Cabin fever is real, my friends. Here's how to tackle the winter blahs and tidy up.

Here in Michigan, we are experiencing some of the most severe weather in history this week. The term “polar vortex” was coined, and let me tell you - it is NO JOKE! As the snow drifts get higher, and the temperatures drop lower, I am starting to feel the walls creep closer. School is closed, the movie theater is closed, the USPS is not delivering mail, the list goes on. Literally, Michigan is closed today!

Cabin fever can strike even the most calm and collected person. I find that movement and purpose help me get through days like this. As well as gratitude for owning a business that can close when historic weather strikes.

Here are some of my favorite ways to keep busy, and be productive during a snowstorm:

  • Music: whatever your jam is, blast it! Or better yet, find something new to listen to.

  • Start with your main living area: tidy and put things away, reset couch and chair pillows, fold blankets, and organize surfaces like coffee tables and end tables. (*Bonus - have your kids do their own tidying by going through the house to find the items that belong to them.) Load and run the dishwasher, empty the trash, and vacuum high-traffic areas.

  • Upstairs: make your bed (have kids make their own if they’re able), do a general tidy, and empty trash cans. And if you’re feeling really energetic, swish your toilets out. (*Bonus - this is another great job for kids to do.)

  • Find the funk: still feeling like tackling clutter? Where are those areas of your house that could use attention? What are you always too busy to tackle?

    • For me, general clutter tends to build up in otherwise organized areas: drawers. While I have drawer dividers, clutter will end up in places that are hidden at my house - drawers, closets, and cabinets.

    • A good tidy of hidden areas every 3 months or so will guarantee that you are staying on top of clutter, and not letting it get out of control.

  • How to tidy:

    • Identify an area to tackle

    • Empty out the area (example, a kitchen drawer)

    • Group like items, and get rid of multiples

    • Name your purpose for that drawer - are there items that don’t belong? Put them where they belong

    • Go the extra mile: label interior drawers and cupboards, so that family members can follow suit!

  • Put your feet up: great work! If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to make something warm to drink, cozy up by the fire, and put your feet up! You’ve earned it!

Cabin Fever

How to get the most out of your cleaning appointment!

By request, I have put together a list of several tried and true tips to get the most out of your cleaning experience.  Enjoy!

  1. Don't forget when your appointment is! Setting a reminder in your phone or calendar can help jog your memory. When you are able to plan ahead for your team's arrival, you may have that extra moment leave a note with your priorities :)

  2. Schedule your appointment at the optimal time! Are you scheduled on a day and time that works best for you and your family? Does your cleaning team interrupt your family's day by being there at the wrong time? It is best to communicate this, and pick the best day and time for your family.

  3. Toilet brushes are a must! Having a functional toilet brush is like finding out it's pizza day at work ;) And if you have several bathrooms, having more than one brush would be amazing! :)

  4. Pets, pets, pets! When a cleaning team, a vacuum, and all of the magic of a cleaning appointment happens, it can cause pets anxiety. Helping your pets feel comfortable when your team is there is of top priority! Let your team know where the treats are, and if your pets can go outside as needed.

  5. Have a product you love? Even when your team brings products along, if you have something you absolutely love, let them know! It is another step in making the appointment the best it can be!

  6. Communication! Communication is key in this process. If you feel something is being missed, please communicate this. While we wish cleaning was a perfect experience, sometimes things are missed. Hearing what was missed, and ways to improve help so much.

  7. Get to know your cleaning team! Putting faces with names helps to bridge the gap, and make the experience more personal for you. Here at Oh So Clean, our teams work hard to make the magic happen, and focus on one goal: client satisfaction :) You can see their profiles by clicking this link to our Oh So Clean website!

Enjoy!!

Are you prepared for flu season?

Oh So Clean

The 2017-2018 flu season is upon us, and the nurse in me is itching to ask if you've received your flu shot ;)  Here is the latest CDC Influenza Recommendations for 2017.  (Of note, the nasal flu vaccine is not recommended for this flu season!)

