3 months 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

14 hours ago

Goat Island Brewing is an Alabama Maker concocting interesting beers

Their slogan is “Life is too short to drink baaad beer” and Goat Island Brewing Co. is doing its part to produce nothing but good brews in Cullman.

Started by a couple of homebrewing friends, Goat Island has added a head brewer, who is a microbiology major with no homebrewing history. The result is an array of tasty beers that are finding a following in northern Alabama.

“People across the board love all of our beers,” said Mike Mullaney, president and co-founder of Goat Island Brewing. “If you want to come in and have a whole bunch of good, variety of craft beers that have a lot of flavor, try us out.”

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Goat Island Brewing is an Alabama Maker of interesting beers from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The brewery is open to community events and fundraisers in Cullman.

“I like the fact that we are kind of a cultural community center,” Mullaney said.

With seven beers on tap – excluding a seasonal or a small batch – there is always something for any beer drinker. The Blood Orange Berliner Weisse is the bestselling beer on tap, and keeping up with the demand has been a little challenging. A new canning line should help.

The growth is welcome, but the beer has to be the star.

“We always emphasize quality and making sure everything we put out of here is up to the highest standard,” said Paul White, head brewer and operations manager.

Goat Island Brewing Company

The product: Craft beer.

Take home: A growler of Blood Orange Berliner Weisse.

Goat Island Brewing Co. can be found online and on Facebook Twitter and Instagram.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

Renew Our Rivers kicks off 21st year

The third decade of Renew Our Rivers (ROR) gets underway in February with the first of the year’s 32 cleanups of Alabama rivers and waterways. If last year is any indication, there will be more volunteers and more trash removed in 2020, said Mike Clelland, ROR coordinator.

Since 2000, when the program began, 122,000 volunteers have collected almost 16 million pounds from waterways and shorelines in the South. In 2019, more than 5,000 volunteers removed almost 450,000 pounds of trash, including old boats, mattresses, tires, appliances and other unsightly items, a 4% increase over the previous year’s haul.

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“We not only picked up more trash in 2019. We also had more volunteers,” said Clelland, an Environmental Affairs specialist for Alabama Power who helps coordinate the cleanups with multiple partners. “Twenty years in and the enthusiasm and participation remain strong. I fully expect 2020 to be just as successful as 2019, if not more so.”

An Alabama River cleanup in Autauga County on Feb. 15 leads off this year’s schedule, which concludes the first week of November at Lake Martin.

Volunteers elevate Alabama through Renew Our Rivers from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Renew Our Rivers began in 2000 with a cleanup by Alabama Power employees along the Coosa River at the company’s Plant Gadsden. It has grown to become one of America’s largest river cleanup initiatives, with the help of community partners, volunteers and organizations.

“Alabama is a beautiful place with extraordinary natural resources,” said Susan Comensky, Alabama Power vice president for Environmental Affairs. “Protecting those resources, while providing reliable, affordable electricity for our customers, is at the heart of our company’s mission. The commitment by Alabama Power employees to Renew Our Rivers remains strong, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our community partners across the state who support the effort year after year.”

Renew Our Rivers is one of many initiatives in which Alabama Power partners with others to promote conservation and environmental stewardship in communities across the state. The 2020 schedule of Renew Our Rivers cleanups is below. For updates to the schedule, visit alabamapower.com/renewourrivers.

2020 Renew Our Rivers Schedule

Feb. 15: Alabama River

Contact: John Paul O’Driscoll at 334-850-7153

or johnpaulod@juno.com

 

Feb. 29: Bankhead Lake (Warrior River)

Contact: Ronnie Tew at 205-908-4857

 

March 7: Lake Eufaula (Chattahoochee River)

Contact: Brad Moore at bmooreless@gosuto.com

 

March 14: Valley Creek (Spring)

Contact: Freddie Freeman at 205-424-4060, ext. 4188

or ffreeman@bessemeral.org

 

March 21: Lake Mitchell (Coosa River)

