With Fibromyalgia, Cleaning Is a Chore

With Fibromyalgia, Cleaning Is a Chore

Through the Fog

I don’t know about you, but keeping up with cleaning and clutter became overwhelming after I got sick. If anyone has told you this, or you have said it yourself, let me clear this up: YOU ARE NOT LAZY! You and I have greater challenges than before we got sick. Before, I loved moving furniture around and keeping my house clean and orderly. Now I consider it a victory if I empty the dishwasher. Are you feeling me?

I would love to share some ideas that might make your life and mine easier. OK, let’s get started.

Paper: such as mail, newspapers, magazines, and bills. MAIL — sort it near a trash barrel. That way it’s not contributing to clutter. Sort out bills and important stuff, throw the rest in the trash. NEWSPAPERS — give yourself a week to read them and then put them in the recycling bin, no exceptions. MAGAZINES — if you haven’t read it by the time you get the next issue, recycle it. BILLS — get a simple rectangular box or basket. Keep the bills in the order they need to be paid, with the next one to be paid in the front. It will help when the brain fog kicks in.

For bigger decluttering projects, just do one shelf, one box, one drawer at a time. It always amazes me how completely wiped out I can get doing just a little bit. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that it’s time again to take on some decluttering. Ugh. If possible, have your partner, child, or friend help you. It’s more fun and more productive. Another way to declutter is to set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes and then stop. Feel good about what you’ve accomplished in that time frame.

I am fortunate to have someone who helps with cleaning, cooking, and shopping. I didn’t hire someone, I enlisted the help of my husband. I used to be very particular about how I wanted things done. Now I’m just thankful they get done at all. Perspective is everything.

I break everything up into manageable steps. For example, I break up cleaning a bathroom into sink, shower, toilet, floor. It might take me a week to get all those steps accomplished, and that’s OK. I used to have a to-do list but I found that overwhelming. I’ve also taken small squares of paper and written my bite-size chores on it, folded them up and put them in a jar. When I feel that I can, I take one out and do that one thing. No pressure, just doing what I can.

What about you? Feel free to share the things that work for you. You could be helping others as well.

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Fibrosis.



    I love this article; we are in the midst of a remodel and everything is out of place and dust everywhere. I feel so overwhelmed but today I decided just what you said; a drawer, a counter, ect one at a time. I tried on Monday to start cleaning the whole kitchen and after two hours crashed and had to go to bed. I am just so overwhelmed at times and hate how messy my house is but I guess we just do what we can.

      • Annamaria says:

        Chores basically there…I was diagnosed at 18yrs old..I’m 51yrs old now..Since 4yrs old…big jump of my disease got stronger..Yet I push myself to limit…Pain is there. It don’t tell not quit..I do normal routine set for myself..Stories heard by husband of their wives..Staying bed not showering for months..Simple plain lazy..I did not ask for this disease.It trigger through trauma I got as child..Beat strap sex abuse nerves break emotional trauma down early age of 5yrs old until 16yrs of age..Yet still battle I still win. I’m also Bipolar..Beat odds..I happy life cheerful great personality great sense humor..Yet my pain is there..Yes I get mad..Don’t let eat me fight it off..I walk every day Aid of walker..Life is key to winning..Don’t let our disease take a way what life has taught us…posits out look I need..Sadness is knowing. My partner is beside me comforts massage helps in many ways..yes I cry a lot..I’m real so are all of you..

  2. Ella says:

    Very good tips. I definitely find using a timer is important, because with my FMS, I often can’t tell I’m overdoing it until the pain kicks in — which may take over an hour, sometimes several hours. And by then, it’s too late. If I want to do more than one short session of work, I set the timer for about 15 minutes, then also *time my break* for at least as many minutes. Equalling out or extending the time of breaks in proportion work time — especially if doing repetitive tasks like going through papers — can help keep me from getting into a harmful work rhythm. Another trick is to alternate types of work, so that one 15-minute break after sorting papers can be followed by 15 minutes of putting away clothes or wiping down counters.

  3. Sara Abernathy says:

    Whenever I get up to do something from where I am, I try to grab things that need to be put away. Non fibro people can utilize this idea as well. As I’m getting up from my nap, I’ll grab my drinking glass to take to the kitchen etc! Helps a little bit!

  4. Mary Martin says:

    If you can afford it, I recommend getting a Roomba. Vaccuming really increases pain in my shoulders and spine. Since we have a very furry golden retriever, the floors are always hairy. Roomba took over a very tough job for me — it’s not perfect, but it never complains.

  5. Karen says:

    I too have utilized the technique of just little chunks at a time. By the time I get done with cleaning a bathroom, it’s ready to be cleaned again. Well this sure beats cracking the whip on myself until I finish the whole job or just simply collapse (and suffer a fibro flare).

  6. Evelyn mc Kemey Gallagher says:

    Thanks Robin and others. I found it difficult to cope with housework when I worked ,as a chef.I Struggled for a few years with pain stiffness and the sense of never catching up with things. Diagnosis osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. I set goals everyday.I break up jobs, like changing a bed, dusting and hoover. Iv a beam, underfloor system. So it’s just the brush and hose, no hoover bit.i can wash inside of 1 or 2 windows, but it’s hurts my hands. Outside now get done with a long handled brush, warm vinegar water and a hose. No spit and Polish anymore. I live I’m Ireland, we have a farm and hungry workers.they love homemade treacle scone which I make in a food mixer to save my hands, mixture a bit moist and pour into a lined tin to save on washing up. Going to stop mow as this will end up a novel…

  7. Lee Ann says:

    I was diagnosed with Fibro in 2004. That was a time when Fibro was just coming into focus. What the Drs knew was very limited and/or not acknowledged as A real illness. As you know it still is an uphill struggle but we are making headway. Because there has not been help I have had to try things and see if it is workable. In 2005 I lost my job and knew that I could not work so I began the fight for Social Security Disability. Won this in 2008. Along the way I developed ways of doing things such as cleaning. I started to do what you are discussing and it worked for a while for me. I eventualy had to face the truth that I could no longer do the cleaning or run errands. I also had to quit driving. It was a struggle but I am at a workable stage. I never married so that made the decisions a little easier. I have a person do my cleaning once a week and run outside errands. I go once a month with my helper to buy groceries. Finally, please do not be so proud or feel so guilty that you do not make changes that fits you. I have lost friends and family along the way but I still have a niece and family that has helped me along the way. I am down to one friend but she has stayed with me even though she does not understand. Sure, I get lonely but I try to keep myself busy with quiet things like reading, crafts and jigsaw puzzles. Pinterest has been a blessing. Sorry this so long but I thought it may help someone.

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