weekend free-for-all – November 2-3, 2019

a beautiful cat named Olive looks upThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Dreamers, by Karen Thompson Walker. A college student falls asleep and can’t be roused — and what seems to be a virus spread through the town, leaving people seemingly permanently asleep, while others struggle to deal with the outbreak. That sounds like horror, but it’s not; it’s strangely and beautifully done.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,409 comments… read them below }

  1. Lehigh*

    What is the etiquette around using an accessible bathroom stall if you do not have a handicap but it is more comfortable?

    I’m pregnant, and I’m noticing that in some (not all!) public restrooms the usual toilets are awfully low. It’s not like I *can’t* get up and down from them, but it’s starting to be uncomfortable. Is it okay to just go for the big stall (with often a higher toilet and/or handrails), or is that considered gauche if there are regular stalls open?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      The thing is, although it’s hard for you to use a standard stall, you still can. If you tie up an accessible stall then you might inadvertently make life really very difficult indeed for someone who can’t use a standard stall – whom you might not see while you’re in there, and whose disability might not be visible to you anyway.

      I think that it isn’t a question of being gauche, but *exclusionary*, to block the use by those for whom a facility was intended.

      Pregnancy can be disabling (GD, PGP, etc) in which case absolutely use the facilities that level the playing field. But if you’re just unwieldy and tired and needing to pee more often … well then maybe we should all be campaigning to improve ALL bathroom facilities with wider stalls, hand rails or ledges, increased numbers of stalls, and so on.

      1. Target Shopper*

        I am currently pregnant with my third child. I’ve used the larger stall when needed during all my pregnancies. For some, it was necessary earlier than others due to how I carried, how big my belly was, joint pain, etc. I’ve yet to have anyone have an issue, and have had other women direct me there when in a bathroom line because it is easier, and frankly, safer, to use the one with rails. I just am considerate and go quickly so as not to tie up the stall longer than necessary. But I do that in all bathroom stalls, I don’t want to hang out there longer than I need to!

      2. StrikingFalcon*

        Actually, as someone with an invisible disability, I would like to push back on the idea that accessibility is only for people who cannot possibly do the thing without it. “It’s hard for me to get up from a regular toilet stall” is a valid reason to use a stall with grab bars. Ability is a spectrum, it can vary over time, and people should feel free to make their lives more comfortable without meeting some arbitrary standard. Don’t hold up the stall playing games on your phone, and if someone behind you in line is in a wheelchair, maybe offer to let them go first if you can, but otherwise go ahead and use the stall, Lehigh.

          1. valentine*

            if the accessible stall makes a difference for you then use it!
            Right. The stall’s there for you. Use it.

        1. Drn*

          Yes. The idea that an accessible stall is only for people who absolutely can’t use a regular one is deeply troubling to me.

      3. Parenthetically*

        “If you tie up an accessible stall”

        The point of an accessible stall is that it’s accessible to more people than a standard stall, not that it’s exclusively for the use of people with diagnosed disabilities. When we’re talking about a 2-minute pee break, it’s silly to make it a competition among my elderly grandma, a very pregnant lady, someone who uses a wheelchair, and someone with fibromyalgia.

        1. Courageous cat*

          Yeah. I don’t think I agree that a pee break is making life “very difficult” for anyone at all.

        2. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

          +1. I wouldn’t think twice about a pregnant woman coming out of the accessible stall – that’s a person that stall is also meant to assist, in my opinion. (Granted, I tend not to think twice about *anyone* coming out of an accessible stall, which is maybe my own privilege showing as I don’t have a disability or other condition that requires one, and I don’t want to make anyone with an invisible illness/disability feel they have to “prove” it to “deserve” the stall.)

        3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          There should definitely be more accessible stalls so that there doesn’t need to be a competition. I was thinking of a particular teenager with continence issues – she is very vocal about use of the accessible stalls even for two minutes, because often she can’t wait for two more minutes. She gets upset about having to go home to clean up because a stall which is almost always unoccupied is being used by someone who could wait to use a standard stall. Her experiences definitely colour my opinion on this.

          Lehigh described a situation where there are standard stalls available that she could use, as well as an accessible stall that she would prefer. I would generally encourage people to use the standard stalls if they can, but I’m not going to question someone’s need: if you say you need it, I’ll believe you.

          When I was at my most pregnant, the greatest difficulty with public toilets came with getting through the door – in the UK they tend to open into the stall, so you often have to contort yourself around the toilet paper or sanitary bin or the bowl itself to be able to get the door shut. That said, I never found public toilets any closer to the ground than domestic toilets, whereas I did find the toilets low in general when visiting the US, so it may be a problem that varies by geography.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Because a stall which is almost always unoccupied is being used by someone who could wait to use a standard stall.
            But she doesn’t actually know that the person didn’t need the handicapped stall. Or could have easily just waited in line for the regular stall, while the handicapped stall sat empty, and would have had no problem. It’s not like the sudden desperate need for a toilet right now only strikes those in wheelchairs.

            1. Alexandra Lynch*

              Yeah, I have urge incontinence, and I can walk okay, despite the arthritis and other issues. I will be using the first toilet available to avoid having to go home and change, myself, and I’m not going to apologize for this.

          2. Strikingfalcon*

            But I honestly don’t think the point of accessible stalls is to be left open for people who are incontinent. And your teenage friend CAN’T actually tell if the person who is coming out needs it or not, or could use one of the other stalls. Disabilities aren’t always visible. Incontinence is awful, and I’m sorry she has to deal with it, but it’s not a reasonable expectation that a stall will be immediately available for any one person in a public restroom, let alone the accessible stall. And I say that as someone with both a history of Crohn’s disease and a mobility disorder. The accessible stalls are there for anyone to use, and I would like to live in a world with a lot less judging about whether I really NEED to be using accessibility features when I don’t have my cane or wheelchair with me. These features are there to be used! Let’s not debate whether any given need is more valid than another’s. If it makes no difference for you which stall you use, then sure, it’s polite to use the other stalls first if the bathroom is not busy. But accessible bathrooms, ramps, lifts, those motorized carts at the grocery store – they don’t need to be reserved only for people who are Disabled Enough (TM). Anyone who can benefit from them is free to use them.

          3. Lilysparrow*

            I think the conversation you should have with your teenage friend is about making assumptions about other people’s invisible disabilities, and how they are exactly as valid as her own.

            Unless she is the doctor or caregiver for the other person, has no idea whether they “could have” waited or “could have” used a standard stall.

          4. Observer*

            Your friend has NO IDEA whatsoever whether the person coming out of the stall could have waited or not. Does she really think that everyone with incontinence issues is also visibly disabled? Is she unaware that even otherwise healthy people can have a day where they need to go NOW or have to go home to clean themselves up?

            Also, it really is not reasonable to expect people to leave a stall always empty in case someone with incontinence shows up. Buildings generally have a number of stalls based on the occupancy. Even if the building have the required number of stalls (and you would be surprised at how many do not), leaving one stall always unoccupied because there MIGHT be someone in the building who MIGHT need the stall right now, means effectively putting the building below the number needed for reasonable access to the toilet. Telling someone who could really benefit from the stall that it’s wrong for them to use it because someone dealing with incontinence might need it some time is really, really not reasonable.

              1. SB*

                Please don’t. I realise you might not meant to “sound” so harsh (and also, English is not my mothertongue, so I might be reading it to hard), However: As a person with incontinence problems (#1 and #2, caused by a – in my case invisible, yet serious – Spina Bifida condition), even though I need to wear those pads, I will do everything I can not to soil them. It is one of the most humiliating things to happen.
                So, perhaps don’t just say “ah well, incontinent pads should just do it for you” when a person is suffering from incontinence and in dire need to go to the toilet.

                That being said, of course OP can use an accessible stall in her situation. Being pregnant can cause serious back troubles so to me it is a “legitimate” use of the stall.

                (Btw: I am very grateful that my Spina Bifida condition is not that severe and that it is invisible to most people, it does suck to get glares from others when I enter or leave an accessible stall)

          5. Heiblinger*

            It sounds like that teenager needs some education on not judging other people’s invisible disabilities, not making assumptions, and on what are reasonable expectations to have on accessibility. Hopefully you are in a position to provide some of that or point her in the right direction.

            Because at present, it sounds as if she is not being reasonable. And therefore it’s not reasonable for you to base your responses on her feelings.

          6. SB*

            I get that she can’t wait for 2 minutes in certain situations. I have SB and yes, when I feel I need to go to the bathroom it has to be now (it is also one of the reasons I really have to time-manage my “toilet breaks” when I am out, and be mindful of what I drink. All the while hoping that I don’t get any “accidents” caused by other factors. like sudden illness, or to many bumps or temperature changes, etc.)
            However 1/3 women and 1/4 will have incontinence problems in their lives. Most of the time it is temporally , but even then it sucks for those persons. So perhaps she should realise that she is far from the only person that suffers from it.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          Especially if only one of those people is actually in the bathroom heading for the handicapped stall, and the others are all purely hypothetical people not attempting to use this public restroom at the moment.

        5. Traffic_Spiral*

          ” it’s silly to make it a competition among my elderly grandma, a very pregnant lady, someone who uses a wheelchair, and someone with fibromyalgia.”

          Sounds like a great battle royale.

      4. Anonymous For This*

        Hiya, I used to only be able to use the accessible stalls and it’s likely to come to that again. Those stalls are there for whomever needs them. I can’t speak for anybody else, but personally I am 1000% fine with a pregnant person using them and don’t need them to justify it.

      5. Ugh*

        “But if you’re just unwieldy and tired and needing to pee more often … well then maybe we should all be campaigning to improve ALL bathroom facilities with wider stalls, hand rails or ledges, increased numbers of stalls, and so on.”

        And in the meantime before these universally accessible stalls arrive, pregnant women are supposed to do what, exactly? This is unrealistic and quite sanctimonious. I think it’s utterly ridiculous to be telling people that yes, their current physical condition means that they have a real need for accessible stalls but they aren’t allowed to use them because it’s not for the right reasons.

        I mean, what, is it because their need isn’t real because it’s not permanent? (In which case anyone, for example, with a broken leg in a cast should be barred from the accessible stall because hey, it’ll come off eventually?) Is it because they aren’t in wheelchairs, in which case everyone with an invisible disability or are otherwise disabled but non-wheelchair-users should get in line? Or are we just expecting mothers to start self-sacrificing before the kid is even born?

    2. Flash Bristow*

      If you need it please use it. I say that as a physically disabled person who gets peed off when I wait for ages then two giggly girls come out, champagne in hand, obviously having been doing drugs in there…

      But I recognise that not all disabilities are visible, and also you don’t need a permanent condition… If it’s what you need right then, I say use it. If I was queuing and saw you come out I’d have no qualms at all, I’d probably nod and say hi as we swapped places.

      Particularly in a pub I’m thinking of where the ladies is down some very tricky stairs.

      Just don’t leave it messy and all is cool! Please don’t worry about it. It’s a need thing, so you need it? You use it.

        1. Ethyl*

          I’m not sure why you put scare quotes around “ladies,” as that’s a perfectly acceptable way to refer to the women’s restroom in many English-speaking places.

        2. Flash Bristow*

          That was the point… People might not look disabled, but be unable to manage the stairs so they need the accessible loo.

    3. Zephy*

      I think if you’re worried about someone seeing and judging you for using the accessible stall, that hypothetical person can also see that you’re pregnant, and that is likely going to be enough for you to get a “pass,” and if anyone’s gauche enough to ask you do have a need for the higher toilet and handrails. Even in the future when you’re not pregnant, though, you’re probably fine. I think the only situation where you’d want to not use the accessible stall is if there’s a line and you’re ahead of someone with a more obviously visible disability (i.e. a person that uses a wheelchair or other mobility aid) – then you might worry about coming across poorly to others.

      It’s not the same kind of situation as an accessible parking spot; you’re not camping out in the accessible stall all day, just a few minutes.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think Zephy hit on a few key points here. First, the stall is not a parking spot, it’s not set aside ONLY for those who need it; also, if there were a line of people, the accessible stall would be used by anyone next in line. And in that latter case, a person who needed the accessible stall would still expect to wait in line for it.

        So, Leigh, it sounds like you do need it, and it’s not a contest as to who needs it most. Don’t wait until you hurt yourself or need help trying to get up off a regular toilet, go ahead and use the accessible stall!

        1. Beatrice*

          I think if I were in line, though, and someone behind me had a visible disability that obviously required the accessible stall, and the accessible stall became available, I’d let them go ahead of me and take it, rather than wait and pass on several available standard stalls while they waited for me to finish.

          1. Beatrice*

            Thinking about that more, though, I’m not sure if that’s a courtesy thing in my head, or a “keeping the line moving efficiently” thing.

          2. LilySparrow*

            Yes, that’s the normal thing to do IME. If someone urgently needs the accessible stall for an invisible reason, they can ask. Or if it’s a visible reason, people will often offer to let them go ahead.

    4. Laura H.*

      While pregnancy isn’t a disability, (and I’ve never been pregnant but I imagine it would affect balance among other things- because shifting center of gravity as pregnancy progresses) I totally understand the need for more room and no lie, as a disabled person, handrails have definitely saved me a few meetings with the floor.

      Just be mindful that you’re not the only one who needs it and as quick and safe as you can. (That goes for everybody using a public bathroom I think.)

      I’ll gripe and grumble privately, but for the most part- I know I’m likely not the only one who needs the ADA stall.

      What I wanna know is WHY it’s always at the back/ farthest point of the bathroom….

      1. Llellayena*

        The HC stall is at the back because the door is required to swing out to leave enough clearance inside. If it’s the last stall then the door can swing against the wall rather than swinging into the walk path.

        And the HC stall is not reserved only for HC people, though it’s polite to be sure no one else needs it immediately when you do. If you’ve got to go, go! I wish we could design bathrooms with 50% HC stalls because more people need them than the code expects. Oh well, it’s a goal.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Yes, +1 on ratios!

            I’m also with CCP on ratios of women’s bathrooms to men’s – so often it’s 1:1 even though for a dozen good reasons women take longer so 2:1 would be fairer. Imagine a world where every public women’s bathroom were increased by five accessible stalls … !

        1. Laura H.*

          Ah good point on that too. But I’ve seen some grab bars installed on the stall partition walls (rarer though)

    5. Marzipan*

      I am very much Team Use It If You Have A Need To Use It. Plenty of people have disabilities or medical conditions which aren’t visible, but which may be much more manageable using the accessible toilet rather than a standard stall. I don’t think they should be made to feel uncomfortable about that, and I think you equally have a current need which makes it perfectly reasonable to use it.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      I think people generally consider pregnancy a physical disability – I mean, it definitely affects your mobility and your physical capabilities. There’s a reason you are supposed to give up your seat to a pregnant woman, and though that “you can pee in a cop’s helmet” law is actually an urban legend, it’s pretty accepted that pregnant women get priority in any bathroom situation. When it comes to accommodation for disability, you don’t have to 100% *need* it in order to use it. If it helps, use it.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Short answer: If it’s physically helpful for you to use the stall, that should be enough reason. You don’t have to pass a handicapped-enough test to use stalls, ramps, automatic doors, etc.

      Longer: I would apply the same rule as when there’s a line–if someone who needs the wheelchair stall comes in, they go to the front for that stall. But you don’t have to leave it sitting empty just in case a person with a wheelchair were to arrive in the immediate future.

      My children are well into their walking years, but I’m still a bit salty that people with strollers in the US are supposed to simultaneously NOT leave the child and stroller outside the stall, where they will undoubtedly be instantly kidnapped and you’re a terrible parent, but it’s also terrible to take the stroller into the only stall big enough because what if there’s a person with a wheelchair who enters the bathroom while you’re in there? Also the baby changing tables are in there, but this factor is not allowed to weigh on your decision.

      1. HBJ*

        +1 to everything, especially your last paragraph.

        And as I mentioned downthread, I was in a Fred Meyer/Kroger (read: a huge national chain, not some one/off mom and pop) that had a toddler seat built into the wall of the handicapped stall with a harness so they could be secured while the parent goes.

        Handicapped stalls are very obviously nowadays being designed as a pseudo family bathroom as well as a handicap stall with seats like this and changing tables being placed there.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          I think the reasoning is like the airline boarding announcement: Anyone who needs extra time (space) or assistance.

          Which is all the more reason to make more of them available.

          1. HBJ*

            Yup, I wish there were more family restrooms. I’ve been to a lot of places where there is a family restroom, but it’s locked, and you have to request a key. Inevitably, the bathroom is at the back of the store, which means I have to go all the way to the front to request it at the counter. Nope, I’m not going to drag my children all the way to the front and then back again. That does not work when potty training! I just use the regular bathroom, and then they assume people don’t need it when it’s actually that they’ve made it too hard to use. :|

      2. Observer*

        Well, there are bathrooms where the changing table is not in ANY stall, which you would think is the standard.

        But, yes to the rest of your paragraph. We can be really, really weird about this stuff.

      3. Flash Bristow*

        As a disabled person it drives me crackers when the accessible toilet and the baby change are combined. Longer queues and the smell of nappies… Many places do both (the accessible loo locked with a RADAR lock) and it works fine, so….

        [Do people outside the UK have or know about RADAR locks? If not – they’re a standard lock fitted to accessible toilets, and disabled people can get a copy of the key to work it. There’s always one available (behind the bar or whatever) to those who need it but don’t have one, but it stops chancers. Until I recommended that they fit one, the ground floor accessible loo that I mentioned earlier was used by drunk people who couldn’t be bothered to go downstairs, and they left it in a disgusting state. It’s a good scheme.]

        On the subject of who is “disabled enough” – I once went to a gig and came out at the end to find huge queues for all the toilets and many people had queued for the only one I could use.

        So I went along the queue in my wheelchair saying loudly “sorry, is there anyone here who doesn’t actually need the disabled toilet?” Lo and behold the queue fell back and I was invited to go next.

        I was very polite, you know “oh thank you” “are you sure?” “Thanks, I wouldn’t ask but you know…?” And careful not to presume – although they all looked “normal” (if there is such a thing!) But it worked. And good, I was bursting!

        So instead of judging who *does* need it, do they *look* disabled, blah blah, just ask politely if there’s anyone who *doesn’t* need it and could go elsewhere. If people stay in the queue and/or ignore me, well it’s not up to me to judge so I take them at their word.

        There’s no offence caused, but you get to use the toilet that you need as early as is possible.

        [BTW When I’ve had to go Right Now… or to clean up urgently, I’ve just gone to the front and said “I’m so sorry, I wouldn’t ask but I absolutely cannot wait… May I go next?” and I find people are kind and understanding but also honest if the answer is “sorry, no!”

        In the UK we have a card you can show, which says “Just Can’t Wait! The holder of this card has a medical condition which means they need to use the toilet urgently”. It’s from bladder and bowel dot com. Although it’s not widely known, when shown to someone it tends to be acknowledged and work quite well (according to one person who visited California, it worked there too.) Maybe see if there are any schemes like this in your own area, or even make your own? It can be shown discreetly without having to advertise your need.]

        1. Ethyl*

          “Do people outside the UK have or know about RADAR locks?”

          Nope, in the US, handicap accessible stalls are generally installed in the same restrooms as regular stalls. Further, as mentioned by other posters, they are counted as toilet stalls for building code purposes and count towards the total number of stalls required based on occupancy. So in the US, at least, they are regarded as open and available to everyone.

          I wonder if this is where some of the disconnect is coming from between “never ever use an accessible stall if you don’t have to” and “it’s fine.”

        2. Grapey*

          I was once waiting in a long queue at a stadium event and a woman in a wheelchair got in line behind me. Many people offered to let her go but she just joked “my legs are broken, not my bladder. I’ll wait for the big stall when I get up there. Just avoid it if you think you’ll take awhile.”

          That said I would still offer if I see anyone that visibly needs the big stall.

    8. Jenny*

      A handicapped stall is not like a handicapped parking space. If someone comes in needing it, sure let them go first. But there is nothing bad about using an open bathroom stall if you aren’t handicapped. At large events people always just use the next open stall, but give priority to people who can only use that stall if they come in.

    9. FuzzFrogs*

      Go for the big one; you deserve to have an easy time in the bathroom. If not for the small chance that you’d fall, but even just for the chance that you’ll do any number of things I’ve done in the bathroom, including having toilet paper fly out of your hand, spilling your purse everywhere cause you stumbled, tripping on your pants leg and accidentally soaking it in the “puddle” on the floor, jamming your knee into the tampon disposal box and realizing someone’s shoved poo-streaked socks in there, etc.

      1. Zephy*

        I’m fat, so I usually go for the accessible stall just because the door swings outward and it’s easier to get in and out of the stall at all, let alone do what I need to do in there. There are several places near me that have built their regular bathroom stalls extremely efficiently – the stall is probably 20″ wide, which is maybe 2 inches wider than the door; the toilet is exactly as far away from the door as said door is wide; and said door swings inward for some incomprehensible reason.

        1. Overeducated*

          I recently got stuck in a work bathroom stall because of the door swinging inward, and scraped my very sensitive stretched out stomach on the latch getting out. For the remaining 2 weeks of my pregnancy I used the HC if it was available….

        2. nonegiven*

          I’m finding regular stalls too narrow, now, because the napkin disposal on one side and the enormous tp dispenser on the other means that I can no longer get my legs apart enough to blot myself with the tp.

        3. Diamond*

          I’m very thin and some of those inward swinging doors are still difficult for me to squeeze around. I don’t *really* want to squish my whole body up against the walls of a public toilet cubicle…

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In our building, the bathrooms were were obviously designed by the Marquis de Sade. The regular stalls are so small with bind & psper dispensers so poorly placed that a size 12 not-pregnant woman has to go in at an angle and turn twice. Believe me, if our co-worker with cane isn’t coming in behind me, I use the big stall because with vertigo my nightmare is falling in there.
      The oldest bathroom, the accessible stall has the waste disposal bin way above & behind the toilet. And the newest one, the raised seat is mismounted so it slips in to one side when used. I discovered that the hard way when *I* was pregnant, reported it, and just learned the hard way it’s still not fixed 13 years later. New facilities manager this year, I guess I’ll report it again.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Oh yeah, I hear you! That would drive me crackers too.

        In the local pub’s accessible loo (to which I keep alluding!) the toilet paper is fixed to the wall just behind the toilet in such a way that you can only reach it once you’re actually *on* the loo.

        So when drunk men used to use it and pee all over, there was no way to wipe the seat clean before sitting on it…

        Yes, the pub ticked all the boxes of what technically needed to be delivered, but…! No thought applied to practicalities!

        (I’d go and get someone from the bar to come and clean it for me. This might explain why they were so willing to fit a RADAR lock at my suggestion! Sorry, lovely bar staff…)

    11. Enough*

      You are fine. As others have said it’s not like a parking space. In fact for the building requirements it’s counted toward the total toilets required. Remember if you go somewhere with only one stall it is a handicapped stall. I have a fast food restaurant near me with this set up.

    12. HBJ*

      I use handicap stalls frequently these days. Never if someone else needs them, and I definitely don’t take my sweet time, but I do.

      I have noticed that in a large number of stalls, the regular stall is almost too small for a pregnant woman! I am not an overly large person in general, but I find myself squeezing beside the toilet and sucking in my belly as much as I can and leaning backward over the toilet to get the door closed.

      Now, I’m potty training a child, and again, it’s really hard to squeeze both of us in there. On top of that, nowadays a lot of places are putting child accoutrements in the handicap stall. Changing tables are often there (which I appreciate to protect their privacy). And, I was recently at a store (Fred Meyer/Kroger) that had a small seat that folded down from the wall with a three-point harness so you could corral your toddler while you use the bathroom, and it was in the handicap stall.

    13. fposte*

      Keep in mind that when code figures the required number of bathrooms for a building based on occupancy/use, the accessible bathrooms are included in that number, not added on separately. They’re planned for regular use.

    14. Anon Here*

      I think it completely depends on where and when.

      Are there enough people around that it’s reasonable to assume, statistically speaking, that the stall might be needed by someone who can’t use a narrower one?

      How long do you need to use it for?

      How much of a difference does it make for you?

      There isn’t a firm line between disabled and non-disabled. We all have bodies and no bodies are “normal.” So look at it from a practical angle – how does this affect your body right now and what is the probable/possible impact on other people?

      As long as you’re trying to strike a good balance between being considerate and taking care of yourself, you’re fine. If you do end up causing anyone to wait, just apologize.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        Nah, that’s too much mental gymnastics. “Does the stall have a feature that makes it easier for you to use?” If yes, then use it. If no, then pick a different stall if one is available. You don’t need to weigh your needs against other people’s hypothetical needs. Unless we’re talking about the bathroom attached to someone’s hospital room (in which case those are for the patients, there are ones for visitors out in the hallway), you can’t know how many people nearby may or may not need that stall or how their need compares to your own.

    15. OperaArt*

      I prefer to use a handicap stall because, in the US, the toilet seat is higher. In my early 60s, no obvious disabilities, but there have been a couple of times I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get off of a regular public toilet. A higher seat and/or grab bars make it so much easier. Nobody’s business about why I use that stall.

    16. MissDisplaced*

      I think that being largely pregnant, while not a disability, is a valid reason to use the accessible stall.
      Just as in if you had a temporary injury to say, you leg or foot, back, or whatever and it was easier to use the larger accessible stall during that time. That is what they are for, additional accessibility.

