Clearing out - Cleaning Up - Simplying

hayri_gwJune 9, 2008

Hey y'all. Have been reading some of the posts and just wanted to join in.

Due to a chronic health problem, I had to quit my job 1/9/08. For years, I had not been able to organize, clean or keep our house the way I wanted to or 'should'. My shoulds include just to have clean counters, stove, etc.

For the past few years, I've made sure that everything that I used in cooking was dishwasher safe. Our meals consisted of canned or packaged food. We have enough dishes and pots & pans to last us a week in case I feel so bad that I'm not even able to load the dishwasher. Some nights I go to bed as early as 6:30.

I've also made sure that we had enough towels, bed linens, underwear, etc. to last us a few weeks. Sometimes I spent the entire weekend in bed and was just not able to run the washer.

After quiting my job, I decided to get the house cleaned and organized. I took each closet and emptied it out. A lot of stuff has been thrown out or bagged to domate. It took me about a week on each closet (of which there are 3).

Almost each room has been cleaned from top to bottom - it's strange not to see cat hair clouds in each corner!

There are as few decorations/purties set out as possible - I'm just not able to keep them dusted.

Even though I have a self-cleaning oven, it doesn't get used due to the smell and heat generated. So...I got some of the spray-on cleaner and spent two days cleaning the oven. It had not been clean in years!!

I went through my little laundry room and got rid of a lot of cleaners, etc. If the containers have not been opened, they're being donated to a thrift shop pantry. I'm using only baking soda, etc. for cleaning now. My laundry room looks huge now.

Plastic bags are donated to the library (they beg for them!). I use only a few for disposing of cat litter.

Newspapers and magazines are dumped in a recycling bin. None of the senior citizens center around here want any magazines or books. And the thrift stores won't accept them cause they say they can't sell them. I will buy a box of mags at yard sales for $1-$1.50, tear out the articles/recipes I want to keep and toss the rest.

My husband has been great in accepting my illness but he just doesn't see the laundry or dirty dish pileups. But if I don't have the energy to do the cleaning, I don't have the energy to ask him to do it. Being chronically sick is no picnic!!!!!!!

Basically, I'm trying to pare down possessions whether it be clothes, reading materials or just things.

You know, I like my food without a lot of seasonings - I like to taste the food itself. I'm getting to the point of enjoying our house without a lot of decorations. It's easier to keep up plus I can enjoy the exposed beams in the living room, the chair rail in the master, the picture window in the dining room, etc. Sounds odd, right?

Sorry to ramble on so. Thanks for listening and not throwing too many tomatoes at me!!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Throw tomatoes at you? No way! You have done more in six months of retirement than I have done in six years! I talk about doing these things, but don't do them.

Welcome to this forum. Maybe you will inspire someone. Maybe me.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 9:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your willingness to stick to it at your own pace is remarkable. You should be very proud of yourself. Ten years ago, I spent three months bald, whoopsy, and exhausted from chemotherapy, and so I really understand.
Do you have the possibility of hiring some help to cover your basic cleaning needs? It is wonderful to have your whole house clean all at once, every week, or even every two weeks, and you would be surprised at how quickly you can adjust your budget in other areas to cover it. Don't think of it as giving up... think of it as promoting yourself to management after a long time in the trenches. And it is so much better for you than to be quietly frustrated by not getting as much help as you'd like from your otherwise loving family, don't you think?
Hang in there. You obviously have a strong spirit, in spite of it all.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 10:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You sound like youre doing great. Pretty soon you'll have so much free time, you'll need another hobby.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 11:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it's fantastic as well. I used to be a phenomenal housekeeper and it's since gone by the wayside. I know your feeling. I also battled fatigue and a baby at 40. (that's probably where the fatigue lied, LOL!) I too cleaned out the unnecessary dusting and excess and it's liberating, isn't it?

Maybe you can find a highschool neighbor that will clean for you for a few bucks every once in a while. You'd be surprised how fast they can do it when they're not picking up at the same time like we would when we clean.

Like Graywings said you'll inspire someone....maybe me too.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Best of luck!

