Organizing and Decluttering in an apartment - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 09-14-2010, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our apartment is kind of messy. It's about 1000 sq. feet with two bedrooms (one's an office of sorts), two bathrooms, a small kitchen, and a living room/dining room (table, really).

What I would like is advice on sharing household chores and keeping the apartment organized when both of us have full-time jobs. Is there a particular book or website you would recommend? Any and all advice would be helpful.

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#2 of 12 Old 09-16-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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How about if you guys make up a chore list/schedule and switch off on the jobs every week? Like if one week you do the floors/take out trash/clean the kitchen and he cleans the bathrooms/does laundry. And the next week you would switch. Something similar. And you could each commit to doing a 10 minute tidy up before going to bed.

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#3 of 12 Old 09-16-2010, 01:01 PM
 
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1. Never ever again clean his horrible bathroom!
2. Make sure his friends will not use your bathroom but his- that will maybe embarass him so much that he will either hire a cleaner (which you are surely not!) or do it himself.
3. Make a list of jobs and talk about who does what and when it should be done. So then it won´t be nagging, if he (again) has "forgotten" to put away the garbage.

Make sure that you don´t end up his house slave! This happens slowly and will get faster if you plan to have kids and then it might stay like that permanently.
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#4 of 12 Old 09-16-2010, 10:03 PM
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well, a lot of this has to do with how you view a lot of different things, but here is my take on it.

i have been with my husband for 13 years. we have lived together about that long.

what i learned during this time is that if i wanted to live in a certain way, i needed to make it happen. that means, i had to do the work of it.

for the first 10 years, we lived as my DH wanted, which is to say, i would wait for him to do his chores, to complete a chore (any chore he did do, he did 85%), and honestly, i was living in a cluttered pig stye that was difficult to clean up before company came.

i did everything to try to get DH to join me in housekeeping, and it's all a grand bust. honestly. i did chore charts, i would write manuals on how to do things, show him how to do it quickly and efficiently, i would create incentives (such as going to a movie after doing X chore), i would ask nicely, and it would devolve into fussing, crying, begging, pleading, screaming, etc.

and guess what? he still wouldn't do the chore.

so finally, i just gave up. and i said "right, this is the way I want to live, and this is how it is going to be."

we moved to another country, so i managed to purge him down to near nothing. he still manages to collect clutter (eg, a massive basket full of bits of paper that he picks up on his walks), but i manage to keep it in a basket, and then, i go through it once a month and anything that looks important i put in a labelled envelope in the basket, and anything that looks like nothing is recycled.

other than that, i do everything. If i want a clean kitchen, i clean it once a week. if i want a clean bathroom, i clean it once a week (dh hasn't cleaned the bathroom in over a decade--and when i would ask him, he would complain the whole time, pick a fight with me about how he has to do "everything" and then be fussy all evening after it was done). if i want a clutter free house, i have to declutter on a regular basis.

this is not to say that DH doesn't help out. he does cook, and he will start the dishes. he will do laundry and then leave it on a pile on the bed. he will tidy up when asked. and he does spend a lot of time with the kid.

but when it comes to keeping house, it is just much easier for me to do it myself and do it on the schedule that works for me. i will ask him to help out before bed to get things tidy so that i can rest (i can't rest if i know there is a mess). it only takes about 10 minutes, so we do that together each night.

otherwise, it's all me.

and so it's helpful to have the right attitude (i'm doing this for me!), and it's also helpful for me to have a rhythm in which each thing is done on a regular basis that works for you.

here is my rhythm:

every day--after each meal, i do the dishes, dry, them, and put them away; mail is sorted and filed every day; the whole house is tidied before bed--all trash away, things organized as necessary, and a quick sweep of the floors. make the bed every day, do laundry every day/every other day as needed.

three days a week i do a single "big" chore: Tuesdays, bathroom scrub; Wednesdays, Kitchen Scrub; Fridays, dust/vacuum everything. that's all i have to clean, really. we live in a small place.