      Generally I try not to use them if other stalls are available. And I don’t really like to see that quite a few people use them for changing rooms.

      1. Jackalope*

        I understand the frustration with changing but I will point out (as someone who has to change into and out of bike gear at work every day), it’s not super feasible to change in one of the smaller stalls. I have had my cell phone and badge both fall into the toilet in regular stalls because there wasn’t enough room. I try to change quickly, but it can be really tough in the smaller spaces. (And if the door opens you can see easily into the entire sink area so I can’t just do it iutsiee of a stall.)

      2. Lucette Kensack*

        Nah, changing is totally legit. In most places there is literally nowhere else to change.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Fair point, but… One place I went, I entered the accessible toilet to find the grab rails used as washing lines – they were absolutely covered in clothing. So was the cistern (so full and bundled was the pile that I’m amazed it hasn’t fallen in!) and the paper dispenser. Basically every flattish surface was covered in casual clothes!

          I tried to be respectful but I had to go Right Then, so I just removed them from anything I had to use – the grab rails mainly – and put them (tidily, carefully) on the floor in a dry corner.

          Not sure what else I was meant to do?

          Sure, change in there before & after shift, but if you must leave clothes in there at least put them in a bag!

      3. Observer*

        Where else are they supposed to change? Our regular stall seem on the better side of design. But if had to change for work, it would just not be possible.

    17. Lilysparrow*

      If you need it, use it. Peek inside the regular stall first to see if they are too low.

      Your center of gravity, daily energy levels, circulation, pressure on nerves, etc is going to continue changing in unpredictable ways. Better to use it than try to “gut it out” and strain your back or fall over on the nasty bathroom floor and injure yourself.

      Other people don’t get to gatekeep whether you are “disabled enough” to use the handrail. The fact that your situation is temporary doesn’t negate your need.

    18. Mike C.*

      If someone needs that extra room, they can use the stall.
      If they don’t need the extra room but every other stall is filled then they can use the stall.

    19. ...*

      Its handicap accessible not handicap exclusive, you can def use it as long as if someone asks you to use it ahead of you you just let them regardless of if they look disabled (might have non visible issues or what not)

    20. Sally Sue*

      Pregnant is not handicapped.
      If your situation does not warrant a handicapped placard for your car, stay out of the handicapped restroom stalls.
      I am someone has multiple medical reasons to need the handicapped stall and am fed up with people who can use the regular stalls in there. This includes able bodied people and moms who take multiple kids in there making those of us who need the tall toilet, extra room and handrails wait an often excruciating amount of time. I witnessed one poor woman have an accident under such conditions. There was no issue of medical necessity, when the lady and her kids exited she said she just liked the big stall better and laughed. There were 3 people waiting for the handicapped stall at this point. She and her kids could have easily used the other stalls and have finished their potty business more quickly.
      Sure, it can be trying to corral the kids to go potty, be glad for healthy bodies that don’t have a medical need for the bigger stall.

      I think all stalls should be bigger, have hand rails and the taller toilets. A couple stalls with standard height toilets for those who would struggle with the tall toilets.

      1. Observer*

        Sorry, there are a lot of legitimate reasons for using the accessible stall that don’t warrant a handicapped placard on your car. Not being eligible for a handicapped placard does NOT equal “healthy body that don’t have a medical need.” Not being able to get up from a lower toilet, or being off balance don’t require placards but they ARE a NEED.

        As for parents with kids, given that people have literally had the police called on them for leaving their kids outside the stall, it’s pretty rich to complain when people take their kids in. And, it’s only possible to do that in the handicapped stall.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          This (to the badge for your car).

          To qualify (for a Blue Badge, in the UK) you basically need a mobility impairment – incontinence saline won’t count.

          Plus it has to be a long term need (plus, it can take longer to get a badge than it does to heal a broken leg, say). I can’t remember the time limit, but you won’t qualify if it’s only (only!) a few months before you’re back to your old self.

          I had a friend whose leg was in traction, screws coming out of the bone attached to a metal stretching device which was increased by something like half a millimetre every fortnight (ouch), but he had an end date on this treatment so he didn’t qualify either… Given how badly he walked I think that was an absolutely disgraceful rule, but anyway.

          Qualifying for a badge should not be the sole criterion on whether you can use an accessible toilet!

      2. HBJ*

        She may have been laughing because she was uncomfortable because she hates to use it in case someone else needs it, but she has no other option and was making a joke.

        You said kids, plural, so I’m assuming she had at least two. I can barely squeeze into many regular stalls (including one in a brand-new, ribbon-cutting-was-two-months-ago, presumambly state-of-the-art building) with one two-year-old, let alone hang up my diaper bag that takes up even more space and then actually be able to unfold her potty seat and crouch in front of her while she goes. (We are not large people.) Physically impossible with multiple children.

      3. Laura H.*

        Handicap stall isn’t handicap only. Again, the only thing you should do is take care of your business as quickly and safely as you can. If that safety aspect includes keeping your kids in sight, the larger, and yes more accessible stall is good for that. Or if you’re changing, or your outfit is a little more complex. Safety matters for all of us, disabled, able bodied, and everywhere in between.

        As an aside, really glad we don’t need placards to use a handicap bathroom. I have a hard time keeping track of the one for my car, and that thing is about brochure- length, and uniquely fluorescent blue!

      4. Parenthetically*

        “moms who take multiple kids in there”

        Look, my options are “take the kids with me into the accessible stall” or “leave MY TODDLERS out in the bathroom ALONE while I pee.” Either way, it’s three minutes tops.

        Accessible stalls are emphatically NOT only for the use of those with medically diagnosed disabilities of the type that get you a placard for your car, by design or by practical use, and it’s exclusionary of a huge swath of society to say “no disabled placard, no accessible stall.”

        1. Perpal*

          Pretty much; I think the poster who did this never tried to get young kids through the bathroom, or understands how stressful it is and how much cleanup can be needed if done wrong; little kids are in their own way not fully able to do a lot of things. Why can’t we tolerate and try to help everyone instead of deciding X and Ys need are not legitimate, but Zs are.

    21. Anon from the Bronx*

      Accessible stalls are handicap *accessible*, not handicap *only*. If you need to use one for your ease or comfort, or even because it’s the only one available when you get there, go right ahead.

      1. Ethyl*

        Yeah I’m pretty surprised at the folks saying you should never use one. In the US, as others have mentioned, accessible stalls are counted towards the total number of stalls needed based on occupancy. So generally speaking, they are expected, by design and by building codes, to be used by lots of people.

        1. Laura H.*

          Agreed. Consideration is nice, but not always feasible- when nature calls, you need to answer!

          I’m fortunate that in an absolute pinch and with a helping hand I can use a regular stall if I NEED to go. And in public I’m usually pretty good at pegging my bladder down so that I can wait if I need to… again I recognize my fortune in that angle.

    22. J.B.*

      So the reality is that building codes require a certain amount of accessible things but that they are often multi-purpose. Changing tables are often in accessible stalls. Use what you need and make way if someone else needs it more.

  2. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Health questions…

    1) Dr visit shows I’ve gained 3 lbs since Nov 2016/age 29; I am now 32, no kids yet. I’ve exercised daily, do yoga weekly, watch my diet, walk to work 15 min and during lunch, no diet soda, no caffeine, alcohol, Splenda/fake sugar, sugar, butter, oil, egg yolks. Lunch I bring from home: stewed veggies, 1 apple, homemade protein bites (pumpkin, nonfat Greek yogurt, chopped nuts). The doctor thinks I’m perfectly healthy (BMI under 22) but this is making me panic, especially since my dad’s side of the family has obesity issues to the point of gastric bypass. What causes age 30+ weight gain? (The only thing I can think of is crunchy pb when my stomach was unsettled due to stomach bug a few months ago).

    2) Also, we wanted to adopt a cat, but I did an allergy test showing I’m allergic to cats. Sneezing after 20 min around friend’s 2 black kittens, runny nose and slightly puffy eyes 2 hrs after that. Have spent 4 sessions in cat cafes (allergic rxn higher with kittens but just runny nose with older cats). But zero allergies to birds. Are hypoallergenic cats (Siberian or Russian Blue) an option?

    3) Am sick with a cold and both my eyes are pink and hurt. How do you cope? I’ve tried eyedrops. Might try ointment :(

    Having had 72 allergy pricks/itchiness, a cold, eye sensitivity, and cat allergy news, I will now burrow myself in the den under down blankets and knit. I feel. Like. Crap.

    1. Lehigh*

      1) Am I reading this correctly that you’re thinking you’ve gained about one pound per year? Honestly, if you’re not tracking it every day I wouldn’t put much store in this. For most–people, I think?–but at least most women, a few pounds fluctuation over the course of a month is normal & expected. 3 pounds might be just the difference between a particularly heavy and a particularly light day.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Im in team “do your clothes still fut the same?”
        Clothes have weight, as anyone knows who has packed for a vacation. Three pounds can be the difference between a sundress and winter-weight gear. And scales aren’t always calibrated correctly.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Echoing this, as it’s a really good point. Watch your clothes not the scale. I probably weight myself once a year if that. What I do check is how well my clothes are fitting me. Weight is just a number. Muscle weighs more than fat/water/whatever. I lost three sizes and the scale said I had lost four pounds because I started putting on muscle. Yes, 3 sizes and 4 pounds. Don’t get too locked into pounds, as pounds tell part of the story but not all of it.
          Your three pounds might be muscle. Uh, that’s nothing you wanna get rid of, you want to keep that.

          I hope you do use healthy oils, as we need oil for our hair, skin and even our organs. Healthy oils do a lot of different things for the body. If you are avoiding oil entirely, this might be a good time to read up and see what you might like to do.

        2. Flash Bristow*

          Was about to say that. My wedding outfit weighed several kilos, to the extent that I was curious and weighed it!

          I used to fluctuate several kilos depending on the time of the month, too – and of course time of day. Even the calibration of the scales and whether they’re on the same bit of floor as before can make that much difference.

          Carmen, it really does sound like you’re watching your weight to excess especially if your BMI is 22 – as your doctor has told you, that’s in the healthy range.

          I don’t wish to intrude or be rude but I really think you should return to your doctor, show them what you wrote here about how you manage your diet and lifestyle, and ask for their advice – not on how to lose weight, but on how to stop it consuming your thoughts. It can’t be fun having to watch what you eat so closely and I think your doctor might be able to help you find a way to deal with that. It does sound like a mental, rather than physical, issue. In the interim, it might help you to look up mindfulness techniques as they can be calming and distracting when you are worried about your weight.

          I wish you the best.

    2. An Anon*

      You did mean 3o pounds right? You said 3 first and then 30…. I think because of the exercised some of it might be muscle mass that you’ve built up – muscle is denser than fat.

      1. An Anon*

        The real question is – have you changed clothes sizes in that time? needing larger clothes? if not it really is muscle not fat.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I think 30+ was about age, not weight gain.

        +/-3lb is normal fluctuation. I think Carmen should trust her doctor.

        re 3. maybe GO TO BED. Knitting is a great form of self care but concentrating like that slows your blinking which is the last thing you need. LOVELY BED.

        Get well soon.

      3. Doubleglazed Bill*

        No, the op said what causes age 30+ weight gain.
        There is a guy on YouTube called thunderfoot, who has on various occasions weighed himself through them day not eating for a day. This showed a steady weight loss due to normal metabolism. If you way yourself one day after a meal and the next before or the other way round you can seem to loose or gain various amounts of weight. If you were slightly dehydrated three years ago and well hydrated and fed the next time it could easily make that difference. After all a pint weighs about a pound. A rhyme I learned as a kid was ‘a pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter’, but that applies to the imperial pint of 20 fl. oz. as opposed to the American one of 16 fl. oz. (Different size ounces too but that’s minor).

    3. Disco Janet*

      Your first question honestly concerns me – I mean that kindly. 3 pounds is not much at all – especially over three years! I regularly gain three pounds in the week before my period comes, and then it drops after – it’s water weight. Analyzing it to the extent of thinking about peanut butter you ate months ago is alarming, and I would consider talking to someone about what seem like food issues, and understandable concern about your family’s health history.

      Allergies are so random! I think you need to spend some time around the breeds you’re wondering about to get your answer – everyone is different.

      I’m also getting over a cold =( Sudafed helps me, but my main issue is drainage and phlegm rather than eye stuff.

      1. RandomPoster*

        Ditto this – it sounds like there is a lot of anxiety around that subject. Eating, enjoying different foods, being active and living a healthy lifestyle are all great things. But there’s a line where it can cross into an unhealthy place.

        1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          Thanks….come to think of it, I’m a week before next period.

          Also, my anxiety kind of stems from 6 years ago when my mom made nasty comments to me of her 8-months pregnant niece “OMG she’s so BIG” with a look of equal parts horror and disgust on her face.

          Never mind the part my mom barely gained weight with me to the point I stopped growing in the 2nd trimester a few weeks. And the stillbirth she had before that due to placental insufficiency? She chose thinness over healthy children.

          1. Jenny*

            Ugh okay, your mom is toxic and I would bet anything she’s sent message after message to you over the years about weight. You may have a lot of processing to do.

            3 pounds is absolutely nothing. It doesn’t even register.

            Keep telling yourself “my mom had an illness, she wasn’t healthy”.

          2. blackcat*

            My mom made crap comments about how big I was during pregnancy. I’m tiny, so I did look quite pregnant… but at the end of pregnancy, I only weighed 25lbs more than at the start. I left the hospital within 10lbs of my pre-pregnancy weight.
            She gets HIGHLY limited time with her grandchild. She can’t treat me respectfully? Then she can’t treat my son respectfully. And limited time it is.

          3. sequined histories*

            Wow. And I thought my mother was bad. I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you. I wish you all the best.
            It’s very useful to be able to recognize that your mother’s way of thinking about women’s bodies is actually destructive of human life rather than health-promoting.

          4. Not So NewReader*

            Your mom was way, way out of line for many reasons. I think you know that on the logical level. Hopefully, your cousin would just say, “If it bothers you then don’t LOOK at me. Problem solved.”

            The doc said you are fine. That is everything you need to know right there.

          5. Lucette Kensack*

            Weight can fluctuate around 5 pounds every day; if you weighed yourself every morning and ever night you’d probably notice a several-pound difference between the morning and the evening. Three pounds is not a meaningful measurement.

          6. Flash Bristow*

            OMG, I’m so sorry. Having an abusive mother – in any respect – is awfully hard. My sympathies.

          7. Observer*

            So, you need to get rid of any and all messages your mother has imparted. Please get help to do so if you need to. The reality is that it IS having a negative impact on your life. At best, you’re obsessing in an unhealthy manner over your weight and diet. At worst, you are actually eating a rather unhealthy diet. It’s hard to tell from your description, but some of what you describe is concerning.

      2. Natalie*

        I’m pretty sure my weight changes by 5 pounds in one day, depending on when I’ve eaten, whether I’m wearing shoes, etc. That small of an amount isn’t meaningful in any way, to the point that I wonder why the doctor would even mention it in the first place.

        1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

          Yeah doctors are major body shaming assholes these days, especially since obesity was declared a “disease” and the BMI is treated like gospel but it’s only one measure, and one that was designed to measure populations of animals forever ago, I forget the exact date but it’s like in the 1600s or 1800s… ugh.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            BMI is a measure of weight to height. That’s it, that’s all. It does not account for lean body mass, or bone structure, or any of the other ways bodies vary. For example, my best friend and I are within a couple of inches of each other in height. But she has a much heavier frame than I do. Her shoulders are broader, her wrists are larger.

            Yes, she’s overweight (and working on it), but BMI does not accurately reflect her actual situation, and has been used as a shaming tactic by so many medical professionals that for many years she refused to see a doctor at all. (She now, thankfully, has an excellent Nurse Practitioner, who diagnosed an underlying health condition that was making it hard for my friend to lose weight at all, which every other doctor had missed because they were too busy shaming and judging her.)

            So…any doctor who brings up BMI to me is likely a doctor I won’t continue to see.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the scale read 132 at the last visit and 135 now, which MCS JD noticed because she remembered the weight. And doctor told her it was nothing to worry about and her bmi was unchanged and that’s a normal fluctuation when she asked.

      3. Old and Don’t Care*

        All of this. Others have touched on the first issue. I’ll just say that cat allergies are VERY individual. I could tell you that my friend’s Russian Blue cat does not bother me at all, and some cats of other breeds don’t either, but I’ve been in other houses and within five minutes am asking “Where’s the cat?” That would all be true, but not helpful. If you’re looking to adopt try to spend time with the cats you would like to adopt, take them home if you can. And if you’re allergic to those, you might not be allergic to another.

    4. StrikingFalcon*

      I understand you feel anxious about this, but anxiety is not always rational. This is a really disproportionate reaction to gaining three pounds. Jumping from “I gained three pounds” to “but what if I need gastric bypass surgery someday??” is such a disproportionate reaction that I think you should spend some time exploring this anxiety, maybe even with a professional. This is the sort of thinking that can lead to an eating disorder, and I wouldn’t want you to go down that path.

      It’s good to take care of yourself, and I support you in eating a diet you feel good about, but it’s also important to know that eating fat does not cause you to gain fat. You didn’t gain three pounds because you ate a bit of peanut butter a few months ago, and it’s not healthy to be obsessing about something you ate once so long ago! How you think about food is important to your overall health, so please take some time to develop healthy habits in this area of your life too.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yeah, I follow the “don’t diagnose folks online” rule but… that mental state don’t sound healthy.

          1. Strikingfalcon*

            Yes, to be clear, I’m not saying you have clinical anxiety (I can’t diagnose that!) but just that you sound very anxious about food and weight, and it would be helpful to unpack that.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          I would agree. OP talks about health stuff almost every post. I think it’s worth exploring why she’s so freaked out by that.

      1. Jenny*

        Seconding this. Worrying about eating some peanut butter you ate ages ago is a real red flag. I say this as someone who is still pretty scrawny and got seriously underweight when I was in college (more just from being sick with mono than an eating disorder). This sounds a lot like how my mom would talk when she struggled with anxiety after my sister was born.

      2. Parenthetically*

        it’s not healthy to be obsessing about something you ate once so long ago

        Yes. Stress, obsessive thoughts, and panic around food are much, much worse for your overall health than some fkn peanut butter — and definitely also worse for your overall health than gaining a few pounds. Also not diagnosing, but also agreeing that it’s worth exploring with a body-positive therapist.

      3. Lilysparrow*

        Not to pile on, but be encouraging. You deserve to worry less and enjoy your food and body more. The worry is worse for you than a pound or two (even if it were actual weight gain).

        I suffered from orthorexia in my 20’s. I was obsessed with restricting my diet to a very short list of permitted foods, and spend a lot of time and brain space on perfecting my rules, tracking and remembering exactly what I ate and in what amounts, and tracking and remembering tiny fluctuations in my weight so that I would know whether I was “allowed” to feel good or bad about myself.

        At one point my health was affected by severe calorie/nutrient restriction, and I wound up in a very dark place mentally, where I considered that letting go of my rules might mean gaining some weight, while sticking to them was obviously damaging my health in ways that could become permanent. And I had to seriously consider whether that choice was worth making. (Spoiler: too late, already damaged.)

        Your list of “no this, no that” and catastrophizing over the risk of obesity when your 3 year weight change amounts to one good pee? You sound like me back then.

        A healthy body is not a wild animal that must be kept chained and muzzled so it won’t turn on you. Be easy on yourself. Keep doing healthy things, and give yourself some leeway. If you can remember eating chunky peanut butter months ago, then either your diet is extremely limited or you are allocating a lot of brain space to food. You can use that brain space for much more fun and helpful things.

        1. Parenthetically*

          This is a very kind, helpful, and important comment. I’d definitely encourage you to take it to heart, Mrs. Carmen. :)

        2. Ethyl*

          I also have suffered from disordered eating, to the extent where my spouse practically insisted I get some help because frankly I was unable to talk or think about anything else and he was sick of hearing about it. Your description is spot on — I could have written this myself.

          “A healthy body is not a wild animal that must be kept chained and muzzled so it won’t turn on you.”

          This is really beautiful, thank you for saying it.

        3. Flash Bristow*

          Brilliant, constructive and caring comment from someone who understands.

          Carmen, if any of the comments resonate and stick with you, I hope this one does. It’s clearly come from a compassionate place, and needs listening to. Good luck.

      4. Quandong*

        I agree with Striking Falcon, particularly as you have a family history of what sounds like a problematic relationship with food and thinness. And recent research indicates there may be a genetic component to some of these problems.

    5. Book Lover*

      I gain and lose three pounds in a day. And scales aren’t particularly accurate. Focus on eating healthy, staying active, and managing stress.

      We have a Siberian and she is amazing, but hypoallergenic doesn’t mean non allergenic. Talk to someone who has one and visit a while. Regardless you will need to wash hands after brushing or petting and avoid touching your face. We put up with the allergies because she is worth it to us (and no asthma or dangerous reactions of course).

      1. Jenny*

        Same here. 3 pounds is so small it can be the variety in water weight. A salty meal can out you up like 5 pounds.

      2. German Girl*

        Jup, me too. In the morning after going #2 I’m about 3 pounds lighter than right after dinner. And I gain and loose another 3 pounds in the course of my monthly cycle.

        That said, I absolutely understand your panic reaction. I felt similar when I bought a new scale a couple of years ago, after not owning one for a couple of years and it showed about 20 pounds more than I had expected. Oof. Well, I managed to get back to my old weight within about 2 years, just by cutting back on some unhealthy habits that had crept in, like cooking more than necessary in order to use up ingredients and then snacking on the leftovers outside of mealtimes. My eating habits are healthier now than they were before, and I was never truly overweight, so no harm done.

    6. sequined histories*

      You sound like you’re very hard on yourself. It’s good to have a healthy life style and probably nothing is wrong with your body, but if something did change about your body as a result of the aging process, that wouldn’t mean you had done anything wrong. I realize it’s more the fear of this snowballing than the 3 pounds that’s freaking you out, but what stands out here is the word “panicking.” From a distance, it seems like the panicking is the troubling aspect of this situation, rather than the weight.

    7. Marzipan*

      3 pounds is a completely normal fluctuation – I could see that much difference from day to day without it being indicative of anything.

      I would like to gently flag up how much this seems to be worrying you – would it be helpful to talk it through with someone? It’s admirable to take care of your health but if that’s becoming something that causes you a disproportionate amount of worry, then it might be worth checking in with yourself about that. Ultimately, how you’re feeling emotionally is a big part of your health, too.

    8. Justme, the OG*

      My weight fluctuates 3 pounds in a day. That amount in three years is not that big a deal to me.

    9. Sometimes Always Never*

      There’s really no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. I am allergic and have asthma, as well. And a cat. My asthma/allergy doctor works with me and completely understands my want/need for a cat in my life. He has told me, however, that on a very few occasions over the years he has had to tell a patient to re-home a pet because of the danger to that patient specifically. That said, talk to your doctor to assess the level of your allergy and whether a cat is a possibility. I did read at one point that male cats, particularly those with darker fur, are more allergenic, but I’m sure more research was needed (and more info may be out there by now). I will also say I’ve had a male black cat and a male brown cat at different points :)

      1. Gingerblue*

        I’ve also lived with cats while allergic to them. My allergies are pretty mild; as long as I’m reasonably on top of vacuuming, they don’t bother me. I don’t have cats at the moment but my parents do, and whenever I go to visit with them, I’ll have an adjustment period of a few days where I need to take Benadryl, and then I’m fine after that.

    10. Llellayena*

      Welcome to age 30 hormones. A small weight gain is normal in your 30s, the metabolism adjusts as you get older. Focus on health rather than weight with your food choices and when/if you exercise. If the numbers on the scale bother you, get rid of the scale (I haven’t owned a scale in over 10 years), you’ll know if you need to change anything in diet or exercise routine without needing to know your weight.

    11. Jaid*

      It’s the dander/saliva, not the fur, that you’re allergic to, so even if you got a hairless cat, you’d be SOL. I notice that when my cat has issues grooming herself, my hands get itchy when I stroke her, but when she’s healthy, it’s fine.
      My sympathies.
      And weight gain as you age is natural. Your hormones are shifting, the metabolism slows down. Please don’t panic. You’re doing so much already to be healthy!
      Maybe drink some tea with some ginger and orange?
      I wish you well.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        +100 on the cat thing. Many people think it’s a fur issue, but it rarely is! With your reactions, it sounds like you’d at least need to take allergy medicine daily to own a cat. It’s your call if you think that’s worth it!

        Some people are more or less allergic to specific cats (based on the cats grooming habits), so if you decide to adopt I suggest meeting several cats and spending enough time to each one individually to gauge your reaction. Might be easiest to grow through a rescue or shelter that has cats in foster homes (versus entering a r heltebuilding with 100+ cats in it!).s

    12. Parenthetically*

      Well, weight isn’t a behavior. If you eat a nutritious diet and move your body in a joyful and sustainable way, and your bloodwork is good, your weight is nothing to worry about. And the research is actually looking like it’s not just normal but positive over time to put on a few pounds — people in the “overweight” BMI category live longest — since it seems that that extra 10-20 lbs has a protective effect as you enter middle age and especially as you get into elder years. (Also as gently as I can say this, I think it’s a little bit troubling that you’re “panicking” about a three pound weight gain over three years.)

