I discovered Flylady when I was pregnant with my fifth child. She took the best of SHE, imbued it with her own unique style and transferred it from a filebox to the internet.
Flylady immediately got rid of SHE‘s biggest problem. She says that the index cards made you feel guilty, and guilt keeps you from cleaning your house. Her attitude is to “Jump in wherever you are. You are not behind.”
She divides the house into five zones, one for each week (or part thereof) in the month. In the beginning you focus on getting rid of clutter in each “zone.” Once your clutter is gone (and even if you give up on Flylady at this point, you will never accumulate so much again), you work on keeping the zone orderly and clean. Another Flylady trademark, borrowed from SHE, is to get fully dressed each morning including lace-up shoes (so you can’t take them off) and makeup (for women). The idea is that you should take your housework seriously, like a real job.
I followed Flylady’s plan faithfully for at two or three years. The height of my Flylady experience (or should I say my highest flight?) was the day I ran into a friend while dropping off a child at gan. The friend had an hour to kill so I invited her home. She couldn’t believe how neat the house was and how great I looked (I was wearing makeup) even though I had a young baby. For a long time, I didn’t want to tell her about Flylady. Partly I was embarrassed to be following this clearly insane woman from North Carolina. But the bigger reason is that it felt like cheating. It’s amazing how many hangups we can have about housework. In the end I told her, because, after all, I had cleaned my house, not Flylady.
The friend joined, and felt that Flylady was almost like a mother to her. Her own mother had never taught her homemaking.
Flylady spends little time on techniques, although if she comes across a timesaver she passes it on. It doesn’t matter how you clean, as long as you do it. You start by shining your sink every night. Theoretically, if you keep one small part of your house clean the rest will follow. Once shining your sink is second nature, you decide to keep your kitchen table cleared. At the same time she encourages you to get rid of the clutter, the guilt and the perfectionism.
Perfectionism was a big one for me. When I had cleaning help, I criticized them (in my mind) because they left gunk on the sink strainer. In the meantime, without the help my own house was full of dust and clutter.
At some point I got tired of Flylady’s exhortations and dozens of daily emails. I couldn’t manage to really stick to the routines. Also, while she has toned down the Christian aspect a lot, the longer I live here the more talk about “blessings” bothered me.
I didn’t tell my husband about Flylady and during the whole period of decluttering, shiny sinks and rotating Zones, my husband never commented. He is much better about putting things away than I am, and I’m sure that deep down he noticed and appreciated it. He just didn’t get around to expressing it.
Frugality is not a high priority for Flylady. If you follow her system you will save money because you won’t buy things you don’t need, you’ll locate what you already own and you’ll be a better planner. But she encourages you to buy nice things and to use disposables. Participation is free, but she sells a lot of stuff to support her website. I own her duster, but I’m not sure it works on the thick Israeli dust (I have an Israeli friend who is convinced that dust doesn’t exist in America); I prefer a slightly damp rag.
Another thing that caused me to let up on Flylady was becoming pregnant with #6. During the pregnancy we had a crisis involving one of our children, and (unrelated to the crisis) sold our old apartment. We had moved into our previous apartment with one child and moved out with six. The previous owner of the new apartment lost his father the day we were supposed to get the keys, we suffered from traumatic renovations that culminated in moving in with no kitchen, and we celebrated our son’s Bar Mitzvah a few weeks later. With the backdrop of my stepmother’s terminal illness (she was diagnosed the day #6 was born and died a year later), this meant that last week, 3.5 years after ordering the kitchen, I finally figured out how to shine the glass on my oven doors.