A “clean” start

Several years ago, my best friend introduced me to Flylady.net. If you haven’t heard if it, now’s a great time to check it out. Flylady is an empowering process of cleaning your house without crying in frustration, wearing yourself out from frenzy or yelling at your children for whatever it is they haven’t cleaned up this time. I was overwhelmed by keeping a household and just never knew where to start. Funny how we never are actually taught how to clean our homes, yet, we’re expected to know how and know how to do it well. Some of us just aren’t “lucky” enough to be born with the natural instinct to clean. I always said I needed a list, this infuriated my husband who thought I should just know what needed done and do it. The problem really wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do.. just had no clue where to start.

I come from a long line of human packrats. “I might need it someday” was deeply imprinted somewhere in our DNA. This makes for a very messy house, bookshelves packed beyond the limits with things, closets filled from top to bottom, front to back with things. Nothing was too large or too small to keep forever. Of course, it didn’t help that the few things I did throw out, I almost immediately needed the day after trash day. The Flylady system was introduced at almost the same time as The Freecycle Network concept of giving things away to local people (with the possiblity of getting a needed item back again if the situation occured). Between these two things, I felt amazingly free to get rid of the things I really didn’t WANT. I spent weeks “decluttering” things that I simply didn’t use and didn’t treasure for any reason whatsoever. It was so liberating.

So, fast forward awhile and I stopped making time for the Flylady routines, my house didn’t go back to nearly the state it was in initially, but still it wasn’t were I needed to be. My neighbor was struggling a few weeks ago with a large amount of clutter, tension and frustration. Friends would come help “clean” the house, meaning they would come in one day, throw stuff in boxes and move it to another room “out of the way”. These binge cleaning sessions may make us feel better short term, but without a real system, we simply cannot maintain our homes this way and again we’re frustrated. So, I introduced her to Flylady and together, we’re forming our own support group for the housekeeping challenged :).

I’m lucky in that I have a husband who’s pretty tidy and wants a clean house and is willing to help achieve the goal. He does dishes, cleans the stove, empties trash cans and makes the bed. He’s also not afraid to clean the bathroom as needed. My problem was that for years, I simply could not meet his standards. We’d binge clean, and he’d chastise me to “see if you can keep it this way”. When I’d make what I felt were significant achievements, my reward was “It should look like this all the time”. I always felt like I was met with constant criticism and that my best was never good enough. Ironically, it seems like some of the worst homemakers are the ones who have the highest level of perfection. I’ve seen this in my own son as well. “If I can’t do something perfectly, I simply won’t do it at all”. Flylady gives us the positive feedback we so desparately crave. She tells us that “Housework done imperfectly still blesses our home” and that we’re not behind, we simply need to jump in where we are. She breaks our home into 5 zones, focusing on a zone each week with short missions to accomplish each weekday (weekends are family time).

Flylady sends us constant reminders all day to make our beds, get up and get dressed, do our laundry, exercise and drink plenty of water, and clean our homes 15 minutes at a time (even working mom’s like me can manage this most days).

Because I hadn’t been doing my daily and weekly chores for so long, I have a lot of work to do. Today I was going to do my weekly dusting. Seemed simple enough. I have the coolest feather duster from Flylady.net’s store and I love dusting with it. I was going to dust my mini-blinds (the duster works great on these), but it had been so long since I dusted that the blinds were filthy. Sigh, I took each one down in turn, washed them in the tub and used a Mr. Clean magic eraser on each slat of the blind (these erasers are my absolute most favorite cleaning sponge. If you haven’t tried them on your soap dish, pick up a box on your next trip to the store). Of course, once the blinds were clean, I realized my curtains hadn’t been washed in ages and were covered in dust as well… time to wash these too. Now that the blinds were clean, I could see every cat hair on the loveseat where he loves to lay, so.. it was off to a good brushing with the lint brush (I got my exercise from all this brushing, sponging, reaching and washing today). So, all in all, had I been doing my 15 minutes of weekly dusting, I would have saved several hours of washing blinds and more. So, the next time we think we don’t have time to do housework, let’s think of all the time we save ourselves to enjoy the weekend by spending a bit of time every day cleaning our home.

Check out Flylady.net if you’re a Sidetracked Home Executive looking for a “how-to” for housekeeping 🙂