Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Don't Know....So Far I've Done All the Work

Carrie started a book club for our children a few years ago. There are 2 other moms involved (11 kids total) and we were all e-mailing back and forth trying to decide what book to have our kids read next. It started off as sort of a joke, but eventually we came to the decision to let the kids have some time off and the MOMS were going to have book club.

Excellent decision, may I add.

Here's the book Carrie wanted to read. We were all on board.

OK. Let me start right off with this: I've tried Fly Lady. She's wonderful. I've tried several other things, (the author had too) but mostly I've just tried to get my act together. So how is this book different, you ask?

Well, at first it doesn't seem too different, but if you keep reading it is. I've only read part 1 (first 10 chapters) and peeked at part 2, but from what I can tell, the main theme is, you don't need to work harder, you need to work smarter.

The author says many times, instead of changing your behavior, change your house.

I'll give you an example. Here is my front entryway before. She suggests you start there. Actually there's a lot you have to do before you ever start cleaning a thing. And THEN, you will have a house that cleans itself. Anyway, the entryway...

I walked around with my camera, as the book says, taking photographic evidence of each area of my home. And I wrote notes, as instructed. Here are the problems I found with this area.

1. We are slobs.

No seriously, this is the best picture. I would NOT post some of them. The real problems are:

1. We don't really have a designated place for mail. It stacks up here on this cabinet, or on the kitchen cabinet. When I go to pay bills, I look in about 3 or 4 places until I find them all. Why? I have no idea. It honestly never occurred to me to fix that.

2. Things that need to go out the door get stacked here as well.

3. I hang my purse on the coat closet door knob (that is just to the right on the carpeted area) and set my keys on the mantle right by the closet. Fine. EXCEPT, what about that bag I carry to church? Yep. It gets dropped right there on the floor by my purse. Husband's golf shoes, sacks of giveaway items....the mess strings all the way from the entryway to the fireplace.
That's our almost empty library box.
Here is my entryway after. With the new solution implemented.

I already had this rack (from my failed workboxes attempt--don't hate me but I hated them) so I stuck it right there with my purse, bag, golf shoes, outgoing stuff, and a clear bin for the mail. It might get full before I can get to it sometimes, but at least nothing will be lost. There is nothing on the floor. It is beauty.

The best part is....problems solved. Now, will I ever have to clean this area? Sure! I'll probably have to straighten it up, but everything has a place and purpose.

One more example. The other morning I woke up and the library books Sweetheart had been reading before bed were all over the couch. So I documented:

1. Child is lazy.

No. I mean maybe. But then it occurred to me that the box we keep our library books in is no where near a seat. Now it resides right next to the couch, where the books can be easily dropped in. Will I still need to remind them? Sure! But it's much less likely to happen.

Are you starting to see it? It's more solving problems than giving you a weekly cleaning schedule. You are setting up your house to do more of the work so you don't have to.

Here is one of my favorite passages from the book:

"Nowadays, even in those occasional periods of prolonged neglect...., I'm amazed to see that when I return my attention to the house, it may need a good vacuuming or mopping, but the disaster isn't there anymore. The floors are clear; the kitchen is fine. At those times, I feel like the successful designer of a fireproof safe after a fire or a levee builder after the storm. The safe is intact! The levee held strong! The system works."

And the author has written this book from a Christian point of view. She encourages much prayer before you begin, as well as setting up a devotional area for yourself. Good priorities.

Good book.

Good living room. I'm hoping it's contagious.


  1. Ooo! It does look neat and tidy! So excited for you, Brenda! It *almost* makes it look fun to tidy up! Almost... :)

  2. I might just have to read that one. Seems I'm drowning in a sea of disorganization. Partly due to poor time management and I'm certain also in part to working harder instead of smarter. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Did you get rid of the entertainment center?
    Where did it go?????

  4. No, it's on the wall by the patio door. Where our family picture used to hang. I realized earlier in the week that with no TV service, I could actually move it!

  5. great pics, great sharing...
    so I am a bit compulsive on cleaning, but effectiveness is my game, so I love this!

  6. YOWEE!!! That. Looks. Awesome.

    Way to go! And I am sure it will be contagious. Can't wait to see the other pics!

  7. Great post! My solution to "clean smarter" would be to burn my house down first, to help me get rid of all the JUNK that has accumulated and overwhelms me to the point of having no idea what to do with it. Then I could start from scratch and things would be nice and clean ;-)

    I don't think the insurance company would appreciate that, though, so maybe I should check that book out.

  8. My sister just bought me a gift card from Amazon for my birthday, so I'm gonna get this book! I have always hated FlyLady lol and have never seen her appeal. But this book does sound appealing, and in the last few weeks I've been working on stuff like this anyway.

  9. Sounds like a book I need to read! Actually, the idea of making my house more cleanup friendly had ocurred to me. I just didn't know where to start.

  10. Sheri, one mom in our group is a neat nick and the other 3 of us are cleaning impaired. I think it can work for all types.

    Erin, fear not....decluttering is one of the steps! :)

  11. I have this book, great book. Maybe I should dig it out and reread. I really liked the part about setting up a devotional area.

  12. Very nice! I read that book some time ago, and got some good ideas. I sort of obsessed about the problem areas when we moved into our new house. I know the mess the laundry, shoes, and, yes, even the library books make. We do pretty well if things have a place, but until that happens it's a stuff explosion.

    Thanks for sharing! (And in regards to your more current posts, I like to wear skirts in the summer. I should pull our my sewing machine, too.)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)