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Byline: JoAnn E.B. Yerem Correspondent

Do you dread housework? Are you too embarrassed to invite people in? Did you force another relative to host Thanksgiving so you didn't have to clean house?

As with many things in this day and age, help is only a mouse click away. Go online and you'll discover there are Web sites devoted to scheduling your cleaning, decluttering your disorganization, making your own cleaning supplies and keeping your house in ``company-ready'' shape all the time.

``House cleaning is not rocket science,'' said Marla Cilley, otherwise known as the FlyLady (a nickname earned from her love of fly fishing). Cilley's Web site,, serves as an online coach for those who need help cleaning up their act. ``People want someone to tell them where to start,'' she said.

The FlyLady site does tell them this, as well as what to clean and how to get rid of the clutter. Cilley also offers an encouraging series of daily e-mail reminders. With 266,000 members and more who visit her Web site, she has a community devoted to methods like the ``27 Fling Boogie'' and the ``5-Minute Room Rescue.''

``House cleaning is not hard work. It's fairly simple, but we've been taught that it's work, so we don't want to do it. House cleaning chores have been used as punishment - so who wants to do that?'' she said. ``But beds have to be made, toilets have to be cleaned, laundry has to be done. When you don't do it, you are punishing yourself.''

Cilley speaks from experience. She was a county commissioner and her husband was a district judge when, in 1999, she realized she had to do something about the mess at home.

``I was scared my electorate would find out, that they would discover my dirty little secret - that I had a house full of clutter,'' she said, adding that lawyers and sheriffs deputies who came to see her husband had to meet him on the front porch. ``You could hardly walk through our house, we had so much clutter,'' Cilley said.

Through a series of what she calls ``baby steps,'' Cilley changed her life. She started by shining her sink and keeping it that way. The clean sink led to clean counters and a clean kitchen. The cleanliness spread throughout the house. Now she has morning, afternoon and evening routines that she follows to care for her home and herself. And it's the message she spreads online.

``Too many of us are locked up in the perfectionism,'' she said. ``You can't do it perfectly, so you do nothing. I had to let that go. ``Everyone deserves to live in a house that blesses them,'' she said.

Self-described FlyBaby Jennifer Clark, a domestic disciple of Cilley's and a North Hollywood mother of two, understands the perfectionism.

``I grew up with the whole 'everything had to be cleaned pristine' (attitude),'' she said. ``Vacuuming was a whole-day event. You couldn't do it unless you moved everything.''

Now Clark finds herself vacuuming areas that get the most traffic weekly and doing a deep, furniture-moving vacuuming once a month. She also enjoys using a tool every FlyBaby must have - the timer. For household missions and specific jobs, the timer is set. You work until it goes off and then you stop.

``I love the timer. Even when doing my laundry, I use it,'' she said.

Clark has given her two children their own timers, too. They use them for picking up, to time how much longer they can stay in the bath, and for sharing toys.

``My house is not perfect, but that's not the point. You never arrive. It's never over. Once you do that last load of laundry, tomorrow there's going to be more,'' said Clark, who has been a devotee of the FlyLady system for more than a year. ``FlyLady's whole point for me is time saving. I get the stuff done that we need to get done so I can have time with my family.''

Cynthia Townley Ewer, editor and creator of the and Web sites, agrees.

``When we think of housecleaning, we think of our grandmothers who didn't work outside the home, who cleaned continually,'' she said. ``Forget it!''

Ewer recommends doing the things that make life easier and forgetting the things you don't have to do. ``We still have all of our grandmother's expectations and more, and we don't have the time,'' she said.

Ewer says her Web site teaches its 100,000 registered members how to clean efficiently and as a family. ``I am literally the last generation that received home economics education. We actually learned this stuff in school,'' Ewer said. ``A lot of young moms really don't know how to clean.''

On, readers will find cleaning tips, daily assignments, challenges to rid a home of clutter, and most importantly, Ewer said, others who share the same cleaning problems.

``When you clean out your closet and you find clothes that are still there from junior high, you have a problem letting go in that area. You can go online and talk to others. They can help you find ways to let go.''

Ewer believes that this community feeling is vital. ``It's the difference between success and failure. Folks who have support and accountability are successful. The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it's a convenient way to get that kind of support.''

Ewer defines success as a home that is orderly, clean and comfortable. ``We are not doing this to make the house look a certain way. We are not doing this to show off to the neighbors,'' she said. ``We are doing this to make life in the home better.''

Clark says her life has been better since she established her cleaning and organizing routines.

``It was really big for me to realize I needed to get myself ready before my kids. That really starts my day off,'' she said. ``It's been really good to get the routines down.''

Clark doesn't feel she needs to be perfect anymore and she's enjoying the work.

``I don't stress out about it. I've gotten rid of so many knick-knacky things that cleaning isn't as bad as it used to be,'' she said. ``Cleaning is actually fun.''

Try these ideas

The FlyLady's top three tips for success:

Sleep: Go to bed at a decent hour. ``We try to accomplish what we need to do on three or four hours of sleep, and our bodies can't function that way,'' Cilley said.

Shoes: Put on your lace-up shoes. ``Your shoes tell your head it's time to go to work.''

Shine: Make it a habit to shine your sink everyday. ``They don't ever believe me, but it will change your life.''

...then, click here

House a mess? In a panic over the coming holidays? Here's where you can look on the Web for help around the house:


3 photos, 2 boxes


(1 -- cover -- color) Click & dust

Online cleaning help

David Sprague/Staff Photographer

(2 -- color) ``My house is not perfect, but that's not the point. ... I get the stuff done that we need to get done so I can have time with my family,'' says Jennifer Clark, washing dishes as daughter Jacqueline, 3, sets the chore timer.

(3 -- color) Jacqueline Clark, 3, makes her own bed as one of her chores.

Tina Burch/Staff Photographer


(1) Try these ideas (see text)

(2) ...then, click here (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 26, 2005

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