The word clean follows me through every room. Laundry, in little piles or in baskets, is everywhere I turn. Every day. Clutter from those who don’t stay in the house 24/7 piles up throughout the house. Dishes overflow from the sink and food is all over the counters.
The anxiety rises. The overwhelm hits. I’m frozen, with no idea where to start.
I open my screen to write; the page is clean and empty, but I have to fill it with words. Then organize it to make it make sense. Even here, things need to be clean. It’s never-ending.
Spread out on my makeshift desk is an assortment of colored pens and a new Rocketbook Fusion (because gadgets are fun), reminding me of my resolve to organize my day, my life, and my writing. I have already spent two hours doing just that, to prepare for the upcoming week.
This week, I will do better. I have a plan now.
When I met my husband in my mid-thirties, he was a widower with two boys. I became an instant mom. Transitioning from taking care of me to the four of us was difficult to manage.
As I researched how to balance work and home life, I stumbled upon FlyLady.net. There was purple everywhere, and that appealed to me. Her tips, tricks, schedule, and advice, although still overwhelming, seemed solid. I dove in.
My first takeaway? I realized my house didn’t have to be perfect, and neither did I.
“What?” You might say.
“My house doesn’t have to be spotless?”
“‘They’ taught me all wives and mothers in the entire world MUST be perfect or the infamous ‘they’ will judge us! You mean I don’t have to maintain a perfect image?”
Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee ‘they’ you WON’T judge you. You just don’t have to CARE.
This was huge to me then and still plays an important role in how I approach housework and my writing. The struggle is still there, it’s just not screaming so loud I can’t function. Allowing me to find victory in small and consistent accomplishments.
Perfection can become debilitating, especially when you don’t realize it is at the core of what is holding you back. Perfectionism, according to Vox, can cause several mental health issues like anxiety, eating disorders, and deliberate self-harm, to name a few. Stress and fatigue from attempting to be perfect can also affect physical health, leading to headaches and insomnia.
These points, also made by FlyLady, stand at the core of her approach to keeping your house in order. There’s a checklist of daily “to-do’s”. A suggested daily room focus is also available and you don’t have to clean the entire room. You just set a timer for 15 mins and do what you can. Complete things throughout your day and you will see a difference.
I’m tired. Sometimes, I just don’t want to. I’m always tired, especially after having COVID. I am lucky if I make it through 5 minutes of cleaning let alone 15 mins.
My kids are back in school, and the mess is less. It still seems like one moment, things are clean, and then Bam, they are dirty again. It helps to work the system, though. If I look hard enough, I can see the tiny dents I have made.
I do this with writing too. I have a longer timer set for writing and then weave the housework between the writing. Add in some music. For me, this is the Electronic for Studying Radio on Pandora. When I do this, I feel like I have had a pretty productive day.
Now, I’m not saying that FlyLady will work for everyone. I also have a planner I purchased through Passionate Penny Pincher that has a house cleaning plan built into the planner. I tend to choose some of FlyLady’s ideas and some stuff from the planner and intermix them.
Find what works, then make a plan.
What do you find helpful to manage your day?
Originally published on Medium.