The Beginner’s Guide to the Flylady System

Whether you’re new here or you’ve been around for awhile, there is one thing you should know about me: my life used to be a complete mess. It all started with the mess of my house. I was so overwhelmed, and I had to change my habits. That’s when I found the Flylady system and fell in love!

So, let’s talk about the Flylady system, what it’s about and how it all works together!

Daily Routines

The first component of the Flylady System is daily routines. You need to get control of your daily routines and you’ll see huge improvements in your life, your house, and the amount of overwhelm you have! So, what does getting control of your daily routines look like? Well, yours might look different, but mine looks like this:

· Morning routine: make bed, get dressed (including shoes), swish & swipe (the bathroom), empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, check the calendar, and check your control journal (your to-do list)

· Afternoon routine: What’s for dinner? (plan dinner, pull out meat, etc), drink your water

· Evening Routine: set out clothes for tomorrow, check your calendar, launch pad, fold and put away laundry, two-minute hot spot, start dishwasher, shine your sink

The idea of daily routines is that you complete these tasks every day. While that may be the goal, that’s also perfection and here at the Secret Slob, we aim for progress. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get them all done every day!

Daily Focus

The second component is Daily Focus. It’s to focus on something each day of the week. These focuses are pre-determined by the Flylady as to which task will be completed on which day. But, I think, if it doesn’t work for you, just cross it right off your list. Don’t make more work for yourself if you don’t have to. It looks like this:

Monday: Weekly Home Blessing Hour Change bed sheets, empty garbage, polish mirrors, dust, mop, vacuum. Spend 10 minutes per task and then stop (only complete these tasks in high traffic areas).

Tuesday: Plan and Pay Day. Pay bills, write cards, meal plan, file paperwork, arrange plans for the weekend or anything else coming up. Spend 5-15 minutes to complete all of these tasks.

Wednesday: Anti-Procrastination Day. Pick a nagging task and get it done. Spend about 5-15 minutes to complete all of these tasks! This is my favourite day for daily focus!

Thursday: Errands day! Grocery shopping and appointments. I know this is a day that might not work for everyone, so feel free to adjust based on what works for you and your family.

Friday: Car & Bag Day. Clean out your care and purse/bag. Tidy up garbage, take out items that aren’t needed, toss or file and receipts. Spend 5-15 minutes to complete these tasks.

Zone Cleaning

Next up is Zone Cleaning. You’re going to want to choose 5 zones in your home. Each week of the month is dedicated to a zone. Each day, you’ll spend 15 minutes completing the tasks listed for the zone. After that 15 minutes is done, you stop. Tomorrow, you pick up where you left off. If you don’t complete all the tasks in the zone by the end of the week, you finish it off the next month when you’re working on the zone. I know that might sound confusing, but I guarantee that once you get going with it, it will make sense, and you’ll make it make sense for your space!

Daily Mission and Emails

Another part of the Flylady system is the daily mission. This portion is completely optional, but she posts it every day on her website and it’s a 5-10 minute task that motivates you to get something done.

One more part of the Flylady system is the daily emails. Again, this portion is completely optional but it provides motivational quotes, tips, and tricks. It you’re feeling a little inbox-overload, feel free to skip it!

Putting a day together

So, what does all this look like when you put it into a day? Well, this is what my day looks like, the tasks I complete, and exactly how I execute it:

Morning: Make bed, get dressed, unload dishwasher, start laundry, swish one bathroom (this routine takes me under 22 minutes).

Afternoon: 15 minutes of zone cleaning, what’s for dinner, power tidy, daily focus (this takes me roughly 40 minutes).

Evening: Put away laundry, hot spot, set up launchpad, start dishwasher, shine sink (about 22 minutes).

In total, all these tasks take me roughly one hour and 20 minutes to complete. I don’t use all the tasks set out by the Flylady, but this is what works best for me, my family, and my house. I know it can seem overwhelming to try something new and switch routines, but it has made such a difference for me! I encourage you to try it out and make the system fit your life.

How I Clean My House Super-Fast | 5 x 5 Trick

Life, right? We all have that excuse when we get behind on things. I’m a busy mom too, so I feel like I’m always behind on something. But I thought I’d share with you a quick little cleaning hack. This is for the time when company is coming over, the in-laws are stopping by, or just before my husband gets home from work and the house is a mess.

