Monday, September 26, 2005

A Work in Progress

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how God has answered my prayers in the area of homemaking. For a long time, I’ve been asking God to help me improve and sharpen my skills in the areas of homemaking and time management. I’ve always felt that a schedule was necessary to keeping housework done and the house presentable, and I’ve even managed to create such a schedule, but I’ve seldom been able to stick to one for very long. I’ve tried all different systems and none of them have worked really well for me. Though the “index card” system of daily, weekly, monthly, etc. tasks to do worked the best, it was still lacking something. I was just muddling along from day to day, doing the best I could, but still praying about it (though not as faithfully as I should have been). Each time we would have overnight guests it meant a major cleaning project.

Still, there was progress. As my two daughters went off to college, each chose to major in Home and Family Management. In their various classes they would learn things about cleaning and organizing which they would often share with me. Their discovery of a product called “Clean Shower” revolutionized my life. We live in a hard water area, which means hard-to-remove soap scum on tubs and showers. For years, my husband cleaned our tub because he had the necessary muscle and force to budge this soap scum. He usually used a heavy-duty cleaner along with large abrasive Scotch-Brite pads. I found that simply spraying Clean Shower each morning after my shower, or after a bath, kept the soap scum to a minimal, manageable level. No longer was a tub-scrubbing session a prerequisite to having overnight guests! Now, daily shower cleaners are everywhere, but back then they were an innovation. They have improved a lot, both in scent and efficiency, in the intervening years. I’ve also learned over time that if there are 2 people using the same shower in the course of a day, and one forgets to use the cleaner, things will stay clean. However, if there are 3 or more using the shower in the course of a day, and only one remembers to use the cleaner, you still have quite a bit of scum. But I find that with just my hubby and me here (and he almost never remembers to use the cleaner!) I can get by with actually only scrubbing the tub/shower once a month. And I just use either Comet spray bathroom cleaner or Greased Lightning, with a regular sponge!

As time has gone on and my daughters have married and left home, they’ve continued to share tips with me, and one of the most life-changing had to do with FlyLady. My “local” daughter began alluding to FlyLady from time to time. When we were chatting once about how Mondays always seemed to be a time for restoring order to the house from the weekend, she remarked, “FlyLady calls it ‘Blessing Your Home’.” For a long time I didn’t check into this FlyLady business, but a lot of it seemed to make sense, so one day I visited It was so cheering to be greeted with that day’s date and the welcoming words, “Come On Into FlyLady’s House!”.

I soon found out that FlyLady is a terrific coach and motivator for my goal of a neat, orderly house that almost cleans itself. Is my house at that stage yet? No, but things are sooooo much better than they have ever been. I’ve also been helped in my goal by several of Elizabeth George’s books, especially God’s Wisdom for a Woman’s Life, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, and Life Management for Busy Women. Mrs. George stresses the need of routines and scheduling. FlyLady offers the tools to make the routines and schedules happen. I now have a “Control Journal” which I created from FlyLady’s directions and it is such a help. I have a weekly schedule and even a daily schedule. I follow a basic morning routine, evening routine, and afternoon routine. For those not familiar with FlyLady, each week you work in a different zone of your home -- this week we are in Zone 5, the living room. Each day you declutter for 15 minutes in your zone. Of course, your routines mean that things like laundry, dishes, meals, bed-making, bathroom spiffing, and other necessary things are still getting done. When I work in my zone I also do additional chores in that zone that FlyLady (or her able assistant, Kelly) may not always tell me to do. For example, last week in Zone 4, the master bedroom, I also washed the bedspread and the mattress pad. This week, I’ll do the living room curtains. And so on...

This system makes so much sense for me! No, things are not perfect in my home. But they are getting better all the time. Now, when overnight guests are expected, usually all I have to do is change the guest room sheets and possibly do a quick vacuum. (I hate vacuuming!) The bathrooms are always “company ready” with FlyLady’s system. I still do have several areas that are not completely decluttered, but they are improving. And I have to admit that my guest room is rather dismantled at the moment, as my daughter and her hubby removed some items (a hope chest and a large painting which they had stored there) this past week. I have items to put in their places, which will free up more space in other rooms, but want to repaint the guest room walls first while it is still somewhat empty in there. Hopefully that will get done this week.

Yes, my home is a work in progress! But as I look back over the past few years, I see how God has faithfully answered my prayers to help me grow in the areas of homemaking and time management. It is such an encouragement as I see how He cares about even the minutest detail of our lives!

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