Household Chores: Pick Your Poison

In the hierarchy of household tasks, we all have those we don’t mind and those we actually kind of enjoy – or at least get satisfaction from having done. I don’t mind scrubbing the toilets (mostly because I hate a not-quite-clean one) or doing laundry, and I even love doing the white towels in bleach because it’s so lovely to fold them, warm and fragrant from the dryer. I find doing dishes a nearly Zen-like experience, perhaps in part because while I stand at my spacious kitchen sink I can look out the window at the yard, meadow, and woods beyond.

On the other hand, I hate to vacuum. I mean, I hate it. Maybe it’s because our old Victorian farmhouse has mostly hardwood floors with area rugs strewn throughout, so you have to keep switching the vacuum from carpet to wood-floor mode. And because both of our dogs are heavy shedders, you have to make extra effort to suck up all those tumbling tumbleweeds – and empty the canister a zillion times.

I am lucky to be married to a man who offers to vacuum and does so regularly. That’s in addition to mowing the lawn and doing all the other outdoor chores. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate that.

We try to do most of our chores on Saturday morning and early afternoon, so that by Saturday night we have a relaxing evening and a relatively free and clear Sunday to look forward to and enjoy.

For many people with multiple sclerosis, maintaining a household is all about making tradeoffs and compromises. Those of us lucky enough to have supportive, helpful partners are, well, really lucky indeed, and we have to make sure we pull our own weight in some way – and that we take time to express our appreciation for their contributions.

What’s your experience with household chores? Do you feel overburdened, and could you use advice for getting help? Or do you have a system in place that you might share with others who might benefit from your experience?
 

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Jennifer

Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.

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    19 Comments

  • Mark Tallman   Aug 8, 2014 11:15 AM
    Living alone is a challenge in itself. No helper w/anything. Recently was able to afford adding a cleaning serv. and that allows me to work in other ares.
  • Angi Gordon   Aug 8, 2014 11:32 AM
    Need huge help and advice. Have been on my own for the last 4 years and have to manage both outdoors and indoors. Since it's August and the grass keeps growing (and the weeds, trees, bushes, etc.), have to spend more time outside and inside suffers. Can't afford to hire people on a disablility check. Now I may have to move in order to prepare the house for sale and get the divorce finalized, which adds even more to my already overflowing plate. Ideas? Help? Anybody?
  • H   Aug 8, 2014 11:56 AM
    I can't vacuum our sweep, and have a dog that sheds a lot. So I bought a Roomba, those little robot vacuums. It doesn't get everything but helps keep the fur in check.
  • Adrienne   Aug 8, 2014 12:47 PM
    Marcia, I got a light sweeper vacuum from dust buster that you can use as kind of a broom and a vacuum and it works on both floors and for light vacuuming. It is not expensive and I have found it does the job great and is very light, cordless, and the best part is you don't have to bend much if at all. You should look into it, I think it will help you out!
  • wewaf12   Aug 8, 2014 1:44 PM
    I can't really do any housework, my husband does it all. we moved into a townhouse. That is helpful to my husband, he no longer has to mow a lawn or take care of it. But, he still does all the vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, cleans the bathrooms, and any heavy laundry. I have a wheelchair, so I can cook and do some other things. I try to do the calling on household things and pay the bills. But, I have to be watched because I can get confused and mess things up, LOL! There are some groups in certain communites that will come out and help with your yard work and snow removal for the disabled. You just have to contact your City or County and they should direct you to the appropriate agency.
  • marshina   Aug 8, 2014 2:36 PM
    As I was putting a pint of yogurt back in the refrig, it fell out of my hands and splattered all over the floor and the refrigerator. What I hate doing is the extra work I bring on myself by not being careful. Slowly over the years I have invented ways of dealing with difficult situations. Luckily, I'm still somewhat mobile, using at times two canes to stabilize. My husband has taken over the gardens, and watering, a housekeeper, monthly, does the dusting and vacuuming. I bought a colorful computer chair that I use to prep, cook, and clean-up. I use the tip of my cane to wipe up the floor. I slowly manage, become frustrated, but move on with my day and the things that bring me joy. I asked my cousin to help me with my clothes in the closet. She can re-organize as I direct. I'm in awe of how quickly she can move. Did I ever move that easily? I have a friend who is half paralyzed from a stroke. She and I are in classes together at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I asked her how she got dressed? "Slowly" was her answer. How grateful am I for my upper body still functioning normally. Each day is different. I take advantage of going with the flow. Sometimes we must surrender to the dust. Not to worry, it will be there tomorrow.
  • Tracey   Aug 8, 2014 3:04 PM
    I have a hard time getting all there is to do completed. Once I tackle something it seems like it is time to do it again. I need some sort of schedule to try and follow. My husband helps but is often busy with work. Just because I retired on disability and am at home now does not mean I am at home to clean house all day. I'be been told that if i just do a it each day that the house wil get clean. But with black lab and black cat that both shed, it never ends.
  • Joyce   Aug 8, 2014 3:28 PM
    I am blessed to gave such a supportive husband. He takes care if all the yard work and any of the inside work that I may not have the energy to get to. On top of working 50 plus hours a week. I am going nky able to work 32 hours a week. And he also does all the cooking.
  • Sharon Sandlin   Aug 8, 2014 3:43 PM
    I can load the dishwasher but it tires me to unload and put the dishes away. Same thing with washing clothes. Getting the clothes in the washer and then the dryer is fairly easy, but standing or sitting to fold clothes and then putting them away is tiring. I do vacuum and that is pretty easy if I can get it done in 15 minutes or so. I have cats and dogs so there is always fur in the house. What I have a really hard time with is mopping, and it seems like the animals get the floors too dirty for just a swiffer. I have hard wood and vinyl. I don't have anyone to help with anything inside the house. For outside I have a neighborhood kid who cuts the grass. I try once a week, in the evenings to get out and tend to some potted flowers and veggie plants.

