Do you ever feel so overwhelmed by your to-do list that you don’t know where to start? Maybe you just completely check out and start channel surfing or scrolling through your Facebook feed or clicking through a slide show of “52 Comforting Slow Cooker Recipes.” Would you believe me if I told you that it was your perfectionism that was causing the problem? I thought that sounded crazy at first. How could I be a perfectionist if my house is a mess, there’s a mountain of laundry waiting to done, bills that need paying, and who knows what else while I’m re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? It boils down to this: if I feel as if I don’t have the time to do everything and do it perfectly, I give up.
I have been struggling to write this blog post for weeks. There is just so much I want to tell you about the FlyLady and how her influence has changed my life that I hardly know where to begin or how to narrow down the topic.
First of all, you probably don’t know who the FlyLady is. Her real name is Marla Cilley, and she has made it her mission in life to help others establish housekeeping routines that will bring peace to their homes and families. Are you thinking, “What, this woman teaches you how to clean your house? I know how to clean my house!” Well, yes, if you browse her website, it might look to you at first as if it’s all about how to clean your house, but that’s merely the tip of the iceberg. I know from my own experience, that once you start reading her daily emails, her voice gets inside your head. She will influence you to view almost every aspect of your life differently.
I have decided, however, that I can’t use this post to teach you the FlyLady’s system. That’s her job if you’re interested in finding out what she has to say. My task is to describe what I have learned from her beyond how to “swish and swipe” my bathroom or shine my kitchen sink.
So, what has she taught me? For one thing, I’ve learned that I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the daily tasks required in caring for a home and family. As a “FlyBaby,” I am a member of a community of (mostly) women who have had similar struggles, and now we can support each other by sharing our stories. In this community I find stay-at-home moms like me, working moms, single moms, young, single women, newlyweds, retired empty-nesters, widows, and even a teenage girl who lost her mom and has used the FlyLady’s advice to help her father manage their home and take care of her younger siblings.
Most importantly, I have discovered that my perfectionism is the source of my problem. Perfectionism holds me back. It is better to do something even if I can’t do everything. Only a few minutes available to fold laundry? Well, I don’t have to fold those shirts as if I worked at the Gap. Good enough is good enough. Laundry that is folded and put away is not going to wrinkle as much as laundry sitting in a heap in the dryer. In letting go of my perfectionism little by little, I find that I can keep my house my way. The FlyLady emphasizes that we don’t have to scrub our floors on our hands and knees the way our grandmothers did. A quick mop with a Swiffer gets the floor cleaner than it was before. Dusting doesn’t have to take all morning. I can dash through the house with my feather duster in ten minutes, and I have blessed my home.
One of my favorite things about the FlyLady is that she refers to cleaning as “blessing our homes” to help us see the value in the work we do. These tasks don’t have to be tedious chores if we do them with love for ourselves and our families. Even if I lived alone, I would deserve a clean home. I wish I had believed that when I was single. Who knows what I might have accomplished in my twenties if I had washed my dishes every night instead of playing Free Cell or watching reruns of Law and Order: SVU? Just cleaning up after myself would have created so much more peace in my little apartment. At least the lesson is sinking in now. I have cleared enough clutter out of my home and my mind that I was able to start this blog.
Having routines to keep my home running smoothly sets me free to enjoy more of my life. I don’t have to feel guilty about playing with my children or taking a few minutes for myself because there is so much I “should” be doing instead. I also have more time for family outings because I don’t have to spend all day Saturday cleaning the house. I’ve been doing a little bit each day, and my Saturday task of cleaning the glass and mirrors takes only a few minutes.
You’re probably wondering why Marla Cilley calls herself “the FlyLady.” Her name originally came from her love of fly fishing, but it also gets right to the heart of her message. She uses “FLY” as an acronym for “finally loving yourself.” I have to love myself enough to realize that I deserve a well-kept home. A clean home isn’t just for guests. It isn’t even just for my family. It has to be for me. I deserve clean floors, a clean bathtub, and shiny mirrors as much as any guest in my home does. I shouldn’t have to look at piles of clutter every day. It takes time to build the habits to keep my home looking good all the time. It is definitely still a work in progress for me, but I’m on a path that is bringing me more peace and joy with each baby step I take. Check her out for yourself here!