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Don’t Stress The Mess: Making Cleaning Easier When You Have Fibromyalgia

 

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 so overwhelming 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 so that we can 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:Photo of Master Task List from Bullet Journal https://reclaiminghope.blog

  • 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!

Blessings,

~Terri

 

 

 

15 comments

  1. Cleaning is such a nightmare when you have Fibromyalgia, isn’t it? I always admire the spacious homes that American YouTubers often live in and how they manage to stay beautiful with a reasonable minimum effort (from a healthy person). Our smaller older UK homes are an absolute nightmare by contrast. After just one week every surface can have a visible layer of dust! I do what I can manage when I can, but I fully realise that unless I am able to move into a much newer building, I am unlikely to have a properly clean home. It is not helped by lower floors of the house having unfinished walls and other areas that need DIY. I watch YouTube and Interest and dream (especially of the beautiful craft room/studios I see.

    1. Thanks for your comment Susan! It certainly can be tough to clean when we have fibromyalgia or really, any illness that saps our energy. I’m sorry to hear you have additional challenges with it – that definitely makes a difference, doesn’t it? I’m sure you’d love a big craft room with all the beautiful crafts you do.😊 When we were looking at houses, one of the ones we looked at had a huge craft room (about the size of two rooms) with lots of natural light. That room almost sold us on the house even though the rest of it didn’t meet our needs.😁 Hope you’re doing well and enjoying your crafting!

      1. Thanks, Terri, I am not too bad considering. At the moment the craft is vying for my time because the Genealogy bug has bitten again. I have a craft post due on Monday though because I have been sent some goodies to review. Well done on taking the sensible route when it came to househunting, an amazing craftroom would be fantastic but not if the rest of the house isn’t right.

  2. I love the idea of hooks inside the door of the sink vanity, I’m going to have to try that! I do think that cleaning as you go, and having a plan on hand to tackle the bigger clean-ups, are important in helping us to pace. Brilliant post with lots of handy idea, Terri! xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I’m glad you found the hook idea useful. I’m always looking for things that make it easier for me to keep things clean and tidy, because although I don’t mind cleaning, it’s not my favorite thing either.😁 Sending hugs your way!

  3. Thank you Terri. These are all good tips. One thing I find helpful is asking visitors to leave outdoor shoes inside the front door. It cuts right down on floor cleaning. I used to have an open coal fire but I closed it up a few winters ago as the dust was exacerbating my lung problems. That also helped cut down on cleaning and redecorating. 🌼

    1. Thanks so much for the great tips Brigid! We used to take off our outdoor shoes whenever we came in, but somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit. It really does cut down on the floor cleaning though. I need to start doing that again. I’m sure the open coal wasn’t good for your lungs. We have fireplaces in our house, but they’ve been turned into gas instead of wood-burning, thankfully. Wood-burning fireplaces trigger migraines for me, and they cause a lot of dust also. Hope you’re doing well! Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks so much Grace! Forming those habits helps when our brains don’t want to cooperate, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing your tips!

    1. Thanks so much Amanda! I’m with you on lowering the standards and expectations – I’ve accepted that unless I hire a cleaning person, my house isn’t going to be spotless all the time – I can live with that.😄 Blessings to you!

  4. Those are some helpful tips! I agree, when you devide a big task into smaller ones on your to-do list it seems less impossible and you’ll feel more accomplished when you can check something off. Another thing I like to do is, put away stuff every time I worked on my desk immediatly. Instead of waiting for stuff to pile up, take 5 minutes each day to tidy up a bit which will make your house feel more clean.

    1. Thanks so much Kirsten! I definitely need to steal your idea about putting everything away on my desk immediately. That is one area that I seem to be fighting with constantly.😊 You’re right – a quick tidy-up each day really helps things look and feel cleaner. Thanks for stopping by!

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