Clutter Solutions

Limited Resources = Messy Home

I am a 39-year-old male with a disabled wife. We have no children. We are both very disorganized people and as a result our house is a mess.

The main problem as I see it is that my wife can't do very much around the house because of her disability, and I am left to do the bulk of the housework Because of work outside of the home, I am often too tired to do all of the needed work, plus take care of all the other home maintenance.

I have had family members come and help in the past, but that is only a temporary fix. I would appreciate any help because I am desperate.

There is no money to hire outside help. I need to be able to apply these suggestions myself.
Len S.

State of Mind

We were in the same situation, and I will tell you how we resolved it. It is a mental thing and once you and your wife decide to have fun with it you can have a blast. My husband works and I am disabled, but I can still do some things. I did the list to decide which areas we would tackle first.

One corner in the kitchen was narrowed down to two drawers. At night we would watch TV and put a trash can between us and clean a drawer. We got a little black file box with manila folders and sorted through papers filing them away, all receipts etc. We used the other drawer as our desks area, using old check book boxes I decorated as holders for office supplies, or another good organizer is a kitchen silverware holder.

That is how we started. Each night, after one task was down, we would feel great and decide what was the next area we could tackle together in the same room until the little areas were handled. It is important to have what I call a flow system so when things come in the mail or the house they get put away immediately!. Bills go in a folder and marked on the calendar when they need to be sent out. Simplicity and a house that is simple and clean is such a sacred haven to come home to.

Next, now comes the part that is crucial. If you haven't used something for 6 months or a year designate a corner of somewhere in the house and start building a pile that you will end up selling and making quite a bit of cash from. Do NOT hold on to junk, excessive knick knacks etc. It is nicer to have a clean space with one small vase of flowers and a special nick knack than 20 pieces of dusty junk.

One Task at a Time

Often the house is not dirty, but cluttered. If you have an extra room, or closet try getting most of the clutter into that one place. This will keep the living areas neater . You will not feel so overwhelmed if the house at least looks neat and you can put a few things at a time away as you get time. Use baskets or whatever you have available to organize things this way you will still be able to find things you put in your "junk" room.

Try to wash a few loads of clothes every other day or so. Wash things that need hanging and then one that needs folding. If you don't have time to fold you can leave those items in the dryer or even the wash machine for a day or so.

Use paper plates when ever possible they have some in pretty patterns and if you can use these it won't seem to bad, this will help with the dishes. Use a crockpot for at least a few meals each week, much less clean up. Get a "george foreman" type grill you can fix meat quickly with out a lot of mess, again quick clean up and you can vary the taste if you get tired of just grilling by marinating chicken, beef and pork then grilling.

Another trick might be to take one day and cook a weeks worth of meals. You can find plastic trays where you can make up TV dinners, and other plastic containers to hold soups, etc. Put in freezer, clean up the mess and you will have your meals ready to eat the rest of the week. Much healthier than take out and much less mess thoughout the week.
Carolynn B

Both Adults Disabled

My husband and I are both disabled and home all the time but we still need to keep things simple in our home to avoid a messy house.

First, try to eliminate second and third steps to things. For instance, when you get the mail, stop off at the kitchen trash can and immediately throw away all junk mail, outer envelopes, etc. If you received a grocery store ad, turn around to your ongoing grocery list on the corkboard and make a note of items you use that are on sale, then throw the ad away. Next place any bills in a small basket or folder on the desk. This is a great way to eliminate stacks of papers that tend to turn into avalanches before the week is over and which require at least an hour to sort through.

Another place to save time and repeated steps is during cooking. If you don't have a dishwasher, fill a dishpan with hot soapy water. As you cook, place utensils or dishes in it and when you have a minute between stirring or whatever, just wash them off. This eliminates piles of dishes.

Speaking of cooking, cook extra whenever possible. For example, if your are cooking hamburger patties, cook a couple of extra and open a couple of cans of vegetables then place desired amounts in a couple of those divided plastic microwave plates and refrigerate. That way your wife can just pop one in the microwave for her lunch or pop two in for your dinner on an evening you are late or too tired to cook. Really, the same goes for anything you cook. Just put servings into these microwave dishes and refrigerate or freeze. This eliminates taking time to place food on plates, extra cooking and also saves on dirty dishes.

Also, we have started shopping online for many of our heavy groceries. It saves a lot of time and effort not to mention not buying extras we would see in the store and then going over budget. Our local Albertson's doesn't charge for delivery on orders over $60 and has a great website.

The main rule is to have a place for everything and to never handle anything more than once or twice whenever possible. It only takes a minute or two more [or less in some cases] to go ahead and take care of something rather than leave it for later. One other thing that my father taught me was to always throw something out when I get something new. It took awhile to get used to doing it but once I did, it has made a world of difference.

Might Qualify for Assistance

This couple may qualify for some housekeeper/home aide assistance based on his wife's disability. Many states have programs for disabled people to assist them w/ basic housecleaning, shopping, etc. They should contact the Social Security Office or possibly the lady's primary care physician or health insurance company. If they get no answer, keep trying and keep asking! It should pay off in the end. The government has tons of programs out there, the people just don't know about them!

Another idea would be to contact local churches and religious groups, many times these groups come to the aid of home bound or disabled people to do odd jobs for them at little or usually no cost.

Don't Forget Quality Time

I am pretty much in the same situation. My husband is disabled and has not been able to work for nineteen months. He is doing good if he makes the bed and puts dishes in the dish washer. I am fifty years old and have been working for thirty-one years. I just got a new position which is the answer to my financial problem, but I have to work more than full time as overtime is needed, and I often have to spend several days on the road.

The trick is to do something extra each day. Do it in small steps. I have been working on major purging, cleaning, and organizing since early December! I am down to one room, my file cabinets, and ironing all of our clothes! Each time you see results in one small area, it motivates you to do more.

If you maintain a home, consider an apartment. Let the apartment management take care of the outdoors and do the maintenance!

Most importantly, do spend time with your wife. Being disabled and cut off from society contributes to depression. My husband feels like a prisoner in our apartment. He would give anything to be able to go to work and be with others. An hour or so talking with your spouse is more important than anything else that you have to do!
Chris C

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