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Overwhelmed and don't know where to start - any tips?

(28 Posts)
foxtrottango Wed 05-Oct-11 14:51:01

I live in a very, very tiny house. I have a very, very large amount of stuff smile. This hasn't always been an issue and we generally muddled along quite happily (if a little dustily!). Unfortunately, several months ago I had a severe back injury and I was not able to walk for a period of time. I moved up to crutches and now I'm walking fairly well and am even supposed to be going back to work in just over a week. My problem is this! While I was ill, I couldn't do a thing in the house, not anything. It drove me up the wall to have to sit in a chair watching my DP struggle with everything. We have a lot of pets which is fine when we are both well but while I was ill the priority was to keep me and the animals fed and healthy and everything else got lost.

I have made a good start on the kitchen on my own but need to gut everywhere else. My small bedroom is full of stuff and that might have to wait but our bedroom, the bathroom, living room, kitchen and understairs all need doing. I'm desperate to get it done before I go back to work.

My DP has got Fri Sat and Sun off and I desperately want to do it this week. I've never been faced with such a mammoth job before though and I'm getting anxious at the thought of it. I get anxious a lot at the mo, mainly due, I think to being stuck in the house for 5 months with barely any company and barely any time out of the house!

My DP is extremely lazy and has kept things ticking over but now I can get access to places I couldn't before I am finding where he has hidden everything. It's the kind of situation where superficially stuff looks ok but just under the surface it's a nightmare. There are still things I struggle to do such as hoovering etc but he has been doing these for me when I point it out.

The problem is that my energy levels are still low, again I suspect to do with being in the house all the time and I have to motivate my DP who is lovely and has done so well for the last few months but who is, ultimately, a bit bone idle smile.

I'm already worried about how to motivate both of us and it just seems like such a huge task. The front and back gardens both need mowing as well which adds to my stress as even when I look out of the window, all I see is mess!!! I really need this doing this weekend as I cannot go back to work with it like this. I am likely to be exhausted and in a lot of pain for a few weeks so I could do without having to gut the house as well!

So... after that mammoth post (sorry, got a bit carried away writing it all down!!) has anyone any suggestions for dealing with this, it is far beyond a bit of a tidy, it needs a damn good going over. How can I keep us both motivated and any ideas on where to start? We have to do this on our own as neither of us have family nearby and I'd be too ashamed to let anyone in tbh.

Mousey84 Wed 05-Oct-11 15:09:34

Well, what about getting a load of boxes together, a few nice readymeals, and for the weekend a bottle of wine and a movie. Label the boxes charity, keep-bedroom, keep-living room (etc), give back, and if you want, "sell". Plus get a few bin bags together.

Pick a room (hall/stairs/landing a good place to start since you dont want to be climbing over stuff) and put everything into one of the boxes - every nick nack, photoframe etc. Since everything is in boxes, it wont matter if you are tired and need to stop, and its easy to pick up again afterwards. Once all surfaces are clear, dust/vacuum etc and replace anything that should be in the room. Maybe put all the rest of the boxes of stuff into the small bedroom for now. Repeat for the rest of the rooms as you feel energetic enough to do.

When it comes to boxes of bits and pieces that need sorted through, keep those aside for night time where you can sit in front of movie, with glass of wine (or shloer in my case!) and filter through it.

Having the ready meals means that you dont have to start faffing around and make a mess in the kitchen.

Mousey84 Wed 05-Oct-11 15:14:18

Your DH could sort garden, haul boxes and of course help you sort. Also good to have someone to do runs to the tip and charity shops.

When you finish the rooms and go back to the keep boxes as you can. ONly pull out one box at a time so you dont overwhelm yourself.

substantiallycompromised Wed 05-Oct-11 15:21:06

here!

Good luck!

