3 weeks ago

‘Toothpaste and Oreos’: Five simple steps to a tidier home

How many of you are members of the “Wash the Load Three-Times-a-Charm Laundry Club?” You know what I mean: You throw a load in the washer. Insanity ensues. You return two days later, discover the old (now damp and slightly smelly) load and wash it again. Repeat previous steps. On the third day, you wash it again and stick post-it notes everywhere to remind yourself to finally dry it this time!!!

I am a charter member of this club. Actually, we voted last week to make me secretary. Not sure whether I should be honored or embarrassed.

Either way, I’ve always said that attempting to clean a house while raising children is like brushing your teeth while chomping on a mouth full of Oreos. It just doesn’t work.

Until now.

I am about to give you an early Christmas present and hopefully provide you some encouragement/tips for the upcoming new year.

After receiving frequent loving suggestions from my precious momma (love you, Mom!) about the cleanliness — err, lack thereof — in my home, I decided to research the simplest and most time-efficient ways to take back my house. And, after studying up on these options/tips, I’m happy to report that we mommas won’t have to choose between housework and the always more important task of intentional child-rearing ever again.

Today, I am sharing my five “Housecleaning/Organizing Tips for Busy Mommas” (and what momma isn’t busy?):

(1) Prioritize your pandemonium – I’m all about lists. Who’s with me?! If it doesn’t make it on my to-do list, well, it doesn’t come close to getting done. So, when I learned of this cleaning idea, I was floored with shocking gratitude coupled with “why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-sooner” relief.

Instead of overwhelming yourself, sit down and map out your tasks. Each Sunday night, I sit and jot down my list for the week (because, no surprise here, your home cleaning needs are going to change week to week). Some weeks you may have had company over and your cleaning needs are heightened. Other weeks, you may have battled an illness and barely made it to the shower, meaning your house looks like a tornado came through. You get the drift.

Start with your kitchen. What needs to be done there? Dishes? Cleaning out the pantry? Sweeping the floors? All of it?

Prioritize.

What needs to be done first? What can be left to a later day in the week? Start planning out your tasks. For example: On Monday, I do all dishes and put them away. On Tuesday, I sweep/vacuum the floors. On Wednesday, I clean out the fridge. On Thursday, I wipe the counters down extra well. On Friday, I tidy up the pantry and make a shopping list for the weekend. You get the idea.

Now, repeat this step for every room of your house and chart it out on your weekly calendar. You will not believe how much stress it takes off of you and how manageable it becomes when you are just tackling one item in each room per day!

What gets calendared, gets done, friends!

(2) Accept the role of dishin’ out diva – No, I don’t just mean as the cafeteria lady who feeds all the youngins’ and then cleans up after them, too. What I mean is, involve the whole family in the home cleaning game!

Assign tasks based on age and skill level. Obviously, a toddler cannot do loads of laundry. But, they can be in charge of bringing all dishes to the sink, cleaning up their toys, putting their clothes in the hamper and making their beds. And, honestly, they should be required to do those things to set them up for a much brighter and cleaner future later on.

Consider purchasing (or making for all you talented DIYers) a chore chart for your family. We love this at our house because children are very visual. They love seeing their names and having the ability to “check” each chore off the list as they do it. They receive gratification from performing tasks as much, if not more, than we do!

One of the most important things we can do as moms is instill responsibility and pride in our kiddos. They will be looking to us to see how they should care for their own belongings and home one day. We shouldn’t feel guilty about requiring our children to help maintain a clean home. In fact, we should pat ourselves on the back for helping them develop by learning life skills. Habits, once formed, are hard to break! So, why not create and maintain some really great ones even now!

(3) The “Touch it once” rule – While somewhat self-explanatory, the “Touch it once” rule, if used as intended, will revolutionize your life. Quite literally, whenever you bring in mail, toys, soccer gear, ballet shoes, groceries, newspapers, whatever … touch it once. Put it away or trash it immediately.

I use the following system: Every item that comes in my home is either (a) trash or (b) treasure. If it is trash (junk mail, leftover McDonald’s french fries, or receipts from God-only-knows-where) it gets dumped immediately. If it is treasure (meaning ballet shoes, books, school supplies, aka any items that are not trash), I either take it to its home immediately or (because we all need a  “grace” system) it goes in a specific, centrally located bin that I call my catch-all bin. (This is a way to somewhat temporarily circumvent the “Touch-it-once” system while still keeping your house spick-and-span. I’m all about a hack, friends.)

