{ 1,144 comments… read them below }

    1. Chyll*

      Sorry, got too excited about the photo and hit send early.

      I got a Lodge Dutch oven with a gift card and am looking forward to cooking with it. Does anyone have any tricks or easy recipes to try when using one?

      1. sswj*

        Well, depending on how big the pot is, no-knead bread is wicked easy and so, so good! (I know you were probably thinking stews and such, but bread is what I mostly use mine for.) I’ll add a link to the recipe I use in the next comment.

      2. Bluebell*

        No exact recipes, but one of the coolest things you can do with it is to make a batch of caramelized onions. I use mine for all sorts of stews and soups, and love how it puts a nice sear on mushrooms. Just be careful to only use wood or plastic utensils and not metal. Enjoy!

      3. CaptainMouse*

        I use mine (4 quart) for many things you start on top of the stove and then put in the oven. In particular, any casserole-type dishes with a white sauce. For example, mac&cheese and tuna casserole. Yes I get less top crust than if I poured everything into a 9×13 baking dish. But, fewer things to wash and easier to store leftovers in the fridge.

      4. Chyll*

        Thanks for the suggestions all! Can’t wait to try them. Looking forward to trying making bread, too. I have to do gluten free (celiac) but I can make it work.

        1. Lena Clare*

          I don’t know, but I just searched it with Google lens and got other pictures of aristoCATS. Very recommended.

    1. Blarg*

      Also check out Crafted Art Emporium. They do customized prayer candles … with your pets. I received one as a gift and am so in love with it. Will try to put the link in my name but not sure if that works.

  1. Lena Clare*

    I couldn’t tell if the tree in Alison’s house that was posted yesterday was real or fake! I think may be fake…
    Do you have a fake tree or real tree?

    I used to prefer a fake tree because it doesn’t moult so much as a real one, and I think of the environmental impact of cutting a real one down but now I think there are schemes to replant, and if you keep it well watered it’s less likely to shed, so maybe a real one would be nicer.
    What are your thoughts?

    1. Telgar*

      You can in good conscience buy a real tree next year – the environmental impact of fake trees is several times higher than that of real trees.

      The problem with fake trees is that they are made largely out of plastic, which uses up mineral oil (new CO2 released into the atmosphere), is rarely recycled (too many different types of plastic make recycling difficult) and is indecomposable (it only gets ground down and microplastic is a huge environmental problem).

      Real trees can be reused (schredded for use in gardens and parks), burned, or decomposed (the last two can be used to produce energy); all of which is several times better than using plastic. It’s best to buy locally grown trees to reduce transport.

      Also, don’t worry about depriving the earth of a tree that is cut down. Christmas trees are not cut out of living forests, they are grown on plantations. If less trees are sold, less will be grown. And it’s better to grow a tree for just a few years then cut it down, than not grow it at all. (Although tree-plantations do have their own problems, it’s still much less problematic than plastic.)

      I don’t have a Christmas tree now, but when I was a child we always had a real tree and I loved it. For me the smell of conifers is part of the Christmas experience. But admittedly a real tree is more work than a fake one.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        A German consumer programme I watch came to the same conclusion. It takes about 10 years for an artificial tree to become carbon neutral. Another alternative is renting a real tree for the festive period.

        1. Green great dragon*

          BBC also came to the conclusion that you have to reuse a fake tree about 10 times. So this year is break-even year for me, and my fake tree’s still going strong.

          1. Green great dragon*

            And link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38129835

            Though of course this is only an average. My parents have a real tree every year: they get whichever not-quite-perfect tree the neighbour wants rid of from his plantation, and then they burn it to heat their house. I guess the chainsaw to chop it down and chop it up uses a bit of electricity?

          2. Liz*

            That’s good to know! My first tree is currently on it’s 13th Christmas having spent many years in my home, and now donated to my workplace. I got a new one last year because we wanted a white one instead, but will undoubtedly use it until it falls to bits.

            This is nothing on my parents, though, who had a total of 2 trees in 47 years, with the second still going strong.

            Maybe it’s a generational/regional thing, but real trees just weren’t a thing for me growing up. A Christmas tree was made of plastic and got shoved in the loft every January. I was an adult before I met anyone who had a real tree (they lived in a more rural area) and when I watched them battling to wedge the trunk into some sort of clamp and stand it up straight, I decided I much prefer one that comes in a box with instructions!

          3. Nita*

            Yes, we used to have an artificial tree that was used for 15 years or so. Would use it still, but my parents sold it when moving. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone still has it!

          1. Washi*

            I think you rent it in a pot so it can be replanted?

            But that’s confusing too because you can’t plant and pot the same tree multiple years (I assume) so either way you are getting a new tree each year. Maybe it’s just confusing because in my area of the US there’s not a vast area of deforestation that needs replanting, so I don’t know what you would do with all of the “saved” trees. It’s not each little pine tree you save helps replant the Amazon or something.

        2. Autumn*

          What a great idea! I will definitely be researching tree rental for next year. I learn the best things on AAM!

      2. Kate*

        Are there really people out there who use a fake tree once and throw it away?

        My parents are on their second fake tree of my lifetime, and I am 36. There first one last 28 years! This one should still have plenty of “life” in it.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Probably not once, but maybe it only has a lifetime of 3-5 years, which falls under the 10 year threshold mentioned above. I had a cheap, pre-lit 3 ft tree that lasted about 5 years before the lights stopped working. My mom ended up burning off the plastic and lights so that she could use the frame for an art project, so I don’t know if that’s better or worse than putting it in a landfill….

          1. RagingADHD*

            We just put new lights on ours. The tree was fine.

            I mean, light strings are a whole different story for impact, and people use them on real trees too.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            burning the plastic releases all sorts of poisonous gases so it was definitely much worse

        2. Emily*

          Same for me! For over 20 years, my parents had the same fake tree, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep the second one for a similar amount of time.

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        Fun fact: in the PNW people use old Christmas trees to rebuild salmon spawning habitats. Putting them into small rivers and streams helps stop erosion and rebuild the areas that the fish need.

      4. Nines*

        We love our fake tree and for our family it was much more cost effective. We got ours five years ago and no signs of getting rid of it. Those years money was very tight. The year before we didn’t have a tree because we couldn’t afford the $80 for a real one. So I shopped and couponed and found a good Black Friday deal the next year. It was more expensive than real, but only by a bit, and I felt much better knowing we secured a tree and wouldn’t have to deal with wondering if we could afford one again. I was a bit put off by fake trees prior to that but now greatly appreciate ours.
        My parents also got a fake tree once they got to the age that it was getting hard to navigate carrying the tree in and out of the house, getting it out of the car, etc. So there are definitely reasons for the fake trees. ☺️

    2. Kali*

      I like fake trees. We’ve always had them. I don’t really get what’s “nicer” or preferable about a real tree, they just seem like a lot of hassle and…well, a lot of hassle.

      1. pancakes*

        Real trees smell nice and don’t look plastic or fake. All of these are qualities I like. I’m baffled by the idea that real trees are a hassle – I have never encountered this view before seeing it here just now! Having to store a fake tree would take up a lot of room in my apartment, too.

        1. Janet Pinkerton*

          We’re about to buy a fake tree for the first time. It’s just that there’s no joy for us in going and picking out a real tree and then transporting it home and getting my car all dirty/pine needley, then walking it 200 feet from the car to the door, then dragging it upstairs to the condo, then setting it up in the tree stand, watering it, putting the lights on it, making sure it stays watered, making sure the cats don’t drink te water.

          Whereas everyone I know with a fake tree just has to pull it out and set it up. It seems easy-peasy in comparison. Plus I’d rather spend $300 once than like $80 every year.

          1. Liz*

            $300?? I think the more expensive fake tree I bought was £25!! What does $300 get you? Does it light up on its own?

            1. Liz*

              Sorry it just occurred to me that this might come across as judgey. Absolutely no bad feeling towards anyone with a £300 tree, I was just thrown because I don’t think over ever seen one for 3 figures. I’ve done some internet searching and I did find one for £279 that looks like a realistic replica of an actual spruce. So I guess that kind of thing? Are those more of a norm in the States?

            2. ThatGirl*

              Yes, the $300 trees are usually more natural looking, bigger, better quality and/or pre-lit. We have a 7 ft fake tree with LEDs that you can set to white or color lights. It wasn’t that much, about $100, but it should last much longer and the bulbs won’t burn out.

            3. MissDisplaced*

              Some fake trees can go for $300 or more, but they’re usually quite large ones. Generally those are better made, so think of those as an investment that should easily last 10 years if taken care of and stored properly.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            You don’t even have to spend that much if you buy the tree AFTER Christmas. My last tree was $99 on sale. I used it for five or six years and it was in great shape, so I donated it before I moved because I didn’t know what kind of space I would eventually have and didn’t want to store it.

            1. anon2*

              You are coming across as rather snotty about other people’s choices! I’m sure if you or a family member had allergies to real trees, you’d find a way to find joy in a nice quality fake.

            2. ThatGirl*

              Dude, the judginess isn’t a good look. Many people have explained their reasons and fake trees bring me plenty of joy, even if they don’t do the same for you.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t think it’s a much better look for so many people to pile on me for expressing a preference for real trees in a thread soliciting opinions on the matter. I don’t see why my personal stylistic preference should be weigh so heavily on anyone – other people’s preferences don’t weigh heavily on me.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  The issue is you weren’t just “expressing a preference”. You started by stating your preference. Then you went and made half a dozen other posts crapping on other people’s preferences. That’s the difference. I don’t even celebrate this holiday, and have never and will never have an Xmas tree and even I was cringing at how you spoke to people on this topic.

            3. AnonEMoose*

              People who love real trees love them, and I get that. But to me, I’m not big on the idea of having to remember to water it, cleaning up needles, trying to keep the cats out of the water (which I understand can be toxic to them), and the potential fire hazard if it dries out. So, fake tree it is.

            4. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

              I mean, for me there is no joy in having a severe allergic reaction so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        2. Kali*

          My mum used to just stick the tree in the back of a cupboard, with the Christmas decorations, and my MiL keeps hers in the attic. I guess they do take up space, but some things have to, and a Christmas tree was just one we always made room for. Though, that said, we’ve just made a wall-tree out of lights the last few years, when space has really been an issue.

          Tbh, it’s what I grew up with, and, I guess, just what I expect a tree to look like. With the smell, I also don’t really care about the smell of old books, so maybe I’m just an outlier there.

          1. Liz*

            I’m exactly the same on all counts. My tree broke down conveniently into a box every year and I kept it under the bed!

            But I guess it’s what we grew up with? I don’t expect a Christmas tree to look like an actual tree either, so my cheap, green tinsel replica did me very well for 11 years. £25 well spent! I had never even seen a “realistic” fake tree until I looked one up today but I guess it makes sense that there’s a market for them if people grew up with real ones and are used to that look.

            Many people have commented on the smell, and maybe I have selective nose blindness but all the times I’ve found myself sat next to a real tree, I have never noticed a smell. Yesterday I literally pressed my nose into the needles of a spruce and… nothing! I feel I must be missing out!

            1. The Other Dawn*

              We’ve been getting real trees for last 20 years or so and I find I can only smell the scent for a day or two. Either I get used to it or it just doesn’t give off a scent anymore. I have no idea which it is.

              1. allathian*

                The scent comes from the needles drying out and the tree dying. When it’s dry, it won’t smell anymore. Also, some varieties smell more strongly than others, and from personal experience I can say that the stronger the scent, the more the tree will shed.

                I’ll say this, though, we’ve had our Siberian fir up for a week now, and it hasn’t shed at all. I’ve literally seen artificial trees that shed more than this one!

                1. The Other Dawn*

                  I’ve had great luck with my trees now that we cut them down vs. going to a tree lot for pre-cut. We cut ours down and put them up on December 6 this year and they’re only now starting to drop a few needles.

            2. desdemona*

              The huge trick re: smell for fake trees that a friend of mine uses is putting a pine-scented car freshener deep in the fake tree along the “trunk” part.
              I think when the tree goes into storage, the air freshener goes into her car?
              Maybe not eco-friendly, but the point is that there’s a way around the smell if people really really want it.

              1. Artemesia*

                you can buy evergreen scent and also little sticks you can stick in a tree that give it a pine scent. Also candles this time of year.

              2. allathian*

                I can’t tolerate artificial scents at all. Car air fresheners in particular are pretty much guaranteed to give me a headache. I’d rather have a scent-free tree…

                There are some natural scents that I can’t tolerate, either. Christmas trees don’t affect me, but strong-smelling flowers, like lilacs, hyacinths (popular at Christmas here) and lilies-of-the-valley make me feel ill. The scent is lovely outdoors, though.

        3. Curly sue*

          My father is badly allergic to pine, so when he started doing Christmas again (long story can be boiled down to “converting religions for marriage is a really bad idea”) and tried doing a real tree, he was in absolute misery. It was fake trees only after that.

          1. Damn it, Hardison!*

            I’m also sadly allergic to pine, so artificial tree it is. I got a new one 2 years ago; the previous one was a $50 tree from Target that lasted 15 years.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            For me it’s the inevitable mildew/mold from having a cut plant in water. (Plus I like to keep the tree up a long time.)

        4. EventPlannerGal*

          Mine folds down pretty small even though it’s a 6-footer so storage isn’t that big a problem! I would like a real one but I’d need to get it delivered to my flat, up four or five flights of very narrow stairs, and I KNOW I’d be picking needles out of the carpet for months. I think they both have their pros and cons.

          1. pancakes*

            We live on the 4th floor and carry it up ourselves. I wonder about the quality of vacuum cleaner some of you seem to be stuck with!

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              Uh, okay? I don’t want to do that. So I have a fake tree. This isn’t very complicated. And no, I don’t have an especially great vacuum cleaner because I prefer to spend my money elsewhere as I don’t really care that much about the quality of my vacuum cleaner.

              As I said, there are pros and cons to both real and fake trees but you are being very judgemental throughout this thread about people’s preference for fake trees. I find that strange. Could you explain why you’re responding like this?

              1. pancakes*

                This is a thread soliciting opinions on the subject. I don’t see why it should be quite so bruising for people to encounter opinions on an almost entirely irrelevant stylistic choice that aren’t aligned with their own. We don’t all have to like the same things! Yet several people here seem to think their stylistic preferences require excuses. “I prefer the look and convenience of a fake tree” is easy to understand; “my vacuum cleaner doesn’t work on pine needles” much less so.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I tried to say this nicely earlier but I’m going to say it more bluntly now: Whether you intend it or not, you’re coming across rudely in this thread. Please drop the topic and move on from this thread. Thank you.

        5. ThatGirl*

          But they require water and care, need to be disposed of each year, and the needles can make a mess. I’m firmly in the do what works for you camp, but there are upsides and downsides to both.

        6. fiverx313*

          real trees don’t come in screaming hot pink, though :D

          plus my cat is allergic to nearly everything and i’m not looking to find out if that includes pine needles, lol

          1. allathian*

            I prefer a real tree. Plenty of people prefer fake trees, and that’s a personal choice that shouldn’t affect anyone else. That said, I don’t see the point of fake trees in any other color than green, but that’s just me. Of course, if you put so many decorations on it that you can barely see the tree underneath, it’s less of an issue. But I don’t like the look of “overloaded” trees, either. I also can’t stand “gilded lilies”, flowers that have been dyed either by placing cut flowers in dye or by painting and putting glitter etc. on them. I guess I just like my plants to look natural even if they aren’t. YMMV, as usual. I hope I’m not coming across as judgmental here, I’m just stating my own preferences.

