It is 11pm and I find myself cleaning up my kitchen--loading the dishwasher, scrubbing out a pan, washing out a plastic bag, tidying up. How did I get here? How did I become the person who gets to wake up to a relatively clean kitchen most days? I don't want to imply that it is clutter-free, spotless, or free of piles, though--just not piled high with several days' worth of dishes. When I was in college, this was often the case.
Somehow, this year, I have conquered the dishes. (Let me stress that this is most days, most meals, etc.--it has at least gotten to the point that I feel weird piling a meals' worth of dirty dishes by the sink and just going to bed.) It may be partially that I this house has afforded me the crutch of a dishwasher for the first time in my adult life, but I've also learned that if one fails to empty the dishwasher, the dirty dishes don't clean themselves. It still takes the development of routines for emptying the dishwasher and cleaning up after each meal to arrive at a clean kitchen. I'd like to think that at this point, if I had to give up my dishwasher, that I would be able to continue my good dishwashing habits (with a little extra work, obviously).
This brings me around to my point: I have been working (since about my senior year of college) on developing routines and learning to keep house. I remember feeling like my life was complete chaos, and my Mom pointed me in the direction of FlyLady. Her routines, her emails teaching me how to retrain my thoughts (about cleaning or doing household tasks) and my eyes (to actually see "dirty" or "untidy"), and the Yahoo Group I joined all helped me peel away the layers of mental obstacles to learning to be an organized person and setting me on a path towards being able to keep house.
I "crashed and burned" with her system at least twice. The third time, it stuck to the point that even if things became chaotic again, I could get out of them without a major mental overhaul. But parts of the system never quite worked for me.
Although I have benefited from her suggestions on using a timer to time my breaks or to start an overwhelming task, I don't find that I am ultimately very productive that way. I used to be able to make use of her "15 minute day" idea (generally, I'd make a list of all the major things that were nagging me and just cycle through them 15 minutes at a time so I was accomplishing all of them "at once" instead of hyperfocusing on one), but now that I have kids, I often don't get many 15 minute cycles in a row. Mostly, I just need to finish a task so I can forget about it, rather than add another "still have to do" to my already overtaxed memory.
I am a huge fan of having a weekly plan. I do my errands and grocery shopping all on one day. Partially, this is due to our only having one car currently. Therefore, I have to get up and get us all breakfasted, dressed, and out the door early enough to get my husband to work to get access to the car, and this exhausts me, so it only happens once or twice a week. This necessitates menu-planning before I shop. But many other tasks that I would like to assign to particular days get postponed.
I have also never really been able to get into the groove of the "Weekly Homeblessing Hour" (although I love the euphemism) or working in Zones doing one task a day. I have usually chalked it up to us still having too much clutter or just not being tidy enough. But if that continues to be the case, maybe I should be planning for that scenario instead of allowing it to be the reason why I don't sweep or clean the tub as often as I should.
So that is a brief look at my homemaking background. I am truly indebted to FlyLady's guidance in many ways. Shiny sinks, "just 15 minutes," "housecleaning done incorrectly still blesses your family," daily routines, babysteps, meal planning, the idea of a Control Journal (although mine has never fully come together), and many other tidbits have helped me immensely in developing my homemaking skills. However, the snags I named above combined with the success of others have encouraged me to embark on a slightly different system inspired by Mary's recent homemaking post.
At some point soon, I'd like to reflect on my experience of trying out a new weekly cleaning routine similar to Mary's. There are some kinks to work out, but I have had some exciting revelations too. And it helps that Mary's pages are so pretty. Really. But I'll get to those things at a later date. It's late enough tonight already.