mess. Other times I am too focused on my current project to notice the rest of the mess. My brain doesn’t do lists and schedules–I have top work very,very hard to remember things when they are organized that way. Flylady doesn’t work for me–I resent being told to go clean my closet when I have other more pressing things that need done.

I have realized that instead of trying to force myself to keep on top of our rather large house (the rooms are rather big and we have a huge basement) I need to train my mess makers to clean up after themselves. Since they think similarly to their parents who don’t notice mess unless it is in the way of a project, that means I need to train them to see the mess first so they can clean it uip immediately. Which means that I need to notice it as well.

One trick I have learned over the years is to pray. I literally have to pray that my eyes would be open to see the mess as others see it. Suddenly I see things I hadn’t noticed.


I also need to withhold privileges and reserve the right to stop the kids from doing anything else until they have dealt with the mess. I hate making them stop what they are doing just to clean up a mess, especially since it is usually something very interesting and creative that they are doing but I need to be determined and make sure to keep up with them and if I do then they will eventually learn. It is not as simple as just instilling a habit would normally be since the older two have learning disabilities that keep simple repetition from teaching–there has to be more to it and it takes longer than it would with a typical person.I also need to continually attack the clutter. With a big house and lots of grandparents every holiday adds to the clutter.You can’t just get rid of stuff and be done. Right now I am praising the Lord that my mother-in-law got the kids each a beach towel and that is all for Easter. Everyone else got them tons of random junk that they didn’t need and which is making its way at this very moment into the yard sale bags. The clutterific gifts have been on the decline but they are still too much. Even if each set of grandparent only bought the kids each one thing for each holiday that would be 60 new things a year. And most of the grands buy more, much more.


My kids do not need 60 new things each year!!! IT is too much!!! And those 60 don’t take into account all the little random stuff that show up at our house when they are decluttering their stuff and all the other stuff they ask for when we stop at the thrift shop. No wonder we have too much!
We are working on it. Maybe it is time to halve all our stuff again? We do that every few years and it helps. We have 10 garbage bags full of toys and clothes that the kids want to use in a yard sale–I know there is more, much more to be rid of. Too much is too much.

Right now the kids are working on cleaning up their upstairs hallway. It is full of random little toys and stuff that needs dealt with. Yesterday we attacked their rooms. They were trashed and ready to implode. Earlier this week we cleaned downstairs and everythig is already undone because they kept playing down here.