Spring cleaning, bring it on?

brown wooden floor

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Welcome to spring!  The time of year here in the mid-west when you are praying you feel well enough to go outside and enjoy sunny skies and warmish days.  It is also the time when you want to rid your home of that closed-up feeling of winter and bring in the spring with the thoughts of fresh beginnings and spring cleaning.  But, how in the world can those of us with CI clean our home without making ourselves more ill?

I have written several posts on de-cluttering as I am a huge believer that a de-cluttered home is much easier to clean (less stuff = less cleaning).  So, if you haven’t de-cluttered your home, maybe that would be a good place to start.  If your home is fairly clutter free then spring cleaning it is.

So how can we clean and still keep ourselves on a somewhat even keel?  That is a very good question and the answers will vary for each of us.  Here are a few things that have worked for me over the years:

Don’t clean on days that you are not feeling decent, it only makes the days that follow worse.

Stop cleaning BEFORE you are exhausted.

Keep hydrated.

Make sure you plan your main meal in the morning before you begin cleaning, you’ll be too tired in the evening to cook.

Start in one room and work in that room only until it is completed.

Enlist help of others in the family, it is their mess too.

Give each child (age appropriate) a list of cleaning jobs you expect completed in his/her room such as changing all bedding, going through all clothing and getting rid of items that don’t fit, washing inside windows, going through all toys and books putting away what they want to keep, dust all furniture, vacuuming, and cleaning closets.

Soak toilets, and fill bathtubs and sinks with water and add cleaner.  Let it sit for a while to make cleaning easier.

Carry a bucket of all necessary cleaning supplies with you to each room so you don’t  waste precious energy on searching for items.

Make sure you have enough trash bags before you start.

Do not worry if it takes a week or more to clean a room, it will get done.  Instead, praise yourself for all your hard work!

If a task is too difficult for you to do and you have no help, skip it.  Maybe next time!

Organize as you clean.  It will take longer to clean but it will make cleaning the next time much easier.

Make sure everything has a place before moving on to the next room.  If an item doesn’t have a specific place, find one or get rid of it.

Don’t throw the entire room’s dirty clothing, bedding, and window coverings into the laundry room at once.  This will clog up your laundry room.  Instead, do one load at a time.  If you get tired, you won’t have to step over piles of laundry until you can get to it.

Wear a mask so you don’t breath in the dust and dirt as you are cleaning.

If you are working with cleaners that are not 100% natural, make sure you have ventilation,  and you wear gloves and a mask.

Clean each room until you are satisfied, no need to clean to some else’s standards.

Have a tub to place items in that don’t belong in that room.

If your kids are very little, maybe they can visit grandparents.

I always clean the easiest room first, it gives me motivation to keep going.  (the hardest room makes me too tired to continue with the rest of the house)

 

So…………do you participate in a spring cleaning ritual?  If so, do you have any energy saving tips?

…………..Until next time, YOU are a superhero, no matter how clean your house is!

 

 

 

 

 

A sink full of dishes

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Dishes………..another area of housekeeping that is an absolute necessity.  Unless you can afford to continually purchase paper plates and bowls, plastic utensils and new pots and pans every week, you have to wash your dishes.

The fact that I am even typing out a post on this subject is rather ridiculous.  If  you were to walk into my kitchen at this very moment, you would find a sink full of them.  Yes, I am blessed to have a dishwasher and it is used on a more-than-daily basis.  But, dishes have always been a difficult chore for me to keep on top of.  On my bad days, this task is so far down my list, they will usually sit and wait until another day.

Within my household there is a lot of cooking going on……and it is usually not me.  I have a vegan and vegetarian and they do most of their own cooking, thank goodness!  I also have those who will eat anything as long as it is not vegan or vegetarian.  And because of chronic illnesses, we try to cook a lot of our food from scratch and cooking from scratch results in A LOT of dishes.

