25 answers

Housework Question from a Sick Mom

I have active Lyme Disease that I am currently treating. Some days I feel horrible, muscle pain, nerve pain, extreme fatigue etc. I am a stay at home mom and I run the house, bills, preschooler, cats, etc. If I could find a simple solution to housework in general I could focus more of my attention to other things and not feel so behind and overwhelmed. I want to focus on my family and not be overwhelmed by housework. Right now I try to do one type of housework per day. I can't always do that. I should know the answer but none are coming to me. Please help! I would love to be better organized in this area so when I feel bad physically the house doesn't look like a bomb went off and I can rest.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I want to thank all of you ladies for your positive support. Some people in my life have not been so supportive and have been judgemental about how clean I keep my house. Now that I've learned to tune them out, I'm learning how to delegate my responsibilites better. My son is already signed up for preschool part time three days a week and that will give me free mornings to rest and clean at my own pace. My husband does help with the dishes, trash, heavy lifting, and sometimes heavy vacuuming. He does work sometimes up to 60 hours so that can't always be the case. I think the two things that I get from all the advice is get rid of stuff I don't need and get lots of bins. Find someone to help me get the heavier cleaning done. I don't have the money right now to hire someone and I don't know of any young dependable teens. I plan to ask some people at church to come over at least once a week to help me do the deep cleaning and intense organization that needs to be done. Again thanks for the support. It was needed. A special hug to those ladies who are physically sick and somehow by the grace of God make life work and keep moving forward you are my hero's!

Featured Answers

I second the recomendation for flylady.net. It's really been a great tool for me and my family.


Hi A.,
My son was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in May of this year. We treated him with Amoxicillian and with a Homeopathic Nosode for Lyme. What helped his joint pain and swelling before the diagnosis was homeopathic Rhus Tox. (Rhus toxicodendron)You can buy a 30c dose bottle at Whole Foods or a Homeopathic pharmacy. (There's one in Acton, MA.) We used a 200c dose that we got at that pharmacy. They will mail order. My Mom also uses it for her arthritis with good results. Homeopathy does not interfere with conventional medicine and can be taken at the same time. There are no side affects. If it works it works well. If it doesn't work there will just be no signs. No harm will be done. Contact me directly if you'd like more info.

Good luck!

More Answers

Another mother asked about housework and several mothers replied with the website flylady.net. I checked it out and love it. Although, I don't have pain or physical limitations I do work outside the home full-time and so I just don't have much time. I never had a good system to keep up. Now my house is cleaner than I ever had it when I was growing up. I spend an hour once a week. However, she explains how this can be broken into smaller jobs. The rest of the house is kept clean by routines. No extra work and it has spread to my husband and my 4 year old changing their routines too. I find the cutesy language on the website and all the email annoying but if you can get past that it really is life changing. I highly recommend going to the site and reading through her strategies (work only 15 minutes). I think you could modify some of the strategies and it could really be helpful. I hope it helps. Stress about the house is something you don't need (none of us do).

1 mom found this helpful

Dear Angela,
Oh my. I can relate. I was born with occula spina bifida. Simply means it was internal and no one knew it until I was 22 and fell onto the floor paralyzed. I spent most of the next four years in and out of hospitals, had multiple surgeries. That went into severe arthritis and a host of other spinal and related joint and muscle problems that continue today.
I tell you this so you will know I do understand.
I had seven children, four, then a break of seven years, then three more.
First thing I had to do was dejunk. I mean strip the house down to bear neccessities. The less items there are, the less potential mess there is.
Set priorities, take care of you, take care of baby, meals, dishes, laundry, then whatever you are capable of. Make a list that suits you.
With me the older children and husband helped muchly.
One thing I learned was that people mostly notice what is waisthigh . Not so much if the floor is swept . Is good to clean cobwebs down on a good day tho. LOL
I tried to keep dishes in the sink. Often just rinsed them and put them to soak in hot soapy water until I could do them. The dishwasher was next to useless because it was so painful to bend over. If the table and stove are cleaned off, looks good.
Keep hampers close so dirty clothes arent all over the place.
Start your baby picking up toys every evening..I started mine before they could really walk very well. You will need to help for a long time before they can do it alone.
Toddlers can throw trash in dust bin, dirty diapers, clothes in hamper. You would be surprised at how much they can do to pick up after themselves.
It was extremely hard for me to accept my limitations because I was a very neat person and the mess itself kept me in a turmoil.
The fewer things that are in the house, the less there is to look messy.
So what if you vacuum and sweep once a week.
When things were good (financially...husband was a boat builder so there were lot of times things were very slim..between boat orders) He would hire a college or high school kid to come once a week and wash the floors and vaccuum. Or do whatever I needed done. Sometimes they would just watch the kids so I could rest.
The biggest thing is to clear out the house. Knickknacks and such can be boxed until you are better. (I most always look like I am getting ready to move or something .)
Keep out only the books you really read or will read. Read your mail beside the dust bin and throw the junk immediately.
One problem is the "tend it later when I feel better" thingy.
A wee bit of effort and you tend them then. I seldom miss anything I throw away.
Stop feeling guilty..this is a hard one. Remember, people do not come to see or judge your house, they come to see you.
I do know how it feels to want to have your floor waxed or furniture polished and know you cannot do it.
I used to keep at hand ingredients for easy but good meals. On a good day I would bake beans or make a soup or cassarole and put it away for a bad day.
Have your bill paying stuff in one file. Maybe with stamped envelopes with return address labels already on them.
Take advantage of the days /hours you feel fairly well and make shortcuts for the not so good times.
The cats are another issue, I always kept cats and dogs, still do..but they are an effort to tend and sometimes the litter box does not get cleaned every week. But, lest you think that is terrible mess, we live in the country and the cat mostly goes outdoors in good weather.
On the bad day if you need to lie down, lie down. You cannot change how things are. You have to accept them and do the best you can under the circumstances. And this is the big thing with anyone who is disabled for any reason. We learn to accept how things are and do the best we can under the circumstances.
You DO have the hope that this will pass , yes? One does recover from Lyme?
If you would like to email me please do.
Wishng you the best
God bless
Grandmother Lowell

