I am a Fly Baby.
My leader is the Fly Lady and I follow her 11 Commandments and am taking FLYing lessons.
I am part of a cult, and my house has never been cleaner.
Now, I am not actually a messy person. I know this because I lived alone once and though I probably never dusted my skirting board or ironed my drapes, I did enjoy a relatively tidy home. When I got married, things started to slide. My husband is a self-proclaimed slob and we’re 10 years in and so far I’ve only managed to teach him that garbage goes in the garbage can. We’re light-years away from ‘dirty clothes in the hamper’ and ‘dishes in the sink’.
And if that weren’t hard enough to clean up after, I now have two children. Though the oldest one is actually very good at putting things in the garbage, hamper and sink, half the time those things aren’t actually garbage, clothes or dishes.
My house is a mess. Always. And I hate it.
The thing is, my house isn’t exactly messy because I don’t clean. In fact, I feel like I am constantly doing dishes and laundry, and picking up other people’s crap. Yet I still spend every morning cleaning up last night’s dinner, and my house is only ‘surprise drop-in’ ready when there is a planned drop-in occurring on that very same day, and I have spent the morning frantically cleaning to give off the impression that I don’t actually live in squalor. So though I very much wanted to have a cleaner house, I had no idea how to go about it because wasn’t I already always cleaning?
I belong to a Facebook mom’s group, and someone had posted a question about staying organized or on top of housework, and someone else mentioned FlyLady. I looked it up and liked the general premise.
FlyLady.net is a site devoted to teaching normal, everyday people some simple habits to help them organize their lives and homes in a way that benefits everybody involved. It involves very little, especially at the beginning. No one asks you to clean your whole house from top to bottom, and I found it in no way intimidating or impossible.
I nearly closed my computer and walked away because honestly, a shiny sink? That seems entirely unnecessary. And the steps to the inaugural shining seemed crazy:
- Put the plug in your sink.
- Fill it with bleach to the top.
- Let it soak for 10 minutes.
- Drain the bleach.
- Use an abrasive powder cleaner like Comet or Vim and rub that in to really make it shine.
- Dry it off with a towel.
That seemed WAY above my level of commitment to this project, and also seemed to be a big waste of time, but something made me decide to do it despite my doubts.
I didn’t actually have comet so I only did the bleach step and then scrubbed, rinsed and dried. And I have to say, it WAS very shiny. It was 10:30pm so despite the fact that the rest of my kitchen was still a mess, I went to bed.
When I got up the next morning and wandered into the kitchen, the first thing I saw was that shiny sink. And the dishes beside it looked really out of place, so I immediately rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher. I didn’t manage to clean my whole kitchen in that sitting, but as I kept my sink shiny, I wanted to keep my kitchen shiny too. (FlyLady’s advice is that you should shine your sink EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE YOUR KITCHEN, though after that initial shining it just means wiping it out with a dry towel).
It actually took me three days to get my kitchen to the way I wanted it – really clean, without any clutter on the counters. I was finding I was always getting behind, so the dishwasher would be full and I would run it, but meanwhile there would be dirty dishes piling up right away, and always pots and pans that needed scrubbing. Somehow I just couldn’t get on top of it. But this sink shining! This was the trick!
Because the sink was so clean, it was making me rinse dishes immediately and wipe counters as soon as I finished my task, rather than coming back after the meal, or on some other random occasion. And because of this, I was able to get in the habit of filling the dishwasher during the day, running it overnight, and emptying it in the morning. Finally starting the day with an empty dishwasher meant there was no excuse to pile dishes on the counter, and I now put them straight in the dishwasher.
It seems really, really obvious, and for a lot of you, it probably is, but for me and my people (read: the cleaning-challenged) – THIS HAS BEEN LIFE CHANGING.
Also, because my kitchen is now spotless when I go to bed, I spend a bit of time in the morning doing chores that were previously devoted to scrubbing dried-on food off of last night’s dishes.
Another cult-classic tip is tidying your hotspot (that place where you always pile clutter – for me it’s my dining room table) for 15 minutes every night. After the first time, it only tends to take me 2-3 minutes every night, and coming downstairs to a clean table (if you ignore the pen marks that no internet trick in the world can remove) and a shiny kitchen still makes me happy and I’m about three months into this.
The very first baby step is the most time-consuming one and actually it only took about 10 minutes of actual work, if that. But it was the step that got me hooked.
From those baby steps, there are missions and tasks and monthly habits that mean you will slowly work your way round to deep cleaning your entire home doing small jobs every day. I will post more on that some other day, or you can check it out for yourself if you’re like me and needed a little boost in the cleaning department.
It’s the best (and only) cult I have ever joined and no one has asked me to drink Kool-aid yet, so I highly recommend it.