Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Art of Housekeeping While Having Fibromyalgia

Housekeeping, or rather, clearing/picking up the clutter is a very daunting task for the healthy, but it's about 50 times worse when you have to do it with a disability.  Seeing everything in disarray can, at least in my case, cause Fibro Fog, flares, and even panic attacks.

Before my diagnoses I was a neat freak and could probably keep up with Adrian Monk.  I was obsessed with things being orderly, because frankly, it just made my life much easier.  I didn't have to wonder where the kids' mittens were because they had a place, just like the flatware does in the kitchen.  But over the years I've had to let go of things because of my illness.  It was hard.  I used to have a Vulcan Death Grip over the house.  I've gotten a little better, but not much.

Housekeeping is such a touchy subject with us Fibromites because we NEVER want to be compared to someone who is dirty or lazy since we are neither of these kinds of people.  We have this notion in our heads that our place can be just as clean as a neat freaks.  We just need a little more time than they do.  But is it really just that or is there something more?

I know that I used to do all of the housework before I was diagnosed.  My husband really didn't have to lift a finger when he got home because I had already done it.  And I used to do these things so he'd have a wonderful gift when he got home, the gift of rest.  Now, of course I wasn't thinking too much about myself.  I never really rested (still don't due to Fibro LOL!).  But thinking about myself was literally the last thing on my mind because I figured I could always rest later when there was nothing to do.  Well, that was a silly notion on my part because there is ALWAYS something to do.  ALWAYS.  But I didn't realize that in my late 20's and early to mid 30's.

After that realization, I decided to tackle things a little differently.  I talked to my family and I explained to them that I couldn't do all the chores anymore.  They helped to pitch in where they could and they do it because they love me.  It's not perfect.  Things will get misplaced like the socks from the laundry baskets or the measuring cup in the kitchen.  And there are days when I feel like I'm the only one who cares about clean, but they do try very hard to pitch in, even when they really aren't sure as to how to help.

Enlisting family members to help you with the house can be a great thing, but it's not your only arsenal when it comes to keeping things tidy, especially if you have little ones.  I find having a plastic bin or tote in high traffic rooms like the family room, is a great help.  I will place all of the kids' toys, shoes, and anything else that wound up on the floor in that tote, and once I'm done clearing the room, I bring the tote to their room.  They know to go through the tote, but if they can't get to it right away, it's at least contained in a box where it won't clutter up their room any more than it already is.

Another trick I have is too take any junk mail from the mailbox and stick it directly into the recycling bin while I'm looking at it.  And I consider junk mail anything that I won't use that day.  Even if there's a coupon to a store that I really want to go to.  I do this because I know that if I save that coupon I really like it will sit on my desk with a ton of other coupons and papers that I thought I should keep and I won't find the coupon until it's already expired.  We all want to save money, and that's a good habit to be in, but most of the coupons that you receive in the mail are usually duplicated at the department store anyway.  I know that I never have to carry a JCPenny 10% off if you use your card coupon because they will offer that at the cash register if you don't have it on you.  As for the extra 10 bucks off, well again, if I really want that, I'll shop that day.

Dishes are a continuous task at my house.  In fact, the only time I see an empty sink is when I'm the only one in the house.  I just can't seem to avoid it, but just because the sink is full, it doesn't mean that the emptying of the dishwasher has be just as tedious as the full sink.  When I load the dishes, I will put likes together.  Small dishes and bowls go on one side, large plates, pot lids, and cutting boards on the other.  I also group forks, spoons, and knives together in the tray to make it easier on myself when I'm putting things away.

I don't know about your fridge, but mine has grown a couple of science projects every now and again.  I try to avoid this as best as I can by throwing out all the leftovers right before I go food shopping every week.  I also wipe down the shelves and place paper towels into the produce bins so I can catch any spills before they get to be a mess.


Laundry is another one of those continuous tasks and I use the same idea with the clothes that I do with my dishes.  I will fold everything in the basket according to where it goes.  All the shirts, undies, socks, and pants get folded together so I can put them in their respective drawers.  I also use separate baskets for each person, as well as, one for the linen closet.  It just makes putting things away much easier.

Another thing that I do is to fold things as best as I can so there will not be any wrinkles in it when I want to wear it.  I don't iron.  It's something that I just can no longer do.  It hurts too much.  Folding is another hard task, but it's not as unbearable as ironing.  Again, I worked retail, so I was taught how to fold clothes and bath towels where they not only looked pretty, but there also wasn't a lot of wrinkles.  Wrinkles aren't pretty and most customers would have put the clothes back on the table if it was.  One of these days I should do a Youtube video so you can see what I mean, but for the purpose of this entry, pay attention to the creases you see in each shirt, jeans, or towel you buy off of a table in the store and see if you can mimic it.  But I will do a video soon for you all!

The medicine cabinet is one of those pet peeves of mine.  I like having fever reducer on hand if my kid gets a fever at 3 am, but those fevers are now so few and far between that the medicine has usually expired by the time I actually need it.  And then there's all of those almost used cold symptom ones that keep hanging around my cabinet, chatting it up with the full bottles.  I know I'll probably NEVER use them because I'll never have the same exact symptoms the next time I have a cold, but I've kept them, just in case.  That just in case turns out being never and the only time those almost used bottles see the light of day is when I'm cleaning out the cabinet.  Now, I only stock my medicine cabinet with a minimum in mind.  I have fever reducers, bandages, ointment, and sun block.  Any other medicines get cleaned out about once every month or two.  I do the same thing with my beauty aides.  

My biggest pet peeve about clutter is bulk buying.  I don't do it.  And I don't do it not because I get tired of trying to lug it or find a place to store it once I'm home, I don't do it because I know it will sit there and sit there on my shelf until I forget it's there and I'll only realize I have it once I go out and buy more.  I have worked retail for about half of my life and one thing I came to realize in the stock room is that things sit.  They may not sit intentionally, but they do sit, and sometimes they sat for so long that it either when bad (like paint), or it became discontinued to the point where we had to ship it back to the manufacturer because it was worth nothing at the register.  I noticed this kind of thing happening in my house with the laundry detergent, toilet paper, napkins, paper plates, and paper towels.  These things sat so long at my house sometimes that I honestly had to dust them off before I could open them.  I found that rather gross because it was a little redundant to clean the cleaning products.  So now I only buy what I need for a week or two this way my shelves aren't busting at the seams and my feather duster is also happy because its not cleaning the fellow cleaning products.

I'm not saying I have all the answers because there are days when I think I am merely existing to clean, but it doesn't have to always feel so overwhelming.  If you go with the mantra, when in doubt, throw it out, or maintain a less is more lifestyle, you have won half the battle.  Part of the cleaning process is to help you to mentally clear your mind so you remain as healthy as possible.  So here's to hoping that you next cleaning day is easier!

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley
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