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Really down about the state of my house and garden

(23 Posts)
Scaryfeet Sun 22-Jun-14 01:21:30

Hi guys

I'm posting here rather than the homes and gardens section because as a lone parent, I feel like my circumstances are different and advice in this section might be more relevant.

Anyway, I live in a council house with my 2 teenagers, dog and 3 cats. I've never been a particularly homely person and hate cleaning, so my house was never a show home. However, I've lived here for 3 years now and the walls are still bare plaster, some windows don't have curtains and the garden is so overgrown I've been threatened with eviction (don't have tools but paying someone to cut it down next week so hopefully that's not too much of an issue). I don't answer the door and hate visitors because 99% of the time I can't be bothered to clean up just for someone to come round and am too embarrassed of the mess.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not lazy, I'm a marine biologist and am currently only working part time so hardly have any money spare after the bills and travel. I work very hard and am always doing something in my spare time, either volunteering or working on a project from home. But I now want to move away, first from the area I live and then from the UK and I realise I'm going to need landlord references. I'm pretty certain that I won't get them as I don't take care of this house that I actually should be very grateful for, many people are not lucky enough to get a council house and what has the potential to be a nice one, at that.

Has anyone been in this position and how do you get yourself out of it? I can't even afford a tin of paint right now but I really want to have a nice place to live! How do I get into a routine of cleaning when I hate it so much? How do I make a dent on the state of the garden? Basically, how do I start being a good tenant (rent always paid on time by the way, if that counts for anything) and making a nice home?

greeneggsandjam Sun 22-Jun-14 05:24:03

I suppose you have to want it to be nice for a start. Do you never go anywhere and just love it because its so tidy and uncluttered and therefore seems peaceful and relaxing, a place where you can think and not feel like you are surrounded? I always remember a story from primary school where a man lived in a very dirty messy place and one day got an ornament ( I think). He polished it up til it was all nice and shiny ( I think it was made of brass) and he displayed it because it was so nice but actually it just looked awful because it was surrounded by junk and mess so he cleaned the place up til it was all as sparking as the ornament.

I think you just have to chose one area in one room, get up bright and early and make a start on it for a few hours. I also find that watching programmes like How clean is your house and the obsessive compulsive cleaners one is quite motivating!

If you are too tired maybe you need to cut down on the volunteering for a bit?

Singsongmama Sun 22-Jun-14 06:04:48

Very few folk enjoy cleaning but get a grip and get on with it! What an odd thread.

The longer you leave it the harder it is. Here's my advice: pick a day (say, today) when you are free for a good block and do a massive tidy/clean. Put on gloves and get stuck right in. Play some music and get scrubbing. Once things are all spick n span you'll honestly feel better and then every day do one thing to keep on top of the house. Make a rota and just do it. Monday - Hoover Tuesday- bathroom Wednesday - laundry etc. and tidy up EVERY night before bed - just a quick once round putting stuff away.

Summer is here so it's a good excuse to get into the garden - same thing applies- pick a day where that is your only job then get stuck in. Could you borrow tools from a neighbour?

Often the thought is worse than the job itself. Get cleaning or live in mess - it's a choice and you have to live with it.

As for decor - just do what you can as and when you can afford it. Nice curtains/cushions/bed linens don't have to be expensive but can really make a room look lovely. Stick to airy neutral walls - eggshell or barley or some other type of white/cream!

LadySybilLikesCake Sun 22-Jun-14 06:09:48

There's loads of places where you can buy paint and it's easier to do one room at a time. Net curtains are cheap, as are bamboo blinds. Are you able to put aside a few pounds a week? My parents lived in a council house and the council gave them wallpaper and paint, so you could look into this. Can your teenagers help? It's crap that you have to do this alone when you have able people in your house.

Re- money, are you claiming all that you're entitled to? Tax credits? Any housing benefit? It can make you pretty miserable when you can see that you need things and there's no cash in the kitty to pay for them. May be worth you looking into this. is pretty good for checking your benefits. Any maintenance?

thanks < for you. Keep going!! smile

dashoflime Sun 22-Jun-14 06:17:16

If tackling it all at once is too dispiriting you could try the

weatherall Sun 22-Jun-14 06:24:19

You are leaving the country with 2 teenagers and pets?