    13. blackcat*

      I strongly encourage you to seek out therapy. Three pounds is 1.5L of water, a completely normal amount to fluctuate by IN A SINGLE DAY.
      Most people start to gain weight as they age. But 3lbs isn’t evidence of anything. Seriously, that’s a big lunch, a bottle of water, and needing to take a dump.

    14. Courageous cat*

      If you think eating crunchy pb once caused your 3lb weight gain and this is making you panic, it means it’s time to see a therapist. This is not at all a healthy/normal train of thought.

    15. ThatGirl*

      3 lb is nothing. Especially over 3 years. Weight can fluctuate that much over a week due to water retention, hormonal shifts, when you last ate, etc

    16. Best Cat in the World*

      I’ve just hit target with Slimming World and we get 3 lbs grace each way before we have to start paying for classes again. It’s not a worrying fluctuation.
      And, even if you did gain a stone over a year, or more, and you were unhappy with how you felt (and that’s the key part, how feel about it, the only other person who should get to comment is your doctor if there are health problems), there are so many different diets and exercise things you can try before you have to go down the surgery route. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

    17. Wishing You Well*

      Don’t get a cat if you’re allergic. That’s like poking your immune system with a fork every day. Your immune system will get even with you in time. Don’t get a cat.
      You might have pink eye (conjunctivitis) and, if so, you are very contagious. Stay home like you’re doing.
      Feel better soon.

    18. Clisby*

      For #2 – have you had cats before? I ask because I’m allergic to cats, and being exposed to new cats can set off the sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat. It’s happened every time I’ve gotten a new cat. Typically, I take Claritin and in a month or two the allergic reaction is gone; I guess I just get used to some new version of cat dander. Of course, you couldn’t count on that; I just wondered whether you had a history of cat allergies.

    19. Grace*

      Re cats (because lots of discussion of Q1 here and much less of Q2) – different cats trigger allergies in different people, and there’s no way to know which without trying. ‘Hypoallergenic breeds’ are mostly considered a bit of a scam.

      I’ve heard of multiple people having success by going to a shelter, allergy meds on hand, and burying their faces in the cats they like until they find one that doesn’t trigger their allergies. Would take a while, but it is a way of finding a cat whose biology meshes well with yours.

    20. Vincaminor*

      I’m later 30s, have always been “acceptable thin” body type, and I have noticed change in distribution of weight and more “padding” the last few years. Metabolism changes with age, and one of those shifts is … probably right about now for you. You eat good food, you take care of yourself, please don’t stress out about 3 pounds on the scales. You may be slightly more genetically inclined to weight gain due to your dad’s side, but joining the chorus of 3lb in 3 years is not worth worrying about. (Also, as pointed out, muscle is denser and weighs more.) <3

      I used to have bad allergies including to cats, but to my own cats, exposure desensitized me. Mileage may vary.

      For colds, I recommend something to alleviate symptoms, nice hot cup of something, go to bed. :)

    21. e271828*

      2) AFAIK Russian Blues aren’t hypoallergenic. Some Siberians are reputed to be, but this varies by individual cat and isn’t reliably inherited. People have different sensitivities to different breeds, to saliva/dander/general dust (cats live on the floor, remember). Some allergic cat-lovers successfully live with Sphynxes, which are very charming personable cats (they do need to be kept warm). If you really, really want a cat, and if you are really allergic to cats, you should look for Siberian breeder who does testing for allergen production. Testing adds a premium to the cat’s price, but if that’s what you need in a cat, then you need it! I would NOT go on experience with kittens and cat cafes for a reliable metric on how allergic one is. A good breeder will understand about the allergy issue and work with you on it, allow you to visit, etc. In a worst-case outcome, you will be able to return the cat to the breeder and it will be well treated and re-homed happily.

      Anecdote, not data: I am mildly allergic, confirmed by test, but I have always had a cat. I adopted a cat last year after a move and a pet break and also invested in two robo-vacs which sweep the floors every day. I have hardwood/small area rugs, so the vacs minimize dust and dander accumulation, and I launder or hand-vacuum the cat’s sleeping spots. I have had no trouble with allergies to this cat, no perennial runny nose as before, and so I suspect that a clean floor makes for a less allergenic cat.

      3) You need to see a doctor/NP ASAP, sounds like pinkeye and it’s extremely contagious! Don’t treat it yourself, OTC will do nothing. Don’t touch your eyes. Wash your hands often. If you live with someone, they should wash their hands often and not touch their eyes/face.

    22. Mid*

      So, I’m allergic to cats. But I was adopted by a cat. No idea what she is, but she has longer hair, doesn’t shed much, and she doesn’t set off my allergies much/at all. And as I’ve been living with her more, I’ve gotten less allergic.

      So I would “test” the cat before adoption. Spend a few hours with them in a room, put your face in the cat, try to see how bad you react.

      In general, male cats have more dander than females and shorter hair is worse than longer hair. But it seems super arbitrary overall. Siamese set me off really bad, personally. I had two stray street cats that were identical, likely same family, and one gave me hives and the other didn’t. So it’s mostly trial and error.

      1. Fikly*

        Or foster the cat! Many shelters are happy to let you foster a cat for a few weeks to see if the living situation will work for all (worst case scenario, the cat gets a break from the shelter) and then if it doesn’t work, the cat goes back, and if it does, you adopt!

    23. Andream*

      I would not get a Siberian, as they are more fluffy and the hair may cause more problems. I would try to get a short haired cat and stay away from simease because they cause allergies. I have part simease and when I’m done brushing them I have to wash up because they cause my eyes to water and itch. But I love them.
      If possible you can try getting allergy shots. They worked well for a friend

    24. I'm A Little Teapot*

      2) I don’t test allergic to cats, but I do react to some cats. Just some. Of course, mine is one of them. But no, there are no “hypoallergenic cats”. There may be individual cats that you react more or less to. You may find that you’re generally better or worse with long/short hair, etc. Actually, for me, color seems to be a factor. All of the cats I’ve reacted to were black, but it’s not all black cats.

      3) Um, that sounds like pink eye which is extremely contagious and often requires treatment. Call your doctor/nurse and ask.

    25. OhGee*

      Re: weight, you’re fine. You’re getting older. Your metabolism is slowing, so you’re gaining a (teeny tiny!!! I cannot emphasize teeny tiny enough here) amount of weight. I’m 38 and have gained about 30 pounds since I turned 30, largely due to reproductive health issues leading to several emergency surgeries. And you know what? I’m STILL a healtht size and shape, and when I try to lose weight, nothing happens. I fluctuate by about 5 pounds and that’s it. I understand worrying about this, because I did, but that’s largely due to cultural pressure. Even if you did become obese, obesity doesn’t mean poor health, and it certainly doesn’t immediately equate with needing gastric bypass surgery.

      Also on point 2: I have two Russian Blues, and they’re not completely hyopallergenic – you will still likely experience itching/other allergy symptoms. We keep a very nice air filter and a cat-free guest bedroom so friends with severe allergies can visit us in relative comfort but a cat in your face/lap will usually cause symptoms.

    26. lobsterp0t*

      3lb in your early thirties is normal. You can’t speed up your metabolism with exercise or restrictive diets. Unless there is a non weight related medical reason to cut all those things out, there isn’t any nutritional science out there to suggest that extremes and restriction are helpful or effective. My weight fluctuates more than 3lb in a week due to stuff like hydration and pooping and water retention. And the BMI is a pretty unhelpful indicator of health, and definitely not a useful diagnostic tool if no health indicators like cholesterol or blood glucose are causing concerns

      Sounds like you’re having some major discomfort and that always makes me feel gross in my body – hope the temporary things pass soon

    27. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      Regarding the eye thing, are your eyes themselves itchy, or do your eyelids feel swollen or weird? I am definitely not a doctor, but I have The Most Sensitive Eyelids of All Time, and I recommend doing a warm treatment on your eyelids to see if that helps. You can heat up some water and dip a washcloth in (test it first! no scalding your eyelid) and hold it to your lid for about ten minutes, re-dipping whenever the heat goes away in the washcloth. Another option is a gel eyemask (can be purchased from most well-stocked drugstores) that you can microwave for approx. 15 seconds and then put over your eyes for about 15 minutes. Try that and see if your eyes feel better!

    28. BelleMorte*

      I think you may be thinking of Bengals. They are a bit less allergen inducing and generally don’t shed. You should probably visit a breeder for specific breeds and see whether or not they trigger your allergies. My husband is allergic to cats, but our Bengals don’t trigger him at all. It really depends on the person.

  3. Zephy*

    I have to miss my stepsister’s wedding today, because I have to be at that place we don’t talk about on weekends. I’d rather be up there celebrating with her, but the powers that be insist that I must keep this chair warm and run up the power bill for 8 hours.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Oh I’m sorry. I hope you get a chance to celebrate with her and the newly minted spouse soon.

    2. JKP*

      Can anyone there Facetime or Skype with you a little bit during the reception? We’ve done that at other weddings when someone couldn’t come, and it helped them feel included.

  4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Started my weekend in the emergency room with middle child and a minor head injury – which also means we’ll have to miss the Halloween party tonight.

    (child is basically fine and needs no sympathy as was mucking about and knocked own head)

    Keeping fingers crossed for an uneventful remainder of the weekend …

    1. Mr. McGillicuddy*

      Glad your kid is ok. I hope the ER bill is covered by your insurance as most hospital’s ERs are rapidly increasing their charges.

      I was having abdominal pain and went to Stanford hospital ER. After talking with the doctor and having him palate my abdomen, I was given an enima to relieve my constapation.

      The bill was $55,000 for the services I received. I was lucky that I had already met my out if pocket for the year, otherwise I would have been charged 10% plus $500 ER visit.

      1. red fish boo fish*

        I’m not american, but whenever americans talk about healthcare prices …. it’s shocking to me. Shocking. You would have been charged $6k for … some stomach poking. I hope your symptoms were relieved, anyway.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Thanks, he’s been much perkier as the day has gone on.

        England, NHS, so the full bill is £3 for parking (and in Wales and Scotland the parking is free). I can’t begin to imagine having to worry about medical bills when deciding whether or not a child needs to go to hospital.

      3. I'm A Little Teapot*

        My mom had emergency surgery on Sunday about 11pm a few weeks ago (appendix). CAT scan, blood testing, IV’s, ambulance ride between hospitals, then the actual surgery…. I’m sure that bill is going to be sky high.

  5. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Question: has anyone here done a course of EMDR therapy?
    I’m interested to hear any and all experiences you are willing to share. How long was the course of treatment? In what ways was and wasn’t it helpful to you? How did you feel on the day of a session?

    1. Randomity*

      Yes. I have various previous traumas and had EMDR from the end of last year until a couple of months ago. Having said that, probably more than half of that time was prep work before the EMDR actually started.

      It was on the NHS so I couldn’t work on everything and had to choose a couple of main areas to work on. I chose trauma around my 2nd trimester missed miscarriage and related trauma around pregnancy and birth, and around my abusive ex and his refusal to talk about decisions that negatively affected me while we were married (deliberately not giving details for privacy).

      It wasn’t fun to revisit the trauma, but i liked and trusted the woman I was working with. She made sure I was ok before leaving all sessions and worked to ensure I had techniques outside of my appointments with her in case the traumas came back. I found that I was tired after the sessions but not as exhausted as most people seem to be. I had disturbing weird dreams afterwards, but I was also on ADs that gave me disturbing weird dreams, so it’s hard to know what was caused by what.

      I am still very sad about the stuff that happened, and I will always be, but it’s not as horrific as it was (and it was truly horrific). As a side effect, there were some songs that I couldn’t listen to because they had very strong associations with my ex in my head and I got really distressed listening to them, even though they were songs I knew and loved before I knew him. I can listen to them now and the painful associations have gone. I didn’t do any work on that; it’s just an amazingly good side effect.

      She used a pen that she rapidly shifted from side to side rather than any of the tools therapists can use.

      I still think that on the surface it looks like a ridiculous woo-woo therapy that cannot possibly work, but ohmygod it does. It’s like magic. Hard work but magic. Does that help at all?

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Hi! Thanks so much for sharing; this is quite helpful. I know the theory on it but wanted some real-life experiences from individual people to know more clearly what I might expect.
        Glad it helped you so much!

    2. Hazelnut Coffee*

      I did EMDR on a regular basis(every week for the first year and every other week after) for about 3 years. I had PTSD and it was used for the traumas I endured. I enjoyed it in a sense of being able to find some relief for my traumas. After a session, I was in a weird state-completely empty of feelings(nothing bad), just kinda numb. At first I would cry erratically after the session(I’m not the crying type). This was usually triggered by someone making a negative comment about anything. I worked through about 4 traumatic issues/events during my time. The first took a month, the next about 9 months, an ongoing one that took nearly two years, and the last a few months.

      I did have to switch therapists a few months in(they took a sabbatical) but we worked through the first issue and made it halfway through the second. The first was fresh out of emdr training and did all the bells and whistles so to speak. She used the headphones and light bar. The next therapist used her hand in place of the light bar and no headphones. My personal preference would be light bar and no headphones. I felt it took longer for us to work through some things because she used her hand.

      I could still be going to resolve a few lingering things but I relocated and the therapists that do emdr have an extremely long waitlist where I moved.

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Thank you for sharing! It seems my plan to schedule only rest-and-chill time afterwards would be good.
        The therapist I am going to (had an intake and now have the first EMDR appointment scheduled) is very experienced, which does make me feel better. I don’t have a personal preference for medium at all… Can you say more about what the difference in headphones vs hand meant to you? Wat it was better vs worse?

      1. Kuododi*

        I’ve attended a couple of CEU trainings on the subject. It’s a resource to provide support for PTSD, and/or anxiety symptoms in a short period of time. (Couple of weeks to a month and a half was the time line we were given during training). It’s a tool to help with recovery, not a magic bullet. Hope this helps.

    3. Lulubell*

      I would be interested to hear as well. I went to a therapist who did EMDR for about a year. She mostly just moved her finger back and forth and had my eyes follow them. While I think the therapy in general was helpful to talk through things, I never noticed any particular benefit from the EMDR. Though it’s possible it helped without me realizing. My therapist was an intern and I often wondered whether she was really skilled enough to help me. She did help in the room but overall I did not notice any patterns shift. I stopped going after a year because of this. But overall, I would say that the least memorable/notable part of the whole thing was the EMDR. I’d be interested to hear other experiences.

    4. Reba*

      I did it!

      I did not have a severe situation, i.e. Not diagnosed with PTSD but having some lingering anxiety and intrusive thoughts about a nasty event.

      My therapist presented the option–i believe she had recently trained in it–and we said, what the heck let’s give it a try!

      My regular therapist did three sessions of EMDR, during our normal meetings.

      During the actual treatments, I felt… Silly! What are we doing?! She led me through a kind of controlled remembering of the event, similar to like a guided visualisation meditation, and then did the eye movement tracking.

      Then I would go home and sleep like a log.

      I do think it helped me, but it’s not like a switch was flipped. It was part of a longer, multiple-topic course of therapy.

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Thanks for your input! Glad to hear from someone who did not have a PTSD-diagnosis (as I also don’t have PTSD).
        Did you feel tired at all during the day after your appointment, or just sleep more soundly at night? My first session will be in the morning. I am probably taking the entire day off work.

        1. Reba*

          Hm, I don’t think I remember well enough to say. I was a graduate student at the time so I wasn’t really keeping a very regular schedule. I think taking the day off might be a good idea until you know if this is going to affect you in some way.

          I hope it helps!

    5. Vistaloopy*

      Licensed clinical psychologist here. Full disclosure, I do not do EMDR, and am very wary of it, but with good reason. Research (component studies examining each part of the treatment) has shown that the “eye movements” are superfluous – they add nothing to the overall therapy. The part of EMDR that IS effective is exposure – talking about your trauma, examining they ways you think about it, etc. But you don’t need EMDR to do this – you just need a competent therapist to help you process your traumas. Hope this helps!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Mental health professional myself. I feel it might be of added benefit in my situation. Not looking to rethink it, as biting this bullet took a long time and previous talk therapy only got me so far. I am mostly looking to hear from people who did do it, and what it did for them (or not). I am nervous about it and want to know what to expect specifially and individually, in terms of, for example, the exhaustion and crying spells others mentioned.
        So thanks but no thanks on the theoretical input! I can tell you meant to be helpful, but I would like not to have to defend my choice / the thing that made me feel hopeful against a research summary (which is what it felt like to me anyway).

      2. No Name Yet*

        +1 Also a licensed clinical psychologist, and I have the same thoughts (and reasons) as Vistaloopy. If you have/find a therapist you feel comfortable with and are doing exposure-based therapy, those are the keys – whether it’s EMDR or another type of therapy.

        1. Vistaloopy*

          I don’t mean to make you feel defensive. From your original post it wasn’t clear you had already decided on EMDR. It appeared you were trying to make an informed choice, so I provided info. As I said, the treatment as a package is effective; it’s just that the eye movements/tapping are not necessary. That is important information that would help someone making a decision about treatment. But you are of course free to disregard it. As far as I’m aware there is not evidence that the eye movements are harmful, just not necessary.

      3. lobsterp0t*

        That is true but I still found it valuable. The experience of using EMDR as part of my therapy helped enormously. I was able to get at things and talk about them in ways I never had previously.

    6. Astra Nomical*

      I’ve done it and got absolutely nothing out of it. But I also don’t think it was administered properly, and I think I’m in the minority. It’s different for everyone, but I’ve heard lots of positives from others.

    7. Always Sciencing*

      I’ve done it twice, once for PTSD and once for grief. I was really skeptical prior to trying it but figured what the heck, might as well try it. I did ~10 sessions for the PTSD and it was life-changing. I’ve recommended it to quite a few people since then because I found it so effective. My psychologist used vibrating, handheld paddles that I found much better than tapping or watching a moving object (we tried a few things the first session to see what worked for me).

      Taking time off afterwards is a good idea as I did find that sometimes I was tired, exhausted, or just wanted more time to process things on my own, after the first few sessions.

      I hope it’s helpful for you. If feasible, try different methods to find the one that’s best for you. Even with the paddles the speed and strength of the vibrations made a difference for me – some settings were totally distracting.

  6. Flash Bristow*

    Hi all! How ya doing?

    I’ve been reading for months now and always loved the little icon of Alison in the top left; I think logos are great and hers is fab… but this week I suddenly noticed she has something blue in her left hand!

    Alison, what *is* it?

    First I figured it was a horn (that you can use like a megaphone), then I thought no! It looks more like a remote control! Eep! And after that my only guess was a rolled up folder, perhaps for bipping offending workers over the head…? ;-)

    Before Alison gets time to respond (if able, obv), do any of you have better guesses? Had you even noticed the blue thing?

    And so finally I guess my question is – Alison, have you got the horn?

    (Sorry! But I’m genuinely curious, it’s been bugging me all week and I’ve been waiting for the non-work thread to pop up so I could enquire!)

    Have a fab weekend, all, from a rather wet & windy London. Stay safe and warm everyone!

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Wow, quick responses!

          That’s me educated! :D

          Thanks all. Been bugging me for days (but hey I don’t have a lot else to do in the week!)

          Cheers all, have a lovely weekend.

    1. Regular Lurker*

      I’ve always thought it looked a little like a dunce cap but now I realize that might be too harsh.

      1. tape deck*

        This comment made me laugh out loud!! It is harsh, but…not too harsh for some of the people we hear about!

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Thanks Alison!

        And it is a great logo / icon. Just can’t believe I hadn’t noticed you were holding something, over all the time I’ve been reading!

  7. Anon woman with breast cancer*

    A huge thanks to this amazing community. I had my first chemo (FEC drug regimen) on Wednesday. Feeling good, eating normal, and the tumour was tingling yesterday. Nurse called to check in and said that is a good sign, seems it is working to shrink the bastard. I am hopeful in my treatments and will work out the finances soon I hope, too.
    Thank you all for the suggestions and encouragement. Also I got a wig which I love, so when or if the hair falls out I have a decent hairstyle to wear, too.
    The sad news was my closest friend lost her doggo at 4am on Thursday, after 12 years together. I loved the pup to and was sad that I could not say goodbye.
    Hope everyone has a great weekend.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      Oh I’m sorry… I’m a dog person and these things get me too.

      But I’m glad it sounds like your health is going in the right direction. Good luck and keep us updated.

    2. fposte*

      That’s great news that you’re getting such immediate response! Hope treatment continues to go well.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks, me too. Just ate another banana with peanut butter and today had split pea soup, so I am feeling good. :)

    3. Breast Solidarity*

      My tumor really ached after my first four cycles, and it has shrunk a LOT, so I do think it is a good sign!

      Hang in there, ask for help and don’t feel guilty about needing help (still working on that one myself)

      Where did you find a gorgeous wig?

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        AHA – good to hear this from you too – great news on tumour shrinkage signs. :) The wig I got from a local hair salon, they order wigs from some manufacturer nearby for cancer patients and older women who have lost hair. I like it, though it is warm which will be good for winter. :)

        1. Breast Solidarity*

          They are warm! I lost my hair in July :( I do recommend getting a bunch of those bamboo or cotton wig liners caps. They help with the itching and also if you sweat due to the heat. I am glad you have some place local to get a good wig! I had to order off the internet, which wasn’t great.

        2. Breast Solidarity*

          PS. Chemo sucks, for me each round has gotten worse with the side-effects, BUT it works. And I am recovering from my last round, which hit me hard, but still getting daily walks and not miserable most of the time.

          If you get the pre-meds that have that nasty taste (or if you have a port and taste the flushes) lemon drops are magic. Pop one when you know the nasty tasting stuff is coming :) Jolly Ranchers would work too.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a big woo hoo!!! You have been in my thoughts and I’m glad to see your update!!

    5. Kuododi*

      Mazel Tov!!! You’ve been in my thoughts and heart the past few weeks. Delighted to hear things are trucking along without a bunch of drama. Personally, I started radiation last Wednesday. No major crises however I do find myself with a moderate case of poor equilibrium a respectable headache and my left breast feels achy as if I were in the midst of a menstrual cycle. I do hope that your treatment will continue in a positive direction. You are in my heart.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Awww, I am glad that the radiation has started, that much closer to the finish. I hope the next rounds get easier for you too, and I will send you positive vibes for easier recovery. Hugs too!

    6. Queer Earthling*

      I’m sorry about your friend’s dog.

      I’m glad your first chemo went well and you’re eating well. My spouse finished chemo in August. It feels like forever when you start but it really isn’t. Good luck!

  8. Valancy Snaith*

    I thank you all for your advice and suggestions for my mom. She passed away Thursday evening in hospice, very peacefully.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      My condolences. I’m glad it was peaceful. (I’m not sure glad is the right word, but I can’t think of another.)

    2. Flash Bristow*

      I’m glad it was peaceful, I never knew what that meant until I lost a dear relative myself. Best you can hope for.

      My sympathies, I hope the coming days are not too hard. Best wishes.

    3. patricia*

      I came here today to check on you. I’m sorry for your loss but I hope you have more peace. Thinking of you and your dad.

    4. Overeducated*

      I’m so very sorry. I hope your time with her at the end was as good as could be hoped for you both.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sympathies and may you and your family continue to have support in the physical world and online.

  9. Nessun*

    Just about to join my guild mates for 25 hours of gaming for charity! Extra Life 2019 here I come – wish us luck…it all goes to local children’s hospitals.

    1. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

      Extra Life seems like such a great event, I’d love to get involved with it someday. Great work to you and your guild mates for getting involved! GLHF!

  10. BeanCat*

    Kind of continuing from yesterday I woke up this morning in such a funk. I was tired, grouchy, and just all over sad.

    Shook it off and went for a run so strenuous my lungs burned. It helped me be in the moment for sure!

    But there’s good things coming down the pipeline outside of the M-F place: I finished my first zine piece, I’m going to D&D with friends today, and I’m doing a video share art session with my friend from Denmark tomorrow!

    Our wedding is mostly planned too, which is also helping :)

    I hope everyone’s weekend is going well so far!

    1. Lemonish*

      I know exactly that funky feeling that shows up some mornings, especially this time of year. Do you live somewhere that the days are getting shorter? I got a SAD lamp for Christmas last year, and it’s been a real game-changer. This past week, the days were suddenly so much shorter (time change) and the weather was drizzly and grey – I moved my SAD lamp into my office and used it for the whole morning (instead of just having a cup of coffee in front of it first thing), and it really made a difference in my mood.

      1. Jackie*

        Do you know if you can use a SAD lamp if you have cataract ? I had heard it might not be good for that.

      2. BeanCat*

        I’m a New Englander; soon enough I’ll be able to watch it get dark while I’m at work :’) I’ve wanted to get one of those for a while! It’s just pricey right now with a wedding around the corner. But if it’s for my health, maybe I should invest. Thank you for the suggestion!

  11. sequined histories*

    I always look forward to the Saturday kitty pic! Just look at that little face! Such a pretty kitty.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      I always wonder where she magics so many from – and, wot no Halloween outfit? I was visited by kids as cats, so…? :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Voluptuous hair, big greeneyes, and a coat of many colors — she’s dressed as Dolly Parton!

  12. Disco Janet*

    I am struggling so much with keeping my house clean. We have two kids, ages 4 and 6 (and the 6 year old is on the autism spectrum), I have a job that requires doing extra work after I get home from work (high school English teacher – it’s hard to get much done when you have 150 essays to grade), so by the time I’m done with that I just want to relax a bit and have time with the kids. I need to figure out a schedule and a way to stay on top of things. Any suggestions – particularly from others with little ones and long work hours?

