Swish ‘n Swipe. Day 24 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

Day 24 of the Flylady’s babysteps is when we meet the Swish ‘n Swipe, which is a fabulous tool for my bag of tricks in my quest for a peaceful home. Ya want another tool? Check this out.

The “swish” means you take a toilet brush which you keep upright in a container next to your toilet and do a quick once around your toilet bowl. No need to get out the cleaner–just keep some old shampoo or liquid soap in the bottom of the brush holder. It takes about 10 seconds.

The “swipe” means you take a rag of some kind and rub the spots off of the mirror (not “clean the mirror; just the spots!), wipe the counter off (after putting away whatever you’ve left out there), and wipe out the sink. It takes about 10 seconds.

Because I have little boys, I also take another 10 seconds and use a baby wipe to wipe down the toilet seat, top & rim, and base and floor around the toilet. When needed, I’ll spray this area with a bleach spray and wipe with a paper towel.

The whole thing leaves your bathroom nice and fresh (the shampoo makes the whole thing smell good), ready for company, in 30 seconds. It’s simple and part of my morning routine. Yes, that means I do it every day, and don’t wait until it gets stinky. I do my bathroom when I use it first thing in the morning, the boys’ bathroom when I do the laundry (it’s also the laundry room), and the downstairs the first time I use it later on.

If you have any tips for easily keeping your bathroom nice, please share!

My Afternoon Routine

One of my favorite tools from the Flylady is the concept of routines. A routine is something you do every day, and putting it in a specific order helps you to remember and learn it until you don’t have to think about it. And having a little checklist, either on a post it or in your Control Journal can help.

In my recent post about keeping up with the laundry, I shared my morning routine. It looks like this:

  1. Make my bed
  2. Get dressed to shoes
  3. Feed baby
  4. Wake other kids
  5. Start a load of laundry
  6. Prep & drink smoothies (hubby usually does this)
  7. Prep school lunches (hubby usually does this)
  8. Cleanup kitchen/empty dishwasher
  9. Baby to nap
  10. HANG CLOTHES OUT TO DRY/laundry “reboot”

My late morning routine looks like this:

  1. Cleanup kitchen if it’s not already done
  2. blog post/computer work/desk work 1/2 hr
  3. declutter 15 minutes
  4. daily mission/detail cleaning/weekly home blessing as needed
  5. outside time or other activity with children
  6. prep lunch

And my afternoon routine (babystep #23), looks like this:

  1. Serve lunch/feed baby/eat lunch myself
  2. Lunch cleanup
  3. prep snacks for school children
  4. put toddler to nap
  5. welcome school kids home/give snacks
  6. story time with 4 year old (and anyone else who wants to join us)
  7. put baby & 4 year old to nap/bigger boys to quiet reading
  8. MY QUIET TIME! computer/reading/nap if I want.

It really is helpful to do it the same way every day; it helps me to not forget anything. Since I’ve been doing it for a while, it does come automatically so I don’t consult my control journal, but if I were new to this or found myself leaving things out, I certainly would.

Flylady gives her routines as examples
. Use any of these to give you ideas; just remember that you need to make it work for YOU.

Laundry. Day 20 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

We now have seven people in our home. SEVEN! Seven people wear a lot of clothes. Especially when one of them is a baby who sucks her hand between spoon-fed bites and then holds her toes and the food goes everywhere in between….and four of them are of the little-boy variety who play hard, in dirty things, every day.

So, we have a lot of laundry. I remember when I was in college & in my single days when I could go a week (or more!) without doing my laundry. Those days are long since done, and the habit I’ve learned would have been helpful even then.

What is that habit, you may ask? How do you stay on top of the laundry when THERE’S JUST SO MUCH OF IT!? You make laundry part of your routine. Which just so happens to be Flylady’s babystep #20.

This means that I do laundry EVERY DAY. Well, 6 days a week. It’s just part of my morning routine which looks like this:

  1. Make my bed
  2. Get dressed to shoes
  3. Feed baby
  4. Wake other kids
  6. Prep & drink smoothies
  7. Prep school lunches
  8. Cleanup kitchen/empty dishwasher
  9. Baby to nap
  10. HANG CLOTHES OUT TO DRY/laundry “reboot”

I do this every day, with slight variations. If I do one FULL load each day, it’s almost enough. Add an extra load or two for towels & sheets and we’re good to go. In addition to this, we do a load of cloth diapers each night. In the morning they are dried and ready to put away (this job belongs to my four year old).

My biggest challenge with the laundry is not the washing and the drying. Even the folding I’ve gotten a new system for: since I’m line drying, I realized that I must handle each piece of clothing separately as I take it off of the line. So, I add a few seconds for each one and FOLD IT AS I TAKE IT OFF THE LINE AND PUT IT INTO THE BASKET ALREADY FOLDED! I was excited when I realized I could save time like that.

