How Many Do We Need?

FlyLady Reusable Grocery BagsDear FlyLady,

I’ve always loved the idea of reusable grocery bags, but I’ve always been concerned about how many I’d need. I’ve always done a big shopping trip on Saturdays & will come home with anywhere from 10 to 15 of the plastic bags worth of groceries.

Will the FlyLady Grocery Bag Set really hold everything?

Also, especially on the insulated ones, are they easy to clean if something drips inside? I really am interested in buying these, but only if I know they’ll be used & not tossed in my give-away pile because they didn’t quite work for me!

Thanks!!

FlyBaby T

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Dear FlyBaby,

Yes, they do wipe up with ease. I know how you feel about chicken juice. I would probably still have them put my meat in a bag just because of my dislike of chicken leaks. eeewww.

Our set of Grocery Bags come with two black insulated bags and three purple bags about the size of a large paper sack.

There is a good way to see if they will work for you. Get 5 paper grocery bags and see if you can fit all your weeks worth of groceries in them. If you can’t then you may need to get two sets.

I would mark one of the insulated ones with a green ribbon and use it for produce. I don’t like to mix fresh vegetables and meat.

We know that these are not going to become clutter in your home. Because as soon as you put away your groceries you will put them back in your car for your next grocery shopping day! You may have to put a Post-It Note on your dashboard to remind you to take them in the grocery store. They will all fold up into one bag.

What I like about the the FlyLady Grocery Bags is that they don’t play the slip and slide in the trunk of my car with my groceries having to be repacked before I take them in the house.

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Rainy Days Don’t Get me Down

Dear Friends,

Rainy days used to get me down; not any more. When we have a rainy day in western North Carolina; complete with thunder and lightning. I turn on all my lights and my classical music to fill our spirit. My poor blue tick hound dog gets scared but as long as I am right by his side he can tolerate it.

What is it about just knowing someone is right beside you that is comforting. My dog occasionally will poke her nose under my hand and ask for a pat on the head to reassure him. We are like this. There is comfort in knowing there are people all over the world are doing the same thing you are; that others need help too. We are not alone is our rally cry.

There are a million of us who need that pat on the head. We have learned that when we take care of ourselves that our houses almost clean themselves. We started this all because we wanted a nice home to bless us. The pats on the back we received were from us. Then what happened. The family started to notice the changes going on in you and in their home.

We quit being a martyr and we let go of much of our perfectionism. Slowly the changes we made in ourselves began to reflect just like our kitchen sinks. Do you remember the joy you felt that first morning you walked into your kitchen and found your sink smiling back at you? This is what you do with your family. The stress of a messy cluttered chaotic home is slowly leaving and you are smiling more at your children. They are not walking on eggshells any longer. Your nerves are not stretched to the point of a breaking over a simple glass of spilled milk. You have realized that it doesn’t take that long to clean up. With a smile on your face and a chuckle in your heart at how you used to be; you hand your child a towel and you both work together to clean it up. No fuss, no muss, just love and laughter.

These new behaviors didn’t happen over night. They were gradual and because you took the time to establish your routines; you did not crash and burn. Over the years we have tried many systems only to beat ourselves up because we could not stick to them. The problem with a new system, is not with the system, it is with us. We try to do too much too fast and our little wing are not ready to hold us up. We have to take babysteps to change our thinking as well as constructive actions daily to reinforce our new simple habits. These babysteps will change your life if you will not allow your perfectionism to ruin it for you.FlyLady

Have you ever looked at my cartoon character? When the cartoonist was drawing her for the website; he asked me what I did for my ladies. I told him I was their biggest cheerleader. Sometimes I am a drill sergeant keeping time and bossing them around. Then there are other times that I have to scold you for not taking care of yourself; so you see that mommy finger shaking. I told him that when things start coming together in their home; they look at me as a fairy godmother; so he put wings on her. She has on her pearls and earrings, her shoes are laced up and she has a big smile on her face.

