I'm overwhelmed... anyone else?

missindia2020January 13, 2009

Does anyone here get overwhelmed by the task at hand? I have had a lot of illness in my household and have had to let the clutter build up. I had to keep on top of the "regular" duties, cooking, laundry, cleaning the baths; kitchen, but that's all I had time for. I am trying to catch up but the task is so overwhelming, I'm getting depressed. I am trying to remember not to discount the fact that I've accomplished some things, but those thoughts of "You didn't do it all" "Your house still looks horrible", etc. still creep in. To make matters worse, we were invited to dinner at my husband's coworker's home. That guy is so the opposite. I was scared to sit down, it was so clean. His wife told me that if she didn't read a magazine in 2 weeks, he threw it out! They're coming to our house later in the Spring so at least I have time to work on it, but I don't think my house would pass his standards. They took us on a tour of their home, and while it was clean, it didn't look as if anyone lived there. The walls were bare, there were no personal objects in rooms. Granted, it was a new house, but I'm sure his old house was just as spotless. Makes me feel like even more of a mess. Am I obligated to take someone on a "tour" of my home?

Thanks, y'all!

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"The walls were bare, there were no personal objects in rooms."

My house was that way for a very long time after I moved in. It takes a while to settle in, and to know what you want where.

Don't compare yourself to that!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 8:52AM
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In a word, NO! You are never obligated to give a tour of your home unless you are showing your home for a fundraiser or to prospective buyers. In fact, I find the idea just a little weird. Dinner guests need to know how to find the bathroom, other than that you can lead the way to the living room and dining room. I wouldn't want casual acquaintances and co-workers in my personal space - that's just weird! If someone is pushy enough to ask for a tour I would demure with "perhaps later" and "perhaps next time" and finally, "perhaps when we know each other better" if they persist. IMO giving and especially expecting a "tour" is boorish behavior.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 9:21AM
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NO, I don't think you need to show them through your home. They obviously are proud of their home, and wanted to show if off. I wouldn't want anyone other than close friends or family in our master bathroom & walk in closet...that's too much.

Just relax, and enjoy your company...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 9:38AM
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Relax, when you have company over, they come to see you, not to inspect your home!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 11:47AM
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Righto--relax and try to give yourself morale-boosting messages. One thing you point out is that it is possible for "discouragement" to sabotage your ongoing efforts--sometimes I get "down" and veg out and then don't even do some small things. So, make some reasonable lists--break tasks down into small things--cross them off to show your progress.

Also try to be either "working" or relaxing--as in, set a timer or set time aside for a cup of tea and the newspaper, or take a brisk walk, or whatever is most enjoyable, so you have some me-time, and always include a certain amount of time---even 10-15 minutes--of putting stuff away.

You've probably already done this, but simplify, simplify, so that you make the least ongoing "mess" while you are trying to dig out--very simple meals, only the essential errands, don't mess up a lot of clothes (to minimize laundry), don't start anything complicated.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 1:58PM
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Wow...your letter could have come from my hand! So, I'll "preach" to us both!
One step at a time.
As far as the other guy - my guess is, I would take your "clutter" to his anal-ness any day of the week. And give a tour of your home? Absolutely not.
Hey, did everyone make it through the bouts of illness??? They did in my home, and for that, I am grateful. The rest will get done. For now, I'm going to "attack" just the kitchen. When that's done, I'll move on. ...One bite at a time.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 2:06PM
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You don't have to take them on a tour. I only take close friends and family on a tour of my home.

I to get overwhelmed and shut down at times. I have found that if I just start something small I will keep going. My brother and SIL are neat freaks. Nothing but nothing out of place and they even got a dog that doesn't shed. Mine sheds all over the place. I can't keep mine that clean and tidy any more. I have my house presentable but was putting of some things that needed to be done. I have been doing it one room at a time and keeping up with what has already been done. I have found that not doing it causes more stress then just getting in there and doing it. Most things don't really take as long as I think they will and I feel so much better because I can get that task out of my head and not stress about it.

Pick one thing and just start. You will feel better.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:33PM
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Thanks, everyone! That is encouraging to me and makes me feel more normal! To nancyjeanmc: it was scary for awhile. My daughter, age 7 1/2 had been sick more than she was well since August. In November, her lymph nodes got bigger and more misshapen and she got another knot in her neck, I told my DH the time for pediatricians was over and took her to a Pediatric ENT. She was diagnosed with CMV (cytomegalovirus) and Epstein-Barr (infectious mono). This poor child has been through the wringer. Ear infections, colds, hacking cough - xrays; bloodwork, prescriptions... too much! I am grateful it was curable. Thank you so much for asking.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 7:45PM
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Are you in a financial position where you could find one of those new places that will cook a week's worth of dinners for you? That might be a good "investment"--to free you of the worry of one task so you can perhaps accomplish a smaller one?

