Need advise for house cleaning/organization

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  AutumnDraidean 3 weeks ago.

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  • #99192

    ellewolfe
    Participant

    Hey ya’ll, first time on this site because I’ve been looking all over the internet for advice that I just can’t seem to find for adult ADHD. I am 27 with ADD, inattentive type and I’ve been diagnosed and treated for about 6 years now. My boyfriend of 5 years was diagnosed about 4 years ago with unspecified/combined type. Needless to say our life is a little chaotic, grossly unorganized and beyond stressful sometimes, and on top of it we bought a house this year. In addition to my ADD I have OCD-tendencies that all the therapy in the world can’t seem to break. It causes this vicious cycle of complete neglect of chores and house upkeep, followed by intense and overwhelming compulsions to basically sterilize the house, sometimes for 15+ hours with no break. My boyfriend is almost exactly the same as me and lets this happen to the house until we snap and clean and organize EVERYTHING, we feed into our own terrible habits. For me, I had ADHD as a child but went undiagnosed and never learnt strategies to deal with any of this, I barely feel like a functioning adult most days.
    I need any and all advice and tips for keeping a house clean when you have ADHD, as well as how you organize various parts of your house to help make things a little easier to upkeep, or to make life run just a little bit smoother. Because when I say we neglect the house, I mean we leave dishes in the sink for months at a time, dishes all around the house, we actively somehow lose all of our forks within a week of doing dishes, only do laundry when we’re both out of clothes, you can’t see the bedroom floor because of the clothes, etc. Any time something happen we always say we’ll deal with it later, for instance the cat pulled all the linens out of the linen closet about a month ago and to this day they’re all just shoved back in the closet with the door jammed shut so it doesn’t all just topple back out.
    I know so many of us struggle with this kind of thing and my psychologist has given me some good tips like to basically throw away all the tupperware in the kitchen, but I really do just need MORE. Is the more organized things are the better (in labelled tubs, boxes, etc), or is there some way you have found that really does help you keep up with the day to day chores and cleaning?

  • #99198

    asnodgrass
    Participant

    My husband and I are almost 40 and both ADHD. Here’s my advise from years of struggles:
    1- get a house cleaner: I know it may be an expense that you think you can’t afford but it by far has been the best decision we ever made. We both sucked at cleaning and were not organized. Knowing she is coming everything other week and knowing the house has to be organized ( somewhat ) is a great motivator. Coming home to a beautiful, clean environment helps you complete other tasks that are needed around the house. Having friends over when your house is clean is a perk.
    2- make organizing fun: I go on Pinterest for ideas, take one place at a time and try to figure the best way to organize it or sometimes just do it and see how it works. I watch tv when I’m sorting things and finding places for them. It gives me something to do when I watch tv bc I have to be doing something. I teach my husband and daughter where things go and sometimes they don’t get it but I can fix it bc it’s not too overwhelming when it’s not everything. It becomes a habit after you’ve been doing it so long. My husband has his things( his fishing gear and the garage) that he likes to organize too. My 3 yr old daughter likes to put things in containers (little ones I buy at the dollar store- which is a great place to get stuff for organizing) and she’s learning a skill earlier than we did and with us as parents- sheesh, she’ll need some skills!
    I still have lots of things to organize and make more efficient or work better( things jammed in drawers or closets) but I do it when I have time and I make it fun!
    I do have a hard time throwing things away sometimes so I think of how I can reuse them or upcycle them.
    Anyway I hope that helps in some way- it’s just been our path through trial and error. You’ll find yours✊

  • #99201

    ADHDinPGH
    Participant

    I like your therapists idea to ditch the Tupperware. The only functional solution I have found for myself? Get rid of stuff. As much stuff as possible. I have spent a couple years purging and purging again. It helps me because the less stuff there is, the easier it is to ensure that everything has a specific place where it belongs — which, for me, is a key or staying organized. Plus the fewer dishes I own, the more frequently I HAVE to wash them and put them away. Same with clothes. Finally no more piles of clothes all over! I have to do laundry every week because I adopted a capsule wardrobe.

