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How A Minimalist Eye Simplifies Cleaning

I have been very spoiled the last couple of months, to have 2 wonderful ladies come and clean my home, once a week.  This has been a priceless gift from my in-laws.  It has allowed me to put my energy into this cancer fight, instead of into scrubbing my floors.

I really wanted to make it as easy and simple as possible for them, so I have been going through my home with a different point of view than I normally would have, sort of an “editing eye” and I have found it has helped tremendously with minimizing our home.

I know when I need to dust, sweep, vacuum or mop, that it is so much easier when there is less stuff in the way!  I found myself going through each room with a “cleaning ladies” point of view, picturing what would be in the way of my dust rag or my broom.  If I found that there was anything in the way and I didn’t love it, or that was not useful, I got rid of it.  If I did love it, it got a new home up off the floor, in the most practical place I could find for that particular item.

Items in windowsills
Windows are so much easier to wipe clean and the window sills are so much easier to dust and clean when there is not a bunch of chotskies in the way.

A clear floor, as much as possible
This one has been the most helpful as far as getting rid of things or finding a home for things.  It is such a pain to move smaller items out of the way, in order to sweep or vacuum.  My goal has been to go through each room and get as many things off the floor as possible, permanently, to make cleaning the floors as easy as possible.

 ~A basket full of books or magazines.
 I had 3 of these in my living room.  Now I only have 1.  It holds magazines.  It has a purpose and is used often.  The books went on the bookshelf where they belong.
~A floor vase 
It was pretty, but a pain to clean around.  It was given to me, so I felt I needed to keep it out.  Even though I liked it, I didn’t love it– and I don’t miss it.  The area that it was sitting in is now open and clear, and gives the eye a rest when scanning the room.  One less thing to move before cleaning the floors.
~My bedroom 
I had a basket to hold books on the floor, and a molded art piece that was made of my pregnant belly. 🙂  I cleaned out our armoire that has shelves, to put the books on, and the art piece is now up on top of the armoire, off the floor and protected from little hands!
As much as I LOVE the look of the type of curtains that lavishly pool on the floor because of their length, they really are not practical.  The bottom gets dirty very easily, and one would have to move each curtain out of the way to clean the floor underneath.  I do still have these type of curtains in my bedroom, but they are a crinkly, light, white sheer that I’m able to move with just a swipe of the broom.  They are just too breezy and romantic to get rid of!!:)
The more rugs you have, the more you have to move them out of the way, shake them out, and clean them.  I find clean, clear wood floors are just as warm and cozy as wood floors with an area rug in every hallway, in front of every sink or doorway.
~Piles of “stuff”
I didn’t have many of these as I follow the Flylady system, and she helps keep what she calls “hot spots” to a minimum.  The piles I did have, I went through and either got rid of stuff or found a new home for them. It is great to have piles up off the floor!
~Kids rooms
This one made a huge difference.  I took each one of my girls and talked to them about how I’d like them to use shelves, as much as possible, to keep the floor clean for the cleaning ladies.  We went around their rooms with an editing eye, and at least 2 of my girls gave up things they really didn’t love but was taking up floor space in their rooms (a swing for dolls, a stroller for dolls, baskets that could be on a shelf, etc.)  It was fun to see such giving little hearts, we were able to bless others with the things they didn’t want.  My oldest is a collector and had a harder time with this one.  She now knows the floor needs to be clear, but boy those shelves of hers are FULL!  We did buy some organizing baskets for her shelves which helped!  It also really helped to have a plan for things that often end up on the floor, like a bin for dirty clothes in each room, a place in their closet for shoes, an area for stuffed animals (they didn’t get to keep many of these!)

Items On Shelves
Again, I went through each room and if I didn’t love it or it was not useful or practical, I got rid of it.  I know soon enough it will be me cleaning this house again, and I don’t want to have to dust a bunch of stuff on shelves!  I’ve experienced the beauty of having the house cleaned once a week, all at once, and I want to keep it up when I am healthy.  I want to set myself up for success, not failure, so minimizing whatever I can will help me succeed!

~One home for things
 I have a craft area that has a drawer full of ribbons.  It is labeled so my girls know where to put ribbons.  When going through the girls rooms, I found they, too, had a basket of ribbons.  What?!?  It just added one more thing to put on their shelves.  I made them go dump their baskets into the ribbon drawer, now they are all together and we all know where to go to get a ribbon.  This is one example of what happened with many different items.

