Ten years ago, this summer, my husband and I bought our first house. Two months after we moved in, our triplets were born and ever since that day life has been a whirlwind. No, a tornado. Life is a crazy, chaotic tornado around here. We suspected life might go like that, as did our wise realtor, so we bought something that was “move-in ready.” In other words – clean and everything painted beige.
“We’ll paint these walls and remove the ugly fixtures soon. Oh, and update landscaping, and decks, and …”
The trouble is, when you’re living a crazy, chaotic, tornado of a life you feel like you can only do one thing – go into survival mode. And mamas, even if you have your babies one at a time like normal people, your life still can feel like a crazy, chaotic tornado!
If your children are still little, I have one piece of advice for you, and it doesn’t involve feeding or sleeping “issues” – don’t let your house go to crap!
When you get caught up in the crazy, you forget all of the little things that suddenly add up to one big, overwhelming to-do list. It’s frightening.
Do you know what my husband and I did for our first “wow, all four kids are at school all day now, and we have Fridays off together?” We walked around our entire house, inside and out, and made a list of all the things that needed to be done and stuff we really would just love to do.
That list went on for 3.5 pages.
We’ve got holes in walls – some because of the way I used to hang pictures (hello, 10 nail holes for one frame) and some because our children are wild.
We’ve been sleeping in a room that looks like a shrine to KU for over FOUR years! Four, you guys! This is what happens when you switch rooms with your 5 year old boys and say “we’ll paint that next week,” and then next week never comes.
We’ve got tiles cracking, curtains shrinking, trim that is in desperate need of painting (were these baseboards once white?) and a back deck that is finally giving up and falling apart.
Did I mention the part of the basement floor that just had to be jackhammered up so a pipe could be replaced? Or a furnace that’s seriously struggling? Or how about the paint on the outside of the house that is beginning to flake away, revealing that our cute little home used to be painted a horrific mint color?
Sigh. We let our house go to crap.
So here’s my hindsight tip:
Once a year make a list of all the things that need to be attended to, and then prioritize that list in order of things that absolutely must be done ASAP, as well as ordering it by what won’t take a whole lot of cash now versus things you’ll need to save up for.
Then, take that list and figure out one item to do per month, and put it on the calendar! If you can manage two items per month, then go for it, rock star! Some things are inevitable due to age, and you obviously want to plan for them long-term (like our furnace issue), but others aren’t so bad when handled one thing at a time.
Let me tell you this, my husband and I are wishing that we had done this, even when our babes were little and we were running on empty. One afternoon or evening a month, of one project, would be making our life a heck of a lot easier now.
Here’s the tricky part: sometimes it’s best to leave the project to a professional, and sometimes it’s hard to determine what you’re actually capable of yourself. This is why we went nearly a year with weird gaps and paint jobs in the kitchen/dining area because we thought it would be easy to put up crown moulding and then it turned out not to be (for us, anyway). This is also why we went 24 hours without heat in early December, when we thought swapping out a thermostat must be easy … uh, no. IF you’re iffy on whether or not the project is doable by you, for the love of your house, have a back-up plan you can set into motion immediately when you discover it isn’t working!
So – one job a month. It might be just touching up the baseboards and trim, or it might be swapping out the floor registers, or something big like replacing rotting boards on a deck. Just do something, so that you don’t let your house go to crap.
Or maybe just stick with maintenance-provided living. Clearly that’s the safest way to go.