    I hope you find some things that work! I know it’s hard to let go of stuff sometimes )”what if I need it down the road?” “It has sentimental reasons I need to keep it”) but it’s a lot easier to organize when there’s less if it 🙂

  • #99286

    SheilaM
    Participant

    WOW! Super topic! I really appreciate hearing others problems and suggestions! Bottom line, we are all human and capable of all the same behaviors whether we have ADD, ADHD, or don’t know! I am one who “THINKS” I have Adult ADD. The more I am reading about young girls with this, makes me feel if they had the diagnosis back when I was a child (born in 1956), I would have been diagnosed with it. I have not been diagnosed yet, but my Psychologist does not diagnose this and because from the start I went in asking for tools and “NO DRUGS”, but she couldn’t prescribe them anyway. She feels I am doing well enough without a referral to a qualified Psychiatrist for this diagnosis (my ADD suspicion). I have been in therapy since July 2015, for severe PTSD and anxiety , after finally escaping a severe domestic violence and severe emotional trauma, marriage.
    I used to be a Big Pharma sales rep, who got sick of making people sicker by doctors piling on more drugs to manage the new symptoms, and switched to Nutraceutical sales and trained doctors of all principals in Applied Clinical Nutrition/Integrative Medicine, for a world class company. My X, ruined that most loved career by lying to my boss about me not needing my job anymore (which was a lie) which led to me being replaced and let go, because my boss thought I didn’t have the heart to tell him myself! My abusive husband had me where he wanted me, unemployed and unable to escape him.
    I had been an independent contractor and had to organize myself as a small business with great details, organization and responsibilities, but it was because of my great energy and ability to super multi-task, any distractions were acceptable because I controlled every aspect! I was a messy person always, but I shrugged it off because I had so much responsibility. I knew when I didn’t complete things, that my accounts were just as busy and I could get away with SOME things left undone where in other jobs in my past, were unacceptable! I was single and could live with my mess and unorganized life!
    I’m told by my Psychologist that he trauma I experienced from the unmentionable horrors my X did to me, required my brain to go into survival mode, to protect me, but since I left him, my symptoms of ADD/ADHD have exploded! By what I believe is God’s Grace, I was noticed by a remarkable man, 10 yrs younger than me, who fell in love with me, at first sight! We have been living together since our first date for 3 years +, in the most wonderful relationship we have both, ever experienced! He is ultra ORGANIZED and had worked in the medical field, for a world class medical company where he supervised up to 25 employees! I suffer severe guilt, because I am still trying to unpack two semi trailers of my belongings I brought with me, for the last 2 years! I struggle daily, trying to just open the moving boxes, filled with everything I just threw in, without sorting or tossing or leaving behind, when I left my abuser husband. When my Psychologist gives me names of a specialist who helps with hoarding, organizing,downsizing, cleaning etc., I wind up losing the phone numbers in the piles of papers and other stuff I struggle to organize, so I never even make the call for help! I want to… but I wind up being so distracted with “OTHER STUFF” by the time I remember to call, I have lost the paper or notebook with the name and number I promised her I would call! Sometimes, I feel like I am going crazy, because I know I am capable of extreme organization and accomplishment, but also know I used to leave MANY, many things UNDONE! I don’t know how my partner can stand me! Thank goodness, he was in therapy since a child, for help from an abusive step father, so he understands what can happen to people! He has been in group therapy where he listened to many, many examples of other people’s problems. He left marriage of a wife who refused to seek help with postpartum depression, who’s house is still a zillion times worse than my housekeeping! I live in constant fear that unless I can find someway to do anything that will help me, that I will loose him because of my inability to unpack, sort, toss, donate and keep a tidy house he says he wants! I just cannot keep on track much less apply for a job, because I am so disorganized! I hate to think of where I would be and what I would do, without him! All these posts are so helpful and I hope to read more! If anyone can address or comment, I am grateful! I really think I need to go see a Psychiatrist to be tested! One friend of mine gave me an ADD/ADHD capsule to try, and my whole world changed for the day! I could and did organize things without any trouble at all! It was like a miracle answer to this problem I experience! Why wouldn’t someone be prescribed something that helps? All I hear is how many doctors will NOT prescribe because these drugs are in such an abused drug class! I AM SO DISORGANIZED, I CANNOT EVEN MAKE THE NEXT MOVE TO HELP MYSELF, IT SEEMS!….. HELP!

