I spent my evening jammin'. Not the musical kind. It was a gong show: I took the kids to the beach with my BF and her kid today and we got home around dinnertime, FAMISHED. I whipped up pizza and it was totally from a box and I'm not even ashamed. =P
Anyways, we had picked 20 lbs of strawberries today so I had to jam and freeze this evening, so I figured I'd get started on the jam after supper. Riley and Amarys slept in the van on the way home from the beach and my older two can handle a later night, so I figured I had some time. I got all the ingredients and supplies out and went to start, and realized I didn't have any sugar. Groan. I had ensured I had the correct size of lids and some pectin and everything; but I forgot sugar. So, back to the store for sugar. Fortunately it was on sale.
Then I made jam, got it to the jar stage, and realized my lids were the WRONG SIZE. FTR, don't ask your hubby over the phone "Do I have small jar lids in the cupboard?" and expect your answer to be anywhere near accurate, because that is just kind of mean to do to someone who has never canned anything in his life. He did get the pectin part correct, to his credit.
SO, back to the store for lids, while my hot jam cooled in the pot (drat!) and my hot jars cooled in the water (double drat!!) making the whole scenario this nutty circus.
Did I mention that Brent was working? Oh yes. This is me, four kids, twenty pounds of strawberries, 78 mm lids, and fiftythousand trips to the store. HAWESOME!
So I finished the jam at 10 pm, put Amarys to bed because at this point she was pulling out my hair from the Ergo and pretty much begging me to let her sleep, put Riley and Matthew to bed, laid down next to Ayden so he could sleep (still with the anxiety), and nearly fell asleep myself. But I knew I still had to face The Kitchen.
But you know what? It wasn't that bad. It took me only about 15 minutes to clean it, and another 10 to scour every spot of jam off the walls and cupboards and sink edges. We have a bad tendency towards ants in our kitchen this year so every bit of strawberry had to go.
The reason it wasn't that bad is because of the Flylady. Remember when I discovered her house cleaning system in around November or so? And she helped me to rearrange my tasks and my time so that my house was drastically cleaner and I spent FAR less time cleaning it? Yeah, well, I have to tell you I'm a convert. I love Flylady. I want to evangelize her to everyone I know =P It still works! It is hard for me to describe exactly how overwhelming my house was before, and I defnintely don't have any 'before' photos because, well, I was frightfully ashamed of how it looked and didn't want it recorded. Now I wish I had a before photo, just so I could say "SEE? I was like this and now I'm like THIS!!" Not for lack of effort, trust me. I spent hours and hours cycling in inefficient housekeeping systems and never got anywhere. And I still have areas that need work; especially the bedrooms. But seriously? These are small routine glitches that I just need to form a solution for. My house in general, especially the communal living spaces, is clean. Not just tidy with piles everywhere waiting for attention, but CLEAN! My sinks are all clean! My toilets are clean! My floor is clean! My kitchen counter is clean! All at the same time! I never have to clean the kitchen before I can cook! People come over and I don't clean up for them because IT'S ALREADY CLEAN!
Oh. My. Gosh.
Please do not think I am bragging. I'm not; I'm ASTONISHED. I always valued cleanliness, I just didn't know how to GET it. Particularly with four kids and a man who, when he sets foot in a room, things crawl out of their rightful places and rearrange themselves behind him in some variation of abject chaos. A man who will STILL say, after 10 years of marriage and four kids, "But it is not mine!" when I point out an item I wish he would put away. Like, how many fucking times have I picked up an item that wasn't mine in this marriage? He's not being facetious or sarcastic, either. He's dead serious. As though pointing out that an item doesn't belong to him is actually a valid argument as to why he doesn't put it where it belongs when he is A FATHER OF FOUR CHILDREN.
But I'm not bitter.
Anyways, as I was saying I used to puzzle over why my house was so messy, until my puzzler was sore. And it wasn't til Flylady that I figured it out. I used to tackle housework projects on a case by case basis. Today I will clean the bathroom, for instance. And I would spend an hour in there scrubbing and cleaning baseboards and shining the faucet and dusting and still dissatisfied I could never get it totally clean. Meanwhile the kitchen was sitting there, full of dirty breakfast dishes, waiting for me, and laundry piles everywhere, and no hope of getting down TO the floor to vacuum it, no sirree. Let alone the spare bedroom. Dudes, I so did not have time.
Flylady taught me that a better system is to actually break each area down into small pieces, and tackle these more often. I get up, get dressed, and clean my bathroom sinks and toilets. Because I do this every day (or nearly), it takes only 2 minutes. Then, I empty the dishwasher from the night before. First thing in the morning. That way the breakfast dishes go right in the dishwasher and I have a clean kitchen. Then I do one load of laundry and make beds. Another 5 minutes, per task. Then I'm done for the morning cleaning. I do other things. I play. I crochet. I take the kids to the park. I meet my BF for coffee if Brent is home. I grocery shop or go to meetings (endlessly with the meetings) at the school about Matthew. I garden. I tidy the deck or the yard. Something other than housework!
Later in the day, I do one "Flylady task." This is a 15 minute project like wiping down the kitchen cupboards or the bathroom doorknobs, which tackles an extra. One of those extras I always SAW but never GOT TO because I was so busy working my way to the bottom of an endless pile of top priority housework tasks, working on one at a time until they were 'finished,' which of course with damn housework is an elusive goal. Then, after the Flylady task, I am supposed to declutter an area of my house for 15 minutes. I rarely do this. I don't really know why, except that I am an extremely busy woman and I always get distracted or tired before declutter time. Sigh.
When I go to make dinner, the kitchen is already clean because I unloaded the dishwasher so it was easy to KEEP CLEAN! Who knew? Focus on the key task and all your other tasks fall into place.
I'm pretty sure most of you are like, well DUH that's the way it works but I'm so serious I had no idea how to do it before. Key components: setting the timer~all flylady tasks are broken down into 2, 5, 10, and 15 minute chunks. When I'm tidying an area, if I know I only have 15 minutes to do it in, I run. Without the time crunch, I dawdle. Also: if I'm not done the task but the timer goes off, I'm "DONE" in another sense and can leave that task and feel a sense of accomplishment. Because it was the time I was finishing, not the task.
After dinner I tidy up and clear off 'hot spots' like the island counter in my kitchen, and I scrub my kitchen sink until it shines, dry it, and don't touch it again til morning. Seriously, I wash my hands in the bathroom to avoid soiling my shiny sink. =) Then, in the morning, it smiles at me. All shiny and perfect. I LOVE IT. This clean sink is another key component. And a tidy sink is attainiable; even if my kitchen is messy and I'm too tired, I shine the sink, and I feel a sense of accomplishment. I then fold my laundry (I've done another 2 loads throughout the day because with six people you must do three loads a day or else the emperor(s) will have no clothes, so to speak) while relaxing on the couch (after bedtime gong show, of course). And the house is clean.
Since I started this system, only twice has the kitchen island gotten out of hand. In both of these instances, I got sick. And in both these instances, it was still better than my old normal, and the rest of my kitchen was tidy.
I also vacuum every Monday, mop, dust, recycle papers, change bedding, and wash the front and back doors (because the first impression for guests is your door and a clean one is more welcoming than a dirty one~brilliant!). Each of these tasks only gets 10 minutes, so it's not a backbreaking neverending chore, yet it gets done every week! Woot! THIS I CAN DO! Also, since cluing into how an efficient system works, I've started a few of my own variations of routines to keep things happening around here. Like, I only take laundry downstairs to be sorted twice a week. Saturday and Wednesday. That way, it doesn't pile up into this huge job, and there's always enough downstairs to do three loads a day. If I vary this system, someone always runs out of underwear. Like today. Camping threw a wrench in my rhythm.
Also key however, is not freaking out. I know I will catch up again, because my system works. I just have to do it again for a week and everything will fall back into place =)
Each day also has a focus; menu planning, or date night (we never do this at this point but someday I will; Brent's schedule varies so much and Flylady makes Fridays date night so half the time B is working. I could change the day per week every week but I never remember), or cleaning out your purse. I don't always do those but I'm getting there. It's a slow gradual system of adding one more routine or task to your day, until suddenly your house is cleaner than its ever been and you do less work than you ever did. CRAZY.
And like I say. Bedrooms=disasters. Playroom=disaster. Spare bedroom=work in progress. But I'm getting there. This is so exciting for me and reminds me of when I learned to cook; I was so astonished all the time when I tried cooking something new and it turned out! I'm learning to be tidy and it's working out! I'm way less stressed. It's awesome.
And things like ants in my kitchen; whereas before I would say, "OHMYFUCK there are ANTS IN MY KITCHEN it's because we are DIRTY PEOPLE I try so hard but we're DIRTY and there's DIRT and it's all DIRTY and if anyone really knew how dirty we are they would hate us.
But now, I will say, "Damn. Those ants are industrious little bugs." and smack them dead on my clean counter and KNOW it's not because I'm a dirty person. It's just that bugs get in sometimes.
I hated the mess. Now it is gone.