“I sound like a housewife. I think I’m a housewife.”
Michelle Shocked, Anchorage
by Kelly Salasin
This is the moment that I’m coming out of the closet and admitting that: I, Kelly Salasin, once a wild thing, a world traveler, a self-proclaimed feminist at 12, a careerist even younger and a lifelong liberalist, admit that I have become a: housewife.
It’s worse than that. Not only am I a housewife, but I’ve also resorted to seeking out my own personal, online coach to help me master: housekeeping. Her name is: Flylady. It’s a strange name, but she was free and I was desperate and the two became one.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I log onto FlyLady.net every morning to get my daily cleaning instructions; and I’m not alone–hundreds of thousands of people around the world join me–and it’s time you did!
As a born again housewife, I feel it my duty to help you see the light of a manageable home. Don’t feel ashamed to reach out. Even though I graduated college with honors, ran a restaurant at 19 and supervised countless programs, I could not muster what it took to manage a household on my own.
To be fair, I never planned to be a “housewife,” to build a life around a family like my mother did. My aim was to always have more important work to do. Yet, once I moved out of the home my mother kept, I had to learn to take care of my own–or hire someone else to do it–which I never wanted to afford.
It was a challenge, but I was never around much, so things stayed relatively simple. That was until I took a room mate (aka lover)– a man who loved to fill horizontal surfaces like a dog pees on every tree. Each and every counter top, bureau, table was covered in tiny notes he wrote to himself, receipts, pocket change, tools–you name it.
Still, he was a good guy who pitched in with all the really lowdown work (dishes and laundry and toilets and such) so I had it pretty nice until two became three.
With the addition of a third room mate–a baby–things grew exponentially complicated. I quickly discovered how unprepared my college degree left me for the role my mother led. Overnight, I had become a housewife without training. It was never my plan to sign up for that job– I stayed home for the baby, not the house!
Fast-forward a handful of years, and the baby replicates himself. Now he has a brother. I’m still at home “for the kids,” but little by little, I resign myself to the job of housekeeper. I still have the same supportive new-age guy in my life, but even that doesn’t cut it with four of us living under one roof.
For years I complain about this housework beast, knowing that some day the kids would move out and things would be orderly again. Don’t they say that childhood passes in the blink of an eye? Why then were my eyes constantly open to the growing chaos that surrounded me– for another 20 years?
Eventually, I grew tired of my own whining and incompetence, and decided I needed a plan. I had to finally take this role of housewife more seriously, just like I did with all those other roles that were “more important.”
My approach was an educated one. Covertly, I began reading any book on the subject of home management. I invested in new cleaning supplies with clever plastic caddies to hold them. I devised flow charts and schedules of weekly chores, meals, and household projects.
Still, something was missing. I felt alone in my new career without colleagues. The mothers I knew didn’t seemed to care about the chaos, and the ones in the books– seemed to care so much that they spent every ounce of their energy and creativity on subduing it.
This is how I found the “FLY LADY” and my fellow “fly babies.” I still feel funny every time I mention them, but other housewives and husbands are pretty interested so I guess this is “important stuff” after all.
All I can say is, it works. And it works for lots of people, and some of them must be as cool as me–they can’t all exist to keep their homes clean. We each have one thing in common however, and that is: “routines” (FlyLady’s touchstone).
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with routine, but it’s the automaticity of them that has made taking care of my house more “doable”. I no longer have to look around and wonder, “Where do I start?” only to decide, “Why bother!”
If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to check out the lady in the purple tutu yourself. Keep in mind that she doesn’t allow whining and insists on you taking “baby steps”. She’ll send you your own personal FLYmail if you like (and don’t worry, it’s all free). I’ve got three sisters on board (that’s how I first heard about her), and my stepfather, and now my boss at my part-time job (I confided in her about it one evening when she was stressed out about the clutter in her office).
Soon, you too will be using FlyLady lingo, asking, “Do you know what Zone we’re in this week?” and “Don’t you love those 5 Minute Room Rescues!” and “Hey kids, it’s time for a 27 Fling Boogie; let’s put out those Hot Spots while we’re at it!”
As for me, it’s Thursday, and I’m off to begin my weekly “Home Blessing.” It sounds so important said that way; making me proud to be the one doing the job.
(PS. Why is the housewife coach called FLYLADY? Head to her site and see!)