  • #99288

    SheilaM
    Participant

    Dear ellewolfe,
    You say you are; diagnosed and treated for about 6 years now. I assume that you are taking an RX fro this. Do you mind telling if you feel you feel the drug(s) help you or they do not? Do you work full or part time? I tried Adderall one time, and I was so accomplished at organizing and cleaning it blew my mind! If you use medication, did this have the same effect on your ability to keep house? If it did, then did it wear off, after time? I am trying to make sense if it is worth me going to a Psychiatrist to be tested and see if RX therapy will help me, with MY household and life problems I believe are ADD/ADHD problem!
    My Psychologist has given me names and numbers of professional people who can come out to your house to help you with this. There are also many state funded organizations in major cities that help with this. I would assume your Psychiatrist could or should be able to help you with this, considering it appears that if you are taking medication for this, it might be not working and perhaps it is time to try a different med?

  • #99495

    ellewolfe
    Participant

    Hey again, sorry I literally forgot about this, like everything else I start! Thank you all for the great tips, I have so many new things to try. I have been trying to purge and when we moved I think I threw out more than we kept but I am a notorious hoarder of pens, stationary, small things, makeup, hair stuff, YOU NAME IT.

    In response to you, SheilaM, yes I have been on medication since diagnosis. My mother actually was diagnosed before me and it literally changed her life going on medication. Her and I are literally so similar she just knew that I had to have it as well, and a couple doctors later confirmed it. I’ve been on many different medications, starting with Adderall XR, then Adderall, Vyvanse, back to Adderall, and recently I tried Focalin but switched back to Adderall. For my inattentive type it was like night and day. The brain fog is gone the moment it starts working and I can actually do things like pick up the house a little, do some school work, etc. Most notably, before my ADD was out of control I would read 4-5 books A WEEK and after things started to get unmanageable I hadn’t read a book for fun in 6 or 7 years, so that was my biggest wow moment, actually being able to sit down and just read a dang book.
    Adderall XR gave me some weird symptoms I can’t remember but i believe it was related to it not being a very stable release. Vyvnase is my gold standard and my doctor had me titrate mine, opening the capsule in a bottle of water, drinking half in the morning, half in the afternoon- because its an extended release it would mean I could edge into the dose with half dosage for 4 hours, then it would be at max dosage in the afternoon and slowly fade back to half dose then out of my system. It was smooth and meant my day lasted the full 12 hours I needed to of being productive. But it’s very expensive without insurance, so back to generic Adderall. Focalin was…weird. It made me jittery but didn’t give me the focus I need (the irony with a name like focalin) but I tolerated it for a month then switched back. Adderall for me is a fine line, right now I am at 15 mg twice a day and am experiencing some tolerance issues, but when we tried to go to 20mg I am so jittery I can’t even function.
    I think its worth a shot for anyone who is diagnosed, just try it and see how you feel. Eventually I would like to come off of amphetamine-based medications and try something like strattera which is non-stimulant but I’m too afraid to mess with my treatment while I’m in school.
    Speaking of school, you asked about work, etc. I am a full-time student right now with a part time job that gives me the flexibility to work kind of when I want to. I have worked full time while taking the medication and it was the only thing most days that kept me from quitting. That sounds insane, but not being treated and having to work a full 8 hour day in a job I hate was literally torture.. I’d be angry at everything that was out of my control, and so bored my brain literally would try to shut down on me making me yawn so much my boss thought I was rude or lazy, and I’d be literally fighting to stay awake. My brain has serious problems with understimulation, and if its not highly entertained or interested in what is going on, I will literally fall asleep or get anxious, or have to go watch mindless TV for hours. I cried when I first tried the medication because the fog lifting was life-changing. I went home and did laundry without my parents nagging me 4000 times, my dad didn’t have to rip into my room looking for silverware… My boyfriend is also medicated at the same dosage as I am and from what I’ve noticed, he can barely function without it like me. My adderall regular tabs now, last for about 4 hours. A little after 3.5 hours I take the second dose. It is the only way I can do chores, and I wish I was exaggerating. Life before for me looked a lot like someone with depression. As a matter of fact I was previously diagnosed with anxiety and depression but I was treatment resistant and antidepressants of any type made me suicidal. After starting my ADD treatment, both went away completely…because it wasn’t anxiety or depression it was understimulation driving me crazy and wearing me down.
    I will say though there is a come down, or rebound effect. I periodically don’t take it for a day or two because taking it everyday can cause me to wake up sore, exhausted and in a bigger fog than before. But like I said, somedays I dont take it, and take it mostly when needed for school studying, work, etc, which is what my doctor recommended so I don’t build a tolerance, as he won’t perscribe more than 20mg twice a day. I will always recommend trying vyvanse first though, it is the smoothest possible transition with no jittery business or weird come down, and being able to put it into water is really awesome for tailoring your dose to how you need it. My problem with keeping up with things come from how busy I am. I use my medication for school or work and because I don’t want to take extra doses in a day, it doesn’t leave much time for taking care of the house.