            Good quality artificial trees can look very convincing, my sister has one that you couldn’t tell was fake unless you touched it. It’s just a bit asymmetric to make the illusion even more convincing, there’s some variation in the number and length of branches, etc.

        7. Disco Janet*

          As someone who grew up having real Christmas trees, I’m kinda baffled too – but by the fact that you can’t imagine someone seeing real trees as a hassle. You don’t see it as a hassle to attach a tree to your car, drag it in the house, get it setup in the stand so it isn’t going to fall over (this process generally involves weights for my parents real tree!), watering it daily, vacuuming the needles – and inevitably still occasionally stepping on one and having it trying to lodge into your foot like a splinter?

          Like I can get thinking it’s worth the hassle, but not understanding why it’s considered a hassle?

          1. pancakes*

            We are NYC people who have to drag a great many things up & down four flights of stairs. Getting the tree set up doesn’t seem like much of a hassle to me, no. My parents did it every year growing up, and it was easier for them to get a tree into their semi-suburban living room through the front door than it is for my boyfriend and I to get it up the stairs. It’s certainly not so much of a hassle that I’m going to warm up to the department store-look of fake trees anytime soon. I’d rather go without!

            1. Disco Janet*

              And that’s fine for you – the tone here just reads as super judgmental to me – like the audacity of someone liking the look of a fake tree or seeing them as more convenient. I guess I just don’t understand having such strong feelings about the look of a fake tree. (But I’ve seen fake trees that I didn’t realize were fake until I was told, so clearly I don’t notice or care as much.)

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  I suspect you may be coming across significantly more condescending on this topic than was your intention.

                2. Kay*

                  I’m flabbergasted you feel comfortable bringing dying trees into your home year after year. Doesn’t it trouble you to know you are contributing to the Xmas tree farming industry? Real trees are raised to be murdered! :(

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I’m seconding the people saying you’re coming across differently here than you may intend.

                  I think a certain brand of handbag is tacky, but I’m not going into groups of people who say they like them and repeatedly explaining how tacky I find them and how confused I am that anyone would want one.

                  (The tree in my house is fake, because my husband has terrible allergies.)

          2. Old and Don’t Care*

            This is how it went in my house growing up and is clearing up any nostalgia I had for a real tree. My fake tree has never toppled over…

          3. Traffic_Spiral*

            I think it’s a new online affectation. People say “I’m baffled by” or “I just can’t comprehend why” when they mean “I don’t agree with/like X.” It’s a new passive aggressive way to go “I’m so right that I can’t iMAgine why anyone would think differently.”

            1. pancakes*

              You are ironically being a bit aggressive about rewording my views, and you are not capturing them accurately. Of course people think differently about this, but apparently people see differently, and the latter is what baffles me. To my eye there are numerous visual differences between fake and real trees.

              1. Disco Janet*

                You’re also rewording your views though. You didn’t initially say you were baffled some people couldn’t tell the difference. You said you were baffled anyone could view them as a hassle. (While describing dragging it up four flights of stairs.)

                They were giving you the benefit of a doubt, not being aggressive. You’re being aggressive.

      2. WellRed*

        Well, the smell of a real tree for starters. Lack of storage for the fake. But either way, I like having the tree, real or fake.

    3. WS*

      I’m allergic to pine trees, so it’s a fake tree for me and my workplace! It does save having to vacuum up all the pine needles, though, and we use the same tree every year.

      1. KimmyBear*

        This. My parents had a fake tree for many years and then switched to real until the realized my sister was downing Claritin to survive the holidays. Now it’s back to the fake tree but they’ve had the same one for at least 15 years.

        1. WS*

          I would get a “cold” in early December leading to mysterious sinus infections and migraines in the weeks before Christmas, and it turned out to be the tree!

        2. GrumpyGnome*

          I’m sorry for your sister! I think that was the issue my dad had with real trees and my mom got tired of cleaning up the shed needles. We switched from real to fake when I was about 6 or 7 and my mom set up the same fake tree for 25 years til she passed away. My dad and I don’t really decorate our respective houses for Christmas anymore (my mom loved the decorating and we would help her and since she’s gone it’s not as much fun) but we still have all the ornaments saved just in case we decide to.

    4. Quoth the Raven*

      I prefer fake trees. I’ve only had a real tree once, and it was too much a hassle. Furthermore, buying or renting a real one every year is too expensive where I live (I am in Mexico City; we have few massive green areas and those we have don’t really lend themselves to growing trees to the scale that would be needed).

      I do keep my fake trees for a long time. I’m 33, and we’ve only really bought two fake trees in my life; one was precisely because we’d given our old tree away to someone else because we moved to an apartment where we didn’t have the room for it, so we got the real one one year and then went without one for a couple of years.. I don’t see any point in getting a new one often.

      1. Moosemonster*

        Same. My husband had a brief obsession with buying real trees, and for our kid’s first Christmas he went all out and bought a massive tree that barely fit in the house. I’m still finding needles two years later. After that particular mess, he caved and we got a small, fake tree, which I know hurts his soul with its pitiful stature but saves us about 15h hours in clean up work.

        1. Hi there*

          I go the opposite way. I buy a real tree that I can fit into my Subaru crosstrek with the seats down. This means the tree is barley taller than I am but makes the maneuvering really easy.

    5. allathian*

      We prefer real trees. Ours is usually a Siberian fir, if we can get one, because they shed far less than any other variety we’ve tried. Their scent is also less “coniferous” than other varieties. I do miss the scent sometimes, but I love how little hassle they are.

    6. Gingerblue*

      Real trees all the way for me. They’re better for the environment, keep farmers in business, and they’re lovely and smell good and are just… realer.

      1. Kay*

        I read an article that they are worse for the environment? Just saw the headline so I have no idea what that’s about.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Maybe someone will know something about this. I remember the calculus teacher saying there is a mathematical formula that can estimate the number of tree limbs for a given size tree. So while not always symmetrical, are still some semi-predictable patterns.

        1. Kali*

          I know there are strict patterns in the development of leaves and petals for smaller flowers, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar applied to trees.

          We only covered this briefly – I did genetics – and I’ve not used it since so don’t remember it well, but it was interesting to study. Firstly, the plant professor was such an adorable oddball. Secondly, it was the only dissection we ever had to do (in the looking-at-it-under-a-microscope way rather than breaking the cell walls to get the DNA out way), taking flowers apart and looking at the petals. We did that because, if a flower has more than, iirc, 5 petals, it’s not a flower. It’s several flowers, of two different types, one that makes the petally bit and one that makes the central bit. It’s some specific mutations in the crysanthemum family, which includes daisies and sunflowers. It also includes dandelions, but they have another mutation that makes ALL their little flowers the petally bits with no inside bits. The thing I remember most fondly is the mathematics behind how plants decide where new leaves and things go, because that was one of Alan Turing’s contributions to biology, figuring that out. I studied at one of the uni’s associated with Turing, so we always had a moment when we came across his work. I imagine those on maths courses, working in the Turing building, had multiple moments.

        1. pancakes*

          It’s gotten a bit lost in the threading. My point was just that this is a reliable way to discern whether a tree is real or fake.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      My parents always had a huge fake tree. When I lived at home I think we had a real tree for maybe the last two years we were in that house. When my parents moved out of state to NH they went out and chopped down a real tree every year. I was living with my then-boyfriend, now my husband, and we had a small fake tree. He’d never had a real tree in his whole life. Once we bought a house, though, it’s been a real tree ever since. We stopped buying pre-cut, though, because the quality is fairly hit-or-miss and pretty expensive around here (CT). (One year the needle droppage was so bad we had to take it down and get another one. My sister thought I was crazy for doing that, but I didn’t want to spend the holidays looking at this really sad, mostly bare tree.) About three years ago we started chopping down our own at a local nursery and they only charge 30.00 for any size, as compared to 55.00+ in a tree lot. We typically get two trees since our house is 285 years old–we do a “modern” tree in the family room and then an old-fashioned one in the living room (C9 bulbs, old glass ornaments we find at antique stores for a couple dollars, etc.)

      I don’t find there’s any more “hassle” with a real tree than a fake tree. I feel it’s equal. I hate having to put a fake tree together, though I’m sure that’s changed in the last 20 years since I last bought one. And trying to get it back into the box and lug it up to the attic is annoying. With a real tree, there’s the needle droppage, though chopping your own down limits that–it stays fresh for much longer–and you have to water it. Then when you’re done you either lug it out to the curb for pickup or recycling it somehow.

      1. Not playing your game anymore*

        Yeah. That’s changed a lot. When I was small it was my job to assemble the tree. Lots of sorting of branches by length and then a fairly tedious amount of finding the proper hole for each branch… but my folks used that tree for the entire 30 years they were married (and they bought it used) It packed down (almost as tediously into a small box that could be stored under the bed) Mom didn’t put up a tree after I moved out but just decorated a chair or a card table to put gifts and cards on.

        We had a real tree for several years once I had my own place, but it wasn’t what I was used to and I turned out to have pine allergies… so we bought an artificial tree. When we moved about fifteen years later, my tree didn’t fit so we got a shorter tree for the bay window, on sale after Christmas for $15 (and yes, it does light up) It fits in a closet, but does take up a lot more room than my childhood tree, but you pull it out of it’s bag, fluff up it’s branches a bit and it’s good to go we put a few favorite ornaments on it… No fuss no muss. The real tree’s were much more hassle, and I felt bad about killing them (I also hate cut flowers, so there is that)

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, I used to love sorting the branches! They were color-coded on the ends, which got real challenging after the paint was mostly chipped off.

          Ours now comes in 4 sections that each fold like an umbrella.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, that’s why we eventually went with a real tree: the paint wore off the fake branches so eventually we had to guess where they go. Plus, we really like the look of a real tree.

      2. allathian*

        When you get a pre-cut tree, you need to saw off about 3 or 4 inches from the bottom of the tree. Otherwise it won’t be able to suck up any water and it’ll dry out much faster.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          We’ve done that with all our real trees, but even then the ones pre-cut from a tree lot don’t hold up as well as the ones we cut down.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I definitely think that real trees are nicer. They each have their own “personality” meaning their own little shape and branch configuration. They smell good and that smell feels festive to me.

      I use a fake tree. The reason is that years ago suddenly it became a Thing to charge 50 bucks for a very modest, small tree. Other trees were more bucks. At that point we had an apartment with high ceilings. Making lemonade here, I bought a big, fake tree to match the higher ceilings and we used that for years. I picked it up during the after Christmas sales.

      As we got older it seemed to make sense to have a smaller tree. I now have something shorter than me and I don’t always put it up every year. I seriously think about getting rid of this tree. I still have a couple tiny trees to decorate and I have fake greens that I can use to decorate.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One way to feel better about the decision is to buy an artificial tree second-hand — tag sales, Freecycle, Buy Nothing, charity shops, etc.
      I’ve been looking at feather trees lately… I just worry about long-term storage, because over the years I’ve had run-in with critters & insects that eat natural fibers. So is it any better if I have to start storing my tree in moth balls!?

    10. MissM*

      Aluminum tree here. It’s sparkly, easy to put up/down, probably 60+ years old, and only moults a tiny scrap of metal each year.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I had one of those in my bedroom when I was a teenager. I don’t know if it was old or not, though. My husband and I were in an antiques store a couple weeks ago and they had one of these trees…$480! Makes me wish I saved that old silver tree, as I’m curious as to whether it would be worth anything now.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        We had one of those when I was very small. I remember it being in the attic of the house we lived in when I was five.

      3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I have one like that. It was my grandparents’ and is at least 70 years old. Still looks fine but it is a bit large for my house so I don’t always put it up.

    11. Pocket Mouse*

      Three, sometimes four, households in my family have no tree. Of these, two have brought in large, smooth branches from the yard and hung lights and ornaments on the branch. One places tree-shaped decorations (such as the foot-high light-up ceramic type) or a potted plant with small ornaments on it near or above the present pile. One does nothing for a tree per se, but gets fresh pine decorative items (wreaths, sprigs, crafts) for the cheer and scent.

    12. Scout Finch*

      Growing up, my friend’s parents had a real tree every year. But it was live, with the root ball in some sort of wash tub. When Christmas was over, they planted the tree along the fence line at the south side of their yard.

      It was nice seeing the trees lined up, the tallest one from when my friend was a baby. They had about 15 trees planted before I moved from the neighborhood.

      It was like looking at the height marks on a door jamb that parents mark as their children grow.

      1. allathian*

        This is really cool! Of course, it requires a lot that’s big enough for a fence like this, so I’m guessing a more rural area.

      2. Janne*

        That’s such a cool idea!

        My parents, living on a not so big lot, had a really really small and cheap tree their first Christmas together in that house, replanted it in the front yard, and every year dug it out. When I was 11 years old, the tree didn’t fit under the ceiling anymore, and that coincided with when we had to move houses so we started anew with a small tree. The last couple of years it was really nice that I had gotten bigger, because my dad couldn’t carry the tree inside on his own anymore. We needed a very big pot too, because the roots grew with it of course. After 12 or so years, the tree doesn’t have a really nice shape anymore, but that adds to its character ;)

        The only problem was that we had one winter where the ground was frozen and we couldn’t dig out the tree. But most of the time it only gets really cold in January here, so if we are early enough in December we’re fine.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      Real trees smell nice (unless you’re allergic to pine) and can be mulched. However, I need a smaller tree and found many tree lots just do not have smaller live trees!
      You can get a decent fake tree in the $100-$150 range, which ought to last 8-10 years if stored properly. The metal (aluminum I think) should be recyclable, and I think there is some effort now to make artificial trees out of recycled plastic if you look for a higher recycled material content and are willing to may more.

      Kind of a toss up. I guess it depends on your lifestyle. I find the artificial tree simpler and easier, but no, not as nice or “warm” looking. Simple usually wins out as I get too busy in December tho.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, I’ve noticed this year is the first year I see a lot of mini or table-top real trees – I assume pandemic holiday plans means there’s enough of a market for them. I’ve wanted one in the past (small house, one year our puppy took up the tree corner) and had to settle for a potted bush that had been grown in a vaguely pine shape.

        1. Janne*

          I found that the really small trees are sold in different places around here. The big trees are sold in places like the parking spot of a home depot or a garden center, and the small trees are sold at florists and supermarkets and some department stores. That will vary by place though — I live in the Netherlands.

    14. Wisco Disco*

      Real trees here. We live in a rural area so we cut it from the tree farm down the road, and when we take it down it gets eaten by the neighbors’ goats.

    15. Figgie*

      We’ve only had two fake trees in 45 years and the current one is still going strong at 20 plus years of age. Not that we have a tree this year, as we are wintering in Mexico.

      Because I didn’t want the cats to destroy the ornaments that our kids had made when they were small, many years ago, my spouse put a nail up by the ceiling, centered on the wall. He then put two nails on either side between a wall and a door down by the bottom. He took a silver garland, using the nails as the anchor and put together a triangular Christmas tree on the wall, looping the garland back and forth between the sides of the triangle to build a fairly good size tree on the wall, up high enough that the cats can’t reach the ornaments.

      Regular ornament holders or silver paper clips hold the ornaments in place and it all stores into a small shoe box when we take it down. No lights, but my spouse says he can run small LED’s around the garland if I really want him to. We call it the “Kid’s Christmas Tree” and to be honest, I love it has much as I love our regular tree. :-)

    16. Jackalope*

      I’m real trees all the way (although for the last several years it’s been no tree instead). I like the smell, I like the way they look (different each year!), and an artificial tree registers to my senses as “tree-shaped piece of plastic” rather than “tree”. This is not a scientific study but I know in my area we have a number of tree farms. If everyone went to plastic then they wouldn’t be able to keep growing trees and the land would probably be paved over and put to other use. So even with cutting them down I feel that at least in my area natural trees are an environmental win.

    17. Mella*

      I will never have another real tree after multiple spider/cricket/mantis incidents. Waking up to my cats projectile vomiting dozens of baby spiders does not a merry Christmas make.

      We use my grandmother’s fake tree from the 60s in years we have cats who behave. If we have kittens or rambunctious cats that year (we foster) we have a special homemade cat-proof fake tree that my inventor husband came up with.

    18. Clisby*

      We always get a real tree. They typically come from tree farms that are constantly replanting, in rotation, so you’re not likely to be participating in deforestation with a real tree. It’s not much different from buying vegetables from a farmers market. They also have a post-Christmas use, at least in SC. Here, discarded trees are used to create fish havens in the lakes. Now, of course, the real reason for creating fish havens is so people can catch fish and eat them, so if you’re opposed to that, it’s a con instead of a pro.

      1. pancakes*

        Where I live the discarded trees are mulched and used in gardening our city parks. It’s called Mulchfest. We live half a short block away from our nearest park and I always enjoy the smell when this is happening.

    19. RagingADHD*

      I have contact allergies to real trees, so I couldn’t decorate one without coming out in a horrible burning, weeping rash.

      I’ve always had an artificial tree. My parents had the same one for 40+ years, then I had a mini apartment-sized one that we still have & sometimes put in the kids’ room. Our current house tree is about 9 years old and going strong.

      So if the 10-year rule is accurate, we’ve nearly evened out on the youngest one. And my folks I guess were better off than using 40 live trees.

      1. Gingerblue*

        I had no idea people even could have contact allergies to pines until this thread. That sounds miserable! We’re such poorly-optimized mammals at times.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Interestingly, I am also in the minority of people who are NOT allergic to poison ivy. (Currently. It can change, so I don’t press my luck.)

          Bodies are wierd.

    20. Lena Clare*

      I think I’m erring on the side of keeping my fake trees till they fall (hopefully many more years to come!) then get a real one. I’d like a real one next year, but it seems kind of wasteful if my fake ones are fine.
      I’ve posted a link to my Twitter with pictures of the trees I’ve got up (including a book tree!) which is in moderation, but you can see them if you’re interested when it goes through.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      We had a fake tree when I was a kid, and one year, we kids all banded together and begged our parents to get a real one. They did. After a week of stepping on needles, we decided we preferred the plastic tree.

      I’ve had an artificial one since. If I want pine scent in my house, I can get a living wreath or a candle.

    22. Artemesia*

      When I was a child in the 50s I remember a public service film on TV about fire dangers with Christmas tree. They lit one and it flashed up in about two seconds. Since we liked to have our tree near the fireplace in the house we raised our kids in, we went with a nice artificial tree — one where you assemble it branch by branch. Now we do that every year with our granddaughter. ‘Building the tree’ is a Christmas tradition.

      1. allathian*

        When I was a kid in the 70s and early 80s, we had live trees. With real candles! Of course, those weren’t lit most of the time, just an hour or so in the early evening. Safety standards have improved since then, most city ordinances probably ban live candles in trees. I certainly haven’t seen any for a very long time.

        On Christmas Day, I watched the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey set in 1924 and I was amazed that they had electric “fairy lights” in the tree. Of course, they were wealthy, but I must have been at least 10 years old before I saw my first electric tree lights, and I thought they looked horrible… (I was a conservative child, given the choice, I’d rather wear clothes that had become too small for me as I grew than brand new ones.)

        1. Not playing your game anymore*

          Where on earth were you raised? I was born in 1960 and we (and everyone I knew) always had electric tree lights. Big bulbs that got hot enough to melt our plastic tree, and when one bulb went out the whole tree went dark… but still! After seeing them on some TV show, I begged for them and was told that candles were an old unsafe way to light a tree.

          I’ve never seen candles on a tree IRL.

          1. Myrin*

            I mean, I’m 29 and this year was/is the very first time my family hasn’t had candles on our tree. Granted, we’ve had a candles-only tree for the last time maybe 20 years ago and since then we’ve only ever had electric lights interspersed with like five candles which only get lighted on the 24th. I’m pretty sure though that – despite being German and someone downthread saying that this is apparently our thing? – that’s mostly because my mum is into that kind of stuff; I certainly don’t recall any of my friends every having real candles (at least prominently placed ones) on their trees even when I was little.

          2. allathian*

            I’m in Finland. Certainly my maternal grandparents, who lived in the country and always cut their Christmas trees from their own forest, insisted on real candles in their tree. We often celebrated Christmas with them. The first electric tree lights I saw were shaped like candles, they were really popular here in the 80s, and troublesome, because if one bulb burned out the whole string stopped working. We have a couple of strings of led lights in ours.

    23. pieforbreakfast*

      Living in Christmas Tree Farm land so supply and price are nice we get a real one every year, often there’s someone in the neighborhood selling them out of their yard or a fundraiser for some organization. Other times it’s a nice Sunday afternoon activity to go to the farm, get a tree and some cider and cookies.

    24. Kay*

      I’ve never had a real tree, but the tree stand always seemed like work – having to adjust it to each real tree you bring in. A real tree fell over once in my office because the stand wasn’t the right fit. Obviously other people have figured it out but it seemed like too much work for me haha

    25. Otter Dance*

      I have a fabric tree, a quilt of a Christmas tree that hangs on the wall. I decorate it with strings of beads and odd earrings and pins. (I also have two Christmas couch quilts, a Christmas table runner, Christmas placemats and napkins, and Christmas kitchen towels. Not that I’m overcompensating or anything.)
      We had to give up real or artificial trees because of the cats. One tried to eat the “needles” off an artificial tree, and I couldn’t tell you how many times trees were knocked over by cats who tried to climb them. Tinsel is also very bad for critters’ insides.
      It’s a good thing I love the little beasts more than I miss having a Christmas tree.

    26. uncivil servant*

      I had a German prof at university who explained that Germans consider fake trees kitschy, like fake lights. The class stared at her with an open mouth and asked how many houses burn down at Christmas in Germany. I understand that the tree is a Christmas Eve thing there, however. I put mine up in early December and turned the lights on every day.

      I just don’t like the hassle. Bringing a real tree home in a small car, carrying it into an apartment (real trees might be banned in the lease, I can’t remember), disposing it at the end… I just bought the cheapest artificial model at the store and it’s lasted 9 years already with no sign of damage. I have no idea how it’s possible to be so hard on a Christmas tree you touch twice a year to have it last only 3-5 years.

    27. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      We buy a tree and on 6 Jan we have a burning ceremony for which the heating is turned off, I think that’s a great way of reusing the tree.
      The first time we just shoved the entire tree in the chimney place and it burned so hard and bright we thought the entire house would burn down. Now we chop it up to burn it more sensibly, but still we make a fair blaze. . We save branches to be used to light the fire – much less harmful to the environment than those tablets.

    28. Clumsy Ninja*

      My immediate family always had a fake tree, and my grandma always had a real tree. And after a few years of visiting my grandma at Christmas and having to call the pediatrician’s office because I got sick, we finally figured out I was probably allergic to the real tree. (Which was later confirmed when I went through allergy testing.) We have a fake tree that we plan to use until it falls apart, because even though I went through all the allergy shots, no one wants to find out that I’m still allergic to something that we willingly bring into our house for a month.

      We also have two fake wreaths that we hang in our house and plan to use until they fall apart.

    29. HBJ*

      I have had both. I much prefer a fake tree. Fake are less mess. They are even and symmetrical. They can stay up longer. They also do not take up that much room for storage. The 6-foot tree we had when I was a kid came apart in three sections and folded up into a rectangular box that was about 3 feet long and 10 inches square.

  2. Kali*

    How do you deal with struggles over emotional labour? I’m going to explain my own story and why I’m asking, but I’m really more interested in hearing how others have dealt with this than being given advice specific to my situation. I’m not asking anyone to find a solution for me, just, you know, commiseration and sharing in the more general struggle of being women who date men in a world where women are expected and trained to do the work, especially for events like Christmas. Would also be interested to hear from people who date their own gender or who are bi, just to get a different perspective on the issue.

    My fiance is normally great, about most things…but there are many, important things, that just don’t get done unless I remember they need to get done, plan how he’ll get them done, and then repeatedly remind him. He swears he was just about to remember to do the thing, and it would have been fine if I hadn’t reminded him. I don’t believe him. If that were true, then it would be a really big coincidence that, just by chance, I’ve been reminding him of things he was just about to remember to do and that, also just by chance, the things I haven’t reminded him off were coincidentally the stuff he forgot about. When I pointed that out, we decided on a compromise. I’d point out when big things were coming up, and then leave him to it, so he can practice getting things done, with the eventual goal that he’d learn to notice and take care of more things all by himself. I’d like to skip straight to the second part tbh, but I guess people don’t change overnight.

    Anyway, his first task is to finish wrapping all the presents for our household Christmas, which is happening in 1 hour and 15 minutes according to his own estimate from last night (we’re British, and were allowed to visit other households yesterday, so we all had external Christmases). I crocheted all the gifts, which is why they’re being wrapped so late (i.e., I literally finished them yesterday) and now all I need to do is…nothing. And wait for him to fail or succeed. I expect the latter based on experience, but hope for the former. Luckily, we have a clear measure of success (gifts wrapped and ready downstairs by 11 am) so it doesn’t matter what I expect or hope for, there’s an objective yes or no answer.

    The other big thing is my engagement ring. I proposed, so he has a ring. He decided he would make me a ring, because I was a wood and resin ring, for multiple reasons. Not least because I have ADHD and will lose it at least once. We decided that, though it’s traditional for engagement rings to last forever, mine can be renewed and replaced as needed, like love is because love isn’t static. Anyway, we got engaged last February and he’s still not finished making it. He’s had the time, he just had days and days (which turned into weeks and months) of not doing it. I started joking that, if I didn’t have a ring within a year, the engagement would expire, he would have to propose, and I may or may not say yes. I realised that, at some point over the last week or so, this stopped being a joke, which we discussed yesterday. If he doesn’t get it done by the 9th of February, we won’t be engaged any more, and I don’t know exactly what that means for our relationship and future, but it won’t be good.

    1. WS*

      Well, yes. This is someone who doesn’t respect your work or organisation, and with ADHD you must have worked like hell to be organised. Are you planning to have kids? Because if so, you are going to be 100% responsible for everybody’s schedule/activities/medical care/schooling, and all the work that goes into that.

      My partner and I are both women, and she has ADHD, so I do more of the organising because it’s vastly less stressful for me, and much more likely to get done. The difference for me is that she respects and notices that planning, and does her absolute best to get her parts of it done even if it involves putting 10 reminders on her phone. She doesn’t say she was just about to do whatever, and doesn’t dismiss the household planning as unimportant.

      1. Lobsterp0t*

        Yeah, this “i was just about to do that” is annoying as hell. I’ve been guilty of it but I’ve realised I, as the ADHD partner myself, can say “today I am planning to do X, did you need it done by a certain time or can I do it on Jenny time?”

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, it’s not that far from a nagging charge—it puts the other person in the wrong for my own slackness in getting stuff done. I know the defensive impulse well, but it gets corrosive in this situation.

    2. Well...*

      I don’t think you can control his ability to get things done by training him into it slowly. You’re falling into the trap of doing all the things, then when you realize it’s a problem, you try to do more things to fix the problem in the form of creating an improvement program for your partner.

      You’ve got to not do as much stuff. You started off asking about emotional labor but what you described is actual labor (making gifts, wrapping gifts, getting things done by a deadline). You’ve communicated and made your fiance aware of the problem… That’s when your role ends here. He can either do stuff or not do stuff now, but it’s outside of your control.

      I would assume he isn’t going to do anything, and plan around that until he demonstrates with actions that he can be trusted. Don’t make such labor intensive gifts assuming he’ll step in: only take on projects that are big enough to do by yourself. Also, can’t he buy you a wooden ring? Why turn your engagement ring into some test? Just assume he’ll fail and plan accordingly.

      If you can’t be with the person he is, then it’s best to leave. But whether he changes or not is not about what you do next, it’s more of a gamble, with a probably distribution informed by what you already know about him.

      1. Kali*

        He wrapped the gifts! I have been proven wrong, on this occasion at least. I hope to be proved more wrong in the future.

        1. Well...*

          Yes, though I was advocating that the stress of not knowing whether or not he’ll come through until the last minute isn’t worth it. I would assume he won’t, and avoid joint projects as much as possible until he has such a demonstrated track record of success that you stop wondering and trust him to do things. Then you can start relying on him again.

          But if you’re just here for venting and not advice, feel free to ignore. It really sucks :-/

        2. WellRed*

          You were proved right this ONE time so all is well. Until the next time. Also, someone with a lack of follow through is not someone I’d trust to make a ring.

    3. 30ish*

      The thing about putting the engagement on hold at the end tells me there is much more going on here than whether your finance finishes certain chores on time. You seem to have become very resentful of him – probably rightly so because this sounds exhausting. I think this is a situation that requires counseling.

      1. Kali*

        Tbh, I specifically didn’t ask for advice because this is one snapshot of how I was feeling about things on one single morning. A morning that came after a few months of me completing a graduate degree while he’s been searching for work, and a few days of me feeling ill and adjusting to new ADHD meds, and plus just all of 2020. The pandemic hasn’t really bothered me until until just now, with how…UNChristmas, Christmas has felt. I spent most of yesterday working on an essay that’s due in January.

        So I can absolutely see why people have had the reactions they’ve had, because this single outpouring of feelings is the only thing they know about my life and so it seems like it probably describes the majority of it. I will consider all advice given, but it will be filtered through all the extra information I have from being the person living this life.

        1. KiwiApple*

          Hi Kali, you have said this quite a lot about your posts (that you’re not really looking for advice) so…what is it you would like from other’s in these threads? It’s supposed to be a place of conversation.

          1. Kali*

            The answer’s in the question – conversation. There’s one situation I’m trying to create (1) and another I’m trying to avoid (2). In my experience, the two can easily be mistaken for one another.

            1. I post a scenario and others are able to relate to it, and share their own thoughts and experiences on the general topic and how they’ve experienced. Doing more work, especially at Christmas, is very common for women. I include my own experience to explain why I’m asking, to better explain what I mean through an example, and so I’m not asking others for a level of intimacy/detail I’m not prepared to share.
            2. I’m posting a specific problem to obtain direct advice on what I should do.

            Basically, I am trying to signal that I’m trying to start a discussion like 1, not 2. Maybe other people’s experiences will be useful context for mine, maybe they won’t, but that’s a bonus, not the goal.

            It’s very easy on the internet to see a snapshot of a single situation and assume that’s the whole story (it even has a name – Availability Bias). It’s very easy to forget that humans are fallible – we don’t report things objectively, how we remember things are coloured by our current emotions, etc. So I have seen – and been on the recieving end – of situations where readers have a very specific take on a situation and any attempt from the original poster to clarify that they misspoke or forget to explain something they thought was obvious (because it is to them, they’re the one living their lives, but it’s not obvious to strangers on the Internet), or that they’ve accidentally given the wrong impression are taken as denial, or a refusal to take advice, when it’s more that the advice, though well meant, isn’t helpful or relevant. It’s a negative and frustrating situation for every one involved. It’s very natural. I know I’ve definitely caught myself being annoyed with a stranger for not seeing how helpful and relevant my advice is before realising that everything I know about the situation came from what they told me in the first place so it is a bit silly to insist I must know better than they do. On the other hand, we’ve all had those friends – or been that friend – who is blinkered to a situation and refuses to take good advice from those who are more objective. So it’s tempting to think that’s what’s happening. And maybe it is. But I don’t think anyone can easily tell the difference between “op is too close to the situation” and “internet stranger doesn’t have the full picture”, so, if it reaches that point, you just start arguing at cross purposes about which scenario you’re in with no real way to tell. In light of that, I’m open to other people’s thoughts and experiences containing ideas that may be helpful and informative for my own situation, but I think it will be less frustrating overall if I’m making that judgement rather than asking someone else to decide what will be relevant and helpful for me. And, like I said, that would be a bonus, not the point.

