An adult person with legs propped up on the couch while on the laptop as a robot vacuum cleans the carpet.

How I Handle Housework With Lupus

Last updated: April 2022

Like many lupus patients, I don't have as much energy as a healthy person my age. I sleep 10-12 hours a night yet still feel tired every day. Between balancing my career, time spent connecting with friends and family, and the many daily tasks I need to do to maintain my health, I don't have a lot of time or energy to devote to cleaning my house. Over the years, I've learned a few tips and tricks to keep up with housework despite my limitations. My house may never look like a picture out of Better Homes and Gardens, but it's comfortable, cozy, and clean enough.

Robot vacuum for routine housework

My robotic vacuum is one of the best purchases I've ever made. Having Robert, as I call my vacuum, clean the house while I rest on the couch or write articles saves me so much time and energy. I purchased Robert, an I-Life 4, on amazon.com for about $150. Robert has no problem maneuvering between carpet and hard flooring. He rarely gets stuck or bumps into walls, although he occasionally gets trapped between my coffee table legs. He leaves a clean floor after him and even drives himself back to his charging station after finishing. Using a robotic vacuum still requires some effort on my part, though. I still have to pick up chairs, dog toys, and small tables before letting Robert loose, just like I would if I were using a regular vacuum. I also have to empty the vacuum and clean the filter after Robert finishes, which takes a little less than a minute. Robert cleans my floors just as well as I would with far less energy. In fact, I found him so helpful that I also bought a robotic mop recently.

Minimalist living

I've written before about how helpful minimalism is to me as a lupus patient—reading Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up taught me how to decide what to keep and what to downsize. With fewer possessions comes less dusting and less overall upkeep. While I love to decorate my walls with pictures, I don't keep very many items and knick-knacks on my tabletops where they might collect dust. Having less helps me appreciate the possessions I do have even more.

Laundry and lupus

When I first became sick with lupus, I lived on the third floor of a dilapidated old house. A narrow, winding set of stairs led down to the driveway. The nearest laundromat was half a mile away. Between the extreme fatigue, the unpredictable arm weakness, and the severe brain fog I suffered from, doing my laundry was almost impossible. Fortunately, I now own my own house and live on the ground floor. Even though I have a washing machine and dryer in my garage, I still like to keep enough clothes in my closet that I don't have to do laundry more than once a month in case I have a flare.

Lupus requires compromise with housework

Life with lupus requires compromise. I've learned that I can't stay healthy, maintain a career, keep up with friendships, and have a sparklingly clean house at the same time. As the years have passed, I no longer see the thin layer of dust on the side tables in my living room or streaks in my windows. Instead, I now see time and energy as the valuable commodities they are, and I understand that I can't be perfect in all areas of my life. There can only be one Martha Stewart, and it's not me.

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