You are very welcome to join us over here if you need motivation. We are very wierd and obsessed with microfibre cloths friendly wink

brookeslay Wed 05-Oct-11 15:31:13

I share your pain I have one cupboard in the house so it`s hard.Get some double walled packing boxes from ebay. Take the stuff you want to keep but have no storage and fill them and take them to a storage unit. Then tackle each room at a time can a carpenter build a storage unit anywhere.

this looks better than those dodgy bags

You can do this quickly or slowly depending on money but it does help to rid yourself of the clutter before you have a close look at the rooms without of your stuff there.

foxtrottango Wed 05-Oct-11 15:42:55

Thank you for all the useful replies smile. The idea about putting all stuff in boxes is brilliant. The amount of times I pick something up and then put it back down again simply because I don't know what to do with it!

A storage unit would be great but I can't justify the expense. I have got lots of boxes under my bed, think I'm at capacity and that's half the problem. I inherited a lot of books last year and I want to keep them but they are taking up a lot of space. I might have to ask one of DP's friends to come over and put stuff in the attic. DP doesn't like to go up there as he's a big guy! I think this weekend the idea of boxing up stuff and bagging everything else sounds manageable.

There is just so much stuff, DP has an estate car and he's even filled that with stuff! I just get panicky when I think about it.

I've been holding onto daft things. I have lots and lots of books! The inherited ones are all beautiful hardbacks but I have so many tatty paperbacks. I have a whole set of Jonathan Kellermans that I did want to keep as I really like him and spent a lot of time collecting them. However, I haven't read or collected a single one in at least 3-4 years so really I should be getting rid I suppose. Is there anyone in the North East who fancies a load of crime related paperbacks? smile

The Flylady thing looks amazing, I will definitely be reading more about that. Getting dressed sounds such a little thing but makes so much sense after the amount of time I've spent in pyjamas!
I'm feeling more fired up now smile. Thank you for all your good advice and please keep it coming smile

Mousey84 Wed 05-Oct-11 16:09:51

Consider ebaying/gumtree stuff then use the money to fund a good storage solution - a good bookshelf would be ideal by the sounds of it! When you need a bit of a break from sorting, have a look on ebay and see what things are selling for. Its rather addictive though. Ive made £250 in less than a month ebaying stuff I uncovered while decluttering. It was 2 days work in photographing and listing, but once somethings listed, if it doesnt sell first time, you can relist again with just a press of a button. Check out the ebay threads here for tips on how to save money on fees (free listing days, or listing items for 99p, etc)

foxtrottango Wed 05-Oct-11 19:11:45

That's a plan. I tend to be a bit too generous in giving stuff away. I could sell a fair amount of stuff and like you say, invest in some nice storage ideas smile. You never know, there might be enough left over for a treat smile.

I've already sent an email to my DP outlining what I want to happen this weekend and I've made lists of what needs doing. It looks so much more achievable when I write it all down. Thanks again folks smile

BoffinMum Wed 05-Oct-11 19:47:26

Just take it a room at a time, and turn it into the room you would like it to be. The actual stuff is incidental. You won't miss it.

whatever17 Wed 05-Oct-11 20:12:20

How about a drawer/box at a time. Just chuck, chuck, chuck. When you have finished chucking get your DP's help in the deep clean.

foxtrottango Wed 05-Oct-11 20:14:58

Chucking stuff actually sounds good. I do tend to hoard a bit but I tend to hoard things like books or games. I think ebay might be my friend there. I've not wanted any of this stuff for months or years so need to let go of the idea that I 'need' it. There are very few things I actually need!!

foxtrottango Wed 05-Oct-11 20:19:34

The sad thing is that there isn't much stuff in drawers sad, its all over my floors and any spare surfaces he could find. He's been stashing clothes in the airing cupboard and from the smell of it some were damp when he put them in. It's such a mess sad.

He has been such a hero though, keeping me and all the animals sorted as well as working full time, getting time off for my appointments and then having to make the time up. I'm not surprised it's got to this. Now I'm getting better I just need to hitch up my pants and regain control smile. I've sorted the kitchen so now at least the poor man comes home to a cooked meal at night instead of having to come in and start washing up then sort out tea.

