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I promised yesterday to share the website that helped me overcome my C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome).  It was at this site that I first learned my “condition” even had a name and that, as you know, is the first step to recovery.

FlyLady.net (FLY–Finally Loving Yourself) was the site that afforded me my first real housekeeping break-through.

Fly Lady (Marla Cilley) has a similar story to mine…to many of yours, I’m guessing.  Her break-through came with the simple commitment she made to end her day with a clean and cleaned-out sink.  Her book, Sink Reflections, is her personal story and contains some of those first lessons that are the bedrock of her wonderful approach to housekeeping, de-cluttering, and self-keeping.  Her website includes links to her Fly Shop as well as links to other on-line life coaches (i.e. style, diet and meal planning, etc.), but her site stays pretty true to its tagline:  Your personal on-line coach to help you gain control of your house and home.

Marla offers gentle guidance in developing housekeeping routines which she calls FLYing Lessons.  “Shine your sink” is her first lesson, but also foundational are directives to get dressed down to your lace up shoes, swish & swipe your bathroom daily, declutter 15 minutes a day and take regular breaks.  She guides the newbie in what she calls Baby Steps, 31 lessons (a month’s worth) to begin FLYing.

Fly Lady has divided the home into zones and her followers are given daily email to-do lists, called Flight Plans.   Each zone is given a week’s attention, getting through all the zones in a month.  This week’s focus is Zone 3—The Bathroom and an Extra Room.

There is so much more to this site, though, than just zone cleaning—

* Detail Cleaning check-off lists for the zones;

* Weekly Home Blessing Hour;

* FLYing lessons for Payroll SHEs (working Side-tracked Home Executives) ;

* Control Journals;

* Habit of the Month (this month, drink your water);

* Anti-Procrastination Days – days to tackle those put off projects;

* Crisis Cleaning schedule;

* Fly Kids Challenge—a daily task for children to manage their own spaces [See my “Teaching Work” shortcomings (see June 13 post)]

I rarely go to the site these days, though, and my daily Fly Lady e-mails often end up in my computer’s trash.  This is only because so many of her teachings have been internalized and have already done good service in giving structure to how I approach my own home now.  Unless it’s an infrequent Crisis Cleaning for company, I rarely clean my whole house or floor in one day.  I break down the house into manageable areas and progress throughout my home.  I even break down my bathroom chores into a three-day process which helps me not d-r-e-a-d those duties like I used to.

“You can do anything for 15 minutes” is one of Fly Lady’s most famous quotes and the one that most affected me.  Marla taught me the trick of literally setting a timer for 15 minutes and pouring myself heart and soul into a targeted area (whether zone work or a “Hot Spot”).  It is really a marvel how much can be done in those quick 15 minute bursts.

Some other encouraging Fly Lady quotes include:

* Not housework, but home blessing (“This is my home and I deserve to have a wonderful place to live, this blesses my home, and my family and me!”)

* Housework done imperfectly still blesses my family.

* You can’t organize clutter; you can only get rid of it!

* I don’t have to be perfect to be loved and my home does not have to be perfect to be lived in.

* What doesn’t matter just doesn’t matter!

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My dear mom set the standard for me.  Her home was always clean and tidy.  Unfortunately I learned the standard, but did not learn the system.  Her clean house was very important to her (and I’m grateful I grew up with order), but it wasn’t always easy for the rest of us to attain.

My two sisters and I learned how to work while growing up.  In fact, I fear I was not as skilled as my parents at holding my own children to a regular schedule of work; meaningful work that would have benefited the family and eased the load on my husband and I.  In my heart I longed to develop this, but in practice, I was not consistent.

My sisters and I had regular chores that were expected of us.  We laugh (and marvel) today at our after-dinner routine.  My mom would not even say a word; she would just get up and remove herself to the living room, her hard work done for the day.  My sisters and I knew then that the kitchen was ours to clean.  We created our own systems of what was fair in regard to who did what jobs, but we knew the standard and would not dream of leaving the kitchen until the work was done to our mom’s expectations.

During summers my dad carefully left a list of jobs on the counter for us girls before he left for work.  These were outside jobs on our 10-acre truck and hobby farm.  We knew they needed to be done before he got home that evening, but more accurately they needed to be done before we did anything of our own choosing that day.  We laugh (now) about the hard nature of many of these outside jobs that my dad required of us, but acknowledge that we usually rose to the occasion and in the process learned life-long work skills and unwittingly had our character developed in the process.

It is a great regret of mine that I lacked courage, creativity, and intentionality in equipping my own children with a similar skill set.  I did not give them consistent opportunities to do hard things for the benefit of the family, thereby leaving to chance the development of that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from a day’s work done and done well.  Who knows, perhaps this teaching will skip a generation and somehow my children will acquire what I lacked to teach and train their own children; that they would expect of them meaningful, regular jobs to the benefit of the child himself and to the family as a whole (see June 14 and 15 posts).

Well, while my sisters and I did our outside jobs, mom was working hard managing her housework and her gardens.  Unfortunately, this meant we did not learn her system for effective housekeeping.  What’s more, early in my marriage, I rejected the critical model my mom had employed which brought about results, but made for a rather uptight family, always sure we were not meeting the standard.

Expectedly, I floundered in my housekeeping.  I maintained my home with a lick and a prayer, putting out fires rather than being systematic.  I was suffering from an impossible standard with no tools to attack my duties in a logical, manageable manner.  Later I learned that I was suffering from a condition called C.H.A.O.S—Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome!  You can maybe imagine, then, how it seemed the clouds lifted and the birds and angels began singing when I stumbled upon a website that would finally give me hope and direction.

It is this website I will introduce in my next post.

 

[Illustration: We Help Mommy, Eloise Wilkin, c. 1959, Random House, Inc.]

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