Why is this relevant to staying clean and organized?  Because you need to be prepared for sick kiddos, family, and yourself.  Have you ever been stuck at home with no medicine, no tissues, and not a saltine in sight?  It's a terrible feeling!  Planning ahead for the school year should also include preparation for that dreaded call from school.  (Let's all knock on wood that it will avoid our houses altogether this year, right?)

To help me remember each year, I have chosen late August into early September.  I know mentally that back-to-school means I should check in with my pantry, medicine cabinet, and thermometer.

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Here is my fall checklist for back-to-school (naturally, your family may have different needs, but this is a short list of ours:)

  • Assess pantry (Stock up on chicken soup, saltine crackers, bouillon, chamomile, lemon, or ginger tea, oyster crackers, etc.). Label items that are to be saved, otherwise they disappear :)

  • Frozen goods (Popsicles, make-ahead ice packs, crushed ice in pre-made baggies). Again, if those popsicles aren't labelled, they may disappear ;)

  • Assess medicine cabinet (Is your thermometer working and age appropriate for kids? Assess your cough and cold medicine, throat lozenges, pain relievers, etc. Do you have enough for the season? **Be sure to check expiration dates!**

  • Tissues - always great to have on hand. Hand sanitizers, and antibacterial wipes are also helpful when someone is sick.

  • Emesis basin . . . AKA, the "puke bucket". While this may sound absolutely disgusting, having a plan for something that can catch an unexpected moment is necessary during flu season ;)

  • New toothbrushes to replace old ones when family members have been ill.

  • Make sure you have up-to-date phone numbers for family physicians (including an after-hours number if it's different from their daytime phone). Update school forms to include current emergency contact information. The school should have updated cell phone and work numbers for the adults in your household.

While I wish we could avoid the flu season altogether, at least we can approach it well prepared.  I wish you happiness and good health this season :)

Summer Challenge Series - Part 2 #clothes

Take a moment to think about your home, and the closets within.  Is there room to add more?  Are there extra hangers, and extra space?  One more question: do you LOVE your closet?  For many, it is a source of anxiety and stress.  The surefire way to decrease that stress is to sort through the chaos, and streamline your favorite pieces.

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Summer Challenge Series - Part 1 #inhale,exhale,repeat

It happens to the best of us . . . summer is here, and the panic sets in.  These thoughts might sound familiar:  "Did I actually PLAN anything this summer?  Do I have camp forms filled out, summer carpools arranged, babysitters lined up?  Do I actually have any PLANS?  Why is social media telling me everyone is going out for ice cream right now?  

As an energetic person (let's be honest - a bit "tightly wound", according to my family), I have practiced deep breathing the last several years.  It has a calming effect that is unwavering.  My mom recently taught me a new breathing trick mid-flight to California.  As you can imagine, I was panicked about the turbulence (I'm certain we were going down), and she had suggestions to help (she's one of those "yogis").  She had me do these three things: 

1.  Inhale slowly - counting to 8 or 10.

2.  Exhale slowly, letting all breath release.  Allow your stomach to push out as you exhale.

3.  Hold the end of the exhale for several moments.  Repeat all of the above.

It helped tremendously, and allowed distraction AND concentration all at once.  SO, for all of my lovely folks out there who are feeling like summer came too soon, there is hope for you yet.   Keep reading.

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With the guidance of a good friend, I adopted the "Life Calendar" a few years ago. It helped by tackling those feelings of overwhelm, feeling behind the 8-ball, and appearing disorganized.  Even the most methodical, well-intended human is bound to forget important details now and again.  While I love planning far in advance, I admit that I will forget it - unless I write it down.

So here is my recommendation:  Take a deep breath.  And write that stuff down.

A life calendar can be very simple (a piece of paper and a pencil), or very complex (Excel spreadsheet).  I tend to opt for paper and pencil, and then I start writing.