            I’m still figuring out the best way to avoid implying situation 1 when I’m hoping for situation 2, so if you had any suggestions there on how to more clearly signal intentions and what would have made my intention for scenario 1 clearer, that would be very welcome!

            1. kiwiapple*

              This doesn’t feel like a conversation though – I feel like you’re talking *at* me rather than *with* me. Like Avonlady Barksdale suggests, you could maybe try posing a conversation topic (i.e. in this example, you could’ve asked the same question with only the first paragraph) but it will be more general rather than specific (which I think is what you want? Since you don’t want advice on your specific situation from what I can see of your responses from other commentators in the thread).

              I wish you and your partner all the best for 2021!

            2. Ramona Q*

              In addition to folks’ advice that you not share personal stories if you don’t want people to comment on them, it seems like would be a lot easier for people to engage in the kind of conversation you want if you edited down your posts. Your point is often very hard to parse amid all the rest of your paragraphs.

            3. Courageous cat*

              This seems a bit overwrought, and like you’re trying to control something you can’t control here – given how thin the line is between conversation and advice (?) in a forum like this.

              I think it’s very obvious that, when people give you advice over the internet, they assume that you will take what you need from that advice and apply it or do not apply it based on your own situation. It is not someone telling you exactly what to do, or ordering you around, or making grand assumptions. It is simply: “I read the situations, here are my thoughts, take it or leave it”.

              I don’t think it needs a huge wall of defensiveness. Of course you know your own situation better than anyone else. I just would try not to assume the worst from people responding to you who, also, know that.

            4. RagingADHD*

              If you don’t mind me making a leap here (because that’s what my brain does), I see a pattern.

              You want a very, very particular response. You are trying to figure out how to get people to do this really specific thing, and consider anything else a “wrong” result.

              That’s not how people work -not strangers on the internet, and not IRL relationships either.

              You will spend more time being happy and having satisfying interactions if you let life be jazz instead of classical.

              We’re all improvising. You can hate that, or you can embrace it. Embracing it is more fun, and (BTW) more respectful of other people.

            5. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Maybe I can simplify this by saying with a moderator hat on — if you post a personal situation here, you are going to get advice from people who read it. This is an advice blog and that’s what people are used to doing here. If you don’t want people to respond with advice, please just don’t post the situation.

              I agree with Courageous Cat above that people’s intent is “here are my thoughts, take it or leave it” and you can indeed take it or leave it; you don’t need to feel obligated to respond, explain, defend, etc.

            6. Disco Janet*

              Trying to point out here how easy and natural it is to go against or misunderstand what an OP asks for in these open threads.

              Another poster asked for discussion on non-academic things that should be taught in schools. Most of your response was science-based, and you acknowledged that is academic and therefore not what the OP was asking for…but it’s still what most of your comment was about. So that’s a pretty good example of how some posters will take their response where they’d like rather than where you’re asking them to.

              1. Kali*

                I think there is a very clear and obvious difference between answering an abstract question about what should be taught in schools outside the bounds of the initial question…and offering advice and opinions on someone’s actual life when they’ve specifically asked that that not be done.

                It seemed pretty clear to me that I posted a general question (first paragraph) and then my own response to it. It didn’t occur to me that posting just the initial question then waiting a while and adding the rest as a response would make a difference. Now that’s been suggested, I can see how it might be effective in disconnecting the “thing I want an answer to (general question)” from “my response (which I am not specifically asking for help with)”.

                1. Disco Janet*

                  Since I’m someone in education who helps make decisions, while that question reads as an obvious hypothetical to you – it isn’t to everyone. So I wouldn’t call it clearly and obviously different.

                2. Myrin*

                  For whatever it’s worth, I think that you were very clear in making a distinction between the general question and your own response to it but I also think that it doesn’t really matter.

                  What I mean by that is that you literally said “I’m going to explain my own story and why I’m asking, but I’m really more interested in hearing how others have dealt with this than being given advice specific to my situation. I’m not asking anyone to find a solution for me, just, you know, commiseration and sharing in the more general struggle” which doesn’t leave much room to interpretation – from your words alone, it’s entirely clear that you’re not asking for advice but simply would like to hear about different experiences and perspectives.

                  But I think there are three things which make this basically irrelevant in this case:
                  1. This is an advice column, so the people reading here are interested in and used to giving advice (when it comes to this website but also in general).
                  2. People just like to give advice in general when they encounter a situation that is less than perfect; I see it so often that I’d say it’s basically human nature.
                  3. Your general question – and the thing you wanted advice to – was only about one fourth of your comment and also at the very beginning – I’m willing to bet that by the time they’ve finished reading your entire comment, many people had already forgotten that there was a general question in the beginning and the main thing they’re taking away from your comment are the feelings your description of your situation evoked in them.

                  I’m actually similar to you – I’d naturally view this the same way you do, and add to that that I’m a trained literary scientist who reads and analyses even comments on an internet advice forum super carefully and you’ll also have someone who doesn’t get why people keep giving advice on something when she explicitly only asked for commiseration. So I also had to learn the “decoupling of general questions and specific answers” thing you mention, where I restrict myself to either asking ONLY the question and not giving my own experience at all or replying to myself in a separate comment, and I’ve found that it makes for much more enjoyable interaction on my part.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s really not fair to people who read and respond to you via this forum. As KiwiApple notes, you’ve said that about your posts before. People here can only go with what you tell them, and it’s natural to advise based on that plus your question. Of course we can’t know every single detail, and it would be impractical to share every single detail, but you also can’t post about your life and relationship on this forum and expect people not to respond in a way that makes sense to them. We come here for the benefit of others’ experiences.

          If you truly want only discussion, as you say, you might try posting the question only without the background. (Which is advice that is intended to help you solve what you perceive as a problem.)

          1. Kali*

            I don’t expect people not to respond in whatever ways feels natural. I’m signalling my intention in posting in the hopes it will decrease frustration for everyone, having received feedback that my intentions were unclear before. I checked the point of these posts and they are for discussion, not for commenters to respond to requests for advice in the same way Alison does (though that is also part of it). So the problem does seem to be with communication of intent, not with expectations of what these comments are for.

            At the very least, I’m hoping it will have the effect of giving me permission to ignore advice which is, again, well meant, but irrelevant or unhelpful, without feeling the need to explain the misunderstanding, which, like I said, only leads to frustration for everyone.

            1. Tired of Covid-and People*

              You don’t need permission to ignore anything on the internet.

              Women always have and always will do the bulk of the labor in hetero relationships, emotional and otherwise. I’ve never seen a man “make” Christmas, in all of my 65 years. Whatever they do is appreciated far beyond the scope of their actual actions, while the woman loses her mind at Christmas trying to make it perfect for everyone and may not even get a thank you. It’s just expected and taken for granted.

              Personally, I’m not trying to raise an adult to be accountable and responsible, but that’s just me. I’ve been down that road of codependency, trying to control someones behavior. Nah. Just let natural consequences take their course. It’s amazing how people can rise to the occasion when other people stop doing the heavy lifting for them.

              To each their own.

              1. self employed*

                “ I’ve never seen a man “make” Christmas”

                Oh, very good point. I think I will reflect on that.

                1. pancakes*

                  I don’t agree. It seems to depict a world in which gay men simply don’t celebrate Christmas, for starters, which isn’t the world I live in. It also seems to depict a world in which hetero relationships are only ever very cliched, which isn’t the world I live in either.

              2. D'Euly*

                I, on the other hand, have seen men “make Christmas” repeatedly. I know for a fact there are quite a few single dads out there who did it yesterday, for example. Trends are one thing; allowing trends to define our understanding of individuals we’re in relationship with is quite another.

                1. ThatGirl*

                  Sure… but in your example it’s a dad whose kids are relying on him. Men are certainly capable of this stuff, but a lot of them, if there are women around, will default to that. It’s never ALL men but it’s certainly a thing.

              3. TL -*

                My dad “made” Thanksgiving this year – he has 4 grown adult children and only one ended up making it. He did it because he wanted the tradition to continue (and my parents had a very traditionally gendered marriage, so he had never done it before.) Men can do it; it’s just that they’re taught all their life if they don’t, a woman will, so why bother?

          2. Kali*

            NB. I will consider posting just the question and then waiting a while before posting my own experience in the comments. I’m wary because there’s still the risk of people getting the wrong end of the stick about why I’m asking or what I mean, and because it feels a bit dishonest to ask people for their own experiences without sharing mine. But it’s worth a go.

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              I think that would be the best idea, yes – even if you’re wary, the thing is that you can’t really control whether people will respond to you in exactly the way you’re looking for without ever getting the wrong end of the stick about something. It doesn’t really matter how many disclaimers or directives that you are only interested in X type of response you include, sometimes people are just going to talk about what they see as interesting. That’s people for you!

              The best you can do is to not include things in your OP that will very obviously garner the particular type of response that you’re trying to avoid, rather than including them then telling everyone not to talk about them.

            2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I think even posting your example as a reply rather than within the top level post can change how people respond.

              eg

              What did people’s cats enjoy this weekend?
              > My feline overlord licked a plate with gravy on it.

          3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Bingo – if you don’t want people to give you relationship advice, then don’t include the specific situations that apparently are significant enough that they have you ready to put an expiration date on your entire engagement, by your own description. It’s very easy to start a discussion about unbalanced emotional labor without the examples, and people aren’t looking at your discussion going “Well, I’m not going to participate in this discussion with MY examples because THEY didn’t include examples too, harumph harumph.” If you don’t want a specific thing discussed, then don’t be the first one to bring it up.

        3. Lobsterp0t*

          I wonder if part of this is a bit of ADHD related rejection sensitivity? How does his failure to do this stuff make you feel?

        4. Former Employee*

          This isn’t relationship advice. It’s purely practical.

          Find a ring you like and have him buy it once he is established in a new job. You can get some lovely rings for under $200. I know because I went online to check it out. Almost any type of stone can be found for that low of a price.

          While a sapphire ring won’t be as incredible as the one Prince William gave to Kate Middleton, you could still get a really nice one for around that price.

          And if you only take it off at home and always put it in the same place, it won’t get lost.

          Happy Holidays.

    4. Green great dragon*

      Yeh. You don’t say how he reacts if he fails to do thing by deadline, but maybe that hasn’t happened yet? I (female) also did most of that, because I have higher standards than him and don’t want to end up spending extra time or money to solve unnecessary problems. He had other qualities, so we went with that. But he could step up when he had to – like he planned, bought and made dinner every time I had a late shift, and if it was ready meals picked up at the last minute – well, it was still food I didn’t need to make. And if it was something he’d promised to do, I completely stayed out of it, it was done to his standards not mine, and so anything I really cared about I would be in charge.

      There was also the flatmate where we ended up alternating days we were in charge of washing up. And the rule was if you didn’t do it promptly, you also did any of the dishes that accumulated between the time you were meant to do it and the time you actually did it. So every time we hit the point of no more clean dishes and I did need to remind him, at least I had the bonus of him doing most of ‘my’ day of washing up as well as his own.

    5. allathian*

      I’m a woman married to a man. I have problems with exhaustion and my husband is a marathon runner with lots of energy. So, in our household, he’s the one who does more of the physical labor, but I expect I do at least as much of the planning as he does. Some things we do together, like shopping lists, because he’s also our main cook. He also plans lots of projects he wants to do around the house, and I’m just happy that I don’t have to spend any mental or physical energy on them. I’d never live in an one-family house without my husband, it’s more work than I’d be willing to take on alone.

      This year it was just the three of us for Christmas, but normally we’d host my parents, sister, and in-laws (including SIL if she can make it, but because she’s a Lutheran preacher in another town, she’s usually working on Christian holidays). I’ve been responsible for writing our Christmas cards. This year I told my husband that I was just not feeling it and left it to him to buy the cards and stamps. We didn’t send any cards to our contemporaries this year, just to some aunts and uncles on both sides, and I asked my husband to write the cards to his family members…

      I’m sorry things are so tough for you right now, it sounds like you’re at the end of your rope. Everyone has the capacity to change, but they have to want to do it themselves. Your fiancé doesn’t seem willing to change and you can’t really force him to. If you nag and complain, it’s not going to make your relationship better. You’ll just have to decide whether you’re willing to put up with him as he is, or whether this is a dealbreaker for you.

    6. Ellyfant*

      I could write a book about this topic because I’ve taken on so much emotional laboring my entire life. It led to multiple mental breakdowns and many months of therapy this past year. Long story short I am doing a lot better now. But I’m still in the process of healing from doing so much for other people. It really got to a point where I was thinking: either my family needs to take responsibility for their own life and stop over relying on me, or i will sever ties with them, or if that fails I will end my life as I can’t do this any more.

      I’m grateful I got professional help to get through this because emotional labour can cause sickness and damage your soul the way excessive physical labour can cause serious bodily injuries. Thankfully in my case my family recognized the damage and have stopped expecting me to do everything. But it shouldn’t have had to be this way.

    7. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

      I had a similar issue with my husband. It would drive me mental and cause a lot of annoyance on my part while he lived in blissful ignorance (until of course I got angry and would tell him what’s what).

      The way I dealt with it: I embraced the (pardon the stereotype) “man” mindset. I decided if this stuff didn’t bother him, it wouldn’t bother me. Why should I be the one trying to enforce some kind of “ideal” lifestyle and way of doing things that clearly wasn’t for us, since I was also unwilling to do the work and/or nagging that was needed to achieve that lifestyle. We split the chores (I.e., I cook one week, he cooks the next) and I left him to it. And surprise, he figured out how to do it. If it ever got out of hand, for example, if it was his turn to do dishes and the dishes were piled sky high, I would just ask nicely once, “can you do the dishes”. They would probably stay in the sink a little longer than I would like, but he would do them in his own time. If the presents don’t get wrapped on time and he has to rush last minute, so what. He functioned as a human before I showed up and he can continue to do so. Plus I firmly believe, the more you baby someone, the more they start to rely on that babying and I’m not about to live that life.

      1. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

        Maybe I’ll add that we’re not planning to have kids… but I don’t think that would change things. Hubby has been gotten quite good at doing his fair share. Open communication, clearly divided responsibilities, and treating him like an adult (and not a man-child) actually worked. Who’d have thunk it.

        1. Tabby*

          YES THIS. As a professional procrastinator, I can confirm that the babying and snatching things from me to do FOR me does not help — at all. I am perfectly capable of doing things, even if it takes me longer because I am inattentive and scattered, and do not need a mommy to loom over me, forcing along a schedule that doesn’t work for me. And guaran-damn-teed, I will forget something if it’s tried! For example, every time I leave the house, I do a fixed-list check in my head: phone, headphones, keys (with client for the day keys attached), and wallet. And every time, my mother will butt into this process to ask if i have everything, am I sure I’m dressed warmly enough (No, mom, I certainly do NOT need to pull out my heavy leather jacket yet, and it may be that I never will — I get hot too quickly, so I always slightly underdress), say bye to the cats… it’s endless a d aggravating.