I call it the 5 x 5 system. You start by choosing 5 spaces in your house (similar to the Flylady’s zones) and you spend 5 minutes in each one. The rule is: you cannot leave that room until the 5 minutes is up OR unless it’s really super clean.

These are the 5 spaces we always choose:

1. The kitchen: I always start in the kitchen because it always takes me longer than 5 minutes. I start by filling the sink with hot, soapy water and open the dishwasher (both Flylady tricks). I sweep the room for any dirty dishes, then either wash them or load them in the dishwasher. I never finish the kitchen in 5 minutes, but I know I’ll have some extra minutes left from my dining room, so, I’ll finish up the kitchen after. After the 5 minutes is up, I move on to the next room.

2. The dining room: For us, the dining room mess usually consists of picking up toys, clearing off the table, and food crumbs. If I’m fast enough, I can even squeeze in a quick vacuum for the dining room and kitchen. After 5 minutes, on to the next room.

3. The living room: Again, for us, the mess of the living room is usually picking up toys. It’s also where our clothes end up, since our laundry room is upstairs. I give it a quick tidy and vacuum the rug. This one rarely takes the full 5 minutes, so I’ll head back to the kitchen to finish up the dishes and then move on to the next room.

4. The office: This room gets used a lot, for a lot of different things. It’s where the kids play, it’s where we watch TV, it’s where I work out, which means, there’s a lot of stuff in here. A quick tidy of the space, which takes under the 5 minutes, and I’ll head back to the kitchen to use any remaining minutes.

5. The entryway: This space is a huge mess for us. It is a constant struggle of hanging up coats and putting shoes away. But, now is not the time to focus on that, now is only the time to tidy and feel good about the space you’re in.

These spaces may not work for you, perhaps you don’t have an office, or a dining room, but I’m sure you can find 5 spaces in your home to focus on. Remember: 5 spaces, 5 minutes each. Do NOT get distracted by other messes! If you finish up a room before the 5 minutes is up, great! Head back to one of your other rooms that you didn’t get to finish and spend the remainder of the five minutes there. For me, it’s ALWAYS the kitchen!

You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in 25 minutes and no one will know whether you spent 25 minutes or 5 hours tidying. It’s quick, effective, and will make you sweat! Ready to get started? Let’s go!

5 Habits that will Save you from Being Overwhelmed!

PUT YOURSELF FIRST

You can’t pour from an empty cup. You just can’t. If you are tasked with the care of children, a household, friends and family, or even a stressful job, you MUST take care of yourself first. Always putting others before yourself at all times is a perfect recipe for burnout. As a mom, its hard to imagine prioritizing myself before my children, but, when I am well rested, well-fed and have lots of energy, I am able to be 10x the parent than I am when I am tired, worn out and fuelling my body with junk food.  The first thing I prioritize when I start feeling burnt out and overwhelmed is sleep. Skip Netflix and scrolling on your phone for a few nights and get to bed early, I guarantee you will notice a difference right away. Another place to focus is your food. I am not going to tell you what to eat, but just say this, when you put crap in your body, you are going to feel like crap, you know it and I know it. Lastly – try to take a few minutes for yourself every day to relax, breathe and unwind. Even if it’s just in the few minutes between school drop-off and driving back home, we have all done the deep breaths in the driveway amiright?

WRITE IT DOWN

Our poor brains have so much to remember! Cleaning lists, shopping lists, work lists, to-do lists, add to that the schedules of everyone else in our lives and the mental load gets a bit too heavy. The single, easiest way to calm down the never-ending chatter of lists in my mind is to write it down. Get those appointments into a calendar, especially the little things – play dates, show and tell, and pyjama days at school, just get it all out.  Extra points if you keep ongoing lists in an app or day planner and have it with you at all times.  Try it today, write down everything you have been ‘remembering’ into a long list and notice the lightness it gives your mind.

STICK TO THE BASICS

Tired, overwhelmed, burnt out AND the house is a mess? I have been there and it sucks. Instead of attempting to tackle the whole house in a giant 5-hour marathon stress clean, for now, decide which THREE things are most important and stick to those. Mine are dishes (gotta eat!), laundry (gotta have clean underwear!), and getting showered and dressed in the morning. Once you have these down and your self-care has given you a bit more energy, then tackle the rest of it. Slowly but surely, your home will become your sanctuary again.

