When mama needs a little help (Tools and services that help us get by while living with disabilities… and dogs)

Today’s post is less about Service Dogging and more about living with dogs and disabilities at the same time.
While some of the challenges are the same for all of us (I’m typing around a dog determined to be in my lap at the moment and fighting a losing battle to summon the willpower necessary for removing her), some challenges become more difficult because of a disability or only exist because of the disability.

File_000 (26)
Just TRY to stop petting Fruit Bat before she’s ready.
Here’s what we struggle with:

Cleaning.  I know, I know.  Don’t we all?
But remember that a physical disability can make it much more difficult to apply the pressure, reach, or frequency needed to keep up with pets, children, or daily life.
Psychological and neurological disabilities can throw out additional road blocks when it comes to everything from motivation to focus to finding the fortitude to touch, much less clean up, the occasional dog mess.
Put it all together, and while we do fairly well with the emergency messes and necessary basic level of housekeeping, we’d be in over our heads for achieving the kind of housekeeping we’d like to without help.
Martha Stewart is never ever setting foot in our home, but we might be okay with a drop-by from HouseholdHacker. 
Here are our essentials:

  • Disposable nitrile gloves.  Completely necessary tool for anyone whose disability causes difficulty in touching the germy, sticky, slimy, gritty, gummy, or otherwise gross. There are biodegradable glove options out there, too.
  • Dog potty pads. We can’t always take the dogs for a walk.  By training them to do their business on a pad, we’re able to minimize accidents, keep them from “holding it” all day, and make sure they have a clean and acceptable option other than letting them out unattended.
  • Long handled dust pans and short bristle light weight brooms.  The broom doubles as a scrubber without bending down, and changes the game for cleaning bathrooms.  We have multiple sets which we keep in areas that need regular sweeping to minimize having to carry them through the house.
  • Vinegar and baking soda.  With multiple chemical sensitivities (and pets!), we’ve been impressed by how much you can do with these two.  There’s very little you can’t clean effectively with one or the other of them and a bit of water. Bonus: They’re cheap!
  • Steam mop.  For those times when baking soda won’t cut it and you want a REALLY clean floor.  We use a Shark steam mop, and it’s a sanitizing wonder.  The pads come off and go on without needing to bend down, and it produces enough steam to glide over the floor as we clean instead of sticking or loosening from the pad. Steam is a wonder invention. 
  • Small garbage bags.  Usually, these are plastic shopping bags, but it gives us a middle ground for de-trashing the environment and keeping it smelling good even if we can’t go outside to the garbage can at that moment.

And our newest, most excellent tool: Online Services who Come to You

  • Task Rabbit.  (We’re not affiliated; we just love them. Use our link for $20 off your first task!)  On Task Rabbit, you can find locals who have been vetted by the company to help you with any job, big or small.  They set their rates and get reviewed by users of the service, and users find reliable people to help with those jobs they can’t (or, more traditionally, don’t have time to) do.  We mainly use Task Rabbit to find someone to help us carry heavy things up and down stairs and, when we can afford it, we have a tasker come for a couple of hours every other week to help us catch up on cleaning we’ve fallen behind on.  Prices vary by location, but they’ve been consistently less expensive than any other service we’ve looked into.  In the Los Angeles area, we’ve seen cleaning for as little as $20 an hour.
  • Amazon Prime. Amazon offers Monthly payments now, free delivery of heavy things like cat litter, dog food, and even furniture & a video and music streaming service all together for around ten bucks a month.  They’ve also added a new $5.99/month promotion for anyone who receives government assistance in the form of EBT cards.
  • Amazon Fresh. If you have Prime, especially if you live up stairs, use public transportation, or have mobility or sensory problems in big stores or difficulty carrying groceries, this is a worthwhile $20-25 add-on.  For us, it’s been worth every penny to have someone else carry our heavy bottles of water, juice, and milk, bags of cat litter, rice, and dog food and everything else to leave it neatly bagged in cooler bags at our front door.  It may still be a struggle some days to open the front door, carry in the bags, and/or put away the groceries, but our ability to make and eat nutritious food every day has benefited more from this service than anything else we’ve tried. (Google has a similar service which might be worth looking into for people who shop often at CostCo, but their delivery times are much longer.)
  • Doggy and the City.  (California only, but there are similar services in other markets) Okay, this one is either a green option or a luxury, or both, depending on your point of view and finances, but we love it.  They bring sod (grass with the soil attached) and a shallow box of matched size and replace the sod on a regular schedule so that your dog can do its business on natural grass, the grass and soil neutralize the odors in the urine, and you don’t have the added garbage of potty pads to throw away or labor of reusable pads to wash.  Use Save50 for 50% off your first month.  The alternative is a purchase of sod from your local big box hardware or garden store and maybe some help carrying it in, as sod rolls can weigh 40 lbs and up, but compared to a service, it’s dirt (ha!) cheap. 

Frankly, there are times when we could all use a little help, and there’s no shame in that.
Here are the links and discounts again:

Did you like or learn anything useful in this post?  Do you think we should add something? Please let us know in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *