Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

My #1 organizing tip

…is to have a book for your household! Whatever you call it (control journal, homemaker handbook, shalom bayit book, family manager notebook, akeret habayit assistant), this is a crucial book for keeping your household running smoothly.

I call this my shalom bayit book (SBB). Shalom bayit is Hebrew for peace in the house – which is what we want to create with this book!

My SBB is a 2 inch binder with dividers physically, but even more importantly, I have each of the pages on word document. I update each of them each year and in the planning process. My SBB tells me what I used last year, what worked well, what didn’t, and has a list of menus and planning from previous years that I can reference or even copy again! I also have a very helpful list of what I have and where it is stored. I have the pages printed out for me to write on and adjust as needed, but what I really appreciate from year to year is having them on the computer to go in and update.

I will be putting these documents into the “printables” section of my new website as I go. I’ve started linking some of the Rosh Hashanah planning there already. Please visit OrganizedJewishHome and let me know what you think! Subscribe to get updates as things are loaded there (there is a box for your e-mail in the upper right corner or if you prefer a feedreader, there are buttons for that, too).


Chores for kids…with simcha!

Chores are important for kids. They are  part of the family, and part of being part of a family is help out!

But giving the chores to kids doesn’t necessarily mean the adult in charge gets to take the day off and lounge in an easy chair. It actually takes more time to “train” the kids in, and then to correct sloppy work (occasionally). It’s definitely an investment in future relaxation, though.

My chore methods for my kids is something I am updating often. Here’s how it goes right now: each kid does two chores (or groups of smaller chores) each day; one upstairs (bedroom and kids’ bathroom care) and one downstairs (common area care). This is because they should help with their own stuff (upstairs) as well as something that may not be directly tied to them but is a family area (downstairs). Each one has something different, but usually related.

For example, Wednesday’s upstairs chore for each of the older boy is to prepare their room for Bot and then clean up after. (Bot is our WONDERFUL robotic vaccuum cleaner who I love! Here’s a link to what I mean: BOT) That means getting things up off the floor, setting Bot loose when no one is currently napping, putting him back on the recharger, and putting everything away again. The downstairs Wednesday chore is sorting socks (one kid) and kid underwear (the other), folding appropriately, and putting into the owner’s room.

I have our playroom cleaned and vacuumed twice a week (each given a specific area of responsibility), the kids’ bathroom and our downstairs powder room cleaned up twice a week, their rooms cleaned up once a week, their school area cleaned up once a week, entryway cleaned up once a week by each, etc. For each of these, I have specific measurable tasks that they need to do, both written and depicted so they can fully understand.

Each child’s chore cards have the day along the top, the child’s color down the side, the chore(s), and then a checkmark on the back. And each is laminated (have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my laminator–or as my 4 year old used to call it, my lemonader?) The cards are hung on two side-by-side hooks – one for still-to-be-done chores and one for completed chores. Each child can tell at a glance what comes next (see photo above).

Where does the simcha come in? It comes from the child knowing what is expected of them and following a routine, and doing it both correctly and independently. This system minimizes nagging and encourages the child to do their work on their own. (The kids know no playdates until their chores are done and just do them. Yay!)

When you assign a child chores, it pays to go through it exhaustively with them, explaining what you want done. Then do it again. Then check their work and explain whatever needs more work. Then check it randomly, always gently correcting when needed. It’s a lot of work for the grown up, but really worth it when that easy chair calls…in a few years, I guess! 😉

20 bag challenge


I want to get rid of the extra stuff in my family’s life and lighten our load. We donate things that still have life in them, and I am also starting to sell things on Ebay and Craigslist.

It feels so good to get rid of excess clutter. I’m not going to be using so many of these school books, clothes, smaller shoe sizes, etc. And the kids’ clothes – if I haven’t put them into it by now, I can part with it. We are blessed to have more than enough.

My goal is to sell and give away 20 garbage bags  by the end of this summer–August 31. I will update as I go. Anyone want to join me?


Why has life become so crazy for many of us?

We run frantically from activity to activity, bring home bags of food and goods from stores, and store closets of things “just in case.” Our culture values stuff, and we obliging collect it!

How many extra pairs of shoes do you have? How many unread books–or those you won’t read again? How many kitchen appliances that you rarely if ever use? What takes up your storage space?

What’s worth keeping and what’s not? It’s something that I struggle with. I have every size of kids clothing stored (but have had three boys going through them), maternity and nursing clothes (used 4 times in the past 7 years), and then different sizes of clothing as I go up and down in sizes. It feels like so much, but I use them with my pregnancies and kids!

I constantly worry about throwing things into the Goodwill bin because I might need them–but I actually might. Plus my wardrobe needs have changed. I don’t need quite so much professional clothing in different sizes. I need to let go of some of it and lighten up.

Then there are the things I use only on occasion – waffle maker, griddle, and more. What’s worth keeping?

Still working on that. All of this stuff can really weigh a person down! I’m planning on setting up a bag goal when I get back from my family’s house. Anyone want to join?

5 weeks to go; Lists and menus to plan, oh my!

5 weeks to go: Lists and menus to plan, oh my! (Regular Pesach planning, 2011: March 13-19)

(See more about my Passover planner HERE. Week 6 is the first in the series of lists.)

Plan menus, especially using current inventory:

o   Purim seudah

o   Snacks/meals for the 1-1.5 weeks before Pesach (including lunches)

o   Snacks/meals for the week after Pesach

o   Pesach menu, including snacks for kiddos

Write up a plan of attack for koshering the house and kitchen. Remember to include the 24 hour rest period, and adjust as needed in weekly plan.

Review Shalom Bayit book: any questions, ask shailas, review shaila page.

Shopping lists galore:

o   Pesach kitchen goods (cutting boards, pots, urn, etc.)

o   Clothes for each family member

o   Hostess gifts and kid gifts—books

o   Afikomen gifts

o   Any costumes needed for Pesach play?

o   Wine and/or grape juice (order?)

o   Candles: Two 3-day candles, yahrzeit candles as needed, candles to light (x5 days outside of Israel, x3 in Israel)

o   Matzah (order shmura)

o   Purim needs: costumes, containers, food for MM

o   Judaica: seder plate, afikomen bag, etc.

o   Food, using menus:

  • Far ahead (things to stock up on starting now)
  • 1-1.5 weeks ahead
  • 3 days before (produce and veggies)

I finally found my “kitchen sink”

I finally found my kitchen sink. It’s located in the entryway to my house. Really!

OK, maybe some explanation is appropriate here.

Anyone who is familiar with the Flylady (a motivational website for cleaning and organizing) will know that she encourages you to shine your sink every night. That includes removing dishes, scrubbing it down, and shining it dry. That is not something that motivates me, and in fact, I hated doing it (so I only did it once)!

Every program needs to be tailored to the individual, right? So yesterday, I inadvertantly stumbled upon my “kitchen sink.”  It’s my entryway in my house. The place where shoes, coats, backpacks, and all the miscellaneous stuff of transitioning between the outside and inside is located.

Yesterday, I shook out the rug,  straightened the shoes, put away some lurkers, hung up coats, and swept up about five pounds of dirt, sand, leaves, etc. Then I looked at the space and realized it looked great. All day, I got a little boost when I saw how nice the entryway looked. It made me feel welcoming to guests and made me smile with how nice it looked.

So now I know why the Flylady encourages people to shine their sinks.  That motivates her. I get it now.

And I’ve found my own kitchen sink – in my entryway!