I remember being in Lowe’s and the gentleman who was helping us choose a new dishwasher asked, “How many times a day do you run the dishwasher?”  I remember the look on his face when I answered “Most days, about four.”

Yep, that is a lot dishes and it is one of my least favorite chores.   Unloading the dishwasher is one of the most difficult tasks for me to physically do.  I do get help from others here at home, but as any mother knows, you are the one who needs to manage the process.

So, my rules for dishes are:  bring all dirty dishes into the kitchen, rinse all the dishes before placing them into the sink, if there is room place the dirty dishes in the plastic wash tub in the sink.  Several months ago, I purchased a plastic tub from Dollar Tree and put it in our sink so dirty dishes could soak before going into the dishwasher.  Now, this tub quickly fills up but at least some of the dishes will have been soaking and ready to go when the next load is done.

I realize this is not much of a system and I have tried to improve upon it.  I have read several books on how to clean your home systematically, but most of them were unrealistic to my situation.  I have yet to find a book on house cleaning authored by someone who suffers from a chronic illness and has children at home.   If there is one out there, I would be thrilled to know about it!

When it comes to dishes in my home, I just have to do the best I can and be thrilled that a lot. OK, mostly healthy cooking is going on.  When there is enough money in the budget, I do try to purchase paper products for times neither I nor the dishwasher can keep up.  I have to admit, paper plates, cups and bowls are one of my favorite luxuries.

So, how do you keep up with the dishes in your home?

 

Laundry, one load at a time…..

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Chores …….we all have to do them and there never seems to be an end to what should be done.  To top it off, they are really not all that much fun to do.   Being endless, chores can become overwhelming for those of us with CI, resulting in depression and anxiety.  We get depressed looking at the endless chores left undone because we are too ill or lack the physical energy it takes to complete them.  Tasks get pushed further and further down on “the list” which creates anxiety with all that is left to do.

So, how to tackle the chores that are the musts:  laundry, dishes, groceries and meal preparation, and make them as easy as possible?  I am by no means an expert at home management, but I have had a lot of experience living with CI and having a home to take care of.  It is a ton of work and I made a lot of mistakes along the way.  With every mistake, I searched for ways that would make each chore one I could physically manage.

So this post will touch briefly on laundry.  No matter how many times we are able to wear those not-so-dirty pjs (or fill-in the blank), they will eventually need to be washed.  If you have other people in your household, their clothing and bedding will need to be washed too, adding to the chore load.  I have tried various ways to tackle the endless mounds of laundry;  everybody has a different laundry day………..a BIG nope!  Even when the kiddos were old enough to do their own laundry, if I didn’t feel well enough to supervise, things didn’t proceed as it should.  Laundry got backed up and the room became way too crowded for my liking.

Then I went to doing all the laundry in one day.  Neither me nor the dryer could keep up.  I learned quickly, if I felt well enough to do laundry for 10 hours……….I sure as hell didn’t want to spend my day doing that!

Now, I have no system other than I try to do one load of laundry a day.  That is it.  Everyone is responsible for telling me when they need to do laundry and IF the washer is open, the answer is yes.  I no longer allow loads of dirty laundry to sit in the laundry room.  The room is small and the passage to and from the garage so the clothing can be a tripping hazard not to mention a source of anxiety to be looking at room full of dirty clothes.

So, one load a day from washing to hanging up (I hang up most of our laundry to save it from wear and tear of the dryer and have our clothing last longer) but what comes out of the dryer is folded and then put away by the owners.  If I am having a decent day, I may be able to do two!

If laundry is your responsibility, how do you handle the loads?

……………….Until next time, you are a superhero!

favorite de-cluttering & cleaning book

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I have read many, many books on decluttering.  For a while, I would say it almost became a hobby of mine to search out and find books on the topic.  I would search shelf after shelf in used books stores, Goodwill stores, libraries, and occasionally websites of full-price retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Despite the numerous books that I have read, many fell very short in their benefits.  In fact, many books I read were down right disappointing.  In my very humble opinion, there was one book that stood out among the rest for readability, practicality, and relatability.

