Spring Cleaning With Psoriatic Arthritis
Last updated: June 2018
Motivating your family to help with household cleaning can be challenging. For people living with psoriatic arthritis, it can be difficult to ask for more help, or even tempting to forgo rest and say, “I’ll just to do it myself.” However, when managing symptoms, going to medical appointments, and practicing self-care, keeping your house clean may require the whole household to pitch in. Getting others to help out can be challenging, though. Here are a few tips on how to effectively ask your family to help with household cleaning.
Ask for help with chores
Even if you are able to manage doing some housework, it's necessary to set expectations from the get-go. Start by talking to your family about your concerns, explain how psoriatic arthritis impacts your ability to do certain things - particularly when you have a flare up. It's important to ask your family to agree and commit to doing their part to keep the house clean. By setting early expectations, you can avoid a cleaning disaster when your symptoms suddenly prevent you from completing the routine chores. For those who are no longer able to participate in any household cleaning, these same conversations will allow your family members to step in, helping you to improve the family’s household habits.
Give clear directions on what needs to be cleaned and how
When talking to other adults in the house, make clear requests. “Can you help me tidy up today?” may seem clear to you but might be too vague for someone who is not used to cleaning up. Instead, provide family members with clear directions. For example, “Could you do a load of dark laundry today, please?” or “Would you mind unloading the dishwasher tonight?” This direction gives a direct instruction (such as do a load of dark laundry) and sets a specific expectation for completion (i.e., today). Give your family members enough time to finish the task, rather than expecting them to always clean-up “right now.” By making clear, manageable requests, and asking at the right moment (early in the day, rather than right before the big game), you can show your family what cleaning tasks are most helpful to you when managing your illness.
Take a step back and don't micromanage
Now the tricky part: Once you’ve made the request, don’t micromanage. You have to take a step back and let them complete the task on their own. Even if your spouse “loads the dishwasher the wrong way," accepting and appreciating their effort will go a long way. While it's tempting to step in and show them what they are doing "wrong," it can backfire on you. Unless the family member has never done particular chore before, stepping in to correct (regardless of your best intentions) may come across as critical and discouraging. The long term goal is to get your family to consistently help out with chores - and they will be more likely to help again if you let them do it their way. Besides, sometimes (especially on difficult days) it doesn’t need to done perfectly, it just needs to be done
Involve your children with the chore list
Even the little ones can get involved! If you have children, you don't always have the energy to constantly remind them to pick up after themselves, much less do it yourself. Instead, try giving your kids clear directions on what needs done and why. You may want to try setting clear consequences and rewards for the task. Praise them for helping out - even when they don’t make their bed with perfect hospital corners. Complement them on their effort to build their sense of confidence that they are more than capable to contribute to the household. Over time, your kids will become better at tidying up after themselves.
Keep your family motivated to help with cleaning
To help keep family members motivated, keep cleaning simple and easy by having supplies nearby. When it comes to the scrubbing and mopping of household cleaning, no one wants to lug supplies from room to room. Have a bucket of basic cleaning supplies on every floor of your home. If the glass-cleaner and paper towels are under the sink, your partner is more likely to clean the mirror.
Similarly, try using storage bins or baskets in areas that tend to get cluttered. These are a great and easy way to collect toys, papers, trinkets, etc. This makes for an easy and quick clean sweep when you are short on time. Once the basket gets full of toys, your children can simply carry the basket to their room to put their toys away.
Every object deserves a home
If your family doesn't know where things go, they are unlikely to put them away. If an item is constantly being left on the kitchen counter, your family might want it to be kept in the kitchen. If moving something to a more logical place will lead to easier clean-up, ask your family to help you do so. Once it is decided where items should be stored, make an agreement to put objects away as soon as they are no longer being used. Having a home for everything will make it easier to keep your house organized.
Create a routine
Change can be hard and habits don't form overnight. To get into a regular routine, set aside a day (or morning) for family cleaning. Only take on the tasks that you can handle with your illness, and if you need to sit-out, rely on your family to support you. Establishing a designated time for cleaning will help the family to become more aware of their messy habits, as well as make house cleaning feel more routine. If possible, offer a reward for the group’s hard-work, such as a movie after an hour of cleaning up the kitchen. Even if the whole family takes just fifteen minutes between dinner and dessert to clean up one room, you can accomplish a lot by the end of the week!
Be appreciative while maintaining expectations
Never underestimate the power of saying, "Thank you." Let your family know how much you appreciate their efforts. Praising them for helping out around the house can go a long way in maintaining good cleaning habits. While you may not be completely satisfied with their efforts, try to be patient as the new schedule becomes familiar. When you feel up to it, start by making a check-list of the things that need to happen every day, every week, and every month. Indicate essential and nonessential tasks, and post the list in a common area. If you are the only one who knows all of the cleaning steps, your family won’t be able to help. Instead, show your family exactly what needs to be done each week or month, and determine who will accomplish each task.
Do you have any questions about PsA?