BE PREPARED

Having your stuff packed, prepped and ready by the door vs. scrambling at the last second to find everything while screaming at your family and inevitably forgetting the most important thing. In both cases, we have to get packed, get our stuff ready and get out the door. The amount of work DOES NOT change, however, the execution of these tasks could not be more different. Take the time tonight to pack up everything you need for tomorrow, find your keys, pack your snacks and set your coffee maker so tomorrow goes will feel infinitely easier.

ASK FOR HELP

I am not a superhero, I do not have 40 hours in a day, I can’t do it all. Recognize it and reach out! People in your life WANT to help you. In fact, doing kind things for others is the number one source of happiness. Our friends, family and coworkers do not want to watch us struggle, they want to be there for us – so let’s get down off our pride horse, admit we can’t do it all and reach out.  

DIY Mountain Mural

A perfect project for the cripplingly unartistic! My little boy’s room was seriously lacking in decor and needed an update badly – enter the DIY Mountain Nursery Mural. A look that adds brightness and depth to the room AND will grow with him. It couldn’t be simpler – follow these steps below to bring the mountains into your home.

Supplies: Paint, 3 or 4″ roller, roller refills, paint trays, pencil, painters tape (make sure you splurge and buy the good stuff! we used half a roll of frog tape)

For the paint – I chose one colour that was similar but darker than the original room colour, and then two contrasting colours from the same palette. Make sure you hold the paint swatches up to your wall in natural daylight.

Start by moving all furniture away from the workspace, wipe down the wall with mild soapy water and make sure to clean the baseboards, trapping dust under paint is a nightmare to fix. I vacuumed the floor in the area as well.

Next, remove any light switch covers (turn breaker off if you have littles!) and tape off switches, baseboards and window trim.

Here is the fun part – taping off your mountain scene. This may take a few tries and adjustments, so take your time and step back every once in a whileto get an idea of the full picture.

We started by marking off the heights that the three layers (or ranges) would hit. The began taping off with the bottom row – or foothills as we called them. I made the basic triangle shape and then went back and added extra jags.

Once the first layer was done, the second two were easy to add. I tried to make them increasingly steep and then at the last minute decided to add a ‘snow line’. Thankfully I had some leftover white paint from a previous project.

Once you have all of your layers taped off, step back and assess the visual as a whole. Does an angle need to be changed? Maybe add a second jag, or take one away. Every mountain range will look different, that’t the beauty of art!

Next – time to paint! We started and the top and worked our way down to prevent any’painted t-shirt’ misshaps. I used white paint and a regular brush to fill in the snow line at the top. Since the area was small, I didnt want to use a roller and tray just for the snow.

Moving down, We used a 4″ roller to fill in the mountain areas, with a brush for the edges around trim and the corner. Make sure you apply your paint evenly and in full strokes to get an even coverage.

We waited a couple hours and added a second coat (and a third to the snow) and then waited for the whole thing to dry overnight.

Pulling off the tape to reveal your finished artwork is the best part! DOn;t wait too long to pull the tape, or it could pull paint/wall with it. I would say 24 hours or less. We had played with the idea of filling in the taped areas, but my husband and I loved the contemporary look of the blank spaces between the ranges and we descided to leave them (bonus – less work!)

Overall I am thrilled with the result. There were a few areas where the paint seeped under the tape – to prevent that next time, i would double check to make sure the tape was fully pressed down. It doesnt bother me, but with a small brush it would be simple to touch up.

I am so glad we chose to DIY this mural, the result is fantastic, looks pro and was really really easy.

-Steph

10 Books to Cozy up with this Fall!

Cool, crisp days, a cozy blanket, and a good book = pure bliss. Here are my top picks that I am diving into this fall!

1. The Guest List – Lucy Foley

A modern-day whodunnit! Plus, its on Reese’s Book Club List, and so far, Ms. Witherspoon hasn’t let me down!

2. Untamed – Glennon Doyle

This year’s quintessential self-help book, geared mainly at mothers. Pretty much every person I know and their cat has read this book, and I just need to know what the fuss is all about.

3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

The story of the fictional Old Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo, who at the age of 79 decides to give a final interview to an unknown journalist, Monique Grant. Earlier this year I read ‘Daisy Jones and The Six’ by the same author and absolutely fell in love with her interview-style writing. This book was recommended by a friend and I can’t wait to dive in!