(I think you might find that having less is actually *easier*--if you have 2 plates, you *have* to keep them washed to be able to eat. If you have 4 outfits, you *have* to do laundry, and it doesn't take much carrying them around, or much time to fold.

Not saying you should pare down *that* far, but I thik you'll discover that even *with* your disability, you will find it easier to keep up your home and routine if it's SMALL enough.

And I agree w/ the idea of hiring help for the bigger tasks.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mantra since I turned 40 has been, "Less is More ". I don't like alot of "stuff" around. I like decorations around my home but before you know it, they seem to just take over your home if you let them. I have a wooden cutout that says, SIMPLIFY. Easier said than done at times, but just keep getting rid of all those little things as you are able to and life will be easier. I however, fight a losing battle. I remarried 3 years ago and my husband is a "collector" of everything and a packrat. You should see how many clothes, ties, hats, etc he has ! It makes me crazy but I love him. Just really hate all the clutter in our house.
As far as your illness, just do the best you can when you are able. No family to help you out ? I would think your DH would pitch in and help you out once in awhile. Keep up the good work and your spirits !

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hooray for you! You keep plugging away. I've been out of work since 2005. My health is pretty bad, I have kidney failure and my husband is endlessly patient with me.My house is a cluttered up mess! Stacks of papers on the kitchen table. My motto is "Progress, not Perfection". I think I got that from Flylady. Just do something to improve your home every day. Cleaning the oven was a big job, you should be proud of yourself. And it doesn't take a lot to keep it clean. Just wipe it out of there's a spill. I enjoy cooking, even though it's just for DH and me. Watch those cooking shows on TV, they will inspire you! I'm planning a big Fathers Day brunch, Eggs Benedict with steak.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sounds like you are already on your way to a more peaceful home!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 6:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry for the rant? For most of us it's inspiration, please don't apologize. I'm sorry that you and other posters have been battling health problems that definitely cuts down on the energy you have to devote to housework. My dear friend who has been battling breast cancer on and off for a few years found that having a grocery delivery system helped her load more than she expected it too. As for the laundry, maybe you have a teenager in your neighborhood that would like to earn some money on a weekly basis? If you had a few loads for them maybe they could also do some dishes while the laundry was running? A really good candidate for this job would be a teen who is just too young to get a retail job (fourteen would be perfect! They want to earn money but don't have many opportunities.)

Now don't hate me or throw too many tomatoes for my next suggestion. Have you considered just NOT buying magazines? Personally I have come to the conclusion that they are visual clutter and rarely have anything new to say. Depending on their genre they are either gossipping about movie stars and their love affairs, how to lose 10 pounds, decorating ideas etc. etc. Which of these subjects is NOT covered on the internet? Even if these are not your type of magazines I can bet you that the subject is covered on the internet and magazines are 90% advertising. I cut magazines out of my budget over 15 years ago and recently did a heavy spring cleaning and STILL threw out a box of magazines! How'd they get there? Even without a single subscription a box worth crept into my house. Just like eliminating the clutter or knick knacks and specialty cleaners I enjoyed eliminating magazines. As for your books you can donate them to charities such as Goodwill, the Vets, Lupus foundation, Courage Center, all those type of donation places that come to your house for pick up. My library solicits donations once a year for a book sale also.

The Less is More mantra is something that I think comes with maturity (ha ha I mean age) because I think twenty somethings and early thirties are trying to establish their "style" and will try to decorate, even over clutter. It is much better to have less, deal with less, keep things clean and you can find what you want. Hope you didn't mind MY rant and God Bless you, take care of yourself!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 10:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Amen to that, Nessie. Stopping the entry of stuff into the house is a good way to control clutter.

When someone hands me a free pen, magnetic advertising sticker, or pamphlet, I turn it down. Why bring clutter into my house, especially when it isn't even clutter I selected? I will stand and read the pamphlet and then put it back in the pile.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 7:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You never understand how difficult simple housework can be until you experience a serious injury or illness.

A car mowed me down. Standing and walking became very painful and difficult. The simplest things were suddenly huge burdens. I could sit on the couch to fold laundry, but it took me a week to put the laundry away. Standing was that painful. My husband had to go down to the laundry room, and bring the laundry back up for me. I could not walk and carry anything at the same time.

