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!)

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