Hi everyone 🙂
I won’t go through the whole spiel about how I’ve been such a bad blogger and my procrastination is going to kill me, but really, I have good reasons to have stayed away for so long.
Things on the job front are rocky, to say the least. I can’t say much here. On top of that, I’m on new hours every day that require me to be up by 5:30 every day so by the time I’m home and have played with, cleaned and fed Sophie I am so tired I sometimes fall into bed without having time to remove my makeup (what am I saying, I mean the remnants of my makeup which look worse than if I had put nothing at all)
Second, Sophie got bitten all over her face by some seriously lethal mosquitoes. The bites swelled into huge red welts that looked shiny and the poor dear was in agony trying not to scratch at them. First, I panicked about her getting dengue, and then, K and I embarked on a huge clean and sterilize of our house because we were worried they were bed bug bites.
Thankfully, a quick trip to the PDs put our worst fears to rest when he confirmed that they were mozzie bites, and that they were so huge because she has sensitive skin. She gave us steroid cream, which the crunchy Mama in me baulked at using, but they helped clear up the bites so well that, honestly, at one point I just thought, whatever works, my daughter’s face looks like a swollen strawberry and I just want it to stop hurting for her.
Next, I know we said we weren’t going to have a birthday party for Sophie but the wonderful Lydia from Lydia Low Events offered a dessert table for her and sparked off in me some hidden party Nazi. I think I’m having Sophie Rose’s party more for myself than for her but yes, there is now going to be a small party and I am wondering what kind of miracle I can perform to plan and decorate for the party within a -gulp- week. What I have gotten myself into, I do not know.
Finally, I’ve been so busy with the March arrivals for The Little Bow Company, and also packing for our Europe trip. Sophie’s packing list alone has 95 items and I have obsessed non-stop about how I am going to prepare her solids, porridge and dress her warmly and appropriately while we are there. A huge headache but we are starting early 2 weeks ahead so fingers crossed we can get the bulk of the packing done before then. Will share our packing lists in case any of you are intending to head to Europe with your toddler!
Anyway, today’s blog post is about the products I use at home to clean, wash and keep house. I’ve been asked quite a few times “How do you do it?” aka work, run a small business, look after the baby and also cook and clean, and my answer is always, shortcuts.
So here are my favourite products and also some shortcuts I take to do all my cleaning in the most efficient way possible. I am a full time working mother and besides a part time helper who comes in every Sunday to help us clean the toilets, do the sheets and ironing, my husband K and I handle all the daily chores ourselves. They are tips I’ve gleaned and collected from all the amazing Mummy friends I’ve gotten to know, as well as my own experience. I hope it helps!
Tip No. 1
Have a cleaning schedule
With a thousand things on your mind, you are not going to remember when the last time you mopped that kitchen floor was, so it helps to have a daily checklist. For example, we mop the floors mid week on Wednesday, do the laundry twice a week usually on Thursday and Saturday, change the sheets on Sunday, cook all Sophie’s porridge stock on Saturday, etc.
This helps to split the chores better and also is easier on you, because you don’t feel the need to clean the entire house every day. It will take some tweaking before you finally find a routine that works but when it does, I assure you that your husband will have no excuse to shirk housework and in general everything will be a little bit neater.
Tip No. 2
Get Part-Time help, if you need it
I can’t emphasize this enough – it is really difficult to do it all on your own. I finally succumbed and took the advice of my Mummies group friends to get part-time help about a month ago and it has lifted SUCH A HUGE BURDEN off my shoulders. Before we hired Merlyn, I would have mountains of unironed laundry building around the house because K and I both kind of hate ironing. Now, every Sunday we can roll around on fresh clean ironed sheets, the bathroom is shinier than we could ever make it, and we don’t spend the whole day halfheartedly doing chores when we could have been out spending quality time with Sophie-doll.
Tip No. 3
Give yourself a cut-off time, and a break
Chores will be neverending if you don’t set yourself a cut off time. K and I agree we will finish by 11:30 pm on the dot, and after that, whatever is undone will just have to wait. In the past, we would be up until as late as 2 am doing random chores half zombified, and the next day we would pay for it dearly at work and with gigantic eyebags. Remember, quality over quantity!
Tip No. 4
Use smart cleaning products
This is like the most important tip to me. To maximise the time and the energy you’re putting into cleaning your house, you need to get products or machines that really work, or have more than one function. They really do go a long way in making your life easier.
For me, I like to go organic or eco-friendly when I use cleaning products now that I have a baby. Sophie-doll is at the stage where she is putting everything in her mouth and will follow me around the house as I clean and I’m always worried she will come into contact with cleaning chemicals or accidentally eat something that’s still soapy before I can stop her. I like to use products with low carbon footprints also because I want to make the world a better place, but that’s a story for another day.
Here are my recommendations:
The Magiclean Mop (Wet)
This is my best friend. Ever since Mama Min min recommended it to me, it has been an absolute lifesaver. I am the lousiest mopper in the world, I leave wet trails behind me and then slip and fall on them and I am weak and can’t scrub hard enough. Also, previously K and I had to vacuum and then mop which was exhausting. With the Magiclean Mop, you can do BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. It picks up hair, dust and dirt so quickly and then its moist enough to give the floor a nice clean if its not too dirty. Of course, it cannot remove stubborn stains or food that’s dried up but it does a great job with liquids.