          If you are doing this sort of thing, stop it. Stop it right now. He either will or he won’t, but constantly talking AT him about it will not get you the desired outcome. Stop trying to make him like you; he isn’t gonna be that person, ever.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        All of this. Sometimes called going with the flow and being a bit more relaxed. I also use the tactic of putting what needs to be done on his office chair (as in, I wrapped your family’s gifts, but YOU get to go to the post office, here is the box). He will never hang up the laundry exactly as I would have but who cares, he thought to take it out of the washing machine in the first place and hang it up to dry. Let go of the little things and trust in your partner.

        Also, if I want to put labor on myself or there is something I need done a particular way for whatever reason/preference, I do it. I may ask for help and assign him what I know to be in his skill and interest range, but otherwise I know its on me if its important and plan accordingly.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Anything about laundry cracks me up in this context. In the early days as a SAHM I used to fold all his clothes because programmed expectations.

          Then I caught him re-folding everything because he didn’t like the way I did it (but would never dream of saying something so entitled).

          Now I don’t bother, and we’re both happier.

        2. The king of Rochester*

          This is why I (I’m a guy) have very little desire to partner up. I have no desire for someone to “assign” me domestic tasks — in my own home — that are “in my skill set and interest range” as if I were a preschooler. And if on occasion I decide to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight and do them the next day, I can do that without anyone lecturing me in my own home.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            What I meant was I know (and he knows) he is terrible at gift wrapping and really won’t do it. So I deal with it but Im not going to do everything for him, he has to do the rest.

            Otherwise he is a fully formed adult who can (and does) take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, cook a few times a week, deal with the laundry and, the big one, deal with the bills because I absolutely cannot deal with that for whatever reason. There is no nagging, there is no “assigning” like he is a toddler for basic life skills. I meant that more in the sense of special projects or activities outside the general norm its usually easier to come to an agreement/recognition what each person can do and divvy up accordingly.

      3. Washi*

        Agreed. My husband absolutely does his share, but just living with another person, I have learned to embrace more of the stereotypical “man” mindset of just doing what *I* want sometimes. Because I grew up watching my mom and grandmothers constantly cleaning up and helping everyone all the time, it took me a while to be able to see something that needs doing and just…not do it if I didn’t feel like it.

        Around the holidays, my husband is responsible for dealing with his family’s presents. This year I did actually make some stuff for my in-laws, but I told him where I put the presents and I never bothered to follow up about it because it’s his job. Sometimes we show up to a holiday with his family empty-handed, and not gonna lie it’s a little weird, but I’ve decided that I am not going to become the person in charge of presents, so I let it be weird.

      4. kt*

        I’ve basically done the same — and I am also somewhat aware of my own very annoying flaws (and have become more aware over the years of marriage :) ). Over time I have learned that my husband and I value and see different kinds of cleanliness, for instance (I’m a piler and he’s a hider, and there are things I always make sure are clean and things that he always makes sure are clean).

        I worried about parenting, too; we ended up having a kid and I do remind myself to trust him (he’s heading across a frozen swamp with our child — do I fuss/yell at them or let them go? — he is a reasonably competent adult and I do recall he was testing the ice thickness earlier — let them go, it’s a fun adventure and we have dry clothes in the car…). Sure, I have to talk myself through it sometimes, but I think it’s important to not parent my spouse, basically.

        He mostly does the Christmas cards. He does a lot of the gifts. He does some of the Christmas cooking (this year I did more but he was shoveling, so we were both contributing). I do not swoop in to “make sure things get done”. Some things don’t get done.

        I have given up on him doing a few things I’d like. Making restaurant reservations (not currently an issue!) and buying flowers are once-in-a-decade events, literally. But he makes weekend breakfast almost every weekend, so which do I really benefit from more? Easy answer on Saturday mornings ;)

        What is acceptable to you? What do you really value? What emotional labor are you willing to let go undone? What will get done in a way you don’t recognize but would actually work fine, if you left it to your partner? (A lot of the parenting stuff my partner does is done quite differently than I’d do it. It surprised me, but in the end I like it.)

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      This isn’t emotional labor. It’s actual labor (task completion).

      Outside of gifts and rings, how much of the household tasks does your fiancé do (20%? 50%?)? If a task is his (say cleaning bathroom floor 2x per month), does he do it without reminding? How happy are you about household division of labor on a daily and weekly and monthly basis since the tasks you describe as either rare (annual gifts) or one-offs (rings)?

      Keep in mind if the chore division is bad now, marriage, kids, pets, and passage of time all tend to make it worse.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I would also add that my ideal approach (that I have trouble with implementation myself in my real life) is natural consequences. If forgetting to do the task won’t result in someone bleeding to death or getting evicted, let the person forget.

      If your fiancé’s parent’s friends don’t get thank you notes and yours do? Oh well. If your fiancé doesn’t make his biannual dental appointment? Oh well. If he gets a ticket for his car inspection lapsing, oh well. Eventually these consequences get uncomfortable and he will learn.

      1. Lobsterp0t*

        Same in our house, if it’s the other persons thing and the consequences really mainly affect them – OK!

      2. Not playing your game anymore*

        Yes. We operate on a “who cares about this” model. I am picky about food and need to eat on a schedule so I do most of the cooking. I get my dishes and whatever pots I used washed or in the dishwasher, my partner is responsible for getting their dishes into the dishwasher. Someone will press the button when the spirit moves. My partner occasionally fixes something that they are hungry for that I can’t eat. If I absolutely don’t feel like cooking, I ask for one of the things they can cook that I like and they’ll fix it, or occasionally offer to get a pizza instead. If I’m hungry for something they don’t eat, I will give them a heads up. Thursday. Corned beef and cabbage! Save yourself! They are fussier about how the laundry is done and folded. My job is to get my laundry into the basket. If the socks are on the floor or under the bed, they don’t get washed. Who ever is bothered by the noseart cleans the windows… I would no more “assign” a task to my partner than I would accept said assignment.

        It works for us because we have similar tolerance for mess… and no human children to throw us off stride.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          We are also a “who cares” family. I do the laundry, because I own a week’s worth of clothes and I therefore must do laundry once a week, while my partner has a dragon’s hoard of stuff that could hold out for months. He does the dusting / vacuuming / etc, because he has dust allergies, while as long as the dust bunnies are smaller than the cats I figure it’s good enough.

          Neither of us enjoy doing the dishes, but we don’t enjoy having dirty dishes everywhere either, so we came up with a compromise. It’s my job to load the dishwasher, and his job to put the clean dishes away. If the dishes are piling up, we don’t have to argue about whose mess it is.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with the person who said that this is not emotional labor. He’s not doing the physical labor that comes with life/relationships/commitments. It’s taxing you emotionally, yes, that is true. But he’s not pulling his weight. That’s what is actually happening.

      I married a guy like this. It did not change. In some ways I accepted it because having control over my own life was of high value to me. He was happy with decisions I made about things for the most part. There were areas, such as technical stuff. where he was clearly the over-achiever, so I was content with whatever he picked out. (It was high quality stuff that I never would have been able to pick out.)

      As the decades rolled by decision fatigue set in for me. I got tired of carrying the heavy end. I wanted him to help do the lifting with me. For example, I stopped buying presents and cards for his family because I had to do my own family. He never picked up what I dropped. I learned to accept that by figuring I don’t know everything I should know about his family dynamic. Perhaps there were reasons for his INaction. It seemed like I should know, but reality is I didn’t. There were other things I let go of, this is just one example.

      I learned to expect less and cherish more. For example, I stopped expecting that big colonial house and learned to cherish the modest, comfy, cozy house I do have. I wanted a pure breed dog and ended up with a mutt who was The Dog of my life.

      It’s funny/odd but I grew to see that there is a difference between being happy and being content. Contentment is more enduring and much stronger. I was always safe when I was with him. He was so freakin’ smart, he knew about all kinds of stuff. So when there was smoke rolling off the furnace, that wasn’t a problem. When the sewage backup up into the house, that wasn’t a problem. I had married this walking encyclopedia of random technical knowledge.
      If there was a problem with something, I couldn’t wait for him to come home because I knew we’d talk it through and come up with a plan to deal with it. Whatever “it” was. And there were plenty of days where I saw his actions express the same sentiment. He wanted me to look at an issue with him.

      For me, the big picture became this: NO spouse offers the total package of every desirable trait. If I am totally honest with myself, I have to say that *I* did not offer that total package either. My guy had several things that I placed a high value on and he was very consistent with those traits. We started out like you show here. And we stayed together. But it was not without letting go of some dreams and some hopes. I guess my only caution is to plan that he won’t change that much. What you see now, is what there is to see. Is it worth it to you? Are you getting something out of the relationship that is of high value to you? Our life mates are equally responsible for the quality of life we have as a couple. Do you think that the two of you will have the level of quality of life you want?

      For me, I voted yes on all this. We were together for 27 years and married 23 years of those years when he passed. I worked hard. While I have no regrets, I am not in a rush to do it again, either.

      1. Washi*

        “I have to say that *I* did not offer that total package either.” Aw, I think this is a nice point. It’s one thing to intellectually know that no one is perfect, everyone has faults, etc but when you’re in a long term partnership, the reality of that can still come as a surprise. My husband and I both have our faults and they are not cute, endearing quirks like in a romcom where the protagonist is perfect except for being a little clumsy or ordering her food a certain way. We each have insecurities and blind spots that come out in problematic, definitely not cute ways. Yes, people change and compromise but there will always be faults, and to me the question is mainly whether your strengths/weaknesses balance each other out or are always rubbing the wrong way.

        I think this also takes a certain amount of self-knowledge, because sometimes something can bother you more and more, OR less and less. I felt like I knew my husband really well when we got engaged after 5 years of dating, and yet only another five years later I know him so much more and honestly feel like we partly got lucky that the things we didn’t know at the time have turned out to mesh ok.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          The question is, is it faults you can live with? There are deal breakers for sure, but I think women in particular have to insure that they just don’t settle for fear of being alone. That said, very often we need to cut others some slack, offer forbearance, and if they do the same for us then a relationship can last a long time. But not on big stuff.

          And, you never really know anybody 100%, not even yourself.

    11. Jay*

      The tasks that aren’t getting done are physical labor. The reminding and keeping track is mental/emotional labor.

      My husband was raised to believe that having a penis did not exempt him from any household tasks. So yay! He came into the marriage expecting to cook, clean, and do laundry. Unfortunately, he learned to do the cleaning by being brought back repeatedly to them again until they were up his mother’s standards. I do not clean to her standards and so he spent the first six months of our marriage correcting and criticizing how I did everything. And so I stopped doing regular cleaning and learned to do the dishes his way. We’ve been subverting gender norms for over 30 years in many ways. Once we were both working full-time and neither of us did regular cleaning, we hired housecleaners. And he’s pretty much gotten over the correcting/criticizing thing – couples counseling FTW.

      He’s also a procrastinator and perfectionist with tendency to anxiety, so he starts projects and abandons them. When that happens in his workshop (where I never venture) that’s fine. When he dismantles something in the house to fix it and then leaves it dismantled for months, that’s not fine. That got better when I started saying things like “when you leave hardware all over the kitchen counter, it makes me feel like it’s not my kitchen” rather than “You always leave hardware on the kitchen counter and you have to put it away.” He actually does care about how I feel, and it helped him to understand the impact on me.

      I take responsibility for the things that are important to me and I let everything else go. I don’t assign him things to do. If I want a present wrapped, I wrap it. We don’t send holiday cards because I don’t care about them and apparently neither does he. He sometimes forgets his family’s birthdays because that’s his family and his responsibility. He has never mailed a present on time. My mother-in-law said something once about this and I said “Talk to your son. It’s his job, not mine.” I reject the idea that I should be ashamed if he doesn’t do something. No one has ever said another word about it. And I did the same thing when our daughter came along. I refused to be the baby expert. Luckily by then we had honed our communication skills and he also very much wanted to be an involved parent. For a while he was actually the primary parent. Did he match toddler clothes the way I would have? No. Did he make as good a ponytail? No. Did our daughter grow up happy and healthy? Yup. Does she specifically look for boyfriends who pull their own weight because that’s what she expects? Yup.

      The emotional labor was much, much harder to deal with. Much harder. For years – decades, actually – I was responsible for how he felt. I monitored his mood and twisted myself and the household to avoid triggering his anxiety. I rarely asked for emotional support myself, which did not help my own mental health. That might have gone on forever – or until I got fed up and left – except that my mother developed dementia. I simply could not manage the emotional labor of the marriage and when things got rough I told him he needed a therapist and I was resigning from the job. That was ten years ago. It’s still a work in progress but it’s much much better.

      tl;dr: I choose my battles and I don’t choose very many. I’m clear about what I need and about the impact of his behavior. I don’t assign him work. If he takes something on, I accept the way he does it or I tell him respectfully that I prefer something else.

    12. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I gotta say, unfinished crafty projects aren’t a man thing, they are a crafter thing. I am female and have…a lot of things I want to finish. The big home decor project that I wanted to get finished by thanksgiving, but I need to rip out a dozen feet of wrong sewing so it hasn’t gotten done. The pair of pants that just need to be hemmed and the hooks put on the waistband. The pattern I’m drafting that needs a second mockup. The set of shelves I sanded to repaint over a year ago. The dresser I want to repaint RED, but only got as far as picking out the right shade And there are more, those are just the first ones that came to mind.

      I don’t think you can blame the delay in ring making on his being a dude. The other stuff, probably, but not this one.

      Still have to figure out how to deal with it, of course.

    13. Sunrise*

      I am a women married to a man. I’ve been very frustrated over the years with having to do the lion’s share of planning and remembering. One thing that has really helped is embracing technology. Now when husband agrees to do a thing, I’ll also suggest he set a reminder on his phone or other device. That has helped so much. It’s not perfect but it transfers the reminding (which can come across as nagging) from me to an electronic device. And when the reminder pops up he actually does the thing. Usually.

    14. Lobsterp0t*

      Well, it seems like the horse has left the barn here.

      My mom has a great thing she learned in therapy. You can’t keep a secret book of stamps of every little and large fuck up your partner makes. If you do you’ll bring that metaphorical book of wrongs into every conversation and situation where someone might have earned another stamp. Pretty soon, that’s the only record of your partnership.

      In my house we have to help each other a lot. We rarely have household tasks that just one of us is responsible for and we don’t leave the other person to fail.

      Sometimes this means we have to get organised together and ruthlessly prioritise.

      I have ADHD too and I feel like that makes me more, not less, empathetic toward my wife when she doesn’t manage to get her ducks in a row for stuff.

      That isn’t to say you’re being unkind but it is to say, you sound like you’re at a point of frustration where your kindness is taking a back seat to frustration.

      When we get into that we usually have to reframe stuff. As in, okay I’m pissed. What need of mine is t being met? Is it that the gifts being wrapped is of emotional importance to me? Is it that I feel I did “my bit” and I want this person to do theirs without prompting?

      Then we talk about it and work out what is most important to the other person. And we decide what to prioritise in the situation, together. Through talking about our needs and wants.

      And I guess we just learn to let go of stuff that isn’t going to happen on its own. Like if one of us is having to remind constantly then we have a convo about that and it’s like – okay, so the presents don’t get wrapped. What happens if that’s the case? Sometimes it isn’t presents but rather rigid expectations of things needing to be a certain way. But in the case of something that is truly impossible for someone to let go of, it becomes about getting that persons needs met if at all possible.

      I guess you can choose to let his stuff slide and just take care of your stuff but then it makes me question how much partnership is really happening.

