This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Moral support needed - clearing out late DM's house(12 Posts)
I need a bit of moral support over the next couple of weeks. My DM died suddenly a year and a day ago. To cut a long story short, we (my DH, DS & DD) moved into her house six months ago with the intention that it should be our permanent home (I grew up in the house)
The problem has been that it's a big, old house and full of clutter, dust and so much stuff to sort out. I feel I have been making small inroads in the last six months but as I'm sure you can appreciate, it's so hard to devote big chunks of time to it when you have two small children (aged 3 yrs & 21 months). Anyway 'D'H has given me an ultimatum: sort the house out or we move out. He says it's not safe/hygienic/appropriate for the kids. I can see his point of view to a certain extent, but he has offered me virtually no practical help and certainly no moral support. I'm also under pressure as we have family coming to stay in two weeks' time, and they are very particular.
So, I've got to really pull out all the stops now and get it done: clearing, painting, repairs, sorting, decluttering. I've GOT to make it look dramatically different by next time DH comes home (he works away) in a week's time. So I'm doing this every night once the DCs have gone to sleep.
I totally appreciate there's another thread's worth of issues here regarding my relationship with my DH. I can't tackle that at the moment as the house and keeping it as our home is the priority. (I would be absolutely heartbroken and devastated if I had to move out.) Also, until I get the house up to standard, I'm not in a strong position to tackle these issues. I HATE the fact that he won't support/help me but I HAVE to focus on completing this task first so I can then sit down and have a sensible talk with him about the dynamic in our relationship (and if it is to continue).
So, can anyone please help and give me some encouragement while I sort the house out every night? It's so hard. I just found an unused baby dress from the 70s my mum probably bought for me and never put me in. I think my DD is too big for it now as well...
Lilac, by the sounds of it the house is in a state at present and, when there could be a potential emotional link with almost every item left in your DM's house, I don't think it is reasonable of anyone to demand what they want done and when. I don't actually think that if you don't clear the house in given time you will have to move away as this would be your choice, not anyone else's. I also appreciate that with 2 small children, you must be pretty tired so it would have to be done on a bit at a time basis.. Maybe it is time to face your ghosts.
Thanks aquafire. Yes, I know you're right, no one can MAKE me move out. But I want to do this (improving the house) for me and kids as much as for DH. I just need a bit of encouragement to keep me going.
It is hard. It is as if every object is imbued with the person you have lost and you can bring them to mind imagining them choosing something, or wearing it or touching it. I know this all too well. I think that one has to be allowed to move slowly through all this. Maybe take a few large bags and fill them with objects that you really do wish to spend more time with. The important thing in the end is memories really. I have taken lots of photographs of things I knew I would not be able to keep - really silly things sometimes- but I just was not prepared to let them go completely.
Sounds to me that your problem is the sheer amount of work you have to do. Still, the end result will be so very worth it.
It is sooo hard trying to get things done with two children at home.
Why not try to do one small thing during day and then save the bigger stuff when the children are in bed.
I don't know what you need to look at but for example - going through one drawer during the day, with a bag for rubbish and one for keep/charity shop) might be do-able? Hope this helps - I know how hard it is to get things done with little ones around.
Is there anyone who can help you in return for a nice takeaway& chat? I'd gladly help a friend in this position if didn't have my own children but I have a cousin I'm particularly close to I feel I could ask. Do you have any close family?
I had to clean out my lovely Dad's house when he died. Have someone for moral support and heavy lifting help. Get lots of bin bags. I mean LOTS and just get stuck in. Empty car and get ready for lots of trips to dump. Pretending you don't know the person helps.
sorry about your Mum
Can you move everything into one or two rooms, then just blitz the rest of the house? You can then start moving stuff around when you've time.
Be ruthless as well. Obviously not with the sentimental stuff, but just chuck and chuck and chuck.
Can you tackle the main living areas, especially kitchen where there is less emotional attachment and then other rooms downstairs? If there's spare space can you designate a room/ the garage to put all the stuff you don't want to get rid of yet (if at all).
It is really hard and your dh is not being fair but do it for yourself and you will hopefully feel stronger re tackling him and any other issues.
As an aside, is the house in your name? Why would you have to leave it if he chose to?
Sorry about your mum. I've not long finished clearing out my dad's house so I have some idea what a painful task it is. Dad's house was rather unkempt and what my brother and I did first was hire a skip and fill it up. If there is stuff that you don't need to make difficult decisions about, get rid of it asap and clear the decks.
In your situation I'd hire a skip and also mail order loads of sturdy cardboard boxes, tissue paper, marker pens and tape. Stick a calendar on the wall with dates for visits from charity shop people and council heavy items collection people (see below). Maybe book a cleaning agency to come shortly before your DH is due home so you can focus on clearing, rather than cleaning.
Once you've filled the skip, maybe clear out the bathrooms/cloakrooms? They aren't usually too bad and you see morale-boosting progress quite quickly. Maybe the porch as well for the same reason? Get those rooms looking and smelling welcoming and hygenic by the time your DH gets home.
Then I'd designate a few rooms for storage and do a quick brainstorm of what categories you might have. Quite loose categories that can be further sorted later on, but make sure you have a box for papers that you might need - relating to the house, or probate, for example. Then you can fill the boxes and get them into your storage rooms.
If you find that there is enough stuff that you want to get rid of, could you call a charity shop and ask them to take it away? We got people round to my Dad's and they took away loads of old furniture, china and books.
If there are large items that aren't fit for a charity shop, book in the council to take them away. I did this at my Dad's house and there was typically a couple of weeks' delay and a 3-item limit, but they were fine about me phoning every day with another 3 items for them.
I am really upset for you that your husband is being like that. It is such a difficult job, I have been doing the same thing for the last few years (!) its emotionally tough plus hard when you don't have much time. It is rubbish your husband saying that its unhygienic etc for the children, I grew up in a dusty, cluttered house and it didn't do me any harm! Don't let him bully you (emotional blackmail too!? Is he usually like that?) Obviously it needs doing, but it must be at a pace you are comfortable with, you don't want to chuck things out then regret it. He should be supporting you at this difficult time
Hi everyone, just wanted to update and sorry not responded till now.
Thanks for your advice and support, everyone. Things have really turned around since I last posted. DH is impressed with progress I have made, after some difficult times together recently I really feel like we have turned a corner. He is supportive now of us staying in the house.
Everyone feels better as house is getting better by the day, it's cosy and nice to live in. Been really hard and still lots to do but things are looking up. Thanks again so much for your moral support, I really appreciate it!