4. The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

The true story of how Slovakian Jew Lale Sokolov, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1942, fell in love with a girl he was tattooing at the concentration camp. I started this book in the summer, and then left it at our cabin! its on order from the library, I can’t wait to read the rest.

5. American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins

A fictional story of Mexican bookseller who has to escape cartel-related violence with her son. I am as intrigued by the story this novel tells, as the controversy surrounding it.

6. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

The story of a young black woman who is wrongly accused of kidnapping while babysitting a white child, and the events that follow the incident. Another one from Reese’s Book Club, this novel was short-listed for the Booker Prize. While I often steer away from novels involving children coming to harm, this book was recommended from a friend, so I will give it a go.

7. The Four Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

A deeper dive into the four personality types that govern habit formation. Upholder, Obliger, Questioner and Rebel! Gretchen Rubin has been one of my favourite authors/podcasters since I first read ‘The Happiness Project’ over 10 years ago! In fact, her original book on habit formation – ‘Better than Before’ was one of the main motivators for starting my YouTube Channel AND this blog. I can’t wait to see what she brings in ‘The Four Tendencies’

8. The Marrow Thieves – Cherie Dimaline

A survival story set in a Canada where “recruiters” harvest the bone marrow of Indigenous people. This novel is set in my home country and was highly, highly recommended by my best friend.

9. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

The novel focuses on 29-year-old Eleanor Oliphant, a social misfit with a traumatic past who becomes enamoured of a singer, whom she believes she is destined to be with. I am all for a novel that makes me cry, but one that can make me cry with laughter is even more special – looking forward to this one!

10. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone – Lori Gottlieb

A memoir written by a therapist, about being in therapy! I am looking forward to the inside peek into the world of psychologists and what they are really thinking.

Commissionable Links

Chaos to Calm: How I Changed my Morning Routine as a Working Mom

We’ve all been there…. you have 5 minutes to get out the door, the kids are screaming, you can’t find the car keys, and you still have no pants on.  As working moms, the few minutes we have in the morning to get ourselves and kids out the door can be one of the hardest times of the day.  For me, some days felt impossible.  So impossible that a trip up Everest seemed more realistic for me than getting my kids and I out the door on time.  I was arriving late to work almost every day and feeling completely stressed out…all before 8:00am!

After seeing all the success my sister was having implementing routines into her daily life, I figured there must be some kind of routine that I could apply to my life to make my mornings easier.  The lightbulb moment came when she mentioned in one of her videos to “do in the morning what makes your evening easier, and do in the evening what makes your morning easier.”   Problem solved – I needed to move all my morning tasks that were causing me so much stress to the evening before. 

 I started simple with making my lunch the night before, a common practice of many working moms.  One morning chore off the list!   

“If you win the morning, you win the day.”

— Tim Ferris

Next I started putting my clothes out the evening before.  Too many times I have gone to get dressed in the morning only to find everything wrinkly, in the wash, or just not right for the day.  In the evening I not only pick out an outfit, but I make sure it’s clean, and wrinkle-free.  No more 6 am power ironing in the basement while yelling up at my kids to brush their teeth. 

This was all making a big difference, but the real game changer came when I also started laying out my kids clothes for the next day.  I would check the weather and lay out a suitable outfit for each of them in the bathroom.  The reason I didn’t put it out in their room was to avoid the ‘I’M NOT WEARING THAT!” moment.  They can see there is only one option and it was far enough away from all of their other clothes that they can’t start digging through their drawers looking for totally new (and likely, less suitable) attire for the day.

The one habit that made the biggest impact on my mornings running smooth is my ‘prep for tomorrow station’ also known as the ‘launch pad’ in the Flylady system.  I make a point of getting everything I needed for the next day collected and place it in my designated area or ‘station’ ready for me to grab on my way out the door.  This includes any documents needed for the next day, my purse and wallet, my gym clothes, and my kid’s daycare items like water bottles and blankets.  Basically everything that I used to run around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for before heading out the door in the morning. It was a total revelation! 

But wait! There’s more!  I have taken this one step further and actually put whatever I can in my car for the next day…less to forget and less to deal with the next day!   

Over time I have added small things to my evening routine to make my morning easier.  I am happy to say that I no longer lay in bed in the morning terrified to face the minutes before heading out the door.  My kids and I sometimes even have a pleasant time getting ready!  If this concept blows your mind then it might be time to take some of your morning tasks and check them off the night before.

