help-daughter's 1st apt-TINY! and she's scared!

mollyjaneaOctober 12, 2006

my dd is 26, college educated, hasn't found a professional job yet, but works 50-60 hrs at her longtime job. she's scared of the world. i won't go into all the psychology behind this, but she is very capable, well-mannered and attractive...and broke! it's so expensive to strike out on her own. any wisdom as to how we can help her with this scarey (for her) transition, without enabling her? also, her appt is a TINY TINY but very well kept, clean, cared for efficiency. any helpful ideas/hints/cautions/decorating ideas would be most, most welcome. please help us out! thanks a bunch, mja in ri

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There are tons of people in Home Dec forum here that would be happy to help with decorating ideas (and there are some very gifted members there ;)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 11:19AM
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would she be less scared if she had a roommate? Of course, she got her place, but if it ends up too hard for her, maybe that would be a move to make once her lease is up?

Of course she needs to not own very much, since she has so little space. That'll make it easier to be broke, because she wouldn't have room to store anything she might buy, anyway.

She should get most of her pots&pans, dishes, incidental furniture, etc., from family & friends. If you aren't able to provide her with some stuff, be sure to mention her new living situation to friends, folks at church, etc. People love to be able to help out by giving away stuff they don't want. Even small stuff, like an extra mop, a bunch of extra dishtowels that don't match my kitchen but are perfectly new, stuff like that.

of course, w/ an efficiency, she needs to carefully select the stuff she DOES get, so encourage her to decline stuff that won't work.

Big, tall bookcases provide storage and keep the walls from looking blank.

If she can't make holes in the wall, she could use the new Command adhesive hooks and poster squares from 3M; Staples carries them, as do Wal-Mart type places.

Cloth is a good way to add color if the walls are white. Maybe curtains over the bookcases, to hide the clutter and provide a big expanse of color. Bedsheets are a great way to get huge pieces of brightly colored cloth, and sometimes you can find them pretty cheaply if they're being discontinued, etc. And even if she doesn't sew, she could use iron-on fusible webbing tape to make hems, or even to make casings for curtain rods.

She needs a filing cabinet of some sort--that's the most useful thing, actually. A place to keep her lease, her receipts for her rent, her insurance cards, etc. She is now her own "business unit," and she needs a way to manage her records. That was the part that surprised me the most, and found me the least prepared.

I knew I needed pots&pans, sheets, towels, etc. But it never occurred to me that I would now have official records, and would need a place to keep them.

And being organized on the business side will lessen that "I'm out of control; the world is out of control" feeling that makes ANY move scary for anyone. (maybe it's worse for her?)

And help her set up routines for bill paying, and paperwork filing? And for regular cleaning, as well.

Even something as simple as helping her put together a list of phone numbers to post beside the phone--the building's manager, the emergency plumber, the fire department, a friendly neighbor, the pizza place, any other person or business that would be the go-to person for whatever area makes her nervous--might make her feel that she can cope.

And I wish there were a book about how to care for an apartment. I know my mother once remarked that even though my sis is a messy slob, she and her DH always keep their apartments in good enough underlying shape that she always gets her deposit back. There may be papers all over the floor, and shampoo bottles in every corner of the bathroom, but the carpet is vacuumed regularly, there are no stains, and there's NO mildew or soap scum in the bathroom.

The link between "cleaning regularly" and "keeping the physical components of the home from sustaining physical damage" is a strong one, but I didn't realize it until I actually owned the place I lived in, and lived there for a while. i didn't notice it, as a kid. So that's a caution for her--she needs to clean regularly, esp. in the bathroom and kitchen, and to clean up spills PROMPTLY--in order to maximize her change of getting her deposit back.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 12:29PM
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I don't know your daughter's field. Does she have time to look for a job in her profession? 50-60 hours a week is a lot. That doesn't leave much time for other things.

I'd remind her this apartment is temporary and try not to accumulate too many things that she'll be hauling around while she's finding a more permanent job/dwelling. I lived in apartments for a few years. There is a lot of good, usable things that get left by the dumpster at the end of the month when people move. It's more cost effective to dump it than to haul it. It's even better not to buy some of that stuff to begin with.

I didn't have a problem keeping my apartment clean when I was single. I had one weeks worth of dishes and put them in the dishwasher when I was finished with them. I washed dishes once a week. I cluttered the house, but would pick it up every weekend as well. Make sure she has a light vacuum. A lot of apartment people don't.