Just this weekend someone asked me if my cartoon was going to change
if I lost all the weight. I told her no, she would not change. All of us identify with her smiling face regardless of her size. There is a large percentage of our members who are dealing with weight issues and other health problems that go along with being overweight. When a new members comes to our door; I want her to realize that she is accepted just the way she is. Our little cartoon does that. She is cheering us on as we put stars on our calendar for moving and she tells us she is so proud of us.

We have not heard that often in our lifetimes. This is why I want you to FLY for you! Not for anyone else; just you. The others will be blessed later. You have sacrificed your whole life for everyone around you. You have given, when you had nothing to give and eventually you were left feeling empty. I am here to fill you up with your love and the encouragement that you can do this. You are not alone. We are in this together.

I am so proud of each of you for making real changes in your life. Even the smallest of changes are going to reflect to others and that shiny sink is going to be contagious to the rest of your home and your family! Now go shine your sink and remember that babysteps are the key to not crashing and burning. I want you to FLY!

2015 is Your Year to Shine; 15 Minutes at a Time,

FlyLady

 

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Thanks For The Principles

Swish and SwipeDear FlyLady,

At the expense of being told I’m a perfectionist & to get my FlyBaby act together, I’d like to share something that has been a huge help to me.

I’ve read the email where someone moved to a much larger house & you told her to just do the middles in 10mins. I have to confess that for me, if I hadn’t already had my Ah-ha moment regarding my vacuuming, I would have been turned completely off FlyLady.

It may be fine for those of you who have a good lot of mop-able area, but for those of us with super large homes, where the only area not carpeted is one tiny ensuite, & the kitchen, you’ve gotta be kidding! Add to that an upstairs/downstairs situation, & a vacuum cleaner my DH blessed me with, that works really well when used SLOWLY.

I’d like to share this in case it may help someone else.

SO, before you ditch my email, or send me one telling me to chuck the P word, here is what I discovered – thanks to you:

If I vacuum just the area my vacuum cord reaches**, I can blitz it in next to no time, (not TOO slowly as I know I’ll be back there next week, & just the middles, of course,) empty the dust canister & run down to shake out the filter (some loving movement – so easy, as I’ve dressed to lace-up shoes,) & leave the vacuum, all ready for action, handy to the area of my next Vacuum Zone, the next day, (either in a corner upstairs, or it’s home, if downstairs. Overnight, tucked in corner, is not a big deal if the place is clean & most wouldn’t see it upstairs anyhow.)

I’ve allotted myself 4 zones (unrelated to yours), two up, & two downstairs, & I can flick round it after my swish and swipe first thing.

It is the first time I’ve had my bedroom regularly vacuumed since moving into this home, not to mention the rest of the house! I’m buzzing from the difference it has made!

I do a particular Zone on a particular day of the week, Monday through Thursday, & don’t even need to think of vacuuming on Saturday or Sunday (unless the Dining needs an extra zap) as I know it’ll be done again within a few days.

If I know I’ll be unable to do one of my vacuum days, I’ll either tack that zone to the day preceding or following, & it’s still no big deal, or I can just nudge the rest one day over & still have the weekend clear.

So, thanks for giving me the principles that enabled this to happen. After 6 weeks of Zone vacuuming, I wouldn’t want to go back to the chore of thoroughly vacuuming my entire house, just the thought makes me weary.

I love vacuuming now – my way (the FlyLady Principle way, if not to the letter of her law)

Thanks so much!
This two-month old Kiwi Flybaby

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FlyLady here: I’m so glad you’re making our system work for you. There is no “right” way to clean your house. Anyway you clean, you’re blessing your home and your family.

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Mom! Smooth Out The Roller Coaster

Dear Pam,

The House Fairy has been making inspections in our home for over a year now! I don’t know if our family is representative of a typical SHE household??? I’m the SHE and my DH is a BO so our home has been organized about like a roller coaster ride. The high times being when company is coming and we do all the list kind of extra things we wouldn’t ordinarily notice if it were just us. Then we have the occasional slide down because of too much to do in too little time and finally we coast along rather smoothly.  What I’ve come to realize because of you and FlyLady is the roller coaster has kind of ironed out into this nice even ride (although it still is zooming by).

