A Victory for Imperfection!

I mentioned a while back that I’m trying (again) to follow the FLYLady Baby Steps to help me develop routines. I know you’re all wondering how that’s going. In fact, I doubt you can think of much else.

Well, it’s going fairly well.

I’m on Day 13. I took a couple of days off during our trip to Maine, and I took two days to do a couple of the days, so it’s been longer than 13 days since I started. But it’s worked out that now my FLYBaby days match the calendar so it looks like I started September 1st, which pleases me.

For those unfamiliar with FLYLady, I’ll give you a quick run-down of what I’m doing each day:

Morning Routine:

  • Get up and dressed to lace-up shoes, doing even my face and hair (which, for me, means washing my face and putting my hair in a ponytail or a braid).
  • Look at the posted reminders in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Read online messages from FLYLady and her minions.
  • Recognize negative voices and turn them around/refute them.
  • Put out hot spots (places that attract clutter, like the kitchen table) for 2 minutes.
  • 5-minute room rescue.
  • 15 minutes of de-cluttering.

Bedtime Routine:

  • Keep the sink shining.
  • Lay out my clothes for tomorrow.
  • Put out hot spots for 2 minutes.

In addition to these things, I also do about fifteen minutes of yoga each morning. My son helps me with my morning routine. He brushes his teeth at the same time I do, does yoga with me, and gets my indoor shoes for me after I get dressed.

Although I was resistant to them, the indoor shoes are actually pretty awesome. It’s much less painful to step on Legos and die-cast metal cars in my cute sneakers than it was barefoot. As a result, I swear a lot less than I did before I started wearing the shoes.

Yes, this will take just five minutes to clean up! (And yes, there is pee in that potty.)

Today I de-cluttered the toy room for my 15 minutes of de-cluttering. I finally implemented the “toy rotation” plan that I’ve been promising myself since my daughter was a toddler. I gathered up about one quarter of the toys, particularly those that are too basic for my daughter and too advanced for my son, and put them downstairs on the shelves in the basement.

Even before I de-cluttered the toy room, the 5-minute room rescue had already shown me that it takes just 5 minutes to clean up that room.

That’s the best part about using the timer: it shows me just how much I can get done in a very short amount of time. I’ll be done with dinner dishes and just wanting to sit down with my book, but the living room is a mess, and I really don’t feel like cleaning it up. The excuses run through my mind: it’s too late, it will take too long, I want to get to bed at a decent hour (even though I never actually do), it will just get messed up again anyway.

But then I take out my timer and promise myself I’ll spend just 5 minutes straightening up. And when I’m done, it’s neater and I can relax with my book instead of getting caught up in the housework domino effect and end up scrubbing the oven at 2 am.

Both kids still eye me with suspicion when I get out the timer. It’s never been part of any of my disciplinary techniques, so I’m not sure why they’re so on-edge when I get it out.

I don’t mean to give the impression that it’s been smooth sailing. There have only been a handful of days when I did all of my tasks. But in the interest of imperfection, I’ve kept going.

It’s kind of like what my daughter’s working on with her flute playing right now. She gets so hung up on doing it perfectly that she doesn’t even want to practice because it doesn’t sound like she wants it to when she does, and she gets frustrated and disappointed. Her teacher and I have been encouraging her to do exercises that she’s basically guaranteed not to be able to do “perfectly.” The idea is that she just keep playing and jump back in when she can. She’s doing better with this as it relates to her flute playing, and I’m doing better with it as it relates to routines and housecleaning. We’re both happier and making progress with our respective goals.

My only complaint with FLYLady right now is the overuse of exclamation points on her website. I know they want to pump us up, but that many exclamation points just makes me think they’ve had too much coffee or are on some other elation-inducing substance. As good as it feels to have routines and a less cluttered home, I’m not sure it warrants that much excitement.

7 Replies to “A Victory for Imperfection!”

    1. I’m not opposed to all exclamation points, Renee. Just their overuse. Kind of like martinis. One is great, but somewhere between one and seven, “good” turns to drooling on oneself.


  1. Oh, I hear you about the exclamation points… It almost turned me completely away. I actually tend to overuse exclamation points at times, and on her site, my goodness, she put me to shame. Really, I can’t get that excited about tidying up.

    I’ve been looking at FlyLady, taking her plan apart and putting it back together, trying to find a way to make it work for us. I’m keeping notes. It’s very scientific.

    I am so envious of your toy room. It seems like everyone has toy rooms now… My living room and the upstairs hall are the toy rooms here (our house is little, only has two bedrooms). But you have some awesome looking toys in there too!


    1. This is the first time we’ve had a toy room, and I’m very excited. I even splurged and bought an Eric Carle-themed rug (well, the theme is his illustrations. I don’t know enough about Eric Carle to know what a rug themed on the man himself would look like) for in there. It’s the same one as in the Marlborough Library’s Children’s Department. I love that rug. It really ties the room together.


      1. OK, the last sentence made me spew tea!! The Dude abides…

        Did you know there is an Eric Carle museum in western MA? I believe you can meet the man at certain times, and also artist Arnold Lobel (of Frog and Toad fame) has things there as well. I think those two offer classes to budding artists during certain tours.


      2. Glad you caught the reference. And, for the record, the rug has been micturated upon.

        We have been as far as the parking lot of the Eric Carle Museum, but one member of our party was having a meltdown and refused to leave the car. Better luck next time, I suppose. Cool to know you can meet Carle at times. He and Lobel are huge at our house. My daughter just the other day announced that she wanted to “take life easy today,” just like Toad.


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