What is it like to downsize with a family?

Last year, we moved out of a somewhat small/medium size town home and bought a smaller home. We needed out of the town home and buying made sense- we wanted stability of one location with the added bonus of owning instead of paying to nothing, so we found a cute home but smaller in the area where he grew up.

We only went down 40sqft but that was enough to see a difference.

We now generally have lower utility payments, which is a perk of moving to a smaller home. We also have a smaller home but bigger yard. Moving from a town home joined with several other homes to a single family in a rural area gave us a garage as well, so he is able to do side jobs in the comfort of our garage.

We did move from a 4 bed with two closets the sizes of rooms to a 3 bed with closets in the bedrooms and a linen closet in the bathroom, so we are having to get creative with storage.
We have taken pieces of wood and turned them into key and jacket hooks to hang on the walls, bought book storage and extra children’s toy boxes to handle larger toys and the kids’ books, had to buy a new shoe rack and we use as many wall hanger storage systems we can get. I also went through most of my stuff and have donated bags of clothing, outgrown toys and fabric I’ll never use. We have cabinets from Walmart and Lowes along most walls and have a lot of furniture that doubles as storage.

If you’re moving to a smaller house out of a larger town house or apartment

You will likely have more of a yard and might have a garage. You will be able to make up the storage you’re giving up by adding in a storage shed in the yard and putting seasonal decor and other items in the garage. Storage sheds can be bought on credit at places like Lowes or Home Depot, they typically can range from 1-2/3k depending on the dimensions and material.

Home Depot also has portable closets that can be set up on the wall to give you a makeshift closet. That would require extra wall space, and space can be limited.

For larger budgets, watching the Netflix documentary series about tiny houses can give ideas for mods to make to give storage in compact areas. One I personally liked was a sewing center under the bed- pull it out and the sewing machine pops out and it fit snugly under their bed, so it took up no space.

Finding things like storage ottomans, storage benches that work in the kitchen as seating with lids for storage works as well.

 

If you’re moving from a larger house with a larger yard and more storage space to a smaller house or apartment, the best way to handle lack of storage is to hold a large yard sale, sell stuff on Facebook or Craigslist or donate. When you downsize and there is less opportunity to create storage (and renting a storage building is out of the question), downsizing your belongings (and making some extra cash) is the best way to go.

Have you ever downsized? How did you handle going from lots of storage space to practically nothing?

Spring Cleaning: While Home Social Distancing

Since it’s well past the first of Spring and we have all been stuck at home, there’s a good chance some of what you have been doing has been cleaning, disinfecting and going through closets and garages. If your weather has been anything like ours has (a lot of cool and rain) you probably have spent a lot of time inside as well. What are some spring cleaning ideas for the time while under stay at home orders?

1. Now is a good time to go through clothing. Watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and lay all your clothing out on your bed- then hold each item to see which ones excite you. If they no longer fit, aren’t worn and you feel nothing when you hold them, they will likely be worn in someone else’s closet.

Another idea for clothing is to hang everything in one direction in your closet, flip the hangers as you wear each item and in 6 months, all the originally hung clothes get donated- or 1 year if they’re seasonal.

Go through kids’ clothing as well. Make sure everything fits, is in good condition and is seasonally appropriate.

Go through shoes and accessories next- if you have a purse or shoes that are wearing out or that you haven’t used or worn in years, toss them.

2. Kid’s toys. How many games are laying out with missing pieces that are never played? How many toys are broken or outgrown? Sit toys to the side and put away to have a yard sale when things clear off.

Another recommendation is to put some toys away and switch them out. Kids typically have too many toys so not all get played with- when you rotate the toys, it’s like the toys are new again.

3. Take this time to go through your kitchen. Find all the gadgets you don’t use (or forgot about) and either find ways to use them or put them aside for a yard sale. Make sure your dishes are in good shape and get rid of and replace anything that’s chipped or broken.

Make sure you have a full set of measuring spoons and cups and make sure all your normally used supplies are in good shape. Anything you don’t need or have too many of, set aside for a yard sale.

Go through all your food- pull it out of the lazy Susan, pantry and all shelves. Anything that has expired, toss and take close inventory of everything. Make sure everything is still good and put it back with earliest dates first.

Remember, not all food goes bad by the date and best by is not expiration.

Before you put the stuff back, clean and wash all shelves or wipe them down with clorox wipes.

Clean out your fridge, it there is food growing mold, toss it out and soak the container. Wipe down the insides and shelves then organize as you put everything back.

4. Go through your bathroom. Find all of the medications that are expired  and  drop anything off that has expired, destroy and toss the prescription take labels to destroy. Find all your cosmetics, lay them out and go through dates and condition of each item. Also go through personal care, hair and skin products and get rid of all almost used or empty bottles. Before you put the stuff back, clean and wash all shelves or wipe them down with clorox wipes.

