The fly lady cleaning schedule is a lifesaver for overwhelmed mamas. It’s a practical method that helps you create a cozy and nurturing home whilst looking after you. It uses daily routines, weekly plans, and monthly rhythms to guide you through homemaking tasks. This guide will help you create your own fly lady cleaning schedule.
I never imagined that becoming a mama would change my life so profoundly. It’s been a joyful and challenging journey that’s taken me from busy city life in Sydney running my own naturopathic practice, to the peaceful countryside of Victoria, where I settled with my husband and our newborn son in our little homestead.
This move came with some unexpected obstacles. Finding childcare in our new location was nearly impossible, as the pandemic had caused a surge of people moving to rural areas. I tried to juggle my work and motherhood, but it soon became clear that I couldn’t do both without sacrificing my well-being.
I made the bittersweet decision to wind down my business and focus on being a full-time mother and homemaker. This was a huge shift for me, as I had always been passionate about my work and enjoyed the independence and recognition it gave me. But I also wanted to give my son my best and it was clear that creating a nurturing home for him and supporting my husband in his growing psychology practice was the best use of my time and energy in this season of life.
I had a wonderful example of homemaking in my own mother, who had devoted herself to raising me and my sister. She had a knack for making our home cozy, comfortable, and inviting. She cooked delicious meals, kept everything tidy and calm, and always had time for us. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and create a similar atmosphere for my own family.
Finding Joy and Peace in Homemaking with the Fly Lady Cleaning Schedule
I wanted to experience joy in keeping a cozy home and living simply. And I wanted to make it a mindful practice somehow. Something I could move through with some grace. I needed a system, a structure that would help me manage my home without losing myself in it. I needed guidance from someone who understood what I was going through and could show me a better way.
That’s when I discovered Diane Hansen-Ingram, a Scottish ex-pat living in Denmark who creates YouTube videos on creating “a clean, cozy, decluttered, organized home and life with simple routines!” on her channel “Diane and Denmark.”
She introduced me to the fly lady system, a simple and effective method for creating order and harmony in your home. She spoke with encouragement and wisdom, sharing her own experience of overcoming chaos and finding joy in homemaking.
Diane’s approach resonated with me deeply. She wasn’t trying to sell me a perfect image or a trending style. She was showing me how to create a clean home that suited my family’s needs and values, using the fly lady system as a tool. The combination of developing consistent little habits, accepting that housework never ends (and that’s a good thing) and adopting an attitude of flexibility and kindness towards myself has helped me find my own rhythm and balance in homemaking, without striving for perfection or neglecting myself.
In this blog, I’d love to share with you how the fly lady system changed my life for the better. And if you feel this system could help you too, steps on how you can use it to create your own fly lady cleaning schedule that works for you and your family.
The Core Elements of the Fly Lady Cleaning Schedule
The fly lady system is not a rigid plan, but a set of rhythms that guide me through the day, week, and month. I use lists to keep track of everything I need to do, from household chores to personal goals. I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything because the lists are my second brain. There are three rotating cycles in the fly lady cleaning system:
1. Daily Routines
These are a set of daily tasks that are grouped together into morning, afternoon and evening routines. They combine tasks that look after both the running of your home and your own self-care.
2. Weekly Plan with the Daily Focus
The foundation of your weekly routines is created by giving each of the days of the week a specific theme. This encompasses not just weekly cleaning, but keeping on top of household admin, running errands, making time for neglected tasks, date nights, family fun adventures and time to rest and renew.
3. Monthly Rotation of Fly Lady Zones
This is where the deep cleaning comes in. Your home is divided into five different zones – a zone for each week of the month. Each week you bring your focus to a single zone, working on decluttering, cleaning or making more cozy in 15-minute increments.
Let’s take a closer look at each component in more detail.
Establishing Your Daily Routines
One of the key elements of the fly lady system is daily routines. These are the tasks that you do every day to keep your home tidy and yourself sane! My attitude towards the daily routines is I do certain tasks by certain times of the day, but I don’t stress about the clock. I just aim to finish my morning routine before lunch, my afternoon routine before dinner, and my evening routine before bedtime.
So how should you create your own fly lady cleaning schedule with daily routines? Well, there is no one right answer, as everyone’s situation is different. And if you’re like me, a mum with young kids at home, that’s going to be evolving and changing constantly. There are some general guidelines that you can follow to create your own daily routines that work for you and your family.