My all-time favorite decluttering book is, Clutter’s Last Stand by Don Aslett.  This book is the only decluttering book that kept me interested from beginning to the end, I didn’t want to put it down.  Mr. Aslett drew me in with his humor and casual writing style, putting me at ease with the fact that I did not have my clutter under control.  If you would be interested in checking it out, you should be able to get it through your local library in order to save money.  If your local library does not carry it, many libraries will try to find a book for you through an inter-library loan at no cost to you.  Otherwise, you may be able to find it at a used bookstore.

Until next time……happy reading.

 

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Now it gets tough……

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The really difficult task of decluttering spaces, items or boxes full of stuff that you have a  strong and sentimental attachment to is next.  This is when things get really tough and unfortunately can lead to stress, anxiety, and an overall feeling of sadness.  This is the stage where many people, not just those of us with CI, give up because hard decisions need to be made and feelings of loss are awakened.

Those of us who have had the unfortunate experience of losing  someone(s)  precious and dear to our hearts know how hard it is to handle inherited items or items that were given to us before s/he passed.  We keep the goods stored away believing that holding onto their stuff  keeps our loved one closer.  To get rid of anything could be seen as a rejection of that person, the “willingness” to  let go of our memories and fear they will soon be forgotten.

Realistically, we all know that the items are not the person and the memories of our loved one do not live in the items.   But for those of us with CI, we live with the uncertainty of our health, and as we declutter emotional items we unconsciously deal with our own mortality.  Our unpleasant thoughts create even more stress and since we deal with more than our share every day………….we shove it all back in a box and tell our self,  maybe another day!

This is why I believe it is so important during the decluttering process to physically hold every single item you have in your home.  I know, this sounds ridiculous and overwhelming and time consuming and you are right……….it is.  But, it is the only way you are going to be able to truly declutter and make appropriate decisions.  No where is touching every item more important than when dealing with the sentimental stuff.

While going through that box of  knick-knacks from grandma………….touch each and every item individually.  Does it make you happy?  Do you remember where she had it in her home?  Is this something important enough for you to place in your active living space?  Would giving it away bring you emotional pain?  How about a box of old pictures………..do you know who those people are?  If not, are the pictures even labeled?  Is there someone else who would enjoy the photos more than you?

As you touch each item, you can feel it’s vibe, it’s memory (or lack thereof) and sense what you should or shouldn’t keep.  Maybe there is a treasure in a box that means absolutely nothing to you but would be beneficial to another.  Or maybe there is something worth money you don’t care about that you could sell and pay off a medical bill.  Hey, maybe that is why it is there in the first place!

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong keeping items boxed away.  But are we really honoring our special people by doing so?  Would your loved one really want you to have your basement, storage room, attic, or garage stuffed with their past possessions?  I highly doubt it.

As you work through the difficult items to declutter, just remember that you are not discarding memories and you are not going to forget about grandpa because you only kept 2 of his 15 fishing poles.  Instead, you are blessing others with your loved ones generosity and you are putting Aunt Martha’s beautiful vase on a shelf  where you get to enjoy looking at it every single day.

…………until next time.

You are a superhero!

 

 

The cleaning begins.

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Congratulations!  You have decided to declutter your home and you have chosen a small area in which to begin your journey.  Now let the games begin, the game where YOU get to decide what stays and what goes.  I know, this is easier said than done, so not only is it important for you to start in a small area but I also believe it is just as important to choose an area in which you have little emotional connection to “the stuff.”  For me, this would be our work area that includes a desk, some drawers and shelves.  Because I am not emotionally attached to any of the items my choices are rather simple, I either need to keep it, pay it, file it, recycle it or throw it away.