    I realize this is super vague…I just feel like I’ve gone through the cycle so many times where I clean furiously during school breaks and get everything nice and organized, try to get rid of clutter and things the kids don’t play with anymore, swear I’m going to stay on top of it…and within a month or two it’s a big mess again. I think my struggle is a combo of lack of motivation and feeling overwhelmed (not helped by the fact that I recently started depression meds and am feeling tired as a side effect, but the medicine isn’t actually helping yet.)

    1. Teapot Translator*

      You don’t mention your partner? What’s the dynamic there? Are they able to help out or do they also have too much work?
      I mention below that I’ve finally decided to get outside help. I’m not at all in your situation, but maybe look at your finance to see if you can afford to get outside help from time to time?

      1. Disco Janet*

        Ah, sorry, should have included that! My husband works 60 hours a week and we’re definitely a team – he does most of the laundry, we alternate taking care of the dirty dishes, etc. It’s just the kids’ toys, school papers, junk mail…lots of little things that quickly seem to multiple into a huge mess.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          How often does he help with the little things? The constant work of putting clutter away? That’s a huge chunk of work if only one person’s doing it and the other person gets to “switch off” after a set list of chores is done.

          1. Disco Janet*

            We equally suck at putting clutter away. He doesn’t get home from work until 6:30, so it’s eat dinner, give the kids baths, and then squeeze in a bit of time with them before 8, when they go to bed. At which point we do some laundry, clean up from dinner, make sure everything is ready for the following day (lunches made, any forms that came home with the kids signed, go over any info from the ABA therapist the one on the spectrum sees a few times a week, etc.), and then either go straight to bed because we’re exhausted or squeeze in an a little bit of TV time together before bed.

            I guess I’m feeling pretty worn down by life in general, now that I’m typing all this out =/

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Can you purge some clutter? Possibly with the help of a friend or relative who lives for this stuff? It really does increase your available storage space, making it easier to pick up.

    2. Flash Bristow*

      Is there ANY way you could hire a cleaner, just for one morning a week? I’ve done that (with personally recommended people, not agencies) and although I felt shame, I got “I understand! That’s life! That’s what I’m here for!”

      The first month, every week was blitzing a room. Thereafter it was maintaining them.

      Sure, each cleaner has had odd habits and I’ve had to say “I appreciate what you’re thinking of, but I really don’t want it” or “we have limited time and I’d rather you spent it on x” – be it ironing underpants or making me a container to hold my pens from the recycling…(!)

      But it has always worked out. I’ve just always checked that they are self employed and covering their own tax, yes? Or should I register them?

      But yeh if you can squeeze the money to get someone in, after a few weeks of learning what goes where it will be such a weight off!

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Btw they tell me they are self employed and paying their own taxes (UK) so I get them to sign to that effect then pay the relevant amount…. If employee I can do that but then I have more expenses and to deduct tax so they get the same take home as they would after expenses of self employed… (I’m generalising, there’s also insurance, NI etc but you get the idea – they’d end up with the same money at the end of it).

        I suspect one or two have just pocketed and not declared, but I have signed records of hours worked, amount paid, and whether they are self employed or not and who covers what… So I hope I’m covered. If they say they’re sorting it, do I have to ask for proof?

        Uh oh this is getting into the realm of work! On a Saturday! So please ignore and take it as the fyi and metaphorical statement it was intended to be!

        *Zips mouth*

      2. Disco Janet*

        I have thought about this – my concern is that there’s so much clutter right now they would have a hard time cleaning! Although I know there are cleaners who help with that stuff too. I should look into it – my husband is definitely a penny pincher when it comes to things he thinks we can handle ourselves, but I think that at our current stage in life it has passed the point of what we can reasonably handle.

        It sounds like you have some interesting stories from your cleaner, ha!

        1. Jen Erik*

          We always had a cleaner, just one morning a week, and she never tidied (we never asked, though) but part of the reason it worked was that it forced a schedule upon me: that morning I had to have the whole house tidy so she could clean, so I did. External motivation rather than internal motivation. My husband did resent the cost at first, and occasionally gave me a hard time about ‘cleaning for the cleaner’ but it really worked for us. It is a luxury, but I’d rather have had that than other things, like eating out. If you can manage it, you could try for a month and see if it helps.

        2. Auto Generated Anon*

          Two working grownups & two similarly ages kiddos. You are not alone. Lots of clutter here! At this age the kids add soooo much at my place, the cycling through clothes, toys, shoes. The evaluating what you recycle/dispose of, keep for the next one, donate, pass to friends, is daunting. At least for me.

          Cleaner once a week for Floors, kitchen, bathrooms. They change bedding every two weeks. For the first couple visits just pick stuff up and shove it places. It’s normal at our place to do a combined 45 minutes of pickup once a week the night before the cleaner.

          Some will charge more for the first few visits because they expect that it’ll take longer, you are not alone.

          If family isn’t at home much on weekdays, try and have the cleaner early in the week, like Monday or Tuesday. Because then your house stays reasonably neat all week.

          And, as, I love to say. A cleaner an expense, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a divorce.

        3. CAA*

          One way to look at it is to use the house cleaner to free up the time you and your partner currently spend cleaning so you can devote that to decluttering and tidying instead. Get them to do the bathrooms and the dusting, sweeping and vacuuming (even if they currently have to dust, sweep and vacuum around the clutter). Then you spend the amount of time you were working on those things doing the tidying and organizing.

          Remember it doesn’t have to be done all at once. It’s an ongoing process. Make it part of the kids’ routines as well. Maybe this is your Friday after school activity that you all do together for a half hour, or your Saturday morning before-we-go-grocery-shopping thing. You can sing while you work or have contests to see whose bedroom will be the neatest when they’re done, or whatever would motivate them.

    3. WellRed*

      If it’s mostly clutter you’re worried about, can you block out 15 mins a day or an hour on Saturday or whatever makes the most sense. Kids can corral their toys, you can straighten papers etc. I might recommend just pitching junk mail as it comes in but that’s easier said then done( eyes towering pile).

    4. Not a bot*

      I know teachers that just do the basic chores during the term and then a full deep clean each holidays. Is that something you you could look at? As far as keeping things tidy, I bought big plastic laundry hampers (1 for each person in the house) and keep them in the lounge and put things I find laying around in them. When they’re full, I give the kids a timeframe in which to empty/put them away before I’m going to throw them out. As for the floors, I bought a Roomba and tell the kids that “anything Roomba ‘eats’ is mine and going in the bin” (I give them a warning a little while before I turn Roomba on).

      1. Disco Janet*

        I like the laundry basket idea! Will give it a try. And I’ve been considering adding a Roomba to my Christmas list.

        I pretty much do what you’re suggesting with basic chores during the term and full deep cleaning each holiday – but with there not being any breaks between Labor Day and Thanksgiving (which is a pretty short break), this tends to be the time of year when it really turns into a mess.

        1. e271828*

          The threat to throw out everything in the laundry basket will be an empty one unless you are stone-cold ready to deliver. A toy basket for each kid might work if you get the kids on board in using them. Make it a rule to pick up before supper! Use the clean-up song if you have to! If there are toys the youngest has outgrown, is it possible to retire those? Would the kids be on board with sorting through their toys in anticipation of Christmas and donating the ones they’ve outgrown or don’t really enjoy? You could set them an example by doing a cull of your books or clothes? I think Marie Kondo has some good ideas for helping kids be organized and tidy.

          Junk mail. The only way to win this one is to be ruthless. If it isn’t real mail, bin it immediately. I reduced junk a lot by telling charities and organizations to stop sending me paper mail and also by telling them not to share my name. Catalogues, I call the 800 number and get taken off the list and tell them not to share my name at the same time.

          A lot of keeping on top is just figuring out the choke points and adopting a habit to thwart the clutter before it hits the floor, wall, or counter (or in the case of junk mail, before it enters the house). Kids’ drawings and worksheets for example—one in one out. And finally, yes, having a cleaner come in can be essential for keeping up. You and your husband are flat out and the children are a little small for chores yet (though 6 can certainly tidy their own toys and sort socks).

          1. Disco Janet*

            You’re so right about thwarting the clutter in advance – I’m awful about getting distracted by the kids as I’m walking in the door and just setting down the mail wherever I happen to be standing. Takes half a second, builds up to a huge pain.

            Last time I did a big clean, I did end up throwing away some toys they were instructed to put away and did not, so I will carry through on that threat. (I’m just strategic in that when it comes to things like the kid’s lovey that they’d have a meltdown without, I’ll toss it on his bed for him – that one is not worth the battle/message/devastation!)

        2. KR*

          I’ll caution you with a Roomba that if you go cheap, you’ll spend a lot of time cleaning the Roomba out. Hell, my friend has one of the expensive ones and she’s had to take it apart multiple times. We both have two dogs who are big shedders, though, so that might not apply to your situation. And of course technology is always getting better.

      2. red fish boo fish*

        I’m probably the only roomba-hating person in the world. I found the roomba more work because you really have to de-clutter the floor. With a regular vacuum I kick the clothes out of the way.

    5. sequined histories*

      Honestly, as a fellow high school English teacher, I think you’re doing really well! Your house will always get dirty again, but your children will never be young again. If no one else in the household can clean more, hiring someone a few hours a week would be nice if it’s financially possible. Otherwise, I would recommend just saying to yourself, “ I’m prioritizing my children and my job.”

    6. Llellayena*

      Use the kids to help. Some of your kid play time can be “how many toys can you put in this box in 5 min” or “how many books can you pick up.” Eventually it should become routine and you can move on to other chores. I can’t guarantee this will work as I have no kids to try this out on, but it sounds reasonable to me!

      1. Auto Generated Anon*

        We’ve tried this with our kids. Did not work for us. Most nights we have 2 hours between getting home and bedtime. Add dinner and homework, throwing in a potential battle over cleaning up just isn’t happening.

        Kids pick up if they have big project / messes out before bed and on weekends. They’re doing more as they’ve gotten bigger, but the blitz concept *with* kids was sooo much work for me.

        1. valentine*

          It doesn’t have to be a blitz. It can be a routine, complete with theme song, if necessary. Have a box or boxes in each room, bonus if they double as benches or tables where they can do their art. The kids are old enough to put their stuff away every night, if that’s the kind of life you want. They can also roll and put away their laundry.

          Definitely declutter to a point where daily tidying is possible. Just as you take your plates to the kitchen, homework goes in the bag by the door, etc. And consider meals and baths part of your time with the kids. There’s no rule that that time needs to be unstructured or absent of basic necessities.

      2. Koala dreams*

        Also, look over how you store the kid things. It helps when the book cases and boxes for toys are all the height suitable for kids. My friends with kids have had some luck with getting their kids (around 2 years old) to get and put back their books that way.

    7. Natalie*

      I didn’t have kids but I can’t think of any reason this wouldn’t work with kids – I used UFYH’s 20/10 idea and did it once or twice every day until it became a habit. You could split 20 minutes between you and your partner easily, and then maybe supervise one kid each for 10 minutes while they tidy?

      Marathon cleaning is kind of a trap, I think, it’s so exhausting and time consuming that you avoid cleaning for a couple of weeks, and then you have to marathon again.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m not naturally tidy (compulsive on the paid gig, but no one pays me at home ), for me there’s a late-diagnosis ADD factor too, lots of bad habits to unlearn.
      I unabashedly turn to Internet organization resources. I use some Flylady routines (but wish she’d go back to her old simpler Web design, and I long ago gave up on the emails); I adore Dana K. White’s “Decluttering at the Speed of Life” (haven’t spent much time on her website a slob comes clean dot com). I won’t do a full KonMari on my home but I like Marie Kondo’s ways of deciding whether or not I like an object enough to keep it. I used to use the habit hacker site before it redesigned.
      And there are Facebook groups for housekeeping that are communities similar to this one but with a very different focus.
      That said…off to do a few household tasks before letting myself read more here.

    9. Mr. McGillicuddy*

      Your kids are at the age where they can start helping with simple chores and keeping up and putting away is the most simple way to start.

      Children want to help and if you work with them at a young age and are patient with them, they will learn how helping is fun. As they get older, you can teach them how to set the table, clean up after dinner, do the dishes and even do laundry and cook dinner – you just have to be patient with them and let them work at their own pace and not “jump in” to get it done sooner.

      Treat it like a game and they won’t need to be told to do their chores; they will learn that they are an integral part of the family circle and will gladly help and take on more as they get older.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I realize kids can help with chores, and fully expect them to learn that and help more as they get older. My four year old loves to vacuum, for example. Of course, at his age, he needs my assistance with it. And I don’t think you’re keeping in mind the fact that my 6 year old is on the autism spectrum – it’s all significantly more complicated with him, especially on days when he’s already exhausted from a full day of school plus therapy after. Right now the priority with him is working on social and sensory issues that frequently trigger meltdowns. I cannot currently add a chores list on top of that and expect it to happen unless I’m willing to keep him up way past bedtime and ensure a miserable night for everyone.

        1. OtterB*

          My daughter is not on the autism spectrum, but has some similar issues. For her the key is routine and some kind of a written schedule- could be pictures for both kids at the ages yours are, written checklist later. I doubted that a written direction would make much difference over verbal instructions but it really did. Somehow “the list says we do this now” is much less prone to argument than “do this now.” So if you can build 10 minutes into the pre-bath routine for picking up, and there’s a picture chart that shows that you pick up toys off the floor, put away books, and take clean laundry to their room (or whatever) then that moves things in the right direction. It’s definitely more work establishing the routine but gets easier after that.
          Good luck with it

        2. Athena X*

          Hi Disco Janet, I am a BCBA. “Cleaning up” can be an instructional program or part of a set of a program in ABA therapy. Cleaning up can be considered under the umbrella of executive functioning, or it can be an adaptive life skill. If your child engages in challenging behaviors when asked to clean up, it is important that this is addressed in his programming. It can be added into an existing following directions program, as a set in functional play, or as an individual program. Bottom line: cleaning up can be part of a good ABA program. Don’t add it to your evening routine until he gains independent skills in therapy sessions. Hope this helps!

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            I mean… what about teaching us autistic parents how to clean, too? My dad did nothing around the house, and my mom was an “I’d rather do it myself” type. I feel completely lost at sea when it comes to teaching my kiddo good habits regarding anything with a demand for high executive function. I feel like our whole family needs an ABA program.

      2. Agnodike*

        Teaching kids to do housework is a parenting task that adds work, not a way of farming out work that already exists. It’s a good and important thing to do, but it’s definitely not going to lighten the housework load!

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I hate cleaning. I work a lot, and it’s the last think I want to do on the weekends when I also have other chores like laundry and shopping to do for the week.

      If you can at all afford it, get a house cleaner to come 1-2x per month for the deep cleaning. The in-between times won’t be so bad and you can do a quick pass once or twice a week. But I understand. Believe me. Hiring a cleaning service in the US is very expensive. I make a decent salary, I can still can’t really justify it.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you can chuckle- a friend of mine used to clean houses for people. My friend and a couple of her friends swore up and down that teachers were their best customers. For the EXACT reasons you show here. I know of two English teachers married to each other. I can tell you no housework gets done, ever. The job swallows up all their time.

      Some jobs/professions are more like a way of life. Framed that way perhaps it would be easier to consider hiring someone to help you. I have another teacher friend who has someone clean for her but they only come twice a month. It’s enough for her setting. So this may not be as big a thing as one might think at first. The same person has been doing this cleaning for my friend for 30 plus years.

      Perhaps someone you work with can make a recommendation to you.

    12. red fish boo fish*

      My technique when the kids were young was to do the bare minimum during the week, but saturday morning *everyone* pitched in for two hours of cleaning. what wasn’t cleaned in 2 hrs wouldn’t get cleaned. I also made a big soup/stew thing on sundays to cover 3 or 4 nights.

    13. Sybil Fawlty*

      Have you tried FlyLady? That’s the system that worked for me.

      It’s hard to raise children and work and manage a home! You are doing all you can, just hang in there and eventually it gets easier.

    14. LilySparrow*

      My kids are now 10 and 12, and IME, the cycle you describe is just normal life.

      We have basic hygeine that happens regularly to get rid of actual dirt/germs and trash, and it helps a lot when they are old enough to have some of those tasks as part of their regular chores. For example, they are now in charge of taking out, folding and putting away their own laundry. The 12yo is fully in charge of her whole wash cycle.

      But in terms of clutter and organization, it’s very much like cooking and dishes – it’s never “done” for more than a few minutes, if that. You’re always either pulling stuff out or putting it away, and then the kids come behind you and create a tornado.

      We push and get things looking really good 10/10 for important visits or special occasions. In between it’s usually a 5-7/10, and if anyone’s been sick or injured, or we had a lot of extra activities or projects, it may hover at 2 or 3/10 for a couple of weeks until we get back on track.

      In terms of systems, I use a Frankenized form of the FlyLady system. I quit getting the emails years ago, but the basic idea of a quick weekly surface clean, zone cleaning and seasonal task rotation still works pretty well for us.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Don’t forget the adage: “cleaning a house with children in it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.”

    15. 00ff00Claire*

      I have found the methods of Dana K White very helpful! I’m not naturally tidy, and her blog, books, and podcasts have helped me make sense of keeping the house under control. Her blog and podcast are A Slob Comes Clean. Her books are ‘How To Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind’ and ‘Decluttering at the Speed Of Life’.

      She has a few basic tasks that are the primary focus. Wash the dishes daily is her main one. Doing a five minute pick-up around the house, doing all your laundry on one day instead of spread out across the week, and daily clearing the bathroom floors of random debris (clothes, towels, etc) are some of the others of the top of my head. I take what’s applicable to our household and try to follow her advice. So for me, I’ve learned doing all laundry on one day is way easier than trying to keep up with it throughout the week. I’m still working on things but I can say it has helped me make progress! I like that her advice is more based on dealing with real life instead of a bunch of ideals.

    16. Jules the 3rd*

      We’re going with putting the clutter in big bins, one for LR and for each bedroom. 1x/mo or so, clear them out. No food or laundry in the bins, just papers / books / toys. 4/6yos can totally understand this and help with it.

      And while we can’t afford cleaning help, the bins work well if you can – throw everything in the bin before the cleaners get in, let the cleaners vacuum / sweep / bathroom .

      Overall, the main thing is to have a place for everything to go – if you don’t have a place for it, you have too much stuff. We currently have too much stuff, ‘clear the kid’s closet’ is on my aspirational list for this weekend.

    17. Healthcare Worker*

      FlyLady really helped me when my kids were that age! Also we became the master of “Five Minute Tidy.” Set the timer, everyone does as much as they can for 5 minutes, then stop. Really helpful as we all worked together “against” the clock – no nagging from mom. No matter what was undone, we stopped when the timer went off. As they got older, they were really good at it – they knew exactly what to do for a “3 minute tidy”, “10 minutes” etc. Good luck – this too shall pass!

    18. Tema*

      As someone in a similar circumstance (two working parents, two small kids and issues with depression causing exhaustion) I think just accepting a certain level of mess is inevitable at this stage, and just be kind to yourself about it. That said, the things that do help me are

      1) cleaner comes every other week – that forces us once every other week to at least pick up everything off the floor
      2) box up a big portion of toys and put them in a closet to be rotated with other toys later. That was easier for me than throwing them away and honestly they just sat in the closet and I never roared them and the kids didn’t notice
      3) landing spots – I have little trays and baskets that miscellaneous stuff goes into – change from pockets, pens, business cards. When I’m feeling ambitious I clean one out but at least the mess is collected
      4) telling myself I’d feel much better relaxing if I just cleaned for five minutes – a guilt free sinking into the couch in return for just five minutes of picking up
      5) my 4 year old helps if I make cleaning a game –
      Can you get five toys in the box before I count to 10. That sort of thing (mind you my 2 year old then dumps the box but what can you do?

  13. Invisible Fish*

    I’m looking for 411 on how you made the focus of your life LIFE, not work. I’ve prioritized jobs for 20 years, and now I’ve got to change. I don’t know if I need stories or suggestions or opinions or ideas …. maybe all of them? I’m just floundering. How do I become a new version of myself?

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Happy Weekend, Invisible Fish! Great question! I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s answers. Always looking for new ideas on this one.

      I had a watershed moment in my early 50s about how quickly time was passing, and how little actual ‘living’ I was doing. I am a devoted calendar & to-do list user at work and home, and when I sat back and realized that I always completely filled my weekends just doing things to be ready for the next work week, I knew it was time to make a change. I made a list of all the ‘living’ things I hadn’t done in years, and developed a plan/schedule to reintroduce them. I did so by moving some of those week-prep things to weeknights (laundry, grocery shopping, cooking work lunches) to clear the decks for the weekend to be, even partially, a time to enjoy life. I gave the plans silly names in my calendar to dupe myself into complying, like “Laundry Monday” and “Tuesday Work Lunch Spectacular”, and made actual calendar appointments for the fun stuff, so that they would ping on my phone. I would get reminders like, “It’s Sewing Day, Wheee! Starts in 30 minutes…..” which would snap me out of robot mode and make me step away from the vacuum.

      The hardest part of it was making the list of things I had been missing out on. As a devoted Work Robot, I had lost touch with things I enjoy, so I had a hard time coming up with fun things to do. But over the course of a couple of years, the fun list got longer, it became more routine, and now is a solid habit.

      And so today is a sewing day! And reading AAM. I love Saturdays now!!!

      1. Invisible Fish*

        I’m now going to make myself a little name tag or sign that reads “WORK ROBOT” because that is GREAT!!!!

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Oh, yay! Yes, do that! Name tags for all. And when you get home from work, you can take the name tag off & symbolically shed your robotness and have some fun. :)

      2. Trixie*

        Yes to scheduling some chores during the week when possible. I like to straighten up on Thursdays so when I walk in the door on Friday I’m officially able to enjoy the weekend. I also prefer some errands during the week because it’s so crowded on weekends. (Groceries, errands, etc.)

        It’s the combination of quickly time passes combined with we always think we’ll have next week or next month to tackle a new hobby or trip, etc. Suddenly , it’s a year later and our habits haven’t changed much.

      3. Lemonish*

        So much yes to moving chores to the middle of the week. My entire Saturday used to get eaten by grocery shopping and Sunday was about batch cooking and getting ready for the week. Now, I grocery shop on Thursdays after work. And I wake up early and do batch cooking on Friday morning. It’s so good enter the weekend with my most onerous tasks already done.

        Also, if you can afford to outsource something, do it. We have a weekly cleaner, which ensures that our house is always at a basic level of cleanliness without the fairness/equity/timing struggles my husband and I used to have.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      Time is the first and best answer. You cannot devote yourself more to life if you’re still working 50-hour weeks: there is just not enough time. One-hour chunks of free time between work/dinner/cleanup and bedtime cannot give you what you want.

      To that end, can you work less? Retire? Off-load most of your housework to paid services? More than one of the above?

      That’s my big opinion, but honestly, I’m mostly just cheering you on. I wish you all the best!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s why I’m trying to get my rear in gear to change jobs. Since they eliminated WFH, I have little energy for home. I’ve had my guitar out maybe twice this year, I haven’t had friends over, I’ve stopped going to my knitting group, and ive never set up the crafts room in the new house. It’s a bad example for my child, too. “All work & no play make Jack a dull boy” turns out to be more than Jack is boring to be around—this Jackie is burning out and wants time to create.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Following. I’m trying to find balance myself. I have been doing various version of what Nellie recommended – trying to do things during the week, so the weekend was spent “on me” not on preparing for the next work week.

      It has helped a bit to schedule some activity (trip to IKEA, play, dinner with friends, exercise classes) each and every weekend, so that I was not at home, being (love this phrase) a “home robot.”

      I looked at where I wanted to be, 10 years from now, and that was engaged with friends, hobbies, and new learning activities, with as much of my health as possible. I’m trying to mentally shift, so that I do not describe myself as my job, or even ask folks in social situations “what do you do?” Instead, I’m trying to be – even a little bit at a time – focusing on the inside, future me. Think of what you are interested in. (I couldn’t think of much, but I’m trying to do things I’ve never done before, one in each area – friends, learning, fitness, hobby – and when I find one interesting at all, pursuing it for a bit in a low-stakes way.) At the very least, I try to do 30 minutes challenges – try to do something I’ve never done before (or not for years) for 30 minutes. Hang curtain rods. belly dance. take a glass blowing class. It’s been fun. And stretching each time.

    5. Queer Earthling*

      Due to my mental health, I stopped being able to work a traditional job, so I learned to focus on non-work things so I had something to do. This is not the route I’d recommend, personally. It was pretty uncomfortable.

      I think maybe thinking, “What is it I’m dissatisfied with, exactly?” is a good start. And maybe “What do I wish I had time for/what do I wish I’d done the last 20 years instead of working/what interests have I not had time to pursue” might be another good question.

    6. Coffeelover*

      Really interesting thread! I’m on the other end of work life (I’ve only worked for 5 years), but this is already something that bothers me. My schedule used to be so packed with fun back when I was studying and it feels like it just died completely. It doesn’t help that I moved to a new city and have struggled to meet people. It feels like the days always fill up with work and chores, and I don’t have the energy to do much else.