1 mom found this helpful

I know the feeling of being busy and not having the energy to do anything. I'ld try to et the whole family to help out. Your preschooler can help by cleaning up his toys, putting his dirty clothes in the hamper, and your husband can help out too. You can shop together and share the household duties. I cook a couple times a week and justt cook 2 different meals at once and make enough for leftovers. It seems like a lot but it is so much easier than actually cooking everyday. I also clean as I go. The bathroom gets wiped down everyday it saves fronm having to do a big scrub down once a week, and I keep a dust rag on every floor so I can do a quick dusting as I put clothes away. As far as laundry goes the kids stay in the same outfit all day even if it gets a little dirty and my son will help put clothes in the machine.
Do you pay your bills online? it can save you lots of time
i hope you feel better soon


I can sympathize with your dilemma: I am also disabled/chronically ill and have a husband working second shift while I deal with kid issues and housework. (Also, we're poor and one of our kids is autistic.) If you can afford it, paying someone to help you clean would be well-justified. If not, I hope you can convince relatives to pitch in. Make sure that your local school district will put your child in full-day Kindergarten or maybe even preschool next year, depending on his/her age.

Rest every day no matter how the house looks, even if you have to have the kid nap with you; you'll do them no good if you're in the hospital.

Try this: get a pen and paper and walk into each room, looking it over and writing down the five things that most urgently need organizing/cleaning/moving. Take care of those five things and the room may go from hideous to passable. Don't attempt more than one room a day. Also, ask your doctor or shrink (you should have one, as stressed out as you are) whether you'd be eligible for any in-home care, such as a visiting nurse or a home health aide. They'd be focusing on your health, not helping you clean (well, a home health aide might be able to help a little), but the better you're taken care of, the better you can take care of your child.

Good luck, Ang

another sick Mom with a messy house

I second the recomendation for flylady.net. It's really been a great tool for me and my family.


I spent the entire summer in bed or in the hospital with hyperemesis, so I understand the housework problem. I am now 5 months pregnant with a toddler! How long will you be sick, do you know? Is there anyone who can help with the daily work that always needs done: dishes, dinner, laundry, etc.? My husband had to pick up the pace a bit or the house would have really been bad and there would have been no meals. My second suggestion is to relax about the housework. My house was cluttered and disorganized and it drove me crazy, but i knew being with my daughter and spending my 'good' time with her was most important. Do not feel guilty! You are sick! When you feel better and get back to yourself, you can start cleaning and getting the house back to normal. (Dad will just have to deal with it.) It took me awhile, but I finally feel back in action. My main lesson I learned is that I had to let go of my control while being sick with a child to care for. So what if your house is in disarray? You are being the best mommy you can!

On a different note, my new attack strategy is to tackle one big thing a day. Monday is my big cleaning day. I spend the first half of the day cleaning the floors and bathroom and catching up on our weekend mess. The house looks so much nicer for the rest of the week when I am done. The daily chores are done when my energy is highest, usually in the morning so i can enjoy daughter (and rest) for the afternoon. She loves to "help" with her own broom and gets to watch the Wiggles, so she is happy.:-> Good luck and hang in there!