So here I sit, I have just finalized my life calendar for September 2017 through January, 2018 and beyond - which is a VERY busy time for our family.  Not only is it back to school time, but also a busy time in the world of cleaning and entrepreneurship.  Not to mention the beginning of flu season, which inhabits my husband's line of work for months on end.

The only way I keep everything straight is a life calendar.  It reels me in when summer hits - when my brain seems to go on vacation right along with the summer breeze.  Each month has its own page.  I keep a master list including everything that I need to do for the year, month-by-month.  Once I have my yearly plan of goals, dreams, and big to-dos, I review this plan on a monthly basis, assessing the next three months.  And you better believe it is up on my bulletin board for daily review.

Here is my September 2017 list, along with my planner of important dates.  As with everything in life, things come up - which is why there is plenty of room on my calendar for additional engagements.  It's not hard or complicated, and it certainly isn't rocket science, but it works.

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Later this month, I will review August, September, and October 2017 plans, and it continues from there.  The overall plan is a constant work in progress, but when I dedicate a small amount of time to my goals on a monthly basis, they are more manageable.  I tackle more, and carry less worry and panic alongside me.  I feel well prepared.

My favorite part about this simple system is that I am already easing myself into that crazy fall time - I know when I am going school shopping with the kids.  I know when I will book our fall yard cleanup, and I know I will need to order two sets of choir and band outfits (if I never encounter high-waters pants the day of a choir concert for the rest of time, I'm good).  I know that our chimney sweep company books far in advance, so I will not forget to book them (like years past).  I know I will need to make time for homecoming shopping for two teenagers, and I know my husband and I need to take time for ourselves at our anniversary.

With life going at full speed, having a plan allows me to gracefully accept things that are unplanned.  I no longer say "I am so busy!"  The truth is, I simply am not.  I am no busier than anyone else.  I know now that when I would say "I'm so busy", it was really code for "I am so disorganized, I have no plan!"

So go ahead.  Take this busy month of July, and plan ahead - you deserve that gift to yourself.  Take a deep breath, and understand that we are all in this together.  I challenge you to plan ahead with even the most simple tasks.  Allow your body, your mind, and your conscience the ability to let go of worry.  Let go of feeling so busy.  Let go of feeling overwhelmed.  You can then enjoy summer to its fullest. 

Oh So Clean

Cheers!

Jane

 

 

 

Packing up the holidays!

Would you believe my tree is already on the curb?  Of course I decided that 12/26/16 was a great time to watch the movie Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  I'm still questioning that decision.  However, it did inspire me to reflect on what Christmas decorations we own, and WHY we own them.

Every year during the flurry of holiday decorating, I find myself saying, "why didn't I think of this last year?!"  Here are a few helpful hints for those of you who want to make your holiday set up as easy as possible for 2017.

1.  Throw away Whatever you have that is weighing you down, get rid of it.  My example is a set of hideous plastic Christmas ornaments that I bought for my very first home in 2009.  The hard part?  Remembering how much I loved that house, so how could I get rid of them.  The easy part?  GETTING RID OF THEM - they never make it on the tree :)

Although . . . Pinterest tells me I could have done this with them.  Hmmm. . . .

 

 

2.  Test all Christmas lights prior to storing.  If you have several strands, coil them in a way that allows for easy unwinding.  If you really want to keep the tangles away, a storage reel or spool works well.  Begin restringing the strand with the "female" end first, so that when light strands are reconnected, you end at the power plug to plug into your power source (when stringing top to bottom).

 

 

3.  Invest in sturdy storage bins or tubs that last!  So often we save all sorts of boxes and bags to store away holiday décor.  When cardboard is stored in basements or attics, the material can soften due to the cold or humidity.  This leaves no protection for your precious keepsakes.  The best time to shop for these storage solutions is after Christmas.