      I have a ways to go, but I have been doing a few things recently that have made it better. 1) I signed up for language classes (twice a week in the evening) – makes me feel challenged and like I’m learning again; 2) taking care of my health – no junk food, drinking water, exercising, tackling my chronic insomnia, etc (so I have more energy in the evenings); 3) reading more; 4) trying to have more fun AT work (so it doesn’t feel like such a time suck).

    7. Bluebell*

      Have you read anything by Gretchen Rubin? The Happiness Project has a lot of good ideas. In 2018 she asked people to come up with 18 for 2018 and it didn’t have to be all work activities/accomplishments. Maybe you can start prepping for 20 things in 2020? I left my 50+ hr a week job last year for health reasons, and am still figuring things out. What I’m enjoying is the fact I now have more time to rest and sometimes just do nothing! But I have done 3 significant trips this year, with different people in my life.

    8. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      Hi, Invisible Fish! This is something that’s really important to me. We are so much more than just how we sell our labor, but so much of the validation we get has to do with that! Here are a few things that have been important for me to create and preserve life over work:
      As Nervous Nellie mentions, putting your fun life things in the calendar/in writing. They are just as worthwhile as work meetings, so they get scheduled with the same diligence.
      Social obligation! I really wanted to get back into the habit of regular hiking, so I set about booking at least one friend to hike with me every Sunday morning for the next eight weeks. I knew I was meeting someone, so I didn’t flake on those hikes, and eventually I was enough in the habit to go by myself. Additional benefit: I wasn’t working or checking work email on Sunday mornings!
      Alone Fridays: one of the most important ways for me to preserve energy to have the full, interesting personal life I want is to make sure I have enough time to recharge. When I started dating my partner, I was very clear that most Friday evenings would be Alone Fridays, when I would be very busy making myself nachos in my underwear while drinking a glass of wine, and then reading a book, and he was not invited. I bring this up because I think it’s important to note that focusing on your life doesn’t always mean doing more things, but rather doing the balance of things that makes you feel great.
      No apologies: I don’t know if this will resonate with anyone else, but a big change for me was to stop apologizing when I couldn’t do a work thing because I was doing a life thing. Instead of “oh I’m so sorry I won’t be able to do that project because I’ll be on vacation,” I’ll say “Oh, that won’t work because I’m on vacation that week. Let’s see who is available then”. I’m not hurting anyone or depriving them by having a life outside of work, and being careful not to apologize has helped me reframe the issue so I don’t feel as guilty/slackery.

    9. Nita*

      I let go of the mindset that I’m responsible for someone else’s lack of planning. If upper management hasn’t hired enough staff, I used to pull 12-hour days to cover the gap. Now I’m learning to accept that sometimes I just don’t get things done on time, apologize, set a new deadline, and life goes on. I’m trying to stop putting my family last – if they need me home at 6:30, I’m out the door at 5 unless there’s a legit emergency (not just “I was told it would be nice to have the report done tomorrow”). If the kids need more time to be put to bed, and I’m falling off my feet when I’m done with bedtime, I’ll pick sleep and a missed deadline over two hours on the computer (again, unless the deadline is really important). Hey, I’ve even picked cooking something nice for dinner the next day over working at night. I guess this makes me a less valuable worker, but I’ve given work everything I had for years, and when I tried to combine it with parenting I got very burned out and just couldn’t find a way to truly make both a priority.

  14. Teapot Translator*

    I’ve been avoiding housework for ages. I don’t know what has happened in the last few years, but I just can’t mentally deal with housework. I finally bit the bullet and contacted a small company that offers cleaning services. They’re coming this morning to evaluate my place and give me a quote. I hope they won’t judge me too harshly and that I’ll be able to afford their price.
    I hope that getting someone in every second week to clean will help me keep the apartment tidy (it needs to be clutter free to be cleaned!) I am grateful that I have enough money to even consider use such service.
    What resources would you recommend to help getting rid of stuff? I’ve read Marie Kondo’s book and it didn’t work for me.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      I’d say do things in little bursts, but *don’t start another till that one is finished*

      That’s where I go wrong.

      My spare room is full of lovely (but too big) clothes, ready to sell ..

      … And crates of books, in their categories…

      Which has freed up loads of space in the room and on the shelves.

      You just have to climb over the bags and crates to use it…

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Should add I’m not well enough to say I’ll take a stall at a sale on x date. If you can tho, do it! I know people who make £100 a time (monthly) and they are the kind of people who have very little – they aren’t selling stuff people will flock to.

        I guess I need to find a stall on a day I’m well …

        Anyway if sorting A Thing at a time, then selling or disposing before trying the same with another Thing is possible, go for it!

        And good luck.

        1. Grace*

          We’ve had really good luck with FB Marketplace and other local buy-sell groups when it comes to getting rid of decade-old clutter without the ability to go to car boot sales or stalls (though because of a lack of time, not health). You’ll probably get a few no-call no-shows, but it’s not too bad. If it’s clothes, I’d say put all the winter stuff online now, then start putting summer clothes on in spring. I know a couple of people who put summer clothes online in that Feb heatwave we had this year, and they made a killing because you couldn’t buy summer clothes in shops.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have had the WORST luck with FB Marketplace. Or maybe it’s this city. People wait until you’re practically giving it away and then they don’t bother to reply back or show up.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        I try. But then I end up redoing the same area. For example, the little entrance. It’s often crowded, so I’ll tidy up and feel like I’ve accomplished something and then, I do nothing else. So by the time I have the mental energy to, I work on that space again. Sigh.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Don’t worry about being harshly judged – they don’t care. You’re a job to them, and the quality of your reasons for not scrubbing a floor is just not as interesting as the gossip about their sister-in-law’s dating life or whatever.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Yeah I know. But my space is very much my space. So if I perceive or imagine judgment, I’ll close down and then I’ll have to find the energy to open up my home to strangers again.

    3. Disco Janet*

      Marie Kondo didn’t work for me either. Obviously from my post above, I still have work to do (especially with the kids’ stuff – ugh!), but something that helped me a ton with decluttering the main rooms of the house was just going through and realistically asking myself when the last time I used this item was, and not allowing myself to get sucked into how long I’d had an item, where it came from, how much it cost, etc. Just – do I actually use it on a regular basis? If not, I pitched it. I ended up donating three big boxes of stuff from my kitchen alone over the summer, and I haven’t missed a single item. Truth be told, I have a tough time even remembering what most of it was! You might be amazed at what kind of stuff you’re pointlessly holding onto once you actually go through every item in a room.

      1. Trixie*

        I have a separate space I used for storage and also semi-triage area for decluttering. Before giving away the microwave, I set it aside for a few months to make sure I would miss it. I find the best thing about downsizing is the stuff I do have I really, really like. Not just stuff I have because I haven’t unloaded it yet.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Yes, I do that too. I got it from the Apartment Therapy website before they got so glitzy.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        I was thinking about this yesterday.
        I think I have a hard time getting rid of stuff because of guilty: guilt of not using it enough, guilt for spending money on it, guilt for not appreciating it enough if it was a gift. So, if I do nothing, I don’t have to deal with the guilt. Whereas if I got rid of stuff, I’d get rid of the guilt, but it’s hard

        1. Trixie*

          Maybe start with non-gift items? There is no shame in rehoming an item that for whatever reason you no longer need. The added benefit is providing it for someone else you can wants it or can use it, such as clothes, household items, etc. I just did this recently for some paper products which I liked well enought but simply wasn’t using. Found some friends at work who could use them, or had schools in school who could use them. There is absolutely no guilt or shame in finding a better home for items.

          Gifts are more complicated, but you can still appreciate the thought behind the gift without keeping for 5 or 10 years if its something you simply don’t like, want, or need. Same idea where someone else out there can use it.

        2. TurtleIScream*

          Sometimes, when I am stuck on keeping something only because I paid money for it, I ask myself “how much would I have paid to rent this when I DID need it?” Many times, I discover I have gotten a full value of use out of an item. Then it is way easier to let it go.

        3. Arts Akimbo*

          I have a lot of guilt for throwing things away as well. In my case it’s guilt about the environment. I feel tremendous guilt over contributing more than my share of landfill trash if I give my house the deep declutter it needs. (But, I mean, the junk is destined to go that way anyway, so… what’s my deal anyway? Brains are stupid, lol!)

      3. Annaramadanna*

        Two thoughts here re decluttering — and Teapot Translator, I’ve struggled with guilt about getting rid of stuff too. I come from a long line of people who saved things that “might come in handy” someday.
        1) The decluttering book that was most eye-opening and helpful for me is actually an organizing book: “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD” by Susan Pinsky. It is AWESOME, because a lot of it is actually about decluttering in addition to creating highly effective workflows in the home. I learned more from that book about what to keep and what to let go of than anything else, and how much is “enough.” After using this book, I have and have kept up a tidy bedroom for the first time in my rather long life. Since I’m a visual person, the photos were very helpful for me. Pinsky is also great at walking through those thought processes of having a hard time letting go of things. (I also learned that maybe I have ADHD, because WOW did this book help me.)
        2) I started keeping a spreadsheet to track the number of bags, boxes and large items that leave the house, and for me it’s like a game. I can’t wait to enter another number on that spreadsheet and increase the score of stuff that is OUT of this house. It’s silly, but somehow very motivating for me.

    4. MMB*

      I like to tackle one drawer, closet or cupboard at a time. Sometimes I’ll set a 15-30 minute time limit and a lot of times I’ll find that just making that little bit of progress motivates me to keep going beyond my time limit. Typically, I’ll just grab two trash bags one for trash, one for donations and then dive in. I find that keeping my goals small and spread out over time keeps me from feeling overwhelmed.

      1. The Grammarian*

        I do that, too, in addition to asking myself if I use the thing, if the thing fits me (if it’s clothes), and if the thing still fits my current lifestyle. I just got rid of at least 15 bags of stuff . I feel so free!!!!

        1. MMB*

          Yes! That’s always my prime question “when did I last look for or use this” if it’s been more than a year, I probably don’t need it anymore . There are exceptions to that rule (tools, seasonal items etc) but it’s been helpful.

    5. fposte*

      Cleaning services are the *least* likely to judge you of anybody. You’re why they exist. (Okay, *we’re* why they exist :-).)

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Look up list for my other answer, a lot of us are in this boat! My biggest recommendation at this point is Dana K. White”s book “De-cluttering at the speed of life”.
      Now back to my chores for another burst before playing with indoor houseplants.

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        I also recommend Dana K White! Her methods make much more sense to me than Marie Kondo. I started Marie Kondo and got through most of my clothes, but that was all and it was a ton of work. Decluttering following Dana’s methods works so much better for me because you don’t have to block out a big chunk of time, you can fit them into your schedule and your own pace.

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      A couple of things that helped me with decluttering:

      1. For most people, housing is expensive, and more space is more expensive. When you’re thinking about keeping or chucking an item, consider whether it deserves to live rent-free in your house. How much would you pay to store it? Because one way or another you are paying for the space it takes up.

      2. How replaceable is it? So often we keep a useful zipper or an interesting craft project or a too-small party dress. If you got rid of it, and regretted it, could you replace it in 20 minutes or for under $20? If it would be difficult or expensive to replace, it has a higher priority. If it’s $5 in Wal-Mart, let Wal-Mart store it until you actually need it!

      It’s tough, though, because our Stuff isn’t just stuff and it can be very emotional dealing with it. Good luck.

    8. Venus*

      I have a family member who has hoarded all their life, and they got a cleaner a few months ago. If they can make it work, then anyone can. At first they just decluttered the washroom, and had the cleaner do a deep clean there. They paid for 2.5 hours, and took it all up with the washroom. The next week, the cleaner did the washroom, and a deep clean of one small part of the kitchen. The next week, it was the same clean with a bit more of the kitchen. A few months later, and the apartment is being cleaned every two weeks – but not the bedroom as that is where all the clutter is piled. The family member still has a lot of stuff, and their bedroom is a mess, but it is now clean and much more tidy. It’s such a change!

      In their case they hired a service which does a specific amount of time (app-based). They tipped them reasonably well ($15), and just paid what they could afford each week. The same couple cleaners kept returning and seemed happy to be there, and they clearly weren’t judging. In fact one in particular mentioned that they are most happy when they have a real impact, and it was clear that they were for this family member!

      I have also hired someone to do part of the work – they don’t have to clean the place from top to bottom. There would be a minimum amount of time, so for example they might say that they won’t do less than 2 or 3 hours, but I have had someone come just to clean the bathroom, mop floors, and a few other things… and they happily did that for years. That way it was financially possible for me, and I had someone to do the bits that I hated most.

      1. Pony tailed wonder*

        This was helpful to read about a different approach to hoarding problems. Thank you for sharing. There is someone in my life who might do it this way when I let them know about it.

        1. Venus*

          I’ve told a few people in my life, to encourage them to try it. This person has struggled for decades, and hasn’t really let anyone into their home for years (including close family). It may not work for everyone, but sometimes it’s good to think outside the box. I’m so happy for this person, as they rent and are always worried about an emergency that will require them to have repairs and a visit from the landlord, so this has alleviated so much worry. This was also a way to make it affordable, because a bunch of us in the family had offered to have someone specialized visit, but those tend to be expensive and I think it was overwhelming to do it all at once. Booking it through the app may have also helped, so that it didn’t feel like an obligation (it was easy to cancel, so they didn’t feel pressured).

      2. No Name*

        We are the same as your hoarder family. A cleaner comes once a fortnight for two hours and it has changed our lives. Because we are forced to do a tidy up before the cleaner arrives (we all hate cleaning), it takes 20min to tidy up instead of three days. I realise though that being able to afford a cleaner is a privilege but I strongly encourage you to closely look at the budget and see if you can work it. I used to feel overwhelmed and exhausted looking at the mess but now I like being home.

        Other things that make a big difference:
        1. Everything has a Place now where it belongs. If it doesn’t have a place, get rid of it. I have a small house and all our junk usually ended up crammed in wherever it would fit. No more. If it doesn’t have a proper spot, I don’t want it.
        2. Use the kids. I used to be a stay at home mum and the kids had me well trained that is was faster and easier to do it myself. I had the time and energy then. Started full time work three years ago and I just couldn’t cope anymore. Start small. I started off with them loading and emptying the dishwasher. They will need help learning where to put things and you will need to let go if they don’t fill it exactly how you would have. Then we added I would supervise cleaning the loungeroom and their bedrooms. I give you warning, they will push back. It will take two hours to do a 20 min job. Your head will explode. But they do learn (the everything has a Place really helps with the kids cleaning too. They have to put it away properly, not just make a bigger mess dumping it somewhere else). They are pretty good now. Still untidy but not as bad (it is amazing how they don’t suddenly care to empty the toybox for no reason across the loungeroom when they know they will be picking it up before the cleaner comes around).
        3. Do it in small bits. My ‘everything has a place project’ has been ongoing over 12 months. I still have the laundry cupboard and a corner of the loungeroom to go. Do the easiest rooms first. Ask a friend to help if there is a particular room that overwhelms you for help throwing things out.
        I have been where you are and I am still working it out as I go along. Good luck.

        1. No Name*

          The cleaner mops the floors, cleans the bathroom and toilet and then does whatever to make up the rest of the time, usually the kitchen.

    9. OperaArt*

      If you’re looking for a book, “Decluttering at the Speed of Life” by Dana K. White. Her approach is about making visible progress even if you only have 5 minutes to spare. And it doesn’t require making a temporary big mess.

      1. not Lynn Davis*

        Love Dana K White — someone on AAM recommended her several months ago. Her “visibility rule” (start decluttering at the door/etc where people will see, not in the linen closet) never would have occurred to me. Her podcast is great too – like to listen while cleaning/decluttering.

    10. SharedDrive User*

      I like and use “Decluttering at the Speed of Life”, which actually takes on the challenge in little bites. It’s do-able, and I find that having even a small area decluttered helps motivate me to take on another. It’s not fast, mind you!

    11. Liz*

      I don’t have any resources but what I will do is one of two things. Either focus on something, like my coffee table, or dining room table, one thing at a time, and then move on to the next one. OR, for variety, although this doesn’t work quite as efficiently, is work on putting everything that goes in the kitchen away, bedroom and so on. I tend to collect clutter as the week goes on.

      I also try and do small things after work. Things that might take 30 minutes max. like my shredding, or reorganizing and cleaning out a drawer or cabinet.

  15. Loopy*

    I’m starting to think about Christmas and I’m already stumped on my husband. We have a lot of STUFF- and he never uses even practical gadgets, so I need to start thinking outside the box. I live in a super touristy area so there aren’t a lot of experience type gifts that are jazzing me and we are already going on a big trip in early Dec. His work schedule is impossible to predict and all over the place so signing him up for a class would be a disaster (but that’s another idea I liked).

    Has anyone gotten any out of the box ideas for hard to buy people? I’m sure this topic comes up fairly often closer to the holidays. Just looking for general ways people have gone outside of typical gifting ideas. Experiences would be good but nothing near us is jumping out and classes are out too :(.

    1. Lehigh*

      Is there anything he might like a membership to (like a museum, zoo, etc.)? Then you wouldn’t need to schedule him, but he’d be able to go whenever he liked.

      I always like the gift of consumables–fancy candy, drinks, or sauces, for instance. In my case I really appreciate a nice hand lotion, although that’s not for everyone.

      Does he have a favorite TV show, book, or movie that you could get him some “merch” for? A mug or T-shirt that goes with his interests?

      Maybe he has a pet hobby or cause–would he like a shirt from the Arbor Day Foundation, or a star-trek themed ice tray, or something along those lines?

      1. Loopy*

        He’s totally a homebody! Sadly memberships are out. I may have to go the consumables route, which is always a good one, I’ve just done it before. He’s a bit frugal with gift cards to places (he likes beer) so maybe I’ll go get help somewhere to get him something really nice he would have not bought for himself (he’s always trying to stretch gift cards out/get the most out of them!).

        1. Kuododi*

          Under the heading of consumables I have been known to fill up a big basket with all the stinky snack food that DH loves and I tolerate. (He loves stuff like sardines, olives, stinky cheese, dill pickles and A&W root beer. EEEW!!!) I’m sure you’d be able to come up with something comparable for your partner. Blessings

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Root beer is a funny thing — if you don’t have it as a child, you usually despise it. I know two European’s whow like it: one who lived in the US around age 5, and one who grew up next to a US military base that had a lot of interaction with the local community.

            2. Kuododi*

              Oh I’m sure for the fans, A&W is a great product. I’ve simply never enjoyed root beer of any brand. I don’t remember however I’d bet a nickel there’s some type of issues dating back to childhood and Mom’s ongoing issues around food and what constitutes healthy eating. Think about it. My distaste for Root Beer means a better world supply for those who really want the stuff!!! (Silver lining and all that!!!)

          1. Loopy*

            The basket o goodies idea is really making the consumables more appealing- thanks! I love the idea of a mish mash of all sorts of neat things.

          1. Loopy*

            Ooo I didnt know about monthly growler clubs even being a thing, but I should check out local breweries more- we have a ton! Maybe they’ll offer something unique. Thanks!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The surprise big hit last year’s birthday was a specialty bourbon. I am thinking Scotch or Cognac this year, but I want to sneak a look at his ‘good stuff’ stash so it’s not a duplicate.

        3. Jules the 3rd*

          My husband likes beer. He’s working his way through Beer Advocate’s top choices. He’s thinking of taking a beerfriend (as I do not like beer) on a trip through the US midwest to various microbrews (though I’m considering going as their driver). If you have $$, a weekend trip to Boston’s Extreme Beer Fest (Jan 30 – Feb 2) or to one of the breweries that does microbatches might be cool. Toppling Goliath (IA) and Tree House Brewing (MA) have 2 and 3 (respectively) of the top beers on BeerAdvocate right now, assuming you are in the US. If you’re in Europe, Westvleteren in Belgium is the usual stop, 3 hrs north of Paris.

        4. Liz*

          Does he like trying different things? I subscribe to Universal Yums, which is a box of snacks, candy etc. from different countries; one each month. You can do a subscription or monthly boxes; and can choose from a small, medium or larger box; i do the medium and its $25 a month. I love it. Some of the things haven’t been all that good but others were AMAZING. And each month’s box has info on the country, etc. and on what’s in the box.

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        Yes this! I got my husband a beer of the minth club once and he loved it- Itfeatured all sorts of small breweries and came with a write up of each beer. I’ve also done coffee of the month too.

      2. Loopy*

        I looked at those last year (esp. beer ones) but when we tried even a food type box between the two of us in the past, we could never keep up with it. A good problem to have but I’ve never found some small enough that it wouldn’t be overwhelming for one! We don’t have much food/drink overlap (I don’t drink and I’m vegetarian, he loves craft beer and meat!). If anyone has seen a fairly small subscription box, that would be ideal!

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          My local butcher has bratwurst and steak of the month clubs. Check with your butcher? Our steak of the month club is only two steaks.

      3. Owler*

        Our local bookstore has a book-of-the-month subscription service, where you can choose the length of commitment and the genre.

    2. Disco Janet*

      My husband is like this too! One thing I generally include with his Christmas presents is nicer versions of things he uses – like, I know he appreciated fancy nice-smelling soap and hand cream, but if he’s buying it for himself he always gets whatever is cheapest. I know that’s pretty basic, but hopefully others will leave suggestions and it will add up to something useful.

      I hear you on the never using practical gadgets. I got my husband a nice tablet since he frequently watched Youtube on his small phone…he still uses the phone. I got him a water flosser because he’s obsessed with oral hygeine…he still uses regular floss.

      Mine does also appceiate gifts that are a bit more adult – the gifts he does ask for are generally things I can’t let him open in front of others.

    3. Max Kitty*

      Can you do something he would like to do during the December trip and call it an early Christmas present for him? Fancy meal, visit something or do an experience you wouldn’t do otherwise?

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes! This was my immediate thought, something special to do/see/eat/take along on the December trip.

      2. Loopy*

        I’m thinking this may have to be his birthday present, he’s a Dec baby, so that still leaves Christmas! But yes, this is something I’ll definitely do!

    4. Lcsa99*

      I wouldn’t totally discard the class idea. Especially one shot deals. Groupon has a ton and the groupon is generally good for 165 – 180 days after you buy it so you can wait to sign up for the actually class until you know what his schedule will be. You could also see if something like coursehorse has gift cards so you can again wait till you have his schedule to sign up for something in particular.

    5. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I got someone an hour flying a tiny airplane once. A friend was licensed as a teacher so we only had to pay the rental on the plane, which was ~$130. It would, of course, be more expensive if you have to pay the pilot.

    6. HannahS*

      Magazine subscription? Subscription to one of the boxes that delivers snacks or a new craft beer or makeup or whatever floats your boat (and is consumable; will not just be new stuff) every month?

      1. LilySparrow*

        Magazines have been great for my hard-to-buy people. I’ve given Smithsonian, Mother Earth News, Scientific American, etc.

        My husband and kids fight over the new Popular Mechanics every month. There’s some great stuff out there.

    7. I don’t post often*

      For his birthday, my husband and I went on a trip, rented a more expensive room than normal and ate at a more expensive restaurant. So possibly something as simple as that could be a gift? We are not big travelers and certainly wouldn’t have spent that much money on an overnight trip otherwise.

    8. Fran*

      What about a gift card for a massage? My SO is very picky and wants presents to be useful and a surprise at the same time. Last year he gave me a hint about a tool . I bought one but he was eying one with an additional feature on the same price range so, I had to change it. I told him we are shopping together this year and it is ok not to be surprised. I got him something he really liked related to his hobby in the summer as a surprise.

    9. MMB*

      I’ve gotten my husband massage/facial gift certificates and a gift certificate for car detailing. He loved them. I also gave him a fitbit which he’s become obsessed with!

    10. knead me seymour*

      For a slightly less traditional alternative, I’ve had success with the favour coupon method. If you can think of something you could do for him (one big thing or an ongoing thing) that he would really appreciate, or something that you normally don’t like to do that you’re willing to do occasionally for his sake, that can be a nice gift.

    11. Washi*

      Things I have done for my husband:
      Framing an old poster so it is classy enough for me to be willing to put on the wall
      Printed every email we sent to each other and put them in a book (we did a lot of long distance our first 2 years)
      Made a photo album of stuff we’ve done together
      Knitted various items
      Planned a camping trip with friends
      Took him to an obstacle course as a surprise

      As the others said, I don’t know why the class is out? Lots of groupons and other classes don’t require you to pick a date ahead of time. So no, I understand you can’t present him with a pre-scheduled class, but you could definitely find something and then schedule it once you know when he’s working.

    12. Wishing You Well*

      I’m very non-mainstream in this area. We don’t give each other gifts. We do for a lot of other people, but not for each other. It takes a lot of pressure off both of us. You do you, of course.

      1. cat socks*

        We’re the same way. This year we’ve been on a couple of vacations and bought a new TV so that’s sort of our gift to each other.

      2. Traveling Teacher*

        Seconded! We both like weird hobbies that require super-specific supplies to create, so gift-giving had devolved into “what do you want” sessions for every birthday and Christmas. Not really in the spirit of things!

        So, we just give each other a gift budget of around 40-50 euros (or a bit more if it’s going to be cost-saving to buy a supply in bulk) and then ask each other what we spent it on when the packages arrive. Now, both of us usually wait til the post-Christmas sales to buy our “Christmas” gifts ;)

        Works for us, and we still have the fun of picking out presents for the children, family members, etc.

