Why Housework is Bad for Your (Physical and Mental) Health

As some of you may know, two weeks ago I managed to injure myself in a freak dusting accident.

Yes, I actually managed to seriously damage myself doing housework.

As I type this I’m still nursing a broken arm (which is making typing slow and difficult), a cracked rib and the most spectacular bruising that you’ve ever seen. I’m also feeling a bit sorry for myself and counting the days until I getting out of bed isn’t a multi-step process that involves quite a lot of swearing.

I should probably start from the beginning.

Although I doubt anyone particularly enjoys housework, I am not a person who finds housework particularly easy. It’s not that I find it physically difficult; I actually enjoy tidying and rearranging things to make the most of the space in our little house that feels a bit smaller after each Christmas and birthday. The reason I find housework so difficult is because it’s just one more stick that I can use to beat myself with.

While most people would look at my house and understand that, due to working part-time and having a very active, messy toddler, it’s never going to be immaculate nor should it be. Anyone who works, has small children and has an immaculate house either spends hardly any time with their children, never sleeps or has a live-in cleaner and I know this but somehow I can’t apply this knowledge to myself. Instead I repeatedly berate myself about the state of the house, which causes my mood to plummet and makes everything feel like a struggle.

This might seem ridiculous but I don’t do it deliberately; it’s almost as if someone other than me is saying these things to me and only I can hear them.

On Thursday however, I was feeling good.

The Northern One was working a long day which means that he leaves the house at 0700 in the morning and isn’t home until 2300 at night. It’s a long old day for both him and me as I have to look after Squidge by myself, knowing that although the cavalry will be coming at some point, I’m liable to be completely frazzled by the time it does.

Despite often finding it difficult to leave the house on my own I’d managed to go out shopping with Squidge and had bought some stackers for the ever increasing amounts of craft materials that the Northern One and I seem to be accumulating. After popping on some Mr. Tumble (guaranteed to hypnotize Squidge for hours) I managed to rid the kitchen of the precarious piles of paper and wood and was feeling rather satisfied with my organisational skills.

After a bath and cuddles during Cbeebies bedtime hour Squidge went to sleep without any fuss and I found myself full of energy and wanting to continue with my organisation winning streak. I tidied and rearranged (while catching up on Silent Witness) and was feeling really quite pleased with myself until I spotted the cobwebs on top of the lampshade and all the negative, intrusive thoughts came flooding back as though they’d never been away.

“You’re so useless, all you do is sit around and do nothing.”

“You should be ashamed of the state of this house.”

“What on earth must people think when they come to visit?”

Galvanised into action I grabbed a duster and Squidge’s little wooden stool, determined that my mind would not ruin my day of action.

I stepped up onto the stool, stood right up upon my toes, lifted my duster and…


I lay on the floor, unable to make a sound other than strangled gasping noise as I attempted to force air back into my lungs. My head span, my ears rang and my left side felt as though my ribs were stabbing onto my lung and kidney.

After a few minutes I finally managed to get my breath back and attempted to survey the damage to both myself and the living room, which was now covered in shattered pieces of plastic that had once been Squidge’s stepping stool. When I’d fallen off the stool I was standing on, I must have landed on the stepping stool on the way down.

I also realised that not only was my back incredibly painful but that I couldn’t put any weight on my left arm and the combination of the two meant that I was unable to get off the floor.

The Northern One was due home in an hour but I was pretty certain that even with his help I wasn’t going to be able get up without some sort of pain relief and so I arrived at the rather embarrassing conclusion that I was going to have to call an ambulance. However, my mobile phone was somewhere down the side of the sofa and the landline was also out of reach after I’d moved it due to Squidge repeatedly attempting to phone Grandma. In the end it took me 10 minutes to crawl the two meters to the phone while sobbing in pain and biting my tongue so that I didn’t scream and wake Squidge, who had managed to sleep through the entire thing.

The paramedics took about 45 minutes to arrive, which I was expecting as although I was stuck on the floor I was a healthy young adult and therefore not a life and death emergency. After quickly assessing the damage (where I had to admit that I was only wearing a nightie with no underwear) they concluded that my back was just severely bruised and that it was safe for me to try and get up. After a couple of minutes using the Entonox (which wasn’t any less trippy and unpleasant for not being in labour) and with the help of both the paramedics and the Northern One, I attempted to get up.

Apart from being in labour, I have never known pain like it.

I tried to keep using the Entonox but ended up screaming in pain before eventually managing to get up on my feet and waddling over to the nearest chair whilst leaning heavily on the Northern One. Although they offered to take me if I thought it was necessary, the paramedics were satisfied that I didn’t need to go to hospital and that the

Due to both the Northern One and I being medical the paramedics were happy to give me a dose of oral morphine so that I could get comfortable in bed and have a decent sleep without repeatedly waking from the pain. However, even with the morphine and the Entonox I still couldn’t lie down by myself and so ended up being lifted into bed by the paramedics and tucked in by the Northern One.

It was not my finest hour.

In the early hours of the morning I also discovered the hard way that morphine makes me sick, cue heaving into a bucket whilst trying not to throw up too forcefully as it was hurting my back.

With my back being so painful I had mostly forgotten that my arm also hurt so, it was quite a surprise when I woke up the next day with a hugely swollen elbow and being unable to move my arm. A couple of x-rays at our local hospital (where Squidge attempted to escape with the waiting room toys) confirmed broken bones and meant I had to call my parents to ask if they’d look  after me and Squidge for the next week while the Northern One was on nights.

Two weeks later and my back still hurts, I’m still limping and my arm only has a limited range of movement. I can only pick Squidge up with my right arm, putting my socks on is difficult and housework is completely out of the question.

My advice?

Housework isn’t worth broken bones, vomit and having to sheepishly tell a stranger that you aren’t wearing any knickers.



One thought on “Why Housework is Bad for Your (Physical and Mental) Health

  1. Leigh Kendall says:

    Oh blimey heck – bless you! I shall always remember this post as evidence that dusting is dangerous, and a reminder if ever I should be tempted to do some to not! In seriousness though, sending lots of love and hope your physical wounds heal soon xxx


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