   – Jill

21 Days to a Clean Home!

This system has literally changed my ENTIRE LIFE for the better. My home is cleaner, I argue less with my husband, my kids get more mom time, and I don’t have the weight of a thousand task to-do list bearing down on my shoulders constantly.

However, getting started isn’t always the easiest. We see our favourite YouTubers and Bloggers make it look so easy, and finally feel hope that there actually could be a BETTER way to do things ( big shoutout to Diane in Denmark and How Jen Does It). Then we attempt to implement the entire system in one day, and it’s overwhelming.

We blame ourselves, because we are buried so deep in clutter and laundry, it seems like nothing will work. WRONG! You can and you will find the freedom from hours of housework and overwhelm, you just need to start slow with small changes.

The Flylady website breaks down the whole system into 31 baby steps. I have pared it down to the essentials and fully believe that this program can be learned in 21 days. Commit to going through the steps fully, learn and add a new habit every day, focus on progress, let go of perfection and at the end you will see MAJOR changes.

21 Days to a Clean Home

1. Shine Your Sink

The best way to get started when you don’t know where to start is focus on one small task. Pull all of your dishes out and give your sink a good scrub. Do this at the end of every day to signal that it is time to to relax.

2. Dress to Shoes

When you take care of yourself and get ready for the day, your mind will be ready for productivity.

3. 2-Minute Hotspot

Bring a timer into your cleaning to increase hustle and decrease overwhelm. Pick and area in your home that is overwhelmed with stuff and tackle it for 2 minutes. You might surprise yourself with how much gets done!

4. Make the Bed

Accomplish something first thing in the morning! Keep your bedding simple to make the job go fast!

5. Establish a Dishes System

Load up the dishwasher at night and empty in the morning! Keep your counters clean and clutter-free so you always have a clear space to cook.

6. Make a Weekly Plan

Having a plan makes everything so much easier. Use the free printable to organize your life. Add to it daily, make a mess, write all over it, make edits and hang it somewhere visible to everyone!

7. Power Tidy

Pick a time and make this a daily habit. I like to do it in the evening so my house is clean in the morning.

8. Daily Declutter

You can’t clean clutter! Start slowly with garbage and and do a little every day. This is a never-ending process, bit it gets easier and you get better.

9. Establish a Laundry Routine

Dirty laundry piles, clean laundry piles, folded laundry piles – no more. Establish system that works for you, most importantly – don’t start a new load until the previous one is complete!

10. Floor Check

Clean floors make a home look and feel exponentially cleaner than it is. Use this simple mind trick – do a quick sweep, vacuum, and spot wipe to help your house look clean!

11. Digital Detox

Digital devices and social media suck a lot of time from our day. If you have no trouble keeping up with your friends’ social lives, but can’t seem to find the time to get your chores done, it might be time for a digital detox!

12. Swish the Bathroom

Swish ONE bathroom, once a day and forever avoid the nasty hour long bathroom clean. Keep your supplies handy and quickly get it done after you get ready in the morning! Rotate the bathrooms to make sure they all get a little attention.

13. Prep for Tomorrow

Smooth mornings make for easy days. Getting ready for the next day the night before is a game changer. Clothes set out, gym clothes packed, shoes ready, keys in their place, bag packed, lunches made, check the calendar and communicate plans to everyone involved.

14. Weekly Clean

Aka – The Weekly Home Blessing Hour. This is a quick, once over of your main traffic areas that keeps the house clean with little effort. Change bedsheets, empty garbages and wipe mirrors!

15. Plan & Pay

Consider this your ‘home administration day’. Pay bills, write cards, confirm appointments, and update calendars. Take 5 minutes every week to pay your bills and avoid late charges and overdue notices forever.

16. Anti-Procrastination Day

Pick one small thing you have been putting off, and commit to getting it done. Get it off your mind and lighten your mental load. Make it easy – as you go about life, keep a little list of these nagging tasks and on Wednesday just pick one to check off!

17. Self Care Day

Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. I choose a small thing to do for myself every Thursday to ensure I get that valuable ‘me time’.

18. Car & Bag Day

Take 5 minutes to clean out the car and your purse/backpack/diaper bag so they stay tidy and clutter-free. Make it easy – keep a bag in your car for garbage and empty it at the gas station or whenever you stop.

