Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

How To: Mop the Floor With Kids

How to mop the kitchen floor with kids

P and J having a really good time. This was taken right after I put the bowls down, so they hadn’t yet had time to drech themselves completely.

I’ve mentioned we’re a little busy right now. In a few weeks, things will calm down a bit. Mostly though, this pace will stick with us for the foreseeable future, and I’m working to adjust to it. In order to make room for a few things, I had to make a conscious decision earlier this year to let go of a few things, and cleaning is one of them. Daily cooking is another–you can read about that one on Friday.

I’m not saying I’m going to let that piece of cheese rot on the floor for the next year. Only that I’ve relaxed my standards. I used to like to mop at least every two weeks. Our kitchen is small and we have two young kids (and added a few thousand worms to it recently). Two days after mopping it, it is visibly dirty again.

Mopping is a task that isn’t easy to do in a tight space with two little kids underfoot. Historically, I would put them down for a nap, vacuum and then mop, and have about half an hour before they woke up. Now, I use every minute of nap time either writing, doing volunteer work, or keeping up with friends and family.

I can’t remember why I was desperate, but something happened on the kitchen floor in the middle of a crazy few days this spring, and I didn’t have time to mop.

Then it hit me–a housekeeping hack! Why not let the kids help me mop the floor? 

Here’s how you can have your own anklebiters helping you mop the floor in no time:

Step 1: Gather bath towels and a full change of clothes (including diaper) for each child and place in the room adjacent to your kitchen.

Step 2: Gather various sizes of cups, pans, bowls, spoons, and rag-towels. Rag-towels (n): Hand and bath towels no longer fit for post-bathing, but good for cleaning up messes.

Step 3: Fill the larger bowls & pans with warm, soapy water. I use a few drops each of castile and dish soap.

Step 4: Put the pans & bowls of water in the middle of the kitchen floor. Give the kids the spoons and cups, and they will typically sit or kneel down to the level of the bowls & pans. *Put lots of rag-towels around them. You can either join in at this point or sit at your kitchen table, sipping a hot cup of tea, congratulating yourself on your brilliance while you occasionally throw another rag-towel into the melee.

*In our house, our kitchen floor slopes so much that I only need to put towels on one side of them.

Step 5: When the kids are finished, dump all of the containers of water into a bucket and ask them to help you scrub the floors with the rag-towels, which are conveniently already wet and soapy (you’ll probably need to wring them out a bit). They won’t do a great job but, hey, they’re learning!

Step 6: Get a sponge or mop or whatever and use the last of the water to mop! Our kitchen is small with lots of corners and nooks, so I always just use a sponge on my hands and knees with the kids.

Step 7: When the kids can’t clean any more, the towels and clothes are ready for them in the next room.

Please note that if you have flooring that you love, flooring that isn’t waterproof, or flooring that was made after 1990, this probably isn’t how you should clean your floors.

There you have it: A way to make a not-so-fun task fun AND kid-friendly during times of crazy schedules. And if you join in, you just turned mopping the floor into a quality time activity!

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Have any great housekeeping “hacks” you can share with me? I’m always looking for more!

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Routines and Summer

Brushing Teeth

I thought for a while about making chore cards for our son and so spent one day photographing everything he did. Turns out, he has a lot of chores and it would be more trouble to pull out the cards for every single thing. Chore card idea will be saved for future possible use!

I was thinking earlier today about how hard it is, yet how welcome it feels, to get back into a steady morning routine. When my son finished with school in June, I had put no thought into how I would handle having him home every morning and day. In retrospect, I think our summer would have been much easier on us all if I’d kept up our morning routine and tried to form some sort of routine for activities through the week.

I look at a routine as a plan, or a framework: I make a plan for how I’d generally like my mornings to go, and by doing it often enough it becomes more, well, routine.

Some days it doesn’t work out. But having it helps me remember that I like to wear my watch, and makes sure that I change P’s diaper before an early appointment (please tell me I’m not the only one).

Routines can both cost us and save us money. If your routine is the proverbial Starbuck’s latte at 3pm, it’s obviously costing you money. If your routine is clipping coupons every Sunday evening, then you’re probably saving some money. I dropped my routine of checking food levels in the grab-and-go snack bag every morning after breakfast this summer, with the result that we needed to buy snacks or lunch several times on a long outing.

