287: Cleaning for Mental Health: Sarah McGlory’s Adaptive Approach to Chronic Pain

Discover how Sarah’s unique cleaning system brought order to her home and peace to her mind.

July 01

Imagine homeschooling five kids, battling chronic pain, and navigating life with ADHD—all during a pandemic. That's the incredible journey of our guest, Sarah McGlory. After years of dismissal by doctors, she finally received an ADHD diagnosis in her 40s, bringing much-needed validation. Her story is one of resilience and innovation.

Sarah's ingenuity shines through in her creation of the Adaptive Cleaning system. Born out of necessity, this system helps manage a household without succumbing to unrealistic standards of perfection. In this episode, you'll uncover the emotional toll of "cleaning trauma" and the societal pressures, especially on women, to maintain spotless homes. Sarah emphasizes the importance of rest and self-compassion, supported by practical tools like physical planners and weekly cleaning plans.

Sarah is a digital entrepreneur working from home while caring for five kids, aged 3 to 13, and a 24-year-old who has moved out. She once felt like a failure because her home was always in disarray. Comparing herself to social media cleaning gurus with "endless energy" and "perfect homes" only made things worse. With chronic pain and mismatched furniture, Sarah knew she needed a different approach.

Her Adaptive Cleaning system aligns with her time and energy needs, helping her stay organized without spending hours cleaning. Now, Sarah has almost a million followers on TikTok, where she teaches others how to achieve the same balance.

Sarah's passion for visual storytelling and content creation intersects with her ADHD, allowing her to help others stay organized without feeling overwhelmed. Her system thrives on realistic, manageable tasks that align with daily capacities, offering a practical approach to a cleaner home and a calmer mind.






"If you do things, even if they're small things consistently, you will see a change in your home."
- Sarah McGlory

"If you see yourself completing things, you no longer see yourself as a failure in that department."
- Sarah McGlory

"You really have to learn how to be your own cheerleader and advocate for yourself. Then, view the challenges you face as strategic issues rather than personal failings that you must power through."
- Sarah McGlory

"I now have a working memory, and if I break things down and allow myself not to be at 100% all the time, and if I am practical, I can accomplish anything."
- Sarah McGlory

"I am not going to work against my brain. I'm going to work with my brain."
- Sarah McGlory

[00:00 - 20:00] Diagnoses and Overcoming Challenges
  • Sarah McGlory recounts her ADHD diagnosis and the development of her adaptive cleaning program to manage her busy household with five kids.
  • She discusses her rise from TikTok creator to podcast guest, highlighting her journey and the expansion of her social media presence.
  • Sarah shares her experience of finally seeking professional help in 2021, receiving an ADHD diagnosis, and starting medication, which transformed her approach to mental health and daily tasks.

[20:00 - 40:00] Educational and Personal Development
  • Sarah struggled with social skills and felt out of step with peers despite being extremely smart in other areas.
  • Ballet provided a sense of freedom and understanding of emotions through movement for both Sarah and her childhood best friend Noelle.
  • Sarah did not complete her degree in college due to various personal reasons but later got a degree in counseling psychology.

[40:00 - 60:00] Adaptive Cleaning and Mental Health Strategies
  • Sarah's TikTok channel took off after she started sharing cleaning content in real-time, being transparent about her struggles.
  • Sarah shares her journey of creating a cleaning and organization YouTube channel without staging or pretending to have a perfect home.
  • She emphasizes the importance of prioritizing mental health over perfection with low-capacity cleaning and breaking tasks into smaller steps.


Learn more by connecting with Tracy through Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or visit adhdforsmartwomen.com.

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Hi, I'm Tracy

I teach Smart Ass ADHD women how to use their brilliant brains to build the life they want by embracing their too-muchness and focusing on their strengths.