Summer may not seem to be the time to start any new projects or habits, but it’s the perfect time to make life easier for yourself. Here are eight summer time-savers.
Organize your grocery list. You probably shop at the same store or stores every time and can remember the layout if you needed. Organize your grocery list by the way you go through the store. Divide your paper into three vertical columns. First column is the outside edge. Middle column are the center aisles and the far column is the opposite outside edge. You can add two columns at the bottom for deli and any other common grocery store section. This allows you to create more efficient lists and cut down on the forgotten items and trips back to the store.
Cut things quicker. Scissors for pizza, egg slicers for strawberries and mushrooms. Think creatively with your kitchen tools.
Prepare snacks. Especially in a household with demanding children, having a designated snack bin either in the fridge or kitchen is a way to cut down on interruptions and create more self-reliant children. After grocery shopping, prepare the snack items (such as small bags of carrots, grapes, nuts, crackers or other snacks your children like) and place them in a designated area that they can reach.
Cleaning Supplies Where You Need Them. Stage a small collection of cleaning supplies in each bathroom, in order to always have them on hand for a quick spray and wipe whenever you are in there and find it needs done. You’ll never need to apologize for your bathrooms again.
Car Stash. Keep a bin of non-crumbly snacks, water, extra socks for that one kid, books, games (and motion sickness medicine) in your car and never have to scramble for those items again.
Fill A Trash Bag. Taking a garbage bag around your home and filling it with trash or items to donate can be a freeing and productive exercise. It’s amazing how many things you keep that you don’t actually want.
Put a trash bin where you sort the mail. Put that junk mail where it belongs.
Keep beach items in a central location. Nothing is worse than the rush to find all the appropriate beach items. Keep a container in a closet and fill it with your beach towels, extra sunscreen and toys, so you always know where to find them and where to return them.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21
Remember spending Saturday afternoons cleaning your bedroom as a teenager? It began as a chore and ended with a great sense of satisfaction and a new intimacy with your forgotten playlists. And going into the following week with that clean and organized room? The best. Bring that vintage feel into your kitchen in one afternoon. Get your 00’s playlist ready and let’s organize.
1. Organize by zones. Move the coffee supplies—filters, grinders, French press, coffee, tablespoon, etc—to the drawer or cabinet near where you actually make coffee. Move the spatulas and spoons and spices next to the stove. Think about how you actually use your kitchen, not how the internet thinks it’s being used, and rearrange to fit your needs. The goal is to have everything for one chore on hand, without moving.
2. Clear counters. Nothing makes a kitchen look more organized and peaceful than a cleared countertop. Anything that stays on your counters needs to be used daily—think coffee machines if you make coffee or toasters if you make toast. The only exception is that fancy stand mixer you got for your birthday, because it’s a kitchen statement piece.
3. Purge All the Things. Getting rid of possessions you don’t use but must maintain (even if to shove them aside to fit the stuff you do use inside the cupboard) can be so freeing. Now is the time to go through those wedding or housewarming gifts and decide if you’re really going to use that pasta maker or dehydrator. Don’t forget to look at the smaller things. How many measuring cups do you really need? How many mugs do you actually use? Be brutal.
4. Get creative. To organize pantry’s and inside cupboards, don’t be afraid to think beyond the kitchen. Office supplies and drawer organizers can do double duty in the kitchen. Just remember to measure your drawers before going shopping—nothing is worse than getting more stuff you don’t use.
5. Don’t forget the fridge. Even if it’s just cleaning out old condiments and wiping down the shelves and drawers, the fridge shouldn’t be forgotten—it’s a big part of a clean and organized kitchen.
The best part of a clean and organized kitchen? The results are bound to last longer than your teenage bedroom.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21
Winter is not for yard work, it’s for hibernation, buttery holiday treats, and long Netflix binges. But keep these to-do’s in mind when it comes to home maintenance in the winter season and it will pay-off all year long.
- Bring out the snow blower and make sure it’s in good working order, with gas and oil
- Stock up on supplies before the winter storms. Salt, shovels, and de-icers sell out quick during an impeding storm
- Check for ice dams—ice that accumulates along the eaves of your roof and can cause damage to shingles, gutters and siding. Removing them with a roof rake will keep you from potentially harming your roof
- Check and change filters in your heating systems
- Bring in firewood as needed, but store it outside long-term to reduce the risk of bugs
- Check your boiler levels
- If you have a generator, make sure it’s in good running order and has fuel
- Prepare in advance. Before the storms hit is the time to make sure you have supplies for a big storm. Water, supplies, food, and first aid should all be arranged before the big rush
As the nights and mornings get cool and the wind turns crisp, it’s time to take advantage of the mild days and get your house ready for a long, cozy winter of Netflix binges.
