Staying in control of the housework with chronic illness

Staying in control of the housework with chronic illness

Staying in control of the housework with chronic illness


There is no denying the cleaning frenzy that has spread like wild fire online over the last few months. So I would like to say from the start this is NOT another jumping on the bandwagon post, but more of a recommendation of what I found has worked for me. First of all I would like to make it clear that I’m not judging any of these accounts or slating one because I like another. I’m firmly in the camp that there is enough room online for everyone doing  their own thing in the way that suits them. This is just a recommendation on how to stay in control of the housework with chronic illness that totally works for me in regards to my illness and pain levels.

I make no secret of the fact I have chronic illness which sees me deal with chronic, persistent pain daily. In fact I cannot remember the last day I was pain free. Not to be flippant but if I woke up pain free I would probably think I had died.

Anyway, before this HUGE cleaning frenzy craze took hold of everyone I literally stumbled upon an Instagram account that was less about just cleaning random things at any one time and more about a cleaning method that spanned over the week.  It’s been well thought out and covered the whole house on a weekly rotation while keeping to a minimal amount of time. Just 30 minutes a day in this case. The more I read the more I knew this method would work for me.

The problem with having a chronic illness that creates pain ALL of the time means that keeping on top of any housework is a mammoth job. Any activity I do creates a fall out of symptoms that could land me in bed for part of a day or several days on the trot. My hands are particularly bad due to the Hypermobility syndrome that means my joints can dislocate at any time and both my thumb and forefinger joints literally scrape bone against bone. I have hand splints I can and should wear but I cannot keep them on for an extended period of time as that creates a different type of discomfort.

I was finding it impossible to keep on top of the housework and it was getting to the point of having my husband use one of his days off work to do the majority of work. For me this was soul destroying. Mr B is a hard worker, he works shifts and already helps out more than enough at home anyway.

I struggle with the fact chronic illness stripped me of a lot of things. fFrstly, my work ( as I was an independent driving instructor with my own business) and sees me now spend most of my time on my own at home. Secondly, friendships. Yes believe it or not those invitations to going out for anything other than a sit down meal when you regularly use a walking stick soon dry up. People think that ‘someone’ will be stuck at the table with you if there is any dancing involved. Thirdly, it eats away any confidence you might have had left.

Chronic illness for me can be like a Dementor from Harry Potter where it can literally suck your life, and your enjoyment of life away from you. I’ve adapted along the way by setting up my first blog writing about navigating the teen years with my sons. Now this newer blog about my lifestyle at 50 now my boys are more grown up and independent. I have met lots of lovely people online and it has led to me running some local business social media accounts, putting more time into this blog and now writing for a living.

So, silver lining and all that!

As you can imagine the illness and pain can control my day to day life whether I prepare for it or not. I do not like not being in control. So when I found @the_organised_mum literally by accident I was hooked. Her Instagram account and her blog offers you a systematic method to stay on top of the cleaning and leave you cleaning free for the weekend which I’m sure will appeal to lots of busy households.

I haven’t been asked to blog about her account but I really wanted to share with others with chronic illness or chronic pain a system that actually works, It’s also free unless you opt to pay for the app. This is a one off payment of £4.99 and is a great way to personalise the method for your house and also share the system with others at home that could help you. There are daily reminders from Gem to get you motivated for whatever room is due to be cleaned that day. It’s a great, supportive online community to help when you are not feeling up to it that day and I find that is the best way to stay motivated to keep up with it.

The method for me is less about being housework free for the weekend and more about taking control of the cleaning back to a manageable task. I don’t enjoy cleaning, I’m not one of those people who genuinely love it, or clean when they are stressed etc.I only wish I was. But I love now that I have been following a while that I can definitely say it gets much easier the longer you follow.

I didn’t do the ‘boot camp’ which is based over a week to get back in control before starting on the weekly cleans. I just jumped in one week starting on a Monday just to see how it would work with my illness. To be fair I literally haven’t looked back. Yes there are weeks I cannot keep up and it runs into the weekend or even just gets missed until the following week. The difference is now I don’t panic about someone popping in and seeing my house is a shit tip. Although because of lockdown and restriction due to Covid that’s not an issue anyway. Also it doesn’t hurt if I miss a day as it’s less noticeable to anyone else but me.

Staying in control of the housework with chronic illness
WE are not a naturally tidy family and never have been until I joined the #teamtomm gang!

