Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Don't Be Afraid to Use a Tool

I used to be ashamed of myself for needing the help of a tool like FlyLady. I grew up thinking that something was weird about me, because I thought that all women just naturally knew how to keep house. My mother got sick when I was 11 years old, and the housework fell to me. But I didn't know what to do. I knew basically how to clean, but not how to keep it clean. The floors would get dirty all over again, and it wouldn't be on a schedule! LOL I couldn't figure out for the life of me how I was supposed to know when to mop the floor, and I knew it just couldn't be every day to have to lug out the bucket, mop, cleaner, move all the chairs from the table, sweep every corner, mop and rinse the floor, then reverse the order again. I had the impression that to do it right, you had to do all of that every time. I had no idea you could just wipe up the drips or just hit a lick at it to make it look better. It was all or nothing, and so I mostly did nothing. This repeated througout the house. I just knew that when Mama had been well, she cleaned one day a week. So I thought you cleaned one day a week and it stayed that way . . . somehow . . . must have been some magic to it for those gifted women whose homes were clean all the time. This was the pattern of my life - all or nothing - all was overwhelming, so nothing is what I did.

So when I discovered FlyLady, it started making sense. Have routines in place to help you maintain the clean. Pick up the dirty clothes, clean the kitchen as you go, throw away little papers and wrappers as you finish with them, wipe up those drips on the floor along with your kitchen cleanup, wipe down your bathroom sink and toilet every morning . . . I never even thought to do these things! When I cooked, that's what I did - I cooked. You clean up after you cook. But by then it's a mess - cans and wrappers everywhere, drips all over the stove, counters, floor, pots on the stove, not to mention all the dishes on the table too. So imagine my surprise when I started throwing things away, washing the pots before we sat down to eat, and wiping all those drips as they happened - cleanup after the meal was a breeze! I liked it! I could do it! I just didn't know.

I felt guilty for needing help, for needing guidance. But one day, while visiting my uncle, something clicked in my mind. My uncle is an artist. He can draw things free-hand that are beautiful. His career is an architectural draftsman, drawing home designs. He has natural talent - he just knows how to draw. When I visited him, I was talking about teaching my kids art, and I made the statement that I can't even draw a straight line. He looked at me and said, "Then use a ruler." I said, "But that's cheating - I want to be able to do it naturally. I don't have talent like you." That's when he made the most profound statement: using a tool is not cheating; it's smart management. In his job as a draftsman, he doesn't draw those house plans free-hand. He uses his tools to help him do a good job. He has to get measurements and angles perfectly accurate, or the house built from those plans will be useless. I would never think he was cheating by using those tools! It's the same with us and keeping our homes! FlyLady's methods of routines, 15 minutes at a time, and decluttering are all tools to help us do our jobs. We all like order and cleanliness, even if we're not "naturals" at it. Artists use tools, and we homemakers can use them too. FlyLady is my 'ruler' to help me draw the 'lines' of my life. And there's no shame in using a tool.


Mary said...

Oh Susan, after a post like that I think you need ((((Hugs)))))

Susan said...

Thanks for the hugs, but I'm ok, really! LOL :)

Debbie J. said...

Can you believe I'm commenting on a post this old? Most of what I know about cleaning and housekeeping I learned from Flylady and a book called Speed cleaning! I always did it the hard way before. Now I do it the easy way or not at all! LOL