Sunday, September 6, 2009

Household Wisdom

Yesterday I was checking out Yahoo News on line, and I read an article (it was supposed to be earth shaking news I’m sure) about ‘How to Clean Your House in Ten Minutes’. As usual it was a misleading headline. It really was ‘How to Tidy Your House in Ten Minutes’. It was a good article with lots of practical tips for the 10 minute ‘blitz’. It got me to thinking!

Part of my work role is to facilitate workshops and seminars to groups. Two years ago I developed a curriculum for a women’s service group. This was geared towards coaching a resourceful lifestyle to young moms on low or fixed income. Generally what I notice is that most young women today do not have the great training in Household Wisdom that I had when I was growing up.

I like being ‘McFrugal’. I like being conscious about how to create a great quality of life, without having a huge price tag attached. Surprisingly enough, the biggest barrier to an abundant life style isn't a lack of money. When you have the blinders of 'povery mentality' on, you will never have enough; you will never see your life beyond struggle no matter how much money you have. As any business person will tell you, you never count an inventory of 'what you don't have'.

As my Mom would say, “It’s not what you make; it’s what your save”.

I say "When the going gets tough, the tough get creative".

All of my 20 years in private practice, (except for a 2 year stint where I rented an office downtown, and a three month stint in a naturopath’s clinic) have accommodated my practice within my home. I have lived in an apartment in the city, in my own home in the country, in a lake shore cabin in the middle of nowhere, in a downtown studio over top of a retail store. At the present time my office is in my duplex home in a residential neighbourhood, close to the downtown core.

Through all of this, my business has moved, morphed and grown with me. To be more accurate, rather than describe that I work were I live, I actually live where I work. The advantages are many and most of them are obvious. I don’t feel so scattered. I can control the atmosphere, so both my clients and I are more comfortable, my overhead is lower so that my fees are affordable for the ‘many’ and I can put my free moments to productive use.

The down side is that my home life always threatens to impact my work life.

So getting back to the ten minute tidy blitz; my home and workplace have always had to be ten minutes away from being customer ready at all times. If I were to let big messes go and had to do a huge cleaning every time I had a client booked, I would go stark-raving-bonkers! Efficiency and clarity are tops on my list. My kitchen is my customer entry point, so this makes housekeeping issues high on my priority.

Here are my tips for staying sane:

Tip# 1: Never, never, ever, use the oven to cook food. This means I never have to clean it (I’ve never cleaned an oven in my life and I’m not kidding! A girl has to draw the line somewhere). Use the oven to store dirty dishes temporarily out of sight. Want to bake? Get a small convection oven. A word to the wise, if you have a plastic dishpan stored in your oven, tape over the control knob to avoid disaster.

Tip#2: If you have a dishwasher and are efficient in loading and unloading, God-Bless-You and ignore all of the above. I don’t have a full sized range where I am right now, so I keep a plastic dishpan stored permanently in a cupboard. It keeps the counters clear and keeps me sane. It is amazing how peaceful one can feel when ones space is not marred by a last minute assortment of dishes.

Tip#3: I use a plastic bread storage container to wash my dishes. This is half the width of the work side of the sink, so it is easy to wash/rinse and put in drainer. I use an inside the sink drainer rack in the other sink. This keeps the counters clear.

Tip#4: Put dish detergent (a Green product) right onto a sponge that has one abrasive side and a smooth side. This way you will use less soap and it will have better grease cutting action.

Tip#5: When you can’t get to the dishes right away and to keep a small job small, (and you are going to store them in a dishpan in the oven remember?), rinse off the goop first. Within the dishpan I always keep a mason jar half full of water and detergent to soak cutlery. I dislike washing cutlery and hate those dried bits.

Tip# 6: Do small tidy jobs as you go? Wipe down the bathroom at the last minute with the hand towel and then throw it in the laundry. Replace with a clean towel. Recently, one of my chums gave me a 'mucho grande' fibre pad, made especially for bathroom sink and tub cleaning. It only needs cold water to do a fantastic job. I would fight to the death to keep this tool!