  • #99536

    strwbry
    Participant

    Hi ellewolfe! My husband and I both have ADHD. We’ve been together for 10 years and are both unmedicated, so, we use a lot of other strategies to keep our lives from slipping into chaos. 🙂 Here’s a few things that help us:

    1. Minimalism. We googled it, and it changed the way we think about our stuff. Having less is definitely freeing and much more manageable. We purge whenever the seasons change, usually 2-3 times per year. If we haven’t used it in a year, it doesn’t fit our current lifestyle, and we don’t love it, it goes. We donate or sell as much as possible. It’s much easier to give things a new home than to toss it.

    2. Dishes. We cut back to 6 bowls, 6 plates, 2 pans, and 2 pots. With so few dishes, we HAVE to wash them every few days because we run out. And it only takes about 10 minutes to load/unload the dishwasher because there’s not an overwhelming amount of stuff. We keep a matching set in storage and only break it out for dinner parties.

    3. Simplify. We only buy one type of tupperware, socks, soap, towels, shampoo, etc. When everything matches, it’s easier to store and see what you have.

    4. A place for everything. New stuff gets a home within a week. I leave it out until it has a place. This keeps it on my mind. Keep daily/weekly use items close at hand. Everything else can be stored away. EVERYTHING is out of sight as much as possible. Visual clutter can be overwhelming, even if it’s organized. Pinterest has a TON of organizing ideas. Keep trying different ones till you find what works for you.

    5. Chore chart. The hubs and I divided up our weekly chores based on what we hate least and posted it by the door. Even if we don’t get to everything on the list each week, we usually get to some or most of it. It keeps our home out of the chaos zone and allows for more deep cleaning when I go into super-cleaner mode.

    6. Split up big tasks. Laundry is my nemesis. It always seems overwhelming, whether we have one load or twelve. So, I wash and dry, he folds. The hubs hates cleaning the kitchen, so, he cooks, and I clean. It’s nice being on the same team, and we appreciate each other taking away some of the overwhelm.

    7. Make it easy. We keep bathroom cleaner, glass cleaner, and paper towels in the bathroom. Large trash cans in every room. Vacuum stays in the living room closet, broom stays in the kitchen, and I have a microfiber cloth stuffed behind a picture or box on a shelf in each room. Kitchen cleaner stays OUT on the counter. It’s much easier to get motivated when tools are close by.

