Years ago, when I was hired to teach preschool 2 mornings a week, I went looking for ideas for helping me keep organized. I found FlyLady. For those of you who haven’t heard of her, she is a writer and inspirational speaker who finally, after years of CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome – her creation), managed to get her house in order.
Her system is simple and translates to many areas of my life: “You can do anything for 15 minutes.” Literally. You set a timer for 15 minutes and you work until it goes off. Then you stop. Many chores don’t take 15 minutes (as my readers know from my Musings). In areas of your home that area really a cluttered, disorganized mess, you work for 5 minutes. Everyone can find 5 minutes in their day to work on their home.
And FlyLady is free. She has books and cleaning tools you can purchase, but you don’t need them to get started or ever. Her book is inspirational and goes into detail about her system, but most of the information is on her website. Her cleaning tools are good (personally, I love her purple rags and they do an amazing job), but they are just that: tools. They aren’t consumables, so you buy them once (except for her calendar) and then you don’t buy them again. Her system is easy and will work for everyone – if your home is clean or not. If it is clean then she helps you stay organized and keep it that way, and if it isn’t, then she helps you babystep your way to a clean home.
When I lived in Illinois, I joined the Lake County Flybabies Yahoo Group and met some amazing women. Several of them are still friends (after they moved and I moved – Terri, Jessica and Melanie) and are amazing sources of strength and support. My “Flyfriends” jumped in and helped me when my basement flooded days before I was to move to Colorado (so did Chris’ old co-workers at Snap-On Credit – to give them their due).
FlyLady was how I was able to work part-time, run with the boys, keep the house clean and ready to show (it was on the market) as a “single” parent when the boys and I were in Illinois and Chris was in Colorado for a year. I had a cleaning schedule and followed it religiously and it got to the point I didn’t have to think about it at all. It was carefree time in my life as a homemaker.
When the boys and I moved to Colorado, I stopped using FlyLady. I’m not quite sure why. But I did. I still used a timer and the boys used timers (we use them for MANY things and I buy them when I find them on clearance and at the dollar store), but the rest of the stuff, the cleaning routines fell by the wayside.
It is perhaps that I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even imagine babystepping. We moved in June, the boys started school (they were on a year-round schedule then), I began looking for a job, started work in August and started my Master’s in October. It would have been perfect to use FlyLady, but I didn’t.
Now that I have a lot of time on my hands, I started using FlyLady again. I have my routines and I am finding that they give me a lot of free-time that I don’t have to use for cleaning. Yesterday, I planned on cleaning the storage area and the patio. I still did laundry and dishes and I vacuumed, but that was my job for the day. I worked on it for a while (I didn’t use my timer, but I should have) and then took a break. Then worked on it some more and took another break. I did this until I was finished. Surprisingly, it didn’t take that long to finish. It is a job that I have been putting off, and I finished it in a couple of hours. I started when David left for school (7 am) and finished before 9:30.
Why did I put it off for so long? Basically, I thought it was a bigger job than it really was. Truthfully, it took 2 trips to the dumpster (Michael helped me take their old toybox, which I couldn’t handle on my own) and I can now sit out on the patio. And I did – twice yesterday (talking on the phone to my mom and reading my book).
There is one box of computer stuff and computer boxes that I need Chris to go through and see if we need to keep, and I have a large number of lids for storage containers that I need to figure out, but that is pretty much it. And doing this job didn’t wear me out or result in me neglecting the rest of the apartment.
My next two projects are stripping the boys’ beds and getting all their linens washed and their beds re-made. It is a job I HATE because they have bunk beds! It will take most of the day for me to keep the laundry moving along, but besides the 30 minutes of re-making the beds, it really isn’t a rough chore. And then, I will move on to the storage garage. That is a bit more complicated because it is on the other side of the apartment complex (they didn’t have one close when we moved in). While my project of doing the boys’ beds isn’t a tough one, it does require being around to move the laundry along, so it won’t work to try to do both in one day.