On Sunday, May 29, 2011 my stepmom brought over a book that has the potential to start some huge changes in my life. The book is called “Sink Reflections” and is a self-help book (yes, I know, SIGH) that promises to get both your home AND your life in order. We have yet to see if it actually will start the engine of change, since it will depend largely on my ability to start with “BabySteps” as the author says, and not go on a huge cleaning spree once I’m started. I tend to “marathon clean” or “crisis clean”, and then I am so sick of cleaning that I don’t do it for weeks until my house is desperate again. I am trying to just follow the steps in the first few chapters to de-clutter the house… and I wanted to share my experience on my first day as a “FLYbaby” (this may be the last time I ever use that term).
I read the first few chapters of the book on Sunday night before going to bed. I like where the book starts… she calls herself the FLYlady because she used to teach flyfishing classes, but in the book FLY stands for “Finally Loving Yourself”. Her first few chapters have a lot to say about taking care of yourself and CARING ABOUT yourself. This hits home pretty hard for me because since we brought Zane home, I’ve been neglecting myself. It took a bright pink book with a kitchen sink on the cover to make me realize it. I have been completely overwhelmed with what I keep saying is my “new job”… caring for an infant, keeping the house clean all the time, and doing the lion’s share of the cooking. I have been feeling like I need to get EVERYTHING done… only I’m too tired to do everything at once, so I do nothing instead.
The FLYlady’s second “assignment” involves starting to take care of yourself first. (I’ll get to the first assignment in a minute). She believes that if you put the messy house and tasks like laundry and cooking first, you are completing these tasks on an “empty tank” and that’s why you will burn out! She also points out that by doing this you don’t just make yourself suffer. You also take yourself away from your family because there’s always something hanging over your head that “needs to be done”. This makes a lot of sense to me because I’ve seen Rickie come home a few nights and pick up laundry or cook when he should be coming home to play with his son. But because I’ve taken myself away, he feels like he has to help with my tasks. (Not saying he shouldn’t ever help, but there are basic things that I should just be able to handle!)
So in her book one of the first “assignments” is to get dressed every morning before doing anything else. This isn’t a joke! For the last month I’ve been getting up in the morning, throwing on sweatpants off the floor, and doing nothing with my hair unless I happen to need a shower that morning. It was like she looked into my life and based this chapter on me. So my first new HABIT has to be to get dressed every morning. She says get dressed to makeup and even shoes… well I don’t normally wear makeup and I hate wearing shoes… so for now, I will get up each and every morning and dress in clothes that I can leave the house in and make sure my hair looks presentable.
The FIRST chapter in the book is interesting. She starts in the kitchen (which makes sense because the kitchen can be the most awful place in the house if you let it!) and she says to take everything out of your sink and shine the sink. Well she is right about one thing… a clean empty sink DOES make your whole kitchen look better. But I thought about this and I wanted to start just a little bit bigger. My kitchen is already fairly organized, so I thought rather than just cleaning the sink, my goal in the kitchen should be to keep all the dishes caught up and the counters wiped. FLYlady says to adapt any of her routines to yourself… well MY kitchen problem has always been the counter, so the counter will now be my version of her kitchen sink!
So what did I do yesterday that was sooo great it made me want to write about it? Well, first of all I got up in the morning and put on capris and a tank top instead of one of Rickie’s huge T-shirts and my sweats. I didn’t even do my hair yesterday but I already felt better just by wearing nice cool clothes that fit properly and that I wouldn’t be ashamed to answer the door in! Score one for the FLYlady.
I decided that the first task to make its way into my Morning Routine would be the kitchen. When my kitchen counter is bare and clean, my whole home looks better automatically AND I feel much less overwhelmed with cleaning to be done. So after dressing, I emptied the clean dishwasher, loaded it with the few dishes sitting in the sink, and wiped the counter and sink. Let me mention that I DO like to have a clean sink… but instead of the FLYlady version where you fill it with cleaner and scrub it (a little bit of overkill IMHO) I am happy if my sink has no goo on it, no dishes unless they are clean ones drip-drying, and the dishcloth rinsed and hung on the tap. So the first item in my morning routine is to have my kitchen as described above. I also discovered that if it’s kept up, this only takes about 15 minutes to do… which brings me to another ingenious concept from the FLYlady.