Or perhaps get a cleaning person in every other week to do some of the more-tedious, time-consuming (and back-breaking!) cleaning tasks? (Maybe if you're a member of a church or other religious group someone there would know of someone who could use a little extra cash?)

There oughta be a new listing in the Yellow Pages: "House Nanny for Stressed People"!

Take a deep breath!
(And when the couple come over for dinner, just close the doors to all the rooms!)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 10:17PM
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I think we've all been there - way too overwhelmed. As for our house I didn't want to put pictures in every room because "we might move sometime". That was stupid of me to think that way. Once I placed the first nail in the wall it immediately became home. So I'm thinking this guy likes a show house as opposed to a real home. For my two cents I'll take a lived in home anytime.

Don't look at the entire task because it is overwhelming, just small tasks and slowly they will get done. Hang in there, I think we've all been there. Personally I know I have.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 9:28AM
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Yep - I have definitely been there. My house is in about the same shape. It helped when my best friend, that I hadn't seen since she moved, came over. I had warned her about the house and actually didn't do a thing to it. When she came in (her house is about the same) she said "O My". Coming from her I knew it was time to do something after the holidays. I did pick up some but still have a crazy schedule right now. As far as your situation. I would do what I could without stressing about it. I agree with those who said they are coming to see you not your house - so no tours. I close the doors to the bedrooms and any other room I don't want people to go in. Also remember you and your friends are different people - you don't have to be like them.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 11:23AM
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Dear "Miss India,"

First of all, try not to panic. Don't let your expectations of "what my house should look like" add to the stress of dealing with a serious illness. I say that from experience. Been there, stressed out about that. You are sticking to the necessities. Good. That is enough right now.

Second, don't compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone's situation is different. The unnaturally clean house you described is actually a worse problem than a messy house, in my humble opinion. Just as a messier than usual house is a sign of not being balanced, so is an unnaturally neat one. It creeps me out to be in a house like that!

You will find a lot of support here on this forum. Please give us an update from time to time. Hang in there!

MaryLiz in Michigan

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 1:00PM
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You will eventually get caught up, bit by bit ; any progress is good, even if it's baby steps. Set some reasonable goals for yourself, it feels good to be able to cross off things from lists. Good luck and keep us posted, we've all been there.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 8:48AM
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Hello all! A former lurker here...I've been away for awhile, but have returned today, and after reading the post and responses, want to offer a different perspective...maybe it's the part of the country I'm from, but I think that if I've felt comfortable enough to open my house and I've shared a meal with someone, if they invite me into their home, I would expect the same. I don't consider that expectation "boorish" at all, but simply good manners. That said, you have given yourself a good deal of time, and might use the opportunity to motivate yourself into action. I would bet that when your home meets your standards, you will feel proud to show it off. It does not matter what your company's taste or standards are, and it is not important that they even like your home. I do think it is important that the gesture is made, although some areas might not be on the "tour". I can speak with experience, as I too was overwhelmed, but in my case it went on for a number of YEARS. I was ashamed of the condition of my home, and did not invite people over. I certainly heard the old saw "people come over to visit you not your home" but I never bought into that, because that old saying does not take into account the comfort level of a host who is distressed when their own environment does not meet their own standards. I cannot comfortably entertain if I'm distressed. Some people have no problem inviting people over when their home is a mess; more power to them, but I am not one of them!! (I don't care if other people's homes are messy) I have finally gotten things under control (I plan to at some point post a thank-you as I felt inspired by the acheivements of others on this forum) and I not only am finally getting to enjoy my own home, I am finally able to even spontaneously invite people over - something I didn't think would EVER happen; what a great feeling! Just keep plugging away at it one day at a time! I wish you the best. (ps needing to control so much that someone else's magazines etc. get thrown out in 2 weeks read or not speaks to more serious issues that are not about housekeeping.) Respectfully, Penny

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 2:21PM
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Thanks, Penny. That's the way I feel. There are a lot of things I would love to do and we had planned to do - replace the carpet, etc. but about a year after we bought our house, we were informed that the D.O.T. was taking our house along with our neighbors for a highway bypass. There seemed to be no point in replacing anything. Then we were told it was on hold; then this past August is was back on again. 3 of our neighbors did early buy-outs, but that was not an option for us. So right now, I'm trying to fix it up without spending any "real" money. I am doing some today. I hope to get a lot more done. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 1:48PM
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My bedroom is neat, clean, and full of things I love. Nevertheless I am not "proud" of it in the sense that I feel a need to show off my possessions to unwitting dinner guests. Nor do I understand why they would "expect" to be entitled to see all my things. I just don't get this materialistic tangent off a simple social occasion like a dinner party.