- Update your garden with perennials like peonies or hydrangea
- Plant bulbs, trees and shrubs you’d like for next spring
- Leaf clearing doesn’t have to be a huge task—some leaves are helpful on your garden beds, and mowing leaves into yard mulch is preferred over raking and blowing. Just remember to make sure you get the leaves small enough with the mower to not hurt your lawn
- Clean and inspect your gutters and downspouts
- Inspect your roof
- Roll hoses and store them for winter
- Drain and shut off outside faucets and sprinkler systems
- Stock up on seasonal firewood or any other alternative heat fuel you might need
- Clean, close, and cover your pool
- Have your HVAC system serviced along with your furnace and ductwork—a well maintained system can prevent future problems. Check your filters, test your thermostat, and make sure your vents are cleaned and working properly
- If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, it’s an inexpensive upgrade that will allow you to control the heat throughout the day and lower your energy bills
- If you have a boiler system, get it checked and drained and refille
- Check your chimney and have it cleaned before you begin burning fuel
- Check windows for drafts. Install your storm doors and windows for extra protection
- The dryer is a huge fire hazard, so clean the dryer vent and have it checked by a HVAC specialist
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries as needed
- Begin and complete any inside improvement projects such as painting
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21
While nobody likes extra chores in the summer, it’s a little more than mowing lawns and slowly killing your garden by forgetting to water—it’s a time to keep on top of maintenance so you can kick back and enjoy your home year-round, without any repair surprises.
- Weed the garden weekly—make a habit of grabbing a few weeds as you stroll through the yard and you’ll never have a choked bed
- Mowers should be set to the highest setting to protect the grass against the drought. Resist the temptation to mow short
- Water plants early in the day or around sunset to avoid frying your plants. Most plants prefer a good soaking a few times a week rather than a light shower every day. Porch ferns may need more watering as they are well-drained and often in sunshine
- Deadhead your flowers
- Use a lawn sprinkler once spring showers end. If yours are built in, check while in use for any issues
- Keep up on pool maintenance to avoid long days working on the pool. Keep the skimmer clean, clean the filter, check chemicals, scrub the pool sides weekly and keep it vacuumed
- If you plan on doing any exterior repairs, summer is the best time
- Reverse your ceiling fans to counter clockwise to circulate cool air down
- Clean your air conditioning filters once a month
- Cover windows that get direct sunlight
- Check your emergency supplies—heat and storms can knock out power and you want to have first aid, water, batteries and flashlights, and battery powered radiator.
- Create or review your family emergency plan in case of bad weather
- Check for signs of bug or other infestations so you can address anything right away—don’t forget to check the attic
- If you’re planning any home improvement projects for the fall, now is the time to meet and schedule with contractors
There’s something about that first warm day after spending all winter trudging through cold and ice and huddling on the couch in blankets. The tree frogs awaken, the birds arrive, and we throw open our windows and embrace everything fresh and renewed. It’s a good time to channel those spring cleaning urges into checking in with your home maintenance.
- Raking in the spring is more important than the fall—any leaves left now can contribute to mold or bald patches in your lawn, so head out there with a blower or a rake and get the grass ready for spring green
- Mulch your flowerbeds
- Turn outside faucets back on
- Plan ahead for summer lawn care—either renew your lawn care service contract or make sure your mowers blades are sharpened and trimmers are running
- Assess the trees on your property—both potential for storm damage and for disease or rot that may spread. Consult with professionals if you have any questions
- Reseed your lawn
- Plant perennials
- Fertilize—once your grass is green
- Clear out any raised beds and plant spring vegetables and herbs
- Store winter supplies and drain the fuel from any snow-blowers
- Check the exterior of the home for loose shingles, cracks in the foundation or other repairs that may need to take place, including any places that may need paint
- Clean the gutters and check for any cracks or water flow issues
- Hose off your decks and siding—no need to powerwash
- Clean exterior windows and replace any missing or broken screens
- If you have a pool, prepare to open the pool and inspect the patio and pumps for any repairs that need to be addressed
- Before the first hot day, check your HVAC to make sure everything is working. A cleaning and tune up with your local HVAC technician is something that can prevent future costly repairs.
- Check in with your plumbing to make sure there are no leaks.
- Spring brings rain—if you have a sump pump, ensure it is working before the storm hits.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide.