Monday, October 20, 2008

Organization is a must! Part I

It is the beast that must be conquered if you expect/wish/desire relief in any form for most families. It has to be integral as your family grows. I would hope that's a given! However, it's entirely up to you to decide how much organization or scheduling you want to invite into your family life.

Mine started the day I got married. Ok, I'm joking. But that's about the time that I started looking at my life a lot differently. I had packed up my Sentra and we drove to Manassas from Austin. As we were unloading the car and moving boxes into the apartment, I realized how much crap I had. Literal crap. But I did nothing about it. Those boxes sat there for the better part of a year before I decided to unpack them and spread it out around the apartment.

Then we moved to the townhouse. My crap followed me. Plus Neil's. Sorry honey, but we're in this together, right? Two kids, loads of crap. It wasn't until 2002 or 2003 that my mother-in-law, Mary Ann, mentioned this new fangled website called Fly Lady that I really started to get my organizing going in the right direction. No longer would I be doomed to stare at boxes of junk that I had no love for.

If you are clutter challenged or are easily overwhelmed by the mess caused by years of your life, you'll want to get started with Fly Lady's 15 minutes at a time. That's the policy. It won't be undone in a few hours or a few days. It took years to get it that way and it'll take a while to get it all back to uncluttered. And in the meantime, you learn lessons in how to manage your 'hot spots'. Those places in your house where papers and mail go to die, only to get scooped up and tossed into bags and hidden when company comes over.

Don't lie. You know you do this. Even Tori Spelling admits she does this. We're all fighting the same beast here!

So, where am I with Fly Lady these days? I have morphed her schedule into my own, but I have maintained a lot of the core elements of her program.

The Kitchen.

I keep the sink immaculate. It's been years since our sink has seen a pile up of dishes and pots and pans. The kitchen is the least forgiving of all the rooms in the house. Just as you get it cleaned out, you can count on someone to 'hungry up' and undo all that hard work. And this will happen many times in one day.

Kids as young as three can help with responsibilities. I'm a firm believer in family chores. Jonathan is responsible for wiping down the table after meals. Ashley is responsible for sweeping after meals and mopping once a week. Paige is our trivet retriever. Neil and I divvy up the responsibilities for each meal.

I used to struggle with the idea of handling all of the household responsibilities until Fly Lady came along. Since I'm home, it's just logical that I'll handle about 90% of it. It took many moons to accept that. But when everyone is home, I do expect them to do their share. We have waffled on the idea of having a cleaning lady, but the kids are old enough to pull their weight and a good solid 15 minutes of cleaning really accomplishes a lot.


This is one chore that you *must* have some kind of system in place or you'll see how quickly it all backfires on you. I had a friend once say that with her second child the laundry grew exponentially. I can totally see that too. I have family and friends who do all their laundry on one day. I might be up for trying that experiment if I didn't have *some* place to be each and every day. So, everyone gets a laundry day and when things are in the groove, their basket is next to the laundry room ready to go the night before. First thing in the morning I start the first loads of laundry. Our laundry schedule is as follows:

Monday: Ashley and Paige
Tuesday: me
Wednesday: Jonathan and Drew
Thursday: Neil
Friday: towels, sheets, etc.

One thing I do insist from the kids is that they bring me their laundry and return it to their room. This means they are responsible for gathering all their dirty clothes and putting them away after they're clean and folded.


Stay tuned for more on our chores!


*jess* said...

i ♥ fly lady!!!!!!!!!!!

Amanda said...

So...You have inspired me. As a working mom, I have different struggles than you do. I struggle with whether to mop the floor or play with Makayla. Well, Makayla always wins that one hands down, so our house is a disaster until Fridays when I am off work. I didn't get to look at most of the fly lady's things on the website, but I am so interested. My sink is soaking as I type this. I am so interested in finding a system to create more balance in my life because it is way to chaotic as it is right now.

Martina said...

it's amazing how much of it all starts with your kitchen sink. Once you see that sink gleaming you'll want it to stay that way...and it'll carry over into the rest of the kitchen. Don't feel overwhelmed, though. Think 'how do you eat an elephant' and you'll realize it's going to be a slow process. Don't be too hard on yourself!! :)

Jamie said...

I never really looked up the fly lady but so far this week I quit my part time not paying enough to be so rude to me job and made myself a schedule. Now every room in the house (that we use on a regular basis) has a day. So, on that day I plan to at least clean a little in that room. Unfortunately it's going to take quite a while to get everything tip top especially with a little monster who wants to be held every 5 minutes =) but I'm working on it! I have laundry assigned for two days...that's what you need when your baby is a formula fountain lol. Oh and I joined a gym yay me.

Martina said...

that's awesome, jamie! it all starts with something. you have a huge first house, though. i gradually grew into our house and our schedule, so it was more of a slow adaptation. but the hardest part is finding your groove. you can always count on illness, change of schedule or an overall blaise {wrong sp, i know} attitude to throw a wrench in your plans.

as i was writing that post, i saw how horrible my house looked. the problem is totally mental. some days i feel overwhelmed, but the next day that same mess seems manageable. and now that i've realized that, it makes it easier to deal with the overwhelming days.