~Keep decor to a minimum
If you love it, great, just try not to love too many things!  Ha!  I’ve also have learned not to keep things out of guilt, just because they were a gift.  If I don’t love it, I don’t keep it.

~Not every shelf has to look like it came from a magazine
I have learned from friends who are really great moms, to use shelves in main living spaces as areas to keep things that enhance our experience as a family, even if it is not pretty!  Before, I was all about trying to make my shelves look like Martha Stewart had been here.  Not anymore.  Now my shelves contain art bags, library books that are being read with girls at the moment, family dinner conversation cards, etc.  These are things that are used, they enhance creativity, they enrich family life.  I’ll trade that for pretty figurines and vases, any day!  You can have these things available and still have a home that looks nice, as long as they are organized and have a specific place.

~Put “like” with “like”
This is kind of a “duh,” but I had to teach my girls this concept.  Keep all beauty items together on one shelf.  One daughters snow globe collection looks much better with them all together on their own shelf, instead of scattered all over the room on different shelves.  Small stack- able organizing bins are together on one shelf.  Even miscellaneous items can look orderly if they are kept to a minimum and lumped together according to color or type.  This was a big lesson for my girls, kind of an “ah-ha” moment for their little brains.

What types of things do you do to make cleaning easier?  Is a home with less stuff appealing to you?

**You may also like this post: Keeping Your House Picked Up

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    January 4, 2011 at 6:30 am

    This post is awesome. You have such practical, simple, and encouraging advice to share. I just found your blog, and it is instantaneously one of my favorites. I read a few earlier posts, and my prayers are with you girl.

    Big hugs and blessings,

  • Amy Bowman
    November 30, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Hi Carol-I’m honored you would read up on my story and get acquainted, thank you! Your creepy Dr. comment made me smile..thank you for such encouraging words

    Bree-so very true! It is key!! I love you shabby chic messy bed idea. Brilliant:)

  • The Extra Ordinary Bree
    November 30, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Years and years and years ago I babysat for a family with a beautiful home. After I put the kids to bed every night I would straighten up the house. It took me a couple of minutes but when I was finished the house looked spotless.

    When I grew up and had a family of my own I was so frustrated that keeping the house clean wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be.

    I realized that their house was so much easier because they had a place for every thing! When it was time to clean up there was no question as to where this went or how can I make room for this.

    I’ve since made a home for everything in my house and every time I clean up I quickly put things away and toss the things that don’t seem to belong anywhere.

    Oh and my secret for the bed… I found a beautiful shabby chic comforter that somehow looks better when my bed is unmade! Now I just hop out of bed!

  • The Polka Dot Closet
    November 28, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Well, I was just blog surfing tonight, jumping around seeing if there was something great I was missing. Then stumbled onto your blog, I feel like a peeping Tom reading all of your posts. I am now an official follower. Well, this cancer crap just sucks! I know it is like putting salt in a wound, but I could ring that creepy Dr’s neck! I worked in pediatrics years ago as a nurse and if ever a parent was really concerned, we paid attention, regardless of how the child looked, they knew their child better than us. I wish that Dr. had paid better attention to your concerns. Oh well, nothing to do now, but work on forgiveness. You are a special person, I can see that. God does not make mistakes and when you get thru this cancer crap I know he has great plans for you. We will just have to wait and see what they are. I feel so honored to be able to follow your journey. OK, so now I am suppose to go look at more blogs about redoing a chair, just does not seem very important! I think you are amazing! I will pray that you continue thru this journey with your great outlook intact.


  • Amy Bowman
    November 28, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Hi jeana! A great time to do it, after all the Christmas decor is packed up! You are welcome, so glad it inspired.

    Pamela-I see your point about the bed needing aired out, but if I don’t do it right away, it won’t get done! I know routine is not for every personality, it sounds like you have a wonderful free spirit that I am sure your family appreciates!

    Lana-sounds like you have a great friend! That is the best way to do it, for sure..

    Clean Mama- love having your comment, you are MY inspiration!!

  • Lana
    November 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    I am in the process of de-cluttering the entire house with the help of a friend, We almost have the downstairs done. Watch out second story!

  • Clean Mama
    November 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Keeping the stuff to a minimum is my mantra too – everything is easier that way.

  • jeana
    November 27, 2010 at 1:07 am

    This is on my list to do after Christmas. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Anonymous
    November 27, 2010 at 3:37 am

    I do not mke my bed as soon as we get out of it.
    Your bed needs air to breathe and to clean it out.
    My kids are 31 and 38 and I have grandbabies.
    So I have no routine. I do as I please.


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