Each night before bedtime, the kids and I sort through any items that got pitched in the “catch-all” bin and put them where they go. It is part of our nightly cleaning ritual and helps jump-start the nighttime routine without having to say the tried and true, “OK, kids it’s time for bed.” Nothing will send a kid running to hide quicker than that age-old ditty.

While this catch-all basket system may seem like a time-thief, it actually saves you inordinate amounts of time in the long run because (a) you are never searching for lost items again and (b) by doing it nightly, you save big time on massive weekend tidying. Also, it kinda becomes a fun treasure hunt, if you will. It’s amazing how you will forget what’s in there even if you placed it there just a few hours earlier.

(4) The 10-minute tidy rule – Ten minutes in momma time can seem like forever right before nap time or it can seem like a second flat if we’ve finally snuck off for some “me” time. In the grand scheme of things, 10 minutes is not a bunch of time, but it’s all you need for a little necessary tidying. In our house, we have adopted a new rule: Before we leave a room, we take a “10-minute-tidy” break. Sometimes it’s shorter than 10 minutes (other times it’s briefly longer). No matter how long it actually turns out to be, those few minutes are vital in maintaining a clean home.

Before you leave a room, look around for the following items: (1) trash; (2) dirty kitchen items (i.e. cups, plates, silverware, etc.); and/or (3) clutter. Take a few minutes and divide it up amongst those three categories, tending to each one individually. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Take each category one by one. Then, breathe a sigh of relief as you head to the next fun adventure. At the end of the day, you will be shocked how much neater/cleaner your home is just by taking those few minutes to maintain the mess all day long!

Quick tip: Busy momma’s secret tools – We need time. That’s really all we need, right ladies? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at my husband and said, “If I just had 20-30 more minutes a day, I could get this place looking great!”

The truth is, we all have the same hours in our days. There’s no real secret to how some keep their houses meticulous and others not-so-much (except for maybe a secret cleaning service) other than priorities. In life, the things that get done are the things we prioritized.

Since we don’t have a lot of time, we need cleaning tools that get the job done simply and quickly. Pick up a Swiffer Sweeper and/or a Shark Lightweight/Cordless Floor Sweeper today! These tools are my two best-kept secrets. They are easy to store, get the job done so fast and are actually manageable to use even on the busiest of days.  It takes under three minutes to quickly vacuum in high volume traffic areas and it gives you a sense of instant gratification!

Plus, you can snag these tools at Walmart for under $60 combined (and even cheaper with coupons and deals!) Trust me, friends, when I say the minimal investment will pay you back in dividends over time!

*Commit to taking a quick swipe at your floors after every meal, and you are already well on your way to a cleaner kitchen area!

 (5) Give yourself grace – This phase of your life is most likely not designed to be your Good-Housekeeping-cover-spread-moment.  That time may come down the road. But, for now, revel in creating happy, healthy kiddos! Even Martha Stewart has her bad days. So, rather than unnecessarily troubling yourself with the pressures of maintaining perfection, free yourself with the knowledge that sometimes a little untidiness means that you are more appropriately spending your time on greater things or tiny souls. Cheers to you, momma! Because there’s no doubt in my mind that you are giving your best every day, and your family is blessed to have you!

To receive encouragement and read more about thriving rather than simply surviving in motherhood, check out Erin’s book, Cheers the Diaper Years: 10 Truths for Thriving While Barely Surviving here.

Erin Brown Hollis is Yellowhammer’s lifestyle contributor and host of Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “Cheers to That” podcast. An author, speaker, lawyer, wife and mother of two, she invites you to grab a cup as she toasts the good in life, love and motherhood. Follow Erin on Instagram ErinBrownHollis or Twitter @ErinBrownHollis

21 mins ago

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt names Kerry Knott chief of staff

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Tuesday officially announced the hire of Capitol Hill veteran Kerry Knott as his chief of staff.

Knott most recently ran Knott Strategies, LLC, where he helped Ravi Zacharias International Ministries focus on Washington, D.C.-based ministry opportunities. Knott notably helped create “At The Table,” a new event series designed to bring influential people together across industries to address important cultural and policy issues.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “I am very excited to be bringing Kerry Knott onboard as our new Chief of Staff.”

