First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss, and you should be really proud of yourself for trying to keep it together for your mom and to try to get your living situation under control. That said, remember that it’s totally OK to be overwhelmed, or to have moments (or days or weeks) when you can’t be as strong as you want to be. That’s totally normal, and don’t beat yourself up for it.
As far as the practical side of things, ask your mother to tell you what of your father’s things are most important for her to keep. Put those things aside. You may want or need to have someone else come in and deal with your dad’s stuff, if neither of you is in an emotional place to handle it. Just give yourself veto power over what gets taken out of the apartment.
Figure out what furniture you need to keep. Make a list or mark the pieces in some way. From there, use Craigslist or Freecycle or any of your local donation centers, most of which will do a curbside or even in-house pickup.
Be methodical. Work on one area of one room at a time. Ask yourself if the item you’re considering will be needed or have a place in your new home, and if it has enough sentimental value to keep if the answers are no. Make regular trips to the trash or recycling, and schedule regular pickups from or drop-offs at donation centers so you can move things out of your apartment once you’ve made a decision on whether or not to keep things.
Give yourself some time. It doesn’t sound like you’re under a time crunch for moving, so don’t make too many hasty decisions about your dad’s stuff until you’ve had time to process everything that’s happened. You may be able to come back to some things later with a different perspective.
Most importantly, take care of your mom, but also take care of you. Let yourself grieve when you have to and be distracted when you need that, too. Don’t neglect your own feelings and well-being. You can do this. Check in anytime for support.
So, you’re moving. Fun! No, wait. The opposite of that. Moving sucks, but there are things you can do to make it suck maybe a little less.
You can do this. It’s a totally shitty process, but everyone goes through it, and if you’re prepared and give yourself time and a system, you’ll survive it. But you have to start now. Right now.
So, moving on Sunday. There’s been quite a lot done. There are no before and after pictures of the kitchen or living room, but I do have them of my bedroom.
I could not even cope, it was nuts. This was even after we’d started.
Pardon the photo-bombing cat.
Four more days and a wake-up.
I’ve been following Unfuck Your Habitat for about a month and let me just say, that blog, and its whole philosophy, is a godsend. When i first saw it, i thought UFYH was aimed at super epic bachelor style slobs, but it probably has just as much if not more benefit for anxiety types like me. Here’s what shaped my pre-UFYH attitude towards cleaning: my mum thinks her house should always look like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine or something, so she was always a huge guilt-inducer about fastidious cleaning; but I seem to have inherited from somewhere a penchant for hoarding. (obviously this has cleared up as I’ve moved towards a more spiritual path and learned to live in the moment and not be bound so much by physical gains). Then I moved interstate, and became poor. Like, pension poor. So I hoarded every piece of shit I had, in case I could use it for something later, because in my mind I thought I wouldn’t be able to pay for necessities, let alone luxuries. Then I was in an awful relationship where I was the only one in the house who cleaned, the place was a mouse-infested pigsty, and yet the abusive partner tried to use my efforts towards cleaning as fuel for his violent fire against me (every time I picked up a broom I was a “uptight bitch”, washing dishes would earn me a “can’t you ever fucking sit down and just do nothing?”) A couple of years down the track I’m working on finding a way around my perfectionism and anxiety traits to live a beautiful life. My perfectionistic traits don’t play out like “everything must be perfect! Go go go!”, they play out more like “well, that’s never going to be perfect, see, you fucked it up already, why even try. Give up now cos it’s ruined.” and then that’s when the anxiety kicks in. So, yeah, I’m not an epic slob, but I do sometimes have trouble knowing where to start, because as soon as I begin, the volume on the internal battle gets turned up, and despite my best efforts at yoga and meditation I’m not yet an enlightened being!, so I do sometimes succumb to those voices in my head instead of just observing them.
UFYH has been such a HUGE paradigm shift because it’s a) helped me stop marathon cleaning, which erases the guilt about having a break b) encourages me to start somewhere, anywhere, just start! And c) to recognise no, we don’t all live in a magazine, it’s okay to have your own standards, and it’s more than ok to get support and acknowledgement.