i find this just makes it easier on me. i also enforce a certain measure of minimalism on my husband. he complains at times, but i tell him that if we do what he wants, then it means that either A. i have to clean more (and i point out that he hasn't cleaned the bathroom in a decade) or B. he has to keep it clean and do that on an on-going basis or it goes. since he doesn't want me to pitch what he has, and he has no intention of keeping it clean himself, then that's it, we don't bring it in.

so, that's my advice, for whatever it is worth.
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#5 of 12 Old 09-17-2010, 02:16 AM
 
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Just popping in, but the main thing that jumped out at me was to ask if you've thought about downsizing? That's quite a lot of space for only 2 people. Do you really need 2 bathrooms? I love having a small place - so easy to keep clean! (ours is 650 sq ft, but we could go smaller and plan to downsize to a sailboat) Plus a smaller space pretty much forces you to declutter and keep a minimal amount of stuff. Just a thought.
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#6 of 12 Old 09-18-2010, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larablue View Post
1. Never ever again clean his horrible bathroom!
2. Make sure his friends will not use your bathroom but his- that will maybe embarass him so much that he will either hire a cleaner (which you are surely not!) or do it himself.
3. Make a list of jobs and talk about who does what and when it should be done. So then it won´t be nagging, if he (again) has "forgotten" to put away the garbage.

Make sure that you don´t end up his house slave! This happens slowly and will get faster if you plan to have kids and then it might stay like that permanently.
1. I know. But the bathroom is attached to the bedroom and it was stinking up the bedroom.
2. My bathroom is out in the hall, so it's the most convenient one for guests to use.
3. That's a good idea. Nagging is the last thing I'd want to do to him.

Thanks for the advice.
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#7 of 12 Old 09-18-2010, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Mama2Xander View Post
Just popping in, but the main thing that jumped out at me was to ask if you've thought about downsizing? That's quite a lot of space for only 2 people. Do you really need 2 bathrooms? I love having a small place - so easy to keep clean! (ours is 650 sq ft, but we could go smaller and plan to downsize to a sailboat) Plus a smaller space pretty much forces you to declutter and keep a minimal amount of stuff. Just a thought.
Downsizing is probably not a possibility. I know I can live with a minimum of things, but I don't see DH doing it. He's got books (12 boxes when he moved), computers, gaming equipment, his own tv, and other stuff. He mostly keeps it all in the 2nd bedroom and I have a desk in there and a little bookshelf. There's really nowhere else in the apartment to put all his stuff. The two bathrooms? We might do with one, really. I think we could both get rid of stuff in our bathrooms. The two bedrooms seem to work for us, but two bathrooms is probably not that necessary.

I really admire you plan to downsize to a sailboat. I think that's really awesome.
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#8 of 12 Old 09-18-2010, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by EarthyMamaofDaisy View Post
How about if you guys make up a chore list/schedule and switch off on the jobs every week? Like if one week you do the floors/take out trash/clean the kitchen and he cleans the bathrooms/does laundry. And the next week you would switch. Something similar. And you could each commit to doing a 10 minute tidy up before going to bed.
That's a great idea! Thank you. I'd hate to be stuck with the same chores all the time. I also like the 10-minute tidy up before bed. I try to do that anyway what with picking up trash and making sure the kitchen is clean.
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#9 of 12 Old 09-18-2010, 02:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
well, a lot of this has to do with how you view a lot of different things, but here is my take on it.
Thank you for the advice! It makes a lot of sense. I think that DH wouldn't clean his bathroom for ten years if I left him to it. Eww.

I'm trying to get into the schedule of doing one big thing every day before I go to work. I just have to keep reminding myself that I can't get everything done in one day.

I honestly don't know how DH would react to a chore chart or something similar. He's been living this way for years, so I don't see him changing anytime soon. He will do laundry and he cleaned up the kitchen the other night (which was a nice surprise).

