Thursday, January 10, 2013

My New Year's Goals

So I don't do resolutions. They're too easy to break. Most years I don't even acknowledge the resolution trend, but this year I did feel the need to make some changes. So I set some goals for myself. The word goal seems more real to me than resolution, like something that can be done, instead of a broad idea that everyone expects you to forget by February.

So, what goals did I set for myself last week? They have to do with my housekeeping abilities (or lack thereof).  My house is a wreck. Don't get me wrong, it's not like an episode of hoarders or anything, but I wouldn't exactly invite friends over for a visit either. I have several reasons for the shape my house is in. Both Sam and I work full time, it's hard to clean with an almost 4-year-old making messes as you're cleaning, etc. But basically it comes down to the fact that I don't really like to clean. I know how, and once I get started I do a halfway decent job, but it's the "getting started" that stops me. When I look at everything that needs to be cleaned, I get overwhelmed, so I just don't start. Oh, we keep up with laundry, and the dishes get done everyday, and we don't let the bathroom get too disgusting, but dusting and vacuuming - that doesn't occur very often. And there is clutter everywhere. We eat most meals on TV trays in the living room because there's an avalanche of mail on the kitchen table. Toys don't really have a designated spot, they just get shoved to the corners and walls of the living room when they're not being used.

So, I'm tired of it. Everyone's allergies have been acting up this year, partly due to the increased outdoor allergens, but quite a lot of it is probably due to the buildup of dust and animal hair in our house. I want to be able to eat dinner together at the table without worrying if that pile of magazines is going to fall on us. I want to be able to walk from the bedroom, through the living room, to the kitchen without stepping on toys. And I don't want my husband's allergies to start acting up just because he walked in the front door.

Also, we eat too much take-out food. I actually like to cook, but I don't do it much. Mostly because of lack of planning. If I don't have a plan for dinner one of us just picks up fast food on the way home from work. And it's not usually healthy food. Plus it's not good for our budget. So, my goal for the month of January was to make three home-cooked meals a week, with enough leftover for lunches.

So goals are great, to begin with, but sometimes it's hard to follow through if you're all on your own. So I shared my goals with some ladies to keep me accountable. I'm using two different websites to help me with meal planning. Food on the table lets me know what's on sale at my local grocery store, and suggests meals to make based on those foods. Plus it automatically builds a shopping list based on the meals I choose. There's an app for my iPhone, so I can access it right at the store to make sure I have all the right ingredients. Plan to eat is a great site that helps me plan ahead. I can store my recipes there and drag them to specific days of the week. This way I can plan ahead and know what meals I need to shop for. So far in the last week we've only had takeout one night, and we've each only eaten lunch out 1 time!

Cleaning was a little more daunting of a goal. I really just didn't know where to start. Then, one of my accountability ladies suggested a website that might help. FlyLady has all sorts of suggestions for cleaning. And (this is the best part) they're broken down into small, daily chunks. The first step is cleaning your sink till it shines. Then the daily tasks are things like dusting the corners and light fixture in the dining room, throwing out old food in the fridge and quickly wiping down the shelves (just sliding things over, not removing everything), wiping down the front door and cleaning the entrance-way - things that are easy to do in just a few minutes. Along with 15 minutes of decluttering an area everyday, and making sure to wash dishes as they are dirtied and keeping your sink empty and clean, these little bursts of cleaning are really making a difference in my house! I have reclaimed 3/4 of our kitchen table, my fridge shelves are clean for the first time in 2 years, and my kitchen sink looks fabulous!

These victories have enabled me to tackle bigger jobs when I've had more time to do things. Last Thursday (my off day) I dropped T-man off at daycare, picked up my aunt and uncle's carpet cleaner, and cleaned the carpet in several rooms that had been peed on by various foster animals the past few months. I had spot cleaned it with my little SpotBot cleaner, but it really needed a power cleaning (especially the spare room where our foster cat had avoided the litter box during the holidays due to a bladder infection I didn't know about right away). This past Sunday I sent the boys to Sam's mom's house for the afternoon, and I got all the inside Christmas decorations taken down and stored in the attic.

So, today's tasks include wiping down the counter-tops and shopping for ingredients for the meals for this next week. Our planned meals include Unsloppy Joes, easy southwestern BBQ chicken legs, Mexican chicken tortilla rollups, and sweet and sour crock pot pork steaks. And I hope to have my kitchen table cleared off by the end of the weekend!


  1. Lisa, I strongly recommend Stephanie O'Dea's blog A Year of Slow-Cooking:
    The table of contents on the left column will open up lists of recipes, based on what you have already on-hand. She posts pics of all of the ingredients, too, so it's so easy to imagine yourself actually making each recipe! Crock pots are so easy to do: gather ingredients the night before, dump it all in before work, and let it cook while you're working. And leftovers for days! Since you mentioned that you had one, I wanted to share her site. Love her (and she's amusing, too)!

  2. Girl -- I cannot tell you how good it is to know I'm not alone! :)
    I could have written this exactly. Two summers ago, my work schedule was nuts and I hired a college girl to clean for 2 hours a week ($25) in the house. I kept it straightened, dishes, laundry, etc... she came and did the dusting, vacuuming, MOPPING, etc... and it was the BEST investment I ever made. From the money I saved by eating IN - it more than paid for the cleaning and it was energizing to be dead tired from work and picking up the girls, to come home to a nice clean house. Total pick me up. I consider it outsourcing and it's time I didn't have to spend my few hours with the fam, worrying or cleaning!

    I have been giving serious thought to doing it again. Just two hours a week - and it was such a big help. :)

  3. I've been thinking about getting someone to help clean for a few years now. I've had someone in twice to clean before big parties, but she lives in Atlanta and only comes over once in a while. I need to find someone local, but I'm not sure where to start. Plus there's the whole "don't want the cleaner to see how dirty my house is" fear...

  4. I always thought about that too. It was great motivation to have my house straightened the night before she came. Start with maybe a high school or college kid? Maybe one that you don't know - and wouldn't care what they thought?? We had a college girl from church. I just told her - I just can't keep up with it all. She didn't judge. :) (Or if she did, she was very gracious about it! ha!) You get over it pretty quickly.