My DH really loves the House Fairy! He is the one who insisted we buy it and he took the time to print everything for down the road inspections and those 3×5 cards for the kids have been like magic! The House Fairy comes now about once a month and the kids have such good habits I rarely have to remind them to do anything in their rooms.  Thank you!

Esther S.

Pam here: Because the House Fairy has been around now for several years I get letters from moms like Esther who have been using the House Fairy tools for quite a long period of time. The House Fairy Program took me more than a year to develop and it  contains more than 60 videos of the House Fairy teaching children basic tasks along with fabulous tools you print out like the 3×5 Cards for Kids, the Good Behavior Ticket Program, Letters from the House Fairy, a Chore Chart and much more that you print out. Oh, and there are House Fairy Songs for children (MP3) and I’ve heard from many moms saying their kids have learned them and sing them.

To learn more:  www.housefairy.org  It’s a great way to smooth out your roller coaster!

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Can I Use a Purple Rag for This?

Purple RagsDear FlyLady,

I’ve been considering 3 uses for purple rags, but I’ve never seen them mentioned, so I thought I should ask first. Can I use them to (1) wash my car exterior? (2) clean my computer screen? or (3) clean my tv screen?

Everything I’ve ordered is of exceptional quality, and I’m so pleased! My amazing water bottle has been a Godsend in this hot weather, and I CAN leave it in a hot, closed car for hours and still have cold water!

I’m anxiously awaiting the reappearance of the rubba sweepa…I just HAVE to have one!

Thank you for everything. My home looks better and I feel better.

a Maine Flybaby (yes, it does get hot in Maine)

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Dear Maine FlyBaby,

I am very proud of you for staying hydrated during this hot weather! It is also important to drink your water in the winter time too. We love our water bottle! I am so happy for you since your home is looking better and you are feeling better.

Here is what I know about our FlyLady Purple Rags. They have been used on the exterior of a car. It took Yellow streak from another car in a parking lot off of a black car. They had tried everything. It had been on that car for two years.

I have used our Purple Rag on bugs while we were traveling. It worked to get them off our windshield and off the head lights. Yes you can use it to wash your car too!

As for your television screen. My son recommends using the FlyLady Detailed Duster for that and to only use it for the TV. His concern was that if you use it on other furniture that you could get sand in it and scratch the LED screen. He told Michele to get one and keep it in her entertainment center so she would not use it any place else.

I do clean my computer screen with our purple rag. I use it dry.

Just yesterday I read where one FlyBaby uses her purple rags to remove her make up.

 

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Depression, Don’t Give up, I Didn’t

Dear Friends,FlyLady

This morning has been one God Breeze right after another. Everything that has happened today has connected to this essay about depression and how I found out the importance of taking care of me.

Depression is a sadness that I understand. I know this pain: The pain of feeling so overwhelmed that I didn’t known where to start and then I just sat in a chair for days: The pain of feeling so alone and no one loves you: The pain of being separated by miles from your family and close friends. The pain of having no money for food and never feeling like you can get ahead: The pain of not knowing how I was going to get a flat tire fixed with only 13 cents in the bank. I could go on with this for a very long time. I now know that many of the reasons that I have suffered with these problems is so I can help you. It is never easy to pull yourself out of the pit of despair. It can be done; this takes recognizing that is where you are and wanting to get out of the pit; then it takes specific steps to get help and to help yourself; and it involves taking care of you.

Many times we feel that the earth has just opened up and swallowed us with no way to find our way back to the surface and the sunshine of life. Here is one of the messages I opened this morning.

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Dear FlyLady,

This is really not a testimonial but I have been trying to fly now for over a year and the little bit I have done is wonderful but I have hit a brick wall and wanted to know if this is normal? Right after I started flying (which I heard about from the girl who cuts my hair) I became ill. They did all kind of tests and really couldn’t find anything. Now they are saying it is depression and stress. I am a Payroll SHE and not only am trying to keep my house in order but also my office. I am sending you this e-mail because I feel like I am a failure at flying. I know you are saying no one is a failure but I am beginning to think so. My sister-in-law and her mother ( and a few other people I know) started flying two months ago and their house is organized I hate going there because I feel guilty. I cannot even read your testimonials any more because they make me feel like a failure. The Holidays are coming and I’m not looking forward to them at all and it gets worse all the time. Right now my house looks like a tornado went through it and we are living in a pile of clutter.