4.  Store all holiday items in the same location.  Be sure to label each tub or bin, and keep together in a uniformed spot.  Remember: you will only be locating this stuff once a year :)

5.  Relax!  Packing up the holidays can take several days.  I often initiate the process, and then wait another day or two to put our bins back in the basement.  When I am too anxious to put holiday items away, I always find small decorations days later.  Taking a day or two will help you find EVERYTHING that needs to go into storage . . . and prevent the back and forth of storing those decorations that were hiding :)

 

Cheers to 2017!  Enjoy!

The importance of household processes

When I visit with clients ready to tackle household clutter, I often find that the way in which a task is carried out - or process - has not been clearly identified.  Let me give you an example.  I will use the task of running the dishwasher.  I know that with a household of 5, my dishwasher should run every day to keep the sink clear.  I have opted to run it every night, which works for our family’s schedule.  I have enlisted our children to help load and unload dishes, and it is a success!  If we skip this task, the daily dishwashing process becomes compromised, and the dishes pile up. 

Coming up with a simple plan helps guide household tasks, and helps a home run smoothly.  Want to take it a step further?  A printed list for family members helps remind everyone, and eliminates nagging.  Enjoy!

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The problem

I know what you are thinking:  "what problem?"  I will give you a hint: it's the one you have creeping up behind you, taking up space in your closet.  Your basement.  Your living room.  You know, the resale one.  You hold onto stuff because you have attached enormous value to all of your precious boxed belongings, and now those items must pay you back by way of resale.  Certainly you will rake in the cash once you get through those boxes full of things that the world wants, right?

Wrong.  There are only a select few souls that are made for sales, and they know who they are.  They are good at it, because it takes them little time and rakes in big rewards.  But those online resale Gods and Goddesses have one thing in common:  they don't sell everything.  They wait for brand name, or big ticket items.  The rest?  Donations. 

When you have bins, boxes, and closets full of clothing, you do not have space.  And unless you have ONLY time on your hands to deal with countless messages from potential buyers to schedule try-ons or pick-ups, have at it.  My guess is that you have a life aside from your online resale practice. 

So let's say you have no time to resell items, and you have a ton of unused stuff taking up space.  Essentially you could say "I have no time, and I have no space."   Where does that leave you?  It leaves you a choice:  you can either have your space and time, or not.

I leave you with this task: take a piece of paper, and fold it in half.  On the left side, write down the income that was generated from your online resale efforts.  On the right side, take note of how many minutes you took sending or receiving messages, and your overall effort spent trying to sell an item.  Keep in mind the time spent away from family or friends.

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Stop! Do you have multiples of these items?

Multiple multiples . . . this is the dilemma of the modern family.  I can tell you from experience, colanders are something that must be reproducing in kitchen cupboards across the board.  I had no idea that the world was full of so many colanders!  Often times, it is simply getting rid of the (extra) colanders in a client's kitchen that frees up some much needed extra storage space.

Here is my list of items that you just don't need multiples of.  Trust me.  Have you ever peeled two carrots at a time? 

1.  Colanders.  Obviously.

2.  Sheets.  Save one extra set per bed if you so choose (babies and toddlers often require additional sets).  Clearly think through any additional linens, and ask yourself when you will be using them.

3.  Anything kitchen.  If it's a multiple, seriously assess the need:  measuring cups, measuring spoons, cheese graters, food processers, spices, plates, coffee mugs, silverware, Tupperware, wine keys, vegetable peelers, the list goes on.  What have you used in the last year?  What have you not?  Whatever you have not, consider donating it.

4.  Throw pillows and blankets.  Unless they're in use, seriously consider shoving extra throw pillows into storage.  More often than not, they never resurface.

5.  Hair products and makeup.  I have never seen so many products in my life.  If you aren't using it, give it to a friend or toss it.  There must be a reason you don't reach for it when you get ready each day.

6.  Reusable bags.  If you have an entire cupboard or closet devoted to them, pick your top 4 faves and ditch the rest.  They take up valuable space you could be using for something more practical.

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