Monday, July 19, 2010

cleaning

One of my goals for the summer was to learn the Flylady system for cleaning and whip the house into some kind of order. I knew I wanted to learn her system from her book because the website is quite confusing. I had read about the first half last spring and had to turn it back in before I was done. That was good, maybe, because it gave me a chance to ponder some of her basic messages. Then, this summer, I got it again and this time I really studied the book and even took notes!

Here is what resonates with me in Flylady's message: she says that it is our perfectionism that keeps us from cleaning our houses. I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist before (and I'm not one when it comes to my crafts and sewing or even my blog) but her description fits perfectly when it comes to house cleaning. I have always thought "it's going to take me 2 hours to clean that area perfectly so I might as well not even start," or "it took me 2 hours to clean last time and I don't even want to think about doing that again." Or I would start out cleaning a small area and just get super frustrated as I would look around and see more dirt everywhere. Flylady urges us to ditch the perfectionism and just start cleaning. Even "hitting a lick at a snake" is better than nothing, but if you follow her system you will be cleaning in short bursts but the house will eventually come into order and "you will never see dirt again." The other thing I like about her is that she encourages building small routines. I do very very well with routines so this is perfect for me. Other than shining your kitchen sink, one of the things she starts you with is a bedtime routine and a morning routine. Later there are weekly and monthly routines too.
So here is her system in a nutshell (as I see it):
:: develop a morning and an evening routine. Part of the evening routine is to go to bed at a decent hour. This is key because you'll need energy for maintaining the system.
:: once a week you do a quick one-hour cleaning. She calls it a "weekly home blessing." I was visiting with my good friend last week and she always has called it a "white tornado" so that is what I call it too. The key to this one-hour cleaning is that you set the timer and work for 10 minutes per area. It sounds too short but it really works! The beauty of this is that it is only an hour (or a bit longer, depending) so you don't get burnt out and the house really is much cleaner even after only that relatively short burst.
:: then, for 15 minutes a day, you work in the current "zone," either de-cluttering (at first) or detailed cleaning. There are 5 zones. This week we are in the bedroom so yesterday I decluttered my nightstand and spent a little time dusting the blinds in there.

The morning and evening routines are key. One of my other summer goals was to get a bedtime routine for the boys and it dovetails perfectly with Flylady. Here is how I have adapted the nighttime routine to suit our needs:

:: quick kitchen clean-up, after dinner. Ken and I usually work together on this.
:: 5-minute family tidy-up, which includes the little boys helping. We pick up toys and do a quick sweeping in the main area. It's only 5 minutes, so when the timer goes off we are done.
:: family walk around the neighborhood.
:: bath for the boys. (While they are in the bath I quickly set out my clothes for the next day).
:: read to the boys
:: bedtime for the little boys--one of us lies down with them.
:: after bedtime, when school has started, I plan to come back out, finish up any kitchen cleanup (for pans that have been soaking or whatever) and make lunches.

I like that I am developing routines now which can be adapted for back to school too.

We are enjoying summer around here. Posting is going to continue to be erratic until at August most likely. Happy summer to you all!

23 comments:

Aimee said...

I first read about Flylady in a magazine in Spring of 2002. She changed my life!! More than anything, the key is routine. I have been on my routine "auto-pilot" for years now and our house has done a complete 180 from ten years ago. It stays mostly clean all of the time and I completely was able to let go of perfectionism and do "good enough".

Mary Beth said...

Oh, that is interesting, Aimee! It is good to know the system stands the test of time. Do you think my little outline of the basic parts of the program is pretty accurate? I've been trying to get the "big picture" in mind.

melissa s. said...

I am a fly-fan! It really is amazing how much you can get accomplished when you set a timer. I did change some of her recommended routines around (I break the weekly cleaning to 10 minutes each day instead of an hour once a week, and that's been working for me. It's flexible!!)

Mary Beth said...

melissa s.--yes! That's what I love too. I've adapted the basic concepts to suit my family. It works for working families, nursing mothers, whatever. She is very flexible that way.

Robin said...

I've been a Flylady fan for 5 years now, since my first child was born, and following her system - tweaking it to fit my lifestyle - has kept my sanity! The evening and morning routines and the weekly home blessing hour keep everything in perspective. At this point, my house is usually clean and I don't even have to think about it.

Inoureyes said...