I DO think its important to have your personal spaces - bedroom, bath, closets, etc - tidy and clean and suited to your wants and needs so that you ENJOY being there and going about your routines and daily activities. I love to have my eyes fall on beautiful things that make me feel good, whether its a clean expanse of polished wood on a bare dresser top or a glass case filled with pretty things. Whatever makes you feel calm and happy when you happen to see them. I just don't think you should feel the need to prove you a not a slob by taking everyone who visits into your most private rooms!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 7:48AM
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The OP stated that the house was new.

The owners were probably just excited to let the OP and her husband see the new house. I don't see that as a "materialistic tangent off a simple social occasion " at all... or that they were trying to prove they are not slobs!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 9:06AM
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I remember being excited to have people see my new house when I was a newlywed. We invited my husband's coworker and his wife. I made a gourmet dinner, served it on my best china, offered coffee and liqueur after dinner. I was nervous and wanted everything to be just right. Fortunately, the evening was flawless. We talked and laughed and the couple had a good time. Was I relieved!

Then I waited for a return invitation . . . and waited . . . and waited. It never came. Later I heard the wife had said my home was lovely, she commented that "even the glasses matched the china" (something I had been *proud* of) and added, "I couldn't compete with that."

I was confused and hurt. I finally realized that my job as host was not to be sure my guests thought well of me and my house but that I made my guests feel comfortable. That's why I don't like an emphasis on things - some people have more, some less - belongings just shouldn't be flaunted IMO. If you make yours guests feel too intimidated to ask you to their home in return is that a successful evening?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 9:48AM
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I know they were excited about their new home. It was lovely. Really. But it also lacked warmth. It looked like a model home where no one "lived". The bedrooms upstairs were void of any decor and no pillows (not even sleeping ones) on the beds. The room that sold the Coworker on the house was the attic, which was a collector's dream area -Huge! Bigger than any of the bedrooms! I could see all of my stuff all organized up there....

It's funny you mentioned not being invited back, Elizabeth. We have had people over, trying to make friends in this unfriendly area, and people have always said "we'll have you over" or "let's get together" and they never do. My poor child has really suffered. She has been disappointed on numerous occasions because she believed these mothers who actually said "let's get the girls together" and we've never heard from them. I have done all the follow-ups. It's really sad. I thought there was something wrong with my child, but when we went home to Dallas last spring break, we stayed at my sister's house, where the neighbors don't know us at all, and the neighbor children fell in love with my DD. She didn't want to come back to this small city and the prejudice here and neither did I. If it weren't for my DH's job here, we'd be out in a NY minute! Okay, I got a bit off-subject! But what are forum friends for.... :)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 10:06AM
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But, Elizabeth, did you entertain your husband's coworker and his wife just so you would be invited to their house? Of course not. It's not a "competition" to outdo each other. Perhaps she is not as comfortable entertaining as you are. You all enjoyed the evening in your home, so, yes, it was a successful evening in your home, and I don't think you should think you "intimidated" them from asking you to theirs. Were your guest and the person who told you the guest said she "couldn't compete with that" gossiping about you? Do you want that kind of friends?

For years we did not reciprocate and ask people to our house after we'd been to theirs - it was too complicated for many reasons. Now we often have people over for dinner, usually without a reciprocal invitation, sometimes they take us out to dinner.
But I love to entertain and don't feel hurt - people are busy, and I am not their main preoccupation. If they start declining my invitations, then I'll wonder.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 10:16AM
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I think there are at least 2 kinds of people (of course more)--those that are really comfortable with having people over and are good at it, and those that are more introverted, less confident of entertaining skills, and/or perhaps less organized and more messy so they feel they can't get it together--but that almost all people love to be invited over. I'm in the second group, but am trying to become more like the first!

If in the second group, it's important, if you are trying to be a real friend, to try to reciprocate by creating other socializing opportunities such as taking friends out to lunch after church, sharing tickets to go to a play or concert together, or even sharing home-baked goodies or a dish that I know the person really enjoys, or plants or fresh flowers--so that's one of the ways I try to say, I care about you and enjoy having you as a friend and it's not all a one-way effort.

I don't think one has to "hide" nice things or dinnerware, but certainly there's an art to creating an evening (or other time of day) in which people feel very comfortable and the FOCUS is not on the "things". All of this depends on the relationship you have with the people--very good gourmet cook friends may be quite comfortable inviting each other over to try elaborate new dishes. "New" friends or newly arrived folks in town, folks with small kids, etc may be made more comfortable with grilled burgers or something simple. Some people are good at this naturally but it can also be studied and learned.

The same is true for the home tour--most of the time, in my circle, it is something that is either among very good friends (and this works both ways--very good friends understand closed doors as well as tours of the new house or remodeled bathroom !)-- or to indulge an excited owner of a new home. So we just have to give people the benefit of the doubt and don't try to psychoanalyze them or find ways to make their actions seem bad to justify our own. Live and let live!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 12:20PM
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