Anyway, I’ve been moving house (slowly, over a week or so, as there’s no time limit yet, which helps!). I’ve been using the 20/10 principle which is honestly keeping me sane (20minutes cleaning/organising and then a 10 minute break). It’s made the job so much more approachable and achievable - I don’t HAVE to do a whole room at once before I break. I just take a few loads to the car. Who knew I could have a break before I was finished? Old me certainly didn’t! I can take a breather and have a drink BEFORE I become a hyperventilating, sobbing mess on the floor amongst all my possessions? Really? Huzzah! This method has shut up both the internal critic and the panicker, that’s for sure :)
My unexpected spiritual moment came yesterday, when I suddenly realised I’d been quite “Tao” all day.
My boyfriend loves Taoism - he explained it to me as non-resistance, just letting things happen. Stuff gets done, without you really having to do anything.
I did not get it. No part of old me could understand this.
But, yesterday, after unpacking, organising, washing, cleaning, cooking…and feeling like I’d been having the most chilled, relaxed day…I got it. I finally understood what Tao meant. I was living the tao! All from just doing, instead of over thinking. Putting work into manageable chunks. Not being a perfectionist or a critic. It was magic.
Everybody with perfectionism or anxiety: do yourself a favour, follow Unfuck Your Habitat.
Set time limits. Pack for 20 minutes, then a 10-minute break. During your packing times, you can evaluate if you think you’ll need or use each item.
Also, keep a list of “vital” things and add to it as you think of them. That way, you have something to double-check against as you pack. Take your time, don’t panic, and remember that college towns always have stores if you forget something.
So, I discovered the UFYH page last night and did some reading of the tips etc. This morning I woke up and knew I needed to keep busy (day one of quitting smoking). I decided, why not use some of these tips I learned last night to get some packing and cleaning done. Oh. My. God. I have spent about 6 or 7 hours working on this today, with 15 minute breaks every hour.
It’s a wreck! It was so messy that just walking in there stressed me out, forget trying to get anything done. Oh, but wait until you see this… Not seen in the following pictures are a gigantic bag of trash and an even bigger bag of clothes to be donated.
I made two big changes in my life over the last month. First, I moved and second I started following Unfuck Your Habitat. I’m a messy person, it’s kind of a product of the fact I am always busy, and the fact that I suffer from health issues and mild depression. So I decided that I was no longer going to be a mess. Moving into a new place was a new start, and I could start with a mostly “unfucked” palate once Jesse’s mess was cleaned up.
So as I unpacked, I cleaned things up. Boxes were immediately folded and mushed together for recycling. Trash went to the trash can. Everything was put in place the first time, and I’ve been doing 20/10s every day to keep things in order. My kitchen gets cleaned EVERY NIGHT, and I don’t have a floordrobe! It’s AMAZING! This weekend I even did the Sunday challenges and skipped quite a few because I don’t have any messy drawers or hidden corners - though I admit there were some flat surfaces that needed my attention.
My new apartment is clean, calm and best of all, I feel like I can have company over any time. I grew up in a house that was never clean. My mom is the queen of piling things up and a borderline horder. I wonder how many people grew up in the same kind of home have trouble keeping their house clean? I never really learned to not be messy.
I am making a promise to myself that I won’t let my apartment get messy, and a goal of always keeping it “Company Ready.”
Last week I moved across the country, Louisiana to NYC, 1200 sq ft to about 350 sq ft, big changes! I was lucky enough to be able to hire professional movers to do the actual shipping, but I did all of the packing (with copious amounts of help from my mom), and in the process got rid of A LOT of stuff. Four carfulls donated, three taken back to parents’ house for storage, plus another few to recycling and a good bit of trash. I’m going to have to do another purge once my stuff arrives, but that was a good start! The only downside of pro movers (besides the cost) is that it’s taking a long time for my stuff to get here, since they have to wait until they have a full truckload before driving across the country. The small benefit of this is that it gives me plenty of time to really clean the apartment before filling it up with my junk!