I do like your daily chores (rhythm). It seems easy enough to do. The only thing is that I make the bed right before one of us goes to bed. I usually go to bed after him so I have to make the bed or else I don't get any covers when I do go to bed.
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#10 of 12 Old 09-18-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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When DH & I started out we split chores by rooms. Once a week we would do a good clean up of every rooms, and we divided by "wet" rooms (kitchen & bathroom) which took longer to do, and "dry" rooms (living & bedrooms). We rotated each week. During the week stuff was done haphazardly when it grossed out someone. Saturdays were tiring marathons to get back to clean after a week of neglect. DS changed our rythms, we slowly evolved into doing things based on likes & dislikes, logistics and material oportunity. In hindsight, we would have done better to plan it that way from the start rather than try to be perfectly egalitarian. Basically speaking:

I leave home early for work, so DH takes care of DS in the mornings, wakes, feeds, sees him dressed and takes him to school. DH comes in late in the evening so I take care of DS afternoons and evenings, snacks, dinner, baths, bedtime routines.

DH clears and cleans the kitchen after every meal. I plan and cook the meals (except breakfast). DS lays the table. This because I am a good cook and as previously said, DH is home too late to do it.

I do the washing machine and hang and collect the washing. DH irons it and puts it away. I hate ironing. DH hates having to track what needs washing, and how and when.

DH does the major grocery shopping once a week. I clean house (kitchen excluded that remains to DH), dusting, vacuming, mopping, etc.

What makes this work, is that we evaluated what we wanted our home to be in terms of both hygiene & aesthetics, and then agreed on the basic minimum standards we could both accept. After that I made peace with fact that anything more I wanted I would be doing for myself. I am the fussier one - my need, my work.

From a pratical standpoint, a few basic behavious make it reasonably easy to keep housework under control.
- don't put it down, put it away.
- keep the kitchen cleaned while you are working in it.
- my roomba is great for upkeeping the floors during the week. My swiffer broom did the job pretty well too before I had the roomba.
- spot clean : stains on the floor small spills, get them as soon as they happen.
- A quick swipe on the bathroom ceramics with a damp cloth every couple of days is a good thing. Swish & swipe the bowl every day too.
- 15 minute tidies just before you go to bed.
- make the bed as soon as you can. A made bed is fresher, and transforms the look of a room. A tidy looking space unconsciously encourages you to keep it that way.

Gotta run, I'll be back if think of anything else.

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#11 of 12 Old 09-26-2010, 07:52 PM
 
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I feel your pain dear. After my first marriage to a never-left-home,-mammas-boy-gamer, I vowed to never date a man who hasn't lived on his own and had to pick up after himself. I grew up in a spotless home because my mother had high standards for social appearances. Not my preference but it took some getting used to the messiness later on.


After living with DP for almost 2-years (my now DH) we had a 1+ year separation that was partly the result of differences in living standards too.

Have you sat down and talked with your partner about standards of living? It really helped us to talk about what things were ok and what was unacceptable. Sometimes it's necessary to break it down to what is healthy living conditions (smelly bathroom is NOT ok). My peeves were mostly dishes(no dishwasher) and piles of laundry. Anyway, once he saw how upset these specific things made me he has been much more helpful. Another helpful point in our discussion was that since we were both working full-time, we needed to share the household duties equally too. (ie. no house slave. EVER.)

I still give him guilt trips occasionally by asking when the last time he cleaned the bathroom was, or I flat out tell him it's his turn to wash the dishes. This is sometimes followed by the reminder that I've been working all day too. Another thing we do sometimes is if he makes dinner, I will wash the dishes. But because men are often boys, we need to remind them of their commitments occasionally too.

My ultimate philosophy when we moved back in together was to have a place for all our things, even if they didn't always end up there. He has a dresser and a hamper now so his clothes have a place to go, I have a shelf for my books and a place in the closet for throw blankets.

Our first place together was probably about the size of your place but only one bathroom... now we have a tiny studio apartment about 600 sq. ft. and a little one on the way so we have to keep on top of our clutter or it will eat us alive.

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#12 of 12 Old 09-27-2010, 01:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by aquarius aspiring View Post
1. I know. But the bathroom is attached to the bedroom and it was stinking up the bedroom.
2. My bathroom is out in the hall, so it's the most convenient one for guests to use.
3. That's a good idea. Nagging is the last thing I'd want to do to him.

Thanks for the advice.
I would switch bathrooms then -- why should you have to go down the hall in the middle of the night to pee? If you get pregnant, you will know exactly why that's a bad idea,

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