Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Experience with The Cleaning Routine & A Couple Tips

In my last post I shared my new cleaning routine. It’s pretty detailed, so I let it be it’s very own post.

Today I’m going to share why I like it.


So as I shared, before I was very inexperienced with cleaning. I always felt somewhat like an impostor when cleaning -- I didnt think I was a cleaner and I didnt ever really feel like a grown up (based on many things, but really strongly routed in just the fact that I didnt know how to clean.)

It’s weird how deep some stuff can be. So just excuse me for a moment here… if you just want more practical stuff, that comes later.

Since I started using Fly Ladys routines I’m personally overcoming some complex heart stuff. The more I apply myself to this, the more Im thinking to myself differently -- I dont hear so many “Youll never be able to keep your house clean thoughts and Im starting to hear myself say to me: “Good job, look how well youve done/you are doing! through out the day. (Thats an ENORMOUS mental shift. Because Im used to pretty much only negative self talk.) 
(And this is about way more than cleaning -- Once again, counseling is a good thing. That’s been helping me to learn that negative self talk isn’t healthy. And in a round about way, I think counseling propelled me to want to search out a cleaning system because I could hear so much negative self talk surrounding that specific issue for me. And so in a confidence building way, conquering something (cleaning) that has been so daunting for me --- the confidence is really helping me to quite down my critical voice in this area. I actually haven’t really talked about cleaning at all in counseling, I’m just being more free inside myself to push for this because of other breakthroughs.)

But back to Fly Lady. Shes rooting for me/you/us. And that always means something to me, if someone will say “I believe you can do this." Shes empowering us to use our own power -- and that’s really key in any change.
So my metal shift isn’t specifically from her, but because with her help, and the way she set this up, I’ve been able to make sense of things and feel good about my power and strength.

Her back story is that she was essentially a hoarder, with a very filthy house. 
That’s why her focus is so hard on decluttering to start with and why she says it can take so long -- she’s helping anyone start anywhere, because she started DOWN LOW.

Now I will say, for me -- I did not do my decluttering with fly lady and her 15 minutes a day system. I had already started my minimalism mission before I recently picked up with Fly Lady. By the time I found Fly Lady I had deeply decluttered about 80% of my inside home (I’m not counting the garage in that.) 

I’m not sure I could have stood to declutter my whole home 15 mins at a time. Because I kinda of like to immerse myself into it. (And I will talk about that more with you in different posts.)
When I was deeply decluttering, I wasn’t really cleaning (mopping, vacuuming, dusting) much I was focused on my first task -- removing things from the house.
     But when I picked up with Fly Lady, I did take her up on the concept of taking small bits of my day to tackle more of what I had left to declutter. I’m still not fully decluttered -- but I’m to a really lovely stage, where I feel much more at peace with my space.

So my advice to you is do what works. 15 minutes a day might be perfect for you. A mix of everything worked for me. And like I said, I’ll share more later.

Anyway, another reason I think I like using this, is because since getting done with school myself (a long while ago now), I’ve always had a bit of discomfort from the missing routines and classroom and classmates dynamics. There is a lot of comfort in being part of a group accomplishing something. So having Fly Lady’s app, or just her website, provide some of that helps me feel grounded to something and accountable to it. Instead of floating around without goals for cleaning.

What I did with fly lady was kinda jump in and flop around a bit  (I didn’t even grasp her whole system right away)-- I would just take what time I had, and do as much of each day’s goals that I could. 
I’m not on top of the routines, in depth. But I do as much as I can each day (and it’s not always the same amount.)

The weekly "home blessings” -- I spread those through out the week. I tend to be able to get one done a a day. Sometimes a few if the day’s going smoothly.
And I also don’t stress if I can’t get every room vacuumed every week. Two of my rooms downstairs really do not get very dirty, so they can go longer. (My upstairs rooms are all hardwood floors, that I usually just run a wet dust mop over quickly.) And honestly I’ve yet to wipe my doors down -- that one seems kinda less important in my house. 

In the zone cleaning I just do the same “what I can” thing. I just take the time I have that day, and put it towards the goals in that space. But give myself TOTAL grace to only get a tiny bit of it done.  Some days I could get TONS done, and some days just barely the basics.
But that’s what’s great about her system. Once I started using it, I can feel the confidence that comes from knowing everything cycles back around -- if I don’t get it now, I will get it later. And that with each cleaning cycle it WILL be easier. So that gave me the ability to stop the “all or nothing” train. I could finally rest easy in knowing the wheels are always going the right direction now. I can see how to let go of getting things perfect all at once, and how to just keep adding good to good, to get great (but not perfect.) (But consistent-great, feels way better than on-again-off-again-perfect, mixed with huge-mess!)  

So yeah, so can see I haven’t follow her advice exactly to the T. I still don’t have my routines down pat. I haven’t started laying my clothes out at night (because we stay home most days) but I love the idea, and I plan to work up to it. I don’t always get dressed or if I do, I don’t always wear my shoes. (But I will say, I do feel way more apt to work with them on -- which is something I noticed a long time ago.) (And if you don’t wear shoes in your house, Fly Lady is so committed to this concept she suggests you buy a pair of tennis shoes that you ONLY wear in your house -- because it’s that effective. And her readers are often writing in to say their feet are less dry and in better condition because of it.)
But I love the rest of the before bed routine. 
     I always try to clean up the kitchen. But some nights I just can’t (and I make up for it in the morning. Or sometimes Blake will get the dishes done.)
      Before bed I don’t always have the stamina for the family room -- land of toys. I hope to get a kids-pick-up time implemented, but that’s ahead of me still.
     And I espeically love all the ideas for relaxing before bed. I’m really working on all those things, they make a huge difference. (So much more health-inducing than Neflix binging till the clock yells at me.)
     In the morning, Blake and I have gotten pretty good at making the bed. I’d say it’s made about 90% of the time now. One or the other usually quickly makes it before we run downstairs. We have no set rules or agreements on who does it when, we just try to do it when we can. I think we both like the results, so we both just try and see that it happens. (Check out this Navy Seal talk about how wise this simple act is.)

Anyway -- I’m not perfect with any of this. (And more that likely I will relapse into a messy stage again after I share these posts -- because I usually do after sharing anything about my personal changes. It throws me off a bit, being so vulnerable, and I have to regain my composure to feel authentic in my choices.) But even with all the imperfections of how I follow along, I have found a sense of stability from her system (which I like to implement with her app) --- and I (and my family) have seen big, clear improvement in the house! My house is not perfectly spotless these days. But honestly it’s been quite nice, enjoyable, and pretty close to “friend-company ready” at all times, and just a short stint to “got-to-look-good-good company ready” most times. 
I cannot deny it’s virtues.

General thoughts on different parts:

The Laundry:
I love the change in this area.
I used to try and have an official laundry day once a week. The thinking being I’d rather get it done all at once and have some time off from laundry. But putting away all that laundry all at once, always overwhelmed me. And because of that overwhelm -- I had wrongly assumed that if I did laundry every day I’d have that overwhelmed feeling every day. I wanted to avoid that like the plague.
But once I started doing a load a day, with Fly Lady’s morning routine, laundry has felt SO manageable. It’s SO MUCH LESS overwhelming to me, it’s crazy. It takes just a few minutes to fold, and just a few minutes to put away one small load. Sometimes I still put the task of putting clothes away off, but even when I let it pile up -- for even a week -- it’s not super bad because it’s just one mild weeks worth. (Before lessing our clothes amounts, and with doing large batches of laundry…it used to be able to REALLY pile up. ) But I usually don’t let it pile up that long anymore, because it’s turning into a regular habit. I very often get it put away that day. 
I think it kinda like a rolling stone gathers no moss. If I don’t take days off, I don’t feel like stopping. I usually want to keep the ball rolling and get it put away.

I also tend to do a small load every evening. I have switched to cloth napkins. So I gather up the day’s worth, as well as bibs, kitchen towel and sponges, and our baby splat mat from under the high chair and do a quick load. If I have any random lights laying around I’ll toss them in too. (My kids shed clothes an oddly large amount? I need to address this over time…oh well. So I can find clothes in the family room most days.) 
So sometimes I will fold the kitchen stuff at breakfast the next day and then just quickly put it away. (This is SO MUCH easier than digging the napkins out of all the family’s clothes once a week to fold and sort.)

Like I said yesterday, shining that sink really does something for getting the dishes done. I’ve taken so much more ownership of the dishes, and keeping up with them.

And then --the kitchen in general stays cleaner with the dishes not piling up. If  I can see the counters (clear of dishes) I notice them and wipe them. If those are clean, I wipe the stove. And If that’s clean, then I notice the floors and those just happen to stay cleaner (I pick up big crumbs right away, I spot clean more...) 

Keeping up on the parts of the zone work that I can in the kitchen has gotten my microwave to a lovely level. Every time I open it lately I’m like “WOW!” 

The Bathrooms:
One thing I’ve learned (which isn’t something Fly Lady taught me, I saw it online somewhere else -- good general bathroom tips here -- but it’s right up Fly Lady’s alley) is that if I wipe down my enclosed shower with a towel every time we use it, that it will not get dirty! Mold can’t grow without moisture. And hard water can’t stain if it’s not hanging around.
So I’ve been squeegeeing off the walls, doors and floor to get the big drops off, and then running a towel (that I have designated just for this) over the whole thing.
It feels mildly cumbersome the first few times. But it probably only takes a minute, maybe two, to do. And so seven (even 14) minutes a week, is SOOOO much better than having to soak the shower in bleach and iron-out for a full day, then do heavy scrubbing, regularly. 
     Actually when I started doing this, my shower floor was looking a bit rust-colored again (I was just gearing myself up to do the iron-out treatment) and in just a couple of days of drying it off after every shower, the floor looks almost perfect all on it’s own, no scrubbing. It’s crazy! I did NOT expect that.

     I’ve always had such a hard time keeping shower enclosures nice because all their crevasses get so nasty…not anymore. It’s amazing. And there is some kind of weird joy I get out of looking at a shower that’s totally dry, even though I know I just showered. This is a MAJOR game changer.

I do the “swish and swipe”  (cleaning the countertop and toilet) part of the morning routine differently. 
We have three bathrooms. (And I only have so much time available at a time before I need to check on the kids) So...
I do a cursory glance at my master bathroom and assess if I need to address it. More than likely I do at least a counter swipe. 
 And I swish the toilet, maybe closer to three times a week? But if I don’t need to do anything, I skip it. And if I skip it, I try to hit the other upstairs bathroom. (Or sometimes I pop back up there during an afternoon and hit one or both real quick then. It’s kinda free form -- but it’s still happening -- that’s the key.)

And for the downstairs bathroom….
That thing is pretty much a nonstop battle ground.
Three little kids… it’s crazy.
So I have begun to embrace the concept of "clean up as you go", wholeheartedly in there.
The sink is white, and I had no idea kids could get so much general stuff on a sink. (No regrets on the white sink, by the way.) 
 I wash the baby’s hands in there after every meal -- so his pre-washed, grabby, hands leave food globs everywhere. And the bigger kids somehow are always leaving dirt from outside or random what-not. So now I’ve started just keeping a washcloth in there at all times and I wipe it down pretty much everytime I’m in there. It takes like 10 seconds. I’m going to install a hook on the back of the door to hang my wash cloth on to dry.
And as for the “swish” (the toliet) --- TMI alert -- with a kid potty seat, placing a hinny up closer to the front of the bowl, things don’t always flush away like you wish they would. So I’m wishing that toilet nearly as much as I’m washing the sink. It’s just par for the course.
If I just don’t get the time to swish, as much as the toilet would like me to, I make sure to swish it once before bed to give it a fresh start for the next day.

So yes, there is a bowl brush in every bathroom. (And a tip I like, that I can’t really do this in any bathroom but mine, because... kids  ---  after you swish, to let the brush dry by tucking it under the toilet seat for a while. And then it won’t get gross in the brush holder.)

Also my favorite cleaning tip is using Mrs. Meyers (Not sponsored. Just a personal joy. I’m way more likely to clean if it adds a pretty scent to the house.) 
(Via Mrs. Meyer’s Instagram)

As soon as I got into the swish and swipe phase -- I went and got an “Every day cleaner” for every bathroom. Because that stuff smells GREAT.  And I wanted cleaning to feel happy -- good smells feel happy to me. I use it on both the counters the toilets -- I just a couple sprays on/in either and wipe or swish away. 

(Just FYI: My personal favorite scents are ranked in this order: 
(Via Mrs. Meyer’s Instagram)

Basil, Lemon Verbena, Honeysuckle, Radish. I like all of these a lot. And would rank them in that order, but they are nearly tied. 
I also like Bluebell, but something about to seems kid-ish to me, maybe sorta like candy or something. I’ve used it in the kids bathroom and like it in there. And I also like Rosemary. I LOVE it’s first note, but it ends very “hippie store” to me, so I’m on the fence about it. I want to like Lavender, because I love real lavender, but I can’t get into this one, it doesn’t smell real to me. And I can’t stand Geranium (But I don’t like those in real life with) it gives me an instant headache. And I’ve not tried any seasonal ones, but I’m always tempted.)

I also use Mrs. Meyers (you can get the concentrate or just spray a bit of every day cleaner onto the floor) for mopping the tile floors. I find the scent a major reward for my trouble.

So yeah, as I get into routines...
I notice that when it’s time to deep clean the room (when we get to the zone cleaning) I’m so much less over whelmed, because I’m in touch with the space. Before I was really disconnected from the spaces as I get them get dirty, and when I would look at it I would think “Oh my gosh, what do I do first? How do I clean this?” Now I just naturally know, because I’ve been “communing” with the room (if that doesn’t sound totally crazy.)

So this is probably not news to many people. (Clean up after yourself.) Some might be furrowing their brow in wonderment of why I’m even a bit surprised by any of this. 
But this is my real --- I didn’t understand any of this until now.

I think the huge take away is: Just keep the ball rolling, even if you don’t get it “right” that day, keep moving (just keep swimming) do a little. 
But it really helped me to see it laid out the way Fly Lady does it -- that lay out gives me the ability to know where to move in the house to be effective -- it keeps me realistic, focused, motivated and always moving forward.

Since I started this cleaning thing, we’ve been having guests over more than before, and it’s been so much less stressful preparing, because I can do a quick once-over, and be clean and ready very quickly. (I’m also “in practice” with doing the stuff, so I accomplish the different cleaning tasks much quicker than I could before.)

But a big note is (and I will continue to share more soon) all of this is SO MUCH EASIER for me after minimizing our things. (Less things = less to clean, less to take care of, less to distract us from what we need to do.) So look forward to those posts coming up.

So what do you think? Have I sold you on Fly Lady? Did you get inspired to wipe down your shower? Do you have any cleaning/routine tips for me that you love? Let me know!

Monday, March 13, 2017

My New Cleaning Routine

Ive been at square one with cleaning for years. Id do it -- I’d clean -- but I just never really had a gear I ever got in, and so Id constantly be going "all or nothing" back and forth. It evened out…sorta...our house stayed sanitary, but sometimes it looked awesome and other times it looked horrible -- and I never felt at ease inside it, because I was penduluming back and forth chaotically and emotionally.

The thing was, I really didnt know the basics, and that kept me in this bad cycle, that I didnt understand how to escape. I knew people used cleaning Routines and those seemed key. I made one a while ago, but it just fell flat, because I didnt know how to set it up, so it just didnt function right. I would get defeated and go back into my all or nothing thing.

But recently I’ve discovered Fly Lady.
I’m not sure if you have heard of her or not.
I heard of her a LONG time ago, maybe even before I had my own house (which would make sense as  to why I didn’t really latch onto her back when I learned of her.)
But it wasn’t until this year when I really dove into her ways.

And her ways are working SO well for me. Its the first time where I feel settled inside a functional routine. Its the first time I feel like I understand what is required to keep the wheels of housework rolling. It’s great.

Now, I’ll just be straight with you here -- her website is dated and pretty crazy, in terms of follow-ablity. 
(Also, I gotta be real -- I go back and forth on if I find her personality {that comes through in writing} endearing OR condensing and/or a little too old-school for me. But I am willing to lay any of that aside because shes REALLY helped me a lot.)

I felt like I went down the rabbit hole for a couple days, maybe even a week, just trying to figure out her website and grasp this stuff in the order she intended it to work. (It was worth it, because it’s a good system hiding behind bad web design.)

But so what I’m going to do for you is summarize her system in this post. 

Prepare yourself, because it takes a lot of words to spell this out. It’s not because it’s hard, it’s because it’s very detailed in stating what might seem obvious, but things that were never obvious to me. She’s really spelling out the small stuff  (but that small stuff adds up to the big stuff in keeping a house in order.) 
But since I’m trying to give you overall view of it….this is going to be a long post. So pull this up when you have some time.

After I lay out her system for you, I’ll share a bit about my take on it, and just my random thoughts and a couple tips, in a follow up post. 

And there is good news on the website front: she has a free app that is much more clear to understand and modern looking. It helped me really grasp what was going on in her system.  And using it every day really helps me stick to the routines and zones. 
So I HIGHLY recommend it.
Inside it you can even sign up for a free video course, where you can listen to motivation/lessons on the different aspects of the routine system.

Ok so here’s a summary of her concepts:

The very first thing Fly Lady says to do is shine your sink.
It sounds like the weirdest place to start. (And honestly I resisted it for a couple days, trying just the other stuff.) But once you do it, you feel it’s magic power. It has so much momentum behind it, it’s kinda crazy. Once I got my sink that great, I just kept doing the dishes. And that meant I was keeping my table clean. And keeping my table clean just kept adding more and more to my cleaning snowball. It really is a good place to start. Here are her detailed instructions on what she means and how to shine your sink.

After your sink---
She wants you to focus only on the morning and before bed routines, and do just 15 minutes a day of decluttering. Clear out the things you don’t love or use. (Do not get over excited and pull out more than you can put back in 15 minutes. Keep yourself realistic.)

Depending on your clutter level (if it’s intense, just do whatever works until it’s more mild --- if it takes months thats OK -- you are making progress and thats what counts.) But once you are ready, Fly Lady gives a little assignment each day called a “Daily Mission", to give you a helpful idea on how to declutter/tidy up in this weeks zone. These feel fun because they give me a sense of accomplishment and they are unpredictable so the keep things interesting. You can add those in addition to your 15 minutes, or you can spend your 15 minutes on them. 

A big key here is to get your routines established one habit at a time. Then add in new habits as your old ones become second nature.

What are these routines? Well let’s take a look. Keep in mind Fly Lady wants you to make this your own, it wont work if it doesnt work for you. But this is an excellent starting place, I’d try and emulate this pretty closely initially, and then and you can tweak it as you go.

FlyLady’s Before-Bed Routine

The Before-Bed Routine is the most important routine of the whole day. Set a regular time to do your Before-Bed Routine, then do it — starting tonight. I start mine as soon as dinner is complete. Others start theirs in the afternoon while they are getting supper ready. It is up to you. – FlyLady
There are three parts to FlyLady’s Before-Bed Routine:

1. Clean up the house before you go to bed (Approx. 20 minutes)
  • Living room – pick up and put away things, magazines, dishes, clothes, shoes, etc.
  • Kitchen – clean it up, shine sink, lay out clean dishcloths, run the dishwasher
  • Dining room/entrance – clear the hot spots (Hot Spots are places that just seem to collect clutter)
  • Review check list to be sure nothing has been forgotten
2. Think about tomorrow before you go to bed
  • Check your calendar and/or planner for appointments
  • Start a to-do list for tomorrow
  • Think: “What can I do tonight that will make tomorrow morning easier?”
  • Gather up items you don’t want to forget and place them in a spot by the door that you’ll see before you walk out
  • Make sure the children have their things put away
  • Start breakfast – set the table and plan what’s for breakfast (just make a mental note)
  • If you plan to use the slow cooker for dinner tomorrow, get some of the ingredients ready so they can just be thrown together in the morning
  • Lay out your clothes for tomorrow. It’s a simple thing that saves time by being decisive. If something needs to be ironed or has a spot, you can deal with it calmly or choose something else. Take it to the cleaners, launder it, or fix that missing button according to your schedule – no pressure! All the stress has been relieved.
3. Focus on yourself before going to bed
  • Get yourself ready for bed
  • Brush your teeth, wash your face, and comb your hair
  • Take vitamins and other meds
  • Bath time! Take a bubble bath or a warm shower
  • Put on your bedclothes (if you wear them!)
  • Now you’re ready for bed!
  • Write in a journal, make a “ta-da” (accomplishments) list, or write in a gratitude journal
  • Read for fun
  • Read to your children or spouse
  • Listen to music. It doesn’t matter what kind; just relax!
  • Pray or meditate
  • Snuggle in for the night and turn out the lights. Go to bed at a decent time, preferably the same time every night!
  • Fall asleep with a smile on your face and in your heart
Does that seem like a lot to you? Don’t fret! Just start small. Do these three things, then build upon that to create your full-blown Before-Bed Routine:

  1. Shine your kitchen sink
  2. Lay out clothes and put away other clothes
  3. Brush teeth

FlyLady’s Morning Routine

This is my full “morning routine.” It took me several months to work up to a full-blown morning routine. I did most of the things, but they were not automatic. Now they are. Look at the way I move through the house, starting with getting dressed. As I move from room to room, I am finished with most of it. Then I check to see if I have missed anything on my list.
I realize this may seem like a lot, but if you do your “Before-Bed Routine,” this part is a piece of cake. All you are really doing is getting dressed, sprucing up the bathroom, going into the kitchen, and taking care of yourself! – FlyLady
The morning routine is broken down into four parts:

1. Rise and shine
  • Make your bed as soon as you get out of it (unless someone is still in it!)
  • Go into the bathroom; shower and clean it while you’re there
  • Get dressed down to your shoes. (You feel more alert and ready to work dressed and wearing shoes.)
  • Fix your hair and face
  • Swipe your bathroom countertop clean. And Swish the toilet and leave the room, never to return until later. It is clean, and you can forget about it now!
  • Leave your bedroom with a load of laundry in hand and go straight to the washer
2. The kitchen
  • If you did the Before-Bed routine, the kitchen is clean and all you need to do is empty the dishwasher!
  • Make coffee or tea and start breakfast
  • Feed any animals
  • Feed the family – including yourself!
3. Think about your day
  • Check your calendar
  • Make your to-do list
  • Plan something for dinner
  • Review your checkbook and bring down the balance
  • Reboot the laundry (put it in the dryer!)
  • Hit the hotspots. If you did the Before-Bed Routine, there won’t be any!
4. Now think about yourself
  • Take vitamins and medications
  • Sit down and relax for a moment
  • Eat breakfast, if you haven’t already
  • Morning meditation
  • Reward yourself with some computer time; check your e-mail and favorite websites!
Again, really focus on getting routines established, one habit at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed -- take baby steps, and do what you can to start with, and build up.

FlyLady’s Basic Weekly Plan

Your basic weekly plan is an outline for what you plan to do every day of the week. FlyLady says the following about the basic weekly plan:

I want you to think about the things you need to do every week. Select which days you want to do these things, put it on your calendar for next week, and stick to it. Make an appointment with yourself! Try it for one week. It may surprise you that your week can revolve around these appointments. This is what I do. With the Basic Weekly Plan, we decide on a day to do things and stick to it. I never knew how much this would help my lack of organization. Knowing that I do my shopping on Thursday, my cleaning on Monday, and my desk day on Friday allows me the freedom to schedule things according to the day. When you know what the day is, you know what has to be done. It is another way to be on autopilot. – FlyLady

Monday: Weekly Home Blessing* (8–9 a.m.)
*More shared on this concept below
  • Get up and get dressed to shoes
  • Laundry
  • Weekly Home Blessing Hour
  • Cull/toss old magazines
  • Change sheets
  • Empty all the trash
  • Vacuum all rooms
  • Mop kitchen and bath
  • Clean mirrors and doors
  • Dust
Tuesday: Free Day
  • Water and fertilize plants
  • Spend 15 minutes in current zone
Wednesday: Zone Cleaning and Partial Desk Time
  • Finish Zone Cleaning Chores.
  • Remainder Weekly Cleaning.
  • Make sure refrigerator is clean.
  • Write thank-you notes.
  • Work on menus and grocery list for next week.
  • Balance check book before going shopping.
Thursday: Grocery and Errand Day
  • Make sure menus are planned before you go shopping.
  • Check grocery list one last time before you walk out the door. Take your list with you.
  • Grocery Day.
  • Errand Day
    • Library.
    • Post office.
    • Buy gifts and cards.
    • Buy candles.
Friday: Paperwork and Misc.
  • Be romantic today.
  • Get food from the freezer for next week.
  • File papers.
  • Write letters and cards.
  • Clean out purse.
  • Mend clothes and polish shoes.
  • Pet care (Flea and Heart Meds).
  • Clean out car and check fluids.
  • Clean laundry room.
Yeah! It’s the weekend! Time for the weekend dance! LOL! Have some fun! – FlyLady

Friday is “Date Night” – do something special with your sweetie!
Saturday is “Family Fun Day” – enjoy the day with your family!
Sunday is “Renew Your Spirit Day” – relax and reflect on the past week, as well as what is to come.

*Weekly Home Blessing. 
This is not detailed cleaning. It is just the middles" and a quick, easy clean up.

There are 7 things to do:

  • Vacuum (Just the walkable floor space -- don’t move furniture, that’s in the zone work)
  • Dust
  • Mop (Just the walkable floor space)
  • Clean mirrors and doors
  • Purge magazine/ mail/ paper clutter
  • Change sheets
  • Empty all trash
When you do your Weekly Home Blessing, set a timer and spend only 10 minutes per item on the list, when the timer goes off, stop and go to the next item. Anything is better than nothing! (You also get a pretty good workout too, because you are going as fast as you can!)

Some people do them all one one day (Fly Lady designates Monday as  Home Blessing Day.) But don’t feel guilty if you can’t do them all in one day. Some people spread spread them over the whole week and do one a day. Some people people do them twice a week -- once on Monday to recover from the weekend and another one Friday to get ready for the weekend. Others put them on papers in a bowl and each family member draws one out as their chore.
Make it fun -- put on some music and fly around your house.

As your home becomes decluttered the “Weekly Home Blessings” are a piece of cake, because there will be nothing to vacuum around and so much less to dust.

As you build up to more and more the house just stays clean easier, and if you stick to the routines, the house looks good all the time. (She’s speaking as someone without small children in her home, so she doesn’t have them “uncleaning” for her -- but I will tell you, that even with small children “uncleaning” my home, it’s looks worlds apart better even after they go full force crazy-messy on it.)
Just stick to taking baby steps until this all naturally works up to a flowing system. Let go of perfection and watch your home start to shine.

Zone Cleaning:

Once you have decluttered in a zone (and this may take a few months -- that’s ok, there’s no rush) you are ready for the detailed cleaning lists. Then you wont need to declutter for 15 minutes a day, you will follow the detailed cleaning lists in the zones for 15 minutes a day. You will be amazed at how easy it is to do detailed cleaning when the clutter is gone!
What is more amazing is how easy it is to keep it clean when your routines are in place. The Fly Lady says “The house practically cleans itself!"

There are 5 zones in the home that she focuses on, and it averages out to one a week per month. (Of course each month is a different week-set up, so sometimes you do a short couple days in one zone, and a couple days in a different zone, at the start and end of some months.)

Don’t worry if you think you have more than 5 zones in your house (we all do!) But her zones will hit on all the major living areas, in a few months you will notice the main parts of your home will be looking great. And you will be able to tackle any “other” areas. (Like basement, garage or yard, etc)

“You are never behind. Jump in where you are.” -- Fly Lady

“It did not get dirty overnight and it’s not going to get clean in a day.” -- Fly Lady

Zone 1
(This is the one that gets shortened up sometimes.)
This is the time to focus on the front porch, entrance, and dining room.
If you are just starting out, you declutter these zones for 15 minutes a day.
If you have already decluttered, then you move onto a detailed cleaning list for these areas. (It’s things like dusting, and vacuuming/mopping under furniture, cleaning finger prints off light switches….)

Zone 2
The Kitchen.
This one gets a full week every month (remember it’s just 15 mins a day)

The main bathroom and one other room in the house (Pick one such as: Kid room, extra room, office, craft room, utility room) But don’t do two really bad rooms at once. 15 mins a day. Take it easy consistency is key -- it will get you to your goal.

Zone 4
The master bedroom. 
During this week clean out our closets, master bathrooms, and bedroom area. But if there is serious clutter, take care of that first -- 15 mins at a time. Your master bedroom is the room at is most important in your life. This is where you rest, clutter keeps you from resting well. Get rid of this clutter and find your oasis.

Zone 5
Your Living Room, Family Room, or Den. But only focus on one this week. After a few months, you will have them all decluttered, and detailed cleaning with be a breeze.
(I have about 3 rooms that can count as this space, but they don’t get deeply dirty, so I intend to pretty much do only one a month and rotate them them when I get to zone 5.)
This zone usually only has a few days a month. Then the month ends and we start over in the next month with Zone 1 all over again.

Ok so that lays out the main point of Fly Ladys system. 
However she has lots and lots of pages of her website with tons of ideas (like I said, I fell down the rabbit hole for a long time. And Im sure Ill fall back down again.)

But if you grasp this, you grasp the gears of the machine.
So download her App (It has all these routines laid out in an easy to follow set up) and start checking off the boxes that you can, every day. 

And low and behold, your house will start getting nicer and nicer.

The app has a couple glitches, like for me I cant always see the mission of the day -- so if it doesnt load right, I will go to this page of the website and see what my assignment is.
And when I downloaded it, one of the detailed cleaning lists was put in wrong, so I edited it to correct it.
And it’s very nice that the app is set up so you can edit . If your rooms dont have the things on the list you can remove it. And if you room needs another thing added, you can add it. (For example, under the entryway detail cleaning I added "sweep the stairs since I have stairs.) If you ever wanted to, you can also add whole zones and their accompanying details; or daily routines and their steps.

I think its fun because as you check off boxes you get points, and as you earn points you can earn new levels (named after gemstones.) Just a tiny extra motivator.

So Id tell you to go check it out.
And if you dont have a compatible smart phone (or dont want the app) this page of the website is the most concise. You can still do all this stuff without an app, for sure. (It was all invented before app existed!)

In my next post I will share with you some of my own journey with Fly Lady, and some of my own tips and tricks to go with it.

What do you think, just reading it through? Had you heard of Fly Lady before? Does it sound like something that might help you/work for you? 
Do you already do something like this? What works for you?
Are you going to download the app? Let me know! (I love hearing from you!)

Friday, March 10, 2017

I haven’t seen you in a while...

I haven’t been blogging much these days.

I’ve been in a what I can only describe as a “Second Jr. High” stint.

(I know, Napoleon Dynamite --that’s actually high school. I just didn’t have access to bad jr high photos of myself currently, nor did I have the heart to borrow anyone else’s from the internet. Although I enjoyed a fun google search for a few moments. I felt safe to use this one without hurting anyone’s feelings.  Anyway….)

The comparison being to the awkwardness level of Jr. High:
     The heightened self-awareness, alongside the discomfort that comes with it. The physical changes to your body that you have to dress, only you never really thought a lot about getting dressed until suddenly it’s impossible to do so because everything is different and you feel really conspicuous. Your complexion changes. Makeup is a part of the game -- but the learning curb is steep. Suddenly you don’t understand your hair (because before you just didn’t care, and now you do, but you have no skills or general knowledge.) Social hurdles. And how your body clocks seeming messed up -- always being tired at the wrong times, but awake when it’s fun. Responsibilities that are new to you.

Yeah -- pretty much all of that happened to me recently.
Grief had me in a foggy haze for a year.
And as the sun started to burn the fog off a bit, all of a sudden I was facing all those issues all over again but different.
It was honestly just as overwhelming as it was to my in junior high. Only, this time I had the capacity to tell myself -- it will get better, you will figure this out.

So just a run through on how now is “Jr. High" for me.
--- Heightened self awareness: one word --- counseling. 
I’m facing down a bunch of mental road blocks, and personal deficits, and doing my best to counteract them. (Please don’t let that scare you away from counseling -- it is AMAZING and I think everyone could benefit from it. This information I am getting at counseling is brought out at the pace that I’m ready to face it at. It’s not like someone slamming you in the head with a hammer of change -- it’s self inspired, just guided by someone who’s trained to keep you on a healthy course.) 
But all this self awareness can makes me raw and I often feel really naked out in public. And I’m having to really think hard throughout my whole day on what I’m letting my mind say to me and others. So it’s tiring. (But good.)
--- Physical changes -- after I lost all the baby weight, mixed with the strangeness of grief (taking away a lot of my identity -- it’s a thing), I literally had NO idea how to dress myself.  It was silly but I had about a week there where I was starting to get anxiety just looking at my closet. (It got better when I finally allowed myself to buy pants that fit. But even that was overwhelming -- shopping once you have kids only gives you small windows of time to accomplish anything, and I didn’t have a CLUE what sizes and brands to reach for at this point -- so I was mad-dashing through stores with SUPER confusion -- you know how each brand does it own thing in terms of sizing, it’s tricky!) I’ve now bought enough basics to cover my body. But I’m kinda at square one with figuring myself out in this area. I actually do not know my style at all anymore. But I do know that quality-level/ hand-feel has become much more important to me than it used to be.
--- My face -- it’s changed. It’s still breaking out (seriously….the universe needs to put some kind of time limit to this madness. Not fair.) but I’m also realizing aging happens. I’m getting forehead lines. And my skin is just different in a way I can’t describe -- older. (I’m just going to say that the stress of grief really does add years.) So I recently went through a seriously awkward chunk of time (maybe a month?) where I was really botching my makeup hard. I was trying to address the sickliness-look that comes from grief, while simultaneously maneuvering the age shift that surprised me. And I had a clownish month or so. Thankfully I pushed through and look human again. Phew. I figured out a better makeup routine, as well as a skin care routine that’s not giving me perfect skin, but is definitely improving it.
--- My hair -- I’ve been on and off again with medium/short hair for a bit now. But the last time I had it cut, it was just a smidgen shorter than I had it before (and I liked the hair cut a lot) and yet mixed with everything else going on, I felt like I had no idea who I was when I looked in the mirror. I sucked it up way better than my jr high self did (who would have cried like a jr high girl lol) and just whatevered my way through.  But I just didn’t know how to look like “me" -- or who “me” even was in general, for a while there. (My grief class, that I started a bit ago, says it’s normal. So yay, for knowing I didn’t lose my mind.)
--- Social hurdles. Up until recently, my life events seemed to isolate me into near emotional oblivion. I was starting to feel entirely “too much” for human consumption. After enough coaxing from my counselor (who was telling me there’s nothing wrong with me socially, I have the sociability to make friends, and that people need friends, and that I may just need to place myself inside different circumstances and groups of people to get that) Blake and I decided we would look for a new church. Seeing as how I’m a stay at home, homeschooling, mom -- church is really the only place I interact with adults. It was a hard decision for us, we weren’t mad at our church or anything, but I just had not connected with people there. And with grief, I mostly just showed up, cried my eyes out, excused myself to my car (because I wasn’t just "single tear" crying, I was an inch from hysterical) and then wait for Blake to bring the kids out and go home totally broken. It was just kinda super crappy circumstances that kept happening in my life that really impeded things.
But this January, I hit the year mark of grief, and I thought if I was in a new location (a place where I wasn’t looking at the same Christmas tree I had seen the year before -- remembering last year seeing those trees, in the short the moments before my life fell part--- the trees which made me crying just looking at invisible memories …if I was in a place where I didn’t have memories associated with anything at all) that I might be able to not ugly-cry. And if I’m wasn’t ugly-crying, maybe I could actually interact with people. And if I could interact with people, maybe I could “have people.” 
So after a lot of soul searching, that’s the route we went. We switched at the start of the year. And I’m so glad we did it. It’s been a very healthy change. But that’s not to say it wasn’t soul draining to make the change (and to share our change with the previous church and feel super bad to disappoint people.) Simultaneously it was soul draining to suck it up and be willing to face the huge fears that I might fall on my face again, and be alone some more. But thankfully that wasn’t the case I continue to find more connections and relationship now. It’s been so good for me. It’s been good for all of us.
--- Body clock -- mine is a mess! I’m trying so hard to be more intentional about how I spend my time. I’m trying to get more adequate sleep (says the lady who has a year and a half year old -- and who’s babies always have taken at least two years to sleep through the night.) And I’m also trying to force myself to become a morning person -- or at least wake up before the kids wake me up. But “woe to me” my body is a night owl. It’s a VERY uphill battle this battle. So as I’m working out the kinks here, I’m just kinda constantly tired. Because somehow I just keep shorting myself on sleep on both ends, but it’s sorta evening out. (And not to over do this -- but grief is also like MAJOR soul and body weary-ing. So I’m just kinda a slow moving women who’d love nothing more than a week’s worth of non-stop sleep in silence….wait…no, if it’s is imaginary, why am I stopping at one week? lol)
--- New responsibilities. Ok so, technically, these things are not new to me. But I am approaching life in more of a "take the bull by the horns” kind of way and forcing myself to be more grown up about my responsibilities. And/or just fully embracing who I want to be, and doing the hard work that it takes to accomplish that. The two biggest things there are I’ve officially dove into the minimalism pond and I’ve been cleaning out things that I don’t see as essential to us. I’m getting close to done with our house -- but it’s at that stage were the pile is small, but each thing is a harder mental process -- so it’s kinda slow going now.
     But besides that -- I’ve also been working on getting better at cleaning. And I’m pleased to say, I think I’ve found “the one” -- the cleaning system that works for me. (I’ll tell ya about it soon.) (Hmm that sounded sales-pitchy, there’s zero dollars involved.)
But yeah, minimalism and cleaning -- those two things actually kinda just seamlessly enmesh -- it’s cool. And they have been SOOOOOO fulfilling to me. But enacting them -- it's taken up my free time. So it’s been hard to find time to blog.
    I’m also just trying to become more mindful, and more present, and more purposeful in how I’m spending my life. Kinda reassessing what’s worth what to me. I’m trying to read more, and do a bit less Netflix binging. I’m making time to journal on paper again -- I was a life-long journal-er (I have a big bin of my old ones) but I got out of the habit, and I want that back in my life. In general, I’m trying to carve out small windows of me-time when I can get it -- so I can heal.

(By the way -- it’s been very hard for me to do ALL this and work out. So while I’m trying to fit it in still -- it’s very sporadic. It is actually important to me, so I’m hoping to get back into a groove on that soon. But I can only spin so many plates, and I’m trying to remember to be kind to myself about that fact.)

But because all these things, it’s been hard to know WHAT to blog. I also just needed to shelter myself for a while. It was just all so raw. A bunch of this stuff I wrote about might seem surface-y -- but it’s actually a really deep part of a person that chooses how we present our surface -- so it was hard dealing with so much change all at once, all while whirling inside grief. I wasn’t ready to, well I didn’t even have the stamina to, talk about it coherently before.

But having come out the other side of much of this stuff, I feel like I’m ready to blog again.
I definitely want to share with you my experience with decluttering, and my cleaning system helper-thing. And I think it’d be fun to share with you my makeup and skin care epiphanies.
Oh, and I’ve also been changing decor stuff around the house too -- house beautifying is my comfort food. So I’ll have to catch you up there as well!

So as time (and bedtimegoals) allow, I will be writing up my thoughts on that stuff. Buckle your seat belts. (But no promises on how fast I pull out of the drive way. lol)

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