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To be embarrassed by my home?

(122 Posts)
mamafridi Tue 23-Feb-16 09:54:39

I need help! The bulk of my problem is self made, I admit that, but its cause is definitely due to situations that have actually happened and now have turned my problem into an almost phobic level.
I'm embarrassed about where I live and I'm too embarrassed to invite people round. There I've said it. This thought has been festering inside me since I moved to our home some 3 years ago. But it's only now that this horrible hang up is starting to cause problems not only for me but for my dd. She wants to invite her friends round to play, what 5yr old wouldn't, and I'm so caught up in my chronic fear of bringing people round that I'm now affecting my child's life too.
I can't seem to break out of this terror and I know it was made worse by a few instances that happened when I first moved to the area. When my daughter first started at the local nursery I'd invited (this was before my chronic embarrassment of where I lived had set in) on two separate occasions a couple of her little friends and the mums. We'd just moved and I hadn't really picked up on the extreme affluence within the area I'd entered, hence my embarrassment of where we live (very small and cramped flat). Those two first play dates were some of the most awkward and tense situations I've been in and afterwards those 2 mothers avoided me like the plague and dd had no more play dates. We have been invited to a few (palatial) homes but I never reciprocate, which has not helped me or my dd integrate well in what's quite a small town, and now basically I've become what I suppose most would consider a recluse.
I know on a rational level I should bite the bullet and just invite my dd's friends over and not give a fig but what happens if her friends start mirroring their mothers and begin making jibes about where she lives?
On the face of it I know I'm being unreasonable but I'm so caught up in this fear that I can't seem to get out of it.

tava63 Tue 23-Feb-16 10:27:17

I've experienced the opposite of this I currently live in a lovely home but some of my kids' friends parents say disparaging things about their home compared to mine when they come round to collect their kids from a playdate. I've lived in the past in cramped bedsits, hostels and then through luck bought at the right times and have progressed where we live through buying and selling. I have family living in all sorts of circumstances. We are all parents together wanting to give our kids the opportunity to play being friendly to the kids when they come around - giving them a wee snack and a fun activity to do - painting, making things, making a den, going to the playground that's what counts to kids and my own experience is that is what kids 'judge' you on not on how big your home is. Accept yourself you are good enough. Nurture your confidence. Your daughter wants to invite her friends around to play she accepts the home you have created and if issues arise in the future deal with them then. Also remember these are her friends .... the Mums aren't your friends - they may become friends but that's just a bonus if it happens. Fear is a primary strong emotion ... but your love of your daughter can help conquer it and the fact that you are thinking about how your fears are impacting on her life shows your love.

Artandco Tue 23-Feb-16 10:34:14

There's a big difference between small and homely, and small and cluttered and dirty.

They size of your home shouldn't matter if it's kept clean and tidy. So that's good as the clean and tidy bit you can easily change if it isn't great ( you didn't say)

Our home is a one bed flat in zone 1 London. Surrounded by mansions. It's always full of friends and kids over visiting. We do however keep it very tidy and it's kept minimalistic so clutter is everywhere and there's space. Everything has its place. We have very few toys compared to many, but all well loved and played with so its actually easier when children over as I know that it won't become a dump of toys.

Most people also in term sit coming for a kids playdate and coffee only see living room/ kitchen and toilet really anyway. So they aren't going through your whole home.

I would just invite someone over. Have some drawing and bits out at a table for children, and something else like building blocks/ figures. Offer drinks and snack maybe. Send home an hour or two later

Gobbolino6 Tue 23-Feb-16 10:48:26

I am the same. My house is smaller and less well decorated than many of my friends' homes, though it is clean and tidy and I make as much as an effort as I can with three small children and limited funds.

I try to improve it, but as soon as I get one thing done, I start obsessing about something else.

I'm gradually increasing the number of people I have round and trying to accept that it isn't rational for so much of my self-esteem to be tied up in my home.

Arfarfanarf Tue 23-Feb-16 10:54:13

assuming your home is just modest and not something out of hoarders or kim and aggie with catshit and cockroaches then anyone who doesn't want to come there is just a dick. Anybody who judges someone because they live in a small home or don't have lots of stuff is not worth bothering about, they really aren't.

mamafridi Tue 23-Feb-16 11:02:47

Thank you for your replies.
Tava - yours made me cry - I realise that I've allowed this fear to get out of hand and as a consequence irrational. For my dd's sake I've got to take that step in accepting our situation for what it is and hope her friends will do the same.
Art - I'm afraid our flat is very cluttered and though not dirty it is a bit on the messy side, especially as it's also my work place and I do have a tendency to spread my stuff as well as hoard. It also contains furniture that once came from a home that was much bigger and even though I know it's ridiculous to keep it all I am hoping that one day we will be able to move to another, slightly larger home which will be able to house it all again.

