Create a Housework Routine that Works

If you follow me in Instagram, you might have seen the post where I recently identified a pattern of mine: saving every single home-to do for one marathon day of cleaning/organizing/grocery shopping.  The obvious issue with this method is that it leads to overwhelm and relies on large reserves of time and energy. I’ve known this for a while, of course, but I’ve justified it by saying that I’d rather do it that way then have to clean every day.

This weekend I found myself with a house that has literally not been cleaned in weeks, an entirely empty fridge, and 5 loads of laundry that needed washing. Obviously, this “system” is not working!  With a couple of new work days and an increased amount of fatigue that I’m trying to figure out, I can’t afford to not change my ways.  I’m leaning into self-discipline once again, and I thought I’d share some of my ideas in the chance that you can relate to my craziness. This method could certainly apply to work or really anything that requires self-motivation, but for the sake of this post I’m applying it to housework to help you create a housework routine that works for you.


  1. Write out a master list of home chores and break them down.  Full disclosure: my husband and I actually wrote out the chores like this
    create a master list & break down tasks for a housework routine that works. | naturallyjmharris.com
    master list

    months ago. He’s done his share and I have as well -mostly- but I’ve never successfully broke them down. To do so, I plan to use my new get to work book project pad on a weekly basis. I’ll write out all current tasks that need accomplishing and tackle them step by step throughout the week.

  2.  Assign them to days on the calendar. To ensure a solid home rhythm, I’ll look at my planner at the start of every week and drop tasks in on the
    create a housework routine that works! | naturallyjmharris.com
    weekly task breakdown

    days I think I can accomplish them. For example, today I had “clean out oven” and “start chicken in crock pot” as priorities. If I accomplish those and have time/energy to spare, I can check the get to work book pad to see what else needs done. It’s up to you how specific you want to get with this. I’m not planning on including tasks that we do every day like the dishes. Because my days vary, I’m not planning on doing a traditional schedule (Monday laundry, Tuesday floors, and so forth), but that could work well for you.

  3. The days that I have more energy – get more done. This will easily allow for unexpected sickness, events, tasks, and so forth – not to mention days that I just don’t feel like doing housework and want to spend my energies elsewhere.
  4. Remind myself of the value of discipline. Personally – I’m doing this because it will guard against overwhelm and create peace and order in my home. I value stewardship of my home & what the Lord has given me. I value openness of my schedule and flexibility, & this will help support that.  I value my well-being and recognize that my current pattern doesn’t foster joy.

 

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Alright, friends. This is one recipe that if you haven’t tried, you really need to try. And I know I sound excited about all my recipes, BUT there is no reason not to do this one! We’ve been making our own homemade laundry detergent ever since we’ve been married, so I sometimes forget that not everyone does it. There are so many reasons to make your own homemade laundry detergent – it saves a ridiculous amount of money (the recipe below yields 5 gallons & costs less than $5 to make), it is so much safer than store bought detergent, and it just plain works.

For me, though, finding a good alternative to traditional laundry detergent was a necessity. Ever since I was little I have broken out from certain laundry detergent brands. As a teenager, I had a terrible rash all over my legs that would never heal. My mom always bought the “free and clear” versions, but as an adult, I realized that I still sometimes reacted from them. Recently I washed some clothes at her house with a name brand natural detergent and broke out from IT! Crazy. Needless to say, I have NEVER had a problem from this detergent. Additionally, our clothes don’t seem as static-y. My husband does physical labor and it cleans his nasty clothes perfectly.

So what are you waiting for?! Carve 10-15 minutes out of your day and make 5 GALLONS of this amazing detergent (you can split it in half if you desire). Let me know if you make it and what you think or if you have any questions in the comments below!

homemade laundry detergent : non-toxic, effective, & ridiculously frugal. | naturallyjmharris.com

1 Bar Dr. Bronner’s soap*
1 C. Super Washing Soda
1 C. Borax

Grate bar of soap. Heat pots of water on stove, add in bar soap and stir continually until dissolved. In a separate pot, stir in borax and super washing soda until dissolved. Pour into 5 gallon bucket. Continue to heat water until 5 gallon bucket is full (water should be very hot but not boiling). Stir well and let sit for 24 hours. Stir before use. Use 1/2-1 C. per load depending on load size.

*Please use Dr. Bronner’s! There are recipes floating around that suggest using other bar soaps. I am convinced that the reason this detergent recipe is so effective is because of the Dr. Bronner’s soap. It may be a couple dollars more than another brand, but it is completely safe and non-toxic and just plain works. If you have tried to make your own detergent before and felt it didn’t come out, that might be why! trust me.  It can be found at Target or Amazon or practically any health food store. If you’re making for a baby, they sell an unscented version too!
 
