Spring Cleaning with MS

Spring has sprung, which means the weather is warmer, the flowers are blooming, and of course, spring cleaning and organizing is upon us!  We’re sure everyone would agree that spring cleaning can be a tiring activity.  However, for individuals with chronic conditions, especially those with accompanying fatigue like MS, this can be even more of an arduous task. Cleaning and organizing can be exhausting, and physical clutter can create mental clutter and even anxiety.

But our writers here at MultipleSclerosis.net get it. They understand the struggle and have written multiple articles around the topic of managing household chores and cleaning. So, we’ve created a compilation of the tips and strategies they shared to make it a bit easier to take on the spring cleaning frenzy.

When It’s Time to Clean                                                                     

  • Do a little at a time: To save energy, try to do a little cleaning at a time.  Pace yourself, you don’t need to do it all at once!  If you have limited mobility, try to plan ahead.  For example, if you pass through a room that needs cleaning, bring a swifter with you so you can clean as you go if possible!
  • Use a lightweight vacuum: Maneuverability can be much easier with less weight to move around. Even investing in a steam cleaner could be a solution, as they are easy to use and can cut down on labor.
  • Use long handled scrub brushes: These long-handled toilet brushes are advantageous when cleaning showers, tubs, and other household areas. They provide minimal bending and twisting and can save wear and tear on your knees.
  • Place a hanging rack over or near your dryer: This will help make it easier to hang items you may want to air dry.

Ongoing Energy Savers

  • Sit while you cook: If there’s space, keep a stool or high chair in the kitchen so you can sit down while cooking or prepping food
  • Save the steps: If you have steps in your house, leave items that need to go upstairs at the bottom of the steps, and at the end of the day make one trip. (Bring a bag if needed!)
  • Invest in a “grabber”: These can be very helpful, especially in the kitchen to reach or pick up things.  They can also be used to replace light bulbs that are hard to reach!
  • Work on clutter management: Staying organized is difficult for everyone. Taking a quick 15 minutes a day to tackle clutter can prevent long-term stress and help you from getting overwhelmed.

Sort the Clutter   

When going through clutter or miscellaneous items, try managing it with five categories:

  • Trash – Items that are damaged or can no longer be used/sold or donated.
  • Good homes – These items may go to a good home for someone else to enjoy or use.
  • For sale – These items may have some value and could be sold.
  • Storage items – These may be functional items that are not used on a regular basis.
  • Keep – These are functional items used regularly or items with sentimental value.

Ask for Help

Cleaning and decluttering is a process that takes time and maintenance, and it’s never a bad idea to seek help if needed! As always, you know your body best and what it needs, as well as when you should or shouldn’t push yourself.

Although often daunting, have a clean environment and reducing clutter may have a more positive impact on your life and journey with MS than expected!

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Jump Into Spring Cleaning – Then Nap

By Lauren Kovacs

“Spring cleaning” is more than scrubbing floors.  Yes, dusting and cleaning under the bed are both good starts. Cleaning how you do stuff is also important.  Methods to your madness will iron out life-wrinkles.

I admit spring cleaning is something I abandoned on the side of a dusty road, in the desert, years ago. Along with the OCD Cleaning Lady and the Floor Nazi Mom, I left them behind too.  Relax; I gave them a bottle of water.  They were replaced with the “Do What You Can Lady.”

With three boys, a husband, and a dog, I am drowning in major testosterone.  Physical spring cleaning is often a losing battle for me.  I take one task at a time, now.  I also make lists of what tasks need attention.  Cleaning toilets never makes that list.

Learn to work smarter.  Expel as little energy as possible, but be proud of the tasks you do complete.  One trick I use to move laundry is using a rolling plant stand.  I can no longer lift laundry baskets onto my walker and pushing it was scratching my wood floors, even with putting felt dots on the bottom.

When putting away laundry get help and put away winter clothes, as you uncover summer clothes, at the same time.  I put the youngest one’s clothes into a designated container to give away, as it comes through the wash. The older boys put their own clothes into large plastic tubs, with the size and season written on paper on top.  If one of the boys happens to eat miracle grow and suddenly needs a bigger size mid-season, it is clean and dresser ready.