Before you leave the bathroom, clean the toilet, tub and sink. Make sure you get the edges of the toilet- not just the bowl, get the back and under the seat.

5. Get rid of all your towels that are in bad condition. Animal shelters are always willing to take old, used towels for bedding. Move all ragged wash cloths to cleaning cloths and replace anything that is needed.

6. Put your washer and dish washer on cleaning modes and have them clean themselves, self clean your oven if it has that option. Otherwise, scrub down the inside of your oven. Remember to make sure if you’re able to use oven cleaner, it’s not always safe to use.

7. Pick everything off the floor and sweep or vacuum. Move the furniture and appliances and sweep/vacuum/mop and shampoo under everything. While you’re at it, vacuum and shampoo (or steam) the couch, all upholstered chairs and other fabric furniture.

8. Go through your books. They may have an attachment but they do no good just sitting around collecting dust- if you have already read them and aren’t going to read them again, give them to a friend who would like them. Donate to the library or sell- they do good when they’re being read not sitting around and doing nothing.

9. Wash all the windows, TV and computer screens, mirrors and all glass.

10. Dust all knick knacks, ceiling fans and light covers before sweeping

11. Take a Clorox wipe and wipe down the sides of all appliances and cupboards in your kitchen and laundry room.

The states are slowly working on starting to open back up but stay at home orders are slowly changing to “safer at home” and a lot of people are still wanting to stay home as long as they can.

If you still haven’t returned to work, now is a good time to work on trying to get your home caught up, decluttered and deep cleaned. Cleaning can help take your mind off things and deep cleaning can help protect against insect invasions that happen during the spring, viruses and can make you feel fresher.

What areas in your house are you or have you cleaned out? Have you been spring cleaning your house?


	

Keeping Sane During the Virus Pandemic

Most of us are stuck at home. When we do go out, it can feel a bit stressful.

Now that we are staying at home things may be starting to slow down.

Some people are looking to find the benefits of being stuck in the house all day and are trying to enjoy the “break” from the day to day life.

I’m one of those people who has that voice in the back of their head that always assures them things will work out. I’m always striving to see how I can make things work out well and am always looking for ways to improve my life.

Here are some tips for people to get through being stuck inside and unemployed without going crazy.

1. There is so much extra time- now you don’t have to commute and don’t spend 8 or more hours at work. It may seem like you’re doing more, but you should be able to look around and find extra time to spend doing something for you. It could be sneaking away to take a bath while your partner is home with the kids or after the kids go to bed. You could try to wake up a few minutes early to put on your coffee or tea and get a small workout or meditation in before the kids wake.

2. Take this time to quit eating out and learn to cook, if you can’t.

If you’re able to, turn on food network and start playing with the recipes.

Not only do you save money by not eating out, it’s healthier. Its more time consuming but kids can join in and it can turn into both an educational and fun family activity

3.If you’re working from home or laid off, try taking up a new hobby. If there is something you have been wanting to learn, do it.

There are YouTube tutorials for everything, if you want to learn to paint or learn to decorate cakes, now is a good time.

4. Just take time to sit down every night and be lazy. All those posts telling people to use this time for productivity is not for everyone.

The most important thing to do right now is take care of your mental health, especially those of us with mental illness of any kind. Starting a business or writing a book are great ideas- for those of us with interest, but self care is vital right now more than any form of being productive. Self care could be getting in bed earlier, sleeping in later or speaking off to take a bath.

My kids and I have spent several hours over the last couple days working on our garden. Gardening is a great way to relieve stress. I also turn to writing and have to have a creative outlet.

Right now may seem hopeless but if you look deep into your day, hopefully you can find at least a 5 minute window to do one small thing to care for yourself.

What are the day to day expenses you can easily make or produce?

One of the primary things to look at when you’re working on getting out of debt is where you spend your money.

Where are some areas your money is going that you could make with ingredients you already have at home?

All you need is to buy some extra supplies like citric acid and lye and adding it to oils you likely cook with (olive, grapeseed, coconut or nearly any other plant based cooking oils), water or milk (or even coffee) and you can make cold pressed soaps. You can also use lye to make cleaners- lye is a dangerous chemical that can cause burns, but once the soap is processed, it’s safe to use. All soaps have had lye in the beginning.

Citric acid is what is typically put in bath bombs to make them fizz. There are subs if you don’t have citric acid.