So you can imagine that it was also difficult to go to the store to buy food, bring it home, cook it, and put the dishes into the dishwasher. Did I mention that I kept working, even after things got so difficult? Hubby was still in school.

Cleaning? Forget it! I only could manage the bare minimum: clothes and food.

My wonderful hubby was sooo understanding, and helped whenever he could. He woke up and helped me move my leg when I awoke groaning from the pain in the middle of the night. We got through it together. And I learned how profoundly an injury or illness can affect every single second of a person's life.

My body has recovered. I still can't believe it used to take me a week to put away the laundry.

I wish it could be easier for you. It takes a lot of careful thought to figure out ways to make everything easier to do. I am sure the decluttering will help, but you need clean dishes and clothes every week. Is there some way hubby can help just a bit? Can you fold laundry together in front of the TV? Hang in there!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 12:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Golly, Maryliz, we are lucky you are still with us! What an awful ordeal. I hope part of the silver lining is that your family now sees how important you are, and how everything goes to the hell in a handbasket when you are not functioning well.

I am inspired by all of you to give more thought to this...I have to have surgery on my hands this year, and the recovery will be long and awkward, and I'll be essentially one-handed for six weeks, and in PT for three months, twice. My husband travels extensively for work, so I'll be on my own a lot of that time.

What advice would you give me in preparation?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 1:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My goodness, I've stopped whinging about my lot after reading your posts. I'm waiting for probable surgery on my cervical spine in the next month or so, and am having to spend a lot of time in bed, till I get my neck "fixed". Afterwardss will be a bit of a haul too, but hopefully mine is fixable and this is only a temporary set back for a few months. So my heart really goes out to those others of you who are having to cope with long term illness and health issues.
I'm just so fortunate to have no little kids at home, and a semi-retired DH who is really helpful.
I've proven just how much can get done in little bites of time, and I've become an opportunist .. because I only can do about 15 mintues walking about, I don't let an opportunity pass to pick up something on the way, to put something back etc. or give something a quick swipe as I go by. Being decluttered and simplified is just the hugest help in coping with a household and health problems, I've found.
Some of the suggestions I've found to be helpful in dealing with things like this.
Have easy to put on clothes. For me, because it's my neck, they said to get button up shirts, because you can't raise you arms just after surgery, but for you Bronwynsmom, I imagine it would need to be the opposite....anything without buttons and closures... just slip on loose clothes that don't need adjusting, and aren't hard to pull on and aren't tight and don't need to be adjusted, etc.
I keep a stack of little hand towels and wipes beside my bed for quick clean ups, and because I can't bend my head much, I actually use them as "bibs" LOL. Because i'm likely to be in a neck brace for a while, there are lots of spills and dribbles when you eat apparently. Yay, what fun. But for hands? Would it be easier to use a spoon or cup to hold.. like a soup mug etc, rather than knife and fork.
Our crock pot has been invaluable while I've been like this... DH is no cook, and I can't stand up for long to chop, so between us, we just throw lots of vegies, beans, tomatoes, pasta, herbs steak etc into the crock pot, and we're having healthy food that mightn't be always cordon bleu, but it's tasty and good for us. Do you have a crock pot? Easy to make, all in one dish, eat with a spoon, or dilute to make it into soups if you have to. ANd we've proven that even a domestically challenged DH can throw things into a crockpot. And I've been buying frozen bags of pre-chopped vegies to save chopping.
I keep a fold up carry box on the bed, because of practically living in it lately, and I just do a quick tidy up of all the bits and pieces...books, pens, dvd's, cds, hot packs, medications, water bottles..etc. It's all easily accessible and keeps the bed looking neat, with all my bits coralled.
Another suggestion is to have an easily operated cd player, for if you feel really lousy and can't do much, just listening to audio books can keep your mind occupied while you rest.
Have someone take your pain killers or medication for the day, if you will need it, out of the child proof bottles and into a container that you don't have to unscrew lids etc.
Do you have a fan heater, Bronwynsmom? Just thinking of you trying to towel yourself dry after a shower.. easier to stand in front of a blow heater and air dry than wield a towel one handed.
And I'd make sure I had a drink bottle with a lid and straw, for if your hands are weakish, to save spills, and having to grab with two hands.
Is someone able to drive you to your PT, if you DH is away?

