Some Household Hacks for Those With MS
Maintaining a household is challenging under any circumstances, but when you live with a chronic illness like MS, it becomes even more difficult. Battling fatigue, mobility problems, and pain make getting some of the most basic chores a challenge for me. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, you name it, if there is a household task that needs to get done, I’m looking for a way to simplify it and make it easier on me.
Everyday tips for living with MS
I thought I’d give some tips/guidelines on how I maintain where I live!
Have a plan
When it comes to household chores, I try to have a general game plan. Having a schedule, even a loose one, of when I am going to try to get things done helps me make the best use of my time. Crucially, that includes meal planning, because while some chores can be delayed, you still have to eat every day!
Living with the fatigue that comes with MS, I do my best to take advantage of the moments where I actually have a little bit of energy. So if I have a few moments and some extra spoons, as they say, I get a jump on future tasks. For example, if I’m cooking with peppers tomorrow, but I have some extra energy today, I’ll go ahead and cut those peppers up today and then stick them in the fridge to be used tomorrow.
Take advantage of your best time
From my own experience, as well as talking to others who battle MS, it seems many of us have a time of day where we are a bit more productive than others. I do much better in the morning and then hit a pretty big afternoon slump, so I try to use that to my advantage. Sometimes that means cooking dinner at ten in the morning and then reheating when it’s actually dinner time.
I’m extremely environmentally conscious. That said, I have to admit that there are times where I need to utilize single-use products like bowls, plates, and utensils. I don’t use them every day, but I do have bad days and on those days, they seem like a lifesaver. Sometimes having one less dish to worry about can make a huge difference. This is especially helpful when feeding my special needs dog who needs to be spoon-fed. My bowls and spoons all get dirty very quickly throughout the week, so having some disposable ones around can be a lifesaver if I’m not feeling well. I’ve made this choice to use disposables a little easier on my conscience by finding bowls and spoons that are more eco-friendly and biodegradable (the ones I use are actually made of sugar cane!). Along those lines, I’ll sometimes use foil to line pans before cooking, so I can then throw away the foil and not have to clean the pan.
Leftovers are important
It may not be super glamorous, but I rely on leftovers a lot. I’m cooking for one, so if I’m putting forth the effort to cook, you can better believe I’m making enough to have leftovers. If you are already cooking, it doesn’t take that much more effort to add more ingredients to create more food. I’ll make some big dishes earlier in the week and live off those leftovers throughout the rest of the week.
Ensure you have backups
No matter how well I plan my week, there are going to be hiccups. There will be unexpected days when you don’t feel great. That’s why it’s important to have some backups. For example: sheets. I may start laundering my bedding but run out of steam, that’s less of an issue because I have a backup pair of sheets. Can’t get the laundry done in one day? No problem, just throw on the backup sheets.
Spread things out
Remember that you don’t have to get everything done in one day. If you can only clean part of your bathroom, that’s still an accomplishment. It’s OK to clean the rest the next day.
I find it’s important to try not to get everything done at once, take some breaks when you need them. Better yet, take them before you need them.
For me, folding laundry is an absolutely awful experience. So when I can, I’ll put my shirts right onto a hanger when taking them out of the dryer, even t-shirts, all because it’s easier for me. I also don’t get too down on myself if I leave a pile of clean clothes in a basket. If I’m having a tough week, I’ll fluff what I need in the dryer when I need it.
Try slow cooking
I am a big-time crockpot user! There are a ton of recipes for it and a lot of the time, you can assemble everything into the pot one day, stick it in the fridge, and then cook it the next day. It fits very well with my tips above regarding leftovers and preparing/cooking at the part of the day that is best for you.
Ask for help
Remember, it’s OK to not only accept help but to ask for it too. Utilize friends and family when you can and don’t feel bad about it. Someday you may be able to help them in some other way. Try to remember that helping others makes people feel good, so it’s OK to give them that!
Go easy on yourself
You’re doing your best and you know what? It’s OK if your house isn’t immaculate. It’s OK if the laundry isn’t folded or there are dirty dishes in the sink (just tell yourself they are still soaking!). The world will go on!
Do you live with any comorbidities aside from MS?