With no money?

dashoflime Sun 22-Jun-14 06:32:25

Sorry, try again.
If tackling it all at once is too dispiriting you could try the [ flylady] method.
It helps you get into good daily routines (make bed, washing up,washload on) then 15 minutes of decluttering/cleaning per day. That way, cleaning becomes a normal,manageable part of your life instead of a massive traumatic chore that you blitz every now and again and then leave.
It worked for me and I am a massive slattern! It also worked for a friend of mine who was so bad she was embarrassed to even let anyone see her place.
For paint/curtains might need to be more creative. Sometimes there are community paint projects where you can get partly used pots. Charity shops often have curtains very cheap. Try free cycle? Is there a furniture project in your area. Most of the furniture in my house comes from the Salvation Army shop, although it does help to have an eye for what will look interesting and retro (rather than motheaten and shitty). I don't really, so I bring DH with me. Do you have a friend who is good at that sort of thing if your not? A wander around the charity shops can be a relaxing afternoon (or maybe that's just me!)
Good luck with it!

Scaryfeet Sun 22-Jun-14 15:09:36

Thank you for your helpful replies (apart from weatherall... go troll someone else, I didn't say I'm leaving next week).

I know you are right and I know what I need to do, I suppose I just needed to hear "I used to be the same, but you CAN change". I've probably painted a worse picture than the reality, but regardless I'm getting worse over time and am not happy with it, so...

Yes, Greeneggsandjam, every time I visit someone who has a nice house I enjoy it and then come home to mine and even if it's sparkling clean (yes, it sometimes is!), there's just no homely feeling. I need to make it a priority, it never has been anything but a roof over our heads before.

LadySybilLikesCake I probably am entitled to more, but honestly I don't want to claim, I feel like I've worked so hard the last few years, the dream job is just getting going and money situation will improve soon, I feel like I'm going backwards if I start to rely on the system again. I know that sounds odd when I'm complaining of not being able to afford things, but my pride in doing things the right way is more important right now, as long as the kids have what they need. (No maintenance, that's a whole other story).

I will definitely try charity shops, and my brother has told me of a place that sells discounted paint. My kids would probably enjoy painting with me. I will set a day to do the spring clean and get on top of it, thank you again. x

misstiredbuthappy Sun 22-Jun-14 15:12:08

You will find that when youve done a big clean the housework will be easier to keep on top of.

Have you got any friends that will help you ? I agree about charity shops Ive got a few bits from them. Focus on one room at a time. When you have money get the big cheap tins of paint b and m do a good range. Do down the stairs first as there the rooms people see.

ive been there myself op. I got given my housing association house 2 years ago and it was in such a state. But I got there in the end and I love my house now. When its nice and homely you wont want to move grin

misstiredbuthappy Sun 22-Jun-14 15:16:03

Ooh and ebay is good for curtains. You can get bundles like curtains, lamps pictures to match ect.

and get on facebook selling sights theres always some young lads doing gardening. I got my lawns done for 12 pound front and back and my lawns are long.

Pannacotta Sun 22-Jun-14 15:22:45

Can you barter ie get some help in the garden in exchange for something you can do, perhaps even babysitting?
Or ask friends/neighbours to borrow tools?
Your DCs ought to help with cleaning and gardening.
And I agree re charity shops, also look at gumtree and ebay.
I have found some great bargains on both and you ought to strike lucky if you keep looking.

MisForMumNotMaid Sun 22-Jun-14 15:24:28

Have you tried pinterest for inspiration?

Its an online clipboard for images of things you like.

Lots of people have tight budgets and post budget decorating ideas. If you can find a bit of inspiration it may act as motivation.

Car boots ate great at this time of year for bargains like garden tools, curtains, general household decoration bits like vases and trinkets. If you go towards the end with just change some people give stuff away rather than take it home again.

Freecycle could be worth a try for paint. Disposing of half cans is a real pain so if you can offer collection in return for free paint, great. You may end up with feature walls though. But white/ magnolia are the cheapest colours so if you get some colour on you may find you can scrape together enough for the other walls at some point in the future.