So basically I use the Magiclean twice a day everyday, once in the morning and once at night, and then we mop the floors once or twice a week (heavy duty). As a result, the floors are much better maintained and clean.
It comes in several different scents as well, and I especially love the Rose and Mint ones. They make the house smell so fresh.
Where to buy: I always buy it at Giant – its the cheapest I’ve found so far and they sell the wet mop wipes in bigger value packs.
ECO Friendly Organic Wipe Cloths
I ordered this after seeing the rave reviews on I-herb. Previously I’ve had so many problems with regular wash cloths – taking so long to dry, when I forget to hang them up they smell funky and mouldy, they don’t pick up food remnants well, etc. This works a treat. It picks up dust, dirt and small particles of food very well and after a quick rinse, they are so clean again! They dry to a hard cardboard like consistency in less than 1 hour so they are so hygienic, and best of all, you just throw them into your washing machine and they are as good as new!
Where to buy: I buy these from Iherb.com
METHOD Products (for grownups)
Method products are eco-friendly and they are also safe – they won’t poison your baby if he or she consumes them accidentally. To be fair, I found that Method’s shower gel was really over scented and didn’t really help moisturize my skin, but when it comes to cleaning products, they really know what they are doing.
- METHOD Grapefruit Surface Cleaner – For me, I use this to wipe down cupboards, kitchen tables, kitchen counter tops, and bedside tables as well as bathroom counters. It smells amazingly fresh and citrusy, but more importantly, it really gets the grime out good. I feel personally it works better than Muscle Man and even JIF, and it does not damage my skin the way regular chemicals do. Merlyn (my part time helper) was very impressed by the results even though at first she was like, erm, you buy me CIF? when I first showed them to her.
- METHOD Spearmint Toilet Cleaner – Again, this smells so fresh and minty, and it does a great job of cleaning the bowls without the strong chemical tang.
- METHOD Dishwashing Soap (Basil) – This. is. amazeballs. The basil scent is so different from the usual fake lemony and citrus smells you get. And I know I sound like a crazy for waxing lyrical about cleaning scents, but trust me, when you are elbow deep in the sink washing dirty dishes every day, you will want something that smells right and works right. The large pump is so easy to use compared to squirt bottles and the refills are reasonably priced, too!
Where to buy: I buy these also on Iherb.com but I have also seen them in almost all Cold Storages as well as NTUC Fairprice Finest shops.
ATTITUDE Products (for babies)
When Ashley first introduced me to the Attitude line of organic, eco-friendly baby safe cleaning products, I was skeptical. I had used many other similar brands before and I found that they were ineffective in removing smells or dirt as they were too gentle, and so I had not reviewed or posted those products on my blog. However, she assured me that the dishwashing detergent was gentle but really effective, so I decided to give it a try.
My verdict? It’s the best dishwashing detergent (baby) I’ve used and I’m sticking to it. I previously used Pigeon and NUK because they were the only brands which seemed to be able to remove that horrible formula smell from Sophie’s milk bottles and also clean out her thermos, binkies etc properly. But I was getting seriously dry and rough hands as well as eczema from the frequent bottle washing.
- ATTITUDE’s Baby Dishwashing Detergent really gives me the best of both worlds, and I have re-purchased and will continue to do so until Sophie-doll is weaned off bottles. There is no strong smell, and the liquid is thick enough to cling to the brushes so that a good clean is given. I find that PIGEON, while effective, was REALLY drying and I used it up so fast because the consistency was similar to water. I like that this one is scent free but they do have scented ones, too!
- ATTITUDE’s Toy and Surface Cleaner – Similarly, this works great in removing dirt and stains off Sophie’s toys, play mat and play area and I love that it is no rinse and not too soapy, as well as almost odourless. The bottle is slim and has a really good quality spray top which doesn’t dislodge or spoil easily like other spray heads I use. Just spray, wipe and wipe another time with a clean cloth every time you’re done.
- ATTITUDE’s Fruit and Veggie Wash – This is another must-have in our kitchen because we don’t always buy all organic for Sophie-doll. Its also very idiot proof to use, just spray and wash, and I am very impressed because when I am washing apples, for example, I can feel the entire waxy layer on the surface being washed off by this! This waxy layer is only present (I find) when I am washing non-organic apples. I am paranoid about giving Sophie pesticide free food as much as possible and this works a treat. I wash apples, carrots, potatoes, etc with this before cutting or preparing all the time.
(Discount Code) Where to buy: These are available both at Ecobaby.sg and also on Iherb.com but the prices are comparable so I personally would buy from Ecobaby (Singapore-based). On top of that, Ashley has also extended a discount to all my readers to get a further 5 per cent off with the code ” fbecobaby5” which definitely makes it cheaper than Iherb especially with the insane USD conversion rate right now 🙂
Right, that’s what I have for now 🙂 I’m sure I’ll have more to add to the list as I become more of a domestic goddess (still far, far away) but I really hope it helps! I know of many young couples with babies who are just getting their own places and either feel having a domestic helper is too expensive or an invasion of privacy/prefer to be independent so maybe my list will be helpful to you if you’re just getting started. Experienced Mamas, all tips and advice are more than welcome!
Hope you all had a great weekend!