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Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Honest Look at FLYLady By Someone Who Uses It... Sometimes

Sometimes I think that I underestimate myself. Other times I think I grossly overestimate myself. My phases of self-belittlement usually come after I have tried to accomplish something and failed. Rarely are these endeavors craft or school related. More often than not, I feel I have failed in being a domestic goddess. I can tell you right now that my home is not very well decorated. It looks like exactly what it is: the apartment of two newly wed college students who make barely more than minimum wage and got most of their furniture from thrift stores and the picked-over hand-me-downs of relatives. Our wedding provided us with the means to get a few new pieces of furniture but we still have several "toss away" pieces left, like our dining room table and computer desk.
This entry is not meant to be a complaint about how juvenile my apartment is, or how rarely I find myself motivated to clean it. Nor is it a statement on how "funky cool" I think my apartment is. Because, honestly, my apartment is not "funky cool".
This entry is intended to share a wonderful resource I have found that motivates me to clean my apartment, pamper myself once in a while, and shine my sink. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I am talking about the FLYLady website and book.
Picture courtesy of
DISCLAIMER: I know there are a lot of people out there who don't like FLYLady and her suggestions. I also realize that there are a lot of people who think she is greatest thing since sliced bread and that she has saved them from near-hoarder tendencies. I am neither of these people. The FLYLady system was helpful for my life because it gave me a system of reminders and checklists to keep my mind focused for more than a minute or so, which is tough for me. So take this whole review with a grain of salt.
FLYLady provides a basis to help you form daily routines and put some order in to your life. Mara Ciley, also known as The FLYLady, encourages her readers to take baby steps, establishing one small routine at a time. Not all of her suggestions are necessary, but if you think any of them might help you, there is no reason to put off trying her system. Here is a taste of what FLYLady suggests:
  • Set up a before bed routine. This includes laying out your clothes for tomorrow, making sure your bag for tomorrow is packed and on the "launch pad" (more explanation later), your hygiene is taken care of, and your bedtime is not three in the morning.
Sounds simple, right? It really should be, but unless you've been in the habit of doing these things since childhood, they're hard habits to form. I've been "fluttering" (another term to be explained later) for almost a year now and I still don't do my before bed routine.
  • Shine your sink at night and make sure all the dishes are done, or are being done in the dishwasher. It'll put a smile on your face to see a clean sink the next morning, not a pile of dirty dishes.
Her rhetoric gets a little cornier after this, but it works for some people. In her book and on her website FLYLady heavily emphasizes the point of the shiny sink. It is one little thing that can start your day off right... along with the clothes you laid out the night before of course. According to her website, a shiny sink is her way of hugging you and letting you know that you're doing a good job. Is that corny? Hell yes, she even admits that it is. Do I need that kind of encouragement? Not really, I'm fine with a reminder that a clean sink means one less impending chore. Are there people who get comfort from the idea of a hug-by-proxy from a mother-figure? Of course there are, and that is why this system can work.
FLYLady goes on to describe setting up a "Launch Pad", or an area where you keep everything you need in order to leave the house. Again, a simple idea that my DH and I had not considered. After careful discussion and research, we've been inspired to build a custom Launch Pad when we get to the new apartment.
If you think that there are a lot of gimmicks in FLYLady, you're right. FLY stands for "Finally Loving Yourself", and she encourages that. "Do a little something for yourself" is a common theme in her emails and written pieces. But this is something many of us forget, caught up as we are in the race to be "better" and "the best".
If you're not satisfied with your current level of organization but are working on it , you're "fluttering". That is just the beginning of the specialized vocabulary employed in FLYLady, which can daunting but kind of fun to work with. 
But I have a favorite motto that can apply here: Sometimes a gimmick can work.
It really depends on the kind of person you are. Personally, I am consciously choosing to let some of her gimmicks work for me and leaving others out. For example, FLYLady recommends wearing shoes at all time. Lace up shoes, not slip-ons or sandals. There are tons of testimonial e-mails saying how much this has helped some women keep a "can-do" attitude, because they feel ready for anything. But for me, that's a bit much. I don't wear shoes in the house because it is bad for your floors and your feet. Not to mention that I was raised in a cultural and physical climate that encouraged being barefoot or in sandals, so I've learned to have a productive attitude regardless of my footwear. HOWEVER, I can see how wearing shoes could have a big impact on a person's view of their day. I am simply not one of those people.
This is about as far as I can review FLYLady, as I haven't really gotten in to Control Journals, House Blessings, and most of the other stuff that she recommends. If you want to know exactly what I am talking about, check out her website and decide if she is right for you. Personally, she's been a big help in motivating me to do the things I've been putting off, even if I'm not doing it exactly the way she tells me to.
So I'm going to admit that I shined my sink last night, which encouraged me to do all the dishes, which encouraged me to clean my counters, which encouraged me to clean my stove, which encouraged me to do my before bed routine, and I ended up in bed a full hour before I normally do. Since I am someone who needs a lot of sleep, yet rarely get more than four hours at a go, this is amazing. And when I get home I will probably "reboot" my laundry, start my control journal, set a timer for 15 minutes and clean my kitchen table... all because FLYLady told me I could.


Jolene said...

I know what you mean about Flylady... I've read the website several times over the last few years, trying to figure out how I can do a better job at taking care of the house. I, like you, have decided to just take the good and helpful things, and ignore the annoying ones. Hey, anything that helps is good right? I do find that I feel better though when that one part of the kitchen is clean - the sink - and I do find that having that stay clean in turn helps me keep the rest of the kitchen cleaner. I was surprised as well, on a day when I feel like doing absolutely nothing housework, that if you set a timer and work for 15 minutes in a room - it does make a difference! Thanks for your article, makes me think I should start doing the timer-15-minute-tidy more often :)

Xandria said...

I'm glad I could have a positive impact on someone else's day. I still find it hard to put down my knitting or whatever else I am doing so I can go clean, but it certainly is getting easier =)

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