Contact: Mike Clelland at 205-354-9348

 

March 28-April 4: Logan Martin (Coosa River)

Contact: Bud Kitchin at 256-239-0242

 

March 28: Minor Heights Community at Village Creek

Contact: Yohance Owens at 205-798-0087

or yohancevilcreek@yahoo.com

 

March 28-April 4: Lay Lake (Coosa River)

Contact: Judy Jones at 205-669-4865

 

April 11: Lay Lake at E.C. Gaston Plant (Coosa River)

Contact: Tanisha Fenderson at tfender@southernco.com

 

April 4: Cahaba River

Contact: David Butler at

info@cahabariverkeeper.org

 

April 14-15: Mobile River (Plant Barry)

Contact: Bo Cotton at 251-331-0603

 

April 18: Lake Jordan (Coosa River)

Contact: Brenda Basnight 334-478-3388

 

Date TBD: Plant Miller (Locust Fork)

Contact: TBD

 

April 22-23: Smith Lake (Winston County)

Contact: Allison Cochran at 205-489-5111

 

April 24: Smith Lake (Cullman County)

Contact: Jim Murphy at 205-529-5981

 

April 25: Weiss Lake

Contact: Sam Marko at 404-626-8594

 

May 1: Plant Gorgas (Mulberry Fork)

Contact: John Pate at 205-686-2324

or johpate@southernco.com

 

May 15: Lake Seminole

Contact: Melanie Rogers at mlrogers@southernco.com

 

May 16: Chattahoochee River (Plant Farley)

Contact: Melanie Rogers at mlrogers@southernco.com

 

May 18-19: Smith Lake (Walker County)

Contact: Roger Treglown at 205-300-5253

 

Aug. 8: Holt Lake (Black Warrior River)

Contact: Becky Clark at 205-799-2449

 

Aug. 14: Plant Miller (Locust Fork)

Contact: Madison Maughon at 205-438-0150

or mtmaugho@southernco.com

 

Aug. 15: Valley Creek

Contact: TBD

 

Aug. 15: Upper Tallapoosa River

Contact: Lex Brown at 256-239-6399

 

Sept: 8-9: Smith Lake (Walker County)

Contact: Roger Treglown at 205-300-5253

 

Date TBD: Village Creek

Contact: Yohance Owens at 205-798-0087

 

Sept.18: Smith Lake (Cullman County)

Contact: Jim Murphy at 205-529-5981

 

Sept. 24: Smith Lake (Winston County)

Contact: Jim Eason at msgjeason@yahoo.com

 

Oct. 2-3: Lake Demopolis

Contact: Jesse Johnson at 334-289-6160 or 251-238-1257

 

Oct. 13: Dog River (Mobile County)

Contact: Catie Boss at 251-829-2146 or clboss@southernco.com

 

Oct.17: Lake Mitchell (Coosa River)

Contact: Dale Vann at 205-910-3713

 

Oct. 20-22: Lake Harris (Tallapoosa River-Lake Wedowee)

Contact: Sheila Smith at 205-396-5093

or Marlin Glover at 770-445-0824

 

Oct. 26-31: Neely Henry Lake (Coosa River)

Contact: Lisa Dover at 256-549-0900

 

Nov. 6-7: Lake Martin (Tallapoosa River)

Contact: John Thompson at 334-399-3289

or 1942jthompson420@gmail.com

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

18 hours ago

Time-lapse video of Birmingham’s new downtown interstate bridges

The new Interstate 59/20 bridges through downtown Birmingham are scheduled to open within the next few days, 12 months after they were closed for replacement.

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) announced Jan. 13 the contractor, Johnson Brothers Corp., would have the bridges completed and ready to open no later than Jan. 21. The interstate bridges were closed to traffic Jan. 21, 2019, as part of ALDOT’s phased repair plan for the more than 45-year-old bridges.

Alabama Power recorded the demolition and construction of the western half of the bridges from a 17th-floor window overlooking the junction of the bridges with I-65. The 12-month recording was condensed into a one-minute time-lapse video.

