Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Three: Conquering Clutter!

How did it go this week ladies? How is the laundry coming along?  Did you lay out your clothes at night in anticipation for the next day?  Did you dress all the way to your shoes?  Please leave a comment and answer the following:

  1. What difference has laying out your clothes before bed made?
  2. Have you established a laundry routine?  Have you learned anything you'd like to share?
  3. What changes are you noticing in your life?
I have to say that this week gave me so much HOPE!  I decided that instead of trying to take a shower in the morning while the kids were "watching PBS kids" (let's be honest, they were usually doing everything BUT watching PBS kids, including climbing up into the food pantry, playing outside in the dirt, screaming at each other, etc.), I learned so many things this week that I think if I can keep this up will seriously change our lives over here:
  • I learned that by taking a shower at night, I can relax knowing that the kids are at least in their rooms reading or sleeping
  • I have made a new rule for everyone.  It is that 8:30 p.m. is Mommy's shower time/time off.  I will be available to snuggle, hug, read a gazillion books, pray, help with brushing teeth, etc. until 8:30 p.m..  After that, Mommy is off!  If the girls still need something, it gets referred to Daddy.  If they get out of bed, Daddy handles it (and he's so much better standing his ground than I am).  I cannot even believe how well this has worked for everyone!  I wake up a bit before everyone and brush through my clean hair and get dressed and do a load of laundry.  So instead of chaos every morning, the girls are greeted by a clean home and a happy, put together mommy.
  • Laundry is completely manageable and (dare I say it) even a joy!  I confess that I did three loads on Monday just because they were already washed and just sitting in piles for me.  But once those were done, I stuck to just one load a day all week and it has been a dream.  I feel so good about knowing that it is under control and managed and that everyone has clean clothes folded and waiting for them each day.
  • I learned that when I have the laundry under control, it's easy to lay out clothes for the kids the night before and even plan outfits for the whole week in advance.  It is working well for us so far.  It makes my mornings so much better...not having to figure out what everyone will wear.
  • I have time while I fold and shower to listen to the Book of Mormon or a Conference address.  This really means so much to me and adds to my ability to be patient and kind (which, is important!)
There are many more benefits.  Mostly just a clarity that I didn't have is really nice.  I still have a long way to go but I really am feeling hopeful.

OK, now on to our new assignment.  I think this one will be a fun one.  Here's what Fly Lady has to say:

You Can’t Organize Clutter

Remember this new term: Hot Spots. They are something every home has — and in this chapter we’ll talk about them and about other important tools for conquering clutter. The main goal of this chapter, however, is to learn decluttering in a way that takes you only 15 minutes a day. Now, are you dressed, in shoes, with your hair and face fixed? If you answered “Yes!,” I AM SO VERY PROUD OF YOU! If you have not yet done this, go do it now! This is a prerequisite for the next steps. Let’s Evict Your Clutter!!! Few people think clutter is good — but do you ever think of just how much it really affects your life? After you read the following pages you will never walk into a cluttered room and feel the same. We have developed solutions to your clutter problem. Let’s start with the obvious. The Oxford English Dictionary defines clutter as “a crowded and untidy collection of things.” That’s a very sterile way to look at this truly evil problem. Consider clutter in these ways: Clutter is too much in too small a place. There are many of us that have too much stuff in homes that are too small to hold it all. This happens for many reasons: Your family has expanded while the size of your home has not. You have brought too much stuff into a home that was never big enough in the first place. Do you move or do you try to streamline your “stuff”? How many of you have tried to use plastic totes, nifty storage boxes, little rolling carts, and laundry baskets to organize things? I will let you in on a little secret:
Clutter can’t be organized!!!!”

When you have too much stuff in too small a space your home can’t breathe, you can’t breathe, the clutter will take over, and you will feel smothered in your own home. Clutter is things that do not bring you joy, you do not love, or you don’t need. Things that you use, love, and enjoy are necessary and important to have. Things that you have in your home that you don’t need or don’t like will have the opposite effect on you: they will make you feel negative and dragged down. Clutter is disorganized. You may have things that you love and things that bring you joy, but if they are just stuck everywhere and have no real order to them, they will still have the same negative effect. You may have a beautiful collection of antiques but if they are everywhere, covered in dust, with no sense of flow, then you are not really enjoying them to their full potential.

Clutter can keep you living in the past, or reliving the past. When you have things around you that don’t bring you joy from your past, you can’t move forward. Clutter causes problems in your family; I don’t even think I have to explain this one. Clutter makes you feel embarrassed and ashamed. How many times have you turned people away or not invited people to your home because of the clutter? Clutter has a way of taking over our lives before we even know it. Clutter becomes that unwanted houseguest that you can’t get rid of. It robs us of peace while we are home and it also steals any bit of joy when we leave home. Worse, it creates a feeling of dread when you know you have to return to that mess. How many times have you stayed late at work just to avoid the clutter in your home? What about those of you that will not go anywhere because of the chaotic state of your home? “Release your clutter and find the things you are searching for.”

Clutter has to be conquered. Don’t think so? Look at some of the things we give up so we can devote our lives to this selfish houseguest. I received a message once from a lady who gave up her family vacation to clean and declutter their home for the safety of a crawling baby. Clutter-filled homes are not welcoming to friends or family. So we do not invite them over often. When we do, we almost kill ourselves trying to get the house presentable so we will not be embarrassed. You know the drill. Major Crisis Cleaning until 3:00 AM because they are coming the next day. As a result of not wanting to make the preparations, we alienate ourselves from our friends and family by closing our doors and throwing away the key. Clutter does not allow your mind and body to rest. The guilt of all the clutter keeps you working non-stop. You can’t organize clutter; you can only get rid of it, like a cancerous tumor. Purge it from your life and you will find out what living is all about. Not convinced? Here are more thoughts to ponder: Clutter causes you to turn down invitations to lunch or weekend getaways with your husband. It will also get in the way of you taking time for you. It yells at you, “You don’t deserve to have any fun; you have not taken care of ME yet!” Oh, selfish clutter. Like a spoiled child, it requires all of your attention. Clutter also sends a subconscious message. Clutter tells the world that you are not worthy. We have all heard it. If you can’t take care of this, you can’t have anything else. We have been brainwashed by this clutter to believe that we do not deserve to have nice things, since we can’t keep our home looking presentable. So we buy more clutter at yard sales and junk shops because it only costs a dollar. Now don’t fuss about this. I love yard sales as much as the next person, but think about this mentality for a few minutes. Don’t we deserve to be surrounded by pretty things that we love, instead of someone else’s cast-offs? When we quit wasting our money on more clutter to feed the already growing demon in our home, we can save to purchase things that make us smile. Clutter never wants you to leave home. This is why it makes it so difficult for you to pack and go on vacation. Laundry has to be done; you have to get people to come to the house to feed your critters or, worse yet, you need someone to house sit for you. Clutter will never allow strangers in its domain. It wants you all to itself. The bills have to be paid. Before you can go, clutter invades your finances and family responsibilities. You don’t have wills done because it is just too much trouble. You stay home, so you won’t have to make the decision of who will care for your children in case of an accident. Clutter loves to make you sick. Clutter attracts dust which then can affect your health. How many of you suffer from headaches, sinus problems, and allergies? This way you are totally dependent upon its way of life. It robs you of your health, so this gives you an excuse to give it more clutter. The more there is the happier it becomes and the sicker you get. Sometimes you will not allow people to come into your home to help because clutter has quarantined you. Or shall we say imprisoned you in your dungeon?

Here is yet another way to see clutter: Clutter is to our homes as cholesterol is to our arteries. This is scary, so let’s examine the similarities:

