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I tried to FLY…

November 18th, 2003 · No Comments

A few months ago, a friend of mine recommended I try FlyLady . I looked at the site, looked at the frumpish purple winged housecleaner character, skimmed a bit, and decided it wasn’t for me. Then again my friend recommended it. She said after following FlyLady’s advice and resources, she now had more time for things other than housecleaning. So I decided to try it too. I thought I was already pretty organized, but I figured I could afford to learn more. AFter all, by this time I had begun blogging, and the thought of having more time to type motivated me!

I tried to FLY with FlyLady and it was quite a roller-coaster ride….

FLyLady has nearly 200,000 email subscribers. Maybe I was one of the last ones who hadn’t heard of them! There is one FlyLady and apparently many helpers who prepare motivational and instructional messages. Although there is information on the web site, the true FLYing experience (as they refer to it, the acronym standing for Flinally Loving Yourself) only comes through the email.

Each day FlyLady and her accomplices send out many messages, timed to help you get through your day in an organized way. There are tips of how to get organized, what to do in the day, and the project of the day. FlyLady allows for flexibility and creating your own routines; she offers helpful guidelines. But there are some things she insists upon, such as wearing shoes inside the house and shining the sink at night.

Maybe it was just me, but I had a hard time adjusting to the emails. Perhaps I felt she was shouting at me, but receiving messages that read “TURN OFF YOUR TV?” and “WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?” anooyed me. I felt she was yelling at me. Or I felt insulted. Did FlyLady think my house had gotten messy because I was watching TV? The continual questions about the location and status of my shoes and laundry made me feel like a child who required supervision. Now I know she was trying to be helpful, and some need such steps, but it bothered me. Maybe Ijust have a rebellious anti-authoritarian streak, I don’t know. But I was having a rough ride at first.

Then I decided, especially since I had a great trust in my friend, that I would try to FLY a bit. I got over the yelling emails and I began to get more organized. In the emails and on the site I found lots of helpful advice. It got me thinking. I tried doing the project of the day. I cleaned out closets. FlyLady is really into 27-Thing-Flings and I didn’t count the items, but I did discard a lot of stuff, made a trip to Goodwill and recycling center with the van packed with bags. I made a more efficient cleaning schedule. FlyLady recomends a weekly House Blessing of 7 chores, and then the daily project for 15 minutes. I don’t do this exactly but I modified it for me. She likes using a timer too. I’ve been using that more also.

After a while though, after August and into September, when “school” started and our life this fall got busier, I found myself feeling overwhelmed by FlyLady’s demands. I found myself too concerned about cleaning. There were things on her lists that I did not think to do regularly, like dusting the doors, and I began to wonder what else I needed to do. What else was I missing? I had never worried before about the perimeter of the rug, what I was using to dust, etc…Then I felt discouraged, as if I couldn’t do it all. Instead of being content with baby steps, I tried to take big ones and fell. Also too the digest (get the digest – not the individual messages, unless you want to get a lot of email!) started coming at random times. It had come every day at 1 pm but now it comes whenever. That made it a lot harder to plan ahead for each day, to know what chore I needed to do, etc.

I also became disillusioned with the culture of FLYing. Along with the instructional and motivational emails, the staff send out testimonies, emails others have sent describing their experience and gratitude. Some of the emails bothered me, even disturbed me, with their cult-like devotion and intense thanksgiving. One woman told a story how she was sitting in church with her husband, and he turned to her and said he’d noticed something was new in her life: what was it? She happily told him about FlyLady changing her life….while in a church worship service: isn’t church supposed to be about giving God credit for changing life? People seem very grateful as if FlyLady has saved their life, and I bet she has helped many families. To me though it seems a bit excessive and out of place. FlyLady’s motivational essays address some important points, such as what is the base for self-esteem, but I feel they are not as strong as they could be, more like self-help material combined with house-cleaning tips – Heloise meets Dear Abby? – well, not quite…. And I am always skeptical of anyone trying to help you but also selling something: FlyLady sells purple feather dusters, calendars and timers. There are often reminders either from testimonies or the staff that these things are available for purchase.

So it’s been a roller coaster ride. First I was skeptical. Then I stepped in, toes in the water, and tried it, organizing everything. Then I got overloaded, discouraged and disillusioned. I stopped reading the emails. But there are many things I’ve kept.

Here are some principles I learned from FlyLady

1) It’s amazing what you can do in 15 minutes if you focus and work hard.
I think sometimes I get discouraged while cleaning because I get distracted. Now the girls and I have “Tidy Times” where we set the timer and try to work hard for 10 or 15 minutes, and we usually can get the mess all cleaned up!

2) Try to clean as you go rather than clean later.
I’ve now gotten in the habit of cleaning up the bathroom in the morning – wiping down the sink, toilet and shower. Thanks to FlyLady – I wouldn’t have imagined that myself. It doesn’t take much time and it keeps it cleaner. Same with the girls – we try to clean the room before we leave it, and between activities. It now takes me less time to tidy the house and it stays at a higher level of cleanliness in general, I think.

3) Planning ahead is powerful. Keep routines.
I used to be a compulsive planner, and now I’ve slowed down, after 3 babies, and been a bit more spontaneous. It is good to be relaxed and flexible, but also good to be organized too. Even a few minutes each night can help me be better organized for the day ahead. My little routines in the morning get me going. I should probably make some routines for night time.

4) Take baby steps and be relaxed. Remember priorities.
FLyLady is strong on taking baby steps, leaving perfectionism, and taking care of yourself. This is probably my weakest area. I’m still learning. The staff do encourage taking time to take care of yourself, and taking time for family and dates. That is good!

5) It’s okay to give or throw things away.
We have been blessed by many generous family and friends, lots of hand-me-downs too. For a while, for some reason, I’ve felt I should keep all these things. But recently I’ve begun sorting through the piles of clothes and toys and books for the girls, making decisions on what to keep. Messes, I find , are often due to the amount of material. I’ve reduced the amount of books and toys the girls have at one time, and it seems to help them keep tidy better too.

So, now that life’s calmed down again, and the busyness of holidays approaching, I’m thinking I might take a second look at FlyLady. I’m still getting those emails. I was so tempted to unsubscribe, but the digest is still coming -random as it is. It might be good to look at get some ideas, and take them with a grain of salt or two, make them into my own. I am grateful for the routines, and for the calmness and confidence I now have when inviting others over. Life does seem easier, but part of that has been other changes in me this fall besides just following FlyLady.

My friend and I had an email dialogue about FlyLady, a couple months later, and I think we both agreed that although we were not absolutely-devoted-FlyBaby followers, we had learned some helpful routines, practices and ideas. As she put it, ” Living a right life, beginning at home, has its blessings.” and following FlyLady can help you get your home organized and your life prioritized so that you can have time for what is most important.

Tags: motherhood