If you feel like your house and your life spiralled out of control during the summer, you might want to give the Organised Mum Method (TOMM) a try. Of course, it’s not just for mums – although 98 per cent of founder Gemma Bray’s followers are women – and it promises to get your home clean and clutter-free in just 30 minutes a day (with weekends off).
The former doula came up with TOMM after the birth of her first child 14 years ago and has followed it ever since.
Gemma, who has three sons, now has almost 200,000 followers on Instagram, a podcast, an app, and a book called The Organised Mum Method, with her second book, The Organised Time Technique, due to be published in September.
Can you explain the Organised Mum Method briefly? Why does it work?
It’s an eight-week rolling cleaning method, which builds on what you did the previous week. Each day Monday to Thursday is allotted a room – living room, bedrooms, hall and stairs, and kitchen – and you do 30 minutes and then stop. Every Friday you tackle a different zone in your house, so everywhere gets a deeper clean every eight weeks, and there are a few light jobs that you do every day.
I believe the reason it works is because it’s simple and doesn’t over-complicate things.
How did you come up with it?
It was out of necessity for myself! I had just had my first baby and I was cleaning far too much. I was stuck in a romantic ideal that to be the best mum you should have a gleaming kitchen, a rosy-cheeked child and be wearing white jeans. Of course, the reality was very different and I was trying to over-compensate.
I hadn’t been seeing friends – and we know that’s so important for our mental health – and fortunately I managed to rein myself in and realise that I needed to do things differently.
I developed a way of compressing the cleaning so that it didn’t leak into my whole day. It was hard to stick to it because I was used to “grazing” all day with cleaning, but I forced myself to get it done in 30 minutes. And because it worked I stuck to it. That was 14 years ago and I still keep to it.
I find that a lot of people who come to the method from over-cleaning struggle to put a full stop on housework. Many people also find they clean the same thing over and over – and this was true for me too. My thing was hoovering but I wasn’t moving the furniture around and really getting it done, I was just going over the same places. With TOMM you know the whole house is being covered.
It’s become a bit of a phenomenon – what do you make of that?
It’s really weird! It’s amazing but also shocking to me. It was just a private thing that friends and family used to rib me about until my oldest son dared me to share it about three years ago. At that time no one was really talking about cleaning on Instagram. It was all holidays, models and jetset lifestyles. I was a stay-at-home mum and I thought “who is going to want to see me talking about mops?”. I thought people would think I was sad and that it would fizzle out after three months. It started slow but after six months it picked up.
Ninety-eight per cent of my followers are female and the majority have young children. A lot have children under two and they are craving what I craved – to find that balance and not lose themselves in motherhood.
Where should someone start if they want to get their house under control?
I say start in one of the main rooms of the house, like the kitchen or the living room. I would start in the kitchen. You don’t even have to do the whole room. Just choose one drawer or one cupboard and get started.
People who are starting from a place of complete chaos usually find it clicks in week three or four. It can feel like two steps forward and one step back. It is definitely slow progress, and I struggled with that in the beginning, but that’s the whole point. Once things are under control you just have to keep going and keep up the momentum, and you’ll have it licked.
What is your least favourite household task and how do you make it easier? And your favourite?
One hundred per cent it’s the oven. I detest cleaning the oven. If there is one thing that I recommend people to buy for their house, it’s reusable oven liners. They are so cheap, only about a fiver. If you’re trying to get the oven clean with bicarb and water you’ll be there a year and a day, but with these liners you just rinse them under the tap.
My favourite thing is still hoovering. It’s not a messy job and you can see the impact straightaway.
Tell us about your new book!
TOMM was always a small part of a much bigger thing. When I was pregnant with my second baby and when he was a newborn my first marriage broke down. I was running a business, looking after two children and suddenly doing things on top that I didn’t expect, like sorting out finances and dealing with solicitors.
I was using the method and realised how successful compartmentalising my time was, not just with the cleaning.
Basically the new book is TOMM for your life. It’s “how to get your life running like clockwork”, looking at what’s serving you, what’s dragging you down.
It’s focused towards the modern woman and will help you audit your life and time so that you are left with the things you need to do and the things that you want to do – and how to do that without feeling guilty.
READ Dig deeper into the method and download handy free check lists on Gemma’s website at theorganisedmum.blog
JOIN There are more than 93,000 members of the official TeamTOMM Facebook group – join them at facebook.com/groups/theorganisedmumgroup
LISTEN Gemma posts a daily 30-minute playlist on Spotify (search theorganisedmum) and co-hosts a regular podcast called Life Laundry.