Fibromyalgia and Cleaning Your Home
Do you like a clean home? It is a lot of work just keeping up with the demands of a house, a job, kids, etc., then throw something like Fibromyalgia into it. Most days, the feeling to just give up and not get out of bed is so overwhelming, you get depressed over just feeling this way. You don't have to feel helpless if you plan it out.
Finding the Right Balance
I have been fighting Fibromyalgia and a few other disabilities for 7 years and I used to think of myself as invalid but now I've learned a few things I thought I'd share. First, unless you hire someone to do your housework and cooking, there is no easy answer. I'm the type that would clean my house if I had a cleaning person coming over. I had to let go of some of the chores I used to do. You will have to let go of some things but you can still manage to get a lot more done with careful planning. Some jobs have to be done and then there are some that aren't that important, except to you. A part of this is letting go but doesn't mean you can't take care of your home and family. Your house will not fall apart if you don't wash the baseboards every week or clean out under the refrigerator. There are some jobs that have to be done every week but some others can be skipped from your weekly cleaning to a bi-monthly or even a monthly cleaning job.
Understand Your Limitations
The best advice I was ever given was to plan on having 30 minutes of energy a day. You can spend that 30 minutes cleaning or doing something you enjoy but plan the day with 30 minutes of energy. The Fibro line moves all the time but you can usually spend 30 minutes without worrying about crossing the line and causing a flare-up. Please remember that there are days when you couldn't manage 10 minutes. Accept those days as your day off and don't push. Pushing yourself too much does not strengthen you or help you get more done, you will pay for those days so always keep in mind if you are at your limit or it's just a bad day and you are close to a flare-up.
I know you are thinking it's crazy, you could never do it all in 30 minutes, but you can, you just have to plan and look at it differently. I used to scrub my entire house one day a week, 8 or 9 hours worth and then just do touch ups the rest of the week. That was nice, while I could do it. I can't now and I can either be depressed about it or use a new strategy. The thirty minutes isn't done all at once. If you are cleaning or doing anything that requires energy, you really need to be careful you don't cross that Fibro line but that line moves all the time and sometimes just a little thing can push you over the line.
I have taken that 30 minute rule and fine-tuned it so it works for me most days. There will always be some days where you don't even get 30 minutes. For the most part, this has helped with a lot less Fibro flare-ups. Break up the 30 minutes into (6) five minute capsules. I never clean for longer than 5 minutes at a time. You can mop a floor in 5 minutes, or vacuum a room, or dust. By using the 30 minutes and the 5 minute capsules, you can get a lot more done without feeling as hopeless or exhausted. You have 6 capsules of 5 minutes every day. The idea of facing cleaning the living room or kitchen is much tougher than the thought of just dusting it now, and later, vacuum. Cut down to five minutes and you can do anything.
There are some other ways of making it all easier. This might be a tough time, financially, if you have to quit your job but your health is more important. Purchasing a few items that will make cleaning easier will really help. Lugging around your old 25lb vacuum can exhaust you alone but purchasing a new, smaller, 12lb vacuum will save you in ways that could mean less flare-ups. The Shark Steam Mop is another example. It's ridiculously expensive for a mop but it is one of my best tools. It cleans the floors without too much exertion, it even cleans rugs and baseboards! Think of it like this: would you spend $100 if you could purchase a week of not having a severe flare-up if it were possible?
Your family knows you suffer. If you can't afford to buy what you need, ask them to give you a gift card for your birthday or Christmas. Save the gift cards towards the purchase of a new, light weight vacuum. It depends on the way you clean but you will know which items will benefit you the most. This isn't the place to scrimp.
I am in no way endorsing any of the items listed. I am using them as examples and because they have helped me.
You are changing the way you clean, or do any chore, but more importantly, you are changing your attitude towards it. With just a few simple changes, you can get rid of feeling helpless and hopeless.
It's all in the "How"
There are some things you can do that will take longer but if you find a simpler way of doing them, such as sitting down while doing dinner prep, or folding clothes, you can still manage to do a lot more than you normally could if you tried to get it all done at once.
If you get behind in your work and have a week's worth of laundry, telling yourself to just get it all done is not the answer. Your body can't do that anymore. You might be able to get away with it once in awhile but ultimately, you will pay for this with a flare-up. It isn't worth it.
Another Helpful Tip - My Favorite
One of the most frustrating and time-consuming jobs is making dinner. A simple trick is to make your dinner double size and freeze the second part of the meal. If you do this every day you do cook, for one week, you actually have two weeks of dinners done. You can also save some money doing it this way.
Do you still work? If so, you can talk to some of the people you are close to (this also works with friends), plan a meal, double it, give the second portion to your friend and she gives you her other half. Now you have 2 completely different dinners and only did the work for one. If you make a huge pot roast, you might be able to stretch it to a third person. It saves a lot of work. I double or triple everything I make and even when I keep it all for my family, I switch it around enough that they don't complain.
Taking Back Control
Once you get to the point where this becomes routine and you have managed to let go of some of the work, you will start living your life again a little more than having it decided by the Fibro. Fibro has stolen enough from you, don't give it more than you have to.
Some great, easy to use items.
Shark Steam Mop
Dyson DC26 Multi-Floor City Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Swiffer Duster Starter Pack
Comments and Tips
Do you have any other tips to share? I'd love to hear about them and they might make it easier for others as well.