Identify the Main Tasks You Need To Do Every Day
The first step is to identify the main tasks that you need to do every day. These can vary depending on your lifestyle, preferences, and priorities, but some common ones are:
- Make the bed and do a quick tidy of the bedroom
- Get dressed (including shoes)
- Swish and swipe (the bathroom)
- Empty the dishwasher
- Load dirty dishes into the dishwasher/clean in the sink
- Start a load of laundry
- Check the calendar for any events, appointments or due dates
- Check your control journal (your to-do list)
- Plan dinner
- Drink water
- Do some exercise that feels good for your body
- Set out clothes for tomorrow
- Check your launch pad (the place where you keep everything you need for the next day)
- Fold and put away laundry
- Clear a hot spot (a cluttered area that attracts more clutter)
- Start the dishwasher
- Shine your kitchen sink (this is a classic fly lady cleaning schedule task to end the day that surprisingly is very motivating)
Group Them Into Three Main Rhythms
Next, group these tasks into three main routines: morning, afternoon, and evening. These are the times of the day when you focus on completing these tasks, without getting distracted by other things.
You can decide how to divide your tasks among these routines, depending on what works best for you. For example, some people prefer to do most of their cleaning in the morning, while others like to do it in the evening. Some people like to plan dinner in advance, while others like to decide on the spot. Some people like to set out their clothes for the next day at night, while others like to do it in the morning.
Write Them Down
It’s super helpful when beginning new routines to write them down and keep them somewhere visible. You can use a notebook, a planner, a calendar, or even sticky notes stuck on the fridge. I suggest just starting with two to three things at a time and building from there. The important thing is that you have a clear and easy-to-follow guide for your daily routines that you can iterate on.
Practice Your Routines Until They Become Habits
This may take some time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run. The more you do your routines, the more automatic they will become, and the less you will have to think about them. The structure of the routines pulls me through the harder days, and the automatic nature of them allows me to approach them with mindfulness.
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Organise Your Entire Week with a Daily Focus
What does this look like in practice? The Fly Lady has suggested some focuses for each day of the week, based on her own experience and wisdom. However, you don’t have to follow them exactly if they don’t work for you. You can adjust them according to your needs and preferences. The important thing is that you have a clear and simple plan for each day that works for you and your family.
The daily focus has you dedicate each day of the week to a specific task or theme to streamline your household and stay on top of all-the-things. By having a daily focus, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks and priorities. You can also create a sense of rhythm and balance in your week as you alternate between different types of activities.
Here are some examples of daily focuses that you can use or modify for your own fly lady cleaning schedule:
Monday: Weekly Home Blessing Hour
This is the day when you do a maintenance clean of your home, focusing on the high-traffic areas. It’s been one of the most game-changing aspects of the fly lady cleaning system for me and what has most profoundly helped me keep a clean house. I used to think that house cleaning day was a two to three-hour affair at the least! The Home Blessing Hour is short and sweet and you’ll be amazed at how much can be achieved in just an hour. This is not about deep cleaning (the zone cleaning is for that) or getting things perfect; just spend 10 minutes on each task and then move on. The suggested tasks are:
- Change the bed sheets
- Dust surfaces
- Polish the mirrors and windows
- Empty the garbage
I like to open up the windows, light some incense and gather some fresh blooms from the garden to make the day feel extra fresh. It is lovely to do this at the beginning of the week and sometimes if we have visitors staying for the weekend, I’ll do another one at the end of the week.
Tuesday: Plan and Play Day
Plan and play day is when you take care of your finances and plans. You can pay your bills, check in on your household budget, see if there are any birthdays coming up, reach out to friends to organise phone catch-ups or dates (or I use it to send friends voice messages on WhatsApp), meal plan, make your grocery list, file paperwork, arrange plans for the weekend or anything else coming up. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on these tasks; just 5 to 15 minutes on each task should be enough.
Wednesday: Anti-Procrastination Day
Anti-Procrastination day is when you tackle a nagging task that you have been putting off for a long time. It could be anything from making a phone call, booking an appointment, fixing something, or decluttering a drawer. Just pick one thing and get it done. You will feel so much better afterwards.
Thursday: Errands Day
Errands Day is for running your errands outside the home, such as grocery shopping, appointments, dropping books off a the library, going to the post office or making donations at the charity shop. You can also use this day to do some fun activities with your family or friends, such as going to the park, the library, or the cinema. This day might not work for everyone, depending on your schedule and availability, so feel free to change it to suit your needs.