I’m a person who needs routines, but will easily fall out of them or into unproductive routines (even after a long time) if I don’t have a check-up with myself every so often to make sure my routine is working or hasn’t gone awry. This summer, I’m abashed to admit there were many mornings I was rushing my kids and myself, forgetting to brush their teeth, not making time to stop and play trucks or read a book, all because I let go of my normal routine and slid into one of lying around and sipping coffee while watching my kids play.

Instead of just “rolling with it,” treating the summer like one giant vacation from routines, I needed give some thought to the changing situation (my son being around all day, every day) and how that would affect things.

I’m not saying this to beat myself up. A little self-reflection is good for trying to figure out why certain behaviors have cropped up in myself and my kids, and helps me remember my priorities.

My routines are set up around my priorities. The spot on the rug? Not a priority in the morning. Exercising? Dental hygiene? Reading Corduroy? Definitely morning priorities.

And lately, since I’ve recognized (somewhat late in life) that routines are useful to me, I’ve been trying to create a few, or thoughtfully analyze the ones that have spontaneously formed. Like a post-kids-bedtime routine where I don’t fall into bed, weepy with exhaustion and fully clothed. I’m shooting for making lunches or other food prep/kitchen task, brush teeth AND FLOSS, wash face, and change into some pajama-like items. I think I can make this happen, but it’s going to take a few months of doing stuff when I just plain don’t want to. And on days when I can stand upright a single second past 8:30pm, I am not going to beat myself up for not completing my routine. I’ll get up tomorrow and try again.

Yeah, I do floss, but I manage it about once every three days. My teeth are getting older–don’t they deserve the daily massage?? See Dental hygiene, above.

(Most) kids love routines, and repetition in general, and my son is right there. Plus we’re trying to teach him to do a few simple chores without complaining, dragging feet, etc. The epiphany hit me this morning that, WHAT IF I kept the exact same morning routine going for him all year, every day, no matter what? Wake up, have some parental snuggle time, eat breakfast, choose clothes, change clothes, clothes in hamper, brush teeth, then play.

After every meal he pushes his chair in, carries his dishes to the sink, scrapes them into the trash, and is learning how to load the dishwasher. He never complains about any of this, even for a second, and my Ah-Ha! moment earlier today tells me that it’s because after every meal, no matter what, he is expected to complete those tasks. Sometimes he forgets, but given a gentle reminder he runs right over and finishes it all.

That routine, keeping that same order to those tasks, helps him remember to do those things. I think it’s high time we apply the routine to some other things, like my flossing and exercising, his morning, and P’s potty training. And if that helps me not spend money on senseless snacks, that’s an awesome bonus.

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Have you fallen into any unproductive routines? And if you have kids, how do you handle introducing a new routine to them?

Deductible, Shmemucktible

We had our first doctor’s (actually, midwives) appointment last night, and I feel like we can now tell everyone. We do have to jump through a few hoops, though. One of those is going to a consult to figure out why J was early, and what we can do to have a full term baby this go round.

Sure to involve lots of poking and prodding. Definitely not looking forward to that part!

Today I got on the horn and talked to my insurance company for a while. I knew I had a deductible, but had no idea what that meant. What I needed to know, specifically, was how much money we need to have put aside before I go into labor.

The answer: $2500.

That doesn’t include co-pays, either, which are $20 for every doctor’s office I walk into. And there will be lots of offices to walk into over the next few months.

My deductible is $1250. I’m betting on having to pay the whole thing, since whether we give birth at the Midwife Center or the hospital, it’s likely going to cost more than that.

If Peanut is born early, P will likely need to be hospitalized for a while. Get this: the first three days, the baby is on my deductible, but on the fourth day, the baby becomes her/his own insured entity. With his/her own deductible. Hence the $2500. Ugh.

Nope, there’s nothing wrong with America’s insurance. Nothing at all. Except that $2500 to us is a gigantic expense.

Gotta go, I have to scrounge up some stuff to sell on Craigslist!