Today I set my Flylady Yahoo Groups membership to "no mail." I'm not leaving the group, but I decided that I could cut three seconds of computer time out of my day if I didn't have to delete the message digest I receive once or twice a day, unread. I haven't hardly looked at them in months.
For those of you who don't know who/what Flylady is -- it's a website devoted to helping Sidetracked Home Executives (SHEs) get their houses and other areas of their lives under control through establishing routines. You start small -- by cleaning and shining your kitchen sink -- and move on to bigger and better things, always encouraged to take baby steps, work in increments of 15 minutes, and not to feel behind. There is lots of talk of taking care of yourself, getting rid of junk that is taking up space around the house, and banishing negative thinking. If you become an accomplished Flybaby, your house will stay neat due to your routines, your finances will be in order, your appointments will be kept, your meals will be planned, you will lose weight, and there will be less chaos in your life. I think it's probably a great system for a lot of people.
It doesn't really work for me.
Part of the problem is that they strongly advocate getting away from "emergency cleaning" by establishing habits that will spread the housework around so it never feels like you're doing much. I like this idea in theory, but in practice, not so much. Here's the thing: my energy and motivation come in fits and spurts. Some days I lie around like a slug all day, playing on the computer and neglecting the children. Other days I go to the gym, then come home and clean the whole house, install shelves, wash all the sheets, paint a couple of rooms, and weed both the front and backyards. Oftentimes, I do this in response to the fact that people are coming over. Generally, I hate doing housework, but I like to entertain, and I like my house to look nice when I do so, so it doesn't seem like a big deal. Ryan doesn't love it when I go into manic cleaning mode, and neither do my kids, but then again -- it doesn't happen very often. The rest of the time, I tidy a lot but don't actually clean all that much. My family doesn't mind, so neither do I.
The other reason the Flylady system didn't really work for me is that, well, I don't mean to brag or anything -- I am no champion housekeeper -- but I don't think I was ever quite far gone enough to be desperate enough to embrace it. For instance, the shiny sink thing. I've always liked a nice shiny sink, and while I don't keep it that way every single day, it's something I do regularly enough. There is much talk of getting laundry under control, and not that I don't sympathize, but I've never really had trouble staying on top of laundry, and I can't really relate when I hear about people living out of multiple laundry baskets and never being able to find anything to wear. We do the dishes regularly. My kids' rooms are usually a wreck, but we have gotten into a loose system of cleaning them pretty thoroughly every month or two. And while I have definitely taken to heart the Flylady theory of clutter -- that you can't organize it, you can only get rid of it -- and have been moved to get rid of a lot of junk that was taking up space in drawers and closets around the house, I do feel like I keep a pretty good rein on stuff lying around the house.
Anyway, again, I don't intend to quit the group altogether -- I like to go to the website and poke around some -- I guess I've decided I don't need to hear from Flylady anymore, in a way because I give up. I don't feel bad about it, though -- I do feel like I learned a few valuable things along the way.