  • Cholesterol clogs arteries. Clutter invades the pathways of our homes. 
  • Cholesterol increases blood pressure. Clutter causes stress in your life. 
  • Cholesterol reduces your life span. Clutter decreases your joy in living. 
  • Cholesterol costs major money when you treat it. Clutter pushes money away from you.
  • Cholesterol causes heart disease. Clutter destroys closeness in families. 
  • Cholesterol is a result of over-indulging in fatty foods. Clutter is a result of over-indulging in stuff. 
  • Cholesterol causes arteries to harden. Clutter causes hearts to harden. 
Do you see that we have to put our homes on a cholesterol free, clutter-free diet? How do we do this? By changing our “eating” (acquiring) habits. We live in a society in which the one who dies with the most stuff wins! Do you want your stuff to be the death of you? Start changing your habits by only buying things that are needed. Clutter was clogging up my pathways to abundance. When I got rid of my clutter I opened my heart to all the joy that life has to offer. Clutter’s main sustenance is chaos. When you are running around your home searching for something in all the mess, clutter is celebrating with a feast. Trying to find a document on your desk is not fun for you, but clutter begets clutter. You end up making an even bigger mess during the search. The answer is no more clutter! Your life will work better when you know where things are. You will be more productive. How many of you lose your house keys on a regular basis? I used to! Now I make sure that I have a specific place for them and use it! I had to train myself—and I rarely lose my keys anymore!! Things that are disorganized are things that don’t have a proper place or that have strayed from where you usually keep them: Mail, keys, pens, pencils, calculators, scissors, shoes, books, etc. These become your Hot Spots!!
Clutter loves ignorance, because you know no other way to live. If you did, clutter would not have a home that provides it with all the undivided attention that you give it. You have never enjoyed a peaceful afternoon without clutter vying for your every thought and deed. It knows that if you ever feel one ounce of peace, you will tell it to hit the road, because that peace is so contagious.

So, enough already! How do you get rid of this most unwanted houseguest? It is not easy. It keeps pleading, “You need me” and laying guilt trips on you for what relatives will think if you put it out into the cold. (You know those gifts and inherited clutter you have been saddled with over the years.) Your clutter did not accumulate overnight and it is going to take days, weeks, and sometimes several months to rid yourself of this squatter. We do it in small steps to make it easy on you. This way, your houseguest has no clue that you are evicting it. Slowly but surely the clutter will leave when we use our 27 Fling Boogie or 5-Minute Room Rescue. Some of you may need to take a “get tough” approach and order a Dumpster or set up regular pickups from charity thrift stores. Whatever you decide to do, consistency is the ticket to getting clutter to vacate your premises. Just 15 minutes a day is all you need to set it on the road. When you kick its bottom out your door, you will begin to have your home to yourself again. Peace is just a 27 Fling Boogie away.

BabyStep Tool Box For Dealing With Clutter

Do you have your shoes on and are you dressed, with your hair fixed and face gleaming? You cannot attack clutter until you are dressed for the job and I don’t mean frumpy sweats either. The work you are about to do does not require a safety jumpsuit or a hardhat. The Old Way I’ll bet in the past clearing out a room was like this: sorting through piles and moving them from one place to another, never really getting rid of it for all time. As a result your clutter continued to pile up each time you brought home something new. The New Way: Meet The Timer — your new best friend We all dread cleaning because we think we have to do it all day. I make it fun by setting a time for short increments. Making it fun gets the job done! So get and set a simple kitchen or other sort of timer to five, ten, or fifteen minutes. You can do anything for fifteen minutes and it won’t kill you.

Bring in the new, fling out the old! 

1. Helpful Hint. Don’t let it in to begin with. Every time you buy something new, take the bag or bags that they came in and pack up a similar item to give away. A born-organized friend taught me this. I watched her add a new pair of tennis shoes to her closet and cull out an old pair for the trash or charity. It made so much sense, why had I never thought of it? At the time I beat myself up over it; now, I realize that our minds do not work like this and it takes a good example to show us the way. You won’t even realize you are removing the old. If you cannot find a similar item to dispose of, then you get to pick out two unrelated items to toss. This practice will help keep your home clutter-free before it even gets through the door.

2. The Famous 27 Fling Boogie: This is a fun, fast exercise! I practiced this daily for six months until everything in my home was something I loved and used regularly. In Suze Oman’s various books, such as The Courage to Be Rich, she suggests a simple tool. I have adapted it because I was studying Feng Shui principles for putting order in my home. Suze says take a garbage bag and run through the house collecting 25 items to throw in the trash. I took it two steps further. I added two items to the collection tally because of my interest in Feng Shui. This really doesn’t matter, but it made it fun for me. Now set the timer. In the beginning, you can start at 15 minutes. This will become your daily routine. Turn on the timer, grab a box, and go through your home as fast as you can, collecting things to give away. Speed is the key. Don’t think about it and talk yourself out of tossing the clutter. As soon as you have the box filled with 27 items, take it immediately to your car to be disposed of at your local charity thrift shop. Stop when the timer goes off. That’s enough for the first day. You have done something for yourself and for someone else and you should feel so good about this. You will be blessed for giving your excess to those in need; you will also be blessed by getting the clutter out of your home, so you can find peace.

“If it doesn’t make you smile, get rid of it.”

Now don’t tease yourself into believing that you can have a yard sale and recoup your wasted money. There is no way that you are ever going to get back what you have spent, so forgive yourself for the waste and let it go to bless another family. Be a songbird, too. I have a favorite song that I sing at the top of my lungs when I am removing clutter from my home. It is a take-off on the old country music song, “Please Release Me, Let Me Go,” as sung from two points of view. The first version is from my point of view or how the clutter is holding me back and won’t allow me to live in peace. The next verse I sing from the stuff’s point of view, begging to be released from a home that doesn’t love it to a home that will use and love it. I don’t know the words to the whole song, so I just make up new words each time I sing it. Tossing while singing helps you to FLY!

Do this every day until your clutter is gone.

The Next Clutter Control Method: Hot Spot Fire Drill

What is a Hot Spot? A Hot Spot is an area that, when left unattended, gradually and insidiously takes over your home. Think of a Hot Spot in a forest fire. It may seem under control but it really isn’t. If left alone it will eventually get out of hand and burn up the whole forest. This is what happens in our homes. If left unattended the Hot Spot will grow and take over the whole room as well as make the house look awful. When you walk into a room, a Hot Spot is the first thing you see. Your eye is locked on it. Over the years my Hot Spot has migrated. As a child it was a chair in my bedroom. I would pile it to the ceiling. It has been a corner filled with unopened storage boxes. Right now I have two Hot Spots in my home: a table by my chair and our big coffee table. This coffee table is a staging area for unopened mail. Sometimes you cannot see the top of the table. Do you know why Hot Spots exist? It’s simple. There is an unwritten rule of clutter. Clutter attracts more clutter — like a magnetic force. Whenever you catch yourself saying, “I can put this here and do it later,” you have created a “Hot Spot.”

You will know where your Hot Spots are because the rest of the family sees them as a place to put things when they do not want to put them where they belong. But you are going to put an end to this and stop this Hot Spot from becoming a raging “clutter inferno.” The Hot Spot Fire Drill Twice a day, as a part of our Morning and Before Bed Routines, we will survey our usual Hot Spots and put away the items that have just been left out. If we take only five minutes to find a home for those items that are trying to take over, the Hot Spots will disappear. Easier said than done? Try this: in order to keep them from igniting, place a decorative object there or a vase of flowers, and you are going to be so pleased with your home as you put out the fires. “Let go of the things that are holding you down and FLY!”

Time for the Five-Minute Room Rescue — another step on the road to clutter recovery. Do you have rooms that you can’t even walk through? I used to. In just a few short months, I rescued each of them from the CHAOS that had invaded by taking only five minutes at a time to put things away and toss things out. Keep in mind that this means purging the room of the clutter. You cannot organize clutter. Quit stepping over, on, and around this clutter. This room is not a landfill. Garages and basements beware, you are about to be reclaimed for family fun! At one point all I could do was go in the room and put two things away or toss them in the trash. BabySteps will get you there.

Quick Review:

If you do nothing else besides getting dressed to shoes and spending 15 minutes a day tossing out your clutter, you are going to see major changes in your home and the way you feel about yourself. This is all I ask. You can do this by setting a timer and spending the whole session in one area or you can spread it out over Hot Spot Fire Drills, Room Rescues, and 27 Fling Boogies. Get the family involved and let the clutter fly out your door. Have fun and before you know it, you will be FLYing too.

Crisis Cleaning 101:
In the event that you need to see some progress and you just can’t seem to get into our BabyStep method, I have a tip or “gimmick” for you. Pretend that you are going to have guests or better yet actually invite someone to spend the weekend or have dinner one night. This puts the pressure on you to get your Franny moving. Naturally, you will do the good old Crisis Cleaning, Stash and Dash. But this does allow you to begin to keep it clean with the foundation of your simple routines. After a few months of consistency, you will gradually be getting the hidden clutter disposed of while keeping the surface clutter at bay. Many of you have written to us saying you work better from this starting point. I have even had members become cleaning partners, helping each other one day a week to eliminate the surface clutter.

Marathon Clean — if you really have to I can hear the panic in your voices. “In six weeks I have a ton of company coming, what am I to do?” If you want a crash marathon cleaning session, I can help you, but be warned: without the routines, your home will be trashed again in a day. So you have to listen closely.

1. Go get dressed all the way to shoes, hair fixed, and face moisturized or makeup put on. Don’t question me on this. Just do it now. Put on some good working music. Not too fast, just slow and steady, peppy but not aerobic. Light a candle that has a good scent or put some spices on to boil on a very low heat.

2. We are going to start in our kitchens. As the kitchen goes, so does the rest of the house. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes in the kitchen. If your sink is not clean and shiny, then shine it first. Then you can fill the sink up with hot soapy water and start to clear off the left and right counters. Empty the dishwasher. When the timer goes off, stop what you are doing and go to the living room.

3. Set the timer again and do 15 minutes cleaning off the coffee tables or picking up toys or newspapers. Concentrate on one thing, not all of it. Get a laundry basket and put the things that don’t belong in the living room in the basket. Take a garbage bag with you as well. Start throwing away the trash. Don’t get caught up in the guilt we have about pounds of trash going into a landfill. It is not going to kill you. Your home is not a landfill. So get over this perfectionist attitude. As you get your home in order there will be plenty of time to recycle. For now we are focusing on getting the home presentable. You can’t do this if you are hyper focusing on sorting and recycling. When the timer goes off, go back to the kitchen.

4. In the kitchen set the timer for 15 more minutes and continue to work on clearing the counters. Do not get sidetracked and begin to clean out a cabinet. We are doing only surface cleaning.

5. Now take a break and walk around and look at what you have accomplished in just 45 minutes. Set the timer for 15 minutes and drink a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you love and just relax. When the timer goes off you are back in work mode for 15 more minutes.

6. This 15-minute session is in the bathroom. Do you understand this? Clean the sink in here first, then pick up towels and dirty clothes and put them in the hamper. Do not get sidetracked and start a load of laundry. I mean this. Laundry will come later!

7. When the timer goes off, you are back in the kitchen for 15 more minutes. We can do anything in 15 minutes. Keep working till the timer goes off. Then you go to the living room once again.

8. In the living room, continue to pick up and put away for another 15 minutes.

9. Every 45 minutes take a 15-minute break. Are you beginning to get a feel for this? Adapt this schedule to fit your physical limitations and children’s needs. But you get the picture. Stay focused on one job for 15 minutes. You are going to be so surprised at how much you get done in two hours time or spread out across the day with plenty of break time. Now you can understand why the timer is your new best friend. You can do this if you have to. You have in the past, but have forgotten to take breaks and recharge your batteries and strategize. Your home will not stay this way unless you establish your routines, 5, 10, or 15 minutes at a time.

Tool Box Inventory Review

A timer
Bring in the new and fling out the old 27 Fling Boogie
Hot Spot fire drill 15-minute declutter sessions
5-minute room rescue
When all else fails, invite guests and Crisis Clean.

Homework Assignment: Time For Another 27 Fling Boogie Grab a garbage bag and boogie! Run through the house as fast as you can and dispose of 27 items. Then put the bag in the trash. Do not look through it. After you have thrown out the trash, pick up another bag or box and gather up 27 items to give away. Do this as fast as you can, don’t think, just boogie. When you have filled the box with the 27 items, go take it to your car and put it in the trunk. Don’t second-guess yourself! Next time you are out, donate it to a charity. You can do this. As you lighten your burden by giving away your excess, you will be free to FLY! “By thinning out clutter, the real beauty of your home shines through!”

Cilley, Marla (2007-12-18). Sink Reflections (pp. 34-35). Bantam. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Speaking of Laundry...

The other night when I posted our new baby steps for the week, I didn't have access to my e-book so couldn't share FlyLady's words on the subject of laundry.  I thought it might be helpful as you are trying this week to establish a routine that works for you to read the following (it's long but pretty good I think):

Laundry is a never-ending cycle: sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away. It is like a child that does not get the proper attention. You can catch it hanging out in unsavory places: mildewed in hampers; stinky and soured in washers for days; cold and wrinkled in dryers; wadded up in baskets stashed beside beds; or folded nice and neat and left abandoned in the laundry room. If you will give your laundry the attention it needs, it will not grow up to become an unruly pile that consumes your home, time, and peace of mind.

You Can Conquer The Laundry!

There are several approaches. Think about laundry as a 5-step process: sort, wash, dry, fold or hang, and put away. When you leave out any of the ingredients, the laundry takes on a life of its own and one that is not so pretty. Maybe we need to think of laundry as a baby that can’t be left unattended or a pot of food cooking on the stove. We have to keep it in the back of our minds all the time. I even have to set a timer or I forget that I have put a load in the washer. What if we made a rule? No! Rules don’t work for us. It has to be a routine. My washer and dryer are in the basement. Sometimes when I need to work in the basement, I have found that if I spend the 35 minutes in the basement while the washer is running I can kill two birds with one stone — keep my mind on the project at hand and clean off a shelf or sort through some stuff to give away in that dungeon we pretend is a basement.

“Kelly says ‘Your dryer is not a laundry basket.’”

We are so easily sidetracked when it comes to laundry. How often you do laundry depends on the size of your family. In a perfect world I would do a load on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. True confession here. I am not the best at keeping up with this and Robert helps me quite a bit. He actually enjoys doing it. Have I ever told you just how blessed I am? The hard part is getting it started, following through to the dry, and then folding and putting it away. Oh, sorry, that is all of it, isn’t it? So we have worked out a deal. He puts the load in the washer and then the dryer, and hangs up the good clothes as they come out of the dryer. Then he brings up the basket of clean unfolded laundry and sets it in front of my face (per my request). He puts it on the footstool that I keep my laptop on. Talk about the “Do It Now” principle! This has been working well. I get up and go fold and put away the clothes while they are still warm from the dryer. Teamwork. (He does not have a talent for putting them in the drawers. He would live out of the laundry basket.) His excuse is, “I don’t know where your clothes go.” I used to not know this either. I had to put Post-it notes on the drawers for a long time. I am getting better. So I can put them away and purge something at the same time. If your drawers are too full and you are unable to put your clothes in them, spend 5 minutes tossing some of the stuff that is unworn. Give it away! It will make your life much easier.

So now you have heard my true confession about my problems with laundry. Some of you are not laying out your clothes in the evening. Instead, you are dragging around in the morning looking for something to wear and putting off getting dressed until the last minute. I want you to stop this. The best way to get a handle on this behavior is to plan ahead. I know these are bad words for sidetracked people, but this is what will remedy your “sidetrackedness.” One of our members suggested this: as you are doing the laundry, put together your outfits. Do this for your children, too. Put their whole outfit on a hanger or in a folded-up group. Hang it on a hook in the closet separate from the rest of the clothes or in a drawer that is just for their outfits. I know this is a change from the way you have always folded your clothes in neat little stacks of socks, underwear, and T-shirts. This way makes more sense. We take it off as an outfit, why not put it away as a complete ensemble almost all the way to shoes? This is great for children and adults. With children you are not trying to find the socks that go with that outfit. With adults, you can be packed at a moment’s notice for a trip. Try it. I know it is hard to do things differently, but new can be fun and it just might help alleviate your getting-dressed problem. As we have agreed above, all of us have to do laundry, some only a couple of loads a week, while others have a dozen. It affects us all the same way, we put it off until it gets to be such a big job that we are paralyzed by the thought of it. You know exactly what I am talking about: piles of dirty laundry on your bedroom floor that just keep growing.

Do you want to know why they continue to multiply? Perhaps the reason is that you have too many clothes because you have compensated for not doing laundry by buying more clothes to cover this problem. Then you struggle for two days to finish it all, but it never really gets put away because your drawers are too full to put anything away. So then you live out of a clothes basket or the piles on top of the dresser or dumped on your bed or in a chair. After a while you can’t tell the dirty ones from the clean ones, so they all get tossed back into the dirty clothes pile. How in the world can I stop you from doing this to yourself? Let me tell you how I quit doing this to myself: I cleaned out one drawer for myself and one for each family member. Then I labeled the drawers so I would know where to put the clothes. At one time, when I lived alone, I would let everything I owned get dirty before I would go to the laundry and do them. (I did not have a washer or dryer.) I mean two huge garbage bags of dirty clothes. Did I tell you I had too many clothes? Then I would go to the laundromat and spend half a day getting them done. At least they were done, but I would start the vicious, draining cycle all over again. I could go several weeks without doing the laundry. My remedy was to cut out some of the steps that would trip me up and keep me from taking the first step to doing the laundry. Sorting!! As I took off my dirty clothes, I would sort them into a dark basket and a light basket. Yes, I actually have a dark-colored and a light-colored basket to remind me to sort. Robert does it, too. In fact, I think he taught me this. He also taught me to take my socks off, right side out. Push them down over your heels and then pull the toes. Poof, your socks are right side out. No more having to turn socks after they are washed. I love this part. So now as a basket gets almost full, I can do a small load and it actually takes less time than a huge one. It is no longer overwhelming to me. It gets put away much faster, too. And the socks are easier to match. I hated that part, but not anymore. Now, you have to have a simple routine to accomplish this. I have it included in my morning routine. As I leave my bedroom in the morning, I grab one of the baskets that looks almost full and take it to the basement. Turn on the washer, then come upstairs and set my timer for 40 minutes. This is how long it takes for my washer to do a load. Do not leave the washer running while you are going away from home. Just stop the washer and let them soak. Do not leave appliances running when no one is home. Also, have a smoke alarm in the area of the washer and dryer. Many home fires are started here. After the washer has stopped, grab some hangers and head for the dryer. Put the clothes in the dryer. Now when the buzzer goes off, you will already have the hangers at the dryer. Here is the rule! You have to go to the dryer when you hear the first buzzer. No excuses. Hang up the good clothes first, put the rest in the basket, and take them to the room where they belong. I have a secret, I do not fold underwear. I just put it in the drawer. Then I mate the socks and fold everything else in the small basket. I have timed myself and I can do this in 2 minutes. I’ll wager you can, too. I don’t have to do a load every day, but I check my baskets to see if I do, every single day. It is so much easier to do when you just have a routine for it. This is why I have three reminders every day to keep you on top of your laundry. It is so easy to forget. This reminder is one of our most beloved. KID Note: When my son, Justin, was 9 years old, he started to do his own laundry. Did you know that children tend to mess up fewer clothes when they are doing their own laundry? Even 6-year-olds can be taught to do laundry with a little help. Get them their own color-coded baskets for their closets.

“Nothing says ‘I love you’ like clean underwear!”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week Two: Up and Ready

Hello Ladies!
So, how did it go? Did you clean that sink and keep it shining?  Please leave a comment telling us the following:

  1. Did you clean it? 
  2. How does it make you feel?
  3. What difference has having a clean sink made in your life and your family's life?
For me it made a big difference.  Since Ollie is bottle fed we usually have quite a few bottles in the sink by the end of the day.  I will usually wash them (that same day or days later, and YES old unwashed bottles stink!) and leave them in the drainer which takes up the majority of the counter top space in our little mini kitchen down here.  I found that I could just as easily wash the bottles right when I was finished feeding Ollie and could take the drainer off of the counter all together.  So not only did I get a clean sink out of the process, we also got a whole bunch more counter space!  I remember feeling overwhelmed a couple of times this week and then thinking "at least my sink is clean" and feeling a lot better!

OK, we have THREE new things to do this week:
  1. Go to your calendar and count 27 days from the day you cleaned your sink.  Circle the date.  On this date, a clean, shiny sink will officially be a habit!  If you forget or fail one day...just pick up the next day and keep going.  You don't have to be perfect...just try your hardest.
  2. The next new baby step habit is to pick out your clothes and shoes for tomorrow, tonight.  When you get dressed in the morning, make sure you get dressed all the way, including shoes.  Choose shoes that are easy to work in so that if you need to go outside to take out the trash or rake leaves, you will be prepared!  This will save you so much time in the morning and you will be up and ready for your day!
  3. The third baby step is to figure out a laundry schedule that works for you.  I am trying to do one load a day for five plan is to put a load in first thing in the morning and to resist the urge to do more until tomorrow.  But I know it works for others to just do it all at once. Establish some sort of laundry routine.
That's it ladies!  I can't wait to hear your stories from last week and work on the new habits for this week, knowing that I'm not doing this alone. :)  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week One - Shine Your Sink

Hello Ladies,
What I plan on doing each week is to share an excerpt from the book that will contain your assignment for the week and a little explanation.  At the end of the week I will post how it went for me and then ask how it went for you.  I am asking you to always comment even if it wasn't a complete success for you.  I want to give us all some accountability so please make sure to check in and comment at the end of each week.