I know you are always saying to take Baby Steps and I am trying but I feel like I am beyond help. AM I? I guess I am looking for some kind of reassurance.

Drowning In Pennsylvania!

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Dear Drowning in Pennsylvania,

I am not a doctor or a psychologist; I am just one of you who has suffered with depression three times in my life and I am living proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel. My first depression came as a result of the death of a step-parent, a bad marriage, and feeling out of control and overwhelmed by every thing that needed to be done during the holidays.  The stress of it all just zaps the energy right out of you. It didn’t happen overnight. I felt myself slipping into this hole for about 6 or 7 months. I just didn’t know what was happening to me the first time I fell into this hole. It took a friend to notice and she got me the help I needed. I am so thankful that I was willing to listen and follow her lead when I was not able to do it on my own. It is my turn to help you by bringing this to your attention and helping you to babystep your way out of this hole. I don’t know why I have been picked to do this; I just know that it has to be done. So here goes. Follow me!!

The first time I was depressed(1990), I was put into a hospital for 10 days. It was a treatment facility for co-dependency and addiction. I didn’t think I had an addiction; boy was I wrong. I was stuffing my feelings with food and feeling more and more depressed by the lack of love in my life. Food was the cocoon that kept me insulated from the real problems. As long as I could stand in front of the refrigerator and stuff my face and cry; I didn’t really have to think about or deal with the fact that my marriage had fallen apart.

I felt like such a failure that I didn’t want to live. That scared me big time. I wanted to be happy and I had no clue how to accomplish this. In my all or nothing thinking; I felt that I could just flip a switch and everything would be better. There is no magic pill or switch that is going to immediately change the way you think. It is a process of recognizing your stinking thinking and replacing those negative thought patterns with constructive actions.

This is what I learned in treatment. I have told this story before and some of you will recognize it; so please stay with me. When I walked through the door of the treatment facility; I looked and felt awful. I had long stringy hair that was oily, I had on sweat pants and a sweat shirt that I hid behind and I had no energy. I roomed with two women that were thin and beautiful. Their assignment was to give me a make-over.

Yea right! Make me look pretty! That was something that was never going to happen. How could I be pretty when I felt so yucky inside? This is the most important lesson that I teach. Now I am crying my eyes out! I had to live this to help you! It was not easy to get into my head, but I didn’t have to understand it for it to have an effect on me.

They had me take a shower and wash my hair; then they had me dress in some of the clothes that I had brought with me. I don’t remember what it was; but I remember that they accessorized me with earrings, a scarf, and tucking my shirt in my pants. We made do with what we had. They let me borrow a few items from their suitcases too. The most amazing part was fixing my hair and face: A little blow drying and curling can work wonders. Then they put a little moisturizer and make-up on me. I have never worn much anyway so they kept it very simple. The result was astounding; to me and the rest of my treatment group.

I felt better about myself and they all said I carried myself differently. I was no longer slouching and frowning; I had my shoulders back and my head lifted high. I felt empowered. This was a very simple act that literally has changed my life and the lives of thousands. I am not saying at this time that I kept doing this every single day; but I had found the tool to help me get out of the slump when I felt myself falling back in the hole. It took me a while to get into the habit of dressing to shoes every day. I feel now that this is one thing that I do daily to insure my mental health.

Right now, if you are feeling yucky in any form or fashion; just puny, PMSing, draggy, pitiful, lonely, angry, tired or anything else: I want you to go hop in the shower and go get dressed to shoes; fix your hair and face too. Then you can come back and finish reading this essay.

As FlyBabies we forget: YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!! We forget to take care of ourselves. Even though we take care of everyone else, sometime we forget to do things for ourselves. So ask yourself these questions.

Have I had any water today? I am not talking about liquid either like 3 cups of coffee or soft drinks! If you have not, then go turn up about eight ounces right now: I just did!

