...because home doesn't happen overnight.

clean house

It’s no secret that one of the perks of living small is a quicker cleaning routine. Our previous house was >2,700 square feet laid out over two floors and it took me a good 1-2 days to clean it thoroughly. At the time, I was working as a pharmacist and eventually I hired a housekeeper to come in once a month for a deep clean. (Initially, I felt extremely guilty and hoity-toity about hiring help. But the first time I came home to a clean house that I hadn’t cleaned, all negative feelings subsided.) I would try to follow a daily cleaning schedule to stay on top of things in between the deep cleans but I felt like I was constantly cleaning. Cleaning that house was the bane of my existence.

Fast forward to 2015 and cleaning still isn’t my favorite pastime but it’s much less painful in a smaller house. Not only do I have less house to clean, I have less stuff to clean. And I love it. I gave up the daily cleaning schedule in exchange for once-a-week whole house cleans. Daily cleaning isn’t necessary in this smaller space and, honestly, I enjoy an entire just-cleaned house. Otherwise, I start thinking about what isn’t clean or what I have to clean the next day.

At first, I did whole house cleans on Saturdays. I thought that everyone would pitch in and things would go more quickly. This went on for months unsuccessfully. Yes, everyone was home. Yes, everyone had a job to do. But it wasn’t quick. At all. We didn’t have a good rhythm. Not to mention, we were spending our rare family time cleaning. And as soon as the house was deemed clean, everyone was home to mess it up again in no time.

So I made the executive decision to stop cleaning house on weekends. Now I clean house on Mondays and, I have to say, it’s wonderful. We do laundry over the weekend but it’s a task that is easily broken up and sprinkled into our schedule with little disruption. On Sunday nights, we do a quick pickup of the entire house. On Monday mornings after everyone is off to school / work, (Mabrey and) I clean. I finally have a good routine and can clean the entire house in a little over an hour. I start wiping, dusting and vacuuming in the kitchen and then work my way into the living room and mudroom. Once the common areas are done, I check off the bedrooms. (Bed linens are washed over the weekend so things go quickly.) I use a Bona floor mop on the hardwoods throughout before moving on to the bathrooms. I finish up in the master bathroom where I clean the tub while I shower to save time. When I’m all done, I have several hours to enjoy a clean house before the post-school / post-work chaos ensues. I savor it.

Of course, we still have daily chores (emptying dishwasher, post-meal cleanup, litter box scooping, wiping down bathroom counters, taking out the trash, putting toys away, etc.) to attend to during the week but those are things that happen regardless. I think the biggest difference with this cleaning routine is that I’m not cleaning in anticipation of guests when I clean on Mondays. It’s more of a maintenance thing and I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor afterward. On the weekends, I’ve stopped fretting about our house’s appearance and focus on the people around me instead. Plus, I realized that most of our guests don’t really notice the difference between a Saturday clean versus a Monday clean (as long as we tidy up, wipe down the bathroom counters and swirl a brush around in the toilets before their visit). One weekend we had our good friends over and when they arrived I was folding a pile of laundry in the living room. My girlfriend said, “I’m so happy to see laundry in your living room! It’s like a real house.”

What about you? How long does it take you to clean your (big or small) home? Do you follow a daily schedule or do you prefer whole house cleans? Do you clean on weekends? Any advice for quicker cleans? Obviously, this routine works for us because I’m home. If you work outside of the house, don’t feel guilty about hiring out if you can afford it! And I would encourage you to choose a day of the week that allows you to enjoy your clean house as much as possible on your time off.

P.S. – A quick cleaning tip from my grandma: Lay old newspapers or used tissue paper on the top of exposed upper cabinetry to collect dust. On cleaning day, just fold up the papers and replace. Easy!

P.S.S. – My quick cleaning tips are: 1) Start with a tidy house. (I’m easily distracted if I have to walk into another room to put something away.) 2) Keep cleaning tools and products close to where you use them. 3) Let little kids wipe down base cabinets and call it done even if you would do it better. 4) Buy a smaller house! Get rid of stuff!

