BabySteps to a Cleaner Home

Good morning everyone! Today, I’d like to go over what I’ve been working on to take better care of our home.

We bought our first house this past June, and  I have not been all that successful in keeping things organized and clutter-free. It got to the point where I was feeling guilty for not doing a better job.

I decided it was time to make a change, but I had no idea where to start because there are so many areas of our home that need help. I had heard of the FlyLady before, and even signed up to receive her emails — though I wasn’t really following them (and to be honest, getting slightly annoyed by the number of them I was receiving each day) — but I decided to actually give it a chance and see if it helped.

So I went into research mode. I began looking through her site in depth, seeing lots of testimonials, and even an explanation of why they send so many emails. One of the FlyLady’s favorite sayings is, “Your home didn’t get messy in one day; it will take more than one day to get it clean.”

As simple as that statement is, it gave me permission to not burn myself out over getting our home in shape. That simple statement tells me that it’s ok if it takes a while to get our home in order, and that I don’t need to stress or beat myself up over how slowly it’s going.

So I took a look at the FlyLady description of BabySteps to get started in developing routines that will, over time, lead to a home that is free of clutter and organized. The BabySteps are meant for beginners in the FlyLady system, so I got started on the steps.

I have now been following the BabySteps for 1 week and, although my home is of course not where I eventually want it to be, I can see progress toward that goal.

Here are the step I have completed so far (and from here on out, I will try to post for each step of the process, to share with you the changes that are occurring out our home. Each step compounds on the previous steps. It is expected that you will continue doing the previous steps, in addition to each new step every day. So here’s where I’m at…

Step 1: Shining my Sink

shiny-sink

This step is foundational to the FlyLady system. As she explains it, the kitchen is the key to a clean or messy home. As the kitchen is, so the rest of the home is. So if the kitchen is messy, the rest of the home is more likely to be messy.

This area has always been a struggle for me. Dishes are perhaps my least favorite “chore” to do, but Step 1 is to shine my sink, and I cannot shine my sink if it is piled high with dishes.

I have actually been pleasantly surprised by the results of keeping my sink shiny this past week. The desire to keep the sink shiny encourages me to get the dishwasher unloaded in a timely fashion so I can put dirty dishes straight into the dishwasher, instead of leaving them to sit in the sink and possibly reduce the shine that I worked so hard to achieve. (Oh, the horror!)

Step 2: Getting Dressed to Shoes

dressed-to-shoes

This step was difficult for me, and I have to admit I was tempted to skip it because in our home, we take our shoes off when we’re inside. It keeps the floors cleaner, is more comfortable, and is also probably a little leftover culture from our days of living in South Korea.

Then I saw a video about why this step is so important and I decided to bite the bullet and just do it. The reason this step is so important is that having shoes on tells your brain that you mean business and that you’re ready for action. The simple act of getting dressed as soon as you get up and putting shoes on your feet is a signal to your brain that you’re ready for the day.

I chose shoes that will only be worn in the house (I used ones I already had on hand, but they tend to be a bit uncomfortable on my feet so I may buy another cheap pair that fit more comfortably to wear only in the house during the day), and I will say that having them on during the day has made me think twice — on multiple occasions — about sitting down when I should be doing something.

Step 3: Read the Morning Message

This step is simple. It involves going onto the FlyLady website, their mobile app, or (in my case) their morning email and reading what they have to say. Easy Peasy.

Step 4: Reminder Notes

This was also a very short and simple step. All I had to do was post reminders in the bathroom and kitchen to continue doing the previous steps. It says to use Post-its, but since I was completing that step at a time when I couldn’t get to where I keep the sticky notes without waking up my sleeping children, I simply took small pieces of paper and taped them to the bathroom mirror and above my kitchen sink. Done, just like that, and they provide simple reminders to keep doing what I’m doing.

Step 5: Turn Negative Voices into Positive Ones

Again, quick and simple. On this day, the FlyLady wanted us to write down the negative thoughts we are hearing about how we’re doing. Then we needed to change those negative thoughts into positive ones. Here’s what I came up with:

  • I’ll never be able to get this entire house organized and clutter-free; there’s always going to be clutter somewherewas changed to I’ve only just started working on this and already my kitchen is cleaner (not just my sink), my bedroom is cleaner, and the fridge has enough room to hold our leftovers without squishing it all in.
  • It’s too difficult to keep the house clean with children following me around. was changed to I can teach my children responsibility to help me where they can and give them a positive example for themselves for when they grow up.

Step 6: Clean HotSpot for 2 Minutes

A “HotSpot” is an area of the home that, when left unattended, will gradually take over. These are those areas that are full of clutter, where stacks of paper pile up, or where there’s just general disarray. I was instructed to pick a spot, set a timer for 2 minutes, start cleaning, and to STOP when the timer went off.

I chose the dining room table (because that’s where all of our mail and things tend to get put). I was surprised at how quickly the two minutes were up, but at the end of the two minutes, I could see progress. The job wasn’t complete, but it was better than it had been before I started.

That’s another thing the FlyLady likes to say, “An job not finished is better than a job left undone.”

Step 7: Lay Out Clothes

This is the step I am on today, and since it involves adding a task to my Before Bed routine, I have not yet completed the task, but it’s very simple. (I keep using that word, but the fact of the matter is all these steps are very simple — though the first one can be time consuming to get your sink to the shiny stage.)

So tonight before I go to bed, I will (of course) shine my sink like I have been for the past week, but I will also choose and set out the clothes I will wear tomorrow. That way when I get up in the morning, my clothes are already chosen and ready for me, and it will be a lot faster to complete the task of “Getting Dressed to Shoes”.

So that’s it! These are the BabySteps I have completed so far. There are 31 steps in total, because it takes 28 days to develop a habit. I will continue working on each of these steps as I add more steps in the next 3 weeks. I will keep you posted on how things are going, so check back again to find out.

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