Thanks in large to my older sisters, I did know quite a bit about the different facets of housekeeping. They are the ones that taught me what I did know about it. How to read a recipe. How to cook. How to make amazing pie crusts (I still remember the lesson :) ), bread, rolls, how to shape the rolls so they look pretty. They instilled in me the ability to see a job or task through to the end no matter how tired I was, didn't like it or it didn't suit my fancy. I learned from them how to do my own laundry. How to scrub the floors on my hands and knees - or use the mop. Shucks, they even taught me how to sew!
My problem was not knowing "how to" so much as it was knowing "when to". Does that make sense? I knew I didn't like cleaning the house it one big flurry, but I didn't know how to keep the house clean otherwise. So I would always end up cleaning it all at once. And then it would all be clean and I wouldn't have any cleaning to do (which I certainly don't mind not having any cleaning to do!). Then it would slowly morph back into a mess and the cycle would start all over again. I didn't care for my lack of homemaking skills. Relaxing in a living room that the floor is cluttered and the dust is an inch thick is not fun. Laundry exploding out of the hampers is not fun - let alone going to get dressed and having run out of clean ____. I did have ONE spot that I liked to keep clean - my kitchen. It probably helped that the size of the original kitchen in this house was the size of a shoebox and I had about 1/2 a shoebox's worth of counterspace to work on. So no matter how small the cooking/baking ordeal was, the whole kitchen was a mess and I had no room to do anything else until I cleaned it up.
As I began to realize that there HAD to be another way, I started looking for solutions. Somehow I came across Flylady and the magic wonders of her methods. I signed up for her emails and daily reminders and did tons of online reading, joined forums, discussions and so on and so forth. I watched her online videos. It was inspiring and great looking... but overwhelming at the same time. Very overwhelming. I tried figuring out "zones" for my cleaning routines, but it just wasn't clicking. There were plenty of times that I thought "If I had her duster... If I had her timer... If I had her water bottle..." I would be able to keep a pristine house and it would be easy as pie and I'd never know what hit me. I'm glad I didn't spend any money on any of those things (and if that's what it takes for it to work for you, then by all means, I'm glad they do!). I get along just fine without them. There are a few things that I learned from her that I use today, but I cancelled the 1,001 daily email reminders that continually filled up my inbox to overflowing and threw out my attempt at the axis of the Flylady system, the "Control Journal". Maybe that's why I didn't like it so much - I didn't like the control those pieces of paper had on my day. And if I fell behind, then the whole thing was off. I wanted to be in charge of my day. I wanted to be able to figure out my own schedule and routine and not be controlled by it, but me control it.
I still knew there had to be SOMEthing out there that could teach me how to be a good housekeeper. In a way that was easy to learn, easy to do, and something that I could make work for me, and not me work for it. So one day I just decided I had to go find "it". Whatever "it" was. I went to the bookstore and just started browsing. I have no idea what section I was looking in, but I found this lifesaving gem:
There were a couple different books that I looked through, but this one continued to stick out to me like a brilliant rainbow on a clear day. I bought it, brought it home and started devouring it right away. I think I read the whole thing through in a couple days before going back and re-reading it again. And again. I continued to have "YES!!!" moments. Times where it all clicked and made sense. Keeping a clean house and enjoying doing it began to seem possible.
Not only did this book teach me how to be a housekeeper, but it has also taught me many things about being a wife and mother (not that I'm a mother, but I hope to be one day and use these things to help me). Things that I would have never thought of or known to do on my own.
I try and read this book about once a year. The second year, I took it on vacation with us because I knew I was going to have a lot of time to read. Many of the pages in the book looked like this after that vacation:
The thing I like about this book? I all comes from a Christian perspective. The other think I like about this book? It wasn't rules and regulations. It was hints. Tips. Tricks to make things easier. It didn't tell me how to do it, it told me how I could do it. (Side note: Flylady's system did have lee-way for making your own schedule, but I still couldn't figure it out. I know it works amazingly well for some people.) It told me how I could figure out a laundry plan. A cleaning plan - for things that need done every day and things that don't need done every day. I can't explain it - it just teaches! And it's all spelled out there, all I had to do was read it. I much prefer being taught instead of being told. Does that make sense?
Within just weeks, our house looked totally different. It wasn't perfect, mind you, and it still isn't. In fact, I should be working on my list for today instead of writing this. I have 9 things crossed off and have 12 things left. Yesterday some things did not get crossed off the list. Usually I let it slide until the next week, but I really want to get some of those things done - especially if we're having company tomorrow for supper (I'm not sure yet). You might have read "9 things... 12 things..." and are wondering what in the world is on my list that it is 21 things-to-do long, and I don't even have kids! :D I am such a visual person. I put EVERYthing on my list. I have "get dressed" on my list. For two reasons: so I don't wind up going the whole day traipsing around in my bathrobe (it used to happen sometimes!), and so that I can cross it off and have 1 thing done! And a third reason for kicks: so that I'm dressed when the mail-man has to drop off a package or the Jehovah's Witnesses knock on the door. It is not often at all, but my luck is usually that they come on the rare days that I haven't gotten dressed yet.
I will leave you with this excerpt from the book to mull over until next time, when I hope to share with you my methods for happily homemaking :)
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could wake up in the morning and know exactly where you are going, why you are going, and how to get there? Do you wish you had the secret to spending more time with your husband and children? I'm here to tell you that you can go to bed at night with the satisfaction of knowing you have accomplished all you set out to accomplish that morning, both in your family life and in your extended responsibilities. So get ready for some exciting challenges and the ride of a lifetime as we work together to become all God has designed us to become!" ~ Emilie Barnes