How I finish my housework while managing COPD and fatigue
Handy tools and smart adjustments in pacing help me tackle tasks at home
My mother taught me that once you start a job, you need to finish it — or at least do as much as you can — before quitting. With chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), I’ve learned to complete my home projects a little differently.
As I mentioned last week, I typically have a list of things I wish to accomplish during the week, and some tasks are more difficult than others. I choose a challenging task to start the day. When I begin to tire, I rest and then do a less demanding project for a while. I’ll then take another rest and return to doing the more difficult project.
That’s an explanation of how I use pacing to help control fatigue. I’ve tried slowing down my pace, too, but that doesn’t work well for me.
A typical day
Let’s look at a day when running the sweeper and mopping the floors are on my agenda, as well as laundry, dusting, and watering my plants. The day might go something like this: I begin by running the sweeper in two rooms that need to be mopped. I may then get the clean clothes from the dryer and put them on my bed to fold. I’ll then mop one of the floors, fold clothes and put them away, and mop the second floor.
I also usually have daily tasks that require me to use the computer, so after I’ve run the sweeper in the remainder of the rooms, I may then do some computer work before returning to mop the third floor.
The mopping and sweeping are then finished, and I’ve taken breaks and worked on less physically demanding projects in between. This way, at the end of the day, I can look back and see all that I’ve accomplished without being too tired to enjoy it.
Some equipment makes the tasks easier. I have an exceptionally light Zing vacuum, for example, that has amazing suction power and is much easier to manage than my upright vacuum, which I still use about every two weeks.
I have a little cordless sweeper that I use to clean up where I or one of my animals have tracked in some dirt. This little gem is lightweight and doesn’t depend on a nearby electrical outlet.
I have a mop that contains its own cleaning solution and a removable and washable cleaning pad. I use this for most of my mopping needs, though I still use a rag mop and bucket to get what this one leaves behind. I just use the rag mop and bucket less than I would have before.
I have a duster that I use most of the time. It’s less work than spraying on a cleaning solution and wiping it until a surface shines. Again, I still do it the hard way every few months.
I also have a cheap sponge mop that I use to wash down walls. This tool makes it so I never need to use a ladder, bucket, and cloth for the task.
My house is not as clean as it was once, but I can still maintain it and remain independent, even with COPD, by making a few changes in how I do things and with some great, easy-to-use gadgets.
How have you learned to adapt when cleaning, and what great tools have you found? Feel free to describe them in the comments below.
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