Working in areas where you have little or no emotional connections with the items allows decisions to be made quicker and easier resulting in a smooth and gentle process.  Being able to work quickly and efficiently gets the cleaning juices flowing giving you the desire to move on and continue the beautiful work that  you have started.

………………until next time.

You are a superhero!

 

a home adventure begins…

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Now that you have decided to declutter your home, what is the first step you should take?  Well, that is a very good question.  From my many past mistakes, I can tell you that trying to work on the entire house at one time is not a very good idea.  You end up with the whole house torn apart, nothing gets completely done – or partially done for that matter – and due to your CI you can’t finish the project for weeks/months and now you have created a bigger mess than when you started.  This leads to more feelings of  frustration, disappointment, guilt and overwhelming sense of failure and who the heck needs that!  So, the first thing you need to do is to prepare yourself for the project.

Before you start make sure you gather the necessary supplies.  There is nothing more frustrating than to pump yourself up to begin a project only to find out you don’t have everything you need to actually start.  Here is my list of things I think you will need:  trash bags – not the huge 40 gallon contractor size bags as they will become way too heavy to lift.  So unless you have dedicated help from start to finish, even to the point of the trash being taken to the road or dumpster, go with 13 gallon trash bags or smaller.  Cardboard boxes, again smaller is better, you will need to be able to lift the box and it’s contents and dark colored markers to label the boxes.  Also gather paper towels or rags, a multi-purpose natural cleaner , gloves and a mask.  I always wear a mask when cleaning and vacuuming so I don’t inhale any dust particles.   All of the items I listed can be purchased at a Dollar Tree (at least at my local store) except for a natural cleaner, and boxes can be found in a Starbucks or grocery store dumpster.  Now label your boxes:  belongs in another room, donate, give away (to a specific person), consignment shop (if needed) and sell.  I would strongly caution you against making a box (boxes) for selling unless you have someone who is going to do it for you or at least help.  Selling takes a lot of time and energy and you don’t want boxes of unwanted stuff sitting around creating more clutter or find its way back into the general population.  Last but not least, a pen and paper to write down all that you are donating for tax purposes.  I have also used my phone to take pictures of donated items.

Now pick a week you hope to start, for example, the first week of April.  Why pick a week and not a specific date…….well, we all know that CI is unpredictable and again, you want to make it flexible to work around your needs and set you up for a win.  No need for giving yourself the extra pressure of picking a specific date and then waking up feeling blah.  If you feel poorly one day, don’t begin the project………you have a whole week to get it started.  Starting when you are having a bad day  will only give you bad results.

If a start week is too rigid for your circumstances, maybe choose a month you are going to begin to clean,  just don’t put it off too long.  If you keep pushing the dates out, it could mean that you are not really wanting to declutter your home.   But, I have found that watching a few episodes of Hoarders Buried Alive or a similar program is all I need to increase my motivation.

Now that you have gathered the necessary supplies, you need to set yourself up for a win and experience a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment for a job well done.  In order to do this, my first suggestion is to go small.  Make sure you pick an area within a room, like a closet or side of a closet if it is a walk-in, a desk, a bookshelf or one cabinet and work only in this designated spot until it is completely finished.  If you are like me, staying focused on this one area will be a challenge as you will discover things that need to go elsewhere…………don’t move on.  Stay on task.  Having the right supplies on hand will help with this.

Until next time…..

 

 

Out with the old, so you can let in the new.

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I believe, with my whole heart, that the most important thing a person with CI can do (besides taking great care of yourself) is to reduce clutter in your life.  I know this is a wildly popular topic – one that is covered everywhere from blogs, YouTube channels, books and magazines dedicated specifically for the purpose to teaching people how or the reasons to declutter.

Early on in my diagnoses I realized I needed to jump on this simplifying/decluttering bandwagon if I was going to be able to navigate the CI life with any success.  But getting to a more simple life (or as simple as it can be in this world) has been an ongoing process and one that put me on a quest to accomplish this goal.

