Along with chronic illness comes fatigue and I am not talking “I need a nap” fatigue but debilitating fatigue at times. When I was at my sickest there were days I had to make a decision to ether shower or fix something to eat because doing one thing just exhausted me beyond belief. Although my fatigue is no longer so debilitating I still have to balance everything I do because if I over to it I PAY BIG TIME! Cleaning has always been physically exhausting for me and there are somethings I still can not do without paying like mopping or vacuuming.
I have learned over the years a few things that have helped me by trial and error so I would like to share some of them with you all.
1.) Don’t feel guilty if you are not keeping up with the neighbors, family, or friends when it comes to a clean house. Comparing yourself to others will just frustrate you and feeling bad about yourself won’t get the house clean! They do not have the same set of circumstances as you and if they care that your home is not perfect they really do not care about YOU first!
2.) If you know you are having people over start cleaning a week before so that you are not overwhelmed. Having people over is not as fun if you are exhausted from over doing it.
3.) If you have let things go and don’t know where to start, start in one corner and take breaks. A little at a time each day will show some positive progress and will encourage you to keep at it.
4.) If you have family or anyone living with you make sure you ask for help for the cleaning chores that cause the most pain and fatigue. My Boyfriend knows I can not mop the floors without pain so he does them for me. If there are people in the home that are unwilling to help ask them to tip in for someone to come in to do the deep cleaning once a month. There are many people that are out of work and will do bathrooms, the kitchen, and floors at VERY reasonable prices.
5.) If you live alone and are able to afford it hire someone to do the deep cleaning once a month. Like stated above many people are out of work and will do this at very reasonable prices. I made a few calls today and found a lady that would do the bathrooms (2 of them) Kitchen, and mop all of our floors for 55 dollars!
6.) When mopping floors and vacuuming use a chair with wheels on it and sit while doing these tasks.
7.) In all the showers have shower daily cleaner. It will save you from having to scrub the showers by getting rid of the hard water stains just by spraying after each shower.
8.) If you have others in the house there should always be the rule “If I cook you clean up.” (I think this is just common courtesy and every family should do this) If you live alone and are too tired after cooking make sure to fill the sink with soap and water and let the dishes soak so you do not have to scrub off baked on food in the morning.
8.) Place cleaning wipes on the toilets and sinks and keep up with the clean up! If you have boys in the house make sure they use these to clean up their messes on the toilet. (We all know they miss sometimes)
9.) If you have cats or dogs clean up right after they go potty and don’t let it build up. For cats if you have inside cats make sure to clean out the liter box daily with a scooper because carrying a lot of cat waste can get heavy! Also when you purchase liter buy the smaller packages so you do not have to carry a huge box of liter! Those things get VERY HEAVY!
10.) Get a laundry basket with wheels so you are not lifting your dirty clothes when you bring them to your washer and dryer.
11.) Play the music you like while you clean because music makes everything better. Also research has shown when you are singing to your favorite tunes it reduces pain and relaxes your muscles!
12.) Be realistic about what you can do. No one wants a dirty home but we also don’t want to set off a flare! Do a little at a time and every time you get up to get something or go to the bathroom pick something up! You are already up and using your energy so it is better to use it to do two things rather than one.
I recently came across a Facebook page Named Chronic Fatigue and Creative Decluttering and asked the admin Deborah Bolton a few questions about cleaning that I thought might be of some help to all of you.
You can visit her blog http://learningtobalancelifechanges.blogspot.com/ For more tips and tricks for cleaning with chronic illness
How did the idea of Chronic Fatigue and creative decluttering come about?
For several years I noticed changes in my body because of Fibromyalgia, then I started getting sick all the time; and finally, I had an absolute breakdown where I could not do anything. I had to have help just getting a bath. I found out I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which you might call FM’s sister. For years I thought the ups and downs of energy were in my mind. I would become depressed and frustrated, because I would put out too much energy to catch up and do things I liked or needed to do; and then, I would end up in a flare or a relapse.
After my diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, since I had been taking my recommended supplements and prescriptions, I began feeling better. I wanted to get back into the habit of keeping house. Because I had lost muscle from sitting and lying around the house, I began very simply by moving one thing at a time, whenever I got up to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Next, I looked at my habits and decided what I needed to work on. I picked a habit like getting dressed, and I got a star or a sticker on my calendar every day I did it. Every month, I added a new habit. So the second month, I worked on two habits. In one month, I might be working on getting dressed and picking up clutter for fifteen minutes. Another month, I would take getting dressed off the calendar since I had established the habit, and I would add making my bed.
Since the time I began rebuilding my habits, I thought I would try to establish a better routine. I went to a popular website, FlyLady.net, which I had been following off and on for several years and started all over again. However, I found out it wasn’t quite my cup of tea, because I may have a day or a week where I can do little more than fix a meal and read. I knew if it frustrated me, there must be others having the same frustrations. You see, my problem has never been I don’t know how to clean house: I just don’t have enough energy to do it the way I used to.
That is how I came up with Chronic Fatigue and Creative Decluttering. I wanted to have a place where those of us, who struggle with fatigue and illness, can share how we manage our households. Furthermore, I have been determined to find creative ways to do that better, and I want to encourage others on this journey. It can be so overwhelming to know where to start; or you can feel like you will never be able to get your house clean when circumstances of life keep you from doing it. My purpose on Chronic Fatigue and Creative Decluttering is to help others find ways to live clutter free and to get back there when life has overwhelmed them.
What is the best way to manage a home and keep it clean when you have a chronic illness?
You must do it in baby steps. Picking one day in the week to do it is too tiring, and it can throw a person who has FM or CFS right back into a flare or relapse. I like to use the idea of doing things in threes. I choose three things I need to do in a day to clean house, and I time myself for each one. I always rest in between. I recommend working one job from 5 to 15 minutes. This helps one to focus, and it allows for room for working within one’s energy levels. I cannot work 15 minutes at a time when coming back from a relapse. I have to build up my strength.
What do you recommend for someone that has a chronic illness and is overwhelmed from years of accumulating things and clutter?
The answer is Baby Steps. Clutter does not happen overnight, nor will it be cleaned quickly. I have written articles in my blogs about getting rid of clutter. Maybe, it is time for me to actually get a book together. I would also say one size does not fit all. Each person has to manage his/her body according to his/her own energy levels.
Do you feel simplifying your life and being a minimalist is important when you have a chronic illness to manage clutter?
Yes. No question in my mind about that. However, one has to figure out exactly what that means for him or her. For instance, I am not getting rid of my sewing machine yet. And, I need to keep my paints and a few other craft things. They get used at my house. However, if you check out my Facebook Page and blogs, you will see I am gradually clearing the clutter. In fact, somewhere in the back of my mind, I dream of having one of those adorable mini-houses, although I might have to have a small shed to keep art supplies and a few other essentials.
What is the number one thing you think that will help people with chronic illness keep their house clean?
Be patient with yourself, and clean in small steps. You don’t have to clean the bathroom in one fell swoop. Clean the sink. Rest. Clean the toilet. Rest. Clean the shower or tub the next day. And find implements that will make the job easier. OK. That is really more than one thing, but my main point is you can do it a little at a time. Baby Steps! Those two words have been turning me from feeling defeated in this area of my life to feeling confident.
Finally, here is one of my favorite quotes:
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~ William Morris ~
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