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Wednesday, 14 August 2013 07:00

Fly Lady House Cleaning Update

Four months ago, I started using the FlyLady website again to help me get my home - and life - organized. After a hot week in July, I was happy to report that despite my lack of energy due to the high temperatures, my house was less of a mess than it might have been - thanks to the FlyLady! 

After four months, my house is certainly not immaculate, and there is still some amount of clutter in each room of my house (except probably the bathroom...), but I have definitely made improvements. 

Let's start with the good, shall we?

  • I am learning that I may actually be capable of following a routine. It's not perfect, and I need a bit of reminding, but I am looking back and realizing that I am now performing some tasks almost automatically - which is a pretty big step for me, you have no idea...
  • My bathroom is nearly immaculate, nearly all of the time. Since we renovated our bathroom in spring, I have been more than a little obsessive about keeping it sparkling. And, after four months (it appears that my FlyLady following coincided with this event), it is still looking great! 
  • My bed is made. Right now - go look. In the past, making the bed was something we only ever did before company came over - not because they would see our room, but because we might need to throw some coats on it, or have a toddler nap on it, and so 'just in case' we might make the bed. Now, it is always made - this has pretty much become a habit for me.
  • About 50% of the time, my kitchen counter is clear before I go to bed each night. Of the remaining 50%, probably about 40% of the time my counter is cleaned at some point during the following day, and only about 10% of the time do dishes sit on our counter top for more than 24 hours. This may seem less than impressive, but then you didn't know our kitchen before. Prior to being back on the 'FlyLady' bandwagon, our kitchen counters were only ever cleaned when we were expecting company - and I mean large numbers of people, not just our parents or a couple of friends over for supper - it would have to be a big-deal party for us to actually clear our kitchen counter.  Looking back, I'm not sure how we lived that way - I think I would have days where I would do dishes for about an hour - get done as much as I could, and continue on the next 'dish day'. That, and we did the dishes when we needed them - right before we were going to use them - so that they would be immediately dirty again, and who wants to do dishes twice in a row? 
  • I'm caught up on laundry - mostly. I still have anywhere from a half a load, to two loads of clean laundry waiting to be put away - mostly the girls' laundry, because the time available to put their clothes away is so minimal - but neither of our dirty laundry baskets have spilled over in weeks. I have been successfully doing an average of one load a day - not counting diaper laundry, and often I miss a day on weekends - and this has done wonders for keeping the laundry task manageable and under control. 
  • I have more 'free' time now. This is somewhat counter-intuitive, and I think that it isn't exactly accurate to say that I have more time now - but because I have a cleaning 'plan', I require less mental energy to keep the house clean, and I don't have any guilt about the house work that I am NOT doing building up in the back of my head, so when I have some free time - it really feels like free time.

Now for the not-so-good - not the 'bad' exactly, but these are some things I have realized about house cleaning - and how house cleaning applies to my life.

  • Cleaning takes time. There's no way around this. There is no secret formula - no finger snapping - no wave of a magic wand - that will make my house instantly clean and maintenance free. I must spend time daily cleaning my house. This has been a big deal for me, because I have so many things I would like to spend my time doing, and in the past I have allowed cleaning to be a part of my schedule only very rarely - and I had to change my attitude about this. Ideally, I would like to spend a good two hours daily on my house - between regular things like dishes and laundry, to deep-cleaning and dusting and organizing. I'm not there yet. 
  • The FlyLady system was not created by a person with babies and toddlers. I could be wrong here, but I am quite certain that the formation of these routines and cleaning schedules did not happen while chasing down toddlers, and responding to the needs of an infant.  That being said, 'FlyLady' is all about taking baby steps - and as long as I don't berate myself for not completing every single task set out for me each day, I can be encouraged that each week my house becomes a bit more company-ready, and each month I am closer to a day when some of these tasks actually become habits.  During a time in my life when my morning list of tasks looks like this:
    • Shower and put on underwear - 13 minutes
    • Open girls' bedroom door and try to calm down screaming toddler so she doesn't wake the baby - 2 minutes
    • Put on shirt and pants, start brushing hair - 1 minute
    • Put toddler in kitchen chair and give her breakfast - 3 minutes
    • Finish brushing hair, wipe down bathroom (FlyLady task) - 2 minutes
    • Get toddler drink of milk - 30 seconds
    • Get baby out of bed, change diaper, get her dressed and put her in high chair - 6 minutes
    • Start making breakfast for baby - 1 minute
    • Refill toddler's cereal bowl - 30 seconds
    • Finish making breakfast for baby, start feeding baby - 3 minutes
    • Grind coffee beans (because I'm desperate at this point) - 1 minute
    • Feed baby a little bit more... - 2 minutes
    • Fill coffee maker with water and put grounds in filter and press 'on' - 1 minute
    • Feed baby some more - 3 minutes
    • Clean up half-eaten bowl of cereal that toddler tossed across the table - 4 minutes
    • Lecture toddler on wasting food - 1 minute
    • Finish feeding the baby...   
  • I'll finish there, because you can see where I'm going with this. Everything is done in 1-3 minute intervals, and no job can be completed before someone is crying or yelling that they have to go pee.  When you have an hour or less to get everyone ready to leave the house, including the arduous task of getting a toddler dressed and getting the diaper bag packed appropriately when you can't actually focus your brain for more than six seconds - even the two minute jobs that the FlyLady hails as being so easy to fit into a schedule can be difficult. But, the way I see it - if I start mastering some of these things while dealing with babies and toddlers, it will be that much easier when the kids are older.
  • When it comes to following the 'FlyLady' system, I have very much taken the 'baby steps' approach. Usually, I'm the kind of person who needs to become an expert immediately - or at least as fast as possible - and in this situation I really can't. I have to allow myself limitations, and allow myself bad days. I forgive myself for a lazy day, and try again the next.  In the process, I have been able to watch my home become gradually more presentable, although I still have a long way to go. 

I have heard rumours of other such cleaning and organizational websites and plans, and my thoughts would be to use what works for you!  I have an aunt who kept her home immaculate through the entirety of the growing up years of her four sons, and now cleans professionally, and while she was showing me how plain old water works just as well on cleaning a mirror as windex does, she encouraged me to 'use what works'. If it helps you keep your house clean - do it!  It's the result that matters anyway, not necessarily how you got there. 

Read 3428 times Last modified on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:41

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