Arfarfanarf Tue 23-Feb-16 11:07:30

a bit of mess never hurt anyone. Some people are just snooty. If they look down on you because you are trying to fit your stuff into a small space then they aren't worth your upset.

If at any point you want to declutter for you, not to please some horrible people, then you could look into a storage unit or clever storage solutions but only if that would make you feel better about your space and not if you feel you have to do it for strangers iyswim.

mamafridi Tue 23-Feb-16 11:10:43

Arf - you're right - to be judged for the size of your home is wrong but it's happened to me and I hate the way it made me feel and as a result I want to protect my dd from it happening to her. And up until now I've avoided too much contact with other mums as I don't think I could hope with more cold-shouldering, especially if it includes my dd.

HPsauciness Tue 23-Feb-16 11:14:14

I would hope people would be accepting, that said, if it is exceptionally cluttered in a small space, I wonder if that is making you feel worse, as well as not providing the optimum space for playing etc.

Can you make the living/kitchen area lovely and less cluttered? I focus on keeping the 'public' areas of my house tidy, the bedrooms are often chaotic! I figure children tend to care less, and my dd sometimes has playdates in her messy room but I don't care too much.

You say you spread your stuff and have a tendency to hoard, you also sound very anxious. I don't want to diagnose you over the internet, and I certainly don't have the expertise, but I wonder if these things are connected- and that you may need to go to the GP/do mindfulness course/work on that side of things, so that the problem (both of the hoarding/mess and of the worry) starts to lessen.

sohackedoff Tue 23-Feb-16 11:14:52

I totally understand this. A friend once shared with me how much her home had held her back: socially, emotionally and even work/education wise. However, I did read somewhere that kids don't notice whether a home is wealthy or shabby until they are older than your little ones friends are likely to be. Can't your home be the one that emphasises hospitality - great coffee and home made cake, a fun activity rather than "stuff".

If all your stuff for your never never home is getting in the way of living now - is it worth it? Either store it or get rid?

HeyNonnyMaybe Tue 23-Feb-16 11:15:32

I'm gradually increasing the number of people I have round and trying to accept that it isn't rational for so much of my self-esteem to be tied up in my home.

This is spot on, Gobbolino, I'm just getting the hang of this now, having moved into too large a house that is causing us financial pressure. I think we're going to go back to something smaller and cosier, embrace it and worry less.

I used to be embarrassed by our former house, like yours OP it was atypical for the area. I honestly do think at 5 your DD's friends won't care. What they will notice is if you're tense and unhappy to have them there, so tidy like fuck and plaster a grin on. hates play dates but that's another thread

HortonWho Tue 23-Feb-16 11:16:06

Ok, then I'm afraid the mums were probably reacting to the mess and not the size of your flat. But you can easily solve this! Box up and bag up the clutter and shove it in the closet for the play date - then bring it back out again when play date is over. That way you don't stress about organising and it becomes this task that overwhelms you.. You just think in terms of temporary hiding stuff. Under bed, in cupboard. Dust, Hoover, done.

ImperialBlether Tue 23-Feb-16 11:19:17

Have you seen the Kondo threads about decluttering? It might be exactly what you want.

ppeatfruit Tue 23-Feb-16 11:20:04

I agree totally with Artarfanarf There are mean people who live in palaces and mean people who live in tiny flats and the opposite of course. It's the people who are important IMO and E.

AmericanPastoral Tue 23-Feb-16 11:24:47

Your post hit such a chord with me. I'd just searched for the book Marie Kondo for inspiration in trying to declutter a small home and to try and become like tava63. Good luck.

MimsyPimsy Tue 23-Feb-16 11:25:06

When the children were younger, we used to live in a 3-bed semi with the typical very small box room, which my DD used. Many of her friends lived in much larger homes in a better area (actually they still do!), and I remember overhearing one say to 10yo DD in a tone of horror: "I think your bedroom is even smaller than X's". smile

But it was just one remark, and very true, so who cares? Better a small bedroom than homeless. DD didn't care either. And the mother of one of her friends in a massive house has health problems, so I say just count your blessings where you can, and march forward to find nice, friendly people whatever the state of their house.