      3. Clisby*

        We don’t either, except for maybe some token gift like a CD or book we know the other would like. We’re much more likely to come up with something we both want, and go out and buy it for ourselves for Christmas. One exception was that the kids and I bought my husband an iPad for a splurge birthday present one year – he was completely surprised, and loves it.

    13. Not A Manager*

      Does your husband even enjoy receiving gifts? I don’t. They’re not my love language, and generally wind up feeling like an obligation to me. If you get a similar vibe from your husband, maybe you could agree that you don’t get him a gift but you do do something else that is valuable to him.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        This is a great comment.

        Is there anything he already has that could be spruced up? Rewaterproofing or relining a favourite winter coat, respraying the car, resoling shoes or boots, fixing a leaky downpipe? The stuff that goes to the bottom of the list because he’s so often working. If he’s an Acts of Service kind of guy then arranging for one of those might be appreciated.

      2. Loopy*

        He does. We don’t do much during the year (anniversaries and valentines day are hugely low key for us), normally we are super low maintenance but he loves putting a lot of thought and care into Christmas and birthday gifts. They aren’t hugely expensive but they are always so carefully chosen. The thought of telling someone what you want seems pointless to him and he bristles a little bit if you ask him what he wants (because he could get it for himself). While we never buy each other things randomly, Christmas and birthdays he bursts out with really carefully curated gifts. I’m starting to think it IS kind of his love language.

    14. My Brain Is Exploding*

      We just buy each other a small gift ($5 -$10) so we have something to unwrap and then figure out something to buy that’s for both of us. Might be tickets to something, one year it was a new printer, one year it was a camera.

    15. Lemonish*

      For his birthday a year and a half ago, I got my husband a subscription to Bokksu, which is a monthly box of snacks from Japan. He loves snacks and he likes Japanese food. It was such a big hit, he requested another year.

      One year, he got me a subscription to Audible and I loved it. I was driving by a lot and it was great to listen to Audiobook in the car.

    16. Mephyle*

      I’m like Wishing You Well: my very out-of-the box idea is to drop out of Christmas giving. My husband comes from a tradition where adults barely give each other gifts anyway; Christmas gifts are brought on Epiphany by the Three Kings, and only for children. So it was very easy to drift out of the whole Christmas gift thing.
      I think it made more sense up to, say, sixty or eighty years ago when ordinary people like us had way fewer possessions; a Christmas gift was something special. Nowadays I can get myself anything I want any time I want, and no one knows as well as I do what will please me.
      A few years ago we had several of my daughter’s in-laws staying with us over the Christmas season, and I was getting quite anxious about the prospect of choosing gifts for people I didn’t know well, and accepting gifts from people who didn’t know what I liked, either. Then I got the idea to ask my daughter to pass the word that we don’t do Christmas gifts. It worked out great! Much fun was had, without cluttering up the holiday with yet more stuff.

      1. Loopy*

        Despite how hard he is to buy for, my husband really actually enjoys the gifting part of Christmas. But I mentioned above he’s really thoughtful about it. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all, but he puts lots of thought into gifts for me and I try to do the same for him because while I wouldn’t say it’s his love language overall, for Christmas it kind of fills that role as a yearly way to express thought about someone that’s been really well planned and researched.

    17. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      My husband is similarly unfazed by ‘stuff’. What I’ve done for the past few years is focus on the experience (we only do birthdays, but the principal’s the same).
      I buy a few gifts that I HOPE he will actually like/use and hide them around the house. His card contains the first clue, and each gift has the clue for the next etc. The last gift has a clue to where we’re going/ what we’re doing next. He’s always loved it, even when he ends up not using the presents!
      Last year’s activity was especially popular and one of the cheapest. We went to a board game store and tested out the games and even ended up buying one! Super fun.
      If you have kids at home, get them to help with the clues! Hope this and/or some if the other suggestions on this thread help.

    18. Anon5775*

      How about gift cards to get his hair cut (maybe at a more upscale place than he normally goes to) or upgrading things in his life to make them more luxurious? Like getting really nice sheets for the bed or an expensive razor that is higher quality than what he usually buys. Or taking care of some detestable task like cleaning the car or the gutters and hiring someone to do that?

    19. Policy wonk*

      I get my husband tickets to a ballgame, play, car show, concert, or something similar that he likes. He is also a homebody, but has enjoyed the occasional outing.

    20. Observer*

      I didn’t read every suggestion, but a few ideas come to mind. One is a subscription box for something other than food – there are lots of them out there, so there might be something your husband likes. Also, a subscription to something on demand and computer based. Lastly, lessons again, something that is either computer or phone based.

    21. Loopy*

      Thanks to everyone, I’ve read all the responses but don’t have time to reply individually right now! Definitely feeling like I have a few options to explore now!

  16. Alex*

    Asking this for my lovely elderly neighbor: She is slightly disabled, in that she uses a walker to get around longer distances than about 10 feet, and has difficulty with fine motor tasks. She’s otherwise independent and has no difficulty living alone. She’s also low income and has to keep a strict budget.

    She told me that she has to go get a pedicure at a salon in order to have her toenails trimmed (she gets the whole pedicure, but primarily goes because she can’t trim her own toenails). I feel like there MUST be some kind of cheaper way to get this accomplished–I imagine a lot of elderly people can’t trim their own toenails but also don’t need actual home care. I’ve looked into my local elder services organization, and they have no suggestions–they only provide home care to more serious cases. Medicare only covers “medically necessary” toenail trimming, like if you have diabetes or something. This woman doesn’t have diabetes–she just can’t physically operate the clippers.

    I looked into a few podiatrists and while they do offer this service, it is even more expensive than a full pedicure at a salon. I feel really bad that she has to spend money she doesn’t have on this simple task.

    Any ideas on where to look for options? This seems like such a simple thing and yet…I’ve hit so many dead ends.

    1. Lehigh*

      The only thing I can think of is some salons may offer pedicures without the polish, which would probably last longer without starting to look chipped/old/etc. and might cost a bit less to boot. Not much help, but that’s what I would look for in her position.

      1. Red Sky*

        This is what my mother-in-law does. She’ll visit the podiatrist a few times a year for a foot check up and they’ll trim them, but between visits she goes to the local beauty school for a clear polish pedicure and pays I think $10 + tip. I’ve offered to do it for her, but I think she’s just more comfortable having a stranger do it, if that makes sense.

      2. Joanne’s Daughter*

        That’s what I was going to suggest. The cost is very minimal and students are happy for the experience.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      My mother had hers done at the podiatrist’s office with Medicare coverage, because she had diabetes and couldn’t take the risk of an infection.
      This was ten+ years ago, so rules may have changed, and she had good supplement insurance. Still, it’s worth considering the possibility of coverage.

      1. Strikingfalcon*

        This is what my grandma does. Her podiatrist comes to her house, but it is covered like a doctor’s visit would be. Of course, insurance coverage matters here, and I know your neighbor might not have enough coverage. My grandma does have an aide come daily, but they will not cut toenails.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Medicaid covers toenail trimming for a relative at the podiatrist’s office. She just can’t reach her toes and does not have diabetes.
        Contact your local senior services office for advice.

        1. Rebecca*

          Seconding this, my mother goes to a podiatrist, she can’t trim her own toenails, and they’re thick with some sort of condition, and she isn’t diabetic.

    3. Sunflower*

      Has she(or you) talked to the salon? Salons make their money on turning chairs and I’d have to imagine that they would be open to doing it for a much smaller amount if she was only going to be there for 5 minutes. If a pedicure runs you $45 and takes an hour in the chair, it would definitely be worth it for the salon to charge her $10 for a 5 minute nail trim?

        1. Alex*

          Yeah, that’s a good point–maybe I’ll ask some local salons if they do/would provide this service. She isn’t great at advocating for herself/asking these kinds of questions, so you’re probably right that she hasn’t asked.

          1. Deanna Troi*

            Yes, the nail salon in our Walmart will clip your toenails for $7, which I think is a great deal.

    4. university minion*

      That *is* the cheaper option. Additionally, if she’s found someone at her salon who does a good job, that’s worth continuing to go there. Ingrown toenails are no joke and best avoided. Additionally, that little bit of pampering can go a long way towards brightening the day of someone who otherwise has a pretty austere life. If anything, I’d look for ways to support her continuing to go to her chosen salon.

      On the bright side, it makes holiday shopping for this neighbor easy (if that’s a thing you do).

      1. Alex*

        Yes, I’ll probably get her a gift cert. at some point, but I can’t give her (and she would never accept from me) the ongoing help that she needs. She is in debt at the moment, so she really doesn’t have money for luxuries, unfortunately. Even getting ends to meet is tough for her.

        1. Natalie*

          If you like spending time with her and don’t mind getting a pedicure yourself, would she let you treat?

    5. Anono-me*

      The Community Ed progam in my town offers ‘peticare’ days as part of the Senior progam. Basically people with health constraints can get their nails trimmed but not painted.
      You may want to check your communities Community Ed program and any Elder groups (clubs not gov. agencies) in your community for something similar that you could mention to your neighbor.

      1. Alex*

        I wish that this were available in my area! We do have a local Senior center with activities and stuff, but they don’t do this. I checked.

        Maybe I could try to join as a volunteer and inspire them to start offering this. I bet there are tons of seniors in this situation.

    6. Jaid*

      Amazon sells the “Big Black Clippers”, which is basically nail clippers on a stick. The reviews sound promising. It’s about 65 dollars.

    7. Wicked Witch of the West*

      Double check about Medicare. I’ve been getting my toenails cut at the podiatrist for a couple of years. Ever since my knees wouldn’t bend enough to allow me to do it myself. No problems with MC paying for it. You can only go every nine weeks (63 days).

    8. Asenath*

      Around here there are a number of people who offer home foot care – they generally advertise locally with posters and online listings. They’re usually licensed practical nurses or registered nurses running their own small business, and although it’s been a few years since I knew the price from someone who used the service, I think they were a lot cheaper than either a salon or a podiatrist. It might not be an option for someone with serious foot problems (like diabetic foot problems), but on the other hand, they’re probably better equipped for spotting potential health problems than a salon employee might be.

      If you’ve got a local senior’s association, they’d probably know all about resources like that.

    9. knead me seymour*

      Have you tried looking into a mechanical solution–as in, finding an alternative pair of clippers that she’s able to use? I’m not sure if such a thing exists, but it seems like it should.

    10. Zelda*

      A hospital system in my hometown had a visiting-nurse/homemaker division that placed parish nurses in local churches and had a roving foot care person scheduled every month at those churches. The fee was $25, I don’t know if that’s expensive or not.

    11. Policy wonk*

      If there is a beauty school nearby she may be able to get her nails done more cheaply, or if you know a student they may be willing to go to her home and trim her nails for a few dollars.

    12. e271828*

      If she can’t operate the clippers, then Medicare should pay for a podiatrist. Her PCP and the podiatrist should be able to sort the billing out on this. It is not diabetes-dependent!

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My grandmother used to go to a foot clinic at the local senior center to get her toenails trimmed. It was on a schedule where they had certain days they were at each location on a rotation and you’d make appointments in advance. (I think it was quarterly.)

    14. blaise zamboni*

      Why is she unable to operate the clippers? If it’s a problem with reaching her feet, then the salon might be the best bet for her, or one of the community options recommended by others. But if she has an issue with her hands (I’m thinking badly arthritic fingers, maybe?), could she use an electric file for her nails instead of traditional clippers? Then she would just need to grip the device and be capable of pushing the button, which is maybe more accessible. The ones I found are in the $20-30 range so not prohibitively expensive.

    15. ...*

      If she knows the nail salon ladies by now maybe just ask for only a trim? would only take a second for them and I bet they’d do it for a fraction of the cost. I honestly think getting a pedi is a good workaround bc having someone come from a service or going to the dr is gonna be way more $$ as you stated.

  17. Teapot Translator*

    Travel thread?
    I don’t have the time to travel in the foreseeable future, so I’d love to hear about other people’s plans.

    1. WellRed*

      Going to New Orleans at Christmas. I won’t have nearly enough time to do all I want, but swamp tour, beignets and bourbon street are all musts!

      1. Clisby*

        I haven’t been to New Orleans in years, but used to go every year for the Jazz & Heritage Festival. Some possibilities: the Historic Voodoo Museum, Mardi Gras World (a working warehouse where MG floats are made year-round), and Preservation Hall (I think they still have music nightly.) Ride the whole St. Charles Streetcar Line.

          1. Sam I Am*

            Tipitina’s for music, and if you’re over on that side of town, walking Magazine Street is great. Loads of shops & restaurants. It’s a “chandelier” city, and there are a lot of light/antique stores there with beautiful fixtures in the windows.
            The WWII museum is pretty incredible, but I wish I’d had more than a day to spend there; I felt rushed at the end.
            The Saenger Thearer is the most beautiful theater I’ve ever been in. They don’t do tours, but if there’s something there you’re interested in, it’s a stunning venue.
            The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is also pretty amazing, I don’t know much about art, but it seemed to be modern pieces instead of classical pieces, if that makes sense.

    2. Disco Janet*

      I know there are some posters on here who this would be a nightmare for, but we’re planning a big, family trip to Disney World next summer, and I’m so excited about it! We went last summer with the kids and they’re the percect ages for it – my oldest is young enough to still be sooooo excited to meet characters, but tall enough that he can also go on the coasters, which he loves. Since it’s a multi-generational trip, that means my husband and I will get in some date nights, and they have some amazing restaurants and bars there I’m looking forward to visiting/revisiting. My favorite is their tiki bar, which is hidden away (down a side hallway in a resort, and the door to get in is totally plain) – once you get inside, the decorations are amazing, and different performances and special effects happen based on what drinks you order. And I really do love the Disney rides and their nighttime shows. Plus we’ve been enough times to be experts about not waiting in long lines and getting lower crowds.

      1. Liz*

        Fun! one of my bosses is going next spring, same thing, multi generational. they rent a house that sleeps liek 30, and while they do all get together for some things, they are not joined at the hip, and can do their own thing, etc.

    3. Bluebell*

      Tour scheduled for Dec in Cuba, and thinking about Paris this spring. Btw, my summer trip to Iceland was great. Beautiful nature, nice people, and I even enjoyed the quirky licorice flavored ice cream and candy.

    4. Nessun*

      Going to Ontario (from Alberta) later this month, for work, then Santa Barbara for Christmas to see my sister’s family, and then Spain in January for the craziest work trip I never thought I’d go on. Really hoping to get in some sight seeing on that last one!

    5. fuzzfrogs*

      Going to Seattle at the beginning of December, entirely because I’m a giant nerd…Seattle has a theater company called Book-It Repertory that does adaptations of books into theater productions. A few years ago they adapted one of my very favorite books, Howl’s Moving Castle, into a musical. They’re doing a revival this December and I felt I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go. For context, I live in Florida, so it’s more than a little silly to be doing this. But now I’ll get to experience three whole days of actual winter, so that’s nice.

      1. Zephy*

        Hi, fellow Florida person! I just got back from Seattle, lol. Book-It Repertory sounds really cool – looking at their website, it appears they weren’t doing anything while I was in town, so at least I didn’t miss anything.

        Bring a hat and gloves! If you don’t already have some, either buy them online or when you get there. Winter gear sold in Florida brick-and-mortar stores is 100% decorative.

        1. fuzzfrogs*

          I’m actually sewing myself a coat for the occasion with matching mittens, so I will be very warm lol. Considering where best to get thick socks though…

          1. Alexandra Lynch*

            Bombas has lovely soft snuggly wool socks, and I find that in cold/wet conditions, wool socks are the best for my arthritic feet to prevent a Raynaud’s episode.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        As a Midwesterner who spent ten years in Seattle, I’m not sure I’d call Seattle’s an “actual winter,” haha, but I hope you enjoy your show!

        1. FuzzFrogs*

          It was in the 60s this weekend here in Florida and everyone is exclaiming how COLD it is. And I absolutely hate being cold. So I’m going to prepare for the Arctic in the hopes of being somewhat warm on balance, haha.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Haha! Prepare for rain while you’re at it. Not heavy rain like y’all’s storms, but constant drizzle and gloom.

    6. Bibliovore*

      Going to London for a week in December. Trying to not get cocky. VRBO in Kensington. For a week. 3rd floor and a lift. Very excited! A little anxious.

      1. Liz*

        I LOVED London. I have a suggestion for you, if you were thinking of doing the changing of the guard. I took a tour, which is basically a walking tour of the same route taken each day. If you stand outside the palace, you see nothing. But this one you see a lot and its not too pricy. just looked, 20 pounds and they guides are fantastic. The company is Fun London Tours. A friend took it a few months before I went and raved about it, and I loved it as well.

        From their website:

        Rather than standing still for hours, we see various stages of the ceremony, including the inspection, Old Guard, New Guard, Palaces, and even march alongside the Guards and Ceremonial Bands!

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I’d love to travel, but a nasty combination of economic uncertainty at a national level (nothing new over here) and pending uni exams mean I’m certainly going to stay at home for the next six months.
      But I’d love to hear (read?) everybody else’s plans.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I normally throw a big feast for Thanksgiving, but decided not to for Reasons this year. So instead, I’m going to Disneyworld for Thanksgiving weekend all by myself. (I invited husband, but he doesn’t like large crowds so he is staying home to enjoy a long weekend with the pups.) I have Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Tony’s Town Square (the Lady and the Tramp restaurant), a booking to build a droid in Galaxy’s Edge, a reserved seating for the first night of Epcot’s Candlelight Processional, and a ticket to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Should be a lovely and relaxing way to kick off my holiday season. (Because between now and then, I have to crochet 115 more hexagons and write two 25 page papers, so god knows I’m not relaxing before Thanksgiving. :) )

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We don’t travel much, but a friend from Iceland is coming to NYC some time this year so I’ll be playing local tour guide. I used to work in Midtown Manhattan, and I’m looking forward to the chance to play tourist. One silly thing we do when we have friends come from Scandinavia, we drive north of the city proper into suburbia, so they can have a picture taken in Valhalla.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I just added a behind the scenes food tour of the Magic Kingdom this morning!

    9. thankful for AAM*

      I have my sites set on Sicily for 2020 or 2021 – I want to do a Rick Steves tour there. I like the itinerary and there are lots of vegan options there it looks like.

    10. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

      I’m currently in Whangarei, a couple of hours north of where I live in Auckland. I don’t have the energy to do much because I walked the half marathon in the Auckland Marathon a couple of weekends ago, so I’m just lying under a tree at Whangarei Falls and listening to the waterfall and the other people who are here.

      Next year I’m going to walk another half marathon in Kaikoura, which is on the other side of New Zealand and apparently the course is really pretty.

    11. OtterB*

      Making plans for a family trip to Yellowstone next summer. I have a work trip to Utah and afterwards we are driving up from Salt Lake for two nights at Grand Teton and 5 at Yellowstone. The 5 is a small group tour with some hiking, wildlife and nature viewing, etc. My husband and I each went with our parents when we were teenagers but our young adult daughters haven’t been. If I start training now I should be up to a hike at altitude by then.

    12. Liz*

      Alaskan cruise in June! I was back and forth for a long time about Europe. Mainly because there are so many places I want to see, I couldn’t decide. And then trying to find someone to go with me, which isn’t a huge issue since if not, i’d just do a tour, but then that gets pricy since i’d have to pay the single supplement.

      Anyway, talking with a family member who i’ve been on a cruise with before, and who has been bugging me to go again, i asked if she was interested in going on another (she’s been before, I have not). She jumped at the chance, esp since her husband has zero interest in going to Alaska.

      So we discussed and booked it. Best part is she cruises a TON and has the highest status on our cruiseline, so we get all kinds of perks. including free laundry which will be very helpful.

      its 10 days out of San Francisco. I can’t wait!

  18. Purt’s Peas*

    Question for runners! Any tips on winter running? I’m in the northeast of the US where it gets cold but not too cold—hovers from 20-35F.

    Already I’m planning to wear layers, do warmups faithfully, and only run in dry salted areas so I’m less likely to slip.

    What else should I keep in mind? Previous years I’ve just stopped running in the winter, but I really enjoy outdoor running, so this winter I want to keep it going.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      cover your ears if they get cold? But honestly, the best tip is just to keep at it and adjust your clothing and stuff as you need to.

    2. university minion*

      Chap Stick. All the time. This is going to sound really weird, but once my lips start burning, I’m miserable no matter what.
      I also love my Merino Buff. Once the temp drops, it rarely leaves my head except for getting in the shower or throwing it in the wash.
      So, tl;dr, neither of these are running specific for me, but go a long way towards making my runs (and bike rides) more comfortable in the cold.

    3. LGC*

      Hi from the NYC Marathon expo!

      I’m in the same area, and…you really want to change as SOON as you finish. Your body temperature will drop, and along with having damp clothes on you can be at risk of hypothermia.

      Get lighting – as in, a headlamp, reflective gear, and possibly body lights. You might end up running at night out of necessity.

      Get a good pair of gloves. I have a pair of Nike running gloves. I use them all the time.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Seconding all of LGC’s suggestions plus one more: If you run in the middle of the day (which you can get away with during the winter – and I do this all the time on weekends, because it allows me to sleep in and it’s a lot warmer!) make sure you still wear sunscreen. Many people only think of sunscreen when it’s hot out, but you can get just as sunburned on a 20 degree day!

        LGC, good luck tomorrow!!

    4. Washi*

      I hate starting cold, even though I know I’ll warm up, so I usually put on what I’ll be comfortable in once I get going, plus a thin top layer, and then take off the top layer and tie it around my waist when I get warm.

      I also like headbands over hats, since it’s just my ears that get cold. And I wear super warm socks, even though my feet are hot by the end, because it’s worse if I get snow on my feet and then it melts and my feet are wet and cold.

    5. Stephanie*

      Smartwool socks! I don’t run anymore, but when I did, my Smartwool socks were lifesavers. They keep your feet warm even when they get wet from snow/slush, and they wick sweat like crazy. You can also buy special things to attach to your shoes to help with grip/traction in slippery conditions. I have a touch of asthma, and could not have survived winter outdoor running in Michigan without a neck gaiter over my mouth so I could breathe in slightly warmer air. Layer, layer, layer, and change out of your wet clothes as soon as possible when you’re done, otherwise you’ll be cold all day.

    6. Old and Don’t Care*

      Just do it. The first five minutes are the worst, I usually warm up pretty quickly after that. Daylight makes a big difference though. 20F feels a lot different at noon than at 6 pm. If it’s much below 20 in the evening I have to accept the fact that I’m probably not going to warm up and just repeat my “I can do anything for an hour” mantra.

      You do you. Everyone is different, and it’s not a toughness contest to wear or not wear gloves, a hat, or an extra shirt. You’ll figure out what works for you.

      Having said that, shirts with thumb-holes and jackets with pockets are great.

      Knuckle lights are game changers.

    7. Flavia de Luce*

      As a running veteran of Rhode Island winters, I’ll offer my tips. Definitely wear a headband and gloves. I find hats to be too warm but it’s miserable if your ears get cold. Gloves can really be anything that isn’t too bulky. Running gloves are good, but I also wear random acrylic gloves I’ve accumulated over the years and I’m fine.

      Make sure you start your run a little bit cold. You should be a little chilly for the first 5 minutes because you’ll warm up. And warming up isn’t just important from a warmth perspective, but for your lungs. It’ll get them acclimated to the cold.

      Avoid cotton! Cotton will get soaked with sweat and will make you even chillier. Also, make sure your base layer is tight and close to your body, you don’t want any air to sneak in! On especially cold days, it’s nice to tuck your first layer into your tights. I also like those base layers with the thumb-holes because they prevent air from slipping between your sleeve and the glove. Also, I wear longer socks (make sure they can go over your tights) so that there’s no ankle skin showing.

      Vaseline! I put vaseline over my lips and sometimes under my nose. It can feel kinda gross at first but you get used to it and it keeps my skin/lips from getting all dry and cracked.

      Good luck! I love winter running, as I find it very peaceful, and I hope you do too!

    8. JobHunter*

      A good pair of wraparound sunglasses keeps glare from the snow out of your peripheral vision. Bring a pack of tissues if your nose drips in the cold, to keep your gloves as dry as possible.

  19. Suspicious Packages??*

    I have a very odd situation happening at my NYC apartment building and I’m at a loss for solutions besides throwing the stuff in the trash- which is apparently against the law. Packages keep coming for a person who doesn’t live in my building- according to property management, they have never lived there. There is no apartment number listed and the packages have never been picked up. It started in Mid-September and it’s out of control. We’ve received over 100 PACKAGES IN 45 DAYS. I live in a walk up and the mailman drops packages in the foyer so the packages are sitting and taking up a ton of space. It appears almost, if not all, of them are coming from Amazon

    So far, my property manager has:
    – contacted the post office about returning to the sender but they keep delivering packages. We put a note on our door to not deliver any more packages to this person.
    -Called Amazon who wasn’t able to provide any information.
    -Called the police who laughed at him. I also called the police and they laughed at me as well. They confirmed we can’t trash the boxes and directed us to the post office.

    So I know this is on my property manager to keep the packages out of the way(fire, tripping hazard) but I’m wondering at what point I can start throwing the things out or donating them. The police may have laughed at me but how are these NOT considered suspicious packages? Property management is running out of space to store the boxes. What other avenues can I go down here especially on the Amazon front? I just want the dang packages to stop!!!