Mixing coconut oil with shea butter, cocoa butter or any other natural plant based butters

Shampoo is another needless expense. All you need are a few ingredients from your kitchen and you can make shampoo and conditioner (or a conditioning rinse). I tried the “No Poo” method for about 4-6 months a few years ago. Baking soda and apple cidar vinegar didn’t work long term for me, but everyone’s hair is different. The Apple cider vinegar rinse was amazing, I still do it occasionally. After one rinse (I didn’t bother measuring, just used roughly half a cup of apple cider vinegar and filled the rest of the container with water, poured it over my head after washing my hair, waited a couple seconds then rinsed it out- it left my hair soft and fluffed up.

Produce can be grown. You may not have room to put all your normal foods, but some veggies can easily be grown from inside your home or in containers outside.

Herbs are easily grown in containers by your window or on a sunny sill. They don’t require tons of maintaince and seeds cost less than jars at the store.

Napkins, paper towels, even feminine hygiene and toilet paper are all available. Look up “unpaper towel,” “unsponge” or even “family cloth” and you’ll find reusable napkins, paper towels and toilet paper. All you do is keep them in a bucket and wash in your washer and you can say goodbye to all those paper products.

With products like the cup and cloth pads, even feminine hygiene products can be made or purchased less frequently.

Bread, rolls, buns all cost. All you need is the internet and you can easily replace any breads or you eat regularly for less money.

Store bought microwavable and other convenience foods are more expensive due to the convenience. There are easy meals to make in just a few minutes or batch cooking is also good- on a day off, cook for the whole week and freeze for later use. This also works well for staying on track while you’re at work.

These are just a few small changes you can easily make to replace more expensive items with homemade versions. Depending on your skills, you could even take up woodworking and make your own furniture, decor or anything else. It all depends on how far you’re looking to go.

What changes are you making or have you made?

How to Replace Toilet Paper/paper towels or Baby Wipes.

With the talk of the Coronavirus, people have been freaking out and hoarding toilet paper. It always helps to be prepared in case of emergency but if you run out and can’t find any sold, you don’t have to resort to stealing from businesses or using leaves.

If you have access to a washing machine, you can easily cut pieces of cloth, put a bucket beside your toilet and fill it with the pieces of cloth until you’re ready to wash and bleach them.

Wipes or TP

To do those- cut old towels or old cotton (works best) or terry cloth into 4-6 inch squares and put 2 pieces front to front (make sure the sides you want to have on the outside are together on the inside)

With your sewing machine, stitch  around each edge until you get to the side you started on. Leave a small opening and turn it inside out, then close the hole. Once you get the hole closed, stitch around the edges again and you’re done.

When you finish, wash in a gentle detergent and put in an old wipe container. Fill with a mix of baby shampoo or soap and water. Make sure it’s a gentle formula.

When you use one, toss it in a bucket beside your changing station and when you’re running low, wash in the washer.

Same with toilet paper- use the same wipes you made for adults- but use a different type of soap or use them dry and put them with the baby wipes.

 

If you have no access to a washing machine, you can use cut up old towels/fabric and hand sew with a needle and thread. You can also cut a roll of paper towels in half and soak them to make wipes.

Paper towels

1586719627971752.jpg

With a sewing machine, you can make reusable paper towels following the same pattern as wipes or toilet paper- just make the squares bigger. You can measure the fabric using a regular paper towel or try measuring out 8-9 inch squares. Make a bunch and roll them around a cardboard tube or just flatten them out and store them with dish cloths or in the bathroom. They work well for spills, cleaning windows, dusting and nearly any other thing you use paper towels for. 

Sewing scraps that you’re unsure what to do with? Use cotton or terry cloth, sew together and stuff with a thicker material to make sponges. Unsponges are a great way to replace the normal sponges, make up sponges and use up excess fabric scraps you don’t want to throw away. I made this yesterday with some extra quilt batting and some fabric for my make up loving 4 year old

20200413_103116.jpg

 

You can purchase on Etsy if you don’t have a sewing machine or can’t sew. There are other websites that sell, but Etsy seems to have the largest selection of “unpaper towels” and “unsponges” that I have found.

 

Tips to Get Better Sleep

It’s a common theme- getting too little sleep. People joke about living on coffee and we are all familiar with the groggy feelings on first waking up, the 2:00 crash and other problems that come from getting bad sleep or lacking sleep.

If you have no medical problems like Sleep Apnea, insomnia or other disorders, you should get enough sleep to wake feeling refreshed despite lack of caffeine.