Another thought... slip on slides or shoes. You won't want to be pulling on boots, straps and sandal buckles, or tying laces.

Ok, I feel better already about being stuck here lying down, because I can use my hands... (hmm that's why I'm on here all the time lately, because the laptop is my sanity saver). Will you be able to use a mouse, or hold a book? Once before when I had back surgery and was stuck in bed for ages, I used a recipe book holder, to hold books as I was reading them. Saved holding them up all the time, and all I had to do was turn a page when I needed to. Just thinking that might save your hands too. Also, I told DH and DS to start using my fairly simple "house control journal". It's a moderated Flylady kind of thing, that I hardly use much anymore but it gives them a guide at least of what to do next.

I've also tried to keep the office work and accounts etc right up to date, while I still can. Nothing like having peace of mind about finances and paperwork while you're trying to cope with surgery etc, especially if you're unable to write.
I intend to book myself in for weekly massages after surgery.... I couldn't cope with them just now but I figure that because I haven't been able to exercise much, and won't for a while, that a massage will get the blood flowing and keep me feeling pampered.
Also, what about a pedicure and manicure before your surgery. A bit of pampering you won't be able to do for yourself after for a while?
Easy to do hairstyle.
I have long hair, and thought it would pay to get it short for neck surgery. I'm so glad that I read someone's advice to keep it long, because at least you can get it up off your neck out of the way of stitches and collar etc. Short hair just sticks around your neck. I wouldn't have thought of that even. So thinking of your hands. Do you have an easily done hairstyle?
Sorry, these are probably funny ideas, and I don't know your situation enough to know how limited you will be, but it's been on my own mind a lot to prepare myself for being handicapped for a couple of months, so i'm just throwing out ideas that people have shared with me.
And hugs to all you people out there who have to deal with these things full time, especially anyone without supportive family and friends.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 11:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You've gotten some good, no, great suggestions so far. A couple things I'd add to make life easier that worked for me. For pills, I take a daily multi-vitamin, a couple glucosamine, and a calcium every day. I bought a pill sorter from WalMart for about $3 or $4 that is four weeks worth. It's marked for Sun-Sat on all four or it can be used as a one week 4 times a day or of course 2 weeks/twice a day. I cut it into 2 units so I have 2-2week sorters. I fill them about once a month and it is so easy to flip the top, pour them into your mouth and close it. You can pretty easily work with it one handed, and I should know, I was down to one arm a few years ago. I had taken a bad fall, broke both my shoulders, one arm, a couple ribs and really messed up my back and hips. I have bad knees anyway so crouching is tough, near impossible. But I didn't realize both my shoulders were broken and when I figured it out I said no way was I going to let them immobilize my other shoulder or try to talk me into surgery or something. But that's a long story. Now trying to drive my little pickup with a manual transmission and no power steering, well, that was a challenge! But I needed to get to the store and such. And I lived on frozen pizzas, sandwiches and that's about it for a few months. Cooking was a challenge. Even opening a can one-handed wasn't easy. Well OK I could use the hand tucked up against my belly but again, it wasn't easy. And shoveling the driveway & walk was downright tough!

So, needless to say the house isn't as clean as it used to be, and the yard doesn't look as nice. But you know what? Life goes on with an untidy house. I now have pretty much full use of both arms although the hips and legs aren't good. Tough to stand, sit, crouch, etc. You don't realize what a difference when you can't just bend and pick up a scrap of paper off the floor, or if you drop your keys or whatever. But one of those "grabbers" sure helps for that stuff! Just get a decent one.

But another thing for making things easier is bath sheets. Wrap them around you and go sit down until you're dry. I lived in sweats or flannel pants for nearly a year. Most of the time even when I went out somewhere I'd just wear sweats or flannels. I may not have looked exactly GQ but even zipping and buttoning pants and buckling a belt one handed, and not your primary hand at that, makes fashion worries go out the window.

