I have about a million things I need to get done around the house: I need to switch my closet over from Spring/Summer Clothes to Fall/Winter, overhaul my pantry, clean my dusty baseboards…..the list goes on and on.
When you live with fibromyalgia, just trying to get your usual household chores done can feel daunting, and when you throw in those “extra” chores that you have to do periodically, it can become overwhelming. In fact, it can stop you in your tracks and keep you from getting any of it done.
Have you ever been there? I know I have.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves when we have one of those energy-sucking chronic illnesses is finding ways to do things that work with our energy levels, not against them.
We have to learn to work smarter, not harder.
I used to be one of those people who had my “cleaning day” where I did all of the things you have to do weekly in one day. I loved getting the house nice and clean all at one time and then just doing the little things as they came up throughout the week. Now if I do that, I usually pay for it for a couple of days. Pacing is key, and cleaning the whole house in one day is definitely not pacing!
So how do we keep our house clean without “breaking the (energy) bank”?
The very best thing we can do for ourselves is to give up the idea that our house has to be perfect all the time. Sure, we’d all love a spic-and-span, shiny house that looks like it could have come off the pages of a magazine, but is that realistic?
It’s hard enough to keep everything sparkling when you’re in perfect health, but can be even tougher when you’re ill. We have to learn that it’s okay if we have some unopened mail on the table, kids’ toys on the floor, or even a little dust here and there. If we can let go of perfection, we can relieve ourselves of the stress involved in trying to reach it.
Tips To Make Staying On Top Of The Housework Easier
For Routine Household Chores:
- Spread your tasks out over the days of the week. That way, you can do one or two things each day and by the end of the week, you’ve gotten everything accomplished.
- Develop a system. A system of doing things can be your best friend when you’re dealing with fibro fog. For example, Monday is plant-watering day at my house. For some reason, they like to have a drink of water each week…. By having a specific day of the week for that particular chore, I make sure I don’t forget even if I’m “foggy.”
- Have some “cheaters.” By cheaters, I’m talking about those little things that can make our chores quick and easy, such as Swiffer dusters or the little Swiffer Vac that I use in between ‘serious’ dusting and vacuuming. We have two dogs and they SHED! As a result, I need to run the vacuum about every other day in our family room. Rather than getting out that heavy vacuum I can just grab the little Swiffer Vac, put a cloth on it, and get all that stray hair vacuumed up in just a few minutes.
- Clean as you go to make weekly cleaning easier.
- Only handle mail once. When you bring it in from the mailbox, open it and do whatever is required (trash, shred, file, etc.). Now if you’ve read my post about Environmental Wellness, you’ve seen my desk and you already know I’m not good at this one….
- Use a daily shower spray to help with cleaning the shower. You can buy shower sprays that are made for daily use, or you can make your own. They can help keep hard water stains, soap scum, and mildew at bay if used regularly. That means a lot less scrubbing for us!
- Keep cloths handy to wipe up sinks after use. I bought a pack of cheap washcloths and installed Command hooks inside the door of each sink vanity. We use them to wipe up the sinks in the morning and evening. It takes two minutes and keeps the sinks looking clean all throughout the week.
- Keep your counter spray under the kitchen sink. After doing the dishes it’s easy to give the counter a quick spritz and wipe.
- Keep magazine clutter under control by tearing out relevant articles, punching holes in them, and storing them in three-ring binders. This lets you hold onto the information you want without having stacks of magazines lying around.
For Larger Chores:
- Make a master task list. This gives you the big-picture view of the things you want to accomplish, and it can be an ongoing thing. As you think about things that need to be done you can just add them to your list. One benefit of this master task list is that once you write it down, you don’t have to dwell on everything that needs to be done anymore. It’s all on a list, one task at a time, and you know you’ll get to each task as you go down the list.
- Incorporate items from your master list into your daily chores as you have the time/energy. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics used to be fond of saying, “You can eat an elephant one bite at a time.” If we pull one item at a time into our to-do list, we’ll eventually have everything completed.
- Break larger tasks into several smaller chunks. For instance, if your task is to clean your garage, it’s probably not advisable to try to do it all in one day. You could break it down into steps such as sorting (deciding what to trash, keep, donate, throw away, etc.), organizing, and then putting things away, and do each step on different days.
These are just a few of the things that I’ve found helpful in trying to stay on top of my household chores. It’s been a learning process over the years, finding ways to work within my energy budget and prevent flares. I hope by sharing these I can help you flatten the learning curve a little.
With that said, though, there are just going to be those weeks where we have a severe flare and can’t get everything done. You know what? That’s okay – I promise you the house is not going to fall down around you if you don’t get everything done. Be kind to yourself, take the time you need to feel better, and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t all get done.
Do you have any cleaning shortcuts or things that make doing your household chores easier? Please share!