“Kerry is extremely talented. His many years of service in both the public and private sectors give him a great wealth of information and the skills needed to oversee my office staff and achieve our legislative priorities. As a native of Guntersville, Alabama, I know Kerry will always make serving the people of the 4th Congressional District the top priority in our office, everyday,” the congressman added.

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Knott’s congressional experience is extensive, including serving from 1985 to 1998 as the chief of staff to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. In this role, Knott helped craft the 1994 “Contract with America,” which helped Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

“Congressman Aderholt has a great heart for our nation and for the state of Alabama,” Knott stressed. “It shows by his character, his integrity and in his effectiveness. It’s an honor to join his team and to help him accomplish his plans for our nation and for the 4th District of Alabama.”

Knott and his wife, Michelle Morgan Knott, live in Arlington, Virginia, with their three children: Sydney, Charlie and Austin. He is a native of Guntersville and graduated from Guntersville High School in 1978 and Auburn University in 1982.

Knott fills the void left by former Aderholt chief of staff Brian Rell, who recently departed to lead the D.C. office of Birmingham-based Balch and Bingham.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Schumer deputy fundraising for Doug Jones

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the highest-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership besides Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is now publicly raising money for endangered Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

In a recent tweet, Durbin urged his followers to donate to Jones’ campaign.

The tweet links to a fundraising landing page with Durbin’s own campaign logo on it.

“Contribute now to help Doug Jones beat Jeff Sessions in Alabama’s Senate race,” the page urges.

This follows a trend of national Democrats fundraising for Jones based off of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions entering the crowded Republican primary to reclaim his old Senate seat.

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Senator Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) presidential campaign launched a fundraising blitz with contributions split between her campaign and Jones’, and Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have followed suit. Schatz also serves on Schumer’s Senate Democratic leadership team as chief deputy whip.

Per Murphy, his and Schatz’s respective fundraising appeals raised $40,000 for Jones’ campaign in the first day alone.

Jones welcomed the support, tweeting, “It is awesome to be in the company of such great friends – and true public servants.”

In the past three quarters, Jones raised 77%, 88% and 88%, respectively, of his individual itemized contributions from outside the state of Alabama.

Californians and New Yorkers have been Jones’ largest sources of funding, with the Washington, D.C. area and other liberal metropolitan strongholds like Chicago also playing major roles.

In addition to Sessions, the competitive GOP Senate primary field includes former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

BCA names Kellie Hope director of regional affairs for South Alabama

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) on Tuesday announced that Kellie Hope has been named director of regional affairs. Her primary focus will be the organization’s membership in South Alabama.

According to a release, Hope’s responsibilities will span from membership services to governmental affairs and will include creating opportunities for elected officials to learn more about the unique needs of the business community in this important region of the state. She will also be working closely with chambers of commerce in South Alabama.

In a statement, BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt outlined that Hope is an exciting addition to an already top-notch team.

“Kellie Hope is well known and well respected in the Mobile business community, and we are proud to have her join our team,” Britt said.

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“Her knowledge and relationships position her to be invaluable to BCA members in south Alabama and to help grow and serve our membership in this region of the state,” Britt continued. “This new position will give us the opportunity to provide boots on the ground while at the same time prioritizing membership services on a more local level.”

Hope expressed that she is “grateful for this opportunity.”

“I look forward to wearing the BCA jersey and being the consummate team player and a champion for BCA’s mission to further develop, empower and support the business community of south Alabama. I am honored by Katie’s friendship and her trust, and I am equally honored by the trust and approval of the BCA leadership,” Hope added.

Hope comes to BCA from the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, where she had served as vice president of community and governmental affairs since 2017. Prior to the chamber, she served as external affairs manager for Southern Light (now Uniti Fiber), developing local government relations across the Gulf Coast. Hope was responsible for legislative and regulatory issues impacting the fiber company in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Additionally, Hope has 10-plus years’ experience in the health care sector, including director of community services and communications for Tulane University Hospital; administrator and mental health coordinator for Cooper Green Mercy Hospital in Birmingham; and owner of the Louisiana Health and Wellness Group in Houma, LA, providing a partial hospitalization program for mentally ill adults.

Hope earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a Master of Social Work from Tulane University. Additionally, she is a graduate of Leadership Mobile in 2015 and Leadership Alabama in 2017 and currently serves on the boards of directors of Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast, Dumas Wesley Community Center and Downtown Parks Conservancy.