More cleaning-related posts: how I clean the globe lights, how I clean the wood floors.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.*

Congrats to Trudy and Nathan who would like to try the orange apple fruit chews and the pineapple coconut bar, respectively.

I’ve had requests to share what a typical day is like for me. The thing is, every day is different and not all that exciting. But I figured, what the heck!, and documented a random day earlier this week. Spoiler alert: it’s not as glamorous as you think. I’m just a normal mom trying my best to make it through these long days and short years without letting my health, sanity and passions fall by the wayside. Get ready for some very candid, very real photos. (It was a no makeup, no shower day. Not all that unusual actually.)

morning

midnight – 7:45 a.m. I’m up with Mabrey eight times during the night. I thought she had the “big kid” bed all figured out but I was wrong.

6:30 – 7:45 a.m. Steve gets the boys up and off to school so I can catch some zzzzz’s but, in reality, I just lie in bed replaying the night’s events on the back of my eyelids like a bad movie. I am exhausted before the day even starts. Mabrey throws open the door. Good morning! She is unfazed by the lack of sleep. I get up, wash my face, make the bed and plod to the kitchen for breakfast.

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. We eat breakfast: fried uncured ham, toast with honey from one of Steve’s co-worker’s beehives (it’s the best honey I’ve ever had) and green juice that Steve made. Mabrey leans over several times while we’re eating to tell me secrets. I love you, she whispers. Suddenly last night doesn’t seem so awful in retrospect. Steve is working from home today. I thank him for the juice and for getting the boys off to school. I empty the dishwasher, load it back up with dirties and clean up the kitchen.

mabrey bath

cheetah

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. I attempt to edit some photos for a blog post while Mabrey plays with Play-doh but it’s nearly impossible. She wants me to play with her. I feel like I’m half-assing both tasks so I shut my laptop and try to keep her happy and quiet while Steve works nearby. After a while, Mabrey and I go to my room so I can get dressed. In the few minutes it takes me to dress, Mabrey sneaks into the bathroom and rubs big clumps of Steve’s hair gel into her own hair. I try combing it out but it’s useless. I give her a bath while Cheetah supervises.

naturebox snacks

tennis snack

we're off!

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Mabrey and I prepare to run errands. I have a tennis drilling session at noon but need to grab a few things from the store first. I make a list: toilet paper, paper towels, one of those childproof doorknob covers to prevent Mabrey from wandering the house at night. I pack Mabrey a NatureBox snack for the trip to the store: mango orange fruit chews + praline pumpkin seeds. I also pack her a lunch to eat in the nursery at tennis while I’m drilling. If I eat lunch before tennis, I’m sluggish. Instead, I pack NatureBox’s dark chocolate berry trail mix, a banana and my water bottle. We’re off! I feel like I’m forgetting something.

target

11:00 a.m. – noon Mabrey eats her snack while I grab a few things. We check out. As I’m loading up our purchases, I remember that I forgot to grab Mabrey’s lunch I had packed at home. (I knew I was forgetting something!) I tell her. She loses it. I drive back home, grab her lunch and drive to tennis. I scarf down my banana and a palmful of trail mix. I pull into the parking lot right at noon. Mabrey has fallen asleep in her car seat. I feel a twinge of guilt and wonder if I should skip tennis to take Mabrey home for a nap she most desperately needs. Mabrey wakes up excited for “school.”

noon – 2:00 p.m. I drill with a fun group of ladies. (I played tennis in high school and just picked up a racket again in October after an 18-year hiatus.) I play like crap but it feels good to sweat it out. I get a boost of energy. I pick Mabrey up from the nursery. Her “teacher” informs me that Mabrey was unusually tired. Mabrey falls asleep on the way home.

