At the risk of seeming like some kind of Donna Reed wannabe, I’ve added a link to another site to the list. The site is about cleaning your house, for people who do not like to clean house and who are not naturally good at it. People like me, who once figured that keeping the house clean would most likely take all of my scarce spare time, so why bother doing anything at all? If you check the site out, you will notice that it is rife with acronyms. My favorite is “CHAOS” = Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome; i.e. the house is such a mess, if the doorbell rings, you stay quiet and pretend you are not home so that no one will see the place. If you check out the site, you’ll notice that the acronyms as well as other elements of the site are a little on the cutesy side; but who cares, it works. When I first moved into my own apartment, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to clean house. At home I cleaned my room maybe once every few years after plenty of parental badgering, and I had no problem with having to leap over two or three piles of stuff to get into or out of the room. In the dorms my mess was kept down to a dull roar by the presence of roommates, and I even had a few flirtations with neatnikness, but an entire apartment, albeit an efficiency apartment, proved too much for me. As the years went on I got a little better, but I just couldn’t maintain things. Stuff would just get piled up until I couldn’t take it anymore (or someone was coming over) and then I would do a huge clean, and it would stay that way for a while. My huge cleans became more frequent so that the place never got too disgusting; but still at any given time my apartment wasn’t a very comfortable place.

I can’t remember how I heard about Flylady, but after I ascertained that it was free, I signed up for the emails. There were a lot of them, and after a while I stopped reading them all (they built up in my inbox until I had hundreds of them, and finally I did a huge clean). The system is basically built on simple routines that should never take more than 15 minutes to do, and which start simple and are gradually built upon until they become second nature–they become habits, like showering in the morning, so that you don’t even think about them, they just get done. I used to think about endlessly and put off things that turn out to take no time at all–I’ve discovered, for example, that keeping the bathroom clean takes me about 3 minutes in the morning, two or three times a week, plus a weekly five-minute tub scrub; and I never have to think about it!
I think the real key to Flylady, however, is decluttering. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before. If every closet is packed with stuff and every surface (perhaps including the floor) is littered with books, papers, trinkets, and STUFF (another Flylady acronym which I will not reproduce here), it takes forever to clean–you have to move all of that stuff out of the way first! I had a pretty small apartment in Chicago, and you would not believe that the amount of stuff I got rid of would fit in there at all. I got rid of broken stuff that for whatever reason I’d been harboring for years; kitchen utensils I’d had for the six or seven years I’d lived on my own and had never used; clothes that were worn out, that didn’t fit, that I loathed. Why on earth had I been keeping that stuff so long??? Because of guilt, really. I mean, maybe this was a collection of small plastic doodads that I didn’t know what they were for; but they were *perfectly good* small doodads that I didn’t know what they were for! Who knows when they would come in handy? Well, I haven’t missed any of them yet.
So, now the apartment stays reasonably clean all of the time. There’s still stuff that I should do that I don’t, but the apartment is now a comfortable place to be (despite the various boxes sitting around all over the place due to our recurrent flooding problems). It’s pretty easy to do at the moment since I don’t have a job and school work is not too pressing, and of course there’s another person here to share the work, but I have proved to myself that most cleaning tasks I used to dread and put off can be done in a matter of a few minutes, so I think I can keep up with it even when things get busier.
By the way, the only Donna Reed show I remember ever seeing involved a family crisis being resolved by holding a party in a school bus. Don’t look for that sort of activity to go on around here.

One Response to “Flybaby”

  1. KDC says:

    Valerie must never know that such a site exists. Otherwise my excuses for not cleaning will soon disappear. Glad you liked the lamp!

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