Tuesday, March 4, 2014

You CAN Find Your Latent Housekeeping Prowess {A Motivated Moms Review}

What's a mom to do when sudden nausea and chills tell her she has caught her children's recent bug and yet her on her to-do list for the day is sharing about a new chore system she's been trying out?

If that mom is me - and it is - she forgoes getting up to find her camera to download further pictures to "pretty up" the post she wants to polish before publishing and simply trusts that folks will appreciate the "meat" of her honest thoughts and evaluation even if they come with only a few the "sides" of snapshots. 

Motivated Moms Review

For, right now, standing vertically brings on waves of "ick" and  "ick" is never good.  Thus, I  have decided that just like I have been appreciating the image-free, but well-thought, practical and focused lists of manageable tasks in the Motivated Moms Chore Planner I've been trying out, you might still appreciate the following review without additional household snapshots woven into it:

If you're anything like me, somewhere along the path of marriage, home ownership and children, any housekeeping skills you once thought you possessed got lost.

Do not be chagrined though.  You can rediscover whatever ability you once possessed to keep a reasonably clean home.  You can even uncover latent housekeeping prowess that you never knew was in you.

Or, that is what I keep telling myself.  And, with thanks to Motivated Moms I know I am not lying.

I can do it.  I am beginning to do it.  And, beginning is half the battle.    Keeping up with it is another part of the battle.  One I don't always meet with gusto, but am increasingly meeting with persistence with thanks to Motivated Moms.

Get Your Home Clean Despite Your Motivation to Do Other Things...

Six weeks or so ago, I was given the opportunity to try either Motivated Moms Ebooks or the Motivated Moms iOS App (with full year server access) in return for an honest review.  When I clicked over to the Motivated Moms website to read more about these home management systems, I knew without question that I wanted to do so.

As I read the About Us page at Motivated Moms, so much resonated with me.  I:

  • struggle with balancing creative endeavors and keeping an orderly, clean home environment.
  • could use a tried-and-true system for completing necessary chores without dedicating entire days to just housekeeping.
  • appreciate help with prioritizing which housekeeping needs to tackle when.
  • am comforted by the thought that housekeeping to-do's need not snowball into a massive catch-up list.
  • relish the idea of easier home management.

So it was I signed on for the Motivated Moms review with high hopes that the chore planner would help me get (and keep!) my house clean despite the fact that I am so often motivated to do anything but clean.  Without question, I need help habitualizing housekeeping tasks so I don't simply overlook them as I dive into creative projects, independent contracts and, of course, living and learning alongside my children.

A Good Choice...

Motivated Moms comes in two main ways:

  1. as an app for iPhones, iPads, iPod touches and Androids at $7.99 for a year
  2. as a printable Motivated Moms Chore Planning System for $8

Motivated Moms Review
You can choose between the app version and the printed version.  Since I don;t have a "fancy phone", I chose the second option. 

As someone who wanted the printed version of Motivated Moms, I had 16 styles to choose from, which included:

  • full and half-sized pages
  • black-and-white or color pages
  • page-per-day versions and weekly versions

Motivated Moms Review
This is what the half-day, color, "page-a-day" version looks like.

Since the page-per-day planners had appointment sections that did not match my usual appointment hours, and since I did not like the idea of printing out tons of pages, I went with a weekly planner like the sample page pictured below.

Motivated Moms Review
The version I chose looks like this, but not in color.  Being frugal, I wanted to save ink costs.  Black ink costs so much less than color ink on my printer.

I liked the idea of a weekly chore planner so that I could see an entire week's worth of tasks at a glance.  That way, if I happened to have extra time on a given day, I could buzz through more than one day's tasks.  Or, if I slacked on a certain day, the lack of checkmarks wouldn't taunt me so threateningly.  (There would be other checks to balance that day's checks off.)

I am glad I made the choice that I did.  For, admittedly, there were days when I tackled few of the listed tasks and other days when, while the kids played with one another or enjoyed online science lessons, I knocked off assigned tasks from several days at once.

So Is My House All Clean and Tidy Now?

To be honest, no.  It is not.  

Um, yes, that is a pile of Christmas stuff behind my sons' head that still needs to be sorted and put in the attic before Lent begins tomorrow.  Sad, but true.

But, small portions of it are better and I am more confident now than I was six weeks ago that the rest of it can follow suit. 

Here, our living room was living up to it's name by being lived in.  It may look a bit messy, but it was clean, manageable and livable when this photo was taken last month and has remained that way more often than not.  To explain the seeming mess and how it actually speaks or progress to me:  On the pink chair toward the top right of the picture are some books that the children and I plopped right into a book basket during a tidy time.  Underneath the table on the right are a stack of trays that the children use as work trays and a basket that the children's rolled work-and-play rugs go in when they are not in use, as they are in this snapshot.  Behind my daughter's head on the chair is a basket of laundry that was folded and ready to be put away when my husband was not in our bedroom sleeping after an odd work shift.  The floor was dust bunny free.