    1. WellRed*

      Call the postal district manager? Call the FD non emergency and complain about fire hazard (if they there’s that many). Start getting rid of them one or two at a time. No one will notice. When I get mail for someone who doesn’t live in the bldg, I write write on label, not at this address and the mailman has to take it back. If nothing else, at some point this is abandoned property.

    2. Caterpie*

      I’ve heard of a ‘scam’ where companies that sell on Amazon will send their products to a random address so they can write a fake 5-star review of their own item and boost the visibility/ratings. Some people report getting relatively pricy items but I don’t actually know what Amazon recommends to do about this. If you google “npr the case of the mysterious amazon packages” you can find an interview/article with a couple that seems to be going through something similar.

    3. Alice*

      Scam was also my first guess. Google “brushing scam”. I’m surprised Amazon didn’t do anything since it’s likely this is a scammer trying to game the ratings. I would mark all packages as “recipient unknown”, bring them all to the post office and let them deal with it, see if they still try to deliver to you after you bring 100 of them back.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. Probably a scam, and I’d have the apartment admin drop them all off at the post office.

    4. KEWLM0M*

      I write: “RETURN TO SENDER; ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN.” on such mail and leave it for the letter carrier to take back to the post office. I have also taken such mail (also marked with the same wording) directly to a mail box myself to return if it fits.

    5. Anon Here*

      I want to include this in a compilation of NYC stories. “We have mystery packages blocking the entrance to our building and everyone laughs at us.”

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I think if you write RETURN TO SENDER on them, the postal service has to accept them and return them to the sender. Give them to the mailman or drop them in a mailbox. Don’t ask. Just do it.

      1. Filosofickle*

        USPS carriers are not obligated to take those boxes back; it’s up to their discretion if they take outgoing mail. (Most will, but some won’t in my experience.) They may have to be taken to a post office, which sounds like quite a task. Ideally, delivery should be refused but it sounds like there’s no one there to do that.

        Curious that these are being delivered by the mail carrier? My Amazon packages are all delivered by their couriers or UPS unless they’re coming from small 3rd-party sellers. Amazon drivers won’t take back return packages but UPS will.

        This is definitely a property management problem. Would lots of complaints from residents nudge them along? Coordinating that may be the best use of your efforts.

        1. Enough*

          Amazon has a contract with the Post Office. I get a lot of my things delivered by the mail carrier. She has had a mail truck full of packages and that doesn’t include the ones that get delivered by a dedicated package delivery person.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Interesting! I live about two hours from an Amazon warehouse so maybe that’s why most of ours come from Amazon directly. Even Zappos comes by Amazon courier these days. We used to get more by UPS and I wish we still did, since their drivers are better and it was easier to send packages back through them.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Mine always come in the mail. Always. Even stuff I ordered from Amazon UK came Royal Mail, and then USPS.

        3. Liz*

          My amazon packages (and I buy a LOT) used to come either USPS or UPS. then for a while it was pretty much contract delivery, which seems to have stopped, and we’re back to USPS and UPS.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I would write “not at this address, return to sender” in large Sharpie on every box and drop them at the post office. Like, literally come in with 20 boxes every week and just leave them there.

    7. Rebecca*

      My brain went to someone scammed a credit card, thought they’d use your building for the address (hence the sheer number of boxes), and that someone was picked up and in jail on other charges and can’t get to the building to pick up the packages. And they obviously can’t say “oh hey, I stole someone’s credit card info, and the 100+ things I ordered are being dropped at that building, can you pick them up for me?”

      I’d be tempted to open them, see who the actual companies are, and start contacting them.

      Aside from that, did you call the fire department? If it’s a fire hazard or safety hazard, they might be able to get a resolution for you.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Someone, some where is looking for those packages. How can you order 100 things in 45 days and not notice the packages did not arrive?

      Unless of course it’s some type of scam as others mention.

      1. LilySparrow*

        If they are making claims for undelivered packages, Amazon will just send a new one. There is no mechanism for connecting wrong-package reports with undelivered-package reports.

        I know because whenever I’ve gotten someone elses UPS or USPS packages, nobody can track it down.

        They do.not.care. It’s cheaper to just send an extra.

        Which begs the question, if there is someone making claims, why haven’t they corrected their default address settings?

    9. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I once got, delivered to my door, a large home-install water filtration system. As in, a 4 ft tall box. I looked up the system online, and it was $700. It was purchased fraudulently on my credit card; I got a new card and the charge was reversed, but I never succeeded in getting anyone to care about this giant, expensive thing in my apartment. I called the company twice, who sent a return label and a UPS person, who each time never showed up. They never followed up, either. This happened… two or three years ago. I finally just gave the system to a friend last week.

      OK, so, what I’m getting from these other comments is that it’s likely a verified review scam. You’ve held on to these boxes for MONTHS. Nobody cares about them. My vote is, start opening them and seeing if they got anything worth keeping inside.

      New deliveries should be refused at time of delivery, whenever possible. If any come via USPS, do the RETURN TO SENDER and drop in a mailbox to return. I’d also call Amazon again, maybe asking how you can return the packages? They might not be able to provide information but maybe you just got a lousy CSR on that one call.

      Have you tried digging up info on the person? Looked up the name on Whitepages or anything? I mean, absolutely do what you can to resolve this situation. But there’s a point where, if someone is ordering these things on purpose and missing them, they’re resolving it on their end and the packages will eventually stop. Otherwise, who cares what happens to the stuff? Keep it, sell it, throw it away. Do so on a reasonable delay, but do it. Worst case scenario, so improbable as to be impossible, that someone asks about it way down the line, and at that point, well, you’ve simply forgotten what happened to them!

      You’re not obligated to spend years of your life dealing with this problem. I regret that I waited so long to get rid of that big, bulky thing in my apartment.

      1. valentine*

        mark the packages REFUSED and return to the post office unopened.
        Yes. And perhaps UAA, undeliverable as addressed.

    10. LilySparrow*

      I would be very tempted to file a change-of-address form listing the nonexistent person’s new address as Amazon HQ.

    11. Anonymous Celebrity*

      Write these words on the package, preferably with a sharpie so the words really stand out: “Refused. Return to Sender.” Then drop them at the post office. At least in California, this works like a charm. Be sure to use those exact words.

      I had an experience with an online vendor who used SmartPost (which I hate – they should call it SlowPost). The way that works is that UPS picks it up, transports it (veerrrrrrry slowly) to the USPS main distribution office closest to you, and then USPS delivers it). The trouble was that, two weeks after I placed my order, UPS still didn’t show they had the package. So I called the vendor, who sent me a duplicate order (same delivery method, but it wasn’t a time-sensitive item so I was willing to wait).

      I asked what I should do if my first order eventually arrived. I was told to write “Refused. Return to Sender” on the unopened package and take it to the post office. It worked. They took it back. Yes, I suppose I could have kept it along with the second order, which did arrive on time. But I’m not comfortable with ripping people or companies off, so I returned it. I was only charged for the one item. I was happy to have learned a method for returning thing that I didn’t order, or things that were duplicate deliveries of the same item.

      Hope this works for you.

  20. WellRed*

    Teeth whitening tips? In photos with friends my age, they all have white teeth. Mine look dirty and barely show. I drink coffee but this is starting to bug me to where I’m self conscious.

    1. Jenny*

      I used Crest whitestrips, recommended by my dentist, after I got my braces off and they worked great. I still use them occasionally.

    2. Lady Jay*

      Ooo, I have this problem too–I don’t drink coffee any more than average (1 cup/day), but my teeth are discolored, and have been since I was in my teens/early 20s. I read somewhere it’s genetic.

      I don’t have a lot of tips, sadly (I’m gonna follow this thread), though I do find when I brush/floss regularly and use whitening toothpaste that is actually good toothpaste (e.g. not the cheapest 1-dollar tube out there) they look a little better.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes, genetic or related to medication. I have yellowish teeth. People think I’m a smoker. Nope. I was given tetracycline when I was very little and have stained teeth. Nothing to be done about it.

        What ticks me off is when dentists have offered to “fix” it. The only fix is to cap my teeth at a total cost of more than I paid for college. No thanks. My teeth perform their intended function of chewing my food just fine.

        1. HannahS*

          Yeah, same. Someone at a party commented to my mom that my teeth were yellow, and my mom (with the best of intentions) advised me to ask my dentist about it. Turns out, my teeth are just a bit more yellowish than average, and because I’m so pale, they look darker than they would on someone with darker skin (i.e. greater contrast would make them look whiter). The dentist offered to “fix” it, but I declined. My skin is pale, my hair is brown, my teeth are yellowish. It’s genetic, they work well, they don’t look very abnormal, so it’s all good by me.

    3. NeonFireworks*

      I heard making a paste out of turmeric and water, and then brushing vigorously with that, works pretty well.

    4. Clever Name*

      My teeth used to be pretty yellow. Genetic, I think, as it was when I was a kid and therefore no coffee or wine to stain teeth. I started occasionally using crest white strips and whitening toothpaste, and I’m happy with how my teeth look now.

    5. Alice*

      Be careful that some whitening solutions are actually abrasives and can damage your teeth’s enamel. Your dentist will be able to best advise you. I also drink a lot of tea so I can totally relate, my solution is regular professional cleaning + good toothpaste + mouthwash recommended by dentist, I still don’t have pearly whites but they look so much better than they used to.

    6. Anon Here*

      I actually tried asking my dentist about this once. I was not given the kind of info I was looking for. Everyone working there just said, “You don’t need whitening. You need to give up coffee and tomato sauce.”

      “But I live on coffee, pizza and pasta and I don’t want to change.”

      “Give those things up. They’re bad for your teeth.”

      It’s completely logical. But I refuse to give up coffee or pizza. I tried Crest whitening strips. I got whitening toothpaste. I have some cavities now. My teeth never became that bright white color that I see on some people. But I can live with off-white teeth as long as they’re not brown or gray.

      It’s weird how certain women manage to have those sparkling white teeth. I guess they find dentists who don’t act gate-keepy about the whitening treatment. My clinic supposedly offered it. You would think they would want my no-insurance-involved money, but they always seem guarded about it. It probably does damage your teeth.

      1. A teacher*

        But it’s not logical at all! How is it logical to give up foods we like just because one of the natural colours of teeth (yellow) is suddenly unacceptable?

        Not attacking you, or anyone, but this idea that WHITE TEETH GOOD YELLOW BAD when it has nothing to do with health seems harmful and really needs to be analysed and deconstructed.

        1. LilySparrow*

          They discourage those foods because they are highly acidic and can damage your enamel if you eat/drink them too much. Not because of the stains.

          AnonHere’s dentist may have been saying that the whitening treatment is not appropriate for them because it’s too harsh and their teeth can’t take it due to long-term overexposure to these acidic foods.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Some people drink their coffee and tea with a straw to avoid staining their teeth. Sounds odd to me, but maybe it works. I use whitening strips, but ask your dentist first before doing anything about it. You can damage your teeth doing the wrong thing or whitening too often.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have heard that people with veneers do this. That’s the only way I would ever have perfect teeth, and I can’t come close to affording them.

      2. Partly Cloudy*

        I used to know a smoker who drank her coffee through a straw for this reason. Hmmm….

        Also, I feel like you’re just trading one aesthetic for another. Using straws all the time must lead to lip wrinkles, right? Especially for a smoker?

    8. HBJ*

      I have used Crest strips, and I’ve been pleased with the results. I don’t use them too often (whatever is recommended on the box – I think something like every other day for awhile and then as needed after that?), and I’ve never had tooth sensitivity issues.

      Whitening toothpastes don’t seem to do anything.

      I was gargling with peroxide for awhile to help with a gum issue, and that seemed to help a bit.

      I’ve been told oil pulling helps, but I don’t know about that.

  21. Hair help*

    I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who commented on my post a few weekends ago about hair becoming straighter and thinner, among other symptoms. I did as many suggested and scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist, and it turns out I have Celiac’s disease. They confirmed it through bloodwork (but I’m seeing that the gold standard is a biopsy?) I’m kind of in shock, as someone who loves beer, bread making, trying new foods, etc, this will be a really big life change. I’m incredibly thankful for everyone who took the time to comment on my post; I have been bringing my symptoms up to my GP for years and hadn’t gotten anywhere. Thanks to this community I have a solid path to feeling better (and hopefully getting my thick, curly hair back!).

    1. WellRed*

      I’m so glad we were helpful and that you found out the problem so quickly! I’m curious if looking back, you had any other celiac symptoms?

      1. Caterpie*

        That’s tricky because I’ve been in grad school the past few years, so it’s hard to parse what was stress and what was due to the Celiac’s. That’s part of why I waited so long to pursue it strongly, I just figured all grad students were exhausted and stressed.

        But looking back, some GI issues definitely, and a ton of cavities last year despite never having one before and having good dental hygiene. No pain or skin stuff though.

    2. Book Lover*

      Biopsy is the gold standard if you want to be 100% sure. I assume they did antibody testing. Another option is genetic testing to see if you have permissive genes – at least it is noninvasive and if positive it is reasonable to just go with the diagnosis. That’s just if you are hesitant about a strict gluten free diet though.

    3. Fikly*

      Celiac can be so hard to diagnose, since the symptoms can be so vague! I only got diagnosed because my sister did, and got told to have the immediate family tested, because it’s genetic.

      A couple of things: First of all, if you are interested in the biopsy, get it done now, before you go gluten free, because you need to be eating gluten to test positive. But don’t feel obliged to get the biopsy – if you go completely Celiac gluten free (and not just trendy gluten free) and feel better, you have Celiac, there’s no need for a biopsy. But it might not be a bad idea to see what damage is going on through an upper endo in general.

      Second of all, I’ve been diagnosed Celiac for 5 years, had it for at least a decade before that, so if you have any questions about living with it or transitioning, I’m happy to answer them!

      General advice: largely speaking, I am least happy with foods that are pretending to be foods that contain gluten. The tastiest things are foods that are just what they are. There are some exceptions though! Also, get through nutrient blood work, because malabsorption is super common, and a bone density scan.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One thing the Dr’s thought was obvious that wasn’t to me– don’t do the biopsy when you are on a gluten-free diet. Luckily someone in the doctors office thought to check that before I actually went in for the biopsy. They had to reschedule me three months later. (I don’t have Celiac, so yay I can eat bread but dang why the TMI….)

      1. Fikly*

        This is why I ended up not having the biopsy. As soon as I got the positive blood test for Celiac, I went gluten free. Ok, I finished eating the bagel I was eating when I got the phone call. But that was the last bit of gluten I ever deliberately consumed. And my symptoms (some of which were severely bad) went away within a week.

        To get an accurate biopsy result, they make you eat gluten for SIX WEEKS. I was all, hell no.

  22. Jenny*

    Any parents deal with a clingy baby? My 9 month plays independently at daycare and when with Dad, but when I am with him he wants me to sit with him while he plays or he wails. In the morning before daycare I just run through getting ready as quickly as possible but on the weekend (especially this weekend where I am flying solo) it’s a bit challenging. For instance, I would like to make him some new foods to try but the prep is challenging since he just cries while I cook. I also have some basic chores to get done.

    1. Fellow Traveler*

      Does your child like being in a carrier? I swear that’s how I got anything done when my kids were babies- they were happy to snuggle in the carrier and even napped while I got things done. I would back carry him when cooking so as not to worry about burning him on the stove.

      1. Jenny*

        Loves the carrier. I find it easier than the stroller when we go out (I live in a big city so space/doors/sidewalks are easier sans stroller). I have never actually put him on my back, hence the worry about cooking.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          9mo is a good age to try a back carry (they aren’t stable enough to make it easy before that). Some slings such as Mei Tai style will permit a sort of low shoulder carry where you’d wear a shrug or bolero, and that gives baby a better view.

          Beyond that, I promise it will pass. Slowly and like a kidney stone, perhaps, but it will pass. It’s totally developmentally normal at this age, and you can do no harm by “indulging” it.

          Are there any shortcuts you could take, e.g. buying frozen sliced vegetables (onions, mushrooms, peppers, etc) to reduce your food prep time? Definitely lower your housework standards for a few months.

    2. Clever Name*

      My son was super high needs and clingy. I basically had him attached to my body nearly all the time using a soft carrier until he was independently walking. He napped on me, slept next to me….. honestly, if I have another, I’d do things differently. Will he settle after a few minutes of crying? If he’s inconsolably wailing, obviously comfort him, but if he fusses for a few minutes and then settles then I think it’s ok for a baby that age to do that. Those days were so hard.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I think your baby is telling you that he needs closeness to you more than he needs new foods right now. Obviously you have to do activities of daily living, and he’ll survive a few moments on his own while you do that, but if I were you I would prioritize hanging out with him over doing “extra” stuff right now. (I can’t tell if he needs you to hold him/cuddle him, or if he just needs you to hang out while he plays, but in either case I’d give him as much as is reasonable of whatever he wants.)

      If you can, see this as “permission” for you to sit down a little bit, too. “House is untidy? Oh well, so sad, the baby needs me.” He will probably outgrown this pretty quickly.

    4. Anon time*

      I have a 14 month old. At 9 months (and even still) I mainly did chores when she was sleeping (napping or for the night). I could put her in the carrier some, but I think that’s when she started getting tired of it. Realistically, that meant there wasn’t much time. For food, I mainly did/do a little bit of leftovers from the night before (we cook dinner after she’s in bed because of what time we get home). I also did/do a frozen veggie- I could dump that in a pot with a little water while holding her, and it’s done pretty quickly. Peas, green beans, spinach, broccoli, edamame etc. Some fancier grocery stores have more variety- I got frozen butternut squash at one. I remember well the pressure to have them try a bunch of food. Once the veggie is done, I drain and and add butter or olive oil. From inspiration in a baby led weaning book, I sometimes sprinkle the broccoli with olive oil and nutritional yeast. It’s kinda a cheesy flavor.

      Eggs are good to prep in advance. I’d hard boil a couple and then have them in the fridge. Or I scramble one quickly with butter- it takes maybe 5 min, and can more or less be done one handed.

      Hang in there. My daughter is more independent now (walking! Eek!), but there’s still pretty limited time for stuff. It’s a tough job (in addition to my paid job!).

      1. Jenny*

        Yeah I want to feed him eggs because it’s a major allergen he hasn’t had much of. My thought was to make pancakes.

        The good thing about his daycare is they have meals for the kids, so, for instance, he had some beans and veggies yesterday. So he’s getting a lot of new foods without me having to prep them.

        1. Anon time*

          Pancakes are a good idea. If you can’t get them done when your baby is up (which is a stretch!), freezing is good. I literally froze pancakes today, for her weekday breakfasts. You make them as normal, and then freeze in an individual layer on a sheet pan. They thaw beautifully by popping them in the microwave for 30 seconds.
          My girl’s daycare also serves food- it’s such a lifesaver!

    5. blackcat*

      Carrier. Mine’s almost two and when he gets sick he’s still like this. I put him on my back and he chills. I just have to be careful because sometimes he takes the opportunity to grab things normally out of reach.

    6. NB*

      Two of my babies were pretty clingy. They eventually outgrew it, but man it was exhausting at the time. I don’t have a lot of answers except that sometimes you just have to listen to the crying while you get stuff done.

      Now my clingiest baby is fifteen years old and just barely tolerates me.

    7. J.B.*

      My second kid was.mommy.no.one.else. I held her when I could and felt ok about it, went to the bathroom when I needed to. It usually felt better to take walks with carrier, played on the floor some, got up to throw laundry in etc. Whatever you need to do is fine, I promise your kid won’t be scarred.

    8. Annaramadanna*

      Great suggestions here about carriers. Back in the 1900s I had a clingy baby. We were not allowed to put him down until he was about a year old; unlike his older sibling who was in Go Mode as soon as she could crawl. I learned to cook (mostly) one-handed because he hollered so much if I put him down. My husband also pitched in a lot with the cooking, so it wasn’t all on me.

      We nicknamed him the Barnacle. Then one day he did a 180 – he fussed and squirmed when we picked him up! Mobility suddenly got a lot more interesting for him. One lifetime reward for my year of carrying “the Barnacle” was that to this day, I can haul in a tremendous number of grocery bags on both arms all at once.

      Not sure if this was at all helpful, but I wanted to let you know a) you’re not alone, and b) this too shall pass.

  23. Fellow Traveler*

    Happy fall weekend!
    Two food related questions:
    1) I’ve been getting a lot of pineapples in my produce box- does anyone have favorite pineapple recipes? We eat it just cut up, but I wanted to branch out. Either sweet or savory is fine. I like the rice salad out of Moosewood Cookbook, but my husband doesn’t love it. He actually doesn’t like pineapple in general, so maybe looking for a recipe that the kids will enjoy.
    2) my vegetarian brother is coming for Thanksgiving- for vegetarians, what has been your favorite (substantial) Thanksgiving dish that you’ve ever had? I want to make an effort so he doesn’t feel like he is just eating sides and pie.

    1. university minion*

      For vegetarian Thanksgiving dinners, spinach lasagna gets my vote.
      I like adding pineapple to curries (Thai) when I have some.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Re pineapples: they make dandy smoothies and/or ice pops – I have some pineapple-basil ice-pops in my freezer right now. (I made them because I had too much basil, a nice problem, but it works for too much pineapple too!) Can provide a recipe if you want, but it was pretty simple – blitz the pineapple and some basil to taste, and then freeze.

      I’ve seen, but have yet to try, recipes for pineapple curd, which can be used in tarts or as cake filling or just spread on toast.

      Another idea that I have yet to try, but FWIW: you could dry it for future use. There are recipes for the heavily-sugared kind of dried pineapple, but I’ve also seen oven-roasting recipes that don’t need extra sugar; the results will be different but could be fun to try.

    3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      1. Slice thin, grill or saute, and put on your hamburgers. Especially good if you put teriyaki sauce on the burgers too.

      2. Easy pineapple cake that happens to be vegan: 3 c. flour, 2 c sugar, 1 T baking soda, 1/2 t. salt mixed. Add a cup of oil and usually a can of crushed pineapple, but 2 1/4 cups of pineapple crushed in the blender would work too. Bake in a greased 9×13 pan @ 375F for 30 minutes. Makes a great campfire cake if you have a dutch oven.

      3. If you happen to have a dehydrator, home dried pineapple is excellent and not much like that sold commercially.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Came here to say that. Home-dried without sulfite and sugar may go brownish but it’s so so much better. We did ours dry-ish and kept it in the freezer until the day you took it on a hike. (A friend used to deliver for Dole…the “too ripe to transport” boxes were always a sweet surprise. Yet anot her reason to wish he hadn’t moved.)
        Also if you’re into exotic plants, nows the time to try starting a pineapple plant. There’s a lot that won’t take root even with organic .

    4. Femme d'Afrique*

      Pineapple crumble? Super easy to make and lots of kids I know like it! Bonus: since it’s so easy to make, the kids could help out too.

    5. fposte*

      Can you tell me about this produce box? Is it a CSA kind of thing and you’re just in pineapple country, or are you getting random fruit mailed to you? Because that would interest me.

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        It’s a Hungry Harvest box- so reclaimed, surplus, and imperfect produce. You can pick and choose what you get, so I guess I could just remove it, but I haven’t lived the substitute options lately. It wasn’t a problem last month when I was 39 weeks pregnant and eating huge quantities pineapple in hopes of going into labor, but now i’m feeling the need to branch out.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, that looks like an amazing project, and I’ve never heard of it! Unfortunately they don’t deliver to my area yet, but I signed up for the waitlist.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            Try Misfit Market! Same concept and they do deliver to IL. We got our first box last week and it was very fun!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ooh…that might be a Christmas present for a home cook who has trouble getting energy to shop.

        3. OtterB*

          Thank you for mentioning this. I just signed up for a veggie box. We will see how my quest to eat more veggies goes.

    6. knead me seymour*

      This year, I’m going to try making mushroom walnut lentil balls and mushroom gravy. All the other sides I make are vegetarian. I may try combining them all into a raised pie, Paul Hollywood style.

      1. Overeducated*

        A raised pie of vegetarian sides would win my first place Thanksgiving dish prize for LIFE. If you do it, please report back with pictures and lessons learned!

        1. knead me seymour*

          It’s a tall pie, usually with a savory filling and hot water crust pastry. Traditionally it would have a filling of pork or game or something like that. But Paul Hollywood has a recipe for leftover turkey dinner pie, and I feel like a vegetarian version would work well.

    7. Overeducated*

      How about a good variety of vegetarian sides instead of one “main” one? I love something hearty like mac and cheese or a root vegetable bake with biscuits (will link in a comment), something green and cheesy (e.g. creamed spinach or Brussels sprouts gratin), something green and fresh (kale salad, blanched green beans with a shallot dressing), and something with nuts and/or mushrooms for savoriness. (I’m one of those people who is just not into turkey and potatoes and always is like “I’m bringing sides!!!”)

      1. Washi*

        I agree with this. Ymmv, but in my family, we just make sure that the turkey, stuffing, and gravy are the only things with meat in them and have plenty of everything else. Even though I’m a vegetarian and typically make sure I have a protein for dinner, at Thanksgiving I just want the classics minus turkey. I’ll fill up on mashed potatoes and squash and cranberry sauce and green beans, thank you!

    8. Not A Manager*

      Cut up pineapple freezes beautifully, and thaws with much less loss of texture than many other fruits. I’d cube it and pop it in the freezer. You can use the frozen fruit for smoothies, or thaw and mix into fruit salads or yogurt. IDK if you can bake with it, but I’d give it a try.