lunch

2:00 – 2:45 p.m. I put Mabrey down for a nap. She doesn’t fight me at all. I’m so hungry. I eat lunch: cajun stew leftover from the previous night’s dinner + an apple with peanut cookie butter. I unload the car & Mabrey’s lunch bag and clean up the kitchen. Again. I scoop Cheetah’s litter box. I need to shower but don’t have enough time.

everett home

everett snack

everett snack

steve snack

2:45 – 3:30 p.m. Everett gets off the bus and pretends to fall down in the driveway while all the kids on the bus watch. (He does this every day. The first time he did it his bus driver stopped the bus to make sure he was okay. Everett = drama.) I make him oatmeal with almond milk and top it with NatureBox’s french toast granola + strawberries. He eats every. single. bite. He does his homework. I offer Steve – who eats a mostly paleo diet – NatureBox’s coconut date energy bites. He strikes a corny pose for the camera then threatens to post a picture of me eating in my pajamas on the internet.

layne home

layne snack

3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Layne is home from school. He brings in the day’s mail. He chooses a snack: carrot, apple, NatureBox’s praline pumpkin seeds. I sort the mail and parent-teacher communication. I’m reminded that I am chaperoning Layne’s field trip the next morning.

4:00 – 6:00 p.m. It’s too cold to play outside. Layne and Everett watch a movie while I edit photos (finally!) and attempt to wrangle my inbox. I am so behind. I really want to write a post but Mabrey wakes up from her nap. We cuddle for a while and I start contemplating dinner.

dinner help

everett color

layne reads

everett note

6:00 – 6:30 p.m. Mabrey helps me prepare dinner while Everett colors and Layne reads. We listen to Nickel Creek on Cone. Everett gives a love note to Steve who is hiding in our bedroom finishing up work. He decides he’s done and joins us in the kitchen.

dinner

6:30 – 7:15 p.m. We eat dinner: bacon-wrapped pollack, asparagus cooked in sesame oil with lemon mayo. Plus white cheddar mac-n-cheese for the kids. Plus rosé for me. The boys whine about the asparagus but they eat it anyway and we talk about how everyone’s pee is going to stink later. Each kid gets a mini frozen coconut sandwich bar as a reward for finishing their dinner.

tetonic plates

packing lunches

7:15 – 7:45 p.m. It’s kitchen cleanup time. Again. The kids bring their dishes to the sink. Steve loads the dishwasher while I wipe down the counters and sweep the floor. The boys get their pajamas on and brush their teeth. Mabrey needs a little help with hers. Layne shows everyone his school project on tectonic plates. All three kids commence play-wrestling in the living room. I pretend not to hear the words “butt” and “poop.” Steve packs the boys’ lunches for the next day and gets a little help from Mabrey. I go to feed Cheetah but discover Mabrey has already fed her…a week’s worth of food…in her water bowl.

7:45 – 8:05 p.m. We meditate.

8:05 – 8:30 p.m. Bedtime stories for Everett and Mabrey. Hugs, kisses, lights out. I realize I forgot to buy a doorknob cover for Mabrey’s room earlier in the day. It was even on my list! Steve rushes off to buy one just in case we need it. I really hope Mabrey sleeps.

8:30 – 9:00 p.m. Layne reads then heads to bed. Steve is back with a 4-pack of doorknob covers. We decide to hold off on installing one until Mabrey is awake. Don’t wake a sleeping dragon!

9:00 – 10:00 p.m. Steve sits next to me in the living room while I edit MORE PHOTOS. At 10:00, he gives me a quick kiss and goes to bed.

cheetah

10:00 p.m. – 12:45 a.m. With Cheetah snoozing at my side, I finish editing photos, write a post and respond to the most pressing emails in my inbox. I throw in the towel. I need a shower still but I’m too tired. I’ll have to get up extra early the next morning to squeeze in a shower. I change into my pajamas, wash my face, brush my teeth, set my alarm and slide into bed. It’s frigid and I think about summer and warm sunshine and wonder why the hell I live in Ohio. But I’m grateful for our snug lil’ house, my healthy family and a full day. Cheetah curls up at my feet. I’m out within minutes.

