I was babysitting. The kids were asleep for naps, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out the remote control, so I snooped through the family's bookshelf. And found a book by someone who called herself "FlyLady."
I read the first three chapters and, inspired and still bored, shined the family's sink before the kids woke up.
Ten years later, I had a little home of my own and found myself drowning under laundry and dreading sweeping the floors again. I just didn't know where to start. I found cleaning lists on the internet, and stuck with each for about two weeks until I got bored or burned out or too busy.
Somehow I was still falling behind, and the guilt started creeping in. I wasn't working full time, didn't have kids, lived in a tiny little house, and still felt like I was failing at the whole "keeping house" thing. (How is it possible for two people to have so much laundry!?!)
And then we moved to a bigger house, I started working full time, and things got even crazier. I needed a schedule. A plan. Something I could stick with and not get overwhelmed or frustrated.
Nothing seemed to fit. And overwhelmed and frustrated (and inconsistent and crabby) I was.
Then I started reading pieces by Auntie Leila about having a home that's beautiful and functional, about keeping a home reasonably clean- and her voice soothed all those rough, guilty spots and I felt like she understood. I wanted to feel peace about my home.
Auntie Leila mentioned, in one of her posts, that she'd adapted some FlyLady tips into her cleaning routines... and somehow, I had come full circle and stumbled back to the FlyLady person.
I'll be perfectly and almost brutally honest.
I did not set out to be a FlyLady fan. For one thing, her website is all... purple. Too much. She uses cutesy terms- 27 Fling Boogie, Swish & Swipe. And she calls her fans "FlyBabies." Ugh. The last thing I wanted to be called was a "FlyBaby."
But, overlooking those things, I figured, hey. Nothing had else worked so far, so why not give it a shot?
I'm several months in, now.
And that woman can call me whatever she wants. I'm hooked.
If you're not familiar with the whole FlyLady thing, here's the basic premise. By incorporating cleaning in our daily routines, reducing the amount of junk we've got around our homes, and avoiding the desire to be perfectionists, we can have both a cleaner home and a more peaceful mindset.
This was probably the most important part of this whole thing for me. By making small cleaning tasks part of my daily routines, I've been able to just get stuff done without really thinking about it.
Being intentional about what my routines look like means that I've been able to do the things I've always wanted to do- like having breakfast every day, and reading my Bible in the morning- because now they're part of the routine.
I've made some adjustments from the "FlyLady" way of doing things- like wiping down bathroom counters and toilets right when I get home from work instead of doing it in the morning (yes... everyday. Check out my cheap, all-natural cleaner here).
It just works better for me.
But some of the simple things- making sure my sink is clean, setting out clothes the night before- those common sense things that seem almost too easy- I'm surprised how much they've helped.
Just Do It
I am a fantastic procrastinator when it comes to household tasks. I know I should mop the kitchen floor, but I just... I don't have time right now.
And that's where another pillar of the FlyLady plan comes into play- time limits. If I can't get it done in ten minutes, well, at least I got some of it done.
I can commit to ten minutes.
But the thing is- I realized that sweeping and mopping my little kitchen floor doesn't take ten minutes. So I wipe down counter tops, too. And the dried on crud on the top of the stove. And I still have two minutes? I can load the dishwasher in two minutes, no problem.
I was spending time avoiding those tasks because I thought I didn't have time. But I did have time. And instead of feeling dragged down when I see the pasta sauce that's dried to the stove top, it's taken care of. Done.
The Snowball Effect
The first few days of this new plan were a little... tough. FlyLady recommends baby steps- just start with one small change of routine, then add to it day by day, until you've got a good handle on things.
But I'm impatient. I like immediate results. Baby steps were hard for me.
I did it, though. And they work. Small changes make a big difference.
It's hard to clean a bathroom counter every day when it's piled high with stuff. So now I'm much more conscious about it- I put away my hairbrush right away, because I can do it now or I can do it later. I might as well wash that pan right now- or I'll be doing it before I go to bed tonight.
There was a surprise benefit to this whole thing.
One of the reasons I was such a procrastinator when it came to housekeeping was that I just didn't really enjoy it. It wasn't fun. But when I started to actually do the work, the finished product became a bit addicting. It made me happy to see a clean counter top when I walk into the kitchen. I was happy when I got all the laundry put away. It just felt... good.
And so, instead of putting things off, I thought about how good it would feel to have it done, to have another peaceful place in my home.
I'm hooked on that feeling.
I don't feel guilty anymore, either. I know that if I don't get the vacuuming done today, I'll get to it next week... or maybe even tomorrow if I get done with something early. Because there's a plan. And not only is there a plan, but I'm motivated to stick with it.
Do you use a cleaning schedule or routine? What's helped you to keep the peace in your home?