Hope’s job at BCA is effective immediately. She will be based in Mobile.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Steven Reed sworn in as mayor of Montgomery

MONTGOMERY — Steven L. Reed on Tuesday morning was sworn in as the City of Montgomery’s 57th mayor.

An exuberant crowd packed the Montgomery Performing Arts Center to view the historic occasion firsthand, as Reed is now the first black mayor of Alabama’s capital city.

The momentous occasion was a theme in Reed’s inaugural address, as he repeatedly made references to Montgomery’s status as the cradle of the Confederacy and birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

Whether it be the slave trade’s former prominence in the city or the fact that his parents could still not eat in whites-only restaurants when they came to town, Reed made it clear Montgomery has come a long way.

However, he emphasized that the way to look is forward — for continued progress and greater prosperity.

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“When your memories are bigger than your dreams, you’re in big trouble,” Reed said. “There are no chains on our imaginations.”

He also stressed a continued need for unity — across socioeconomic, racial and religious lines.

“What we can never be again is a divided Montgomery,” the mayor proclaimed.

Outlining that the city is at the intersection of history and possibility, he advised that Montgomery faces a lot of very real challenges. He said that it might not happen quickly but that solutions were on the way to create safer neighborhoods, better classrooms and further opportunities for all.

Reed mentioned laying more fiber, investing in pre-k, focusing on workforce development and paying teachers more as key priorities.

He shared his vision for Montgomery as “a New South capital for all,” in which all — not just the few — are able to thrive.

Reed’s speech came after his father, Dr. Joe Reed, gave “brief” remarks.

Dr. Reed’s first piece of advice to his son was: “Keep God in the forefront.”

He urged the new mayor to not be afraid to pray for guidance or ask others to pray for him.

The inauguration ceremony came during a special meeting of the Montgomery City Council.

After the entire council was sworn in, the members reelected Charles Jinright as council president and Tracy Larkin as council president pro tem.

Reed was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson of the Middle District of Alabama.

You can view a video of the proceedings and remarks from both Reeds here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Small business remains ‘upbeat’ about economy; Workforce needs remain a priority

The small business economic engine continues to run strong, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) October Optimism Index.

The nationwide small business organization released the findings of its monthly index on Tuesday, with the index once again showing gains in that sector of the economy.

The leader of NFIB’s Alabama association expressed continued optimism among members.

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“[S]mall business owners in Alabama generally are upbeat about the direction of the economy,” explained NFIB state director Rosemary Elebash. “Their primary concern at the moment is finding enough good job applicants.”

NFIB president and CEO Juanita Duggan, an Alabama native, credits sound policy for the gains despite some recent media fixation on potential negative trends.

“A continued focus on a recession by policymakers, talking heads, and the media clearly caused some consternation among small businesses in previous months, but after shifting their focus to other topics, it’s become clear that owners are not experiencing the predicted turmoil,” said Duggan. “Small business owners are continuing to create jobs, raise wages, and grow their businesses, thanks to tax cuts and deregulation, and nothing is stopping them except for finding qualified workers.”

As a result of small business continuing to hire and create new jobs, the index found that actual job creation in October exceeded that in September.

As Elebash noted, meeting the workforce needs of thriving small businesses remain both a challenge and a priority.

Twenty-five percent of the owners in the NFIB survey selected “finding qualified labor” as their top business problem, more than cited taxes or regulations.

“Labor shortages are impacting investment adversely – a new truck, or tractor, or crane is of no value if operators cannot be hired to operate them,” said NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg.

At a small business panel hosted by Yellowhammer last month, Alabama’s workforce development needs drove much of the conversation.

“We have a significant shortage of qualified workers,” said Elebash, who participated in the panel discussion.

State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) is a member of a workforce development commission assembled by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth.

Also a participant in Yellowhammer’s small business event, he outlined the fact that Alabama needs to implement a sound strategy to address its workforce needs.

“Not only do we need to develop our workforce for current jobs, we’ve got to get out front and understand where we are going,” advised Garrett.

For now, NFIB’s Dunkelberg remains bullish on an economy in which small business is prospering.

“The economy is doing well given the labor constraints it faces. Unemployment is very low, incomes are rising, and inflation is low. That’s a good economy,” Dunkelberg concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia