The catalyst to change the disorganisation of my home was mostly my anxiety issues. I just didn't need to keep worrying about silly things like lost bills and school notes and whether or not the vegetables in the crisper were edible. I needed more peace and calm in my life, and part of that meant taking control of my surroundings.
Also, what I'm describing below is how I do things when things are working well for me. If I am not sleeping well or I'm having a relapse of depression or pain, things slide. The benefit of largely living this way, however, is that the climb back out of the mess isn't as arduous when things were pretty organised to begin with.
I'm sure by now everyone has heard of Flylady. I don't follow Flylady so much as pilfer a few ideas. I find her approach sexist in that a) it doesn't take into account that the "stressed home executive" might also be a "stressed office executive". She also assumes that not only will the woman of the house be the primary homemaker, but will have all authority and control over the homemaking.
That said, the Home Control Journal has become very important to me. Even if I don't put my MITs (most important tasks) down in it every day, just seeing that polka-dotted folder gets my head in the right space to set my goals for the day. Essential to the Flylady method is the idea of routines. Morning routines and evening routines begin and end the day in a positive and productive frame of mind. The morning routine includes, among other things, getting up and dressed right down to your shoes, giving the bathroom a wipe over (including the loo) when you use the it, and basically starting the day as you mean to go on. Morning routines however assume a certain amount of sleep in the preceding hours - this routine may be neglected depending on how well Tom has done the night before!
The evening routine includes getting your clothes ready for the day before. This has saved me an immense amount of time and worry. I can't remember how many times I've been late for work because I couldn't decide what to wear. The evening routine also means I start each day ahead in that the mess from the lounge room the night before isn't facing me in the morning. The dishes are all clean - no catching up to do before the next day's activities commence.
The other thing that I have picked up from Flylady (besides a groaning inbox) is the knowledge that I can do anything for fifteen minutes. Can't tackle the entire pantry? That's okay - how much of that shelf can I clear and clean in fifteen minutes? Do that over a week and an insurmountable job is gradually whittled away.
Never Waste a Walk
I very rarely leave a room empty handed. This method, combined with the Do It Now (see below) means that little jobs remain little jobs and don't build up to a gigantic chore like Tidying Up The Lounge Room. If I'm going out to the kitchen, I'll take out with me whatever papers or magazines for recycling or cups for washing or rubbish for chucking. If I'm leaving the bathroom, I'll take any dirty towels or face washers, or empty the bin on my way out. If I'm leaving the bedrooms, I'll take some washing with me out to the laundry. You get the picture.
Do It Now
I try not to say, "I really must get around to doing that," nowadays. Now, when I see a grotty mark on a wall or some slime on a fridge shelf or a cupboard that requires tidying a bit, I just do it. It generally takes only as much time to do the thing, as it does to think about how I'll do it later, and when. Again, chronic pain can make tasks like this difficult, but it's good for my soul.
Of the things we do differently now, meal planning has perhaps made the greatest difference to our health, happiness and budget. Each week, I plan the meal menus for the days ahead. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I trawl through recipe sites or treat myself to a Good Taste magazine to get inspiration. I like to try new things. Then I go through the fridge and freezer and see what we already have, and clean out the old leftovers and dodgy vegies. In winter we will sometimes have "fridge soup" - where everything (within reason) gets chucked in a pot and cooked to death.
I put the menu plan in a folder so that everyone can refer to it, because I'm not the only one who cooks in this house.
I put everything we need in a list in my iPhone, and we stick to the list.
The benefits of meal planning are:
- Less waste
- More time (less time spent worrying and doing last minute shopping)
- The peace of knowing what is for dinner the next night and knowing that we have everything for it
- Incentive to cook. When you take all of the above into account, there is less temptation to buy takeaway.
I write things like this, and I post the odd photograph of my home. If I know that people are watching, I'm more inclined to be diligent.
So, every day, the things that happen around this house (not necessarily by me) are:
- Beds are made.
- Dishwasher is empty/loaded, dishes in the sink done
- Washing is done
- Bathroom is cleaned
- Bins are emptied
- Floors are swept, the kitchen mopped, and the carpeted areas vacuumed
- Lounge area is tidied of toys, books, dishes and other detritus
- Sheets are changed
- Things are dusted
- A cupboard, somewhere, will be cleared out
- I'll see to what paperwork I have
- All the bills are paid
- The front porch is swept and the outside area tidied up
- I'll purge some clothes from someone's wardrobe