    My disability income is low, so hiring anyone to help is totally out of the question. What does help, is that friends don't really come visit anymore. I've sort of been excluded from the social circle so if the house is dirty, I'm really the only who sees it!
  • chippy1963   Aug 8, 2014 3:59 PM
    I use an automatic sweeper and cleaner, doesn't do a great job, but its better than nothing,i bought it at target for around 150.00 I sometimes just let it run and run! and with the cleaning cloths, you can use anykind of detergent, come to think of it, I love my cleaner!!!!
  • Shannon   Aug 8, 2014 9:19 PM
    I second the idea about getting a Roomba! They are little, automatic vacuum cleaners. Since they are little, their dust cups are little and should be emptied regularly, depending on your house. They can be programmed to start on their own. Mine, I have two, go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am. They find their way back to their charging station when the charge gets low. They are wonderful for dog hair! They go from tile to wood floors to carpet with no problem. They come with one or two "towers", which you can put where you don't want the Roomba to go, like down stairs or into the shower. The tower is a tiny thing that simply sends a signal out that make the Roomba turn and go the other direction. The Roomba probably shouldn't take the place of a full size vacuum, but it sure is good for inbeween times. I recommend getting one at either Bed, Bath and Beyond, or Costco. Good luck!
  • Shannon   Aug 8, 2014 9:19 PM
    I second the idea about getting a Roomba! They are little, automatic vacuum cleaners. Since they are little, their dust cups are little and should be emptied regularly, depending on your house. They can be programmed to start on their own. Mine, I have two, go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am. They find their way back to their charging station when the charge gets low. They are wonderful for dog hair! They go from tile to wood floors to carpet with no problem. They come with one or two "towers", which you can put where you don't want the Roomba to go, like down stairs or into the shower. The tower is a tiny thing that simply sends a signal out that make the Roomba turn and go the other direction. The Roomba probably shouldn't take the place of a full size vacuum, but it sure is good for inbeween times. I recommend getting one at either Bed, Bath and Beyond, or Costco. Good luck!
  • Anne   Aug 8, 2014 10:40 PM
    How ironic to find this discussion. I was in tears this evening because I am overwhelmed with my house cleaning. My husband is very supportive but he works 60 hours a week and I don't . His suggestion to me is tacle one thing at a time. I tend to look at the whole house instead if just one task that need to be done. He has told me to make a list each day of 5 thing I am able to do depending on my energy level. He says the some days I'll only get one or two things done but other days I might get 6 or 7. I too hate to vacuum but I just purchased a Shark and it wonderful and lite. He said to make a task sheet and check off what I have done to have the satisfaction of what I completed and not to focuse on what isn't done. He also suggested I learn to ask for help. I have a friend whom loves to fold my laundry as I sit in bed to catch up with her. In return I will take her to lunch or find something she doesn't like to do and do that for her. I hate to ask for help but I realize for a healthie person it's no problem for them to do thing I dislike to do or can't.
    I purchased large pretty baskets that I can toss items that need to go in a certian room. If friends stop by they don't see it as junk laying around. I also set a timer for cleaning. When the alarm goes off I take a rest.
    I am also getting rid of a lot of items I don't use. Another pretty box is assigned for that so when it's full I donate it. I also can not mop for it hurts my back several days afterwards. I bought cheep towels and add towels I use as they get tattered. I take a spray bottle and spray the floor throw the towel down and shuffle my feet atound the floor. I hold a walking stick to keep my balance. It's not conventional but it works for me.
