Organization at Home
10 Tips for Keeping a House Clean Despite ADHD
Jun 17, 2013 (updated Apr 15, 2014)
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Have a plan
Books and websites offer a lot of advice on how you should clean, but only you know what’s most useful in your home. Sit down and make a list of the things that need to be clean in order to keep your family safe and everybody happy. You may find that nobody cares how clean the windows are, but everyone suffers when there are no clean dishes. Each home and family have different needs and different levels of comfort with household chaos.
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Having ADHD can mean that keeping organized is more difficult for you, but it can also make you a great “speed demon” cleaner. If you can’t stick with a project for an hour, break it down into chunks, and concentrate on the room where you are. Instead of cleaning the bathroom in one go, commit to taking out the trash and wiping down the mirror one morning, and scrubbing the tub and sink after giving the kids a bath.
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Identify the hot spots
Every home has spots where clutter piles up: the kitchen table, desks, the kids' rooms. Rather than feel overwhelmed by cleaning them all at once, determine that you simply won’t add to them. Then set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes and go through as much as you can for a few days.
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The tension brought on by ADHD and housecleaning activities can cause stress in a family. Guilt, frustration, and depression can strike both partners. If you have ADHD, talk to your spouse about how you need to approach cleaning, and ask if there are any parts of home life that he or she needs to have more control over, or need to take precedence in order to make everyone feel cared for.
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First things first
Children don’t need to live in a spotless home, but they do benefit from a predictable environment—especially if you have a child with ADHD. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by keeping the whole house in order, consider starting with the things that can help create stability for the family. Even if your hot spots stay hot, if your kids know they can count on having clean clothes and a tidy room that will go a long way toward making them feel secure.
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Develop a routine
Have a small list of things that are non-negotiable and stick to them morning and evening. For many people, that means that mornings include making the bed and clearing out the dishwasher. In the evening, it might include putting everything in the kitchen back where it belongs. This routine, if it becomes a habit, ensures that the most important parts of your home stay livable.
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Take a hint From history
Until very recently, the running of a house had a very well-known rhythm. Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Bake on Wednesday, and so on was well-known enough to be embroidered on tea towels. But the days of women-only housekeeping are far over. That doesn’t mean that there is not a place for a routine, however. Look at your week and see if there are days when certain chores would make sense, and then stick to it.
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Do it in spurts
If distraction is your problem, you may benefit from tackling projects in 10 minute spurts. Set an egg timer for 10 minutes and set yourself to opening bills, or cleaning out the refrigerator. Getting through several small things can make it easier to face larger projects, too.
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Consider having less
If toys, clothes, and other furnishings are spilling out of your closets and bookshelves, then even the most disciplined housekeeper is going to have problems. If organization and cleaning aren't your forte, consider selling or donating gently used items.
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Hire a professional
Busy work schedules and other obligations can make keeping the house clean a challenge. If you're able, consider hiring a professional cleaning service occasionally to either tackle large, dreaded chores, or just a quick, weekly clean.