Also, it’s only 30 minutes a day. How good is that. It does take me longer as I have to rest in between some jobs but again I just adjust. On those days I just split the 30 minutes up into 5-10 minute chunks if necessary. If Mr B is off work he will happily help me either catch up or say do the hoovering part or the floor cleaning part which takes the most energy. Finally downloading the app was a revelation. Mr B no longer had to ‘ask’ what needed doing, he knows by checking what has been ticked off our daily list.

Another big help for me was investing in a new Dyson cordless hoover. I’ve lusted over one for a few years, but really, who has that sort of money to spend on a hoover. But this has really made a massive difference to keeping the place hoovered on a daily basis. Before, I had a normal upright corded hoover that was extremely heavy, difficult to hold by myself when trying to clean the stairs. It was like an extreme sport trying to get it in and out of my small under stairs cupboard. Honestly, it’s one of the best things I’ve invested in to make my life easier. This makes my daily Level 1 jobs (if you know you know) much easier to keep up with.

I know there are now LOTS of cleaning accounts out there. I do follow others and get lots of good info and hacks from them. But as a thorough cleaning method, in my lowly opinion, you would be hard pressed to find a better system than TeamTomm that truly works. If, you’re like me and get a bit overwhelmed with the cleaning as a whole then I would urge you to go and take a look at her blog to find more info on how it works. There are free printables on the website to help you stay on track, and a great supportive community of others who feel the same.

Oh and she also puts out a different daily Spotify list to help you get through the 30 minutes with a smile on your face.

In summary, this isn’t an ad it’s a recommendation from me of a good, free service. It works for me and it works for my illness. It gives me a feeling of being productive and allows me to take a bit of control back into my life.

I hope it helps those of you with chronic illness or chronic pain. You can thank me later!

I would love to know if you follow it already and how it has helped you.


6 thoughts on “Staying in control of the housework with chronic illness

  1. Love this. You’ve put into words exactly how I use and feel about Gemma’s method. I too follow TOMM – although, for me, it is less of a method and more of a ‘framework’. I have Cystic Fibrosis, which means a clean and dust-free home is essential but nigh on impossible with my symptoms and chronic tiredness. What TOMM does for me, more importantly than giving me a clean house, is it gives me peace of mind in a world where chronic and progressive illness can be both overwhelming and anxiety ridden.

    1. Oh you are so right chronic illness definitely creates anxiety and is often overwhelming! Just do what you can on any given day…….although the method runs Monday to Friday I have weeks where its just physically impossible for me to keep up- so I worry less about being housework free for the weekend and concentrate more on just trying to complete it within the full week. I can imagine how difficult it must be to be dust free in your home for health reasons so that must automatically put you under pressure. Some days I just know I can’t physically do the full 30 minutes all at once so I just focus on getting one job done if I can…….then later that day try and do another 5 minutes and so on until most of it gets done……..however, if I just cannot do it I don’t beat myself up about it and just run a day or so late with the method x

  2. Hi. I started the TOMM but I kind of just fell out of the routine. I have chronic back pain and post stroke fatigue, so I too find it hard work to do the slightest job. I throw myself in cos I think I can do it, then I literally have to lie down half way through and I don’t get around to finishing it. But after reading your story here, if you
    can manage it I’m sure I can. I’m going to start again next week. I enjoyed reading your blog, I’ll read the other stories now. Thanks. Claire

    1. Hi Claire, don’t beat yourself up too much if you cannot keep up………use the system as a guideline and break all of the 30 minutes into 5 minute chunks throughout the day so its more manageable……..and stick one of your favourite dance songs on to get you motivated (even if you only do a job that lasts as long as a song!) at leas doing something is much better than doing nothing but you need to also be sensible and work around the fatigue and pain rather than making it worse x

  3. I’m so glad TOMM linked to this post! I was finding it so difficult to get my groove with keeping up with house chores as a sufferer of M.E amongst other things. I was being very hard on myself and questioning why I couldn’t keep up with the daily tasks like every other person. I now realised the smallest task (getting out of bed and getting dressed) are a huge achievement and if I can at least do a few bits and pieces like yourself every 10 or so minutes just going to be so much easier, helpful and less pressure on me. So thank you for that! ❤️

    1. Oh you are welcome. I think the more we put out there what our daily lives can be like the more understanding people will have. I use the method as a framework……….. some weeks I can keep up and some weeks I just can’t! So i don’t pressure myself if I can’t as it’s less important for me to be housework free at the weekend and more about just keeping it in order as much as I can. Never be afraid to break the system down into manageable 5 minute jobs……..even if you only get some done it’s better than getting none done x

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