      But being in this situation makes me question how much effective communication is really happening.

      You’re allowed to have limits and not want to be in a parent child dynamic with your partner.

      1. The future*

        So I’m 20 years into this marriage and I wish I had had this insight then. Is he able to hold down a job? Can he plan/organize when he wants to? Are you ready to be responsible for everything…bills, meals, doctors appointments, medication refills, caretaking (children and elders)? Can you accept that you will rarely get a Christmas/birthday present that you didn’t pick out yourself? Just go into this with your eyes open.

        1. Clisby*

          “Can you accept that you will rarely get a Christmas/birthday present that you didn’t pick out yourself?”

          I embrace it. I’m not fond of surprises, and would really like to get a Christmas/birthday present I want. My husband and I give only token “surprise” presents – maybe a CD or a book. Anything else is discussed ahead of time, and often we go out and buy a joint present that we both really want.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, same here. Until we actually decided that we’re done with gifts. The bother of picking out a gift and buying outweighs any pleasure from receiving a gift by at least an order of magnitude. So no gifts. If I want flowers, I’ll buy them myself, I don’t think the idea of buying me flowers has ever occurred to my husband.

            For the record, I hate surpises with a passion, even happy ones. I much prefer anticipation and planning. If somebody organized a surprise party for me, I’d probably turn on my heels and walk away or sulk in a corner. Luckily I’m from a culture where the person being celebrated is nearly always the host as well. The big exception seems to be some weddings, but only if one or both of the bridal couple are marrying from their childhood home. Most couples live together before getting married, and in such cases I’ve never been to a wedding that was hosted by someone other than the couple.

            1. Clisby*

              My mother told me that, fairly early in their marriage, my father told her NEVER to organize a surprise birthday party for him. If she did, he would walk out. I guess I come by this honestly.

    15. Not A Manager*

      I’m happy to not give you advice, because I don’t have any. Yes, I do more emotional labor in my relationship. No, I don’t like it. I use a combination of “let it go,” and “do it myself.” If something really is my husband’s responsibility, either it will get done or it won’t get done, and he’ll either do it to my standards or he won’t do it to my standards. He’s an adult, he has standards.

      The other thing we try to do is be really clear on who “owns” what project or task. The hardest thing is when we’re supposed to cooperate or collaborate on something, because no one knows who’s in charge and what the standards are, or who’s supposed to intuit what task comes next. That’s why we’re better off dividing stuff up really clearly and then literally walking away.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Putting giant stakes and expectations on a craft project is a surefire way to trigger perfection paralysis. I mean, what if he made it and you don’t like it? I’d never be able to get something planned, much less finished, under those conditions.

      I have ADHD, and so does my husband, but at the time we married we suspected his but didn’t realize about mine.

      We didn’t start dating until I was 32. So what I learned in those -what, 14 years? of single adulthood was what would work for me in a relationship, what flaws I could live with, and what I couldn’t.

      I dealt with the emotional labor in the relationship by only doing the part I felt was truly mine, and allowing him to fail if he didn’t do his own. And over the course of our dating, the failures were minor enough (and usually due to misunderstandings) that I was very happy and satisfied that we could make a loving & happy marriage. Which has been true now for some 17 years.

      The biggest thing for my peace of mind, which I only truly learned after we’d been married a while, was to decouple my own social obligations from his.

      If he wants his family to get cards or birthday calls, that’s his business. I don’t remind him.

      If a mutual friend wants to talk to him, they have to deal directly. I don’t pass messages or take responsibility for him responding.

      If there’s something I want to make sure happens in my own relationships (like presents) I do it myself, and don’t sign him up for work that wasn’t his idea.

      One thing I discovered that always led to conflict, was when I tried ro hold him to things that “we agreed to.”

      Usually what that meant was that *I* thought of something, I had a grand plan of how it was supposed to work, and he was okay with it. But he never was as invested in it as I was, and therefore wasn’t ever going to make that emotional or physical labor a priority.

      To be fair, why should he? It was my idea in the first place. He just wasn’t *against* it.

      And that’s become an excellent guiding principle for most things in our marriage. There are a few major things (like having kids) where we both explicitly were 100% all-in and took equal responsibility. Other stuff, like planning trips or tackling projects, the person who had the idea is responsible for making it happen.

      So I guess in your situation, I wouldn’t make the marriage contingent on the handmade ring. I would express that I want A Ring, and the handmade idea is cool but not a dealbreaker.

      If you base your relationship on arbitrary tests of love/committment, you will always force a situation where the other person fails. A happy long-term relationship is the result of both people trying to help the other succeed.

      If he shows you daily that he loves, respects and supports you, don’t make a craft project into a dealbreaker. Give him the flexibility to find his own way to succeed in loving you well.

    17. Overeducated*

      I have been married nine years and things have gotten better on this front. I think part of it is literal external reminders – my husband *will not* remember to do things, or do them by a certain point, if they are not on his Google calendar. The other thing is division of labor. In our everyday life i do take on a lot more of the planning, tracking, and emotional labor, but he takes care of more of the actual stuff that needs to get done on a repetitive basis (dishes, trash, bills, vacuuming; I do more cooking and laundry). Currently neither of us feels like we have a lopsided division of labor, which I feel like is unusual in a hetero marriage. I think counting traditionally “women’s work” AS work is key, not just letting it become invisible.

      I have been there, though, in feeling like “you not doing X for me makes me feel like you don’t value me enough and that’s not acceptable.” Sometimes a task is not just a task, it’s a symbol, and that needs to be *crystal* clear.

    18. Courageous cat*

      How I dealt with it: I broke up with him. Ultimately, the resentment was too strong.

      Funny enough, me doing that was the catalyst for him changing, and he’s actually way better now and we get along soooo much better as friends (minus the fact that he asked to take me back the other day, but that’s neither here nor there).

      1. Courageous cat*

        That said, with my current boyfriend I’d be much more willing to deal with it – why? Because he would be balancing it out in other ways. Making more money, managing the money, paying the bills.

        Adult life is a lot easier if you have someone to help you go through it, and I’d be happy to take on emotional labor for someone who takes on other kinds of labor too. The problem is when they don’t take on anything else.

    19. The Other Dawn*

      I’m a woman married to a man. We’ve been together 30 years next February. I definitely do more of the emotional labor and planning, but I’m fine with that. It used to really bother me, but I’ve mellowed as I’ve gotten older. You know why? Because he’s the one who does all the tough, grimy jobs I don’t know how or want to do, and does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of physical labor. But he pitches in to do the housework, just as I pitch in to help with home improvement projects. I feel like it all evens out.

      This is just my observation on the gift wrapping thing, and it doesn’t matter anyway since you said that he did the job. I would be pretty annoyed if I had a short deadline for something, especially around a holiday. Without context I have no way of knowing if that was a reasonable deadline. You mentioned that you crocheted all the gifts that he’s supposed to wrap, and that you finished them only yesterday and his wrapping deadline was this morning. How many gifts were there? Did you finish them early in the day? Mid-day or later? Were you able to give him items as you finished them so he didn’t have to wait and do it all at once? Were all the needed wrapping supplies already there? Maybe he didn’t do it earlier because he had to work, or had other commitments or things he had to do?

    20. AwkwardTurtle*

      I’m a queer woman but have mostly been in het relationships (hooray heteronormativity). My last long-term partner wanted me to soothe his feelings and be emotionally supportive when he was telling me a problem instead of my usual “Ok, here’s how you get shit done” response. And I couldn’t do that for him because it just wasn’t me at all. And it was already adding onto the emotional labor I did for the relationship. Examples being: reminding him to take his daily medication, telling him not to drive so fast and dangerously, reading a book about how to be supportive of ADHD partners, looking for jobs for him and asking if he has applied to any of them at all, etc…And honestly it worn me down so much that I started not to give a shit about the relationship anymore. I got out of that relationship over a year ago and still now I’m hesitant to get into any primary partnerships because I don’t want to get into so much emotional labor that I ignore my own needs. So at the moment I have no clue how I would deal with excessive emotional labor in future relationships. Not sure if DTMFA is the right way to address it.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I was with my ex for almost 20 years and I’ve been single for four, and while I’m very content in my singlehood, I also am self-aware enough to realize that A LOT of my reluctance toward dating is fear that I don’t know how to not be codependent in a relationship.

      2. Boof*

        “reminding him to take his daily medication, telling him not to drive so fast and dangerously […] looking for jobs for him and asking if he has applied to any of them at all” I think that’s well past emotional labor, that’s leading a horse to water and trying to force them to drink… relationships are supposed to be about mutual support and sure, maybe each side has their own strengths and weaknesses, but if one side is just a total dependent that’s just… a pretty different type of relationship than two romantically inclined adults usually engage in.

      3. allathian*

        That’s really interesting, mainly because the stereotype is that the female partner in a relationship just wants to vent to a sympathetic listener while the male partner wants to help to solve the problem and gets frustrated when the female partner doesn’t want to take the advice.

        To be fair, if I just want to vent, I’m more likely to call one of my friends and I’ll talk to my husband when I’m ready to listen to advice and to do something about whatever’s bothering me. To be fair, I have a hard time just listening to someone venting if I can’t offer advice. I may do it once, maybe twice for a really good friend who’s helped me out in the past, but after that I’m likely to tune out if they just want to vent and aren’t willing to change whatever it is that’s bothering them, assuming it’s something they could change, like getting out of a bad relationship if they’re unhappy.

    21. DieTrying*

      So, I’m curious: if the ring-thing happened next week, or the week thereafter, or on February 8th, would you be thrilled and relieved and would things be A-OK?

      I ask this as a woman married to a man who has many wonderful qualities but some serious “forgetting about the thing tendencies” that we’ve worked for years to, ahem, adjust, and that we’ve mostly resolved (mostly!) by some of the strategies that have already been mentioned: recognizing one another’s awesome qualities, figuring out who cares about the thing, acknowledging that some things will just never, ever happen for him (e.g., scooping the %$#@ litter boxes.)

      And for me, once the joke had become a not-joke — or, to be honest, once we’d moved some ways into the joke becoming well-worn — having the thing happen would no longer be enough. Depending on how long it had gone on, it might be entirely joyless, or it might come with a hefty dose of remembering all the worried and sadness and emotional labor I had done surrounding it. In similar (if not totally comparable) situations, I’ve had to be very honest with myself about my emotions and figure out how to get to a sense of reconciliation not just to the thing but the history that it had acquired, and to do so without totally moving the goal posts on my partner.

      YMMV, of course. But how you feel at your worst and ventiest is still real and worthy of respect and accounting. I’m sorry things are hard right now, in multiple ways.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. There is a thing where we can wear down to the point of no return. So no matter how much things get fixed, it’s too late. The damage is done.

      1. Generic Name*

        I agree with this comment. When my husband and I moved in together, we agreed it would be a step towards marriage. We wanted to see how we lived together before making a commitment. I assumed that when living together was going well, he’d ask me to marry him within a couple of months. When that didn’t happen, I got upset and basically asked him when he was going to ask me. We had a couple of conversations along those lines and finally he asked me for some ring ideas. He ended up giving me an engagement ring for Christmas. He asked me to marry him many months after the imaginary timeline I had set for things in my own head, but I was overjoyed and enthusiastically said yes when he did. I wasn’t annoyed or upset that it happened later than I thought it should because he is his own person and has his own process for doing things.

        Honestly, I recognize myself in much of your original comment. I like things being done a certain way and at a certain time, but I’ve learned over the years that there is no One True Way of doing things, and it’s a recipe for disappointment and resentment if I expect my husband to do everything the way I would do it and exactly when I want it done. If you want your fiancé to do stuff without you managing it, you have to accept he will do it when and how he wants.

        1. allathian*

          I’m wondering why more women don’t just propose to their boyfriends instead of waiting for them to do so… We’d been living together for about a year and I was about five months pregnant. One day I just said that I’d like to be married before our child is born, he thought it was a good idea and said something about getting a marriage license.

          Probably a bit more pragmatic than most people would prefer, but then, I’m sure I’m the least romantic person I know. Getting married while I was 8 months pregnant also gave us the perfect excuse to avoid the big wedding neither one of us wanted, and we got absolutely zero pushback on this. Nobody wondered, at least not in my hearing, why we wanted an intimate wedding with immediate family members only and with my sister and SIL as witnesses.

          1. allathian*

            To be fair, we also didn’t announce our wedding to anyone except our immediate family until after the fact.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Oh, man, this is me. The idea of waiting for the man to decide, and the proposal itself being some kind of event, just sets my teeth on edge.

    22. Clisby*

      I don’t quite understand what the household gifts are. In my immediate household, everybody’s responsible for making/buying and wrapping their own gifts. Like, it would never occur to me to make or buy a gift for any of my in-laws, or to wrap it. If my husband wants to send a gift to his family, he can – it has nothing to do with me. Same if I want to send a present to any of my family members – it’s not my husband’s job. (Fortunately, we’re both from families that really don’t give Christmas presents to adults, so this isn’t much of an issue.) I do normally buy a few more presents for our 2 children than he does, but we both wrap up what we buy. I don’t really see the advantage to a cooperative effort.

      I’m also not sure about this engagement ring thing. The engagement expires if you don’t have a ring by a certain date? I guess the ring is a proxy for something else?

      1. Artemesia*

        my husband and I have a partnership marriage and both do our share but I have always been in charge of household gifts — in the early days that included Christmas for 20 nieces and nephews. Now it is my brother and his brothers and sisters. I enjoy it and thus I do it. I do all the travel planning for the same reason. If I hated to choose and send gifts, I would have him do his family, but I enjoy it so I don’t.

        It would drive me nuts though to have someone who never followed through on the things they agreed to do. And an engagement ring that never materializes seems passive aggressive.

      2. Wheee!*

        For us, we have a bunch of “nieces and nephews” who aren’t related to us. They’re the kids of our good friends who are genuinely mutual friends. I always end up doing the shopping and shipping and a lot of the wrapping. This year, it’s been stressful and I asked him to deal with the Christmas stuff (I barely managed to get our nephews bday gifts in time). The buying of stuff didn’t really happen on time so I took care of a bunch of it, then we took a trip to the store for the rest, but on the other hand one of the gifts was a new bike for our nephew and he did a bunch of work to fix it up, and did almost all the wrapping (after I bugged him) and shipped stuff. It was a much better division of labor than we usually have.

    23. Artemesia*

      What has worked for us is that the person whose job it is has total responsibility. e.g. when he cooks, he plans the menu and does all the prep as do I when I shop. Until we retired, we each did our own laundry — now in a smaller condo I just do it because I like to and I also like to do massive loads in the laundry room rather than using the small apartment machine in our condo. But the key was having duties that we agreed to do and then had control of.

      With things like bills — he handles all that, but I open all the mail, so I have my eyes on the status of bills and such. Part of that is that in retirement it is important that both partners are on top of financial things. My father had sole charge and they almost lost their home because in early Alzheimers he quite paying taxes, mortgage and insurance and my mother was not aware of it — luckily she was able to get it fixed before they were in big trouble. With older couples, whoever pays bills, the other should open mail especially for bills and bank statements.

      Is there any way he can be in charge of things that affect him primarily?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I just saw the bill thing play out in a friend’s life. The house got repo’ed for lack of payment. And after 50 something years of not writing checks, Friend no longer knew how and for many reasons cannot relearn how.

        I saw this with my MIL. Fifty five years of not writing checks and paying bills. Once she had to return to it, it now involved rivers of tears.