Did you eat today: Breakfast, Lunch and a nutritious snack? Have you had any vegetables or fruits today?

Now here is the biggy! Have you gone for a brisk walk outside today? I am not talking about a grueling 7 mile hike; I am just asking for 7 minutes out and 7 minutes back home again. We need sunshine; there are some days in the winter that we just don’t think that the sun is ever going to shine again. Walking three times a week will help to keep depression away. Get out there anyway; even if you have not seen the sun for days! You will feel better if you will just move.  I know you are saying I am too tired to get up and move right now, but just do it for 2 minutes. You will feel energized! Even just a little is more than you were doing. You can do it!

When you get angry do you let it fester inside of you? Women tend to do this. Men on the other hand like to stomp and bluster which makes us uncomfortable because that is not the way we deal with anger. This took some getting used to for me when I married Robert. The only time I ever saw anyone get angry it was usually directed at me. Robert is a very calm collected man and never gets angry or frustrated; unless he is working on a car!!!! Once he had been installing our anniversary present on his little convertible car. He asked me what I wanted for our anniversary and I said a roll bar for your car! He ordered it and he started installing it, but not without a few tossed hammers and screw drivers. This is how he vents.

Imagine that! Expelling anger and frustration and not doing it toward another person. When I was in treatment; they wanted me to beat up a pillow. I still don’t get a release from doing that; I actually was uncomfortable with that action. It was not until my third bout with depression that I found my release valve! In the past, I would go to the refrigerator and eat or because the house was a symptom of some of the problems; I would clean like a banshee; daring anyone to talk to me. I would push myself into exhaustion so I would not have to deal with it; whatever IT was. Oh and I would retreat to my bed and cry for hours and pout! None of this ever did me any good. Here is how I deal with anger now.

I WRITE! I write till it all spills out of me. One sentence at a time and I have released the anger and sometimes I even come up with a solution. I don’t even have to have a solution to see the problem clearly. I just start writing and somehow it all falls into place. I never know where I am going; I guess it is like throwing that hammer or beating that pillow; it has no rhyme or reason it just feels good to do it. Then I get into a tub of warm water to hug myself!

Another thing I learned in treatment was to slow down my mind and meditate. This was a way to relieve stress. They put on some calming sounds and darkened the room. Do you remember kindergarten when we had to take a nap! Imagine a room full of 40 adults on mats with their eyes closed, listening to sounds of ocean waves. We took ourselves on a trip to the beach or to a park. We could walk away from our troubles just by closing our eyes and going someplace else in our minds. You can do this too.

Try it now; just sitting in your chair. Close your eyes and think of a stream with water trickling over the rocks and down a small waterfall. What else do you see??? Then feel your body relax as the water takes your troubles downstream. OK, Do this now! This is another tool that I use quite often to help me relax and relieve stress. Just concentrate on slowing your breathing down and taking deep breaths. Feel your muscle tension leave with each breath exhaled.

So you have read this and you don’t have this problem it is just the bunch of inconsiderate slobs you live with! The house is a mess and you have 20 people coming on this weekend and you have no idea where to begin to get the house ready for a party. You are sitting here paralyzed because of your perfectionism. You want it all clean at once! Well sister it ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime! You have to deal with your anger toward your family and the martyrdom you are feeling and get up on your feet and go shine your sink. You have to do it for you or you will be headed down that dark lonely path into despair.

After all we each deserve to live in a home that hugs us. If you are feeling bad because yours makes you want to run and hide; then it is time to get up and do something about it instead of blaming others and whining. It all starts with you! You can’t change anyone else, all you can do is change the way you react to them.

Depression comes at you from all sides; you can’t give in to it. Recognizing it is the first babystep out of the pit! We have the tools if you will just pick them up and use them. You are not alone. We are all one big cyber-family! Now take your first babystep!

I love you all, this is the hardest thing I have ever written. I want for you what I have; Peace. This peace came from establishing simple routines to maintain my mental health.

Are you ready to join me?

