I discovered a new website a month or so ago after reading about it in our local newspaper– http://www.flylady.net . It is a site devoted to creating systems in your home that allow you to keep everything clean and orderly. It is full of information and advice on how to create systems that work for you. I decided that I liked her ideas and would give them a try. I started small with her morning and evening routines, and am adding other things slowly as recommended. Her website also devotes a large area to decluttering, and encourages her followers to tackle two projects a day that take no longer than 15 minutes each. The idea is that over a period of time you will be able to tell a big difference in your home.
Now that my children are out of school for the summer, they have noticed me cleaning out things. The first few days they ignored me, as the projects didn’t seem to take that long, weren’t in areas that affected them, and they didn’t seem to interfere with plans for the day. One day, however, my son asked why I was cleaning out things. I explained a little about the FlyLady. He said he would like to help. Wow, that was great news. My daughter followed suit and echoed his words. They both thought the idea was a good one, and asked me what area I was cleaning out next. My son asked one day if he could clean out the pantry and reorganize it. He thought it could be arranged better. I said sure and he was off. About 30 minutes later he announced he had finished his task, and had a huge grin on his face. “What can I do next, Mom?” he asked. Music to a mom’s ears!
I explained that we could start on another area tomorrow so as to not get overwhelmed and to have time to do other fun things for the day. We decided to pack up and headed to the pool. The next morning my son asked if he could start on a certain cabinet in the kitchen. As he was working, my daughter asked why he got to clean out a cabinet and she didn’t. I told her she could pick one and start as well. She happily chose a cabinet and went to work. Now that was a happy mommy moment, for sure!
These projects ended up taking an hour, not the recommended 15 minutes, but I figured my children were having fun, being productive, and really making an impact, so it was okay. They loved seeing the big bag of things we were giving away, and couldn’t wait to start on the next project. They also started sharing ideas of new ways of organizing rooms that would be “better” than the way they were now. The laundry room should double as an art room, my daughter shared with me. Our garage would be better with a shoe area and dog supply area out there, and we could rearrange where the sports equipment was stored. They went on and on, all with great suggestions. The only thing is that these are bigger projects that can’t be completed in short periods of time.
We started with the shoe area, with the intention of creating the art room in the laundry room. My daughter just wants to have her art supplies in a place she can access easily when she feels inspired to do art. That required the shoes to move to the new proposed area of the garage. That was a successful project, with the only problem being that these two rooms are now in total disarray and the overflow in our kitchen entry area. I understand now why the FlyLady suggests smaller projects with only things you can accomplish in an hour max. I think we should have followed her rules. Whew. It doesn’t feel great looking at half-done areas, especially in a main area of our home. Good lesson learned, but still okay because the children are motivated to see it finished.
My daughter and I worked diligently again yesterday on her art area. After several hours of work, we still aren’t finished, but it is looking good. She is inspired and can imagine what it will be like. Both of my children are now excited about cleaning out their rooms and getting rid of things they no longer want or play with. They started this effort on their own, and to say their rooms are a mess is an understatement. They exerted their independence and started working, but weren’t familiar with the philosophy of tackling small areas at a time. I am still learning this as well. Slow progress is big progress over time. Now they are working on small areas at a time, but still have a long way to go. All are great lessons for us all. The excitement lies in the prospect of our completed projects at the end of the summer. Looking forward to that day, but celebrating the small successes along the way!