As a single person, I was concerned with safety.
-Keep an eye out and be aware if something is out of place. If you don't like the looks of the people parked near your parking place or near your door,stay in the car and drive around some more. Become aware of who belongs in the apartment complex and who doesn't.
-If you hear the lady next door getting beat up, call the police. Don't be afraid to call 911.
-Add your own fire alarms. Assume the neighbors are idiots and will burn the place down with candles in the middle of the night.
-Keep a phone by the bed and the keys to set off the car alarm. If someone breaks in in the middle of the night, the car alarm will hack off the neighbors enough that they call the cops if you can't. If you are attacked, try to dial 911 even if you can't talk. The call center will have an address if you call from the land line. They may be able to track you down with a cell phone.
-Don't leave doors and windows open and unlocked. Make sure that the front door can't be easily opened with a credit card.
-Keep the blinds closed the correct way so people from the outside can't see in. Leave a light on in the apartment when you're gone to make it look like someones there. I would also program the timer on my tv to pop on at 6:30 and go off at 10:30.
-Carry a cell phone at all times. A girl in another apartment complex was kidnapped while out jogging. She was stuffed into the trunk of a car. She kicked out the taillights and called 911. The police were able to track her because of the cell towers that were being used.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 5:35PM
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thanks so much for all of your ideas, lots of help found here! she is not, by the way, scared as in crime, just scared to be striking out on her own. she doubts her capabilities and is afraid to try new things, especially new jobs. i love her so much and identify with her fears. i have never been alone, so i take blame for her fear of the same. what's a mother to do?????

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 8:30PM
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I had a feeling that was the "scared" part, which is why I concentrated so much on making her feel in control and organized. And telling her the stuff that you had to learn by trial and error.

i wish her the best.

Oh, and when I nervously moved half a country away at the end of college, and was worried about getting a job, etc., my mother said a few things that really helped.

1) it can't kill you. And nothing short of death of maiming is permanent unless you want it to be. Screwing up, or having disasters strike, can make life logistically hard (not a lot of money, lots of stuff to do, living in a dumpy apartment, getting a bad credit rating, eating PB&J and drinking water for a week until payday, etc.). But it can't kill you. It won't even maim you (well, lack of medical care can, I guess). And short of death, it's nearly all repairable eventually.
Bad credit rating? once you get a better paying job, you can start making it better. It can be fixed. Crummy apartment? You won't live there forever.

2) You can always come home--or "home" to someone other than you. You won't ACTUALLY be living on the street. You have resources available to help you if something is suddenly wrong in your world. And it's your job, as a grownup, to begin CREATING them.
She made me find out the bus fare back to Iowa, and put an envelope w/ that much cash up on a high shelf, under a box, etc., in my closet. Not because SHE was worried, but because she felt it would make ME less apprehensive. It was my disaster fund. I could at least go home. That actually made me feel safer.
She also pointed out that if I lost my lease, even without coming home, I could find another place to live. I had friends. I had people I knew at church. Or from whatever job I had at the moment. As long as it was clear my reliance on them was temporary, and I was actively looking to find a new place, etc., they'd loan me a couch.

And I'll tell your DD even this: I was fired--not laid off, fired--from a job in my chosen field, and I recovered. In fact, that firing was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was stuck in a job and an employee/boss relationship that wasn't working. I was miserable, but I didn't realize that the way to fix it was to leave.

Getting fired from a job is normally a relief--if it's going badly enough that someone will fire you, you're miserable, too. There will BE another job, somewhere. So she should not worry about whether she is capable of doing a job. If it turns out she isn't, that'll be good to know.

Also, as someone who HIRES people I will tell her this: that if someone is capable of doing a good job in one area, they will be capable of doing a good enough job in almost any other area, esp. w/ proper training. The ability to pay attention, the ability to figure out what it is your boss needs, and the ability to give a flying leap about whether you're doing a good job--those are really all anyone needs, other than training or experience. And they are the things I *can't* teach anyone. I'll teach someone all kinds of other stuff, but I don't ever want to have to teach them that. And if she's got the initiative to work 50 to 60 hours where she is, she can work in almost ANY field.

Maybe her biggest vulnerability isn't her *capability* but that her fear might make her reluctant to rock the boat, and she won't look for a better paying, more fulfilling job because she's so busy working at the low-paying job she's got. So slowly encourage her to be more proactive in her job goals, and less reactive.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 10:08AM
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thank you so much for your detailed, timely responses. it takes time to write them out and i appreciate that! updates to come asap!!! molly

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 11:17AM
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If she likes animals at all (and if the apartment allows them) she should look into getting a pet. She probably doesn't have time for a dog, but maybe a cat. Most apartments will allow pets that are usually kept caged. I used to have a house rabbit :) Guinea pigs are great too.. they recognize their people and squeak for attention.
I have a dog now and having her here really takes away the lonely feelings I'd have if it were just me. I can talk to her, play with her, and its nice to always have someone(thing) around. She's a boxer so she also made me feel safer when I was living alone and single.
Again... your DD probably won't be allowed to have a dog in an efficiency, but anything that would recognize her when she gets home would really be comforting.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 5:21PM
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Sorry, I wanted to add this link to my post and forgot... here it is. Decorating apts. cheaply and lots of great info.

Here is a link that might be useful: So you wanna

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 5:24PM
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