FlyLady

Please see your doctor too. I did need medication for a while. Don’t allow your perfectionism to stand in the way of getting well.

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School Bureaucracy

I’m sure that all of you have been angry or frustrated at one time or another with the public schools – the rules can be so inflexible and trivial!  But here’s the thing – most of what is frustrating and ridiculous in public schools is directly related to the fact that public education is a bureaucracy.

Bureaucracies don’t like to pay attention to individual needs, and they almost never make changes in response to individual people – and this is true whether you’re inside or outside the system.  It’s like hurling yourself at a pillow – the system absorbs the blow and stays the same.  That’s because no one is actually in charge of anything – there’s a handbook or a policy manual or a state regulation that is responsible for decisions, not a human being.  For those who work in the system and follow the rules, there is no behavior or decision that will change their job duties or their salary.  People who work in bureaucracies aren’t bad people, and they’re often as frustrated as you are, but the rules of the game reward compliance (doing what you’re told) and punish innovation (coming up with a better way).

Think about what happens in a system that rewards compliance and punishes innovation.  All the incentives are to stick with the program, follow the status quo, and keep your bright ideas to yourself.  That’s how a teacher and a principal get good evaluations and a comfortable work environment.  Innovative ideas make trouble, make others look bad, and upset the apple cart.  That’s how school employees can get bad evaluations and an uncomfortable work environment.

Think about what happens in a system in which salary is not based on behavior, achievement, hard work, or great ideas.  There is no external reason to work hard and do excellent work, and great ideas will often get you in trouble.  School salaries are based on the number of years of experience, and the only way to raise one’s salary is to get a master’s degree or become an administrator.  In the school bureaucracy, administrators are not educational leaders; they are compliance officers – a role that does not attract innovative, creative people.

So in schools, as in all other bureaucracies, everyone’s motivation and drive for excellence has to come from within themselves.  Everyone has to get personal satisfaction from doing meaningful work, and that has to be enough for them to keep going.  And there is part of the problem – much of what teachers and principals are asked to do is not “meaningful work” – bus duty, hall duty, lunch duty, collecting money from the fundraiser, chaperoning the dance, driving the bus, filling out endless self-evaluation forms, etc.  So they get burned out and they stop caring – and just as there is no external reward for excellence, there is no external consequence for mediocrity.

In our culture, those who make a lot of money get the most respect – even if what they do is greedy and self-serving.  Money is how our culture keeps score, and those who work in education (and other human service fields) aren’t even in the game.  It is certainly possible to have a long, excellent career in education, but it takes self-motivation and the ability to be rewarded in ways other than money and respect.  How hard would your banker work for a thank you note and a loaf of banana bread?
Navigating public school for our own children requires an understanding of the underlying “rules of the game” of the bureaucracy.  Those who fight furiously may win a battle or two, but they lose the war – or win a Pyrrhic victory (a victory that costs so much to win that it ends up destroying the victor).  I’m not saying that is right or good – I’m just saying that’s what happens.  Families get tired, and bureaucracies do not!  So what can parents do that will be successful and effective?

First, parents need to understand that principals and teachers do not have control over the rules, procedures, and goals that govern their school.  They have to follow state education laws and regulations, federal education law and regulations, local school board policies, directives from the district superintendent and other central office staff, and sometimes union contracts too.  The only thing that building level administrators and teachers control is the small stuff – and they do it with a vengeance!  Many an inflexible, narrow little tyrant has been born in an assistant principal’s office – when you don’t control much, you want to control it completely.

Because the rules and regulations that affect our children at school are not under the principal’s or teacher’s control, it’s very important that parents have at least an overview of the laws that govern public education.  There’s no use having a huge fight over something that the school cannot change!

Be aware that the umbrella federal education law is still No Child Left Behind, although it is in the process of reauthorization.  The law includes absolutely everything in Titles I through X:  programs for disadvantaged children, instruction for students with limited English proficiency, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, regulations about guns in schools, charter schools, programs for gifted and talented students, arts in education, Indian education, the Unsafe School Option, educational rights of homeless children…  It’s all online on the U.S. Department of Education site (ed.gov), but there is so much that it’s best just to google the specific topic that interests you.  State and local laws and regulations can be found on the websites of your state department of education and your local school system.  It’s particularly important to be up-to-date on the regulations and policies in your local schools.

