About 15 years ago I started looking for a solution to our family’s perpetual messiness. I was so disorganized that I had gone on a camping trip to the middle of nowhere with no sweatshirt or toothbrush. Our house was so messy and cluttered that we often ended up frantically vacuuming and hiding piles right up until the guests arrived on Thanksgving, Christmas or any special event day.
For a few years I tried different organizational systems, including Sidetracked Home Executives(TM): From Pigpen to Paradise, and More Hours in My Day: Proven Ways to Organize Your Home, Your Family, and Yourself. Both are good systems, but they required me to jump in headfirst, something that is a little difficult to do with small children in tow,
Then, in 2001, I stumbled across the Flylady. Marla Cilley, the Flylady (FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself), based her system on the SHE system (with blessings from the authors). The beauty of the Flylady system is that it starts with one simple step – Shine Your Sink. Now in order to shine your sink, first you need to wash the dishes hiding there from breakfast or (gasp) last night’s dinner.
It has been said that it takes 21 days to build a habit, so for 21 days i just made sure I washed the dishes and shined my sink every day. Once that habit was established, I could move on to the next step – Getting Dressed to Your Shoes.
I certainly feel differently if I get dressed and fix my hair instead of staying in my pj’s all day. This simple step gave me that little boost of motivation I needed to get more done around the house. One caveat – I don’t wear shoes in the house because we have beige carpets.
Once those two habits were set, I started building my control journal. This is where Flybabies keep their daily cleaning and organizational schedules.
Flylady.net is a great resource with lots of free worksheets, checklists and other resources. You can even buy some of the items Marla recommends in their store (although I have done it all on the cheap). You can also sign up for daily emails to remind you of your “chores”. I subscribed for the first couple of years, but now most of the routines are so ingrained that I don’t need to be reminded.
My house is far from perfect. If we’re not careful, the piles can easily take over. But I don’t go on vacation without a toothbrush anymore. I’m not frantically cleaning as my guests arrive for dinner or a special occasion. And I have the peace of mind that comes from (generally) knowing where everything is.