        I am definitely a hands on person. I can’t just read something and know immediately how all the moving parts work. We split the bills according to income- 60%/40%.
        I’d encourage anyone (not just women) to stay connected to what is going on with the finances. (Whatever “connected” feels like to you.) If things get tight and/or things go wrong it can take the efforts of both spouses to pull through the financial concerns.

    24. Bibliovore*

      Expectations are premeditated resentments.
      Thank you for posting and…
      Your partner is not going to change. You could have been describing my husband.
      I take that back, there may be changes but only if you work on yourself-
      It is only during the pandemic and me having a total meltdown did the dishwasher get emptied by his hands.
      I have been married for over 30 years.
      Have friends to share your annoyances with. Decide if you can be in a committed relationship with someone who will continue to annoy you in these ways.
      You said you didn’t want advice except the whole engagement ring thing is the elephant in the room. Why is it so important that they make a ring for you? or even have a ring?

    25. Bibliovore*

      Expectations are premeditated resentments.
      Thank you for posting and…
      Your partner is not going to change. You could have been describing my husband.
      I take that back, there may be changes but only if you work on yourself-
      It is only during the pandemic and me having a total meltdown did the dishwasher get emptied by his hands.
      I have been married for over 30 years.
      Have friends to share your annoyances with. Decide if you can be in a committed relationship with someone who will continue to annoy you in these ways.
      You said you didn’t want advice except the whole engagement ring thing is the elephant in the room. Why is it so important that they make a ring for you? or even have a ring?

    26. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You asked how I handled this. I dumped the guy. I am NOT willing to spend my life with a guy who doesn’t have his sh*t together and can’t be relied upon to do anything he doesn’t want to do. I don’t care how funny or cute a guy is if he’s an adult baby that I need to take care of. Grow up, and do it somewhere else. And yes, it applies to mental health and other struggles. I need to see effort to get treatment or put the routines in place to enable them to be a functional adult. I completely understand failure and messing up, everyone does. But not every single time, for all time.

    27. lazy intellectual*

      Ugh I’ve seen this dynamic in every one of my straight female friends’ relationships. I have ADHD and 100% sympathize with people who have executive functioning issues, but gender roles complicate things. Women with ADHD don’t get a pass on letting things slide, and men who don’t have ADHD are just accustomed to doing less. It’s really annoying.

    28. Analyst Editor*

      Hi! So I am not a huge fan of “emotional labor” as a concept, because it’s adversarial and also means that the emotionally laboring perosn sometimes fails to own their own contributions to the porblem at hand.

      You got a lot of responses, but I really like the takes in these two blog posts from a blog I like, and hope they help.
      https://www.drpsychmom.com/2019/12/29/emotional-labor-is-not-the-problem/
      https://www.drpsychmom.com/2020/11/14/emotional-labor-is-an-ineffective-way-to-say-take-care-of-me/

      1. Generic Name*

        Thanks for posting these articles! The whole blog is fascinating, but I especially lover her explorations of this topic.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          A second thanks! This is an interesting perspective and I’m looking forward to reading more on her site.

      2. RagingADHD*

        This blogger is very insightful, especially about how using abstract, distancing terms is so much easier than being vulnerable — and so counterproductive.

    29. TechWorker*

      My partner is an adult who mostly cleans up after himself and does his share of the laundry, cleaning, etc.

      I take no responsibility whatsoever for him keeping in touch with his family or vice versa (despite his mother probably wanting more of a relationship with me than id want with her). She once phoned me when he was travelling and asked if I’d spoken with him that day, and then asked if I could just text her (every day) to let her know he was still ok. To which I told my other half he needed to text her every day to say he was still alive, and he did.

      There are some things that aren’t even – he gets up to feed the cats early most mornings (and then goes back to sleep, I couldn’t hack the interrupted sleep, if it was just me id have to shut them in one room more overnight). He also does the lions share of DIY (like, I help, but I’m not great at it and have limited enthusiasm to learn). I cook most of the time and do the food shopping. That’s ended up a bit gender stereotypical but I’m not losing any sleep over it.

      1. allathian*

        Our household is pretty gendered, at least in the sense that there are some chores that only he does. The chores that are exclusively his, like mowing the lawn (once every two or three weeks for about 7 months of the year) and changing to winter tires and back to summer tires, as well as the occasional household maintenance task like switching light sources and changing the batteries in our fire alarms, are done fairly infrequently. My husband does more of the financial planning, but both of us pay our share of the bills and we make major financial decisions together. I mostly do our laundry (about 4 loads a week) and fill and empty our dishwasher (almost daily now that we’re home all the time), although our son’s pretty good at helping out with these. He’s 11 and occasionally cleans his room without being asked (!). I think the fact that my husband’s very good about noticing that our house needs cleaning and then just doing it without any prompting from me is rubbing off on our son. There aren’t any chores in the house that our son thinks of as “women’s work”, because he sees his dad doing them all the time. My husband does most of the cooking, though, but that’s because he likes it and wants to do it. If he disliked cooking as much as I do, no doubt I’d do more of it…

    30. Anona*

      I really like the book “Fair play”, which is specifically about dividing up household responsibilities. There’s an accompanying card game, so you’re not just talking about a system but working together to divide it.
      But honestly this is still something I struggle with.

    31. KittyCardigans*

      Oh man, the “I was about to get to it” absolutely kills me. My husband is actually pretty decent with follow-through, but I’m with my family for the holidays now and have been running into this with family members. For instance, on Christmas Eve I was washing a mountain of dishes. Before I started, I asked my brother if he’d dry and put away. He said yes, so I got started. He then pulled up the Duolingo app on his phone and spent 15 minutes completing his lesson (standing three feet away from me!), while clean, wet dishes piled up. Eventually my dad came over and dried the dishes, but he doesn’t know where anything goes, so he just piled the dry dishes on the counter. Brother looks up from his phone and says “Oh, I was about to get to that, Dad.” I say, “Okay, well, can you put those away now?” Brother says yes, then checks the news instead, calling out at least three different headlines as he reads them. I finish washing and end up putting the dishes away because we need the counter space to finish prepping the Christmas meal. Brother, as I put the second-to-last dish away: “oh hey, I was about to do that!”

      He probably WOULD have done it, eventually. But sometimes things have a timetable, and disregarding the timetable disrespects my time and effort.

    32. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Why are you setting deadlines for him? Why are you assigning jobs for him? This sounds more like a boss and underling than a partnership founded on love to me.
      You want an engagement ring, I reckon that’s a pretty normal thing to want if you’re engaged. If he’s not getting you an engagement ring, I reckon that means it’s not important to him. The joke is no longer funny because it’s pissing you off that he hasn’t bothered to find the time to make you a ring.
      Even if he does come through with this ring, he’ll never get round to replacing it once you’ve lost it.
      If he’s not making you a ring, I’m pretty sure it’s because he doesn’t particularly want to be engaged to you.
      I’ve noticed with some men, they avoid conflict of any kind, they won’t ever tell their partner they want out, because they can’t stand seeing the woman cry, they feel guilty about hurting them. They just carry on doing their own thing, hoping that the woman will get pissed off and leave. Sounds like your guy might just be that kind.

    33. Mola Ram*

      I humbly suggest that calling off the engagement would be doing him a favour.

      You do realise that carving wood rings is master-craftsperson territory, even more so than the crocheting you finished at the last minute?

      And “assigning him tasks”….boggle. Are you looking to be a spouse or a preschool teacher?

    34. Des*

      Just a thought but is it possible this is more of a “time” issue than a “do it or do not” issue? Allow me to explain. I live with someone who is chronically a last minute person, which drives me crazy. For me, when I want to get something done by Friday, I think about it ahead of time, and plan out the efficient way to do it, and usually get it done way ahead of Friday. The person I live with will do it at 5pm on a Friday, at the last moment, while stressing about it. HOWEVER, we both will get it done, and when repeatedly I bring up the “but why” questions, the other person just says that they don’t like to feel stressed about it ahead of time when they know they can get it done eventually. So what if it’s a bit later than Friday morning, they assure me.

      Anyway, I am just bringing this up in case the real situation here is that you want things done “properly” and “on time” and maybe even “ahead of schedule so you don’t have to think about it”, and you might be living with someone who actually *would* get the thing done if you left him to his own devices but is just going to be late with it.

    35. Quinalla*

      Regarding emotional labor in general, I don’t recommend this way, but it sure as hell worked. There have been two big incidents in our marriage so far where it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I was doing cause patriarchy. One was finding out instead of a second child we were having twins. At that point we had a heart to heart where I said look, the older child was already going to be more your responsibility with one infant on the way, with two infants, the older child is ALL yours and you are going to have to pitch in a lot with the infants. Since he had to do it, he did it. Did he fail sometimes? Hell yes, but did I fail when I was learning this stuff – for sure, it just happened to me much younger because of different expectations for men & women. Everyone was safe, etc. and I had to let it go because my capacity was stretched to the max.

      The other time was when I fell and broke my hip when the twins were about 7 months old (same year twins were born, hooray for maxing out our deductible for once) and oldest was 4. I could do almost nothing except breastfeed babies brought to me, keep the twins entertained for a certain amount of time next to me while laying down, fold laundry brought to me, make food for myself after about 2 weeks and work from home on my PC, and use the bathroom. I got pretty good with my crutches and you can haul a lot of stuff around while on a rolly chair, but I was severely limited for about a year. So again, while parents came and helped for a bit, after that my husband had to do it all, so he figured it out.

      Did I take a lot back when I got better, sure, but I didn’t take it all and I also feel free to offload when I need to. We are able to have conversations about this stuff much more easily and rebalance life as things change. Do I have moments of resentment still, sure, and do a I fall into the trap of taking on too much without really thinking about it, absolutely, but we can talk about it and it is much easier to rebalance.

      You absolutely have to allow for failure, good to learn for future kids if you plan to have them as well and if you plan to manage people at a job. It is one of the best ways people learn and take responsibility. If you know your wife/parent/boss/etc. will always save you, you don’t take it as seriously.

      1. allathian*

        I’m lucky in that I’m in a country with long maternity and parental leave. More dads are also taking paternity leave and an increasing number are taking parental leave as well so they can delay putting their child in daycare without hurting the mom’s career through a long absence from work. The consensus seems to be that when the moms are at work they’re forced to let the dads deal with whatever issues while they’re at home with the kids, and it increases understanding for both roles. The moms are forced to trust the dads to deal with whatever happens to the best of their ability, and the dads become aware of how much effort it takes to get chores done with active kids at home. When both parents are back at work, chore distribution is usually more equitable than it would be if only the mom had stayed at home.

  3. Well...*

    Also, to be clear if I was in your shoes I’d probably leave. Being in love for me is having a teammate, and this kind of labor imbalance feels so far away from intimacy and trust that I would be miserable.

    And re: gendered stuff, I’m a woman married to a man. Were similarly both a bit scattered and forgetful, but when one of us realizes something needs to be done, we make a plan and we get it done together. Guys like this are out there, and I wish I hadn’t wasted time on the ones who think things magically get done in the background.

    1. Artemesia*

      I’m with you and in fact one of the reasons I left my first husband over 50 years ago is that by default everything was my job. I was working full time, getting a masters evenings and putting him through law school while he mostly played bridge in the commons and expected dinner when he got home. If he did anything, it was to ‘help me’ with my housework. Got old fast. I am married for nearly 50 years now to my second husband and none of this has ever been an issue. We were partners from the beginning and reworked our reponsibilities with each change in life circumstances e.g. whose job had long hours, kids arriving, being out of work, retiring etc — I have never felt like I was his maid or that housework was ‘my job’. But we worked it all out very explicitly with a schedule for cooking for example, when we first moved in together. It is natural now — but in the beginning we negotiated a plan and were very explicit about keeping some areas of the home presentable (I am the messy one), who would do which tasks etc.

    2. Batgirl*

      I agree with your second paragraph. Be with a capable guy who gets things done, who thinks ahead, and is thoughtful because they do exist, and while the other kind is more common you do get choices on who to be with. I tried everything when I was with the other kind; I tried to do more, I tried to do less, and nothing worked. It’s much better with a guy who takes charge of the problem before you’re even bothered by it, than one who sees no need.
      That said, I don’t think the OP above is in that situation where he can’t fully oversee his own plans and think of things to do on his own to benefit her, she’s in a situation where there are joint plans that don’t work out, probably because they aren’t suitable for both parties (which sets one or both up for failure) and communication is a little shy. If the crochet ended a little late, then isn’t it natural that they’ll be wrapped late or they’ve possibly clashed with his the timing of his own ideas and plans?Maybe the plan needs to be discussed and changed? And if she’s in a hurry for the ring (ironic that his craftwork is similarly running up to the eleventh hour!) she could bring it up in a non joke way that she’s over the handmade notion, if this is the reality of it, and needs a new plan. Perhaps he’s not as enthusiastic about making it as he expected and needs a new plan too. Joint plans needs flexibility and constant communication. While it’s not great if youre constantly reminding someone about each little thing, not speaking up about something you’re really, terminally unhappy with won’t work with anybody. Nobody is so good at emotional labour and so psychic that they don’t need honesty. I would only break up with him if he had no interest in communicating or acting upon plans, changed or not.

      1. Well...*

        I actually wasn’t saying their relationship was doomed, just that it’s not the kind I would be happy in. Lots of people (read:women throughout recent history and many now) have domestic labor imbalance and are very in love, despite the fact that it may not be totally fair or equitable. I’m not saying that’s not real love, it just would not work for me. I get so much romantic glow from being on a team that I would feel very lonely in such a marriage, even if my partner showed intimacy in other ways.

        Basically find someone you’re compatible with, and globally we’ll work together to make society more fair in the meantime.

    3. Mola Ram*

      They’d be doing each other a favour. She is obviously a planner whilst he is more spontaneous. This is not a good match.

  4. Moosemonster*

    Just before Christmas, I finally reached out to my GP about getting checked for ADHD! Had to write down my symptomps and send them over, and from the brief chat with the doctor I’m frankly already exhausted by the process, and this is, what, not even the first step proper. Anyone else in England done it in recent years?

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Oooo following this thread with interest. I waited a long time for my ASD dx; I think the assessment format for AD(H)D is similar (also in UK). I was recommended to get the ADHD assessment and to approach my GP about it, but to be honest I was so exhausted after the ASD one and Covid etc that I haven’t bothered. It’s something I’m thinking of for the new year though.

    2. Kali*

      I finally got a diagnosis in September, after suspecting ADHD for a few years, finally reaching out to my GP, being on a waiting list for 4 years, and then just going private. I’m annoyed I didn’t go private earlier because I was doing an undergraduate degree during the entire time I was on the waiting list (as a mature student, I’m 32). So not only would it have made my degree much easier, but I would have been entitled to a disabled student’s allowance which would easily have covered it the cost of private care. I get that for this year with my MSc, but a few thousand over the last 4 years would have been very welcome. :(

      The meds have side effects – insomnia, increased heart rate, dehydration – but it’s amazing being able to focus now. I can write and edit an essay while keeping in mind what I want to say, what’s written in previous paragraphs, and what I cover in upcoming paragraphs.

      It feels like… Well, you know those wheels you spin to win a prize? Like those, but the prize is my attention. And adhd is like someone’s spinning it every few minutes to every few seconds (except hyperfocus, when the wheel was just stuck). With medication, the wheel is heavier. I can move it and it THUNKS right into place. The other day, I needed to do some work but I needed to turn on my PC and fetch water first. I was able to remember those tasks were in preparation to work and not wander off and lose a few hours before starting.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Then the wheel was just stuck”
        Perfect image thanks for that.
        I’m in another country so can’t comment on process, but meds? Just be prepared for changing it through your lifetime. My first scrip was working well until when I developed high blood pressure they cut my dose. That doesn’t work so well so at some point I need to go back to trial & error.

