During the summer months, I'm a pretty good housekeeper. But when school is in session, that necessary work takes priority, and cleaning house takes the back seat. Oh, the basics get done...the kitchen gets cleaned and the toilets get scrubbed...but the detail work like fingerprints on walls or chaos under the bathroom sinks does not.
And it makes me grumpy. I go about my day noticing all these things that I should be cleaning...would be cleaning...if only my darling children were off at school freeing me to polish the chandeliers and take a toothbrush to the gunk around the sink faucets.
If you've read Sink Reflections by FlyLady (a good book, by the way), she breaks the home into zones and every week you work on just a little bit in that zone. Instead of getting annoyed, frustrated and upset at the fingerprints on every wall in the house, you only worry about the ones in that week's zone. In 15 minutes a day - only 15 minutes - your home will begin to look better, one zone at a time. I read Sink Reflections years and years ago (after failing to make heads or tails of the website), and made a Control Journal - a checklist of things to do throughout the day or week. I copied her detailed cleaning lists for the various zones off her website and for some time used the FlyLady program to organize my cleaning.
Then, in 2003, my husband deployed, I began homeschooling, and my 4th child was born. I quickly realized that FlyLady wasn't going to help me survive the year, so I took a very practical approach to housework: I hired a cleaning lady.
And for 7 years, in 3 different states, I continued to support the local economy and my personal sanity by outsourcing the grunge work. These fabulous women didn't do fingerprints any more than I did, but every now and then, instead of finally tackling that sticky kitchen floor (which wasn't sticky because it had been mopped recently by someone else), I would spend a few minutes vacuuming the couch or decluttering a closet. Life was good.
Then we moved here, and I weaned myself off my domestic help, cold turkey. It's been a year. I've survived.
I don't have an infant. I now don't even have a toddler. I now have capable helpers, not just mess-making helpers.
But I still have 6 children at home 24/7. And I still have fingerprints on the wall.
And after a year, and especially after half a school year, I have clutter build-up and a disorganized pantry and a thick layer of dust on the ceiling fans.
And I'm grumpy and I start thinking of sending my children off to school just for a month, just so I can clean.
However, a few weeks ago, I actually made it onto Facebook, an infrequent occurrence, but the timing was perfect. One friend mentioned an iPhone / iTouch / iPad app to another friend. The app is HomeRoutines which is basically FlyLady for your personal handheld device. No more Control Journal. No more spinning your wheels and not having any idea where to even start on cleaning your house. The app is fully customizable...I even have a to-do list for glasses of water per day (I am very bad about drinking enough water). It's exactly what I needed to prioritize my cleaning and inspire me to do just a little bit at a time.
Now, once again, I am not getting annoyed, frustrated and upset at the fingerprints on every wall in the house. Now I am only annoyed, frustrated and upset at the fingerprints in that week's zone. I've been using the app for 2 weeks now, and I have to admit that I haven't done much additional cleaning - it really shouldn't be that hard to find 15 minutes a day, right? But at least, I am letting go of most of the mess and just focusing on one area of the home. It feels better, even if it doesn't look much better. Over time, I expect improvements.
And when summer comes, I'll know exactly where to start.