Feb 282008

When in my big rant I wrote that

I tried to get back on track by re-subscribing to flylady again, and then I couldn’t stand all the e-mail. I didn’t do anything different and so, I have to confess, the e-mails didn’t do the housework.

Joanna answered in a comment

Flylady was invented for people who have 3 billion hours in a day. The routines look great on paper but they do not work in this house!!!!

And this had me thinking about a reply for weeks now so I decided to make it into a blog post. I hope Joanna doesn’t mind.

First, as I have written too, one of the problems seems to be that the routines and e-mails really don’t do any work. Sadly, housework still has to be done by oneself, or – in my case – by my husband. Which isn’t fair and so I have been working on improving my homemaking skills. That is not Flylady’s fault.

Second, Flylady was not invented for people who have 3 billion hours a day, it was invented precisely for people who don’t have much time, who are easily distracted and therefore a bit challenged on the organizational or cleaning side of life.

For those of you who don’t know who or what Flylady is, Flylady is the nickname of an American woman who started a yahoo-group to help people with organizing and housecleaning. The system is a bit unusual but I can testify that it works beautifully when you do it. Which might go for every system out there, I don’t know, but I can say that I started using Flylady’s methods five years ago and even though I have been off and on in applying them there are a few things that have stuck, and the house never looks as awful as it did before.

Right now I’m working on getting back to where I was before. It seems like that’s what I’m doing in all areas of my life at the moment. But there are things that I started because of Flylady and that just stuck.

Dressing down to shoes first thing in the morning.
While I don’t take a shower or put on make-up in the morning, each morning I get up and then dress into jeans, a sweater, my indoor sneaker, and I put on earrings and a necklace. So, if everything goes haywire that day I’m already dressed adequately for almost all the things I’m doing on a day-to-day basis.
Before I started doing this I changed clothes about six times a day. Sweats in the morning, then dress for doing errands, back into sweats, working out, dress in clean sweats after taking a shower, dress for teaching, back into sweats, then pajamas. Then I found that stretchy jeans and a sweater or tee are almost as comfy as sweats, and I can wear them all day long. Yes, I even work out in jeans sometimes. Then I take a shower and change into clean clothes. I still wear pajamas at night, just in case you may have wondered.

Wearing lace-up shoes in the house
When I first read this I thought this woman must be crazy. Why should I trade my Birkenstocks for anything else. Well, here is why: I’m less prone to stumbling and falling down stairs, I feel like I’m in work-mode, and my feet don’t hurt.

Picking up after myself
My husband will be the first to tell you that I’m not very good at this but I’m really much better than I used to be. Often I even put the dirty dishes away right after a meal. And I’m always glad when I do because it’s just so nice when you come back and hour later and your kitchen is actually clean and tidy.

Dealing with laundry in a timely fashion
Again, I have been better at this at one time but usually laundry gets washed when there is enough for one or two loads, it gets hung up as soon as it’s washed and it gets folded when it’s dry and put away immediately. I fold the clothes on the thing where the laundry dries, put it in a hamper, carry the hamper to the bedroom and just put everything away. Magic. No piles. And since we don’t iron anything…

Put everything into my calendar and check it at least twice a day
Really helpful. Everything is in there, and I check it in the evening, in the morning, and often in between. When I have something like “Bring two eggs, a pair of pantyhose, and a net to kindergarten.” it really helps to know about it the evening before. Because mornings are stressful enough as it is, I don’t have to add the stress of looking for discarded pantyhose and eggs on top of that.

“Housework done incorrectly still blesses the family.”
Yep. Picking up a few dust bunnies by hand is better than doing nothing at all. Taking a bit of window cleaner and wipe at the bathroom window is much better than waiting for those two empty days where I finally will have enough time to clean all the windows in the house.

Making the bed every day.
Yes, you read that correctly. Every morning after breakfast I go and make the beds, and tidy the bedroom. You might think this doesn’t make much of a difference but it does. Every time I go into our bedroom I feel relaxed and a bit more peaceful. Because it’s tidy and the beds are made.

Wiping the sink.
While I still struggle with the ongoing cleaning of the bathrooms every sink in the house gets wiped out after use. Almost every time. Also I wipe down the shower stall after taking a shower. That takes all of twenty second and it looks as if I were really cleaning them every day. Which I don’t.

Small steps done consistently make a difference.
I know, my mother told me that one long ago but she isn’t very good at this either. And I have a really hard time being consistent with anything. Since Flylady taught me that I don’t have to be perfect I have been practicing and becoming better at it. And if I’m not consistent for a while? Then I just start over again. And again. And again. And again.

And here is one last slogan from her (and I should post that one on my mirror):

Progress, not perfection.