FLYlady suggests in her book that you spend no more than 15 minutes doing one thing (of course this doesn’t apply to things for enjoyment, this is just a way of keeping your tasks from driving you insane). In other words, set a timer and work on one room. When the timer goes off, move to another room and work in there for 15 minutes. I did this during my kitchen cleaning in the morning and found that in 15 minutes I not only got the kitchen looking satisfactory, but also put away some CLUTTER on the counter leaving even more space! So I decided that this was what I would do the rest of the day; cleaning in 15 minute bursts.
I started out in the bedroom where I had a mountain of laundry to put away. I figured if I worked quickly I could do it all in 15 minutes. But I had to do something else first… a 27 Fling Boogie (and yes the name is stupid… but the actual routine is GREAT). A 27 Fling Boogie (I’m going to just call it a 27 Fling from now on) is when you take a bag or box, go through your house, and collect 27 items for the trash or charity. FLYlady tells you to get rid of ANYTHING that does not either (a) get used or (b) bring a smile to your face. I had no issues with this since I’ve believed this for a long time anyway! BUT I have trouble doing it in the bedroom… this is why I hate putting away laundry, because my closets and drawers are so full that it becomes a pain to actually have everything put away. So I needed to do a 27 Fling before putting away all the clothes we actually USE. I got a bag and went to work.
This is where the day started to get interesting! I stood in the closet and just ripped things off hangers and flung them on a pile in the hallway. When I counted the items into the bag, I had a few more than 27 items. So rather than stuff in the extra items and call it a day… I challenged myself. I closed up the first bag with exactly 27 items in it, set it at the back door, and got another bag to see if I could get rid of another 27 items starting with those few extras I had pulled. The same thing happened again!!! On my very last bag, I pulled a few items from other rooms to complete it, so at that point I knew I was done in the bedroom and needed to do what I came in there to do. BUT I filled 4 bags. That means that in just a half hour, my house was freed of 108 items that we don’t need. AND almost all of them came from one closet and one dresser! How’s that for lightening the load.
I went ahead and set my timer and started in on the laundry. In 15 minutes I had everything put away… and it was SO EASY to do because I had freed up so much space in the closet and dresser! I have more stuff to wash and put away today but I believe I will have HANGERS LEFT OVER. This is not something that I have ever had before, so you can imagine how big it is for me. I decided to have a new rule in our closet… if we run out of hangers, WE DO NOT BUY MORE HANGERS! If we don’t have extra hangers then we should be able to get rid of some clothes. This will keep the CLUTTER down in the closet and dresser which by turn is going to keep our bedroom clean. Very important because right now our bedroom has our bed, my dresser, Zane’s cradle, a tall cupboard with office supplies, AND both our desks and computers. Big victory in the master bedroom yesterday!
My next 15 minute timer was to work on wedding invitations, and the one after that was to finally sit down and decide on our cake and write up some notes for the cake maker on what I want. YES, these are some of the overwhelming stuff for me right now. I am excited about our wedding and the day will be wonderful, but there are parts of the planning that I just don’t want to be bothered with. I worked on invitations/registry for three 15 minute stretches at various times yesterday and got more done on them than I have to date.
So what did I accomplish from the book?
- The kitchen is clean
- 108 items stripped from our bedroom closet and dresser and BANISHED
- Clean laundry put away
- Wedding cake selected
- 45 minutes in total spent on wedding invitations
What else did these small things ALLOW me to accomplish?
- I didn’t hate putting away laundry because I had SPACE to put it away.
- I don’t feel guilty every time I walk through the living area, because the kitchen looks CLEAN.
- I didn’t skip lunch because I had clean dishes to eat it from.
- Supper and its cleanup was easy because I had clean dishes and pots and room to put them in the dishwasher as I finished with them.
- Because I wasn’t cleaning while making supper, I had the time to make muffins while the food cooked. So now I have snack food for Rickie’s lunches.
- I was able to give Zane a bath in the kitchen (see super cute photo on right) without having to wipe the counter first or shuffle dirty dishes around.
So what I am saying here is that by following only the first four SMALL things FLYlady says to do (get dressed in the morning, clean the sink/counter, 27 Fling, and 15 minute decluttering) I was also able to accomplish many more things in the extra time and space I had created! Not to mention, I was able to have Rickie’s dinner almost ready when he came home and actually got to spend some time with him instead of trying to get his supper in a messy kitchen. Already I am more available to my family as FLYlady said I would be. This day was definitely enough to convince me to keep going with my FLYing lessons!
FLYlady: 1. Messy house: 0.