I am a disabled veteran, was diagnosed with depression at age 5, and am currently PMSy, which makes my chronic hip and back pain worse. I can generally stand up, but not for very long.
For a couple of weeks, I’ve been really down and very behind on housework.
Here is how I do things that need to be done, with depression and chronic pain.
Step 1: Decide, “Today, I WILL do a thing.” and choose a thing to do.
Ew. I hate doing dishes and tend to put them off. Especially pots and pans.
Step 2: Ask myself, “CAN I do this right now?”. Yeah, I feel ok. My hips are a little sore, but my back isn’t bothering me at the moment. I think I can stand up long enough to get this done. There isn’t much there, and the dish drainer isn’t full, so I don’t need to empty it before I get started.
Step 3: Get started.
Since I’m doing dishes, I gather every, single dirty dish from around the house and bring it to the sink. I also empty and clean the large side of the sink. I keep a trash can nearby so I can easily throw out paper towels, tea bags, straws, etc. that get put in there.
Step 3.1: Still getting started.
A lot of people like to put all of the dirty dishes into the sink and fill it with water. I don’t. I put a little bit of soapy water, maybe one or two inches deep.
And I wash one dish at a time, rinsing it back into the soapy water.
This saves water and fills the sink a little at a time. I never use more water than I actually need to. I also do this so that, when I am working, I’m not staring down at a daunting pile of filthy dishes. I see one dish, which I can totally do.
I also do not like to use a dish cloth. When it gets greasy or gets lumps of food, it’s disgusting. I prefer a baby bottle brush, because I only have to touch the handle. I am eliminating triggers and excuses.
I use paper towels on the teflon pans. I know they’re wasteful, but they work better for me than a rag that then gets thrown into a basket to be cleaned, maybe two or three weeks from now?
Step 4: Try not to focus on the pile. It’s shrinking, trust me.
At this point, my hips started to ache. It had been maybe 7 or 8 minutes, I really can’t stay on my feet very long. But I can’t take breaks, either. Once I sit down, I generally don’t have the energy to get up again other than to use the restroom. So!
Step5: Soak the big, nasty stuff last.
This non-stick skillet was really crusty and gross. It needed a little soak to break up the dry food. By now, there is plenty of water in the sink, too. This is a really good place to take a break, but set a timer so you don’t forget or give up.
Since I can’t take a break, I took this time to clean and scrub the countertop where the dirty dishes have been piling up, and to scrub the grime and gross from around and behind the sink.
My mother has a nasty habit of taking the dirty dishcloth and wiping it all over the countertops. It drives me nuts. Don’t do that at my house.
Now, at around the 12 minute mark, my hips are sending warning signals. Almost done, but…
Step 6: Not yet.
After the last dish is cleaned and laid out to dry, I clean the sink. The whole thing. Both sides, the faucet, the splash guard. Don’t let any food bits stay in the sink.
Ok! Now I’m done. That steel water bottle needs washed, too, but I am DONE. I can’t stand up anymore, hell, I can barely sit up straight after that.
So, why didn’t I just empty the dishwasher and refill it? That would be faster, yes. It would also require a lot of bending over, and reaching up to put the dishes away. My body isn’t that cooperative, so I leave it for Husband to do when he gets home. This is also why I don’t dry the dishes. He won’t be home to put them away for another 6 hours or so, why hurt myself more than I need to?
This is so great. Work within your limits, listen to your body, do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up over things like not using the dishwasher. Excellent job.
Q: I just started a new job where I’m working twice as many hours as I’m used to, and my schedule is all over the place (some days, some nights, a random day off in the middle of the week instead of a weekend). My routines are all screwed up, and my house is a mess. How do I figure out any kind of routine when my schedule is so unpredictable and I’m exhausted all the time?
A: Do we work together?…
This week’s Ask UfYH!