the lazy gal’s survival guide : what’s working

Hello lovely people! We’re back today with another installment in The Lazy Gal’s Survival Guide to Better Housekeeping! If you’ve missed our first three posts in this series, you may want to check them out herehere, and (Jenn from I Heart Organizing’s fabulous post) here.

Today, now that I’ve shown you guys our biggest nightmare failure catastrophes in the history of bad housekeeping – aka what happens when you don’t see eye to eye – I thought I’d cover a little of what IS working for us, right now.

I followed Jen’s sage advice and after making our list, we’ve begun the great purge. This is our pantry before, and its current state of affairs, now. {Ten points for spotting the rogue potato, dog leash and lampshades, yes, lampshades in that first pic. We’re all Where’s Waldo via rando world up in here. A new potato has replaced the (slightly withered) old one in case you were wondering about the general welfare of our household potatoes.}

We have big plans for this little pantry… And the purging was only step one. Even if on the surface it does appear to be a bit, well, lame.

If I’m being honest, we’re in survival mode right now with our ebook. We’re almost finished wrapping it up and we hand it over this Saturday to be packaged and formatted by the amazing Evenpar Solutions. While we’ll have much more to show you as we forge onward with our Lazy Gal project, I’ll admit I almost didn’t show you our progress. But here’s what I’ve learned in this first, simple step:

1. Starting small, still counts.

The wonderful Jen from I Heart Organizing recommended starting where you can, and beginning with ‘the purge’. So here we are. The one place that was driving us the most bonkers is clean. We removed SIX FULL GARBAGE BAGS from that pantry. Sad I know. And while we may no longer be able to survive a Zombie Apocalypse for longer than a week, isn’t that what makes beginning important? We can now see our full blown ketchup mustard ranch collection. (There is no greater tragedy than to run out of condiments.) So, start where you can. When you can.

2. Starting small may be better.

In the past, I’ve doled out the cleaning armor and have been all, TO ITHICA! (Isn’t that a grecian literature reference? My brain is fried, and it sounded very braveheart-we-wear-sheets-and-daggers-and-stab-people-do-or-die-ish… So I’m rolling with it.) Hoping to purge the entire home in a weekend only to fall flat on our faces, and hopelessly discouraged that we didn’t tackle the mountains of nightmare hoarding in a few short hours is my typical MO. I’m adjusting my expectations. Small, for us, is better.

3. It was so rewarding, I want to keep going. 

Even though we started small, even though my house looks like a wild stampede has ravaged it, and even though I need a break…it felt good and I’m thrilled. I want to keep going.

It still counts.

For a bonus round today, I thought I’d also review what is working for us right now in our home. Sometimes, it’s good to focus on the positives. (Read: Sharing just for fun, further proving we’re not complete failures.) 

1. When I do clean, the kids love it. 

This is because they don’t know any better. I hand them dusters and clorox wipes and that’s enough for them. They go to town. I even assign certain areas to Emerson. She follows dutifully behind and tackles those little areas that honestly annoy me. It’s not perfect, because she’s four. But it works. Work divided problem solved. I’m taking full advantage while I can. They actually ask me if they can help me clean. They have fun.

As a reward, we use a stars and jars system.

Remember these little jars from Lil Light O’ Mine we’ve mentioned in the past?

Right now, we use these jars as a reward system. When they’re ready, they get to trade in their little stars (rewards for completing various tasks around the house) for moolah. It teaches them responsibility, and taking the initiative to do things, on so many levels.

2. An open shelving system. 

I didn’t even realize it until recently, but making the transition to open shelves in our home has already forced me to reevaluate the way space is being used. When things are open, they have to stay organized, thus diminishing my ‘stuffing’ tendencies. While I can’t very well put our entire closet on display, at least this helps. More than I realized. Next on my list: the nightmarishly multiple pieces sippy cup stash.

Not to mention, I kind of know where everything is at a glance.

3. Deep cleaning tip

This one has absolutely nothing to do with organizing but it does with deep cleaning. So I’m shamelessly including it.

I never clean my chandy crystals. But when I do, it’s right before a lot of people come over for a big partay we have at our home once a year. And for some reason out of everything else I have to think about (like feeding my children and other rational tasks) it never fails that the dirty chandelier crystals bug me. I don’t notice them at other people’s houses  and no one will notice them at mine. But for some reason, I like to obsess.

After I swat at them with a fluffy duster thingy, hope for the best and watch in horror while particles scatter and reattach somewhere else, I give up and I throw them in the dishwasher.

That’s right. This tip was given to me by a professional electrician. Sounds legit. He installs how many chandys a year? And it works for me. Put them Silverware tray so they’re enclosed and run the cycle on delicate.

Tada! (PS. I refer to a photo taken of said light beforehand…or else putting it back together is like a 3D sparkle nightmare puzzle. And who has time for that?)

And…rounding it all off with a tip that works for one of our fabulous readers who sent in an email:


Ginger from Birmingham Says:

This might not work for everyone. It’s more of an idea and you just have to find a way to make it work in your home.

I have 2 boys that share a bedroom. We also have a playroom that we use for their toys.   Instead of keeping their dressers in their bedrooms, we keep them in the playroom. All their folded clothes go in these dressers. All their hanging clothes go in the closet in the playroom. I do this because I only have time for folding laundry at night after they go to bed. This way I can put away their clothes long after they’ve been asleep. 

