ADD Cleaning 101


I am a messy person, no ifs ands or buts about it. I don’t know if that is a trait inherent to those of us with ADD/ADHD but my problem is although I am incredibly untidy, I really like a clean space. A messy living space actually eventually affects my mood (and goodness knows I don’t need another influence contributing to my mood swings) so I try to tidy consistently, but my method of cleaning may be a little…well…exasperating to watch for someone else. Hence the post, to educate on ADD Cleaning Methods.

I clean best under pressure. Yes, if I know my mom is coming to visit I will deliberately wait until the night before to start cleaning, I won’t finish everything I want to, and I will probably get very little sleep-but I’ll be happy cleaning.

I don’t ever finish one room at a time. Ever. I start the dishes, get bored, wipe down one kitchen counter, pick up the dish towel, throw it into the washer, hunt for more things to throw in the washer, scrub one toilet, maybe clean a drain, fold a bunch of clothing-but leave them stacked on the bed because I don’t feel like putting them away yet, discover more dirty clothing to throw in the washer (still haven’t started the washer), as I’m passing the computer room I notice some dirty dishes, I bring them back to the sink, I put away the now dry dishes (but don’t start the ones in the sink), I consolidate any trash scattered around the kitchen, I furminate Remus, now my clothing is covered with fur so I go change, I hunt for a pony tail to pull my hair back and end up cleaning half of the dresser, I start organizing my hair stuff (making more of a mess in the process) then I get hungry, I throw my furry clothes in the washer and finally start it, go back to the kitchen to make food, while the food is cooking I do another round of dishes until the drying rack is full then my cleaning steam has completely run out and I go sit on the couch to read while I eat. I MAY start cleaning again when I have to change the clothes over. Maybe, but probably not.

If I do set out to tackle one room, I will make excellent headway, but I won’t finish it unless I literally have someone (aka Brian) encouraging me to get it done. Usually I still leave one little thing undone, and I think it may be a tiny act of defiance on my part. For instance, I’ll totally scrub the bathroom, the bath, shower, toilet, sinks, the floor, take out the trash, clean the mirror, organize the cabinets, and then I’ll clean ONE (of the three) windows and leave the other two untouched.

I have been told all my life that if you just put it away right away then you don’t have to worry about it later. That is SO TRUE and I completely can’t do that. For one thing, it’s boring. Really boring. It is far more exciting to wait until an archeological dig may be needed to find your carpet and then tackle the job. (Clean best under pressure, remember). Also, I forget. One of the reasons I may forget is because I’ll go on these organization binges and start to reorganize everything but never finish so I honestly don’t really know where I’m supposed to put things. (A place for everything and everything in it’s place? HA!)

I get bored cleaning the same things over and over (like, the dishes, and laundry, and the bathrooms) so I’ll procrastinate by cleaning other things. Dishes piling up? I’ll scrub the baseboards in the kitchen. Most of them. Toilet getting a little icky? I’ll wipe down the blinds in three rooms. Can’t sleep on the bed because of all the clean clothing dumped in a heap? You know, the bookshelves in the Man Cave were looking a little dusty…

My brain is constantly in overdrive, so while I’m chugging away at my random cleaning, my brain is compiling a list of all the other things that still need to be cleaned. It’ll start out small and normal (still need to finish those dishes, vacuum the living room, put away Brian’s t-shirts) and then it escalates into ridiculous expecatations (and I should completely reorganize the closet, and clean out the garage, and scrub all of the walls in the house, and rent a carpet shampooer and wash and dry Remus and weed the entire half acre of yard by hand and this ALL NEEDS TO BE DONE TODAY!) If I can distract myself with music or focus more on what I’ve done as opposed to what still needs doing I can usually hold out for awhile, but eventually I will collapse in frustration at the impossibility of getting everything accomplished. We ADDers are great at making mountains out of molehills, and I think some of the problem is that molehills are just blah. Mountains are so much more…so much more!

It is always way more fun to clean someone elses mess. I actually like cleaning (watching the progress from messy to clean makes me happy)  it’s just the following all the way through and finishing that I have issues with, because if I lose interest it’s really hard to keep going. Cleaning someone ELSE’S mess is interesting because it’s not my mess.

Here are some Tips if you live with an ADDer and want a tidy house.

-If they get started cleaning, don’t get in their way. In fact, if you and they had plans for the day, I’d cancel them. If you interrupt a cleaning streak, it is over. There is no going back.

-Don’t make fun of their random cleaning or NOTHING will get cleaned. Don’t make fun of their karaoke singing either-even if it is to disney songs (Be Our Guest is a great cleaning song)

-Cleaning along with an ADDer is great, as long as you don’t interrupt whatever flow they have going on. It’s actually really motivating to have someone clean with me (in the early days my poor younger sister who had to share space with my mess), because my brain then relagates half of those impossible tasks I expect to finish to the other person, making the mountain still immense-but more manageable.

-Don’t suggest a different thing to clean. If I am cleaning the bathroom sink and you start talking about the shower scum chances are neither will get done.

-When an ADDer is done cleaning for the day. They’re done. If they left something completely half done (like, only swept half the floor) a little encouragement to finish is fine, as long as it’s along the lines of “Looking good, once you finish the floor lets just call it a day and go out for pizza”. Don’t try to tack on more jobs, or remind of more jobs yet to be done. “After the floor, we just have to fold and put away the laundry and vacuum the hall. Tomorrow we can tackle all that junk in the garage that needs to be sorted…” If you do that, expect a VERY messy house in the weeks(months) to follow.

Why all this talk about cleaning? Because I really want the house to be clean when Brian gets home so he can just relax and recouperate and it’s slow going and frustrating for all of the above reasons and issues. On the bright side, half the dishes are done, I’ve done one round of laundry, packed up two boxes of books, started and almost finished a sewing project (different from the quilt) furminated Remus and brushed his teeth and I just wrote a blog post. I think I’ll go clean a toilet.


2 responses »

  1. You just need a good spin doctor: it’s called “multi-tasking” 🙂 Some of the other stuff, yeah, that’s all you. Next time Little E and I will come for a visit – it is definitely more fun to clean someone else’s mess – why do you think Rachel and I liked to occasionally tackle your room on your behalf 🙂


  2. Pingback: Tackling Normalcy | Faith and Madness

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