Coping with everyday chores
I don’t know what it is like for everyone else, but in the past I have had the tendency to leave all the household chores for one day of the week, whilst working the other 5 and only having one day for rest. This has been very true for the decade in between the two bouts of extreme fatigue. I have watched friends and family running round like headless chickens attempting to keep their homes pristine clean and presentable for visitors. I too have tried this method of managing home and children, only to realise that this particular mode of “keeping house” does not work for me.
In my head I have an old fashioned vision of what a Mum and housewife should be like. Up before the children, dressed & presentable, serving breakfast, making lunches. When all have left the home for the day I would be working my way through the house, cleaning and vacuuming, collecting the washing and hanging it on the line. Preparing the evening meal so that it is served up with no waiting for the children and husband. This process is then repeated the next day, and so on throughout the week.
But in reality life is very different…
You see I am having to retrain my thinking and ideology of how I am supposed to behave. This is because I tire very quickly and am often in pain from head to toe, which gets worse with any kind of activity. I am learning how to pace myself and constantly reminding myself that it is okay to rest between activities. I even find I have to rest after writing blog entries! (Even thinking and concentration is a tiring activity.)
So what works for me?
Everyone is different, even other sufferers of chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia (and a variety of other illnesses that leave you drained of all resources) have varying ways of coping with everyday activities.
For me I have begun to spread out the household chores between other family members. The girls aren’t particularly keen on this, but they are coming round to the idea now. I have to rely on Mark to help too with shopping, driving, carrying and cleaning. I try hard to not let work build up over the week by doing a load of washing every other day. We take it in turns to sort out the family meals and be responsible for all the pets.
This works well… until I begin to feel guilty, as though I am taking advantage of everyone in the house. That is on days when I feel good, almost invincible compared to all the other days in between. Then I go overboard by doing everything. Mad cleaning spree’s, a weeks worth of washing (quite often 5 or more loads), cooking, vacuuming, obsessive compulsive tidying in a bid to make the home spic and span. Proving to myself there is nothing wrong with me and that I need to buck my idea’s up and get on with life.
…and back to square one!
After a sleep of 10 to 12 hours, I then wake up feeling worse than before. Completely unrested, tired & weak, aching as though I was in a car wreck and regretting that I tried to do everything all in one go.
I am slowly beginning to listen to my body more, accepting that I am not as capable as Mrs Jones next door and trying out new routines which are more beneficial to me. It is a long and slow learning curve, not just for me but also for those I love dearly. Because no two days are the same; one day I may cope well with doing one household chore but the next I could be struggling to lift the kettle.
So pace is the key
Don’t over do it! I’m no good to anyone if I push my boundaries too far. I refuse to have complete bed rest as a form of recovery. I have seen this first hand and personally I don’t think I could cope with the outcome of being even less capable than I am now.
I have been advised that I must walk at least a mile every day (for other sufferer’s you know how hard that can be), but some days I swap that walk with one of the household chores, just so I feel like I am being responsible for my family. One activity per day!
I have been in remission before, through pacing myself, so who knows maybe I will go into remission again some day. Light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps? But for now I will take each day as it comes, assess how I feel and listen to my body instead of just assuming that I can do it because that’s what I am supposed to do.