So I’m trying to Martha Stewart my house a little. I want it to look less Salvation-Army-Drop-off-Centre, more IKEA catalogue – a place for everything, and everything in its place. After viewing ElilyMommy’s very sexy new kitchen and how cataloguesque her benchtop and counters are (NOTHING on them. And oh so shiny!), I’m convinced that Less (on the outside) is Best.

Not working at my corporate job has meant several things. No $$ for cleaners. And technically, more time. We’ve talked about how my nesting instincts never got to flap its tiny wings and soar; how they were crushed by the weight of frivolous Jilly Cooper novels, and then fed an evil elixir that made them shrink back and grow lopsided so they didn’t so much look like wings, but Nemo’s lopsided fins. (I loathe housework, BTW.)

Then Arddun came, and as long as my floor was still beigey-orangey ish and not gray, that was time enough spent on inanimate objects when the balance could be so MUCH better employed blowing zer-burps on Arddun’s belly button.

Then she starts to crawl, and it’s 2012, and the Year of the Dragon beckons. And suddenly, like the rise of the phoenix from the ashes, my nesting instincts come to the fore and now I’m like, RAWR! Needtocleanmyhouse! RAWR! Needtohavespotlessbenchtops!

Except I don’t have enough daylight hours. Or rather, I don’t have enough predictable daylight hours. Because I now live a half-hour at a time.  I have exactly 24 half-hour daytime slots, of which 1 might be spent in the shower if I’m lucky. And then it’s dinner, then nightfall, and you can’t do housework in mood lighting, really. You just can’t.

So this evening, I did the next-best thing to housework. I googled. And I browsed through my unused housework phone apps, and contemplated their return from ignominy. So if you’re looking for the proverbial kick up the housewifing bum, may I present the following tools.

1. FlyLady (Free-ish)

Yes. The big, purple fairy who sends you on 15-minute de-clutters – Super Fling Boogies – and other errands around different parts of the house  (called ‘zones’) . It’s a call to action in your inbox every day. Except the last time I tried FlyLady (it’s been years), I ended up needed a Super Fling Boogie to de-clutter my mailbox. FlyLady turned out to be SpamLady. And was the email formatting equivalent of a teenager who just discovered Geocities way back in the day. Don’t know what she’s like now, though. I hear she’s still effective, for those who love her. (Even got into merchandising. Now with calendars and De-clutter bags labelled ‘Give away’, ‘Put away’ and ‘Throw away’.)

But if you, like me, are a FlyLady drop out, then fear not! For there are excellent imitation goods around, just like in China. Such as…

2. Messies Anonymous (Free)

They send you an email with a ra-ra about jumping out of bed, jumping into action, not procrastinating by googling and blogging (probably). They tell you to tackle your Mt Vernon… by sorting your stuff into boxes labelled ‘Give away’, ‘Put away’ and ‘Throw away’. Ahem.

Offline, I hear it’s a lot like FlyLady “without the passive-aggression”. This coming from a few FlyLady drop outs. Still there’s this other program that people love, called…

3. Habithacker (Free)

I’m actually going to subscribe to this one. It has 90-day programs, where you get sent a daily email with a specific task. But it doesn’t just do domestics – there’s a  90-day program for cultivating a healthy lifestyle, and another for getting that creative project off the ground. I should probably do all three, but I’ll start with the housework and the creative project one, and see where I go from there.

It actually sounds fun. But the next one sounds like it takes the cake in the fun stakes, because it’s…

4. Chore Wars (Free, or $10 one-off payment for history and no ads)

Simply put, it’s housework meets RPG. Or something. You create a character. You invite others. You do chores. You get points for done chores. You go up levels. You get to buy gear. It’s housework for geeks. It’s gorgeous. I love the concept. I’m going to invite every single person I know who owns a house, doesn’t live with their mothers, and who might be even remotely interested in computer games. And my entire Mother’s Group, even though they’re not. You have been warned.

5. HomeRoutines (iPhone app – $3.99)

This is a souped-up reminder app, really. But it allows you to log tasks to accomplish for the day, on top of routine household chores you’ve set for yourself. And you can set zones as well, so you can tackle whole areas of your house and clean the skirting boards, for instance. Dovetails nicely into FlyLady-type prompts – just harness the gist of the FlyLady type system, and key it all in your app. Repeat weekly. Even comes with a timer for your Super Fling Boogies.

6. Errands (iPhone app – Free)

A simple app that allows you to set routines and recurring chores. The one-up over HomeRoutines is that you can set chores by calendar dates (“every 15th day of every month till 2013”). But the interface is rather Clip Art 101. And because I like pretty things, I eventually retired this app. The app icon alone was making my skin crawl and I just wanted to hide it in a deep, dark place so it wouldn’t tarnish my iPhone desktop. Vain, huh.

7. Weekly Habits Pad (Kikki-K, $5.95)

I’ve added this one, because essentially this post is about breaking old habits and starting new ones. And this nifty little pad of paper sets out to cultivate new habits.

The idea is that it takes 21 days to change a habit, especially if there’s a juicy carrot to be had at the end. So you enter the habit you want to create on the left column (say, jog twice a week), tick off the days you accomplished that task, and then enter the reward you give yourself should you meet your target.

Sometimes, I enter an emotional reward (“make Tony happy”). Other times, it’s something small and maybe a little antithesis to other habits I’m trying to cultivate (“exercise thrice a week” vs “pig out on Cafe Grande Connoisseur ice cream with chocolate-coated almonds, hamana hamana hamana *drool*…) But so far, it’s been lovely ticking off little accomplishments and I’ve been quite motivated.

Of course, this works because I love lists and ticking things off. Sometimes I draw a box and list the task AFTER the fact, just so I can tick it off. Sad, no?


So there you have it. My carefully researched tools for Martha Stewart greatness (minus jail time). And now, to sleep on it. :)