**For an especially soiled load, just sprinkle a little washing soda directly into the load or use a little extra detergent (I rarely feel the need to do this).

[yumprint-recipe id=’2′]

12 Days of Christmas & How they Set You Free

12 days of Christmas & how they set you free | naturallyjmharris.comPhoto credit to the amazing Mari Feitosa (website & facebook)

Merry Christmas!

Is it really Christmas Eve Eve?  Despite the abnormally warm weather, we’ve been cozy-ing up and are so ready for our first Christmas in our new home. I feel that I have let so much go this year and it has been truly freeing. We’ve made space for the activities we wanted to do (homemade gifts, driving to look at Christmas lights, Christmas movies, tree cutting & decorating) & let go others that we don’t have the time or energy for.

Whenever Christmas begins to burden, its a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world, and not of Christ. -Ann Voskamp

I wanted to fill you in on one of the reasons why I’ve not been rushing to fit in everything Christmas-ey – the 12 Days of Christmas.  The 12 Days of Christmas are, I feel, a somewhat little-known event on the church calendar. Everyone has heard of Advent & maybe even Epiphany, but there seems to be plenty of confusion about what the 12 days of Christmas are and when they occur. However, whether or not you follow the church calendar, I believe observing them can be both freeing and something to treasure with your family or in your heart.

Simply put – the 12 days of Christmas (which begin on Christmas and end 12 days later, this year Jan 5) are space to reflect on the reality of the incarnation in our lives – Christ made flesh and born among us. Each day has an activity/ tradition associated with it, which you can read more about here if you’re interested. I don’t do those activities, but I do take the opportunity to treasure Christmas in my heart a little longer.  Advent is the expectation of the coming King, then we have the 12 days of Christmas, & then Epiphany, which sends us out into the world to live out the mystery of the incarnation in our daily lives.

SO. What does this mean for me?

[tweetthis]It means observing the ways the fullness of Christ seeps into every corner of our everyday lives.[/tweetthis]

It means our Christmas tree isn’t coming down the day after Christmas. It means carving out space for reflection. It means observing the ways the fullness of Christ seeps into every corner of our everyday lives. It even means continuing with Christmas celebrations, like cookie baking and party hosting, knowing that those activities can shift my heart’s focus to the importance of this time of year & the value of those around me. It means if you were to come to my house, I’d have my Christmas lights plugged in and some food or wine for us to share because Christ invites us to commune with him as we do the ordinary.

For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. -John 1:16

So for these last two days of Christmas, I want you to step back & give yourself grace for what has been left undone, and know that come Christmas, there are still 12 more days. Merry Christmas to you & yours!

the 12 days of christmas & how they set you free | naturallyjmharris.com

 

 

I Tried ePantry and Fell in Love!

IMG_4980

[[ Let me be up front and say that while this is an ePantry review,  I am NOT a member of ePantry’s affiliate program. When I placed my first ePantry order (which you can see above), I used a coupon code through a favorite blogger of mine and then passed the code along on my Facebook page because it was such a great deal and because I was so impressed with the website! Scroll to the bottom or click  for a link for $10 towards your order, a free candle, & free shipping!.]]

The ePantry order I recently placed was my first, but I fell in love. The website was easy to use and carried all of my favorite natural products for lower than I could buy in store – PLUS they have all the scents available that I can’t always find everywhere. They have a mixed variety of just about every household need and natural brand type (method, 7th Gen., Tom’s, YesTo, Dr. Bronners, etc. etc.). Even Solomon was excited. For real 😉

The Mrs. Myers all purpose spray shown above is the seasonal Orange Clove scent and it is just ah-mazing. I have yet to try the Iowa Pine products (I’m making myself use up what I have first…ugh!) but I thought they smelled woodsey and fresh. I find the scents that natural cleaning products like these offer to be so pleasant compared to the toxic chemical alternatives. Cleaning actually makes your house smell good, as it should. This may make me sound crazy, but there’s a small part of me that gets excited when I have to clean when I have such good smelling (and super effective) products!

I use the Dr. Bronner’s soap bars every time I make homemade laundry detergent. Nothing comes close to its effectiveness. We also use them in the shower as the soap is gentle, non-drying, and non-irritating to my sensitive skin. I was ordering through Vitacost which required a minimum I didn’t always want to meet, or picking up at my local pharmacy where they were priced higher than what ePantry sells.