    Last suggestion from my hubby. Figure the time of day I feel my best to complete task. Find a reward for yourself when you complete a cleanning task you hate. My weakness is Ho-Ho's
    Us MS's that are home all day tend to keep looking around and finding things that need to be done where as if your gone all day at work you wouldn't be hyper focused on what needs to be clean. I am going to write down the things I see and figure out could I delicate this to a friend or realitive.
    Keep an open communication with your mate that you are trying. That's all you can do.
    Keep calm and don't beat yourself up what's not clean. Focus that your health is more important than if you have dust bunnies. Just name them and consider them as part of your family.
    😊
  • Ron   Aug 8, 2014 10:57 PM
    There are days . I am able to do household chores however it's becoming more or less. The pain fatigue and my strength declining on a repeat basis. One things that I have been noticing that a lot of people have a life partner. I'm single I feel like I will be single for the duration of my life due to one wanting to be involved with me due to this ugly hateful disease. being on disability the limit how much and how often you can receive cleaning from the cleaning agent or just somebody that you somehow know. I have a cat for companion now cleaning and maintaining her litter box it's becoming a very big deal to me. this disease is becoming to the point where I hate living. Being a formal technical dancer you can just imagine how I feel.
  • rosernmom  Aug 9, 2014 9:26 PM
    I have 3 teens at home...it's hard watching them see me slow down with household chores. Everyone has pitched in, but I still feel like I am letting everyone down!
  • Linda Doty   Aug 10, 2014 1:37 PM
    I feel very overburdened. I do as much as I can seated. Even peeling potatoes. Washer and dryer in the basement. 3 dogs I love dearly. Live in a sandy area so constantly need to sweep and vacuum. I am lucky to do it once a week. I use the swifter system. Great for dust and dog hair and hardwood. Love it for scrubbing the floors. I plan one chore a day. Hubby helps when he can. I do scrub toilet daily though. Dishes a big pain. Use paper plates often. Grill when we can. I am secondary progressive. Need a lot of sleep and no heat.
  • vivianegauvin  Aug 13, 2014 7:58 AM
    I think what's important is to break the cleaning into smaller tasks. One day clean the toilet. Another day, do the bathroom sinks. A third day, dust the living room. Pick up spills as soon as they occur, and wipe down the kitchen counters while you're at it. Don't spend an entire morning do cleaning. It drains the energy and leaves you out for the count for the rest of the day...
  • Jonny   Aug 27, 2014 3:38 AM
    Demarcation is a word that comes to mind..............
  • Heather   Apr 1, 2018 2:29 PM
    I too like the Zen of doing dishes ... or at least, I used to (once upon an MS ago). I was dx’d at 23 - I’m now 37. I’ve been fortunate in my MS journey, not TOO many episodes (though the ones I’ve had were doozies) but the older I’ve gotten, the neuro effects are undeniable. Walking I can do - maybe not “well”, but I still DO. But standing ... my body just can’t do it. So throw in the hot water, which elevates my temperature, and doing dishes is the most painful, debilitating task.

    Ive been with my husband 19 years, married for 10 of them. But even though he knew me before the MS, he goes with me to every infusion (Tysabri), every doctors appointment, every MRI ... but he still doesn’t “get it”. What does MS have to do with me helping more around around the house, with chores? Why I can just go to the store after working all day (I do still work full time)? Can’t I do *anything*?! He’s not very supportive or understanding, but he never WAS. I married him anyway, so that’s on me.

    So I still “do”, whatever do means: dishes, dusting, vacuuming, grocery shopping. And it hurts, every time. But I’ll DO until my body physically CAN’T. Some people say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”. I say, “I’ll Zen when I’m dead”. ;-)