BoffinMum Wed 05-Oct-11 20:29:22

I think it might make sense to do the lounge next, then the master bedroom.

BoffinMum Wed 05-Oct-11 20:31:35

Take the washing to a laundry to be redone, washed and ironed, and then it will be a pleasure to put away. A bit of Febreze in the airing cupboard and a day or two with the door open will help.

foxtrottango Wed 05-Oct-11 22:03:32

I've just looked up a local laundry as that advice sounds like the best idea ever. I get clean nice smelling clothes without having the hassle of drying everything. Plus it will give me loads of space to help with the tidying! It feels like there are clothes everywhere, just bagging them up and shipping them to the laundry sounds ideal smile

BoffinMum Wed 05-Oct-11 22:07:23

It'll be a bit pricey but well worth it, I imagine. They'll come back like new! grin

RainboweBrite Wed 05-Oct-11 22:12:48

Just wanted to wish you good luck and do take it slowly, as you won't have much energy and you need to keep some for going back to work. A room at a time sounds the way to go.

BoffinMum Wed 05-Oct-11 22:16:14

The thing about a room at a time is that there is such a great feel good factor when you realise you have made a lot of progress in a day or two. The results are so visible.

foxtrottango Thu 06-Oct-11 18:35:22

I've already started stockpiling boxes smile. Got clear plans about how I'm going to tackle it now too so I'm not nearly so overwhelmed. It looks manageable now. I knew the wisdom of Mumsnet would make me feel better smile. The bedroom is getting done tomorrow and I'll take it from there. Really looking forward to how good I'll feel when it's done!

LillianGish Thu 06-Oct-11 18:52:44

Some great advice on here. Mousey's box systems is brilliant. Go room by room so you can see the difference you make and that should inspire you. I can't urge you strongly enough to throw things away. Pack your boxes, have a good clean and then only unpack what you have room for. The fact is if you live in a very, very tiny house you cannot have a very, very large amount of stuff - be ruthless. Use this as an opportunity to have a really good clear out - keep as many books as you have shelves for and take the rest to Oxfam. Same with clothes - brilliant idea to have them professionally laundered, but only send those clothes you actually wear and have room to store. get rid of the rest - you won't miss them. By all means sell stuff, but make sure you get on and do it - otherwise it will just be hanging around indefinitely taking up space and you'll be back to square one. If you can't be bothered/haven't got time to sell it take it to a charity shop or (be realistic about what a charity shop might actually be able to sell) the tip.

substantiallycompromised Fri 07-Oct-11 16:18:12

How is it going Foxtrottango?

Mousey84 Fri 07-Oct-11 16:27:02

Hope your first day has gone well smile

lizardqueenie Sat 08-Oct-11 11:39:32

How is it going? smile I am doing the same today & DH has voted to take DD out whilst I get on hmm At least I can bin stuff whiteout him trying to rescue everything!

foxtrottango Sun 09-Oct-11 22:50:30

Evening all smile. I started yesterday in the kitchen. Did out all the cupboards and cleaned everything to within an inch of its life!! Its wonderful, even got the tassimo thats been lurking in a cupboard for five years working!! It feels so nice to have it all clean. Also managed to do the bathroom and sorted through the boxes I filled. Todays plan was to do the bedroom, unfortunately my body didn't take kindly to yesterdays onslaught so I didn' get as much done as I wanted. I'm due to go back to work so I need to be sensible!

DP is back to work tomorrow and off Tuesday so the bedroom will be done then. I feel so much better, it's like a weight has been lifted. Doing it room by room has meant that although I've been a bit discouraged that my back can't handle it, I've managed to do 2 rooms and can really see the difference.
Thanks for all the support and good advice, it made a massive difference to me to have some tips and helped me get past the 'its impossible, there's no point' rut I found myself in smile

BoffinMum Mon 10-Oct-11 17:59:32

I was so pleased to read your post. Well done.
Don't worry if you're feeling a bit wonky physically - it will get better and your stamina will improve each time, as long as you have a good rest between blitzes (I have osteoarthritis myself).

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