Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Kitchen and my executive function issues

I really dislike cleaning the kitchen. It is the bane of my existence. I find it exhausting, mindless, mundane and never-ending! Atrus and I are always trying to figure out ways to become more efficient in cleaning the kitchen to minimise how much time we have to spend cleaning. I dislike having to do big blocks of cleaning in the kitchen because that cuts into time I could be doing other far more interesting and intellectually stimulating things. Atrus and I usually clean the kitchen together, we have a morning and evening routine that we try to follow to minimise the mess building up and becoming a really big mess. We are all about prevention and efficiency. The past few days Atrus has been unwell in bed, so I have had to do everything in the kitchen myself. We let the mess go for a couple of days prior and it was my son Possum's birthday party prior to this. This meant there was extra mess in the kitchen than normal. I did not have a good day on the Monday as I was feeling really worn out after the party and emotionally awful. I needed to have a rest day of doing nothing. Cleaning the kitchen was too overwhelming to face. Yesterday (Tuesday) I finally faced the mess on my own whilst Atrus rested in bed. I found it exhausting to do it all. It took me over 2 hours to clean the worst of it, by which time I was worn out. I had a rest after this.  Last night and this morning I had more cleaning to do to prevent the mess from escalating. I calculated I spent roughly 4 hours cleaning the kitchen over the past two days, which I think is ridiculous and frustrating!

I had a little crying vent to Atrus over how much I dislike cleaning the kitchen. Atrus listened patiently while I cried about how long it had taken and how frustrating it was. I googled 'cleaning the kitchen efficiently' on my phone while he was listening to me vent. I scrolled through the list of links, most of them weren't what I was looking for. Towards the end of the list, there was a link called '10 ways to clean your kitchen less often and enjoy it far more.' I told Atrus about the article I had found and started reading it. The first thing on the list is, I kid you not, '1. Start with an empty dishwasher and an empty sink.' I burst out laughing because the above statement is the very thing I struggle to keep on top of most, let alone do anything beyond that, besides cooking. The article had some helpful tips, but it was mostly stuff I already know and try very hard to do, but find very difficult, overwhelming, tiring to maintain, which is really frustrating and upsetting. I did feel better after having a laugh about the first statement in the article, realising that the way I clean and do things is very different to what most articles suggest to do. 

I have read a few simplifying housework articles over time which have ideas of how to clean your house in one hour or four daily routines, for example, to keep cleaning simple. I find them overwhelming and stressful as the amount of work they suggest to do is phenomenal. I do not have that kind of energy to do ALL that they suggest, plus actually live my life! I am working on working out cleaning routines which work for us, in particular a cleaning routine for the kitchen as it gets the messiest very quickly.

I hate clutter on the kitchen bench, really hate it. Clutter on the bench makes it so difficult for me to face cleaning up and cooking. I feel overwhelmed and overstimulated when I come see the kitchen so cluttered. I have been researching ways to clear the clutter off the kitchen bench into other areas so that it doesn't build up and take over the kitchen bench. It is a constant battle to mimise the clutter on the bench. I have shared a couple of articles below with some ideas of what I am planning to try to get rid of most of the kitchen bench clutter. I am very visual so have realised that I need to have certain things on the bench for me to see otherwise I will completely forget about whatever it is and not take it or use it. I am in the process of researching and working out a visual system to refer to help me with this, so that I make use of the things I need to in the kitchen and don't forget important to use or take items (such as my vitamins/medication).

I have this ideal in my head of how the kitchen will be but never ever reach it. I have stopped trying to reach that ideal because it is unrealistic. I stress myself out too much trying to reach it otherwise. I don't think it is too much to ask to have the dishwasher unloaded/dishes washed up, and kitchen bench clear though. That is my aim, to wake up to every morning and have done every night before bed, so the mess doesn't build up to two, three days or more of mess. If the kitchen gets to three or more days of mess then the mess is very overwhelming, gross and hours of work. Which I dislike! I do not like spending hours of my time and energy cleaning the kitchen, when I can be doing other things. If the kitchen gets really bad, then I end up avoiding cleaning and cooking because it is too overwhelming to look at. Atrus cleans it up, like a reset, only then am I able to face the kitchen and cooking again. I feel bad about not cooking or cleaning when it gets this bad. Whenever I look at the mess my brain cannot differentiate the mess and I find it difficult to figure out how to break the mess down into doable clean up steps. The kitchen will have gotten to this point because I am worn out and have likely over-done it, so need to rest. When I come to face the kitchen mess in this worn out state, I don't have the spoons or EF to clean it up. Then cook on top of all the cleaning I have had to do to get the kitchen back to manageable and able to cook level. This is what I find most frustrating. Once the kitchen gets out of control, which only takes a day or two, then I likely won't cook most of that week. I am trying really hard to manage my energy and have systems/routines in place to prevent the mess from escalating, most of the time it works well. Sometimes it doesn't, it is those times that I find difficult to navigate.

I find it really difficult to get the work of the kitchen done quickly, what might take others (on average) 20 minutes, probably takes me twice that. Add in interruptions from my son Possum and it takes a lot longer to get it all done. Every time I am interrupted by something, I have to spend time figuring out what I was doing and allow myself to slowly get back into whatever I was doing. If I have multiple interruptions all together, I end up needing to take a break to collect my thoughts and figure out what I was doing originally. All this takes time and means the time taken to clean the kitchen takes longer and longer. Very frustrating indeed. Most days the kitchen is not fully cleaned until after 11am. By then most of the morning is gone and I can't go anywhere till after lunch as my blood sugar will be too low to go anywhere by then (I walk everywhere as I don't drive).  I find it difficult to let the mess go and get on with other things that need doing sometimes too. I hate coming back home after a tiring day out to a mess in the kitchen. I know I will not have the energy to clean it up when I get home. I always try to make sure the worst of the mess is dealt with before we leave the house, which means we are often late leaving the house because of my need to not have a mess to deal with at the end of a busy, tiring day.

I like cooking. That is the part about the kitchen that I do like. Cooking is a creative outlet for me. I enjoy cooking nutritious food for my family eat. I like having delicious food to look forward to and eat.  It is impossible for me to cook in a messy kitchen. I am not able to concentrate, or figure out what I need to do in order to cook. Ensuring I have a clear bench, dishwasher unloaded and dishes washed up is of utmost importance in order for me to cook. If the kitchen isn't clean then I don't cook, which means no one eats healthy food, we just buy takeaway, packaged food or whatever is readily available. This bothers me and frustrates me. I have to work extra hard to make sure that the kitchen does not end up in a vicious cycle of built up never-ending mess, so that my family can eat healthy.

Further reading:

Kitchen declutter ideas

Water bottle and storage organisation ideas

Organising the kitchen bench clutter

8 small cooking habits that make a big difference

Related blog posts by Autistic bloggers

Procrastination or executive function fail

A healthy mind in a tidy house

Executive function fail with pictures

Creating as sense of order

Emergency cleaning

Life Happens

No comments:

Post a Comment