First night celebratory drain volcano!
I no longer have a disposal or a dishwasher, and I currently only have one plate, one mug, and two sets of take-out silverware…I’m getting really good at washing things immediately, instead of waiting until the end of the night, because otherwise I have nothing to eat on/with. Doing all of the dishes at the end of the night, EVERY NIGHT, was a big UFYH improvement in my life. Now I’m getting even better—hopefully that will continue after I get the rest of my stuff!
In addition to all of the regular surface cleaning, I even Magic Erased the small row of tiles in front of my kitchenette. The building is pre-war, but I think they are from the renovation in the mid-1970s, and therefore had about 35-40 years worth of grime build-up. Look at the difference! (The clean bit’s in the middle. I…hope that’s obvious!)
So here’s where I have two questions for Mistress UFYH and the greater Team UFYH community. Any thoughts on how to clean these two things?
This is the stone in front of the tile…Magic Eraser didn’t really help. Is there anything I can do that will get the marks and stains off without damaging the stone? (No, I don’t know exactly what material it is, sorry!)
Yucky layer of rust on the shower curtain rod. My first thought is CLR, but I’ve never used it before so I don’t know if it would work in this situation. Yes, no, alternatives?
Thanks in advance!
For the rust, I’d use WD-40 and fine-grit sandpaper (very lightly). For the stone, try soaking a cloth in hydrogen peroxide, laying it on top of the stone, and letting it sit until it’s completely dry and evaporated. Some places will tell you to tape plastic wrap over the cloth and let it sit overnight. I’ve never tried that, so your mileage may vary.
If you’ve moved seven times and haven’t taken these items out of their boxes, they’re probably OK to toss/recycle/donate. Start with the first box. Open it up, put away anything that has an obvious home. If something doesn’t have an obvious home, ask yourself if the item is worth finding a place for. If you don’t use it and have no place to put it, get rid of it. Do one whole box, then break down the box and take a break.
Repeat at a reasonable pace for the rest of the boxes. Part of being a real grownup is realizing you really don’t need all that shit.
First off, I’m sorry. That’s a terrible situation.
Sit down with your mom. Between you and your dad, explain, without being condescending or passive-aggressive, how important it is to get stuff out of the house so that it can be ready for showings. Explain that a mess can depreciate the perceived value of a house. Give her control of the things that belong to her, but for shared spaces and such, you and your dad go to town.
If she still can’t commit to throwing stuff out, at least have her pack it up. It’s not ideal, since really, you only want to deal with items once, but these are special circumstances. You can then take those boxes and stash them, and hopefully in the future, get her to be on board with getting rid of them entirely.
Good luck, and don’t forget to take your breaks.
theinvisiblequestion asked you:
I’m going to be an exchange student next year in the UK. It’s not a full-scale move, and I only get to bring one suitcase and one carryon duffel. Does anyone at Team UfYH have any tips for unfucking long-term travelling/temporary moving? Other than the standard moving tips, of course ;)
Opening this one up to the peanut gallery, because you’re talking to the girl who packs six pairs of shoes for a weekend away.
What say you, smart packers?
I have been in the process of home-hunting, packing, and moving for several months now. Since I found out that we were going to have to move, I’ve been making a point of trying to do a little bit every day. Freecycle something we’re not taking with us. Sort through the pantry. Pack a box of the fancy dishes (who has dinner parties when they’re moving?) or books or winter clothes. Pack another box. Pack yet another fucking box. My goal is a box a day.
We have been to Goodwill at least five times, and my car has been full every time. \o/ And we have another partial load of stuff to donate as well (omg, 20 years in one house, you get so much crap).
We are three weeks away from the actual move date (give or take) and there is actually surprisingly little to do left. Yes, there are still things unpacked, but they are things that we actively need to use. Now it’s mainly sorting through the remaining boxes in the box room (maybe 10 left? we couldn’t open the door before…); culling through some papers in the office; some stuff in the garden; patching walls…
…and kicking back and relaxing until we can pack all the “need to use” stuff.
Thank you, UFYH, for the wonderfully sane move.