19. Meal Plan

Meal planning will change your life. First, check the ingredients you have on hand and create a meal plan around those. Shop for the items you are missing and keep a record of meals you like to cook and your family likes to eat. Also plan for leftovers, going out and have at least 5 last-minute, easy meals on hand at all times.

20. Zone Clean

Break up your home into sections (or zones) and tackle one each week for a set amount of time. I try to dedicate an hour each week to deep cleaning the specific zone we are in, but I don’t worry if I miss a day. Make it easy – keep a checklist handy of tasks you have completed in each zone so you know what needs to be done.

21. Weekly Clean

Part 2 of our weekly clean and we are adding dust, vacuum and mop. 10 minutes each in the high-traffic areas of your home and you are done. Miss an area? Not to worry, you will get it next time.

Update on my #20for2020 Goals List!

Just over halfway through the year and it has been interesting to say the least. Some good, some bad and definitely some ugly, I had no idea what I was in for when I made my 20 for 2020 list way back in January. At the time I was heavily pregnant and looking froward to getting my baby in my arms and setting off on some adventures. And, while the ‘setting off’ portion of my plan hasn’t come to fruition, this year has been quite an adventure.

As inspired by Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft, here is my 20 goals for 2020 list, and as of right now, this is my progress:

  1. Build a capsule wardrobeNot yet, but this is my next project to tackle. I wanted to wait for my body to ‘normalize’ after pregnancy. I am so ready for this, out with the postpartum leggings, in with the…… well, probably just regular leggings!

2. Find the perfect cinnamon bun recipesuccess in that I have tried four recipes and can now say I am a successful baker of cinnamon buns. Still on the hunt for the greatest recipe of all time.

3. Read 24 booksI have read 10 books, slightly behind but I plan to catch up when the weather turns cold!

4. Keep phone out of the bedroomCheck and check! Additionally I have instituted an earlier bedtime for myself (9pm) which has helped tremendously with the energy needed to entertain all three kids during the pandemic

5. Go on a girls weekendOur original plan for Toad River glamping and a visit to Liard Hot Springs has been stymied by CoVID closures, but we have a backup plan, and it involves a boat!

6. Go camping – Another success! One night in the books, we learned a lot about what NOT to do when camping with a baby and two small kids. We are currently planning a second camping attempt soon!

7. Plant Flowers and Vegetables – Woohoo! I am on a roll. One benefit of staying at home a lot, my garden got a ton of attention and has never looked (or tasted) better!

8. 100000 step dayTraining in progress. Me and 5 friends plan to go for this in early August! Look for daily updates on my instagram stories here

9. Try a new fitness activityFor this one, I have returned to golf after an almost 6-year hiatus. I even joined a ladies league that runs on Monday nights and I am loving it.

10. Stay at a summer cabinAugust! My dad bought a little townhouse in Invermere, a beach town we used to live in. I can’t wait to visit!

11. Get a massage once per month Yes. aside from the 3 months when massages weren’t allowed.

12. Get control of my digital photosStill plaguing me. I have to make a plan, so here and now I declare, this project starts OCTOBER 1.

13. Start a blogIf you are reading this, you know it’s true!

14. Collect favourite recipesHalfway. I have made an effort to print out and write down a few favourites, but have not compiled them yet. Add this one to the fall/winter to do!

15. Monthly date nightsYes, aside from the 3 months when leaving the house was not allowed. We even did a date morning last month – golf and brunch!

16. Plan a winter getawayLikely not happening. Its possible we can go to Vancouver Island for a little green and less snow, but leaving the country isn’t really looking like an option. C’est la vie.

17. Use online grocery orderingYes! I am getting really fast and this one is amazing. I still sometimes got in person, but online ordering has taken so much stress out of my life. Watching Netflix and grocery shopping is my new go-to!

18. Keep a baby book for #3Yes for 3 months. He is 6 months old today, time to catch up!

19. Put up more artHere and there. I realize this may be hard to define. I have put up art in the girls’ room, and the baby room, but does that count as ‘more’? Not sure.

20. Reduce plastic wasteWell, we made the switch to bar soap, but unfortunately bulk shopping has been suspended for the time being. Still trying to make a conscious effort wherever possible.

How are your #20for2020 lists / goals / new years resolutions coming along? Have you had to abandon them completely due to our situation or have you pushed through with a modified version. I love making these fun goals list to remind me of what I wanted to do at the outset of the year, and really, despite all that has happened, I am still well on my way to completing the list and making the most of 2020.

