This month is often when people start thinking about doing some deep-cleaning and a purging of household junk, but when you have a chronic illness, this can be a daunting thought. Spring cleaning can be a PAIN, literally and otherwise!
Here are some tips to make it go smoother
Make a list. If cleaning negatively impacts you physically, organize your list of cleaning tasks by impact and strategize ways to make the harder tasks easier, like doing it sitting down. (Pass some of these tasks off to someone else if possible!) Don’t try to do several “high impact” tasks in one day. A great “low impact” cleaning task is your cell phone! Clear out unwanted data, like caches and browser history. Delete apps you never use. Backup your photos. Wipe it down with a rag dampened with a sanitizing cleaner. (You don’t even want to know how germy your phone gets…. Wipe it down regularly!)
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Use your wait time to get other things done. If you have that shower head soaking in a bag of hot vinegar, tackle another task while you’re waiting! (Napping is an option!)
Ask your loved ones for help in a kind manner, giving clear expectations and instructions. You know exactly what you mean when you say, “Can you help tidy up the living room soon?” However, that’s often too vague for kids or even an adult! Ask them to do a specific task, and make sure to mention when you’d like it done. Even little kids can help with many tasks! Give them short, clear instructions with a visual demonstration. Some parents find it helpful to take a picture of what a clean room, tidy toy bins, or a made-up bed should look like when the task is done.
Don’t micromanage after you ask. If it’s something they’ve never done, kindly show or explain how to do it, then let it go. It doesn’t have to be perfect or done exactly how you’d do it.
Make sure things are accessible and that your family knows where things are and how to use them. Having recycling bins right where you go through the mail will cut down on the piles of paper on your desk. If your family knows where to find the cleaning supplies and how to use them, they’re more likely to use them on their own and can grab them faster when you need them to fetch something for you. If you have a large or two-story home, keep basic supplies in more than one spot so they’re close at hand and don’t have to be lugged clear across the house.
Slow progress is still progress. I once tried to do one of those “40 bags in 40 days” cleaning challenges. Guess how many bags I did? ZERO. Even the thought of having to deal with a bag’s worth of junk each day was too overwhelming, so I never started. A smaller goal would have been smarter. (Snack-sized plastic bag? Haha!! Okay, maybe a bit more challenging than that…) Not everything has to be a huge task. Small steps will make a huge difference. Throw a few papers away each day. Instead of tackling the whole kitchen, just do one countertop or one cabinet. Attacking small tasks will be less overwhelming, and you and your family can celebrate these little victories that add up to a huge impact on your surroundings.
Make it a fun family affair! Crank up the music, and get some special refreshments to enjoy during or after! Who knows…. Tidying up the kitchen together every night while you rock out to 80’s music might end up as one of your family’s fondest memories! Cleaning up the backyard together? Plan a special outdoor meal for a few days later to celebrate and enjoy your hard work.
Do you want to get your family into a new cleaning routine so you can stay ahead of the mess better going forward? When you’re up to it, make a checklist of tasks that need to happen every day, every week, every month, and so on. Get your family’s input on who’ll do which tasks, how you’ll rotate, and which ones can be a team effort, and then create a checklist you can all consult regularly. As you implement this new routine, be patient! It takes time to get it going smoothly. Plastic page protectors or a cheap, all-plastic picture frame is a great way to use your checklist. Use a dry erase marker to keep track!
Don’t forget to express pride and gratitude, even to yourself! Thank your family for their hard work, and tell them how much you appreciate them contributing to the household. Give yourself a little pat on the back for your efforts, too. With some of the household upkeep load delegated, carve out some time for self-care!
Do you have any spring cleaning tips to share?
Which one of those above do you want to try?