Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shiny Sink

This sounds kind of silly, but I’ve cleaned my sink every night now since Monday.

I know. It sounds stupid. Who doesn’t clean their sink every night?

Lots of people, apparently.

I found, through the recommendations of some friends on a sewing list I belong to, the FlyLady. While she isn’t an insect, nor does she actually fly around, she does offer lots of encouragement and advice for cleaning your house up. Her system involves learning new habits in small increments—baby steps, if you will—that feed upon each other until it becomes second nature to do things like put something away when you’re done with it or clean something up when it’s messy.

These all seem like common sense, logical things, but unfortunately lots of people never really get good at these things. We’re more interested in the fun that comes from getting the things we want out and interacting with them. When we’re done with our activity, we’re ready to move on and do something else and not worry about cleaning because, jeeze, that’s work!

One of the things that I really like about the system is that she has you declutter your house before you try to intensively clean it. As she says, you can’t clean clutter—you can only get rid of it. It totally makes sense and so somehow doesn’t seem like it’s as much work.

I also like that she breaks the home up into zones so you don’t get overwhelmed by trying to get it all done at once. I’m currently in the front porch/entry way/dining room zone and the little bit of decluttering and cleaning has made a huge difference. She cycles through the zones each month so whatever you don’t get picked up and taken care of one month will be waiting for you the next month. Your house didn’t get messy overnight (unless you had an Animal House style party over the weekend, and then you’ve got a whole other group of issues…), so it’s ok if it takes longer to get it done, as long as it gets done right.

As a working parent who never seems to find much time to do anything, the best part for me is that she teaches you to clean in little spurts. Most cleaning occurs in a fifteen minute interval, but there are some that are as short as two minutes long. For the three days that I actually worked on the house these past four days, I’ve set my timer and buzzed around my zone and was amazed at what I was able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. My front porch is swept; my laundry room has been decluttered, organized and swept; and my dining room table is completely cleared of all crap that is unnecessary to our mealtime. For each of these areas, I spent fifteen minutes working quickly and efficiently and then usually two to five minutes after that putting things away that had been left out.

I’m also finding myself keeping the areas I’ve cleaned much cleaner than I did before. I have not made a mess in the sink since I soaked it and cleaned it out intensively. It’s almost a game for me now—how long can I go putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher instead of into the sink? I’ve gone for three days now, which is pretty awesome, I think. Robert and I are also making the bed first thing in the morning when we get up. It seems silly, I know, because lots of people make their beds immediately, but that was something that we just didn’t do regularly.

Both the sink and the bed are nice surprises when I walk into their areas every day. The house is pretty awful in many ways—the bathrooms are pitiful, Hurricane Laura blows through the living room every evening and the kids’ rooms are eyesores. But these little spots of clean and calm are relaxing, both visually and mentally. I’m finding that as I go along with the program, the calm areas are expanding and so I’m seeing them more and more often.

I totally didn’t expect this to become a full on testimonial for the FlyLady, but if you’re having trouble keeping your house clean I absolutely suggest looking into her site. I’m so glad that I did—it has changed my outlook and I foresee great things happening in the Brown house.

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