DustWitch Sun 22-Jun-14 15:29:15

Please don't be ashamed to claim benefits that you are entitled to. That's what they are there for and you pay in for this with your national insurance contributions.

I definitely agree with checking out the flylady site, it's very inspirational. Ebay and local charity shops are brilliant for things like curtains. Our whole house is furnished from Ebay including a 99p coffee table and £3 Tiffany style lamps!

Also just a thought, can you get your teenagers to help? Would they be able to do a bit of painting or gardening? Decorate their own rooms for example?

Spero Sun 22-Jun-14 15:34:29

I really like the unfuck your habitat website and I think there have been a couple of threads on here for people who are following it's advice. I think it mainly advises you just to get on with it in short bursts of time, don't think you have to tackle the whole house in one day etc.

Or as maya Angelou said, if you don't like something! change it. Or change your attitude towards it.

I try not to think of housework as drudgery - I think of it as saying to me and my daughter that we deserve to live in a calm, restful place.

Scaryfeet Sun 22-Jun-14 16:02:21

Thanks again! Lots of useful advice! I never even thought about using ebay for curtains and things, although I've used it for things like shelving before. We do have decent furniture and I've just splashed out on lovely new beds and mattresses for all of us, so at least I don't need to worry about those expensive things.

I did find a gardener on a facebook group and they are coming next week to cut everything down. I'd love to grow my own veg so rather than put all my efforts into career stuff/always working on a project I'm going to try projects within the house. I really do need to change (and stick to) my attitude about it all. Maybe if I can build some pride in it, I will actually stick to it.

Those websites looks really useful, I like the idea of using pinterest for inspiration, not quite sure how to use that site but will give it a go.

Spero, I thought you were actually insulting me when I first skimmed your reply, that's the best url I've ever heard :D

MexicanSpringtime Sun 22-Jun-14 16:10:09

I'm dreadful at housework, so I shouldn't really be giving advice here.

But can you get rid of everything that you don't need/use and organise good storage space for everything else?

It is a lot easier when you know where things should go.

Inthedarkaboutfashion Sun 22-Jun-14 16:13:38

You have teenagers so you need to enlist them to help. You should divide up everything that needs doing and decide who is going to do what and then just spend a whole afternoon actually doing it. Reward the teenagers with takeaway pizza when the work is done.
Once it is tidy and clean it's just a case of keeping on top of it by doing a little each day.
Other people only have nice houses because they put in time and effort.
It doesn't cost a lot to have a nice home. You can buy paint very cheaply and you can find curtains and cushions in places like primark or charity shops.

Pannacotta Sun 22-Jun-14 16:31:44

Also meant to say I agree with others that claiming the benefits you are entitled to as a LP will make a difference and if it makes it easier perhaps put that money aside for house and garden renovation.
You could get yourself tools for the garden and sort out curtains and storage.
I am sure your kids would also prefer to live in a welcoming home and its important as a LP to have people round and a support network, which wont happen if you cant bring yourself to answer the door!

Scaryfeet Sun 22-Jun-14 17:11:04

MexicanSpringtime I don't think you have be great at something to give advice, as long as you have experience of it. I do need to get rid of a load of stuff, thinking I could sell some things too and use the money to pay for decorating. I have an expensive camera, for one thing, that I've used twice and got bored of it!

Thank you all so much for your advice, you probably don't think it means much but I've been in such a great mood all day thinking of all these things I can do and making plans with the kids. Tomorrow is clear out day and my mum's just dropped some spare paint off, so were going to clean out and paint the kitchen!

Pannacotta Sun 22-Jun-14 17:18:19

Good idea to plan with the kids.
They like to be involved and it will make them feel useful and hopefully more inclined to help keep it clean and tidy...
Btw, small led fairy lights are a great way to make a more room more cosy and if you use them with table lamps rather than overhead lighting then they hide a multitude of sins.

misstiredbuthappy Sun 22-Jun-14 17:31:14

Ad your feeling in a better mood scary smile

theuncivilservant79 Sun 22-Jun-14 19:45:18

Good thread grinjust marking place for tips

cestlavielife Mon 23-Jun-14 12:49:20

find out where your local car boot sale is. some you can go on foot.

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