Thursday, January 8, 2009

The FlyLady Method

I think my post about two months ago on FlyLady was adequate introduction on how much I love this method. It is a home cleaning and management method (online and free at flylady.net) that really goes deep in attacking the paralyzing mindset of the perfectionist slob.

You might not know whether you are a perfectionist slob, but you’ll pretty much have the same behavior patterns I did:
  • Only clean if you have a good two to four hours ahead of you
  • Let the dishes pile up and don’t bother wiping the countertops because tomorrow you’re going to deep-clean the whole kitchen (right)
  • Do all of your laundry in one day. You planned to do all of the folding and putting away too, but you were distracted and so the big, daunting pile of dirty laundry in your laundry room becomes a big, daunting pile of clean laundry in your bedroom
  • Spend one day (a week or a month) cleaning, scrubbing, and mopping for hours at a time, and then collapse on the couch at the end of the day, freaking out when your child empties a bin of blocks in the middle of your living room
  • After mega-cleaning day, the house stays clean for about four or five days, and then the kitchen floor crumbs appear, the blob of snot in the bathroom sink, and the never-ending trail of toys and instead of doing the little habits that will keep the house clean, you feel so demoralized because you think you have to go through another grueling, exhausting six hours of cleaning sometime soon
  • Dream that one day, you will get your house so clean and organized, that cleaning will be much less of a chore
For a lot of people who had cleaning habits ingrained in them while growing up or just are naturally organized, a lot of this is going to seem like totally common sense. Since I was pregnant with my second child, I struggled desperately with managing the housework. I had tried FlyLady on and off a couple of times, but always skipped ahead and went straight to scrubbing the kitchen floor—who needs baby steps? I wanted my house clean and my problems fixed now! What I didn’t realize is that the approach is not about getting your house clean, but about building small habits into your everyday routine that will make cleaning light and effortless, and—oh yes,—even enjoyable.

Today, my house is definitely not spotless (this is about beating perfectionism, not reinforcing it, remember?). There are areas that will always need work, but I feel in control, I know what to do everyday in order to keep my home well-managed, and the whole family is more comfortable and happy in a pleasantly clean and organized home.

I won’t summarize FlyLady, since you can go on her expansive website and read for hours, but I will break down what I benefited the most from her:
  1. In the beginning, your house will not get clean overnight. Take small baby steps, stop when you are done, and pat yourself on the back each step of the way.
  2. Housework worth doing is worth doing haphazardly or incompletely. What you don’t get today, you will get tomorrow.
  3. Small, 2-minute habits are extremely powerful
  4. Housework is a form of loving your family
  5. A simple morning and evening routine can change your life
If you’re interested in doing the FlyLady method, I’d recommend reading the Welcome Letter (it’s about ten pages long) and then starting off very devoutly with the baby steps, one a day, no jumping ahead. If you mess up or miss a few days, don’t play catch up, just jump back into your morning and evening routines which you will build gradually over the course of four weeks.

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