What I learned from FlyLady


This is only the third post in my FlyLady series, but it will probably be my last. I feel I have hit an equilibrium with my housework and have maintained it long enough to say “I’m done”. At least for now.

I should start by saying that I consider my FlyLady program to have been a success. The morning routine I developed is still practised virtually every day and the result is that for months now I’ve enjoyed having clean bathrooms without having to spend hours scrubbing and getting soaking wet. I no longer worry when guests or babysitters come over that they will have to use the bathroom and I’ll die of shame. I no longer spend half the day cleaning said bathrooms when I know someone is coming to visit. Thanks to FlyLady’s “Swish and Swipe” system, I spend a couple minutes each morning wiping down surfaces and that’s pretty much it. I’ve also adapted this to the shower – I keep an extra towel in there and after I’m done I use the towel to wipe down the shower stall and fixtures. It takes a couple extra minutes but it’s so worth it as cleaning the shower was my second least favourite job, after cleaning the toilets.

Thanks to my morning routine I also enjoy walking into a neat and tidy master bedroom throughout the day. And I’m on top of my laundry since I get a load going pretty much every day, too. No more running out of clean sheets, towels, or underwear. I’ve learned that wearing “lace up shoes” helps me get through the day comfortably, and with a bounce in my step.And

Finally, most of the time I wake up to a clean kitchen and I’m willing to go to more effort than I used to to make that happen.


These are the things I have changed and I’ve stuck with. But what I haven’t done has also taught me something about priorities and choices. For example, I don’t do Zone Cleaning or Daily Missions. I’ve discovered that a tidy house is what really matters to me; deep cleaning? not so much. Oh sure, I’d love it if there weren’t so many dust bunnies floating around on the floor, or if the surfaces were always dust-free. But the truth is I only have so much time in my life right now and I’ve come to a place of peace with how much of that I spend cleaning. One day when my kids are grown and out of the house I’ll have more time to do deep cleaning. But as the saying goes, when I’m lying on my deathbed I am quite sure I’ll be grateful for all the time I’ve spent with my kids and doing hobbies I love like riding or quilting, and will not feel grateful for having exchanged that for a shining home. When I walk around my house these days I get pleasure from tidiness and neatness. Clean surfaces, things in their place (and the clean bathrooms mentioned above!), these give me a sense of peace. If I don’t feel the need to take that further than I don’t see any reason to do so.

I no longer visit the FlyLady website, nor receive her emails. I would recommend this program to anybody looking to get a grip on their time management and wanting to find a better balance between housework and other stuff. But I think it’s also important to know how far you need to go, and not feel like a failure if you don’t do the whole program. I definitely feel I got a lot out of doing this, and may even revisit it again when we move to a new home. Perhaps when I’m in a nicer home I will feel motivated to “kick it up a notch”. At least I’ll know exactly where to go to accomplish that.


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The FlyBaby Diaries: my Morning Routine



It has been about three weeks since I started with FlyLady. Today was Day 22 of the BabySteps for me. I confess haven’t been following them very closely lately, but that is because I jumped ahead a bit in the program a while back. For example, I completed my morning routine after the first few days of BabySteps because I was enjoying it so much and I recognized that this is when I have the most energy to get things done. It has become my favourite part of the day and gets my day off to a great start where I feel organized and that I’ve accomplished something. Here is my morning routine:


Get up between 7 and 7:30 and go out to do farm chores. This is when I am grateful for FlyLady’s rule of laying out the clothes you are going to wear the night before. I’m still pretty sleepy-headed at this point and it’s nice to not have to dig around in a dark bedroom for sweats and t-shirts.

Walk the dog and feed/water the chickens, add straw bedding to the coop if needed. 

Back in the house I head to my bathroom and strip down and start the morning’s dirty laundry pile. I weigh myself then wash my face and do a quick body swipe (if it’s a shower day I use the other bathroom to shower and return to my bathroom for the rest).

I fix my hair then use the facecloth I just washed my face with to wipe down the sink, followed by the toilet. If I showered I just use a dry cleaning cloth; I have a stack of old diaper wipes in a basket in each bathroom for this purpose. It literally takes about 10 seconds. It is amazing how little time it takes when the thing is done every day! Then I give the toilet bowl a swish with the toilet brush (if I showered, I also wipe and swish the toilet in that bathroom while the hot water is getting hot). The facecloth and/or wipe go in the dirty laundry pile.