It would be easier, if they were turtles and their clothes grew with them.  I am also wondering if being nudists would help.  I guess having weeds with big feet, in my house, is just life.  The dog grows out and does not need clothes, thankfully.  We just adjust his collar.

Once we switch over seasons, I make a list of what is needed.  They are boys.  Stuff gets stained, torn, or runs away with the socks.  Pinewood Derby paint does not wash out, by the way.  Blood on soccer uniforms responds well to hydrogen peroxide, before the wash.

Do what you can and what you are good at.  I am good at organization, making lists, and researching.  Cleaning the blinds, I am not good at, however.  Embrace your gifts.

Clean your methods too.  Make sure to know easier paths to get things done more efficiently.  Save energy the best way you can.  Even driving can be made more efficient.  Maybe have a route mapped in your head of how you shop.  Write down the map, if you have cognitive issues.

I like to spring clean with a small bag of M&Ms.  I reward myself with the completion of each task.  Reward yourself in some way when doing anything really.  You know the effort it requires.

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Purging: Useful in More Ways than One

Ahhh Spring…a time when flowers are in bloom, daylight lasts a bit longer, and everyone tries to come out of hibernation from the cold winter months. Spring cleaning is known to be synonymous with this time as well; to rid households or offices of stale, closed up winter residue and open up to the fresher and rejuvenating seasons ahead. But this period of spring cleaning does not have to begin and end with just cleaning out closets or drawers, but rather a purging of all things unwanted, unnecessary or negative that’s affecting your life.

Now I know this can be easier said than done—things happen that you can’t control or predict sometimes or can even change, but for the situations where you do have control or a say in it, rid yourself of negativity and toxicity. If you have the opportunity to shed things that don’t add or contribute positively to your life, do it. Life is unpredictable as it is and there’s so much that we don’t have control over, so if there are moments where you can actively take charge and remove the unwanted, jump on it.

The act of purging can be cathartic; it can help you discard pessimistic thoughts and even people, which can be so very draining to deal with, especially on a regular basis. This practice may be a lengthy and emotional one because it can take time to evaluate these aspects of your life and day-to-day. To realize what should stay and what should go is an inner learning process and one that only you yourself should decide. It’s not easy breaking ties or cutting things out, but in the end you have to consider what’s ultimately going to be best for you, and finding comfort with the decisions you’ve made and to be able to move forward. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be defined by just clearing out closets; it can be a clearing of the mind as well.

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Spring Clean Up

SPRINGTIMESpring is the time of year when we think of new beginnings. Before moving forward, the first thing a lot of us think about is getting our current situation in order. In a lot of cases, that can be a daunting task. But it is an important one. Clutter can lead to health-related issues and affect one’s wellness. There is a link between disorganization and thoughts of low self-esteem and worth.

Clutter can weigh you down and cause you to make poor decisions that can impact your health. On the other hand, getting organized can lead to healthier choices, improve your relationships, improve sleep and it can actually help you feel happier and more relaxed.

  • When you do decide to start, take it slow at first. You don’t want to get too overwhelmed. Start small. Pick a small area or task that can be completed in 15 minutes the first few days.
  • Completing the task is important so you get a sense of accomplishment. Don’t make piles and walk away so you need to come back and finish later.
  • Be sure to separate piles of papers that you need to keep versus papers that can be recycled. When you’re finished, make sure the trash makes it to the trash can and important papers get filed neatly and logically so you can find them later.
  • Create some rules to use to help you get through things quicker. For example, if you haven’t used an item or worn a piece of clothing in a year, it is time to donate it. Remember, your items can be donated to a good cause to help others in need (plus if you keep good records of what you donate, you may get an added deduction on your taxes).
  • Lastly, don’t buy anything new until you finish your organizing to see what you already have. You don’t want to buy something you already own, but forgot you had!

Happy Spring cleaning!

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