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Ground-breaking stuff, eh? Like I said, every day is different. On the days I don’t have tennis, I try to work out at home. Some nights I stay up until 2:00 a.m. cranking out a post just because that’s the only time I have to do it. Once a week, I get groceries. About once a week, Steve brings home dinner. We try to keep things pretty healthy most of the time but indulge every now and then.

NatureBox snacks are a great fit for our lifestyle. We pack them for school, work and on the go. I love that they are free of high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats and artificial sweeteners / flavors / colors. The kids love the way they taste. Eaten on their own or paired with fresh produce, yogurt, oatmeal, etc., they are the perfect pick-me-up. With over 100 snacks to choose from, there’s something for everyone. (I was stoked to see many new options!) I like to keep them on hand for when our groceries are running low and I can’t make it to the store. The subscription service  allows me to choose new & healthy snacks each month. Are you interested in giving NatureBox a try? Keep reading for details on how to win a free 6-month subscription!

PRIZE: Two winners will each win a 6-month subscription to NatureBox.

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. or Canada.

TO ENTER: Browse the ample snack selection here. Then leave a comment on this post sharing which snack you’d most like to try.

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 12th. Two random winners will be announced Friday, February 13th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Join NatureBox today and score a FREE sample box of their most popular snacks. Click here to get started. Free trial is available for new and U.S. & Canadian subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.

Good luck and healthy snacking!

*This post is sponsored in part by NatureBox. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog. Even if you don’t end up subscribing, I hope you enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at my everyday.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

everything under the sink 1

Do you know what I like *almost* as much as peeking in homes? Peeking in closets and cabinets. Show me an organized closet and I melt. I’ve always been this way. I like things tidy. My mom tells stories about me removing all the clothes from my dresser drawers, refolding them and putting everything back. For fun. As a kindergartener. #notnormal

I still like tidy but I’ve learned to let go over the years. (You kinda have to when kids are involved.) One area that got away from me was the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I remember the day we moved in thinking it could greatly benefit from some sort of organization. But I didn’t make it a priority and just threw stuff down there for nearly THREE YEARS.

everything under the sink 2

The cabinet itself is fairly large but a garbage disposal sits directly in the center, dividing the cabinet in half. And the vertical space wasn’t being optimized at all. I figured now was as good a time as any to get my kitchen s#!t in order.

everything under the sink 3

I cleared out the cabinet and installed this undersink organizational caddy to the right of the disposal.

everything under the sink 4

I attached a bag holder to one door. (I use reusable shopping bags but plastic bags still manage to make their way into our home sometimes.) It came with adhesive strips so I didn’t have to screw into the cabinet door. I stacked a trio of wire shelves to the left of the disposal to take advantage of the vertical space.

everything under the sink 5

The wire shelves corral (from top to bottom) hand soap refill, room freshener, dish sponges, Magic Erasers and kitchen trash bags. I find it helpful to remove most things from their packaging. I slid a few paper bags in alongside the shelves. Replacements filters for our in-fridge water dispenser are hidden behind the shelves. A handheld vacuum fits perfectly under the disposal. Various cleaning supplies and a spare roll of paper towels occupy the caddy.

everything under the sink 6

The caddy slides out on a track for easy access. I keep a large jug of vinegar behind it. I use the vinegar as an inexpensive rinsing agent in the dishwasher…among other things.

everything under the sink 7

The caddy lifts up and out of the cabinet so you can carry it around from room to room on cleaning days if you want. Our house is so small that I probably won’t use it that way but it’s a nice feature.

everything under the sink gif

Peep show! And just like that, everything has a place. My only wish is that I’d have done it sooner.

Do you have any tips for undersink organization? What are you organizing these days? I don’t know if it’s the new year or cabin fever, but I’ve been on an organizing binge these last few weeks.

P.S. – Snoop inside my closets here, here, here, here, here and here.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking