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!


  1. Most people dread the idea of household chores, but it’s something that needs to be done. A once dreaded chore can be fun and easy with just the right stuff. Thanks to time management skills and helpful household tips, it’ll be easy to get into a routine and make your home an organized masterpiece.

    Alison Norman @ Power Boss

  2. Cleaning can definitely make you tired. Cutting back on a lot of clutter will help you by giving you less to clean and organize. You'll also find it easier to clean if you can limit yourself to one or two reliable cleaners rather then having to carrying multiple cleaning bottles with you while you clean.

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