Stay safe and be well,

Steph

7 Tips to Take the Stress out of Decluttering

The never-ending story of decluttering. As long as we are living and buying things and bringing them into our homes, we will forever have to consider the declutter process. There are three ways a person can declutter their extra ‘stuff’

  1. Keep tabs on the amount of things coming into the house and balance it with a regular outflow of items
  2. Do massive ‘purges’ of all of your items every few years
  3. Ignore your clutter, allowing it to pile up, and eventually leave it for your descendants to deal with

In my opinion, and for the sake of this post, let’s agree that option #1 is the ideal scenario. However, for some of us already living the cluttered life, getting to that point can seem impossible, and the sheer volume of stuff we have already accumulated drains our motivation before we even start.

I have good news. It is never too late to start and no one has too much to start. Even better news – getting started is, without a doubt the HARDEST part of this entire process. So with that, let’s get started, one little bite at a time.

Tip #1 – Start with stuff you don’t care about

As I previously mentioned, getting started is the hardest part of the decluttering process. Usually when we start thinking about throwing our stuff away, our minds instantly leap to the things we care most about – mementos, gifts, heirlooms…. that kind of thing. And while we do have to tackle those categories at some point, let’s start with something easier. The kitchen – more specifically, the refrigerator. Your first step on a journey to a decluttered home starts with the fridge. Once shelf at a time, pull everything out and toss all of the expired, rotten and forgotten foods for good. Then wipe down the shelf and put back ONLY the items that you know will be eaten. By starting with the fridge, we are warming up our decluttering muscles without having to make difficult decisions about stuff we actually care about. The fridge is now clean and you are on your way!

Tip #2 – Make a Plan

This goes back to my first point about getting started. Without a plan, this process can feel crazy overwhelming. So, we will make a plan. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and take a 10-minute walk through your house. As you go through, write down all of the spaces that have become piled with clutter. For example – as you walk through the bedroom you might write: bedside table, closet, jewelry box etc. If there is a space that is particularly bothersome to you, put a star beside it. Once you are finished, make a list of places to declutter – STARRED ITEMS FIRST. I call this the ‘decluttering the places that drive me crazy’ method.

Tip #3 – Use a Timer

This is the most simple, and most critical piece of advice. Decide AHEAD of time how much time you have to dedicate to decluttering today. Five minutes, fifteen minutes, even one hour, whatever time you have, that is what you set the timer for. To clarify – do not set the timer for how long you think it will take to finish the job, set the timer for how much time YOU HAVE. Start the timer and get started on the first item on your starred list. When the timer goes off, toss your garbage bag, put donation items in their box and you are DONE for the day. This is KEY to avoiding OVERWHELM and get past a perfectionist mindset.

Tip #4 – Don’t take out more than you have time to put away!

Sometimes decluttering can be a messy business. Have you ever attempted to clean out a packed closet, pulled everything out and then had to abandon it mid-job? Often when this happens, we lose motivation to go back and finish what we started and the closet contents lay spread on the floor for days or even weeks until someone shoves it all haphazardly back into the closet and we are back at the beginning, having made no progress at all. So from here on, I want you to stick to this rule – only take out what you have time to deal with. One shelf at a time, one drawer at a time, one section of a closet. Tackle your spaces in small chunks. It will all still get done, I PROMISE.

Tip #5 – Find a final home for your things

My mom always says, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. As annoying as it was to hear that phrase over and over as I searched through my disgusting teen bedroom looking for lost items, it couldn’t be more true. One of the biggest mistakes we make when we decluttering is putting items in a less than ideal place ‘for now’. Soon enough, ‘for now’ becomes ‘forever’ and the item is still in the way and not serving its best purpose for you. As you declutter, take the time to decide exactly where you are going to keep certain items and assign them to their homes. Choose places that make sense for the item’s usage and ensure that other people in the home know their locations.

Tip #6 – Don’t declutter other people’s things

Very small children and deceased or incapacitated relatives aside, it is never appropriate to declutter another person’s stuff. In an ideal situation, everyone in the household is equally concerned about the clutter situation and everyone tackles their own stuff and areas until the whole house is an idyllic scene of order and minimalism (sigh.. a girl can dream). For argument’s sake (and the sake of reality tbh), there is usually not an equal effort put forward in the decluttering of a house, which can be incredibly frustrating when you are motivated to get going. There are two easy ways to tackle this issue. First – try to get the other person involved, still remembering that THEY decide what is important to them. Second – assign an area for them to use as they please. For example – my husband and I each have separate drawers where we keep paperwork that is important to us. When stuff comes in for him, I can put it in his drawer and vice versa. This topic has many variations and complications, I understand that, but the moral is, you wouldn’t want someone else throwing out your stuff, so don’t do it to them.