I added the Mrs. Myers powdered surface scrub to this order as an alternative to Bar Keeper’s Friend (which I just found out is horrible for asthma). I didn’t expect much because Bar Keeper’s was kind of my guilty pleasure, BUT the first time I used this on our tub I was sold. It completely removed hard water staining and dirt and grime with little scrubbing effort on my part. It cleaned my sink and the faucet until they were sparkling. I scrubbed the kitchen sink with it today and eventually will scrub our tile. Little side caveat -I assume that scrub brush is for dishes, right? Solomon wanted me to save it for scrubbing potatoes because it was “so nice!”

e pantry review (grove candle)
Grove Candle

I added the Grove candle after frustrating searches at Target, etsy, etc. for a soy candle that was 100% natural. We’ve purchased soy candles before that claimed to be scented with essential oils but clearly had added fragrance and even aggravated my husband’s asthma when he was sitting by them UNLIT. Candles are an area of complete un-compromise in my home. I love them, but I will not sacrifice my husband’s health for their sake. Not only does the Grove Candle smell amazing (it’s Orange Thyme & Cardamon), it’s the perfect, natural fall candle that I’ve been looking for, and it throws a strong scent. And guess what? No asthmatic reaction whatsoever. I can light a candle! this is my new brand. I just wish I had ordered more than one!

So…that was the content of my first ePantry order! Epantry is a no obligation subscription service with no charge other than your order. You can choose how often you want products delivered and which you’ll need on a recurring basis by going to “Your Subscriptions” under the Your Account tab (including staples like toilet paper, paper towels, dish sponges, dish soap..you get the idea). If you’re not sure what you want in your next order or when you want it, just delete all items shown and wait & see what you use up.  ***It’s always flat rate shipping ($2.99) & sometimes offers promos for free shipping. So convenient, right?  I do have online resources for such items, but not all in one place so it saves me more money and time. Move over Target, we’re set on ePantry.

 

—-> Now here’s the deal:  if you follow this link (here) you get $10 towards your first order in November, a free natural soy candle, & free shipping! & I’ll get some credit as well.  That’s $10 towards helping you make the switch to safer products for your family.  Really, there’s no reason not to try it now! again, not an affiliate link -just a referral program! if you love it spread the love yourself 🙂

If you have any questions about ePantry or natural cleaning, please feel free to contact me by commenting below or email at michaela@naturallyjmharris.com. If you’re new to natural cleaning & wondering why, I would highly recommend the documentary Chemerical by Chemical Nation – it is interesting & super insightful and studies the effects of traditional chemical cleaning products on one family and what happens when they stop using them.

—update: when this was originally published I was under the impression that shipping was always free. Recurring orders are shipped for a flat rate of $2.99 but this link will give you free shipping for your first order. Sorry for any confusion.

Newlywed Thoughts On Modern Homemaking

Did any of you notice Tuesday’s post was missing? Probably not, but I wish I’d had the chance to get it up. On top of the stress of moving, I’ve been sick and not feeling like doing much of anything but lying on the couch. It’s making the whole getting-back-into-a-normal-routine-after-moving- thing difficult.  The good news is at least we have Netflix now – haha! Anyways, I dug up this old post from my former blog (some words on that here).  It may be two years old, but it is still every bit as relevant in my life and maybe even in yours.  I hope you enjoy.

newlywed shares her thoughts on modern homemaking & what home is

You’ve done a lot for yourself.  You got through college, got married, and learned how to keep a house.”  

My grandma has told me something close to this on two occasions now after patiently listening to me voice my concerns about what the next step of my life may be.   Both times the encouragement touched me deeply, but especially the last part. About being married and all the complexities that entails. About learning to keep a house.

I’m 23. The select advice someone my age gets usually involves matters of schooling, career, job—accomplishment. No one besides my grandma has ever acknowledged the process of learning to live with someone else and create a home with them. I wouldn’t call marriage an accomplishment per say, but matters of marriage and home are seldom mentioned. I recognize that I am young. It was my choice to get married before my senior year of college and to move into the home we spent the first year of our married life in 6 months prior. I recognize that the national average age for marriage for women is 27, and I did it days away from 22.

Yet. There is so much I have learned on my own (and with my husband). I’ve learned to care for myself but also for another person, to put dinner on the table that is both nourishing and quick as the days demand. I’ve learned to live with another person—not just a roommate, but my best friend, my husband who I am closer to than anyone else—who has certain particularities like his preference for an organized home. I’ve learned not only to clean/tend the house, but to share those duties with my willing and capable partner. I’ve made decorating compromises, learning to let some things go for the sake of nurturing his unique artistic sense. I could go on, but this is not my purpose.

