Friday, May 11, 2012

5 things that Grandma Shirley taught me...

 Today I had to fight the urge to just let my dishes "soak" while I sat down at the computer and begin this post. It's the free spirit yellow in me that is constantly battling with my overpowering and very blue side. (color code) I know I "should" tidy up the kitchen before diving into a creative project but where's the fun in dishes? But today before sitting down to write, I cleaned up my kitchen. According to my grandma Shirley "It only takes a few minutes." However, for me today that didn't apply...I may have had a few days worth of dishes to tackle. ;)

I remember my grandma's house as always spotless. White carpets and white couches with a lot of crystal figurines locked behind glass were eye candy for the curious child. I am surprised I never broke anything (not that I could remember at least). Everything was in it's place and polished clean. I remember her constantly spotting unnoticeable specks of dust or paper on the carpet and bending down to pick it up. (She still tries to do that and we quickly hurry to the rescue before she hurts herself) I can remember picking up pine cones or vacuuming her stairs when I went over there. My dad reports that he always had to do a job or chore of some sort before he could play. He also noted that "She always had a place for everything and to this day she knows exactly where her scissors are- they have been in the same place for 65 years."

Photos of Shirley May Van Leeuwen

{Grandparents wedding day}

So, in honor of Mother's Day- I am thinking about something that I learned (or am still learning) from Grandma Shirley. Her secrets to a clean home. I asked her to give me and other new moms some tips and this is what she said:

1. Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen.
Shirley reports: "It feels great to wake up to a clean kitchen.  I never let dishes pile up or sit in the sink. It  makes such a difference in the feel of the room to have an empty sink."

2. Include your kids.
She reports: "I used to have a little chore chart where the kids got to choose three small jobs to do. They were simple jobs like find 10 weeds or dust three pieces of furniture. They never seemed to complain because afterwards we got to sit and have a treat like ice cream sandwiches."

3. Wash the tub even before the little ones get out.
She reports: "I would start cleaning the ring around the tub even before they were getting out. I made sure that the toys were cleaned up and towels hung up before doing anything else. It was always ready for the next bath and I hardly had to scrub the tub on another day."

4. Safety Pin your socks.
She reports: "I used to safety pin the socks together so they would always be together in the wash. It saved a lot of time!'"

5. Fold laundry right out of the dryer.
She reports: "It only takes a few minutes to fold the laundry right out of the dryer. I would always see women who would bring it into the living room and set it on the couch. I had no idea why they went through all the effort to move the laundry when it was just as easy to fold right away."

When I asked what her favorite cleaning solutions are- she said; 
"vinegar and baking soda"- She claims they leave your floor extra shiny. 

I can learn a lot from these tips. I love to procrastinate dishes and laundry and have a huge basket full of mismatched socks just waiting for me to sit down and match them one of these days.

Grandma- I love you and admire you. 
Thanks for these tips. 
I am going to implement them into my life! 



  1. I follow most of this just cause I don't like my house to be in disarray, ever! I have an 11 month old and another due any day but I still go go go :) I always tell my husband that things only take a few minutes too! Haha, he doesn't believe me either.. P.s. he likes to let the dishes soak or uses the dishwasher.. Those are like bad words for me!

    1. Your husband and I are alike! I am learning though- and it seems to really make a difference!!