Tip #7 – Practice

Decluttering takes practice. Throwing your stuff away takes practice. At first, it usually isn’t fun and can be really slow. Keep going. Each time you disconnect with an item and let it go, you are flexing your decluttering muscles, and as with any exercise, it gets easier. Work through your whole list of ‘areas that drive you the most crazy’, using a timer, only taking out as much as you have time to put away and soon enough, you will be a decluttering pro!

This really is the never-ending story, and if you truly want to live a decluttered or even a minimalist lifestyle, you will have to be on constant watch for clutter piles and unnecessary items invading your home. However, using these simple tips and keeping your compass set to progress and not to perfection, it will all get done.

Take care and be well

Steph

How a Daily Housekeeping Routine Saved me from Myself – The Flylady System Baby Steps for Beginners

*** FREE copy of the 21 Baby Steps tracker here***

It was in one of those most disastrous seasons of my life, home with a toddler and a brand new baby, when I reached my breaking point. My current method of cleaning and organizing consisted of 1. Clean the house to an impeccable level, get all of my bills paid, organize everything a la Mari Kondo and then, 2. Burn out, neglect all areas of housework and slowly let the house fall into shambles again. It was totally unsustainable and my mental health was suffering from my perfectionist-driven all-or-nothing approach.

Then, I found the Flylady system. I saw what other people were able to accomplish in short amounts of time and how their houses were seemingly ‘self-cleaning’ and I wanted all in. In actuality, my mother recognized my complete lack of routine and introduced me to the Flylady system she was familiar with from the 90’s and its predecessor ‘The Sidetracked Home Executives’ before that. We watched a few youtube videos together from How Jen Does It, A Better Life with Flylady Kat and ultimately landed on Diane in Denmark. After originally attempting to implement the entire sytstem in one day and failing multiple times, I finally attempted the Flylady baby steps. Here is was – the entire system laid out in daily, bite-sized chunks – each adding a little bit more onto the last.

My multiple failures showed me that this was not a mountain to be conquered overnight, after all – as the Flylady Marla Cilley herself says, “Your house did not get messy in a day, its not going to get clean in a day either”. I have been through the Baby Steps as prescribed and after a year of practice, I pared them down to what I felt were the 21 ‘essential’ baby steps.

Here is my version of the Flylady Baby Steps. Download the FREE 21 Days to a Clean Home Printable here and follow along with me!

  1. Shine your sink
  2. Dress to shoes
  3. 2-minute hot spot
  4. Build a Control Journal
  5. Start a dishes routine
  6. Declutter every day
  7. Set out clothes for tomorrow
  8. Make the bed
  9. Digital declutter
  10. Complete the daily flylady mission
  11. Check your calendar for the next day
  12. Do one load of laundry every day
  13. Get to bed at a decent hour
  14. Swish the bathroom
  15. Set items out for tomorrow at your launch pad
  16. Plan for dinner
  17. Add an anti-procrastination day
  18. Car & Purse clean out
  19. Add a day to plan and pay bills
  20. Take time for self care
  21. Implement a weekly home blessing hour
FREE 21 Days to a Clean Home Printable here!

As you go through these steps, focus on what works for you, and what doesn’t. Not everything will make sense for everyone and most things will need some adjustment to fit your life just perfectly. As your life changes, so will your routines, but, having the basics down and being used to getting up and starting the day with the same few habits will make a huge impact in your productivity and mood.

This journey is all about progress, I encourage you to go through the baby steps once and continue on your way. Attempting to do the 21 days perfectly over and over again is an act of needless futility. Learn the steps, figure out what works for you and get going each day with the goal of doing what you can with the time and energy you have. Even two years in, I rarely have a ‘perfect day’ – but I keep going and little by little the house gets clean, and stays clean.

If I can overcome my slobby ways, I know anyone can. You just have to start at day 1.

As always, I would love to hear about your progress with the baby steps, and how you are tweaking them to work for you!

Talk soon, be well.

Steph