    8. Know your cleaning style. I tried a lot of daily/weekly checklists and tried to structure everything. That just doesn’t work for me. I like a more fluid schedule, so I can clean when I have energy for it. I usually unload the dishwasher while dinner is cooking. I do all the big cleaning stuff (mop/vacuum/dust) once a week. The hubs likes to fold laundry while watching a movie. Find what works for you.

    9. Motivation. This was my biggest hurdle. For 6 years, no matter what new cleaning plan I found online, I could NOT get myself to stick to it. Those plans just don’t work for me. Now, I block out a “cleaning day” once a week and put on music while I tackle my list. Making it fun and keeping it manageable REALLY helps.
    – I keep a timer in each room. I can do anything for 5 minutes. I can get a room done in 30, and I can get my whole list done in 2 hours.
    – Keep it novel. Add something new to the mix. A weird new duster, a good smelling cleaner, or a new playlist can make it less monotonous.
    – Rewards. When all else fails, bribery usually works. I like ice cream, soda, and binge watching Parks and Rec. 🙂

    10. Let go of perfection. Our home is never going to look like a magazine for more than an hour. We’re too forgetful. People live here, and that’s okay. We allow clutter in a few places, and that helps to keep it from taking over: shelf by the front door, kitchen table, coffee table, and bathroom vanity. We clear them off every few days to keep the piles of stuff at bay, and the rest of our home stays looking pretty good.

    It’s a process, but building habits/routines into your lives can help. Sharing the load helps too. Remember that y’all both deserve a happy and livable space. Working together to create that space for each other can be a great motivator. <3

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  strwbry. Reason: correct numbering
  • #99518

    kmci1984
    Participant

    This app is really helping me so far with routines. http://productiveapp.io

    I have daily and weekly cleaning “habits” I’m building that are now part of a morning or evening routine. Something about the design and set up of this app works for my ADHD brain. And even though parts of my house are still a mess, the fact that I have emptied the bins on bin night two weeks in a row and vacuumed two weeks in a row and am usually changing the kitty litter daily now (poor cat!) because it’s part of the evening routine I have put in this app has really helped me feel better about my home and less overwhelmed by housekeeping stuff.

    It hasn’t solved clutter for me yet. But I’m finding myself more inclined to deal with it. And some things are less cluttered. Like one of my evening habits before bed is “kitchen bench clear, sink empty?”.

    Part of my problem is owning/keeping too much stuff though. A friend is going to help me with a clear out soon. Otherwise a weekly habit I thought I might work on is “throw out 2 things and find a proper place for 2 things”. Hopefully it will be pretty sparse eventually, then I might have a nightly habit like “scan for new clutter and things out of their place – spend 5 to 15 minutes tidying them” or something like that (the suggested habit “tidy the house” is too general and overwhelming for the ADD brain!)

    We shall see!

  • #99843

    howfortunate
    Participant

    1) Do not ever under any circumstances kick your own ass for struggling with this. We are wired for big projects, not daily upkeep stuff.
    That doesn’t mean giving yourself a free pass to live in squalor, but it does mean give yourself credit for trying, and celebrate even the little successes. The point is gradually building better habits, so that daily household maintenance becomes part of a routine that you don’t have to motivate yourself to accomplish.

    2) When all else fails, lower your standards.
    Meaning to set your own personal bar for what counts as clean to you. (I’m 46, I’ve had time to figure mine out, lol, and it’s the “dull roar” standard.
    For me, I’m okay with a certain level of clutter, but not dirt. I will move my clutter, clean under and behind it, then put the clutter back where it was. Just keeping the chaos to a dull roar.
    I use trays everywhere to corral my random clutter, like on the kitchen counter or table— when the tray is full, it’s time to deal with its contents.
    I don’t worry about getting all the way to the bottom of Laundry Mountain, but I have a limit on how tall it’s allowed to get before I gotta take it down a few notches.
    *Also, underneath Laundry Mountain is the best hiding place for Xmas presents ever!

