Wednesday, January 03, 2018

An Autistic Takes On 30 Days of Cleaning - Part 1

For January, I'm doing the 30 Day Cleaning Challenge - adapted for my abilities, of course.

As anyone who reads my blog (or even my sidebar!) will know, I'm autistic. And this makes it a lot harder for me to keep track of and do many everyday household tasks, including most of the cleaning tasks listed in this challenge.

But I'm planning to become a mother. In fact, I want to get started when I'm 30, and I'm 28 now. So I'd better get down to it.

In the past several months, I've done various 30 day challenges, and succeeded with each. I did two different 30 day writing challenges to explore my own identity. For December, I did this 30 day meditation challenge, and I thought when I started that I'd probably screw up and miss a day, but I didn't. I'm starting to feel like this 30 day challenge format is a really good, achievable format for me - not perfection forever, which just gets me discouraged, or trying to build a streak, which gets me back to square one when I miss a day, but just spending a month focusing on working a bit every day on the same thing.

And since I see a lot of people who really don't get just how hard cleaning can be for autistic adults, I'm also going to try to write up notes for my readers on how this is going for me. This is not part of the challenge, mind you. If I miss a day, that's not a big deal, and I won't necessarily try to make up. This is just an added bonus task.

To get started, I'll post my first three days (notes generally written immediately after doing the task, in case you find the tense confusing):

Day 1: Clean microwave and oven.

Well, firstly, I'm translating 'and’ as 'or’. Cleaning the microwave was enough of a challenge, no way I'm also cleaning the stove on the same day.

I did this early morning before anyone else was up. I removed the plate thingy and washed it. The plate was really tough, lots of stuff caked on it. Then I left it in the drying rack and went to clean the microwave proper. I noticed a ring thing that went underneath the plate and pulled that out to clean, then scrubbed the microwave. I didn't do as thorough a job as with the plate, because the angle was awkward and I was getting tired, but I did scrub what I could. When I went to wash out the cloth, I cleaned the little ring, which was super easy. Then I returned to the microwave.

As I was cleaning it out, I noticed an unpleasant smell. I also ended up getting food particles on the counter in front of the microwave, so once I figured I'd gotten the microwave as clean as I could, I wiped down the counter in front as well.

When I was done, a thought occurred to me. I wasn't sure if it was safe to run the microwave before it dried out. I tried to do other things to occupy myself until my parents got up. I tried to do dishes, but I was too overloaded and spilt water on myself. So then I went to change. After changing, I decided to go and ask my parents about running the microwave and brag to them about cleaning it. As I did so, I also checked the next day's task and asked 'what are appliances?’ I'm still not sure what counts as an appliance.

Challenges: This task involved a lot of standing, both in front of the sink and the microwave. Reaching into the microwave involved bending my back in a way that caused back pain by the time I'd finished. The inside of the microwave smelled bad as I was cleaning it, and the feeling of soapy water and soapy wet washcloth on my skin also bothered me. This is especially true since my skin on one hand has a rash from the dryness of the winter air.

Day 2: Clean dishwasher and appliances. Here's how to clean your toaster.

As mentioned, I don't really know what 'appliances’ means, and we don't have a dishwasher. Plus, we spent last night in my Mom's place, and she doesn't have a toaster. (Plus, I can't really make sense of their instructions.) I have a dentist appointment, and I take anti-anxiety meds that get me too high to function afterwards, so I knew I had to do it early in the morning.

I decided last night to clean the coffee machine. Mom's been away from her place for a week, and there was rotten coffee in the machine and rotten food in the sink. I almost puked last night getting the worst of the rot down the drain. This morning, I washed out the coffee pot, then washed the coffee machine and lastly the countertop around it. I also picked up and moved some spices and garbage in that area. The garbage doesn't have a bag in it right now and I didn't have the energy to find one, so I just put the garbage on a different countertop for now.

Challenges: This involved standing and using the sink, same as the microwave. The angle was less awkward and it was done more quickly. The biggest challenge was the smell of mould, which made me gag.

Day 3: Wipe down pantry.

For this one, the biggest challenge was getting started. The task confused me, I couldn't quite think of what steps to do. Plus, I was planning on eating noodles and parmesan for breakfast, and the parmesan was in the pantry, so I thought I should combine the two tasks somehow. But the uncertainty for how to get started delayed me enough that I started getting low blood sugar, which made it worse. Plus, Mom got stressed out while getting ready for work, and my phone was low on charge, so I ended up retreating to my room to meditate and then exercising a bit, and got kind of off track.

Finally, I realized that I really needed to eat breakfast, and decided ‘never mind cleaning the pantry, let's get these noodles cooking’. And then once they were cooking, I realized maybe I could wipe down the pantry while I was waiting. I dragged over a chair to reach and did it. It was surprisingly quick and easy.

Challenges: I had to stand on a chair, but this task was so quick, that didn't bother me much at all. The biggest challenge was getting started on it, because I got it tangled in my mind with preparing breakfast, and the combination was too complicated for me.