I get dressed to my Lace Up Shoes (I love how they give me a spring in my step as I go about my day) then I make the bed. If it’s a day to change sheets or for fresh pajamas I put the dirty laundry in the growing pile (fresh sheets are put on during my afternoon routine).

I’m now done in the bedroom and ensuite bathroom, and when I leave there with my handful of dirty laundry, I leave behind a bathroom that gives me a lift every time I walk into it throughout the day. This was definitely one of the worst places before I started Flying – our water has a lot of sulphur in it and it stained yellow rings in the toilet bowl and sink that took time and elbow grease to get rid of, so I always put it off. And it took lots of cleaning cloths. By doing the Swish and Swipe each morning it takes only seconds, one cloth to wipe, and it always looks great. I also leave a bedroom that brings me a feeling of peace whenever I walk in. I know that part of the house is Done for the day, and it feels good!


Next, I go to the kitchen and put the kettle on, then put the dirty laundry in the washer and run a load (other family members have filled it up during the previous day: it’s another benefit of having an empty washer during the day – dirty clothes and linens can be tossed right into the washer, no piles of dirty laundry building up!). It is great to always have clean clothes and linens – before laundry would pile up until I needed it and then I would spend all day doing several loads in a row.

Back to the kitchen where I unload the dishwasher while the tea is steeping. I’ve gotten really good (not perfect, but much improved) at cleaning the kitchen in the evening. I confess I don’t always shine my sink, but I leave it clean and the counters clean, too. It’s very nice to wake up to a clean kitchen!

I take my tea and then check my email and the schedule for the day. This is a nice time to take a rest. I also eat my breakfast during this time. With an empty dishwasher, it’s easy to put the breakfast dishes directly into the washer rather than having them pile up on the counter. It also encourages the kids put theirs away after breakfast too (they don’t like to eat right away in the morning so I make their breakfast after I’m done mine), rather than dumping them in the sink. I also wipe my sink when I’m done with a dry cloth I keep there for that purpose. This is another Flylady tip and it really keeps the sink looking great and easy to clean with just a swipe!

So that is my morning routine so far. Where I’ve slipped up is that I haven’t been doing my 2-minute Hot Spot cleanup, the 5-minute Room Rescue, and the 15-minute Decluttering for the current Zone on a regular basis. It has been pretty sporadic, actually. I’m having a hard time with these and I think it’s because some of our days require us to be out of the house relatively early and there isn’t time (getting up earlier is just not an option – it’s a freakin’ miracle that I naturally get up at 7 these days because for years I used to sleep in until around 9 or 10). It may also be because I already have a long routine and by the time I am done with breakfast and cleanup I’ve been up and doing my thing for almost 2 hours I’m ready to move on. Whatever the problem is I’m going to try to identify it this week and address it.

One thing that might help is our chickens are meat birds and are due to be processed this month, so I only have a couple of weeks left of caring for them in the morning and that will shave off about 30 minutes from my morning routine. It is also getting dark earlier, and at some point I will have to switch things around a bit so that I do inside stuff (like unload the dishwasher) before going out with the dog (we walk through the forest and I’m a bit chicken to do that in the dark, even with a flashlight).

Next time I will talk about my afternoon and evening routines, as well as the challenges I am facing with my Weekly Schedules. I’m also really prone to distraction and these days we are fervently working on house plans (we are building a new home on our property) and it is all too tempting to sit down and start sketching – next thing I know an hour has passed! Overall, however, I’m pleased with the changes I have made and appear (so far) to be sticking with. Onward and upward!



Categories: FlyLady, Homemaking | Leave a comment

Getting Organized, Flylady Style

I have always struggled with self-imposed routines. In the past I have tried (and failed) to establish them and basically ended up deciding I was better off without them. However, my forays into the world of autism this last year have taught me that routines can be life-altering for families dealing with kids on the spectrum. Coincidentally (or not) I have also noticed over these last few weeks that I am living in a constant state of mild stress because I have so many things to do and feel like I’m never catching up and never getting it all done. I wait until something is in crisis mode then jump in and ignore everything else to fix it.

It really hit home this past month when the homelearning year began. I was determined to set more of a routine and, importantly, sit down and do homeschool work with the kids. One month into it and I hadn’t done so at all. I kept telling myself that I’d catch up this week and start the next, but that never happened. I knew I had to get this under control if I was to have any hope of getting my kids and myself into a routine.

My cousin recently posted on Facebook that she had discovered Flylady [warning: her website is very cluttered and not very well organized, the irony of which is not lost on her followers: read this post for a quicker explanation of the system]. I learned about her ten years ago when I joined an online parenting forum, but I’d never really believed I needed that kind of help and I’d sort of forgotten all about her until I saw the post. It made me realize that I do, in fact, need help. If I can’t keep this little home clean and tidy and find time to homeschool my kids, how am I going to cope when we have our new (much bigger) home? I felt I owed it to my family – and especially my husband, who has worked so hard to get us here – to get things under control.

I read through her site and realized that this was more than just how to have a tidy house. Flylady is all about establishing routines. And that is what I needed: for my home, for work, for homeschooling, and for the kids.

Her system works by introducing one task at a time and allowing time for them to get established as habits. This part of the program is called “Babysteps” and there are 31 days of them (I’ll discuss what happens after completing the Babysteps when I get there). I’m currently on Day 3 and I’d like to discuss the two steps that have been introduced so far.

The foundation of this method is the Shiny Sink. Each night before I go to bed my task is to shine my sink. It starts with a big clean on the first day, and the last step is to use Window Cleaner to shine the sink. I’ve never heard of that nor thought about it (I tend to avoid cleansers other than baking soda and vinegar, but I did have some Earth Friendly window cleaner around) but it really works. The sink shines! After that first big clean all you need to do is wipe it dry after using and give it a shine at night (later in the program there will be times set aside each month to do a big clean again). And I’ll tell you, that is a really nice thing to wake up to. When all the rest of your home screams “piles of work need to be done!” you can take comfort in that one little shining beacon of cleanliness.

But I’ve discovered another benefit to the Shiny Sink – it forces me to do the dishes at night. I am currently about 50/50 on whether they get done. Often I’m so exhausted at the end of the day I simply don’t have the energy. But I have come to appreciate how much better my day goes when I wake up to a clean kitchen, so I try. But now that I am shining my sink, I can’t stand to have dirty dishes around it so I have been good about doing them each night. Bonus!

The second Baby Step I’ve begun is Getting Dressed to Lace Up Shoes. When I first read this I thought okay, I understand the mental benefits of getting dressed at the start of the day. I think all stay-home mums know what it’s like to discover it is after noon and you’re still in your jammies. Or the FedEx guy arrives unexpectedly and you have to answer the door in a bathrobe (with our old trailer home and crowded run-down porch, it all just adds to the overall fashion theme we have going here….). But I balked at the shoes. I thought to myself how much I like wearing my lovely, cozy Padraig slippers. How wearing shoes in the house was a Bad Thing (according to my mother and most people I know). How uncomfortable I would be wearing shoes all day. I thought “I can skip that part”.

But then I read her reasons behind wearing the shoes and two of them really hit home to me. First, if you have shoes on you are more likely to go outside to, say, take out the garbage, or take the grocery bins to the car, etc. And I know from experience this is true. Sometimes I just don’t feel like taking off my slippers and so the thing gets dumped somewhere. Now that I am always wearing shoes, it is no trouble to take a bag of garbage to the bin.

The second reason was one of those “A-ha” moments that make you wonder why you never put two-and-two together before. I often suffer from sore feet and sometimes felt that I hadn’t even really done enough work to merit them. But guess what? Flat slippers don’t provide much support. So I have been wearing my runners and there is a bounce in my step and no more sore feet!

I sorta skipped ahead with my reading to see where I’d end up when done. And I’ve already planned out all my routines, cleaning days, etc. But I’m still going to follow the Babysteps and only add one when I’m supposed to. I know if I try to make too many changes too fast I will fail. It’s a process, and I intend to enjoy it.

An added bonus of all this is while I am gradually introducing things to my own routine, I have covertly begun getting my kids into routines too. I am now getting dressed to shoes each morning: the Little Dude likes to be naked, which was okay when he was 2 but not so much now that he is 8. So we’ve started with him getting dressed before he begins any activity. The Big Girl’s task is to wash her face first and then get dressed before starting on any activity. I’d already gotten them used to bringing their plates and cups into the kitchen when done with a meal (in our house that means literally walking about four steps, but it was the principle!). Now their equivalent of the Shiny Sink is that instead of just putting the stuff on the counter, they put them in the dishwasher.

As I go along adding things to my own routines, I’ll add to theirs. I’m hoping for big things at the end of this 31 days! I will keep you all posted as to how it goes…

Categories: FlyLady, Homemaking, parenting | Leave a comment

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