The Relapse


After Bedroom Week, it was a combination of Zone 5 and Zone 1, I think.  I’m a little confused about those Zones, probably because my living room, dining room, and entry are pretty much one big room so I think of it as one zone.  That’s the zone we were supposed to be working in.

You’d think that after weeks of doing my 15-minute missions, it would have stuck as an ingrained habit by now.  But no.  Probably because I don’t do the mission at the same time every day.  If possible, I do it while dinner’s cooking.  If I’m cooking something that doesn’t have any unattended time, then I do my mission after dinner.  Sometimes I “forget” and sit down to read after dinner (after all, that habit was developed over years and years so is much more ingrained) and then I have to do the mission later, or sometimes I skip it.

Honestly, it depends on how much I want to do the mission.  Believe it or not, I’ve come to think of some of them as fun. If they seem easy and quick and I can see the results (no cobwebs – imagine!), then I actually want to do the mission.  But some are definitely not fun.  Dusting all the knick knacks in the living room? Not fun.  We have so much crap on our surfaces – too many framed pictures of our kids when they were little, chotchkes that we received as gifts plus chotckes from both of our parents’ houses, art pieces that our kids made when they were younger, dozens of origami creatures that my daughter made.  Not to mention the books that cover every horizontal surface.  So dusting every object is not my idea of fun.  Plus, I had just dusted the furniture (with a cursory swipe of the things on top, as much as you can without knocking them over or actually picking them up).  Another mission for that week was doing a detailed vacuuming.  I have wood floors and had just mopped them a few days before.  No, not a detailed mopping, moving furniture around as Flylady was asking us to do this week, but good enough. 

And so I abandoned the missions for the week.  And while I was at it, I stopped shining my sink and even stopped going to the gym.  I turned into a complete sloth. I checked the Flylady site for next week’s missions and it’s back to kitchen week.  Phew. I like kitchen week, and all the missions are ones that I want to do. I really need to come up with some alternate missions for myself for dust-every-item-in-the-house day!


The Bedroom


Flylady had some great missions for us during bedroom week.  Cleaning cobwebs, dusting baseboards – all stuff that I really needed to do.  But I had bigger fish to fry.  I had boxes in my bedroom that had been there since I changed jobs almost two years ago.  If I didn’t go through them during bedroom week, I never would.

Day 1 – I went throught the first box.  I threw away alot of things.  I also came across all the cards that people wrote me when I switched jobs and they made me so happy.  Those went into a drawer.  So far so good.

Day 2 – I went through the second box.  I put everything on my bed.  And then I freaked out.  I did not know what to do with any of this stuff! My old badges, my pins from years of service at my job, the medallion from working the H1N1 crisis, nice pens including a Waterman that I received as a gift, a mug that my secretary had bought me.  There were also two Rolodexes.  Most likely, the majority of people have moved on and the contact information is out of date and besides, who uses a Rolodex anymore? Let alone two.  To test this out, I showed them to my 17-year-old daughter and asked if she knew what they were.  Oh wait, don’t tell me, she said, it’s a brand name, I saw it on Mad Men…a Rolodex! 

When I go though the Rolodex, it reminds me of all the people I used to work with and all the great contacts I’ve made over the years.  Still, that’s not enough of a reason to save a Rolodex.  Put the current contacts into your phone and chuck the rest.  But I couldn’t.  I couldn’t throw or give away any of it but I also didn’t want to clutter my current office with it.  So I put it all back in the box and put the box back where it was.  I peeked into another box and found framed pictures of my kids.  What do I do with those? They’re pictures of my kids! In nice frames! I don’t want to take them to work because they’re from when they were little and now thy are in their teens and 20’s. We already have a million pictures of them in our house (making dusting a real pain, I might add). So what to do? I quickly shut that box.

The next day, I tackled the cobwebs.  As an aside, Swiffer dusters are awesome for cleaning cobwebs. No, they are not my sponsor – I just love them.  They are also awesome for cleaning the ceiling fan, another task that I took on.  It was raining dust, I am embarrassed to say.  But after taking my quilt outside and shaking the dust out, all was fine.  My room is much cleaner but those boxes! Since that day, I have conferred with a few people and think I have a plan of action.  The badges and pins can go into a “treasure chest” that gets stored somewhere, the nice pens can go to the office, but the mug and the Rolodexes have got to go. As for the pictures, I haven’t figured that one out yet.

The Bathroom


Bathroom week went pretty well, especially since my bathroom is tiny (no counters, so no counters to clutter up) and since I swish and swipe daily.  The best part was that I cleaned my second bathroom, which doesn’t get swished and swiped and therefore needed a little love.  Now it looks great.

However, one major thing was missing during bathroom week.  None of the missions had us cleaning the tub.  Flylady also has something that she calls “Weekly Home Blessings,” which are cleaning tasks that you do every week, like dusting, mopping, vaccuuming, and some others.  Tub cleaning is not one of the Weekly Home Blessings either.  So if we’re not cleaning the tub as part of the Weekly Home Blessings and not cleaning it during bathroom week, when do we clean the tub? When, Flylady, when???  Because if Flylady is not telling me to do it, there’s a very good chance that it will not get done. 

Actually, I looked this up on the Flylady website and Flylady says that you should clean the tub when you’re in it taking a ahower.  You should clean a section every time you shower and it will never get dirty.  This would not work for me, mostly because I am practically blind without my glasses so can’t see to clean the tub.  Also, I would forget what section I already cleaned and would probably clean the same section every day.  And also, I’m usually rushing in the shower because I’m getting ready for work.  So Flyday’s solution does not work for me.  So instead, I cleaned the tub on Saturday.  Flylady does not give out any weekend 15-minute missions so instead of doing my Weekly Home Blessing on Saturday like I usually do (usually – ha ha – I’ve done it once), I cleaned the tub instead.  Scrubbed the tub with cleanser, rinsed, sprayed the tile walls with poisonous anti-mildew chemicals (I love poisonous chemicals because they work so well with minimal effort on my part) and rinsed, then cleaned the glass shower doors.  Thank goodness I don’t have a tub or shower in my second bathroom.

I’m not sure how to incorporate tub cleaning into my regular schedule. Alternate Weekly Home Bleassings on one week and tub on the next? Or always do it on the Saturday after bathroom week? (That doesn’t seem like enough tub cleaning but it’s probably more frequent than I was doing before.) So I’ve discovered a chink in the Flylady system. We’ll see how I resolve this over the long term.

The first thing Flylady asks you to do is to shine your sink.  This means doing a quick scour with some cleanser, drying the sink, then spraying it with glass cleaner and wiping with a cloth until the sink is shiny.  Shining your sink is the linchpin of the Flylady system.  It feels kind of silly to shine your sink if your house is in shambles but for some reason, it works.

When I first learned about Flylady, I started shining my sink religiously.  I was afraid that if I stopped shining my sink, I’d stop everything.  Eventually I did stop because it didn’t seem that high a priority.  We don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink so our sink generally looks fine.  But I’ve started shining my sink again now that I’ve rediscovered Flylady and it’s made a big difference in how my kitchen looks.

Shining my sink is one of the last things I do for the day. It takes me into the kitchen and while there, I glance at what needs to be put away. Nothing major, just small things like putting away the potholders and hanging the dishtowel. I’ll also give the counter a quick wipe and maybe even the stovetop.  Then I shine the sink.  All of this takes just a few minutes.  If I do do it daily, the kitchen is aways picked up and clean. When I wake up in the morning and go into the kitchen, I’m happy.

I no longer feel that if I stop shining my sink, all the dominoes will fall and my house will fall into disarray (well, maybe I still feel that way just a little) but I love how my kitchen looks with minimal effort. 

Flylady kind of warned us that the silverware mission would take more than 15 minutes but she said to do what we can in 15 minutes and we can always finish tomorrow.  Really? After you’ve taken everything out of the silverware drawer, you kind of have to keep going until you’re done because are you going to put the silverware back in a dirty drawer? Or are you going to leave the silverware out on the counter overnight? No. 

So I took all my silverware out of the drawer and scrubbed the drawer clean.  Then I washed the plastic silverware holder. But the biggest challenge was to go through all the miscellaneous items that have accumulated in the silverware drawer.  Unfortunately, I undertook this task in front of my husband.  Everything that was a candidate for decluttering was an object he wanted to keep.  The knife from his bachelor apartment? That’s a good knife. The grapefruit knife that I didn’t even know we had? That works really well. The pasta server? I didn’t even ask him – for some reason, he loves that thing.  Five corkscrews? Ok, I agree with him there – we can’t risk being without a corkscrew.  I can’t blame him for the four pairs of salad tongs.  There’s the teak pair that go with our teak salad bowl that we never use but which we got as a wedding present, the pair that my daughter’s teacher gave me to thank me for being a room parent, the Lucite pair that we also got for our wedding but which we use all the time. I couldn’t part with any of them.

I didn’t end up getting rid of anything but I put the silverware and serving pieces back in the now-clean drawer and put some of the useless items in another drawer.  Later in the week, I bought new drawer organizers for the “some useful and some useless utensil” drawer only to find that they didn’t fit.  Of course I didn’t find this out until after I had emptied the drawer.  By this point I was frustrated.  It wasn’t even kitchen week anymore but I had a burning need to finish the silverware/utensil organizing.  So I did a half-assed job of cleaning the drawer and the silverware holder and put the useful utensils back in the drawer.  I put the useless utensils (two identical nutcrackers – who even cracks nuts anymore?) in a plastic bin and hid it in the back of a drawer. This defeats the point of decluttering but both my silverware and utensil drawers are beautifully organized now and you never know when you might need a nutcracker. 

So far so good.  It was easier to adopt the Flylady system than I thought.  Why did I resist all those years?

Here’s what I added to my daily routine:  

“Swish and swipe,” which means wiping the sink, counter, and mirror with a microfiber cloth and squirting some soap into the toilet and swishing it around with a toilet brush.  I have been doing the swipe part for years but the swish was a good addition.  My toilet looks so nice that I am now painfully aware that I need to replace my toilet seat as it is looking shabby.

“15 minute missions” — Flylady has us working in one room per week and assigns us one “mission” a day which supposedly takes 15 minutes.  Week 1 was the living room.  At first I thought my living room looked fine, but upon closer look, it could use some sprucing up.  At the end of week 1, no more dust bunnies and my kids’ homework/art supply bins were cleared for the first time ever.  (Keep in mind that my kids are in high school and college so why I still have these bins is another question but that’s for another day.)

Week 2 was the kitchen. I was excited for this since I love to cook and I love my kitchen.  One mission was cleaning the front of the fridge.  Since I got a new fridge a few months ago, I banned “fridge clutter” and only have a calendar and a magnetic bumper sticker from the Penzey’s spice store that says “Love People, Cook them Good Food” on the side of my fridge.  All I had to do was to clean the doors with stainless steel cleaner and a soft cloth.  I also mopped my kitchen floor and cleaned out my silverware drawer, which is a story in itself.  My kitchen looks great, with the exception of the counter that divides the kitchen and family room.  Flylady did not address this counter and I didn’t volunteer.   I also shined (shone?) my sink every night which I’ll save for another blog post since that’s the linchpin of the Flylady system.

I slacked off a tiny bit – old habits die hard, but for the most part I stuck with the system.  It was kind of fun looking to see what the mission of the day would be and I tried not to overdo it to avoid burnout.  So far, the novelty is keeping me going – hopefully I’ll stick with it until it becomes an ingrained habit.

To hipsters and sophistocates — if you go to the Flylady website and see the cartoon character and read the lingo, you may be turned off and run to your copy of Marie Kondo as fast as you can.  No offense to Marie Kondo – I haven’t read her book…yet.  But with regard to the Flylady website, I say, get over it.  It’s actually pretty sound advice. And if you read the website and/or her book Sink Reflections and/or the emails you can sign up for and/or all of the above because some of us are supernerds and use excessive research as avoidance behavior when we should be cleaning house, then Flylady actually gets in your head and is endearing.  Believe me, I’m just as hip as you are — I live in an urban area, I listen to NPR, I listened to the podcast Serial just like you did. So look past the hokey and just pick up the essentials of the Flylady system.  Or else tell me how Marie Kondo is working out for you.  Maybe I’ll try that next.