One of the best ways to think about making an impact on the educational bureaucracy is Tactics vs. Strategy.  Tactics are the actions we take to meet immediate objectives, and strategy is the overall plan to meet our goals.  When parents use the tactics of anger and confrontation in reaction to something that has happened with their child in school, those tactics often backfire.  Schools just circle the wagons, quote the policy, and get defensive – and defensive people are not in a cooperative frame of mind.

So the name of the game – the strategy – is to focus on being effective!  I can’t emphasize this enough – there is often a difference between being right and being effective.  In dealing with the school bureaucracy, you have to do what works.  And never lose sight of the fact that schools and parents have a common goal: educating children to become successful adults.  So what can parents do?

Let’s start with the basic assumptions you have to operate from:
1. Nobody is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  We can learn from mistakes.
2. Parents want the best for their children.
3. School personnel want the best for the children in their schools.

There may be this teacher or that principal who don’t want the best for kids.  I’ve met some pretty poor parents too.  But blaming, criticizing, and getting angry are not effective ways to change behavior.  Assuming that all the adults want the best for a child is the best way to get it – people tend to meet expectations, positive or negative, and people are embarrassed to let others down or look bad.  And remember, changing behavior is the best way to change attitudes.

So our action plan starts with two preliminary steps:
1. Assume that the school staff wants the best for your child.  They may have a        different definition of “best” than you do, but make the assumption anyway.
2. Stay away from the tactics of anger and confrontation.  These tactics make    schools defensive and unreceptive to your point of view.

The next four action steps are these:
1. Do your homework: look up the policies and procedures, learn the rules, find out the facts.  You cannot effectively express a concern or make a request if you don’t have the background knowledge.  School websites and student handbooks are excellent sources of information.
2. Write down your concerns and your requests, so you can effectively express them in a potentially stressful situation.  Keep it positive – say what you want to have happen rather than venting about your concerns.  Bring your list to any meetings.
3. Find another person to work with you.  It might be your spouse, your neighbor, a retired teacher, your child’s tutor, or a student support person from school.  The idea here is to have someone to help you listen, express your views effectively, and stay calm.  Parents especially need someone to come with them to meetings.
4. Vent anger before talking to school people or coming to school.  We all get angry when we’re upset about our children, but presenting yourself in a calm, organized, decisive way is the best way to help your child.

This is just a brief overview of what we’re facing when we start to talk about school reform – either on a system level, or on a personal level for our own children.  Changing public education will require changing the whole culture of school – what is rewarded, what is punished, what is tolerated, and what is not.  It will require breaking up the bureaucracy.  Simply making laws that punish schools and teachers for poor test scores (as with No Child Left Behind) will not work.  We don’t need more laws and mandates.  Creative leadership, flexibility, and great ideas have to be rewarded!

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My House is a Home Now

Finally Love YourselfDear FlyLady,

Thank you so much for all that you do. I just wanted to share my story of how you helped in changing my life.

As a child, I grew up in a very clean and orderly house, but at the age of 10 I became a victim of abuse and that was the beginning of the messy clutter of my life. At first, having a messy room was used as a way to feel like I was protecting myself. Later it became a wall to prevent myself from getting hurt even though the abuser in my life was gone.

After getting married to my high school sweetheart, I thought that the wall would come down, and in some ways it had, but after having this wall for 13 years I was afraid of taking it down completely.

20 years since the abuse, I now have a beautiful house, two even more beautiful children, and yes, the same sweet husband who has helped me to see the light and break down that wall. Now that I was ready to clean up my act and let go of my past by letting go of my junk, I turned to the internet to find the tools to help me. That’s when I found you!

Start by getting my sink shiny? I can do that. Get dressed every day down to the shoes? No problem. Smile? Hey, that really is contagious!

