Sunday, November 8, 2009

Flylady, in theory

I've been asked a few times about the Flylady system, and to what extent I follow it. I wanted to talk a little bit about this system because I really do owe my (usually) relatively clean house to her. Today I'll sort of give an overview of her theories and why it's a good match for me, and then tomorrow I'll talk about her program and which parts I actually do.

If you're not familiar with Flylady, her website is HERE. She emphasizes letting go of perfectionism in house cleaning, and not being hard on ourselves when it can't be perfect. She also introduced me to the concept of cleaning with a timer, and the power of short bursts of cleaning.

I'll start you out with a story. As a young married, my house was usually always messy. I'm messy. So is my husband. But I hate the mess. And him? Not really so much. So I'm walking around our house with him, trying to get him to see what I see. I remember telling him, "And when I walk into the kitchen, all I see are those dirty dishes and a floor that needs to be mopped. And here in our bedroom, all I can see are those gross baseboards! When I look into our bathroom, I see toothpaste spatters all over our mirrors!" Naively expecting him to suddenly awaken to the filth around us and apologize for his lack of participation in our household chores, I was stopped in my tracks when he said simply and softly, "I'm sorry that's how you see our home."

I think that anyone who has ever lived with another person knows that "clean" is a relative term. One person can look at a kitchen and pronouce it perfectly clean, while another would still be scrubbing down surfaces for hours. And my husband? Truly doesn't see it. He honestly doesn't. He sees our home in terms of the beautiful family that lives here, not in terms of chores still undone. So how did that change me? It's not either "clean" or "not clean." It's a home. And I had to make my peace with imperfection in order to maintain my sanity.

Of course it's different for everyone. I assume that for some people cleanliness comes more naturally, and the perfectly clean home comes without those feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated by the task at hand. Others are fine with messiness, and focus their attention on children, hobbies, and more worthwhile pursuits than baseboards (How many times have I mentioned baseboards? Can you tell mine just haunt me?). And then there's me, and probably millions like me. I want my house to be clean, but the concept is overwhelming to me, and frustrating, and it makes me not even want to start because I don't have the time or energy to do it right.

And so began my love affair with Flylady. If you haven't read her website, check it out. It all starts with a shiny kitchen sink...

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