Re furniture, it's cheap enough to get second-hand furniture, but hard to let go of the hopes you've got invested in the furniture. If you get rid of it, it doesn't mean that in time you won't get a bigger place eventually, if you want one. And some of those in big houses may sadly divorce and end up penniless.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 23-Feb-16 11:28:15

So long as a home is clean and not dangerous I wouldn't care what it was like. Anyone who judges you for not being as affluent is no friend and you should consider it a bullet dodged.

I've lived in all sorts of places. I've had some children comment about how tiny our house was before. I thought those children were a bit rude tbh.

I do know what it's like to live somewhere too small for your family though and there are things you can do:

Move the large furniture into storage or sell it/give it away/lend it.
Get some good storage. I like boxes I can sweep stuff into and I have a sort through a couple of times a year.
In and out trays are your friends for work, as are box files.
Curtains/covers/fold up lids/screens can all hide work away.
Have one room that is private where you dump all the stuff.

You can also arrange play dates out. This was usually my preferred option. Especially if I was busy working on something or the house was full of washing and clutter. Meet at local soft play/park/playground etc etc. Take snacks or a picnic or buy coffee and cake.

But do do something, for not just the sake of your dd but you too.

HPsauciness Tue 23-Feb-16 11:28:57

My children have also done the 'such and such has a huuuuuge house' and I just say 'that's nice'.

One of them went on about it a bit, and started saying how small our house is (it's not) and I did give them a bit of lecture about how most of the world live in much smaller spaces than this.

They are just working it out, and over time, they learn what matters, but this isn't automatic and I don't think children do understand why some people have a lot of material goods or holidays and others don't straight away in life, in their world, it should be fair. They don't get about inheritance or vastly differing wages straight off, why should they? They can learn about it though.

I've told mine that if they love the finer things in life, such as a big house or nice holidays, they should factor that into their decision-making about which careers to follow.

BarbarianMum Tue 23-Feb-16 11:32:32

When so say "vey cluttered" do you mean heaps of things on every flat surface, piles of paper, drifts of stuff in corners? In which case, I agree with Horton - bag it up and shift it out of the communal areas that visitors actually see. One gets immune to ones own clutter and other kids won't care, but many other grown ups will judge and it's hard to disassociate clutter and dirt in many people's minds.

TheMrsD Tue 23-Feb-16 11:40:07

Tava63 post is fabulous. I'm taking it on board too.

Kitkatmonster Tue 23-Feb-16 11:41:41

It's cleanliness that bothers me, I don't care what size house anyone lives in, but if I walked in and wouldn't accept a cup of tea there then it's unlikely I'd return. So, in essence as long as you keep it clean I can't see that you'd have any difficulty. Maybe the mums you had over before were just snobby?

JustHavinABreak Tue 23-Feb-16 11:45:10

What tava said...In fact she sounds so lovely and wise I think we should start an "Ask Tava" thread brew

MrsJorahMormont Tue 23-Feb-16 11:46:49

We live in a nice house, in theory - but it's full of clutter and crap blush I have times when I get the cold sweats about anyone coming to visit and have to spend far too much time cleaning and hiding clutter. I'm planning to have a proper go at the Marie Kondo thing. Would that work for you OP? Go over to the Housekeeping Boards and there are lots of helpful people there.

I think clutter is intrinsically linked to a sense of scarcity. We are very comfortably off now but both DH and I grew up in homes where there was very little surplus. My parents were very thrifty but that 'carefulness' and worry gets passed on. I'm a hoarder at heart and I'm also overweight and anxious / a worrier - I'm always subconsciously waiting for a famine / zombie apocalypse I think! So, I'm trying to change my mindset that we just need to have enough. I'm in a very fortunate position, I realise that, but I think the underlying thinking is the same.

Please have a go at the Kondo stuff. It will make such a difference. Space isn't as important as everything having its place. I've had friends living in tiny, tiny flats which always felt beautiful because they kept them clean and tidy, while I lived in a whole house that felt chaotic.

AmericanPastoral Tue 23-Feb-16 11:47:20

We know a family of 5 - mum, dad, 2 children and mother in law - who live in a 1 bed flat in central London. The mum was a doctor in her home country. We have been to their place and they manage to live very well in this space - I'm not sure how, the mother is very organised - and they will soon be mortgage free. I love your post HPsauciness. There's also much more upkeep involved with a bigger house.

AmericanPastoral Tue 23-Feb-16 11:48:31

What tava said...In fact she sounds so lovely and wise I think we should start an "Ask Tava" thread I agree JustHavinABreak smile

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