Always before when their dressers and clothes were in their bedroom, I’d have to leave the laundry basket in the hallway. And we’d never have time in the mornings or during the day to put away the clothes – thus we lived out of laundry baskets.

It make look strange to others to see bedroom dressers in our playroom full of toys, but it works for our family. If you don’t have a separate room to keep your kids dressers, maybe you can find an unused closet, an enclosed porch, a garage, part of your laundry room, etc.

Hope this gives someone the help they need. It has changed our lives for the better.

Have any tips you want to send in? We’d love to share them! Just email [email protected] with the title ‘Lazy Gal’s Guide’. We’d love to hear from you!

What’s working for you? Spill it!

Have an inspired day, everyone!

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Responses to the lazy gal’s survival guide : what’s working

  1. Jenna says:

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you just said. It’s so very true. We have our kids clothes in the playroom closet so it makes hanging everything easier for us as well. Completely recommend.

  2. That is a great idea. And it works for adults, too! In my former home, I had a very large laundry room attached to the bath. I kept a dresser in the laundry room, and put my own clothes in it. The laundry room closet held my most-often-worn clothes. I loved it!! Clothes right out of the dryer and put away immediately. Out of the shower, get dressed right there, and put the dirty things into the washer. That is the one feature I miss most about my old house. This one is larger, but the laundry room and bath are not connected. One just has to think outside the box!

  3. Jen says:

    I know someone who kept all the clothes in dressers in the laundry. You didn’t get a dresser in your room until your were mature enough to manage it all yourself. it’s good to do what works for you. Recognize habits that need to change, but also recognize habits that you need to accept and arrange things to accommodate. It helps simplify. I’m of course saying all this on the week when I am struggling to not get depressed because my house looks like a tornado swept through EVERY ROOM. :)

  4. Mindy says:

    I have pretty much only come up with one really clever housekeeping tip in my entire life, but it’s amazing, so it will have to do! I got rid of all my random plastic food storage containers and invested in a huge set of Pyrex glass storage containers that I got super-cheap on Black Friday. (Good news- no one else is after the Pyrex on Black Friday, so I didn’t even have to get up that early!) Now here’s the clever part- I keep a dry erase marker in the cabinet with my Pyrex. When I put something in the fridge, I write the date on it. Then when I clean out my fridge, I know exactly how long something has been there. The dry erase marker comes off when I put the Pyrex in the dishwasher. Now don’t burst my bubble by telling me everyone does that!

  5. Lisa says:

    Couldn’t agree more with everything in this post, especially the ranch…if you have kids, you need mucho rancho :)

    • HA! Forget the kids! The ranch is for me! (shameless admission) No, seriously. One night we ran out of ketchup. I think Malone thought he was about to die without ketchup. I had to go to the gas station. It was bad.

  6. Jen says:

    YAY! Look at you go girl! That is so awesome that you began purging, so excited for you and your progress in the pantry!

    It is so great to recognize what does work. :) Such an important reminder.

    And I loooove those open shelves! And your little lady is adorable!


  7. libbywilko says:

    Great progress with the pantry, I’m trying to do set tasks on set days as this seems the only way I get stuff done… Like wash all the bed linen on Mondays. Changing this has really helped.

  8. Shalagh says:

    Anyone want to mention how great having those shelves in that pantry is already a fabulously organized and forward thinking installation. If you didn’t put them there, then I’m still envious. Scared that afterwards, it looks like a shot from one of those uber couponing shows. And impressed that the little ones were entrusted to help and most probably did. Yeah you guys.

  9. courtney says:

    great post ashley and what a fun idea and way to use those jars. great thinking!

  10. Melanie says:

    I love this! I have a ridiculous habit of completely dismantling rooms in order to organize them…I switched my girls to the baby’s room and vice versa this week and am STILL working on it (and this is one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while, socially!) but in the process of changing closets etc I’ve gone through clothes and gotten rid of/stored a bunch! It feels great! Although hard on the muscles, all that heavy-furniture-moving…anyway, thanks for this great, REAL series. I appreciate it!

  11. Valerie says:

    my best housekeeping tip: I recently read that ORGANIZING IS OFTEN WELL-PLANNED HOARDING on The Minimalists blog, referenced by the Nester on her blog. And man did that stick with me! I was raised by hoarders (because you never know when you might need x, y, z) , I bargain shop which often leads me to buy things I don’t need at the moment (if ever) because it’s so discounted, and I’m an artist, so I save things (fabric, buttons, anything I think is “special” because I think I might create something with it someday. Meanwhile, I try daily to streamline my mess, organize my clutter, purge the excess, wash, rinse, and repeat. Right now I’m inspired to get rid of as much stuff as I can…for I now believe the best organizational tool we’ve ever purchased is our trashcan. 😉

    • J U says:

      Oo, I like YOUR quote…”best organizational tool [we have] is our trashcans.” love it!!

      From one artist-hoarder-organizer to another. 😉

  12. Lisa says:

    Chandelier crystals are made of lead, which causes cancer and brain damage. It really is not a good idea to put them in the dishwasher. Also, wash your hands well after handling them.