Friday: Car and Bag Day + Date Night
Car and bag day is when you clean out your car and any bags that are regularly used such as your handbag, gym bag, kiddo’s school bag, workbag etc. Take out any items that are not needed, toss or file any receipts, and make sure everything is in order. It’s also the day to give your car (if you have one) some love. You can also check your car’s oil level, and tyre pressure, and top up with petrol. It’s also date night! If you have a significant other, think about a way to spend some intentional time together, whether that’s a night in or out.
Saturday: Family Fun Day
This is the day when you enjoy some quality time with your family. Do anything that brings you joy! For us in this season of life, this looks like a little adventure to a nearby town, going to the local markets for a chai and looking around, going to the park with a picnic lunch, gardening together or having extended family or friends over. You can also use this day to catch up on any tasks that you missed during the week or do some extra cleaning if you want to.
Sunday: Rest and Renew Your Spirit Day
This is the day when you rest and recharge your batteries for the next week. You can do anything that relaxes and nourishes you, such as reading a book, taking a nap, meditating, praying, or listening to music. For me, my husband Orlando takes care of parenting for the morning and I go for a bushwalk before heading to a yoga class with another mum friend and after we get coffee. Then we swap in the afternoon and he has his recharge time. I also love to make a cup of herbal tea on a Sunday evening once my little one is down and plan out my week in my diary.
Keeping Your Home Clean and Organised with Zone Cleaning
This is a part of the fly lady system that helps you tackle different areas of your home in a manageable and systematic way. By using zone cleaning, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done and instead focus on one zone at a time. It’s based on the idea of dividing your home into five zones, each corresponding to a week of the month.
Each zone covers a specific area or room of your home, such as the entryway, the kitchen, or the master bedroom. Each day, you spend 15 minutes doing some tasks in the zone of the week, such as dusting, decluttering, or polishing. After 15 minutes, you stop and move on with your day. The next day, you pick up where you left off and do another 15 minutes in the same zone.
The beauty of zone cleaning is that you don’t have to do everything at once. You can break down your tasks into smaller chunks and spread them out over the week. You can also customise your tasks according to your needs and preferences. If you don’t finish all the tasks in the zone by the end of the week, you don’t have to worry. You can simply continue them the next month when you return to that zone.
Here are some examples of zones and tasks that you can use or modify for your own fly lady cleaning schedule:
- Zone 1: Entryway, Front Porch and Dining Room (Week 1)
- Zone 2: Kitchen (Week 2)
- Zone 3: Main Bathroom + One Extra Room (Week 3)
- Zone 4: Master Bedroom, Ensuite and Closet (Week 4)
- Zone 5: Living Room/Family Room (Week 5)
Getting Going with Daily Missions
Another optional but fun part of the fly lady system is the daily mission. This is a 5-10 minute task that the fly lady posts every day on her website, and it’s designed to help you get something done in your home. It can be anything from wiping down the fridge to sorting out your socks to dusting a bookshelf. There are five in a week, and they’re based on the zone you’re in for the week. The missions are actually a great way to get into the habit of zone cleaning: they’re quick, and actionable and you get to see how much can get done in a focused amount of time.
The daily mission can be great for those weeks where you just want to be told what to do, without having to think too much. It can also serve as a quick win, a small but satisfying accomplishment that boosts your motivation and confidence. You can do the daily mission at any time of the day, whenever you have a spare moment or need a break from other tasks.
I used to follow the daily missions regularly when I first started the fly lady system, and I found them very helpful and enjoyable. They helped me tackle some areas of my home that I had neglected or avoided for a long time. They also helped me develop a habit of doing something every day, no matter how small.
What My Fly Lady Cleaning Schedule & Routines Look Like
One of the benefits of following a fly lady cleaning schedule is that it becomes second nature over time. I no longer have to think about what I need to do to keep my home tidy and chugging along. It’s like a dance, one step flowing into the next. Here’s what my daily routine looks like at the moment, and how it helps me create more space and calm in my life. Keep in mind as of writing I have a toddler, and am 36 weeks pregnant
- Wake up before my family, usually around 6 am, and get ready for the day
- Dress in comfortable clothes, put on some shoes and apply a bit of makeup
- Swish and swipe the bathroom, making it fresh and clean in less than two minutes
- Start a load of laundry and unload the dishwasher
- Brew a large pot of herbal tea to sip throughout the day
- Cuddle with my son and read him a book before breakfast
- Have breakfast together and I take my supplements and herbs
- Make the bed and check the dinner plans, taking out anything that needs to thaw from the freezer
- Hang the laundry outside or put it in the dryer
- My son naps after lunch, giving me some quiet time
- Clean up the kitchen from lunch and then take a 15-minute break for myself
- Write for my blog or work in my husband’s business until he wakes up
- Set the timer for 5 to 15 minutes play some music, depending on how messy the living areas are, and pick up any clutter together (“tidy, tidy time”)
- Check the floors and do a quick sweep or vacuum where needed
- Do 15 minutes of zone work, focusing on one area of the house each week
- Prepare dinner
We have dinner, bath, and bedtime between 5:30 and 7 pm, and then I start my evening routine.
