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When You Can't Clean House

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I've never had a problem cleaning house...until I broke my ankle. Suddenly I was not allowed to bear any weight on my foot. And yet, the chores still needed to be done. If you've had something come up in your life that prevents you from cleaning, these tips will help you out.

1. Minimize the Mess

One of the best ways to keep from having to clean your home is to eliminate as much of the need for cleaning as possible. For the first 4 weeks after ankle surgery I was mainly confined to one small area of my home. It was all within reach, so it was easier to control what was getting messy. I used a lot of disposable dishes and nearly eliminated the need to wash dishes. If you aren't able to be up and about cleaning, chances are you aren't up and about making messes. This will help you minimize how much cleaning actually needs to be done.

2. Ignore What You Can

One of the most difficult things for me to deal with was making mental lists of all the projects around the home that needed to be taken care of. We have to make a distinction between cleaning that has to be done to keep our homes healthy and sanitary, and cleaning that is less urgent. Yes, a neat and organized linen closet is a wonderful thing, but if you are confined to the couch it may just have to wait. Dishes, laundry, and surface cleaning of the areas you are using should be the main focus. It help me to have the main room I was confined to neat and organized. I just tried not to be annoyed that the pantry could use a good reorganizing. Some things will have to wait.

3. Do What You Can

Different illnesses and accidents require different levels of inactivity. It may be that you are able to do some things. If you are limited in activity, accomplishing even a few small tasks can really help you feel better mentally and physically. For me, although I was unable to walk, I could use my hands perfectly. This lent itself perfectly to sorting. My son would bring filing boxes of papers to me each morning and I would sort/shred/organize them during the day. I was also able to fold laundry, catch up on correspondences, etc. Find out what you can do, however small, and do it. As you recover or gain strength, add new tasks. It was actually a huge accomplishment after I was released for limited walking to clean out the refrigerator.

4. Ask Friends and Family for Help

This may be your main source of help and/or frustration. I'm very blessed that I live with a fully capable husband and five children. Tasks that I normally would have done had to be taken over by a huge range of people. My chauffeur duties were split between 4 extended family members. My son took over exclusive kitchen cleaning duties. The younger kids did the laundry. (We only had one batch of laundry ruined by a green crayon.) My husband was responsible for cooking. Friends became a lifeline for odd errands that needed to be taken care of. Even with all of this help, though, there were frustrating days when I wished things were being done my way. Try to be understanding and helpful of the aid you are receiving. Be honest about what you need. Remember that it is very likely that someday you will be returning the favor for someone else.

5. Hire a Professional

If what your family and friends can provide is not quite taking care of everything, you could consider hiring someone to help. Maid services can come in and take care of many cleaning tasks that you are unable to do. Contact some different services and get quotes on the cost. Be very specific about what you need. Some services may charge extra for laundry or dishes. Ask friends and family for recommendations. There may be someone in your circle of acquaintances who could use some light housekeeping as temporary part time work. Be sure to put the details of a professional contract in writing. When hiring someone reputable, you have a lot of peace of mind that things will be done. If finances permit, this can be a great option.

6. Contact a Local Support Agency

If hiring someone isn't an option, you may need to look elsewhere for help. Contact your health insurance company to see if they provide any home services while you are ill or recuperating. Contact a local social service agency to see if they have any advice or are aware of any programs that can help. Many churches have compassionate service organizations to help members during these times of need. Or perhaps your local church or school is associated with a boy scout or girl scout troop who could use some community service hours. When in doubt you can also talk to your doctor and ask their advice about if you qualify for some extra help at home.
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