With all of the focus on career, it concerns me that the idea of creating a home falls to the wayside. Even with single friends! If you spend your life prior to marriage focusing only on work and your accomplishments and your apartment is nothing more than a place to sleep, how much harder will it be to set up a home with someone if you’ve never learned to do so on your own? We are beings in need of places of rest—of rooms of our own. We are beings whose bodies needs care—lest we burn out. That’s not only a Biblical principle but a well-documented principle scientifically. Home can be a place of belonging, of tending for oneself and for others, of expressing creativity and enjoying the state of being.

A newlywed's thoughts on modern homemakingphoto credits death to the stock. alterations mine

My point now is this: do not undermine the value of creating home, whether single or married.  Do not undermine the value of relationships, rest, and everything besides pure accomplishment.  I say this as someone who has done exactly that and am myself in the process of shifting my priorities to reflect my beliefs.


For related thoughts, check out my post To The Woman Who Feels Small (here).

linking up with I Choose Joy for From House To Home

Fall Bucket List

It’s fall, and I have even more to look forward to this year with moving into our new house! I may have already bought 5 mums and three pumpkins and I may sip apple cider while admiring them. I’m rejoicing in the fact that Thanksgiving isn’t until the end of November, so I should have ample time to get in our house and make it cozy and warm for fall. I’m planning on purchasing a couple of fall scented soy candles, laying down a table runner and placing some pumpkins and squash on top,  and doing everything you see below on the fall bucket list my husband and I created together. I blame marriage on my sudden enthusiasm for the seasons. It makes a difference to have your own home and someone to share life with. Whether you typically love the fall or not, I hope you take some time to go outside and breathe the crisp air. It won’t last forever.

fall bucket list 2

Do you have any favorite fall activities or traditions? Please share!

5 Ways to Support Your Husband at Work

Before you read this post, I want to say up front that I am not perfect at any of the suggestions I’m going to give below.  In fact, they don’t come natural for me. I am a fairly independent person, as is my husband.  We’re both used to taking care of ourselves and often fail at asking for help from the other person when we most need it. But marriage is a beautiful partnership and opportunity to serve the other person, so it is well worth the work put into being intentional. Also, please know – you don’t have to be domestically inclined to be a supportive wife!  Your ways may look different than mine, and that’s okay.

5 ways to support your husband at work

1. Prayer. This seems so easy and obvious, but how often is it actually practiced?  I finally stopped thinking about praying for my husband at work and started actually doing it when he had a particularly frustrating month.  Not only did his stress level start to lower, but his success at work suddenly majorly picked up! He started coming home encouraged rather than discouraged. Just knowing that I was praying for him encouraged him.  This can feel a little awkward at first, so ask him what areas he would like prayer for, and then trust the Spirit to lead you from there.  For example, some things I prayed for were: encouragement instead of overwhelm, energy, motivation, that he would see the fruit of his labor.

2. Speak to his love language. My husband is really receptive to acts of service, so one way I implement this is by occasionally packing his lunch (or even just buying the food he can use to pack his own).  Does he need me to do this? Of course not. But he appreciates it & it’s one way he knows I am thinking of him.

3. Create a calm atmosphere at home. The atmosphere of the home has a great impact on the people in it! There are several layers to this concept, and the first is the actual physical state of your home. Believe me when I say I’m not telling you to have a spotless, perfectly clean home. But it’s well worth the effort of focusing on a couple of areas.  For us, having a clean kitchen with clear counters means a lot to Solomon when he enters the door. He hates clutter, so it helps to make the home feel calming and inviting to him at the end of a long day. The second layer regards your own heart and attitude. Do you cultivate graciousness? Are you someone you’d want to see at the end of the day?

4. Be aware of the challenges he is facing daily. Does he have an important meeting and presentation? Do you ask him how it went? Do you talk about his day and really listen to his heart? I have to make a point of asking my husband questions like, “how did that appointment go?” and actually focusing on the answer and sharing in his joy or struggle.

5. Do little, thoughtful things to show you care. Would it mean a lot to your husband if you just bought his favorite beer when you went to the grocery store? Made a dinner he loves? Bought him the new cd of his favorite band? Or made some paleo banana bread just because? (This ties into #2.)

Please share your thoughts & any things YOU do below!