No, the challenge is putting the clothes away. I do have a time in my schedule that is supposed to be for this, but I’ve gotten behind most days and needed to skip this step. And, the drawers are so full that there’s no place to put things. So everyone lives out of the laundry basket. It’s no good.

Today, I’m going to actually use the time that’s supposed to be set aside for putting away the laundry to fold and put away the laundry. That will mean that we must eat our lunch on time and stick to the schedule I worked hard to put together. Then I’ll be able to see this.

Which feels good.

Making My Bed. Day 15 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

Babystep 15 is to make your bed.

I have had this habit (regularly) for more than a year now. I love the way it makes my room look; even if other things are out, the bed being made sets the tone.

When I bought my first down comforter for the winter here (I’m from Miami; I never had one before), I was introduced to the concept of having a duvet cover for the comforter, and not using a top sheet. Using one of these makes making the bed so much easier. I used to pull the top sheet up under the bedspread, and then fold both over, exposing the top sheet. Yes, it looked very pretty, but it made making the bed take much longer than it should and therefore I didn’t do it so much.

Now I use the duvet cover even in the summertime (with a lightweight blanket, or even empty if it’s hot enough) and all I have to do is pull it up to the top of the bed before putting the pillows on.

That first duvet cover was white with eyelet. Very pretty and elegant. But, after a while, I realized that I was very bored with the lack of color and was not motivated to keep it nice.

So, I went and bought this pretty happy one. It makes me smile and that’s the best motivation to keeping your room neat. If you don’t like your bedclothes, go buy new ones! They really do not cost much and are so worth it. I have one set for the spring and fall and a different one for the summer and winter. That way I don’t get bored.

If you don’t have the habit of making your bed, keep this in mind: you have to do it IMMEDIATELY when you get up. If you wait, it doesn’t get done. That was the most important thing to learn.

Enjoy your beautiful bedroom!

I Can’t Catch Up. Day 14 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

You Can’t Catch Up. It’s impossible.

This is a very important concept in life. Things keep moving, and it’s almost certain that you won’t keep up with everything. But what you do when you realize you’re “behind”, and more importantly how you feel about it will make all the difference in what you do next.

I’m struggling with these flylady babysteps. I’m falling back into the same habits I had before I began them again: I haven’t done the 15 minutes of decluttering every day. In fact, I haven’t done 15 minutes since I posted my success with it. That was days ago. Two minute hotspot, yes. Room rescue, yes, sort of(if you count me delegating it, but not if I do one myself). Daily mission, not so much.

I think my very favorite concept of Flylady’s is “You are not behind. Don’t try to catch up. Just jump in where you are.”

I’m never going to catch up. I really need to just do what I can today. It’s a new day, a fairly new week (we have Sunday as a work day here, so Monday is the second day for me). I’m going to ditch the guilt I feel and jump in where I am.

I’m also going to prioritize those things I seem to have a very difficult time getting done. I’m going to call my 15 minutes today my frog and eat it as soon as I can. I’d say “first”, but with other household things that must happen in the morning, it’s not possible. If you aren’t familiar with the “eat the frog” concept, enjoy this short (1 minute) video. I wanted to embed the player but it won’t let me. Very worthwhile.

I’m glad that today’s babystep is to read an essay about calendars and how/why to use them properly. I can handle doing that while still focusing on my frog.

What’s your frog today? What are you procrastinating on?

Your Mission For Today: Day 13 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

On Day 13 of Flylady’s babysteps, we are to choose one of Kelly’s missions and do it.

I love the way this is done. Each day, Kelly sends out one “mission” to accomplish. It’s something in the current zone, and usually will take less than 15 minutes. By dividing the house up into 5 zones and focusing a little extra time in it each day for the week, our houses can stay reasonably clean without much effort.

I need help with this. Just like regularly doing the 15 minutes of decluttering, I struggle to get it done, even though it really only takes a few minutes.

But they really do work.

This is a link to Kelly’s missions; they are posted daily and remain for the week.

This past week we were in the Kitchen zone. My favorite mission from that zone is the deep wipedown of the counter. I have a large countertop and need to spend most of that time putting things away that seem to collect there (beyond regular putting away kind of stuff), so I’ll usually do 15 mins + a little. And it might not all get done, but that’s ok.

I won’t get blown up if I don’t get it done!

The Kitchen Hangover

Sometimes I don’t shine my sink. I don’t finish all of the cleanup at night. Most days I do, but on Saturday night, after a full day of relaxing and spending time with my family (which causes lots of extra dishes & stuff), my hubby and I like to have a movie night. And when it’s already late and we don’t want it to get any later, I leave things out.

Oh, I’ll pack my dishwasher, and put away any food that’s out. And even do an extra 5 minutes on top of that.

This is where I found this funny photo.

I woke up to this today. I call it my Kitchen Hangover.

It’s a good thing I know how to use my timer. I’ll go as fast as I can for 15 minutes and see what a difference I can make.

15 minutes really does a lot.

Push Delete. Day 12 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home Day 8

On Day 12 of the Flylady’s babysteps, we are instructed to delete all of the emails that have been piling up. I really like this.

I’ve been on the mailing list for a couple of years. The reminders are good. The testimonials really are helpful and inspiring, and it’s good to realize that it’s ok to not read them all. In fact, lately, I haven’t been reading much of them at all. And that’s ok, since I’ve been exposed to this system for a while already. But if you are really just starting out, read a few each day. Then delete the rest.

Just like decluttering, just like taking out the trash, deleting emails and blog posts in my reader I haven’t read and don’t really need to helps me to get rid of guilt. I have so many things I’d like to do, I want to do, but just don’t seem to have time for. I don’t want to be reminded of what I am not doing.

So go ahead, push that button. It feels good.

More emails will come along.

Inspiring Words:Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home Day 11

Today’s babystep is to add an inspirational page to your control journal. I like this. As you know, I’ve done many of these things before; I already have a control journal. But I never added this page. I’m not sure why-I guess it seemed sort of silly to me and I didn’t want to waste my time.

About 6 months ago, I decided I wanted to try to change my habit of negative thinking. I felt I was heading into a depression of sorts. I’d just had my 5th baby in 7 years and I was struggling. Greatly.

I had come to believe that negative thinking is something that a person can actually become addicted to just as much as an addiction to any other drug/food/chemical. Watch this edited clip from the movie What The Bleep Do We Know. It’s fascinating and will show you what I mean.

Watch it to the very end. The most powerful statement is the very last one. “If you can’t control your emotional state, you must be addicted to it.”

If my negative thoughts are an addiction, then I’ve got to break the cycle as I would another addiction. So, I started to formulate a plan.

I remembered listening to a Flylady & Friends show on BlogTalkRadio in which Marla was describing how she helped Kelly to quit smoking cigarettes. She told her to write down some mini-missions (2 minutes or less) on little pieces of paper and put them in a jar. When she felt a strong urge for a cigarette, she was to take out an assignment and do it.

What that would accomplish is to divert her mind onto something productive, something good during the time of her desire for the negative thing. If she could get past the 2 minutes, the urge would be lessened.

I figured that something like this should work for my negative thoughts. So I started a Happy Thoughts Box. I went out and got a very cheerfully decorated box, some cutsey happy but small paper, and a girly fun pen (purple with glitter!) and started writing inspirational phrases or mini missions on each paper. I planned to put them in the box, and whenever I felt myself getting into a funk I’d pull one out and do it. I thought it sounded like a good plan.

I still think it sounds like a good plan, and though I never continued on with it (it seems like just starting the project plus a little more alone/bible time was all I needed to get me back on track) I think that I should do it now.

This inspirational page in the Control Journal is the same thing. I’m going to spend 15 minutes today writing down more thoughts for my box and start a page in my notebook. Maybe if I have something positive in there I’ll look at it more!

What are some of your inspirational quotes? What do you do to get yourself out of a funk?

You Can Do Anything for 15 Minutes! Babystep Challenge to a Peaceful Home Day 10

You can do anything for 15 minutes.

Yes, anything. Things you don’t want to do. Things you think you can’t do. Things you think you shouldn’t bother with because you think it won’t make a difference.

You can. You should. It WILL make a difference.

How do I know? I learned from Flylady. Over and over I am amazed at what 15 minutes of focused time will do. And then I don’t do it (see, it hasn’t become a habit), and then when I do it again, I am amazed. Again.

This is my entrance hall. The view from our dining table (lovely for ambiance, isn’t it?) and the view as you walk in the front door.

How welcoming.

FOUR minutes it took me to make it like this. FOUR.
Including quickly spraying it down & giving it a wipe. I’ve been looking at that stuff for DAYS, thinking I didn’t have time to do anything about it and wishing someone else would, feeling a little sorry for myself that I have such a messy place and obviously I can’t handle this by myself…

A little more welcoming, don’t you think?

What am I going to do with 11 more minutes?

This. This is our liquor cabinet & we also keep our keys&sunglasses basket here. As you can see on top, it’s also got bottles up there. I hate that. Besides looking messy, it makes it seem like we must drink a LOT. Which we don’t. And off in that little nook there is stuff piled on those drawers.

And here’s what it looked like afterward. Notice the CLEAR SURFACE!

Still 3:33 on the timer. (yes, I stopped it to take the pictures!) What else?

This is our hall closet. It has a curtain that falls down when my toddler plays with it because it’s not really attached. It’s been down for days, and I just “haven’t had the time” to fix it.

And here it is with the curtain. Much better.

Still 2 minutes on the timer. I guess I can take care of this little hot spot.

You can do anything for 15 minutes. I dare you!