For me "loafers" or slip on shoes have pretty much been a way of life for years, but yes they're much easier. And some stretched out socks are easier to put on too!

For years now, even before I took the "spill" I've been trying to pare down posessions. That of course got put on hold for a while too but I'm getting back to it and hayri, you're really an inspiration to me to want to get back at it. I keep trying to remember that doing a little bit is better than none at all, and try to improve, don't expect perfection.

Oh and on food, I remember when I was first doing some actual "cooking" after being laid up. I made a hotdish. probably one of the simplest things there is but it gave me such a feeling of accomplishment it's hard to describe and after eating junk for months, it tasted great.

The one thing that wasn't a big problem for me was laundry. Once I could get up & down the steps without too much trouble, even with one hand I could throw the stuff in, start the washer, move it to the dryer and I had one basket that was real easy to carry one-handed.

Couple other things that work well. If you have an attached garage with a garage door opener, carry an opener with you. If someone comes over, you can use the remote to open the garage door to let them in, or if in the event you're injured and need to call 911, they can get in easier to help. And carry a cordless phone or a cell phone on you at all times in the house, or have it sitting right within reach. Actually a regular phone is often preferable for this since if you have to call 911, they'll have your address pop up (in most areas) whereas a cell phone will go to the highway patrol and have to get transferred. I have a keypad switch outside for my GD opener and my sister can come and not need a key. Supposedly it's programmable to allow for temporary access codes to go to different people but I lost the instructions to program it. But it does work well.

If you'll forgive me one little bragging, I was so proud of myself. I made baby back ribs last night. And they were so good! And actually quite easy, all in all. I'm still stuffed! After something happens your sense of accomplishment changes. Little things mean a lot more. And the simple things are appreciated more too.

Enough of my babbling. Here's hoping for good health for everyone and speedy recoveries for everyone too!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 6:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cynic, I had just got out of the the shower before I came on here to read, and was tickled pink to see what you said about wrapping a bath sheet around and sitting down in it till you're dry. One of the things that does hurt me is to bend down to dry myself with the weight of a towel.. and wrapping a towel around my head really sends my neck into a frenzy. So I was in the shower trying to think of ideas for after I have neck surgery.
I'd decided I'd see if I could get one of those hooded bath sheets that you see for kids... you know the ones at the beach that go over their heads... like a towelling hooded poncho.. But I don't think they make them in adult size.
I read on here somewhere about someone using a towelling kind of turban for wet hair.
I used to have an old ratty towelling robe that I decluttered..... I could have used that as a wrap around towel for a few months till I'm mended... Hmmmm I've finally found something I wished I hadn't tossed LOL.
I'm just thinking of in hospital I might feel a bit insecure sitting there in a bath sheet, but a towelling robe? Thanks for getting me thinking on this.
Cheers everyone

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 6:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

well, for lilydilly, but at the risk of following the derailing topic, I just love the little "Turbey-Twist" thingies for putting on your head to let your hair dry; I bought a couple and will not go back to towels toppling off my head again. They're small, light, tuck in correctly and stay on properly no matter how you walk around or get dressed, and get my hair to the just-damp point for finishing off with the blowdryer. (May not work for someone with very long/big hair). So this is one specialty product that earns its keep, for me.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 1:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't think I would use a hooded towel lilydilly...if you sit on the towel too high it will pull on your head and your neck. For my new br my friend just gave me a "microfiber hair and body towel 18"x30" says ultra absorbent waffle weave. Soft, quick drying and lightweight. It is made my Aquis
Here is a link to it...a number of sites including Amazon sell it. I think you would be very happy with it!
Best Wishes on your up-coming surgery and recovery.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aquis towel

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 2:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looks like she visited you too!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 2:47PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Best life lesson I ever learned
Best life lesson I ever learned was at 25 years old...
Can I get rid of my wedding gown?
Hi everyone. We went to spend the weekend with my parents...
How to get your kid (young, or young adult, or adult) to declutter
On one of the other threads (the "madwoman"...
Meet and Greet - Please Introduce yourself!
I don't think I've ever seen that happen on this particular...
What to do with hundreds of CDs
I have nice storage boxes filled with hundreds of CDs...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™