If you feel like no matter how much sleep you get is never enough and medical testing has ruled out any medical option, here are some tips on getting better- real sleep.

pexels-photo-923310

  1. Set a sleep routine. Try to create the same routine every night before you go to bed. It could be as simple as reading for a little bit before you turn in or it could be something more detailed. Whatever you decide, make sure you stick with it so your body will notice that you do it, then you sleep.
    pexels-photo-1198264
  2. Try to go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time. It isn’t always easy. If you work shift work, retail, food service or any other area that involves an unstable schedule, you may try to get in bed by 10 every night but have random 11PM, midnight or even overnight shifts tossed in.
    It has actually been found that shift work (different hours by the shift) is bad for employees’ health. In fact, there is a term for it “Shift Work Disorder” and it’s found to be linked to various medical conditions like obesity, heart disease and other related diseases.
    pexels-photo-1444416
  3. Turn off your phone, TV, computer and other electronics an hour early. Do some gentle stretches, and unwind without electronic (blue light) interference. Same with bright, overhead lighting. Keep a gentle lamp turned on instead. Blue light from screens has been found to keep your brain awake and bright overhead lights also trick your brain into thinking it’s daylight instead of night. That’s good for morning but bad for bedtime.
    pexels-photo-1417945
  4. Make some hot, decaffeinated tea- I personally use peppermint or earl grey. Pick a blend to help you relax and settle on your couch or bed with a good book.
    pexels-photo-374589
  5. Do some gentle stretches and read a good book right before bed.
  6. Make sure to have an easy to follow routine you can do nightly. The routine will start triggering your brain to know when it’s going to be time to wind down.
  7. Avoid caffeine after 12. A lot of people will go to 3, but I found it gives me insomnia unless I stop around noon.
  8. Avoid nicotine before bed.
  9. Avoid alcohol. It may make you “pass out” but it also has a bad affect on your REM sleep- which is the type of sleep you need to truly feel rested.
  10. Try to only take 30 minute “power” naps instead of long naps and don’t nap too late in the day.

There are many other things you can do, but these are the tips I found best help me get full nights of sleep.

Anyone have any other tips they follow?

 

 

What Type of Cleaning Do you Do Daily, Weekly and Monthly?

When you’re living on your own, owning or renting a home and especially after you have kids, you want your home to be a relaxing sanctuary. The last thing you want to worry about is waking up in the middle of the night, turning on the bathroom light and watching hundreds of roaches scattering. You definitely don’t want to wake up one day to hundreds of bite marks and realize it’s been way too long since you changed your sheets- then find a full bed bug infestation in your mattress.

You also don’t want to run your water bill sky high and spend all your time cleaning and doing laundry (not to mention wear and tear on certain fabrics)

What are the chores you should do daily? Weekly? Bi-Weekly or monthly? Here are what some sources are saying

pexels-photo-1838065

Chores that should be done daily

Never leave dishes in the sink or water around the sink or drain. Make sure to wipe up water around the tub, kitchen and bathroom sinks- roaches aren’t attracted to filth as much as they look for food and water. That’s also why it’s important to fix any leaky pipes- in the walls or under the sinks. Any moisture will attract not just roaches but other water and moisture loving pests (and molds love it too)

Dirty dishes are also a roach(or fly, gnat and other pests)s’ haven. Make sure to keep dishes cleaned and if you use a dish drain, try to make sure it’s wiped down and excess water is patted off.

Food on the floor and table is perfect for a colony of ants. Sweep or vacuum at least once a day, it never hurts to do it multiple times, especially if you have kids who leave behind a lot of crumbs.

If you have a large family or young kids, likely you will also find tossing in a load or two of laundry ends up being a normal daily thing.

People also recommend making the bed daily. It helps make the bedroom look nicer and can start your day making you feel more relaxed and productive. The Spruce lists 5 good reasons to start your day by making your bed.

At the end of each day, pick up items in the living room and kitchen, especially after kids have gone to bed and straighten your pillows on the couch.

pexels-photo-833046

Chores that should be done Weekly

Some chores should be done weekly or twice a week.

Changing your sheets and washing the pillow cases should be done weekly.
Many people wait longer between changing sheets, but the oils from your skin can build up on the pillow case- and it can cause build up on your skin which will lead to acne.
On top of skin oils, not everyone showers before bed so the grime, dirt and dust can get on the sheets, even when you change into pajamas so depending on lifestyle, changing sheets sometimes should be done sooner

If you don’t have a top sheet or a comforter cover, it’s also best to wash your comforter weekly to monthly. Of course, wash every time you spill something on it, but you really don’t need to wash the comforter as much as you wash sheets.

pexels-photo-280208

Chores that should be done Monthly

Dusting should be done at least once a month. Dusting electronics, table tops and shelves should be done more, but ceiling fans, tops of door frames and air vents/ducts should be done monthly.

Cleaning light fixtures, inside light covers and this includes dusting inside lamps and wiping down lampshades.

Walls should be wiped down(including baseboards) and clean window sills, dust blinds and wash curtains.

 

What are some of your must do chores? What are some things I missed?

This is a basic run down, there are more chores to do around the house, especially every 2-6 months and annual.