Tip# 7: Providing hand soap in a foam dispenser really helps to keep your vanity, clear and hygienic for public use. Of course McFrugal loves how it stretches out the cost. To one cup of distilled water add 1 Tbs of organic shower gel. My flavour of the month is ‘Satsuma’.

Tip# 8: I have a basket full of very small hand towels sitting right by the sink. There is a wicker hamper right below. This avoids the waste and cost of paper products and still creates hygiene for my clients. I made the cloths from a piece of flannel I bought on sale, and of course McFrugal loves this too.

Tip# 9: Keep cleaning supplies simple and natural. It is the attention, not the stuff that gets the job done. I have concerns about toxic floor products, especially in regard to pets and infants who are making direct contact. For cleaning wood, tile or vinyl floors I put a tablespoon of Murphy’s Oil Soap in a spray bottle. I spray 6 ft. square areas at a time, and immediately damp mop. The floors in all four rooms plus hallway takes me 10 minutes to clean - tops. I do a through job in the corners once a month.

Tip# 10: Dollar stores have synthetic fibre cleaning cloths designed for specific jobs that are fantastic. At a bargain shop I bought a large head mop with 2 different interchangeable (wet/dry) mop pads for under fourteen dollars. (This brilliant find sent McFrugal right to the local Bistro to celebrate with a Vanilla Soy Latte.)

Tip# 11: For glass and mirrors, use white vinegar/water in a spray bottle with just one drop of dish soap. For extra dirty glass, wash window first then use the vinegar spray and polish with newspaper or a special glass fibre cloth.

Tip# 12: Lingering odours, especially from cooking can really impact the home office. For general cleaning a drop or 2 of essential oils in your hot wash water with a drop or two of dish soap can really freshen up your space.

Tip# 13: I use a natural lime or orange room spray when I start my workday, before clients come through the door. In the summer I spray this in front of the fans so it spreads fast. I routinely spray this product into a paper lunch bag, twist the top closed and put this on a shelf in my clothes and laundry closets.

Tip# 14: To discourage mould and mildew, don’t leave wet stuff in a heap. I put wet washcloths and the like to soak with hot water and oxygen bleach. For a bacteria and mould free space, make your own cleaner. To one gallon of hot water add ½ cup of Borax Powder and 10-30 drops of Tea Tree Oil and 5 drops (or more) of dish soap. This can also be used for large areas by using a small hand held pressure sprayer, but the area must be thoroughly dried out after with a dehumidifier or heater.

Tip# 15: To make a general powder cleanser mix equal parts borax powder and baking soda in an airtight jar with shaker lid. Put a couple drops of essential oil on a little bit of paper towel or cloth and bury it in the powder mixture. The powder will take on the scent. This can be used to disinfect and scour sinks and tubs gently, as well as being used to deodorize and clean carpets. Sprinkle on your carpet and use a long handled brush or stiff broom to work into fibres. Wait 15 minutes or more and vacuum.

Tip# 16: Have a junk box/basket and throw in any out of place objects and sort them when you have a moment. Don’t let this build or you will go out of your mind!

Tip# 17: Store all your knickknacks and accent decor in a box and only bring out one special item at a time. This makes it easy to dust (with a mitt or cloth that has been lightly sprayed with water/Murphey's). This helps you create one beautiful focal point in a room at a time. This helps to keep your world open and clear. Cluttered space, cluttered mind.

Tip# 18: Floors are for walking. This means you never have to look down, and your space has a clear open feel. Hang things on the wall, invest in shelving units; create group seating to get away from the habit of pushing all furniture to the walls. Create walk isles and pathways where traffic naturally flows. All in all, do anything in your power to create some open clutter-free space.

Tip# 19: God invented shelves and baskets for a reason. This creates organization and decreases clutter. For me this equals a clean, stress free environment that can be tidy at a moments notice.

Perhaps I’ve been overly wordy; however it is my chance to do one better over 'an earth-shaking news report'. Your home should be an oasis for your soul, not your own private horror show.

p.s. Any reporters out there who want more earthshaking news? I am available for comment.

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