15 Mins

I am tidy. I realize this more and more as I age. I have particular spots for things and I like things to be orderly. Oh, not perfectly. The hose is still in the middle of the yard from where I left it last night. There’s a pile of things on my hall table that need to go upstairs, and if we could not talk about the state of my pantry shelves, that would be grand.

I wasn’t always tidy. I tell parents this, as they despair of their children ever turning into functional adults. I tell them that I was so terrible at cleanliness, I was required to keep my bedroom door closed. Now I can’t stand the sight of an unmade bed. I tidy up before bed, I can’t leave dishes in the sink.

I was thinking of a friend’s daughter who got married last week, which brought to mind my own adventures in housekeeping for 2 that started 20 years ago this month. My mum didn’t really do housework. There were housekeepers and when those were not affordable, there was a bit of me (well, a lot actually) and it was so chaotic and unpleasant that it never seemed to be an integrated whole called “this is how you run a home.”

20 years ago I was in my first married appartment, a little depressed, a bit overwhelmed, and a lot unable to cope. Along came FlyLady. She came with simple things – get up, get dressed, make your bed. Spend 15 minutes in a room (set a timer) and declutter. Before you go to bed, tidy up. Keep your sink clean and shiny.

Look, it sounds stupid. I get that. But, it worked. It gave me a solid set of habits and structures. I’ve carried them with me to every place I’ve ever lived. Somehow my inner neatnik came out. 15 minutes at a time.

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