I used the fly lady website around 4 years ago. It was a tad confusing and i got most of my info from the many emails that they sent throughout the day while i was studying. I think about her ideas almost everyday and although i may have slackened off a tad, i am always aware of those nasty hot spots and making sure my house gets a blessing (almost daily)
Good luck!

Sara said...

I like the evening routine, and I've been using timers for cleaning, but I haven't checked out Flylady. I guess I need to!

Anonymous said...

I've used some of fly-lady's cleaning routines for a few years now and I too love the "routine" aspect of it. It's great when you can just do things on 'auto-pilot' like Aimee mentioned rather than re-inventing what works each week.
Good for you!
p.s. not sure why I'm still not able to leave comments. so I'm going to try the anonymous route.
Blessings!
Rain

Bringing Pretty Back said...

I read this book last year and need to re read it! This was a great post and got me motivated to get organized. Thank you!!!

Jodz said...

Thanks for this post. I need to remember to keep focused on the task at hand and I like that you set time limits.

sarah said...

10 min. i think i can handle that and the house could really use it. during the summer months we tend to spend every moment outside and the house just accumulates piles of random stuff and piles of laundry mostly caught between the land of wrinkletown and folddom.

Andrea said...

Your bedtime routine sounds great! Mine has devolved into: tell boys to get ready for bed, clean up kitchen, tell boys to get ready for bed again, read mail, tell boys they better go upstairs and get ready for bed or no story, knit a row, go upstairs and find boys playing legos, not ready for bed...etc. I think I need to adopt your system!

Dawn said...

That really makes sense to me about not cleaning because it feels like it will take 2 hours to do it all....I have been trying to set up a routine myself as well. I have quite a few friends that use FlyLady.

:)

Cheryl said...

I've not heard of Flylady before. I shall definitely have a look for her book. Got to be cheaper than a cleaner. I love the simple idea of using a timer. That sounds manageable. Thanks for sharing.

PS Love your blog. I've been lurking for a few months.

Jars of Giggles said...

I have been doing this on and off for a few months but at the end of school I lost it! Thanks for the reminder to get back on the bandwagon!

Karen said...

just glad to hear from you when i can, mary beth! i so very much enjoy your blog and read it all the time. i recently read most of "the happiness project" and that author also talks about a 10-minute daily tidy. it's amazing how much gets done in that short span of time! i'll have to keep my eyes open for the flylady book. i'm always looking to make life simpler. :-) i like your dishcloths!

Karen said...

btw you should think about moderating your comments ... i get those weird asian comments too ...

Cristina said...

Love your blog!

I also have Flylady's book. She is great.

I had a random question for you: you mention that you lay down with your boys for bed. Just wondering how that works in your house. My 5 year old is asking that I lay down with him, but I'm hesitating because I don't want to give up the time to myself each night. Just wondering what your philosophy is on laying down with children who are a little older. part of me says to do it because he obviously wants that closeness but part of me is worried that it will start a habit that I don't want to continue long-term.

JamieS said...

I really like your evening routine too! We are working on a better routine since my 5 yr old is about to start kindergarten. We have mainly been working on the am routine (mostly for me) since we have all been sleeping in until 8:30ish for the past year or so. you are doing lots of things I would like to do every night too, I was wondering, what time do you start (with dinner) and what time are you getting them in bed? I am currently getting dinner on the table at 6:30, but maybe I need to push that up...

Maiz Connolly said...

Thanks for this post. I checked out her website, and think of her whenever I polish the sink, but then I sort of let it go. Now I should read her book!

christine ~ ourdayourjourney said...

thanks for the cliff notes on the cleaning. sounds like you are off to a great start and i love how the boys are included.

catie said...

oh! i've been a fan of flylady for YEARS. she has helped me in so many ways. my top 3 flylady tips are: banishing perfection, the power of 15 minutes, and how easy it is to clean a clean toilet (the trick is to swish it daily!).

Maaike Quinn said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog (just found it thanks to SmallNotebook) and I love it!

I am a huge FlyLady fan too. I'm doing it all and I tweak it big time, but she truly changed my life. No, not my house (which still is a big mess sometimes) but she changed the way I think. I am way happier now!

By the way, I have a blog about FlyLady and on there I am currently working on a list of blogs and blog posts about FlyLady. And I'd love to have this post on there as well!

In case you're interested, you can find the list here:

Add your blog by clicking here!

Simply hit the 'Add your link' button at the end of the post and follow the instructions.

Keep up the good work!