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Time-lapse video of Birmingham bridges replacement from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was scheduled for Friday, Jan. 17 at 2:00 p.m. Once the bridges reopen to traffic, ALDOT says crews will spend the rest of 2020 repairing detours and completing work around the bridges. Plans to develop public space underneath the bridges are not yet finalized.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

19 hours ago

Roby: More flexibility for America’s working parents

The American workforce has witnessed considerable change in dynamics during the 21st Century: it is more diverse than ever before.

Statistics consistently show the percentage of U.S. families with at least one working parent is on the rise, and it’s no secret that today’s working parents struggle to balance the demands required of them by their jobs and their children.

Time is the most precious resource, especially for mothers and fathers who are putting forth their best efforts to manage families while simultaneously excel in their careers. These hard-working parents deserve and need more choice and flexibility in their daily schedules in order to accomplish both. As a working mom myself, I understand the challenges parents face in managing these responsibilities. I always say that Congress cannot legislate another hour into the day, but we can update our laws to allow more choice and fairness in how employees choose to use their time.

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As the dynamics of the workplace have changed over time, our policies that govern the workplace have not adapted to keep up with these changes. I am proud to again introduce the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2020. This piece of legislation offers compensatory time, or “comp time,” benefits in lieu of cash wages for overtime, allowing private-sector workers the same opportunity that currently exists in the public sector.

This bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and removes an outdated and unnecessary federal restriction on the use of comp time in the private sector for hourly employees. Comp time would be completely voluntary for the employer and employee with strong worker protections to prohibit coercion. This is the same legislation I have introduced numerous times, and it passed the House on several occasions. This change in law would provide more flexibility for working moms and dads who need more time to manage their families.

Think about it this way: should a working dad be forced to use all of his vacation time to be involved in his child’s school? Should a military mom have to take sick leave in order to make sure her child is properly taken care of? Whether it’s a parent coaching a child’s sports team, caring for a sick or elderly family member, or getting children to and from school and extracurricular activities, family responsibilities often require parents to take time away from work.

As times have changed, so have demands on our time. This is one proposal that would offer private-sector American workers more freedom and more control over their time in order to spend it the way they choose. This piece of legislation is about the working moms and dads across the country who value their time. I am honored to introduce this bill again in order to show my support for all of the working parents across our nation and to hopefully make life a little easier for the moms and dads in our American workforce.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

21 hours ago

Alabama hunter grants wishes for kids

Jeff Carter didn’t have a plan in 2011 when he started Pine Hills and Oak Hollars Child Classic, an organization that takes sick kids on a weekend hunting trip in northwest Alabama.

“At that time I really didn’t know what it looked like,” Carter said. “The Lord put it on my heart and he called me to do this. We stepped out on faith.”

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Pine Hills and Oak Hollars Child Classic grants wishes for kids from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Carter’s faith paid off. The event, now in its ninth year, has grown from a hunting trip for one child into an extended weekend experience for three kids at a time. The kids are selected through the United Special Sportsman Alliance, all recovering from a life-threatening illness, such as cancer, or a life-altering disorder like autism.

“This is just an opportunity that God has given us to be able to give these kids and their families a chance to get away and get their mind off of a lot of what they’ve been dealing with,” Carter said.

Beau Terry, 18, is one of the young people hunting in this year’s classic. Terry said he was thrilled to get the chance.

“It’s kind of like having a lot of uncles around,” Terry said. “It means a lot.”

In addition to the hunting trip, the kids are given hunting clothes, a DVD video of their weekend and a canvas picture. Carter said their smiles are a blessing to him and his volunteers.

“It’s awesome,” Carter said. “When God calls us to do something, there’s no sense in worry about how much and how, just step out on faith and roll with it because he’s got it figured out already. He will provide.”

For more information about the Pine Hills and Oak Hollars Child Classic, visit the organization’s Facebook page here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)