I’ve been following your methods for almost 2 years now, and my house is nearly finished being decluttered and organized. I’ve only the master bedroom to finish, and in my mind I have come full circle. My house is a home now, it is a safe place in my heart and mind, it is a place everyone wants to be in and it’s all because of the tools and encouragement you have given me.

Finally Loving Myself in Texas

 

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Young@Heart: 5 Things You Don’t Have To Do Today

I’ve never been a fan of making a To Do list every day, probably because most of my work is a habit and I’ve never been too busy to do the next thing that needs to be done on a daily basis. 3×5 cards really helped me when I was a busy, young mom and homemaker, because they gave me direction without having to make a daily list.

I’ve had women admit to me that they put things they’ve done on a list, so they can cross them off. That strikes me funny! I’ve never needed to feel that productive.

If you have to make a To Do list, maybe your life’s too busy. Think of ways to simplify it so you can appreciate more moments in this thing called life that’s whizzing by you without your notice. Just like we don’t know how fast our little planet is spinning and flying through the cosmos, we miss the speed in which our lives are hurtling through time. It’s only when we see photographs of the past that we notice the changes.

So, if you’re inclined to make lists and add auxiliary tasks you did that weren’t on the list in the first place so you can cross them off and feel more productive, here are 5 things you don’t have to do today. Now if you want to write them down so you can cross them off, you’re going to have to write the word “don’t” in front of each one. Oh, and while you’re at it, add to that list, Have a wonderful day!

Today, you don’t have to:

1.    Rob a Bank
2.   Jump off a Bridge
3.   Join the Circus
4.   Lock Your Kids in a Box Car
5.   Run Off with the UPS Guy

If you do make this list, just a word of caution; don’t leave it lying around. Your family might think you’re certifiable and we need you to be the wonderful, peace keeper in your home that you are.

I’d love you to share with me one thing you’re not going to do today. Be sure it’s something that makes you feel glad you’re not going to do it. Just write to pam@pamyoung.org and I’ll make a big list and share it with you later.

Thank you for reading my Young@Heart! I hope you’ll share it with someone who otherwise just might be tempted to run off and join the circus.

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I Finally Get It

Dear FlyLady,

I have been off and on with you for several years.   I lost my DH of 46 years after a long illness, then less than 6 months later my oldest DD lost her husband to cancer.  Less than a year later my youngest DD had a messy divorce.  It has not been a good last few years. I fluttered up and down with my routines but never really took off flying.

In Feb 2014 we made an unexpected (and unprepared for) move across several states. Without time to prepare to move as per your instructions, we just piled everything in the moving van and took off.  We have been in this rented house now since the end of Feb.

All this in preparation to say I am now a Flybaby officially.  Since we unloaded all our packing boxes in the garage here and at my oldest DD’s house I have been going thru one box at a time. Sometimes just one box a day.  I have been shocked at the amount of “stuff” we packed and hauled across country.  I remembered what you said about putting stuff up to have a yard sale later.  I found a swap group here and have been putting all the things we needed to Give Away up for the people who really want and need them.  You are right, it is very freeing to not have these things in my house any more.

I have many of your cleaning items and love all of them.  Some of them I haven’t found to unpack yet but I know they are there and that I will find them as I unpack.

Your 16oz water bottle is among the “missing”.  But my little 12oz bottle is doing just fine. I just have to fill it up more often. LOL

I have been doing my bedtime routine 90% of the time and am trying for 100%.  Just seeing my clean kitchen when I come in to make my  coffee is reward enough to make me smile.  Who would have known a clean sink could set the tone for your entire day.  My morning routine is getting easier every time I do it.  I have it posted in the kitchen and in my bedroom and it is getting to be a habit to just “do it”.

I retired from being a full time RN in June 2013 and am taking care of my 2 dearly beloved grand babies while their mother works.  I just signed up for House Fairy to start them on good habits now while they are only 4 and 2.

I am sorry this is so long but I have a hard time stopping once I start telling you how much you have changed my life.  If I had not found you I probably would be drowning in CHAOS and not be happy as I am now

Again thank you, thank you, thank you for saving my life.

Still fluttering but beginning to actually fly,

FlyBaby Mary in OK

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