So, you see, housekeeping progress is happening in some rooms here, and I know that even if there are still piles falling over in one spot and dust bunnies multiplying in another, that, eventually, all such homekeeping failures will dissipate.  With the gentle prodding of the clean, simple Motivated Moms tasks lists, the uphill battle of conquering the mess in my home can not only be won, it can end.  

In fact, I dare say Motivated Moms has already done one key thing:  It has ended my war with housekeeping.  Truly, it has.  Since starting Motivated Moms, I have called a truce on the angst I usually feel when faced with the long list of obvious to do's that need to be done in my home a decluttered, clean and welcoming place.  Instead of feeling like I have fight, I have just begun to trust that by using Motivated Moms tried-and-true task lists as a guide, everything will become orderly and appealing in time.  In short, manageable and peaceful periods of focused housekeeping, positive habits are being built!

How I Have Used Motivate Moms

You know that old saying about a thing in motion staying in motion?  I have used Motivated Moms as a stimulus for momentum to help me stop regularly choosing to spend 10 minutes here and a half hour there on attending to homeschooling, work, volunteer or creative tasks that experience tells me will bring me success and happiness, and, instead, to buckle down and make some headway on the house.  I have also used it as a tickler to do tiny tasks I wouldn't think of that take mere minutes.

In more concrete terms:
  • One day, I cleaned just the second shelf of my fridge while the children enjoyed a Science4Us.com lesson.  
  • Another day I cleaned the bathroom mirrors by adding just a moment to my personal hygiene time in the bathroom.  
  • Still another day I pulled dead leaves off the houseplants as my son read his siblings and me a story.

I also, of course, kept better track of which daily chores my husband, children and I tend to tackle with ease (dishes, putting laundry in and reading to my children), which ones some of us need reminders about (like making beds and clipping children's nails) and which ones we could definitely focus on more consistently (um, sweeping the kitchen and entryway and wiping out the bathroom sinks).  And, I tackled weekly, monthly and seasonal tasks with greater focus.

As a side bonus, my daughter must have noted my increased efforts over the past six weeks to make and keep things clean here.  For, on more than one occasion, she simply grabbed a spray bottle and rag and started spot cleaning walls and wiping door knobs (a habit we had let flag previous to beginning Motivated Moms.)  She also often came alongside me to help with chores before I asked her, too, becoming a champion of putting dishes and silverware away on some occasions.  Yep, there is something to be said about things being "caught" not "taught" and Motivated Moms has definitely helped at least one of my children "catch" the housekeeping momentum.

A Balanced View

Among the things I like about Motivated Moms are:

  • Most tasks and chores are "small bite" ones.  
  • Chores are written on on side and are things you should get done daily to maintain peace and cleanliness; tasks are written on the other side as a nudge in the right direction.  However, if a day gets too busy to complete all the tasks, you need not worry that you have to "catch up" on them on a later day.  The tasks actually recur within the planner to ensure they get attended to at some point or another.
  • Chores and tasks highlight personal care and child care as well as household tasks.
  • There are blank lines to write your own chores on.
  • The lists are detailed and include things I might overlook, such as "Walk through home, notate and schedule repairs."
  • Weekend tasks are ones that are not that manual, thereby encouraging a sabbath rest.

What I wish the printable version of Motivated Moms offered:

  •  A way to edit the chore list.  Some of the chores on it are irrelevent to my family (like feeding pets) and some are not daily tasks for us, but weekly ones (like collecting the trash).  My inner Type A self does not like scratching these off or writing N/A over them and would rather they just not be there at all.  My get-it-done self has a hard time staying positive when seeing the blank check boxes next to these items even when I know why they are blank.
  • More sensible (to me, at least) order in some of the tasks.  For example, putting plan menus the day after inventorying the fridge, not the day before.
  • A five or six day option for tasks.  We try to keep a Sabbath.  Others I know try to free up one or both days of the weekend for family time and special projects.  Thus, the regular rotation of listed Sunday and Saturday tasks is easy to keep missing.
  • Blank lines for tasks as well as chores.  It would be hard to customize the pre-printed tasks to meet a variety of people's needs, but having some pre-printed lines would be helpful for self-customization.

My Bottom Line

If you struggle with housekeeping and need a tried-and-true help for building momentum and habits, then Motivated Moms is worth checking out.  You can try a sample page of the printable version or try out a Lite version of the Motivated Moms app for free.  Or, if you are ready to just dive in, you can just pick the Motivated Moms product that best suits you.  Whatever you do, be confident.  If I can find my latent housekeeping prowess -- as I have started to do -- you can, too.  One small, well-defined, managable task at a time.  

You can also find Motivated Moms on Twitter and Facebook.

Click to read Crew Reviews


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