I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this. You got lots of good suggestions already. I was thinking maybe you could check with your local highschool or college to hire a girl to come and help with some of the light housework and other things. I might cost you less than hiring a cleaning service. Again, perhaps look into the cleaning service and maybe you'd really only need them 2-3 times a week.
Best of Luck

Depending on the type of house work you are talking about, maybe you could have your preschooler help you a little bit. I'm not saying to have them do the cooking and all the cleaning or anything like that. I am thinking more along the lines of getting one of those little brooms with the dust pan and ask that he or she sweep up crumbs under the table. Also, I know of 2 moms who have the swiffer wet jet mops and LOVE them. This may make mopping easier as it is a sweeper and mop in one. Another thought, you could always try to ask your hubby to help you with the laundry (assuming it isn't on the main floor like most homes) by bringing down a load for you to start every day or every other day then bring dry clothes up for you. Then you could have your preschooler help you fold them. Another good thought! I once saw a house that had a shoot from the bathroom into the basement for dirty clothes to go down. If your husband is handy, maybe he could do something like this from your bathroom so that the clothes are already down stairs and all you have to do is start a load when you have one and throw it in the dryer. Best of luck!

Ask people in your community for recommendations on cleaning services or look in the phone book. Get a free quote from a few cleaning services. Then ask friends and family if they are able to pitch in to hire a cleaning person for a month or two while you are recovering. It would help you to be available for your child but it would also help in your recovery. You need that rest and reserve energy for your body to heal. Many Blessings.
M. P

Can't your husband do some of this housework? It's not like it would be forever. And hire someone to come in once a month to do the hardcore stuff (like pulling out the couch and furniture to clean behind it).

Don't be shy about hiring a house cleaner on a temporary basis. They do a wonderful job, and usually to your stipulations if you want them to sort laundry or put away kitchen stuff, you can just sit and tell them where things go. Most of the house cleaners I know are very economical and WELL worth the price to have a clean home and time to spend on other things.

Good luck!

Hi A.,

I break the work up in the week:
Monday - Kitchen
Tuesday - Pick up & Vacuum
Wednesday - Menu plan, Grocery list, Groceries
Thursday - Bedrooms & Office
Friday - Bathroom & Linen
Saturday & Sunday - Family time

I try to get some work done for each day -- not necessarily the whole thing done each day.

Churches and maybe the United Way office or Americorp office might hve suggestions or volunteers. Boys scouts, girl scouts -- maybe there is a badge that requires community service. Do you have any friends or relatives that might offer to help. Maybe they don't realize you need help.

Hope you feel better soon!
: ) M.

Flylady.net recommends 15 mins at a time, she says "you can do anything for 15 mins!" check out her web site for great organizational hints, tips etc! I hope you recooperate quickly!


Just a thought- could you check your community for home health respite workers? Some communities offer free in home cleaning, errand running, and med. checks to people who have a disabling illness or accident, whether short term or long term. If you have one, you may need your doctor to verify that you have lyme's to get help, but it is well worth it! In my community, they have this service based off of income (sliding fee scale). It may be well worth trying to see if there are any around. Also, if that doesn't work, check to see if you can watch someone's kids for a while in trade for some house cleaning.

Your preschooler can be a big help. Putting away toys, piking up dirty clothes for the hamper..things like that. Maybe your husband could take 10 minutes before and after work to give you a hand with the pick up around the house. Loading and unloading the dishwasher (if you have one), throwing in a load of laundry, making the beds, handwashing a sinkful of dishes, etc. Also just relaxing your standards might be really helpful. If you're trying to keep things white glove clean it just might be too much.

The house work will always be there and you will always feel that you cant get on top of it. There has been a lot of good suggestions. Even if you can afford to hire someone once a month you know your bathtub will be scrubbed and ther pressure is off.
Make a game of clean up you lay down sing a song or count and see if your preschooler can get a small task done.Learn the "clean up song" if you don't know it already.
See if your insurance will have housekeeping covered.(that could be pushin it)
Simply don't do it and take care of yourself. You will be no less of a mother, house wife , or a woman.
Feel better

Hi! I just wanted to assure you that I don't have any disease and I can't keep my house clean either, so you are not alone.

I do have a couple of tips that have helped me start to get my house in better shape (I have an almost 3 year old and a 17 mnth old.)

We found a great open bin organizer for all the little toys like cars and little people. The closed bins just created frustration for my littlest. We make it a rule that if you dump it, you pick it up before play time is over. It's part of the activity.

We keep all of the big cars and trucks in a bin as well. That way they can all go home each night instead of tripping us on the way up the stairs.

I usually try to make sure that I empty the dishwasher BEFORE the end of the night, so that in the morning it's empty. Then there is no excuse for me not to just rinse the dish we've used and put it right into the washer rather than letting them pile in the sink.

We also got a little cordless vacuum for the cereal and crumbs that inevitably happen.

Good luck, my friend.

