A major problem many people with chronic illness seem to have is trying to find a balance and learn how to pace themselves with chores and daily activities.
I’m guilty of this too because when I feel good, I want to go, go, go! A lot of us are Type A personalities and before we became sick, the two words “slow down” did not exist in our vocabulary.
I have tried many things over the years to try and be more efficient while sick, but with these illnesses you just can’t create a schedule that you will always be able to stick to, no matter how flexible you make the schedule.
When there are days when justgetting dressed or getting a shower sends us back to bed for the day, getting a lot accomplished at work or around the house is not going to happen.
I still think it is important to have some sort of plan and to make “to do” lists. To me the “to do” list has a lot more to do with having a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day more than anything else. When I make a “to do” list of four or five things, I feel so good about myself as I cross a task off of the list. That may sound silly, but when you can’t do a lot, you take satisfaction in the small things!
When I create my lists for what I need to do daily, I first write down everything that I “think” needs done. Then out of this list, I will pick the five most important tasks and put them on a separate sheet of paper. I don’t like to keep the list of everything I feel needs to be done out because then I try to do everything on the list. Having a list with just five or maybe six items doesn’t seem so overwhelming to accomplish.
As I complete each task on the list, I will cross it off and there goes that tingling feeling I get of accomplishment!
The next day, I will go back to my “master list” and see what I can pull off to include in my top five or six priorities for the day and I add anything new that may come up.
Take breaks between each task and try not to spend more than 15 – 20 minutes on each task at one time. I have a timer that I use whenever I’m writing on my websites, paying bills, working around the house, etc. that I set so that I remember to stop and take a break. It’s hard a lot of times to get going and then stop but it’s important to do so that you don’t wear yourself out.
We really need to take regular breaks anyway due to the cognitive dysfunction problems we have. Trying to concentrate too long on any one task will just result in errors.
If you can’t afford to have someone clean your house for you, take cleaning one day at a time. Clean one room a day until your house is done. If you are trying to be the perfect housekeeper while chronically ill, you are facing a losing battle. It’s not worth it to have a showroom clean home if you are too sick to enjoy the people who live in it.
Assign cleaning chores to your children and spouse. My son is responsible for keeping his room picked up and his bed made daily. My husband is responsible for his “guy room” in the basement. We all have our assigned areas of “duty” and we all do our part.
Keep all family events, school volunteer events, sporting events, etc. on one calendar. I know if I have to go to school to volunteer on Thursday, and that my son has a baseball game on Saturday, I will not schedule anything else for that week that involves being outside the home.
One mistake that is commonly made is that when we feel good we tend to overbook ourselves. Then when the day or event actually arrives, we are too sick to go. I used to volunteer for all kinds of stuff and then I couldn’t go. My intentions were always good, but CFS doesn’t follow the rules and I would have to cancel.
If you are making dinner plans with friends or family, let them know that because of your illness, your plans can change from minute to minute and to not take it personally if something happens you have to cancel at the last minute.
If you know that there is a big event coming up that is going to require a lot of your energy, keep your activity level to a minimum the week before.
I volunteer for very little anymore and that’s just how it has to be and I’ve accepted that.I do try to volunteer one hour a week in my son’s kindergarten class but there have been times I’ve had to back out on that. If you plan to volunteer, let the person in charge know upfront that you have health issues and that there will probably be times when you cannot make it. I let my son’s teacher know this from the beginning so she always has two of us scheduled for the days I am scheduled to go in. This way, if I can’t make it there is still a back up.
I am the queen of casseroles and the queen of using a crockpot! You can prepare a lot of healthy, great meals that are easy to prepare and taste good too.
I always have a few pre-packaged foods available too in case I’m too bad I can’t do anything at all.
What if I work outside the home?
If you are chronically ill working outside the home and trying to run everything at home, you really need to get help. It got to the point when I was still working that even though we really couldn’t afford it, we had to have someone come in and take care of the house.
It’s a small price to pay to get some rest when you get home. If you are working all day, you will want that time in the evening to spend with your family.
It is more important than ever if you are working outside the home to assign laundry, dishes, and other chores to your kids and spouse.