    3) Make it fun, or funny
    For me it comes down to a handful of mantras, like “half ass is better than no ass”, also known as the “make a dent” rule, which I’ll remind myself of when I keep walking past the sink full of dirty dishes that I have neither the time nor willpower to fully tackle.
    If I take 2-5 minutes to either just empty the dishwasher or organize the dirty dishes by category, then the next time I walk past the sink on my way to do something else it only takes 5 minutes or so to load the dishwasher, etc.
    If my husband and I both half-ass it, eventually it adds up to a whole ass!

    4) I realized a while back that I get more done by puttering (IF uninterrupted) than by setting a specific goal, so a couple times a week I’ll wander through each room in my house and spend about 10 minutes making a dent, and it’s usually enough to get us by.

    5) If it’s tuesday, scrub a toilet. If it’s trash night, clean out the fridge.

  • #99959

    h22k22-female
    Participant

    Invite people over every Sunday.

    This is the cruelest act I can inflict on my partner and me but, desperate times!

    As the time nears I enter Sargent Major mode and shout orders plus March round myself. I’m always surprised at how little time it eventually takes and love the result.

    Not great for my relationship, but every now and again is ok.

  • #102230

    Pimpernell
    Participant

    Hello everyone, I have been diagnosed about 10 years ago, at the age of 42. Never been married and no children. Die have a few longlasting relationship but single now. Housekeeping has never been my strong point but I did seem to manage when I was living together with a partner. Since I live on my own I find myself struggling with things I can not solve by myself. This has lead to me leaving things as they are so the problems just got worse and worse. So much so I need some advice on what to try and do before I could ask the help I require. I should mention that I already reached out to someone and this was a real dissapointment. I got rediculed and humiliated for months. This made me even feel more anxious about my situation. However I was able to deal with that person because I don’t let others define who I am. I am proud of how far I have come and of the person I am today. But it has made it more difficult to trust others and I realize that I need to be carefull whom to rely on. But first things first and I Still have to tell what this is really about. I have a fridge that isn’t working, there were some creepy crawlies inside and I am too scared to open it and my boiler started leaking, afraid of the costs I would not be able to pay and the mess in my bathroom, I just turned of the water, knowing now that this is not a solution I can maintain for much longer…what can I dö about this. You must have guessed by know I have issues with avoiding certain things that should not be avoided, thus creating even more trouble than there was to begin with…does anyone recognize this and what have they done to resolve this? Suggestions or tips are more than welcome…please can anyone help me

    • #102285

      ADHDmomma
      Keymaster

      It sounds like it’s time to enlist some professional help with getting back on track. They will help without judgement, because they see it all the time. They will also teach your strategies to try to keep it from getting that bad again.

      Penny
      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #102339

    AutumnDraidean
    Participant

    What I did for myself was flylady.net Marla Cilly’s book, Kitchen Sink Reflections https://archive.org/details/sinkreflections00cill got me started and over the years I adapted it to my life and my home. It was a starting place that helped me develop habits and build them.

    Most helpful quotes to me were the following

    “Your house didn’t get this way in a day, you can’t fix it in a day”

    “You aren’t behind, don’t try to catch up, just jump in where you are.

    “Don’t pull out more than you can put away in an hour.”

    and most importantly for folks like us

    “you can do anything for fifteen minutes”

    I’m going to straight up say that the website is kind of a pain because she advirtises all manner of things to buy, from calendars to apps to menu services, but you don’t have to buy them. all you really need is a three ring notebook, some of the smooth shiny page protectors and a dry erase marker, alongside a calendar of your choice.

    I set my ‘control journal’ up in Toodledo.com you can also use cozi or the flylady app, or really any todo tool on a computer, as long as it has a daily/weekly/monthly repeater.

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