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Spring Cleaning Tips for People With Arthritis

Start With Realistic Goals

By

Updated April 08, 2012

It's time for spring cleaning! Time to tackle infrequent housekeeping tasks -- the tasks that get left behind throughout the year because keeping up with dishes, laundry, dusting, and mopping is enough. I think I just heard a collective sigh from all of you. I understand the sigh. I have arthritis, too.

The thought of spring cleaning makes you want to scream, cry, or both. You feel like you can't physically handle it. Truth be told, there are tasks you won't be able to do by yourself. To acccomplish certain tasks, you will need to ask for help.

Spring cleaning is as much about organizing and purging as it is about cleaning. Spring cleaning is not about over-exerting yourself or overwhelming yourself. It's about defining how you can accomplish what needs to be done. It's about reaping the benefits of your effort. Following these tips will help.

1 - Find your motivation. You will feel less stress once you make a plan and define your purpose. Give yourself a reason do to dig in. De-cluttering, purging, and organizing can make you feel like you have cleansed your soul. Are you attempting to gather items for a garage sale to make extra money? Is your goal to donate items to charity for those in need? Or, is the purpose to create more space for yourself, making your home more accessible and livable?

2 - Prioritize the tasks. Make 3 lists: Must-Do Tasks, Should-Do Tasks, and Optional Tasks. Next to each item on the list, estimate the time it will take to accomplish the task, as well as the effort it will require (i.e., difficult, moderate, easy task). On days you feel well, tackle the Must-Do list or the more difficult tasks. Remember to pace yourself and not over-do.

3 - Set realistic goals. Decide how much time you can spend on spring cleaning each day. If you don't define some sort of expectation for yourself, you will procrastinate. You will continue to push tasks from one day to the next. You need to be flexible, because some days you will not feel well enough to tackle what you had planned. Don't stress. Make adjustments to your schedule and carry on as soon as you can.

4 - Respect your limitations. What you would like to be able to do may be different from what you really can do. Arthritis pain should never be ignored. Instead, you must respect it. Increasing pain is a sign that you need to stop what you're doing. It is tempting to push beyond your limits, especially if you are close to finishing a particular job, but you shouldn't. Recognize when it is time to stop. Also, recognize when you shouldn't start. Meaning, if a job is beyond your physical ability, delegate or hire someone to do it.

5 - Make spring cleaning a family affair. You will accomplish more in a shorter amount of time if you have more hands at work. Every person in your family should pitch in. Give the kids age-appropriate tasks. Everyone will take pride in their work and want to maintain it going forward.

6 - Use ergonomic, arthritis-friendly cleaning tools. Over the last decade, there has been an increasing emphasis on ergonomics and joint protection. Your are no longer stuck with a dust rag and ladder. Most cleaning tools are available with an extendable handle to allow you to clean places that once were beyond your reach. Search online for "long handled cleaning tools". You will be amazed by what you find.

7 - Search for shortcuts. If you come across a task that you didn't realize needed your attention (i.e. carpet stains, scratched wood, loose tile, holes in the wall) search online for solutions. There is a wealth of do-it-yourself information available that can help you get the job done easily. Be sure to check out Housekeeping at About.com.

8 - Dump what's dingy. Some things are beyond cleaning and need replacing. It's amazing what a new comforter can do for a bedroom or what new lamp shades can do to perk up the family room. Spend a little money to give any room a quick facelift.

9 - Seasonal chores need your attention. It's time to think of maintenance jobs that you do seasonally. For example, clean out debris from your yard, wash and put up window screens, hose out the garage, change the direction of your ceiling fans. Warmer weather is on the way. Get ready.

10 - Try to maintain it. The biggest reward you can give yourself for all of your hard work is to maintain what you have done. Keep things clean. Keep things organized. Make every effort for "status quo" to be "tidy, not messy".

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