If you are able to swing it at all, maybe have someone come in once every 2-3-or 4 weeks to actually clean bathrooms and heavy vacuuming. Light dusting could be done on days when you feel up to it. I have my preschooler put her toys away before every single meal, before we leave the house, before Dora at night, and then again at bedtime if she took anything out during Dora. I have found this to help tremendously with clutter, and makes it easier to bring a vacuum through a room, or a dust-cloth over the furniture on a moment's notice.

Keep meals easy. Do you have "Dream Dinners" or something like it near you? On a day that you feel well you could go and stock up on meals for a month and then they are in your freezer and ready to re-heat whenever you want them.

See if you can work out the bills with your husband so that that isn't weighing on your mind, too.

This is what I am coming up with right now, if I think of anything else, I'll try to remember to re-post. Good luck--you are in my prayers.

Where to start... its ok to not have a perfect house, you have perfect children!
- Upstairs /downstairs baskets where I collect clutter and empty once a day, or two.
- Speed cleaning... set yourself 45 min.. or 30 min.. each day and clean as much as you can during that time (like you said pick rooms) I normally choose the bathrooms and the beds don't get made.
- One day a week slated to vacumn/sweep/wash floors ( I pick day my husband is home to watch kids without interruption
- Toy pick up. I've been told about toy rotation but I have not done it yet.. I'm forever picking up toys but getting better at making my 5 year old pick up after herself.. Now on MANY occasions I find her "cleaning" her entire toy room by herself.. she now Likes it tidy and it bothers her when its a mess.

The rest.. I let go until they are at least 10... Be ok with your house not being perfect.. its too hard... I truly belive most people who have perfect houses have people hired to help them :.)

Hi A.........My heart goes out to you dear. I don't have this disease but a few of my friends do and I see where it is so dibilitating. Do you attend church and if so how about asking for some help?? That is what the church is suppose to be about. When someone in my church is sick, getting married, funeral etc. we arrange meal for @ least a week to help out.

Blessings to you A., P.

do one job a day and feel no quilt. I bet your husband and children love you and are not rating your housekeeping skills.Maybe on sundays take 2 hours and make three dishes you can cook/reheat for the days you're super tired, like chowders and stews, lasagna, baked ziti, mac and cheese (all these taste better after they sit and flavors meld. then just pick floors one day, bathroom another,and laundry 2 different days. Life is good so don.t get down on yourself about housework and enjoy your family!!! life is too short:)

I didn't have time to read all of the responses, so I apoligize if I repeat other suggestions. Is there a neighborhood teen or tween who could come help you a couple of days a week after school? S/he would love the responsibility, and can basically be asked to do any chore or serve as a Mother's Helper to look after your litte one while you muster up the energy to focus on cleaning and/or dinner. My daughter did this before she got certified to babysit, and it was a great way for her to earn some spending $. If you don't know anyone personally, post an ad with the Middle School guidance counsellor and put one up on community bulletin boards (library, grocery store, local diner, etc.)

To help with the meals, a crockpot can be a life-saver. Fill it with ingredients when you're feeling okay in the morning, plug it in and the meal is ready when you've spent all your energy! Look on-line for recipes, you can make just about anything in a crock pot! Good luck, I hope you'll feel better soon!

Hi A.,
My son was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in May of this year. We treated him with Amoxicillian and with a Homeopathic Nosode for Lyme. What helped his joint pain and swelling before the diagnosis was homeopathic Rhus Tox. (Rhus toxicodendron)You can buy a 30c dose bottle at Whole Foods or a Homeopathic pharmacy. (There's one in Acton, MA.) We used a 200c dose that we got at that pharmacy. They will mail order. My Mom also uses it for her arthritis with good results. Homeopathy does not interfere with conventional medicine and can be taken at the same time. There are no side affects. If it works it works well. If it doesn't work there will just be no signs. No harm will be done. Contact me directly if you'd like more info.

Good luck!

Get some help from someone! You need your rest & need to focus more on your pre-schooler I agree. My neice had Lyme disease so I know the pain you are feeling. But she was little & did not have to worry about house work & what not.
Ask family & friends to help out a little here and there. I know it is hard to ask for help but you need it. Have someone make you beef stew that you can have for a couple of nights or freeze things like that. Use paper plates, ect.
I also agree get the swifter dry dusters & ask your pre-schooler to help. My 21 month old loves to dust, it is so helpful and cute. Hope that helped a little?!!
Hope you are better soon & I will pray for you.

Hello -
If you can only do one thing, then vacuum. Remember the adage "Spit and polish"? A vacummed room will look cleaner. Get those Swiffer dusters and give one to your preschooler. They love to help at that age. Also, de-clutter. Get some storage containers for the toys, stuff animals etc and make-up a game with your child to help you put them away. Take lots of breaks - it will help with your energy level. So what if it takes 2 hours to vacuum one room? Your health is your priority now. Good luck.

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