So, while not everyone has to use Flylady’s system, and there seem to be a few people who don’t need a system at all (I’m living with one, for example) how do you go on about that? And are you happy with your surroundings that way? Or aren’t you?

I just love to hear how you deal with it.

  10 Responses to “What I learned from Flylady”

  1. i’m a miserable failure as a housekeeper. i keep hoping that my wit, charm, and love of chaos offsets all that.

  2. I’m Liv’s twin. Terrible housekeeper. Yet, I do follow that tip about whipping sinks in all public toilets. I take the paper towels I use to dry my hands and then wipe the sink before leaving the room. This is especially smart things to do in a plane. It has been noted that if a toilet looks clean people are less likely to make it dirty.

  3. I am obsessive and check everything and put things away in piles that only I understand. As for cleaning? I finally gave up and at the age of 45 finally decided I DESERVED someone (a lovely someone) who comes and cleans my house for me. I am eternally grateful and the kids will go without shoes so i can keep her.

  4. I like Flylady. I never did get into the habit of wearing shoes inside the house, but I have various versions of her Weekly Blessing that I do, sometimes once a week, sometimes every two weeks (when I’m busy). And I still wipe out my sink every time I use it. 🙂

  5. I’ve never heard of Flylady before…

    One of the things I find most helpful is to have our outing bags ready to go the night before. Sometimes I even put them in the car so I only have to herd the kids out the door in the morning.

    And, like you, I just kind of pick up and move things along as I go here and there… wipe the counters, move the laundry around a bit, pick up toys, vacuum a room… works well enough.

  6. I feel i should back up my earlier comment although pleased it gave Suzanne enough for a whole post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Everybody likes to live i a clean and tidy house. I am exceptionally house proud although i live in a tip most of the time due to two children under the age of 5. However, i do not think that having a clean and tidy house makes you a better person. I went to flylady for a laugh and laugh i did. The shine the sink video is enough to make we want to scream shouting get a life people. However i have a friend who swears by flylady. I feel that sites like flylade and/or Anthea Turner over here are there to make you feel guilty if you do not live up to their exacting standards. I hate the emails (about 20 a day) I hate the fact that they constantly try to sell you stuff common sense would tell you to buy anyway – a calender can be bought from your local stationers for example for a third of the price. Iwould never consider wearing lace up shoes around the house, I am only in my 30s what is wrong with bare feet?????? Yes i should clean away the dinner stuff IMMEDIATELY after eating I am sure, but actually i want to talk to my husband who I havent seen all day. Yes I could spend time “zoning” my house on set occasions but feel it is more important to have friends round for my children or get on the floor and play with them. this is my point of view. I come from a family of exceptionally tidy people who nearly go into a faint at the sight of dirt. I would rather cope with the chaos in my own fashion rahter than live a regimented life that would have me feeling guilty when i let it slide

  7. Two words: maid service.

    I can only afford them twice a month but they are my saving grace.

  8. In my opinion the flylady-system is not about making people guilty and it isn’t even primarily about having a clean and tidy house. It is about loving oneself, about creating a nice home, a place to rest and to feel good. For me that means putting away the dishes immediately while talking with my husband and then having time for him and me without that nagging feeling that there is something in the kitchen that still needs to be done.

    I know that a lot of her advice sounds silly but it really worked for me. I have scoffed at the lace-up shoes for about half a year while already being on the system, and now I wear them all day long. And when I take them off in the evening I know that this is my leisure time.

    So, I love the system, and I especially love that it has space for “me-time”, “family fun day”, and “renew your spirit day” too. I don’t have to kill myself to have the perfect household, nor do I give up because I can’t do it like my grandmother did anyway, but I know that with an investment of about 45 minutes daily I can maintain a home that is friendly and inviting. And when I have friends over I know that there is food and drink for them and that I don’t have to be afraid of anybody opening a drawer.

    As for the cleaning service. While that may be nice the maid service can’t tidy your house. For the first time in my life I’m in a position that if I had somebody else to clean my house they could do so. Things are mostly put away. I don’t have to waste time to search for something. Having a clean and tidy house with minimum effort means that there is more space for conversations, fun, and creativity, and less guilt.

  9. I joined back up with Flylady, it has been about two years since I got the emails, but you spurred me on to doing it again. I love her, but once I stopped, it was easy to get into CHAOS again.

    I saw your comment on Mel’s site and what you said in the first paragraph was so true to me too. I started having problems in December also, I have been feeling so deprived too and I have solved that by massively changing my diet to allow cheating all the time. Now’s the time to put the brakes on that. I am glad that Mel posted that, because I needed it.

  10. I really like flylady and you are right.. if you follow the routines, life is much easier!

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