I searched on-line and in bookstores for reading material spurred on with the hope that I would read THE  passage that would enable me to create my new living space.  Numerous books and many reading hours later, I attempted different cleaning and decluttering approaches and was ultimately frustrated with the end results.  I quickly learned no book I had read (I realized there could be some out there and I just haven’t found them yet) touches on how difficult it is to declutter when you are chronically ill.  Decluttering is a monumental and exhausting task, even if your home wouldn’t make it on an episode of Hoarders or Buried Alive – because let’s be honest…….that is a whole other issue.

The most important point is that you have to want to declutter your home.  Despite all the benefits to having less stuff around:  more visually pleasing living space which creates less stress and less stress is important for all of us with CI; cleaner air because of the reduction of  dust;  you will know what you have which can save you money and we all need more of that to pay for our ridiculous endless medical bills; easier to get to what you need therefore using less energy finding/retrieving items; less guilt looking at unorganized and cluttered spaces……….really the list could go on and on.  But first you must really want to take on this task because it is an enormous undertaking requiring patience, persistence, dedication, introspection and – the big one – the ability to let go of the past.

Letting go of the past is a hard one for most of us.  We never imagined our life would turn out this way……….we were so energetic, full of life, bursting with goals and dreams and our living space reflected that – filled with things that we use to be able to enjoy but now they have become a constant reminder of what is not to be.  Letting go of these things can be very difficult as we tend to see this purging as giving up and giving in to the stark reality we don’t want to accept.  Instead of focusing on my past, I had to force myself to instead view my decluttering episodes as events to make room for my future.  Was this easy, hell no,  and it still isn’t.  But living in the past only holds you back from what could be.

Until next time………………

p.s.  Don’t forget YOU are a superhero!

 

kitchen distraction

bazaar bottles business ceramic

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……..and it is not something I use to make cooking quicker; it does not spiral, chop or mix, nor is it something that actually sits on the counter. Instead, it is securely fastened to the underside of one of my kitchen cabinets, the one closest to my sink.

So what is it you wonder and how could it help make my life in the kitchen easier?  My favorite kitchen appliance is actually a combination radio/DVD/CD player.  It was something my parents had in their basement and when it was offered to me, I jumped at the opportunity to own such an amazing invention.

Since it was gifted to me, it has been my constant companion.  Whether I am cooking or cleaning it allows my mind it focus on something other than the tiredness and aching I feel in my body.  This allows me to work longer in the kitchen accomplishing more every time I am in there. So, not only am I able to physically stay in the kitchen longer, I am also enjoying an audio-book or a movie that makes me happy, or music that lifts me up.  I am so thankful I have something that is such a blessed distraction.

Here’s to things that make our lives just a little bit easier!

one in the freezer

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I usually don’t post two days in a row but I wanted to add on to what I posted yesterday regarding putting meals in the freezer for later use.

This afternoon I taught my youngest daughter how to make meatloaf.  I already had ground beef thawing in the fridge and knew I had to do something with it soon.  So, I used this meat as a wonderful opportunity to teach my daughter and to put an extra “meal” in our freezer.  I had my daughter prepare all the meat which fit into two loaf pans, with some left over.  One loaf was for tonight’s dinner and the other went into the freezer for a later date!

Since there was still meat left over from the meatloaf, we made meatballs and those also went into the freezer.  Although it took a little more time to prepare the extra meat for the second meatloaf and to make and bake the meatballs, it was much faster then if I had to start the process from scratch.

I have to admit, I am super tired tonight after spending 3 hours in the kitchen teaching my daughter to cook an entire meal which consisted of baked potatoes and green beans and she just had to make cupcakes…..but…..we were able to get goodies in the freezer (including cupcakes) and enjoy a healthy dinner.

So, I am encouraging you, if/when you are able, to plan ahead while grocery shopping and purchase extra ingredients so you too can put some food away in the freezer for your less than decent days!