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        Oh freezing is a good idea! I definitely feel pressure to use the pineapple up before it goes bad, and freezing would help- and we make a lot of smoothies, though maybe less now that the weather has cooled.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I love Thanksgiving sides, and think they’re much more interesting than the turkey, so I’d be happy with sides and pie myself. But if you want to make him something special, how about a stuffed pumpkin or squash? You can find pretty small pumpkins or pretty large squashes, either of which could be cooked and stuffed with a yummy veggie filling as a single serving item. Or you could get a larger pumpkin and make enough for everyone. It depends on if you want him to have his “own” special item on his plate instead of turkey.

      1. CTT*

        Yeah, seconding this. We have a work Thanksgiving and the past few years people have brought such an interesting array of sides that I didn’t even touch the turkey. If you haven’t already asked your brother, see if he’s someone who would rather make a meal out of sides.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you have a favorite recipe for stuffed peppers that will suit, you can do pretty much any stuffed pepper recipe inside a pie pumpkin. The one I read recently was rice and sausage, but really pretty much anything would work.

      3. heckofabecca*

        Stuffed sugar pumpkin is AMAZING. I much much MUCH prefer it to stuffed acorn squash, e.g. My favorite filling mix is stuffing, cheese, and chopped spinach. Fake bacon is another possible addition, if your brother likes it.

        There’s also a recipe for Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Kale on wellplated.com—I used spinach instead of kale. It also has chickpeas, so it’s filling too. Pretty, fairly easy, and really delicious! Especially with cheese :)

        Also, seconding Reba’s comment about not ‘disqualifying’ any sides… Always so aggravating!

    10. Reba*

      Vegetarian here! I love to cook. Here are some of the things I’ve made for T-day:

      Roasted delicata squash with quinoa or other grain and greens. You can actually do this as a more or less one pan dish, a la Rukmini Iyer (If they eat eggs, this is a great one for baked eggs nestled in there)

      Nicely roasted eggplant can be pretty decadent

      Acorn squash halves filled with rice pilaf or other vegetables, or why not the Thanksgiving stuffing!

      I’d skip the tofurkey… although once, some friends of ours did a homemade seitan stuffed with mushrooms that was fantastic! but I think it was pretty advanced.

      Honestly, I have always felt that the sides were the best part of Thanksgiving. :)
      You’re thoughtful but don’t worry too much! Just make sure not to “disqualify” any sides. Not that you would, but I just can’t tell you how disappointing it is to find ham in the green beans or whatever.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I find the biggest “side disqualifier” in my extended family’s Thanksgiving sides is usually chicken stock. Someone will buy a quart of stock to add a splash to one thing they’re making, and then they’ll all be like “we have all this stock to use up! What else can we use it in?” and the next thing you know they’ve added it instead of water to basically every side dish in an effort to not be wasteful.

        I usually bring a bean salad and a pumpkin pie with me to Thanksgiving. I’ll end up eating bean salad and rolls for dinner, and then pie for dessert. Pumpkin pie is the most meal-like pie to me, so it’s the one I bring so I’m sure the crust isn’t lard-based. Some years I also bring my own stuffing and cook it in a rice cooker in a corner somewhere. (You can basically follow stove-top directions for stuffing and cook it in a rice cooker, since rice cookers will boil water just fine.)

      2. Fellow Traveler*

        I agree on having to be careful about disqualifying anything. It reminds me of the time I was on a road trip with two vegetarian friends and we stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel, and almost every side either had ham in it or was cooked with chicken broth, or something. Their plan had been just to have a bunch of sides for lunch, but I think they ended up just having French fries.

    11. Bluebell*

      I eat fish, but at Thanksgiving I’m just a sides eater. Here are a few things I’ve loved, but I don’t have links to recipes, sorry. 1) Vegetarian gougere- beautiful puffy crust with a mushroom squash filling 2) squash and tomato mix with cornmeal dumplings on top 3) spiralized sweet potato with black beans, corn, tortilla strips and cheese.

    12. Parenthetically*

      1) My grandmother’s pineapple upside down cake, but also yes to putting it in curries and fried rice! Also delicious with a sticky soy glaze on pork or chicken or meatballs!

      2) A whole stuffed roast butternut squash (stuffed with a nice Carolina-style wild rice stuffing) or a whole roast cauliflower both have the advantage of being a bit showy like a turkey! But also I have several vegetarian friends who literally just make sides and pie for Thanksgiving and LOVE it, so your mileage will vary depending on the vegetarian!

    13. Anon time*

      Budget bytes’ green bean casserole (without any cream of anything soup) is sooo delicious and substantial, especially when made with baby bella mushrooms. It’s pretty easy and fresh and tasty. An upgrade to a classic.

    14. MinotJ*

      Vegetarian for 25 years. What I really love about thanksgiving is the sides. There are so many dishes! I personally don’t want a special veggie dish made for me, but if the sides were veggie, I’d be so happy. To really welcome a vegetarian, you could make a bit of vegetarian stuffing and gravy.

    15. Lemonish*

      What does your brother like to eat? What’s his favourite food?

      If you make his favourite food (as long as it’s not too time-consuming), that might be more appreciated than something Thanksgiving-themed that he’s never had. (I am basically vegan in my eating habits and my Christmas dinner is black bean tacos because I love them and I don’t feel any need to eat Tofurky or some kind of nut roast just because they’re vegan approximations of traditional Christmas foods.)

    16. Queer Earthling*

      I loooove pineapple but I can only eat it cooked (I have geographic tongue and raw pineapple is too acidic). I love throwing it in stir fries or fried rice, on pizza, grilled and placed on burgers as someone said upthread, or fried in a pan with a little brown sugar. Oh, and I make pork chops with pineapple–marinade them in the juice + brown sugar + soy sauce, throw them in the pan and throw the remaining juice mixture and pineapple chunks on top, cook until the chops are done and the liquid is reduced.

    17. Sam I Am*

      I’m vegetarian, and it sounds like I’m in the minority, but I found myself getting a little self-pitying when all I could have were sides. Anyhoo.. I’ve started making a curry to bring to my family’s holiday meals. Some others in the family will have tastes of it, but most don’t, so I bring a few servings but not a giant dish. The curries go great with mashed potatoes, which are always part of our holiday meals.

    18. Brrrrr*

      We have 3 vegetarians and 1 vegan in our family and we all love the Festive Chickpea Tart from Dreena Burton’s cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan. The recipe is also available on her website. Her use of seasonings and flavour combinations is ingenious. I also happen to love stuffed squash, either as a side dish or as star of the (veggie) show.

  24. Greywacke Jones*

    Advice for getting over/processing a difficult birth experience?

    I gave birth to twins on Monday after a lengthy induced labor (went in Friday night, born early Monday am) ultimately having one vaginally and one via c-section about 3 hours later. I have two big healthy babies (7+ lbs!) who needed no NICU time and I am recovering ok, so I’m truly grateful for that. However I have found myself dwelling on all the painful/deeply uncomfortable/ undignified details of the birth process, to the point of losing sleep, which is obviously not what I need right now.

    I hesitate to use the word traumatic because nothing really bad happened. I had a great care team and I don’t really regret any decision or how it turned out, though recovering from two different deliveries is obviously not ideal. I have a bit of a “what if” around one juncture, but truly I don’t know if it would have made a difference.

    I also don’t think it’s PPD/PPA? While having two new babies (and a toddler) home is a whirlwind, they are pretty chill babies and we have a lot of help right now, so I don’t think I’m totally crazed from the newborn experience either. I think it was just a super intense experience that was pretty miserable in ways I did not anticipate, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I have talked about it with my wife a bit which has been helpful, but I don’t really have a lot of people I feel comfortable discussing the details with. Any advice?

    1. WellRed*

      That still sounds traumatic! Glad you’re doing relatively OK. I might mention this to your doctor at your next appt

    2. Jenny*

      I had a baby earlier this year and being brain foggy is 100% normal. I cried a lot in the early days. I also was a bit obsessive about my unplanned c section and would research what I could have done differently. I felt guilty because everyone acts like you’re supposed to be so blissful but pretty much every mom I talked to had the same story. The brain is just a little broken post baby. And poor you, you have both c section and vaginal recovery.

      If you had a c section you also may be on some pain meds that *really* mess with your brain. I felt like I couldn’t think on the percocet. Getting it out of my system helped a lot. You’re also having to deal with two tiny humans and not getting a lot of sleep.

      Keep an eye on yourself, but also give yourself permission to just not be 100% mentally for a bit. It’s 100% normal and it’s okay.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        This. That is why I refused opioids with my second c-section. I did toradol (sp?) while still on the IV and then Motrin. It was only slightly more pain but WAY less constipation and the ability to think much more clearly even with sleep deprivation.

    3. Fellow Traveler*

      Congratulations! I’ve had pretty easy births, and I still feel like I had a hard time processing and that I’m constantly revisiting the experience.
      What helped me somewhat was writing it down, than periodically going back and re-reading it and adding other things I remember. For me, I felt that since birth is such a personal (physically and mentally) thing, I wanted to savor it, but I couldn’t because it is such an intense whirlwind. I wanted to remember and hold on to the experience, and writing it down helped. Also talking to myself about it helped to- like if I had to tell someone about it, what would I say? (I didn’t do any of this for my first child eight years ago and feel very disconnected from that experience, so now I’m trying to piece it together in my mind and write it down years later).
      The other thing that I really got into recently (following the birth of my third child six weeks ago), was listening to other people’s birth stories. There is a podcast called The Birth Hour, where people share their birth stories, and I found it helpful and soothing to hear that every birth is different, and every one processes it in their own way- it made me feel less alone.
      At some point, for me, the feeling of bewilderment got less intense, but I would suggest, either way it is helpful to find someone to talk to- either a professional, or other moms. Even if you don’t think have PPD, there are so many hormones racing that having an objective/ sympathetic listener for what you say is so helpful. Also in my area there are several (often free) mom’s groups or PPD/PPA groups that are great forums for finding a sympathetic ear.

    4. Clever Name*

      Honestly, childbirth is grueling. It’s something people don’t really talk about. Not to be flippant, but there’s a reason it’s called labor! Would talking about your experience help? Maybe with relatives who have been through childbirth or a local mothers group? Journaling helps me process my feelings, as does seeing a therapist on occasion. For what it’s worth, I think you are normal and what you’re feeling is normal.

    5. Not A Manager*

      That sounds traumatic to me. Congratulations on the healthy and chill babies, but you still get to be freaked out about that experience. Please give yourself some time. Maybe read Captain Awkward or others about ways to process tough experiences? For example, for me it was helpful to have a time and a place to vent, either to a partner or in my head or on paper, but then at other times I’d try to compartmentalize and tell myself that I was putting this aside until later. Just be sure that “later” actually comes, and you have space to feel your feelings.

      You are whirlwind of hormones right now, so while you might not have PPD, your emotional regulation could still be different from what you’re used to. I would for sure give yourself at least a few weeks to feel these feelings and express them. If this experience is truly haunting you a few months from now, then think about other ways to address it.

      I’m very sorry that you had such a difficult delivery. Best wishes to your family!

    6. Anon time*

      I’d give yourself time- it’s been less than a week. The not sleeping because you’re thinking about it does seem like a PPA/PPD flag to me- just something to watch and mention to your doctor. Thinking of you. Birth is hard, and you had a particularly long/difficult experience.

    7. blackcat*

      Does your OB/hospital have a maternal mental health specialist? Mine did, and they sent her automatically to me in the hospital since I had a precipitous labor. Even if nothing goes “wrong” with a precipitous labor, it’s likely to cause PTSD symptoms and/or PPD/PPA, so they just send someone to check in and introduce themselves. I think they do the same after failed inductions for the same reason. If they don’t have someone, ask for a referral to a therapist. It will help.
      Even though I wasn’t traumatized by my delivery in any way, I had trouble sleeping for about a week. The first few days were brutal, and I’m sure it was the adrenaline crash. It passed. In your case, there’s probably some amount of coming down off all the medications involved in both the induction and c-section. Have you tried going without painkillers? That may help even if it seems counter intuitive.
      Also, benedryl and unisom are breastfeeding-safe, as long as someone else can care for the babies for about 6 hours. I highly recommend giving that a shot. They gave that to me in the hospital and it made a world of difference.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Congratulations on your new additions! How wonderful!

      As a person who had a REALLY difficult emergency c-section brought on by HELLP/pre-eclampsia that I similarly hesitated to call “traumatic,” I’d agree , talk with your doctor (particularly about the losing-sleep part, which is a predictor as well as a symptom of PPD/PPA), write it out (and burn it? Bury it? Put it in a bottle and throw it out to sea?), schedule a checkin with your normal mental health person if you have one, because none of that can hurt.

      Wishing you all the best in your recovery!

    9. Ranon*

      I’m so sorry that was your birth experience!

      I hope you can give yourself some grace and time- right now you’re still in the thick of postpartum hormones, not sleeping (which is terrible for emotional regulation), healing from major surgery, and growing accustomed to a completely new family structure. Asking yourself to be okay with your birth experience right now is really asking a LOT.

      I also had a birth experience I wasn’t happy with even though it was objectively mostly okay, and it took me a while to be okay with it. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even possible for me to be okay less than a week out (heck, we’d barely left the hospital), but it was a little easier at six weeks and got even better at 3 months when I joined a postpartum group with a facilitator and I got to talk through my experience with other people who had had different experiences, good and bad.

      It really is a kind of grief, coming to terms with a birth that doesn’t go the way you wanted. You can’t change what happened but so much of our cultural narrative is about the pregnant person’s actions determining the birth experience that it’s incredibly difficult after the fact to process that you didn’t in fact have much control over how any of it went. And like most types of grief, it’s hard to rush the healing process. Be kind to yourself, if you can, both physically and emotionally.

      It may also be helpful to write out your birth story, if you want. Sometimes things look different on the page.

    10. Anon to protect the identity of the baby...*

      I had a vacuum extraction after my baby got stuck in the birth canal. I obsessed about it for days, particularly all the things that could have gone wrong, but didn’t. I’d forgotten about it until I saw your post – that baby is now 25, so clearly, time helps. I talked to my husband about it, but didn’t really have anyone else to talk to. I think what helped was creating a differerent thing to think about (usually planning what I was going to do about a problem, or just my schedule for the next day, and conciously making myself switch to that when the birth issues started intruding.

      Congrats on your healthy babies and good luck with all the parenting ahead!

    11. Margaret*

      You can have a traumatic *experience* even if the end result is ok.

      I had a PTSD diagnosis along with PPD; my delivery story is a long story but basically delivered with forceps, hemorrhaged and then was in the OR under general aesthethia later that night. So there was lots of obsessive thoughts about having made wrong choices/not being informed enough, along with missing his first night. The care providers I had were ok, but rather cavalier – there’s a bedside manner that requires acknowledging that this is a new and frightening experience to the patient, even if it’s something they see somewhat often, and many providers don’t have that. I was never at death’s door, but it was still frightening and uncomfortable, and it’s quite horrible to be (1) instructed on care of your newborn as if that’s your only concern (no, I can’t try nursing my baby while you have an IV stuck in the inside of my elbow digging in further every time I bend it and I have to literally beg and cry for hours to make you change that), and (2) treated like you should have had a loving, memorable night of bringing life to the world that was in reality a very trying medical experience.

      Therapy and time helped.

      1. Parenthetically*

        there’s a bedside manner that requires acknowledging that this is a new and frightening experience to the patient, even if it’s something they see somewhat often, and many providers don’t have that

        GOOD LORD this is SO TRUE.

    12. Ann O.*

      I wish I had advice! Labor is very difficult. I don’t think current US culture has a very honest cultural narrative around pregnancy, childbirth, or recovery or good tools for dealing with any of the above. I feel like we’re pretty much all left to our own. My delivery was not nearly as challenging as yours sounds, but it was still much longer than I anticipated (30+ hours) and a lot about how that time was spent was not the way my L&D classes led me to believe it would happen.

      So since I have no useful advice, instead sending sympathies and good wishes for sleep.

      Actually, one bit of advice… if you have caretakers available to help with night shift, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about a sleeping aid that will be compatible with your medical needs/breastfeeding decisions. The biggest thing that helped me was getting some solid, regular sleep, which I was not capable of doing without medical assistance.

    13. LilySparrow*

      Hey, the first six weeks are crazy. Your hormones & emotions are all over the place. It’s a huge deal, even if it wasn’t traumatic in the sense of tragedy, it is just – a really, really big deal. It’s a huge adjustment, it’s a LOT to process, and you don’t just snap back overnight.

      You’re right that not being able to sleep is problematic. I think time and talking it out will take care of the processing issue, but sleep deprivation increases anxious feelings and makes everything harder to deal with.

      It’s certainly worth talking to your doctor about the sleep. I don’t have any specific tips, because I was so exhausted I could sleep standing up if I got the chance. Ask your doc, I’m sure you’re not the only one.

      Hope you’re feeling better soon, and congrats on the sweet babies!

    14. Fikly*

      If it feels traumatic to you, it was traumatic.

      Have you looked into postpartum doulas at all? This is totally a thing, and many of them have experience not only helping with the new babies, but helping the new mom process the birth experience. And it’s generally much less expensive that a birth doula, if money is an issue. A neutral party may be helpful

    15. Anon for medical discussion*

      Giving birth is a physical trauma, especially if your birth involves surgery. For some people, that physical trauma involved more or less emotional trauma as well. You don’t need to justify whether your experience was “bad enough” to legitimize how you feel. You feel how you feel. You were scared, you were in pain, an immense thing happened within your body, and you had major abdominal surgery, all on the day you met two of the most important people in your life. That’s a big deal. Since then, you have had little rest while your body recovers. That’s going to make you feel awful.

      The minimum threshold for receiving professional help for an issue is that it’s distressing you. That’s it. So you can go talk to a therapist, who can help you process this immense physical and emotional experience. Or if you have people around you who can listen without judgment and affirm how you’re feeling, ask them to do that! But you really need people who will say “Yes, that was huge, of course you’re having this huge response. I’m sorry you were so scared/upset/embarrassed/whatever. What a reasonable response. Here’s a hug.” That’s what you need and deserve.

      For what it’s worth, I have “real, legitimate” diagnosed PTSD that followed the birth of my daughter. The birth was textbook, which I know because I deliver babies for a living. I had a relatively quick labour, straightforward vaginal birth, she was fine, I was fine. But birth itself is such a huge experience that it can be overwhelming and terrifying even when everything goes “right.” The medical definition of normal birth still includes a ton of fear and pain for many people. Our bodies are built to think that fear and pain come with injury and danger and the risk of death, and you can’t just rationalize that away with modern cultural perspectives on what’s scary enough to legitimize feeling scared.

      It’s OK if you didn’t have a good birth. We live in a culture that tells women that birth is either a medical procedure best controlled entirely by doctors or an empowering experience that doubles as a test of adequate womanhood, but really it’s a personal experience that takes places within your own personal body, and you are the only one who defines its meaning.

      I’m sorry for the parts of your experience that were so awful. Congratulations on the arrival of your beautiful kids!! Please be very kind to yourself and reach out for whatever help you need, formally or informally, to heal from a difficult experience.

      1. Observer*

        It’s OK if you didn’t have a good birth. We live in a culture that tells women that birth is either a medical procedure best controlled entirely by doctors or an empowering experience that doubles as a test of adequate womanhood, but really it’s a personal experience that takes places within your own personal body, and you are the only one who defines its meaning.

        This is so true. The messaging around child birth is ridiculous. And it directly feeds into difficulty in processing because it leads to all sorts of “what ifs” and questions about personal adequacy. Am I grateful / ungrateful / happy / sad / angry / empowered / assertive / compliant enough?

        And yes, some of these are polar opposites. Which just makes it that much harder, because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to meed this list (even if any of the question made sense in the context of most births.) So we’ve created a list of unstated expectations whose component parts are unrealistic on their own, and which are impossible as w whole.

        1. blackcat*

          I think of the worst messaging that a lot of women get is that as long as mother and baby (or sometimes just baby) are “healthy,” that’s what matters. Of course “healthy” means no major physiological complications. I’d say probably more than half the mothers I know carry some trauma from labor/delivery. It’s SO common for the experience to be traumatic in some way, and for many women I know, it’s either because they had a strong expectation of X or because it went sideways medically.

          In my case, I was surprisingly untraumatized by a truly excruciating precipitous labor. I did make it to the hospital for the worst of it, and I greatly appreciated both my doula (who did a lot of things around me, even though I wasn’t totally aware), and the midwife who acknowledge things were going to hurt LIKE HELL but be over fast. And while I came out of it pretty fine (after the first 48 hours or so… mostly I was dazed right after it), my husband was pretty traumatized by it. A lot of alarms went off, and a nurse straight up panicked (yo, nurses, if you are going to lose your shit, please leave the room). I lost a large amount of blood (transfusion was on the table). While I was sort of all zen about it/unaware of the worst, my husband was freaking out that either the baby or I or both were in trouble. It took him a long time to process that, and it was actually harder for him since nothing was “wrong” from my perspective. It was only after the fact that I realized that when he “went to the bathroom” about a half hour after my son was born, it was my doula taking him out of the room to get him to breathe for a bit. Meanwhile, I was all chipper being like “HEY A BABY! I ALREADY DON’T FEEL LIKE I’M GONNA PUKE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 9 MONTHS! THIS IS GREAT!!!” (pregnancy was not kind to me, and OMG the relief of not being pregnant! So good!)

          So I do want to gently push back on the person giving birth is the only one who defines it’s meaning. It’s a real thing for both parents, and I think it’s important for both parents to not minimize the other’s feelings. If it was traumatic for one, it was traumatic. (Also, medically, I think it’s always traumatic! You lose an organ and a 6-10lb creature from your abdomen. Even when it “goes well” there’s trauma to the body. I think it was like 2 weeks before I felt like my pelvis wasn’t just going to fall apart while I walked.)

    16. legalchef*

      I was induced at 38 weeks with sudden pre-e, was in labor for 28 hours, and ended up w a c section, so I understand a little of what you are going through. Honestly, it took me a couple weeks to just process the craziness of it all. I think it’s totally normal to be a little shell-shocked: your body has gone through a trauma, your hormones are all over the place, etc etc. Def speak w your dr, but I also don’t feel like you should be concerned about your feelings at this point.

    17. Call me St. Vincent*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this! It sounds like a lot to me and it takes time to process all of this especially when you have two newborns! I think my best advice is to cut yourself a whole lot of slack. I had a traumatic birth with my daughter (now 4) and I still obsess about it even now sometimes. My sons birth (18 months ago) was really fine but even though it was more recent, I still think about my daughters birth more. It will pass in time for you or at the very least lessen. I had PPA and obsessing can be part of that so I would just keep in the back of your mind that if things start getting more obsessive you might want to just check in with a therapist. It may seem like you don’t have time to do that (and you don’t!) but it might be something to make time for. Hang in there mama!

    18. Observer*

      I doubt talking to your OB is going to help. In my experience, they really don’t know anything useful about this set of issues.

      Some things that have helped me and people I know:
      1. Take all the help you can get.

      2. Make sure you get to eat and DRINK (even if you are not nursing). Try for one hot food / drink a day, as well as generally adequate nutrition and hydration.

      3. Shower and get out of your nightgown / pjs each day. Most people feel a lot better when they are clean and changed. You don’t need to get fancy – just getting from a night clothes to a clean robe or sweats makes people feel better.

      4. Decent pain control. You want something that works, but that won’t mess with your head. Ibuprofen is surprisingly good, and for a lot of people it has the fewest problematic side effects.

      5. If you are taking iron supplements, they can have some unpleasant side effects as well. If that’s your situation, please talk to your doctor about ways to ameliorate them – either symptomatic relief or a different form of the supplement. (SlowFe was a life saver for me, other people I know swear by FloraDix.)

      6. You don’t have to be suffering from PPD / be “crazed” by the situation to be dealing with a problem. It’s also ok to be sad or upset about some of the things that happened, even as you are grateful for the blessing you have. The fact is that in some ways the two are tightly linked – 2 7lb babies ARE going to cause their own set of problems. Which is to say, even as you recognize that you probably don’t have an earth shattering problem, your problem is real and legitimate. And you are not being “ungrateful” for being sad over things that were difficult and upsetting. Don’t fight those feelings, except as they cause a problem (eg you’re not getting sleep because you are still chewing it over.)

    19. Greywacke Jones*

      Thank you for all these kind and thoughtful replies! It has given me a lot to think about. I don’t think I so much feel guilty or like I failed because I ended up with a C-section. Some of the quirks of the way twin deliveries are handled (all deliveries take place in an OR regardless of the path, epidurals are strongly recommended, among other things) meant that I had thought through a lot of the possibilities and was pretty open to whatever needed to get done. I think possibly I needed to convince myself that it really was a difficult time, so that therefore it was ok that I struggled with it.

      I appreciate the suggestions to write stuff down/talk about it. I know expressing things is helpful, but also hard for me, so a kick to get started is helpful. I think I will reach out to the therapist I was seeing earlier this year.

  25. Lauren*

    Tmi/health issues ahead. I get a migraine the second day after my period starts. Sleeping usually is the only thing that cures it, but I can’t take a day off every month. Tylenol helps sometimes. Does anyone else get this? What helps?