I just finished my Home Blessing Hour a little while ago and I decided it would be a good topic for my blog. My goal is to share ways that I have found to have a beautiful life while not spending tons of money. I believe that one of the simplest (and completely free) ways to achieve beauty in your life is by keeping a clean home. But I know firsthand that it's not that simple for everyone. Let me tell you a story...
As a child and a teenager, I had never been one to keep my room clean. It wasn't that I didn't care- I did! I just couldn't seem to keep it clean. So when I got married, that translated into my home. I wanted it to be clean, and I could spend all day on a Saturday scrubbing it down from top to bottom and it would sparkle! But by the end of the next day, it would be a complete disaster again. When my husband and I first moved into our house, I wasn't working because we were planning on starting a family. So it was just me at home all day, no kids, you'd think the house would be clean, but no such luck. And it would frustrate me to no end. I grew up in a clean house, and I could see my friends' houses all clean. Why was it so darn hard for me?? I felt like there was some kind of switch in my brain that needed to be flicked. Sometimes I felt like someone had forgotten to install the switch altogether! Then my husband would get home, see that the house was still gross, and he would start cleaning it. Then I would feel REALLY guilty, because it should have been MY job, not his. He had just been at work all day, and what had I done? I felt beat down, worthless, angry at myself.
And then I found FlyLady.
FlyLady taught me to FLY. FLY stands for "Finally Loving Yourself". I hadn't realized how much I didn't love myself until I started to change my attitude. FlyLady is a FREE website and Yahoo group that changed everything for me. I could go on and on about the FlyLady system, but instead let me just share a few of the things that I learned from her.
1. My perfectionism was my downfall. First, I had no idea I was a perfectionist. I mean, if I was then my house would be perfect, right? Turns out, no. The reason my house was a mess was because I had an "all-or-nothing" attitude. I thought that I couldn't just take my dirty dish and put it in the dishwasher if there was already a sink full of dishes. I would have to do the whole sink of dishes before I could put something in the dishwasher. What was the use of putting my shoes in the closet if there were already 3 more pairs of shoes all over the floor in the hallway? I didn't see that I didn't have to do it all at once. The mess blinded me, and I felt like my only two choices were to clean it all, which was completely overwhelming, or to just let it go. Well, most of the time I chose the latter, which left me with CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome).
2. Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family. FlyLady showed me that it's okay to just do one thing at a time. It's okay if it's not perfect. It's even okay if you're the only one who notices what you did. I can make the choice to put one dish in the dishwasher. That's one less dish filling my sink. But the interesting part is this- once I put one dish away, it wasn't hard to put another one away. I also learned that mopping the floor doesn't require a bucket full of hot soapy water and mop that needed to be wrung out. If nothing else, I could just take a damp towel and scoot it around the floor with my feet. Would the floor be perfect? No. But would it be better than it would have been had I done nothing? YES! Knowing that I didn't have to be perfect was the most freeing feeling.
3. You can do anything for 15 minutes. I would look at that sink full of dishes and just know it would take me at least an hour to get through it all. So I never wanted to start. But FlyLady said all I had to do was fifteen minutes. I knew I could do it for 15 minutes. So I set my timer, rolled up my sleeves, and dug in. Well, as the number of dishes in the sink dwindled, I kept glancing at the timer, convinced that it must have stopped or something. But much to my surprise, I put the last dish away and still had 2 minutes left, so I wiped down the counters and started the dishwasher. I was amazed! 15 little minutes! I had been putting off the job for days for 15 little minutes worth of work! I have found this to hold true with most dreaded tasks. Even if it does take longer than 15 minutes, that first 15 minutes gets the ball rolling and it is no big deal to finish up, but sometimes I stop myself anyway, just to make sure my perfectionism isn't creeping in again. I don't want a 15-minute job to turn into an hour because I get carried away!
4. Babysteps are the key. Sticking with my dish example, it's amazing how fewer dishes you have at the end of the day if you just put them right in the dishwasher as soon as you're done using them. And then that 15-minute job gets broken up into just a few 30-second (if that!) jobs. Through my daily routines that FlyLady has taught me, I have been able to gain control and babystep my way through my days. If I am in a hurry and just toss the dishes in the sink, I don't allow myself to just give up. The next time I go to put my dishes away I take the extra minute or two and put the other ones in too. I may falter, but I just get right back up and try again.
I knew I had turned the corner when a friend was at my house with her children and one of them dropped a cracker on the floor. My friend told him he could pick it up and eat it because "Kasey's floor is always clean." I just had to pause for a moment and think about what she said. Then I looked around- my floor was clean. My whole home looked really nice. What a long way I had come!
So today I did my Home Blessing Hour, which has really become a pleasure for me. For one thing, I know I'm only cleaning for an hour. But my favorite thing about it is how peaceful my home seems afterward. Every Monday morning I turn on some music and take one hour and spend 15 minutes on each of the following: vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and taking out the trash/general pick-up. I don't spend long on any one thing, I just move from task to task, and when I am finished, it feels like a clean breeze has blown through the house, freshening up everything. My kids have really gotten into it to- I give them rags and squirt bottles and they help "clean". They also use their toy vacuums, and then they run all over the house with me helping me gather the trash. Gone are the days of gunky floors, inch-thick dust and overflowing trash cans.
Let me post a disclaimer: My house is NOT perfect! Far from it, in fact! But I don't beat myself up anymore. I just keep plugging away, taking my babysteps and doing the best I can each day. And I know that's good enough. I can Finally Love (My)self!