With Labor Day behind us and the kiddos back in school, I am getting in the swing of things and my mind is looking toward fall. I am sure that we all have certain things that we do at specific times of the year, but I usually give my house a good cleaning about twice a year – in the spring and in the fall. This includes everything from cleaning windows and window sashes to cleaning and purging toys, old clothes, and other unwanted or unused products in my house. I also start thinking even further ahead to the holidays and how I might lessen the stresses that inevitably come with that time of year.
First, let me talk about fall preparations. As the weather gets cooler, I usually throw open the windows only to discover that there is more schmutz in the sashes than I really want to take in. Armed with my bucket of hot water and vinegar (and sometimes a little baking soda on my rag) as well as some good (upbeat) “cleaning music” I begin the scrubbing process. No surface is safe. Baseboards, walls, window sills all get a once over. Then I usually start working on the widows…but only if the day is overcast as a bright sunny day can cause more streaks with the fast drying process of the sun beating down on the windows. For me, I usually clean/wipe the inside of my window one way (either horizontally or vertically) and the outside of my windows the opposite that way, if I have streaks, I can tell which side they are on. This works whether you use paper towels, a clean rag, old newspapers or a squeegee.
Another thing that I try to take note of as I go through each room of the house is if there are certain things that need to be taken care of before winter comes. Leaky faucets, running toilets, holes that need patching, etc. I try to keep a list on one piece of paper to go over and prioritize later on, but at least as I am in each room and thinking of it, I am able to write it down to deal with later.
Lastly, as far as preparations for the holidays – this can save me so much time and stress later on, at a time when I may not have the luxury of wiggle room or even stopping to think of a better plan. I try to sit down and write the things that I feel are important to my family and what I hope we can accomplish for those busy times between the end of November and the beginning of January. This can be anything from writing a family holiday letter, double checking addresses for the Christmas/holiday cards, to trying to make up some cookie dough ahead and freezing it so that all I have to do in the thick of things is bake them (this can also work well for pre-making dishes for holiday meals especially if you are planning to have holiday guests and don’t want to spend your whole time in the kitchen). One year, because I really wanted to do a holiday letter, I made the resolution that I was going to write a thing or two down on a piece of paper (or word document) for each month and then, try to make sure we had pictures to go along with it. This served as a great way to write the highlights of our year in a very short time rather than trying to rack my brain at an otherwise hectic time. Again, prior planning is key. Making a plan and getting even a general outline as to what is important to you and your family *before* the really busy times hit, has been helpful to me.