Keeping house is always a chore-but for people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders it can be the source of a symptom flare that puts them out of commission for days or even weeks. That makes it all the more important to develop techniques that help them complete their tasks without and excessive expenditure of time and energy. If your repertoire of housekeeping tricks is low, fear not here we present tips from FM patients who have discovered ways to ease the housekeeping blues.

In the Bathroom

Relying on a small number of cleaning products not only ,simplifies housecleaning, it also makes life much more pleasant for people who have multiple chemical sensitivities. the trick is to find the cleaner that works best for you. FM patient Alice Hart, for instance, relies on Scrubbing Bubbles spray to clean her bathroom. “I spray it all over the toilet, sink, and tub, wipe it off with an old towel, and everything is squeaky clean and smells wonderful,’ she says. “I’m done in 10 minutes.”

In some parts of the bathroom, you may not even need a cleaning product. Patti Hutcheson of Tampa, Fla., makes use of shower steam to clean knickknacks and other decorative items. After she’s finished bathing, she uses a paper towel to wipe her knickknacks dry, and they look clean and fresh. She has also simplified cleaning the inside of the tub; first she scrubs the tub, then takes a shower-cleaning herself while rinsing the tub.

“I clean the tub one night and then the toilet and lavatory another night,” she adds. “It’s okay to break up the tasks of the bathroom and not have to do everything at one time.”

Fetch and Carry

Marie Maier of Plymouth, Mich., has found a folding metal shopping cart  indispensable. She places the cart in the back seat of her car before heading out to the grocery store, and then it’s ready to carry her groceries straight into her kitchen. She also relies on the cart to carry out bags of trash, or even suitcases when she’s heading out on a trip. She has also used it to transport her clothes to the laundry room.

Laundry can be a big burden to those who are challenged by lifting, bending, and straightening. Bruce King, who lives in Seattle, ties a thick loop of nylon rope to the handle of his laundry basket; that way he can pull it easily over the carpet and into the laundry room. “I’ve even gotten good at balancing a second basket on top of the first and inserting small plastic containers for soap, bleach, etc., in among the clothes, so I needn’t work my arms to tote them either” he adds. Marian Chapman, on the other hand, came up with a system that helps her transport her laundry upstairs. She lifts the basket, rests it on a stair several steps ahead of her, and then climbs up to it. She repeats  the process until she reaches the second floor. “It is easier to do this … than to try to carry the weight of the basket and my body weight up the stairs at the same lime,” she explains. Nancy Smith’s husband placed a small table in their laundry area, which prevents her from having to bend down to sort the clothes. When grabbing clean clothes from her drier, Smith places them in a laundry basket perched on top of another basket so it’s raised up to a convenient height for her. She also delegates some tasks for instance, her son or husband carries the laundry upstairs so it can be put away; or she does all the cleaning except for the carpet, and asks her husband or son to vacuum when they arrive home. “My family has found that they have more quality time with me if they help; she explains. ” “the sooner we get done, the sooner we can spend time together.”

In the Kitchen

The repetitive motions required by cooking-opening jars, bending and lifting, chopping-can exacerbate FM symptoms. The good news is there are many tools and adaptative devices that can help ease these necessary tasks. To open jars, for instance, one FM patient relies on shelf liners (the thicker, plastic kind used on shelves or beneath rugs) as well as strap wrenches. To open a jar using this method, stand the jar on a piece of shelf liner and use another piece to grip it. ‘then wrap the strap wrench’s grip around the lid, twist the plastic handle, and voila: open jar. Standing at the stove to stir, or at the counter to chop, can be a massive drain of energy. Why not sit down to complete these tasks? Place a tall stool in your food prep area, and sit on it to conserve, your energy while, preparing a meal. You may also wish to invest in ergonomic tools that can help ease the strain of repetitive motion. Christine Omer uses an ergonomic knife to chop vegetables.” It keeps my wrist in a better position and seems to give me more force for chopping,” she says along handled “Reacher” tool can also make it easier to reach items stored on high shelves.

Personal Care

Think outside the box to make everyday tasks easier for you. If your bathroom sink is so low that you have to bend to use it, for example, why not brush your teeth at the kitchen sink? If sitting causes you back pain, use a pillow or two to cushion the surface beneath you. Store things where you use them-even if that means buying multiple bottles of furniture polish, bathroom cleaners, or window cleaners.

Determine whether a warm shower helps relax you In the evening, or helps revive stiffened muscles in the morning. (Perhaps the best system for you is to shower before going to bed as well as after rising!) Maybe an electric blanket eases your pains, making it easier for you to fall asleep. (You can also fill socks or pillowcases with rice or wheat husks-be sure to stitch the ends shut and then heat them for a few seconds in the microwave, for a less expensive solution.)

Above all, remember that taking care of your house means also taking care of yourself. Monitoring your energy level and staving off flares by using tools and creative thinking will help you feel better-and keep your home looking great.