OK, on to your first Baby Step:  "Shine Your Sink"

"I know that you don’t understand why I want you to empty your sink of dirty dishes and clean and shine it when there is so much more to do. It is so simple. I want you to have a sense of accomplishment. You have struggled for years with a cluttered home and you are so beaten down. I just want to put a smile on your face. When you get up the next morning, your sink will greet you and a smile will come across your lovely face. I can’t be there to give you a big hug, but I know how good it feels to see yourself reflected in your kitchen sink. So each morning this is my gift to you. Even though I can’t be there to pat you on the back, I want you to know that I am very proud of you. "

"This is how to shine your sink; we like to call it Shiny Sink 101: (Note: If you have a special colored or decorative sink, check on your warranty for specific cleaning instructions.) With ceramic sinks you may not be able to see your reflection, but your heart will be shining because it’s clean! You will still smile! Do not complain or whine that you can’t do this because it is full of dirty dishes and nasty water. I am not telling you to wash the dishes; all I want is for you to set the dirty dishes on the counter so you can get to the bottom of your sink. With an empty kitchen sink before you, I know you don’t know what to do or where to start so I am going to give you specific instructions on this. You should also know that I have heard every excuse in the world when it comes to sinks, and I know that you may be a bit doubtful about this. Just trust. Even old sinks can look new again with a little elbow grease. BE SURE AND RINSE WELL BETWEEN EACH STEP since mixing chlorine-based products with household ammonia-based products can be toxic! "

1. Take all the dishes out of your sink. 

2. Then run some very hot water in the sink, to the rim. Pour a cup of household bleach (e.g. Clorox) in the hot water. Let it sit for 1 hour. Wear gloves and don’t get it on your clothes. 

3. Rinse your sink well. 

4. Get some cleanser: Comet, Ajax, or Baking Soda and scrub your sink. Do not use ammonia-based products such as Windex with these. 

5. Take a sharp edge and clean around the rim of the sink, just like you would clean dirt out from under your fingernails. 

6. Clean around the faucets too. You may need an old toothbrush or dental floss.

7. Now get out your window cleaner (I use Windex) and give it a good shine. 

8. If you still don’t like the way it looks, then you could try some car wax. Just know in your heart that you have cleaned it very well and know it doesn’t have to be perfect. Our perfectionism is what got us in this situation. 

9. Every time you run water in your sink take your clean dishtowel and dry it. I lay out a clean one every night with my bedtime routine. Before you know it you will be doing this every time you leave your kitchen. The rest of the family will too. No more water spots. You will have a clean and shiny sink. 

10. Don’t be upset if someone doesn’t take as much pride in your sink as you do. You have done the hard part. You will never have to go through this process again. Daily maintenance will keep it looking this way. Just be sure and tell your family what you are doing, otherwise they will think you have gone crazy. Your family cannot read your mind!

11. If you don’t have a dishwasher, don’t worry. A dishwasher is just a dirty dish disposal. Clean out a place under your sink and put a dishpan in there. Teach your family that instead of putting their dirty dishes and glasses in the sink, to place them in the dishpan. Get into the habit of putting your dishes away as soon as they have been washed and dried. No more leaving the dish drying rack on the counter or in the sink. Put it away under the sink when you have finished. If your old ones are nasty, you may want to soak them in the sink full of bleach water at the same time you soak the sink, or go buy yourself a new set. You deserve it as a reward for shining your sink. You are worth a couple of bucks. 

12. To ensure that your family remembers this, put a note in the sink. It will get their attention and remind them where to put the dishes. Be patient! They have never been taught either. It is going to take some practice."

"Now, if you have a stainless steel sink, I recommend all of the above directions with one added. After you soak it, rinse well and use a steel wool pad to scrub it. This will buff the finish. It will look like new. If you still can’t get it to shine after the Windex, then put a light coat of wax, lemon oil, or olive oil on it. I mean just a tiny bit on a cloth and rub it. This will make you smile. Some people have had very good results from cleaning solutions used to keep bar tops clean. This is your very first BabyStep—to keep your sink clean and shiny on a continual basis."

Cilley, Marla (2007-12-18). Sink Reflections (p. 5). Bantam. Kindle Edition.