- Tidy up the kitchen, load and run the dishwasher, and wipe down the counters
- Make tomorrow’s lunch for my husband if he’s working away from home
- Check the weather and lay out tomorrow’s outfit
- Gather everything I need for tomorrow and put it in one place
- Do another 1-2 hour work session
- Relax with a meditation and get to bed by 10 pm
Homemaking Mindsets Shifts
While all the practical systems and routines have been massively helpful for me in terms of looking after my home and family, it’s these mindset shifts and attitudes that have been truly transformative:
Be Flexible and Kind
Motherhood is full of surprises. Learn to be flexible with your routines, knowing that some days will need more adjustments than others. Don’t aim for perfection; be kind to yourself and value consistency over flawless execution. Your lists are not meant to stress you out or make you feel guilty. They’re gentle reminders of what you can do, but if you run out of time or change your plans, you can always start fresh the next day. No guilt.
Take Care of Yourself and Stay Motivated
Make self-care and motivation a priority. Take breaks and do something that makes you happy throughout the day. The simple act of getting dressed to shoes can make a big difference in how you feel and how you approach your day. Never underestimate how a pair of Keds and a little lipstick can make you feel!
Make It Your Own
Customise your routines to suit your personality, energy levels, and family needs. Whether you work outside the home or from home, adapt your routines accordingly. There will be a lot of tweaking along the way.
Begin by setting up your morning and evening routines as they are the foundation of a productive day. Being consistent with these routines will help you keep your home tidy and your tasks under control. Remember, it’s the small, consistent steps that lead to big changes.
Stay Positive and Focused
Believe that routines can help you create calmer, more organised days. Keep a positive and patient attitude as you practice and improve your routines over time. Remember, these routines are tools to enhance your daily life, not rigid rules to follow. You are not competing with anyone and your worth is not measured by how much you accomplish each day.
Prevent burnout by using timers to work efficiently in short bursts. Remember, the goal is to create a balanced and harmonious home, not to achieve perfection. Focus on progress and continual improvement. You are doing enough as it is as a mother and a homemaker, so don’t put unnecessary extra pressure on yourself.
The Joy of Creating a Home That Nourishes You and Your Family
I hope this blog has encouraged you to give the fly lady cleaning schedule a go. It has been a life-changer for me and my family. The great thing about the fly lady method is that you can start small and build up gradually. You can begin with the evening routine (the most crucial one) and go from there. You can also adapt your routines and lists to fit your lifestyle and preferences. To make it easier for you, I have made some printable lists and routines that you can download and use as you like. You can access them via the subscriber library and sign up over here.
Your home is not just a house. It;’s a sanctuary, a refuge, a place of love and joy. It is one of the most important things you can do to create a home that nourishes you and your family. The world is full of challenges and uncertainties, but if you make your home a place that soothes, a place where you can unwind and be yourself, a place where your children feel cozy and secure, a place where you show your family the beauty of living simply, then you are doing a very meaningful and essential job that makes the world a better place.
If You’d Like to Read More About Homemaking, Take a Look At These Posts
- How to Make Homemade 3 Ingredient Laundry Detergent
- Cleaning Cloth Nappies: Our Simple Washing Routine
- How to Make Tallow Balm: A Simple & Natural Recipe
Resources to Help You Start the Fly Lady Cleaning Schedule
If you are ready to try the fly lady cleaning system, here are some helpful resources to guide you along the way.
- Fly Lady Website – flylady.net
- The fly lady website is the official source of the fly lady method. It has everything you need to know about the fly lady cleaning schedule, from the basic principles to the detailed steps. You can sign up for her email list to get daily reminders and tips. You can also check out the weekly flight plan to plan your week ahead.
- Fly Lady Free App
- Google Play Store
- Apple App Store
- The Fly Lady app is a handy tool that you can use on your phone. It has all the fly lady cleaning schedule routines and cleaning lists that you need to follow the system. Whether you have an Android or an Apple device, this app will help you stay on track and organised
- Fly Lady’s Books
- Inspiring YouTube Channels
- Secret Slob’s Version of Baby Steps Condensed to 21 Days