      2. Moosemonster*

        Yeah, I’m also worried that it will take forever, but I can’t really afford going private.

        My biggest – and most affecting – symptoms seem to be executive dysfunction and emotional dysregulation, which I’ve always chalked up to your ol’ regular depression, but this year has shown pretty dramatically that the depression is in check, and the other stuff is not. I know that I harbor this fantasy that a diagnosis, followed by medication, will instantly fix everything I feel is wrong with me, but I’ve been in therapy for long enough to recognise it, so…

    3. Nacho*

      I was thinking about doing it, but my job won’t give me any time off for doctors visits until February.

    4. Lobsterp0t*

      YEAH. Definitely go the “right to choose” route. The NHS process will take forever unless you do this, and it’s possible via right to choose to get treatment that is NHS funded but on private or nearly private time scales

    5. LadyGrey*

      Best advice is to find your local adult adhd support group and ask then for advice on support available in your area! Also, there are a lot of UK adult Adhd groups on Facebook who are happy to share experiences of different private diagnosis routes / Right to choose NHS routes!

    6. Emily*

      Good luck! I have no practical advice for you (I’m in the USA), but I can empathize as someone who is currently working up the courage to ask for an assessment.

  5. Ellyfant*

    If you were in charge of the nation’s educational curriculum, what non academic topics would you make compulsory? Excluding subjects conventionally covered in schools (eg sex or religious education).

    Mine would be:
    -recognising toxic relationships and how to get out of them
    -it’s totally okay and normal to have mental health issues / when and how to get help for mental health
    -how to listen to people
    -how to apologize when you’re wrong

    1. L*

      Interesting question!

      – How to do taxes
      – How to read your payment slips (is that the correct word? The paper that says how much money you’ve earned at your job)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, mine would be all financial. How to open a bank account. How to write a check. How to invest. How the home buying process works. Bring back Home Economics!

        1. Clisby*

          When I was in high school, girls normally took home economics and boys took shop. (I didn’t take either). I’ve often thought it would be good to require everybody to take both. Boys need to know how to cook and girls need to know how to do some basic home repairs.

            1. Clisby*

              Fortunately, I had parents who made all their children pitch in with cooking, home repairs, yardwork, etc. When any of us got a driver’s license, they made sure we knew how to do things like check the oil and change a tire.

            2. MissDisplaced*

              My school had that! The boys had to do at least a half-year of Home Ec, (the budgeting and cooking part), but not the sewing parts. Girls took shop that was more like basic tool use/household safety, and checking/maintaining your car. So everyone had a little of both, at least for one year.

          1. Seal*

            My junior high required everyone to take shop and home ec back in the 70s. I still have the plastic dish and metal planter I (a woman) made in 8th grade shop class. The spot welder scared me because it gave off sparks, but that didn’t stop me from finishing my planter. As I recall, we also had to reassemble a lawn mower engine and make a wooden box. Since I already knew how to sew and cook, I never really got much out of the home ec classes, although I did make a backpack and a T-shirt. Good times.

          2. Black Horse Dancing*

            Huh. My junior high had that in the 79s. Everyone took shop, home ec, etc. Weird that hasn’t spread.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              In many places shop & home ec hsve been cut from budgets just like arts & music classes.

            2. Old and Don’t Care*

              We did too, in the early 80’s. Cooking, sewing, wood shop, metal shop. I regard it all as worthless. I can’t hem a skirt to save my life, and am happy to pay the dry cleaner a dollar to sew on a button. I can cook, but not because I took six weeks of cooking in the eighth grade. The only thing I remember about wood shop is that we could play the radio and there was general excitement when “Centerfold” came on. I would ruthlessly cut all these from the curriculum.

        2. Clisby*

          I don’t disagree, but not too long ago I was talking about stuff like this with my 24-year-old daughter, and she said, “You know … I’ve never needed to write a check.” She’s a self-supporting graduate student who knows how to handle money – but she has never written a check. Even I might write a check a dozen times a year. Check-writing is probably headed for the dust heap of history.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I don’t think it’s cheques/checks precisely, but more generally understanding income v outgoings, and budgeting.

            Balancing a checkbook is a formal and systematic process of keeping track of your obligations and resources, so the discipline of sitting down weekly was a helpful process for many people. Schools should absolutely be supporting young people to find the method that works for them whether it’s pen and paper or an app or external support.

            Discussion of the consequences of failing to manage money is important too.

          2. allathian*

            Yeah, I hear you.

            That said, learning to manage your finances is the kind of basic life skill that definitely should be taught at school.

      2. Washi*

        Also what the heck all the different types of health insurance are! Maybe both in high school and in college. i remember spending like 3 hours on google looking up all the acronyms when I got my first full time job.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          If we are going down the insurance route, auto insurance as well. There are multiple coverages, typically with only a minimum liability coverage mandated by law. Many people don’t understand the subject enough to make informed decisions about what to purchase. To confuse the matter even more, auto insurance varies wildly from state to state.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          For the US, all those optonal nicknamed savings plans — FSA, HSA, 401k, 403b, TSP, IRA, Roth IRA. Including the ones in specific states like Connecticut’s CHET for higher ed only. I’ve seen people lose significant money because they don’t understand the limitations. And I’ve scrambled at the end of a year when HSA changed over to FSA.
          Also wills, living wills, health directives, and organ donation cards.

        3. Chaordic One*

          You are so right about the health insurance. My employer has a narrow window of time during which you can change your health plan or enroll in new health plans. I found the process so intimidating that I ended up taking a “stress day” to go over all the plans and decide what to enroll in. It took me 4 hours to review the health, dental and vision plans. (I didn’t bother with the medical savings accounts which seem like an extra hassle to me.)

          Not to get into politics, but it would be so much easier for everyone if we had a national health insurance plan for everyone. My doctor says that he could get rid of one of his billing clerks if he only had to deal with a single standardized health plan and not the wildly different coverages and payment rates that different insurance companies will cover.

          Then there is the similar rabbit hole of trying to pick where to put your money in your Employer’s 401K plan. Argh!

      3. D3*

        I disagree, actually. Especially about the taxes. Not because I think those things are unimportant, but because I DID learn them in high school. And by the time I was out of college and a fully functioning adult, IT WAS ALL OUTDATED. Tax forms and laws were all different. It was a complete waste.

        1. Liz*

          This is a good point, but the same could be said for a lot of these suggestions. We had a really intensive (if misguided) series of lessons on CV writing and job applications. By the time I was looking for jobs in earnest, it was all online application forms and the CV was nothing but an elaborate note document that I could copy and paste from. But some basic element of instruction might still be useful, and will still hold true years later. Plus, large portions of the population go straight into full time work after leaving school and may be using many of these skills right away.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It wasn’t a waste if you came out of it understanding concepts of estimated taxes, capital gains tax, withholding, filing dates, different forms & schedules, terms like adjusted gross income, and the idea that cities & states also (may) have additional forms. Those things aren’t taught in all homes.

        3. allathian*

          The idea is to learn the basic principles of how taxation works, with the understanding that the details can and will change in the course of a lifetime.

          Government is also important. Not so much about specific policies, but rather how the democratic process works in your country (assuming you live in a democracy, that is), and for advanced classes, something about how it works elsewhere. I took an elective in political science in high school, and I was utterly fascinated by how different electoral systems work. I’m in a country with proportional representation, and it’s very different from a country like the UK where it’s first past the post, etc.

      4. Girasol*

        My eighth grade history teacher gave us each a sample W2 slip and a 1040 EZ form and we spent a whole hour in class filing our taxes. I think of him every year. Thanks Mr. Karnatz! He also gave us Social Security registrations (back in the day when parents didn’t enroll their babes) and I am very grateful for that too.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      Cpr certification – even if they don’t pursue recertification, the initial knowledge may help a lot of people who might otherwise freeze in that situation.

      1. Kate*

        My daughter’s elementary school actually does teach this! They do it at the beginning of every class, to calm the kids down and get them ready to learn.

        I love it because it’s so much easier to reinforce at home once it’s been introduced at school.

        1. Artemesia*

          I lived in a part of the country where school districts were attacked for trying to inculcate religion when they tried to do relaxation /meditation to calm kids down before they went to work. Yoga, meditation etc are considered by some to be religious indoctrination. Sadly as these techniques are so helpful .

          1. nep*

            Indeed. That reinforces the need for widespread education (formal and informal) about what can be one of the most beneficial things a human can do–beneficial for the person, the community, the planet.

    3. Kali*

      What to do when you don’t know what to do. How do you figure out who to call, where to go for help, etc? I’m thinking of scenarios like getting locked out, or needing to find out what financial help the government can offer you, or figuring out how to access education as an adult, and so on. Things where you can’t give specific information because it varies, so the skill is figuring out how to find what you need to know. I guess these are things people would ask their parents about, but that wasn’t an option for me. But, you know, maybe kids without parents to ask are such a minority that the time would be better spent elsewhere.

      This is an academic subject, but I’d also want stronger emphasis on the scientific method. Even with a STEM degree, it feels like the principles of the scientific method itself are taught implicitly as an aside, rather than being explicitly discussed. I think that helps contribute to harmful myths about how science works. Like some people seem to think it’s a religion, or it’s about memorising facts. Some seem to picture it as being about some kind of Sherlock Holmes-style genius who is right because they’re smart and best at arguing (which is not helped by the ‘great men’ myths). I get that impression from the way people argue about masks and vaccinations, and from things like seeing one person say Newton’s laws of motion were “according to Newton!”. I don’t see how people would say the sort of things they saw if that isn’t what they’re picturing as happening behind the scenes.

      Even if you taught no other science – no experiments, no findings, no specific facts – a thorough grounding in how we test things and weigh evidence, and how to know if something is empirically true or not, or even if we can know, would, I think, go a long way. Although, realistically, you’d still want to use examples, but the examples would be the aside rather than the point. I mean, if you can’t weigh the evidence yourself, then the question comes down to “who do I trust to have my best interests at heart/to be honest?”. And there have been times, not all that long ago, when the medical industry wasn’t that. So I think people should be equipped with the tools to effectively judge who is more likely to be right about medical or scientific matters, or at least know what that means, rather than being left with the impression that it’s about personality.

      I was thinking of the Victorians and cholera, but I guess people also remember thalidomide, and if you aren’t able to judge the changes in how medicines are tested, then, again, it comes down to trust. Even though I could, theoretically, go and read all the papers and see what’s changed, and look at their methods and results and conclusions and check that they’re justified and I agree…I haven’t done that and I probably won’t. I’m taking it on trust, and I suspect I feel able to do that because I know I *could* go and check, and I trust scientists in general to have the same (and better) training than me, and to have the same intention of finding empirical truths and to test thoroughly against the possibility of being wrong. They remember thalidomide too, after all, they’re not blase.

      1. David*

        Great point about the scientific method. That’s probably the #1 thing that bugs me about science education as well, that it’s so often conveyed as a body of knowledge instead of a process.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I think all your topics are related in the idea of learning how to solve problems by thinking logically and critically.

        Ideally, that’s what all schools should be teaching already-certainly my kids’ schools always list critical thinking as part of the curriculum. But many people don’t seem to learn it, for one reason or another. It’s pretty abstract.

    4. Washi*

      Once you’re in high school, I think there should at least be a PE option covering good form for the types of exercise most adults actually engage in. How to run, how to lift weights, yoga, etc, and all in a body-positive and not weight loss focused way. My high school PE was mainly scurry hockey, handball, and basketball, which are things I don’t really use as an adult!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I wish we’d done more individual sports and exercise in gym, I might have gotten into the habit sooner. I hated basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, softball etc because I’m uncoordinated, not athletic and nobody wanted me on their team. Things like ping pong, bowling, golf etc at least I could fail on my own terms. And weights, yoga etc would have been great.

      2. Liz*

        +1 on this! I am a fairly active adult, but I hated PE at school. I’m not competitive, and if I am it’s usually in a destructive, counter productive kind of way. Competitive sport just made me feel insecure, inadequate, and useless. I spent hours loitering at the side of the netball court, freezing cold and hoping nobody would throw the ball my way. For years I characterised myself as a couch potato, and now I’m a distance runner and gym bunny, because I found something I actually like!

        School PE should teach kids how to listen to their bodies, be kind to themselves, work out appropriately for their skill level, and above all equip them to find a form of exercise that they enjoy so they do not come to dread it. If that involves a brisk walk around the school field while holding a conversation with their friends, then so be it, because this is an activity that has kept many people sane this year.

        1. Red Wheelbarrow*

          Yes! I remember learning in a college fitness class that stretches aren’t supposed to hurt. And that we can monitor our heart rate to stay in a challenging but not risky range, instead of gasping and wheezing trying to keep up with the more fit students. That knowledge would have changed my high school gym class experience, and my attitude toward exercise, quite a bit.

          1. Roja*

            Yes! Teaching my students the difference between “good hurt” (mild soreness, that nice stretch feeling) and “bad hurt” (sharp or lingering pain, etc) is very difficult to teach but 100% necessary. I teach dance so it’s crucial they learn how to safely push themselves, but to nip pain in the bud before they get injured, and know when “a lot” becomes “too much.”

      3. allathian*

        Yes, this. For some reason, team sports were really emphasized at my school, and I hated all of them. Pretty much the only exception, for girls at any rate, was gymnastics, and I was worse than useless at that. I could barely manage a somersault, cartwheels were completely beyond me. Oh, and swimming, one of the few PE lessons I actually enjoyed, because I was a decent, if slow, swimmer, and just got on with it. At least now at my son’s school, the teacher always assigns the teams and tries to ensure that each team has a pretty even distribution of skilled and less skilled players. I hated the way my high school PE teacher used to select two captains who then picked their teams, because I was so useless and always either the last or second last to be selected to a team. That certainly didn’t make me enjoy PE, and I spent years getting over my dislike of exercise.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      There are a few libraries across the country that offered 6 week adulting classes. The topics they chose were really good. Cooking, budgeting/finance, car repair (like basics and how to not get ripped off), apartment hunting and basic home buying, sewing and cleaning, tome management, and more. Rudely has an adulting class too.

      1. nep*

        Car repair’s great. I would love to get training in that right now. Fascinates me.
        I love everything about these except for the word ‘adulting.’

      2. ShinyPenny*

        Tome management– Yes! I could really have used that.

        There must be a better system than cardboard boxes stacked almost to the ceiling. Although the boxes of books from, like, sixth grade will be an interesting time capsule if I ever get that far down the stacks :)

      3. RagingADHD*

        The county extension offices around here offer these kinds of classes from time to time. They don’t get much publicity, though – no advertising budget.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      How to decide if to go to college or what are the alternative options. How to choose a college/career
      Student loans and paying them back

    7. Blarg*

      – healthy family relationships — not just dating. I had NO clue that what went on in my home wasn’t ‘normal’ or ok until I got to college.
      – How to assess and interpret news and social media, identify bias, identify commercial interests. How to seek out additional sources.
      – how to do laundry (in home or at laundromat), how to do the dishes, how your oven and stove work
      – how to patch a hole in the wall or in your jeans, find a stud and hang shelves, how to paint, change out a light fixture, unclog a toilet, replace a button, shine shoes, tie a tie
      – growing things — how to keep a plant alive that can feed you indoors or out, in whatever climate you’re in

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I taught my kid how to do laundry, dishes, etc. That’s a parental thing, in my opinion, because basic household chores need to be done regularly by everybody, are not difficult, and children can start learning early. Would have been a waste of school time.

        1. Clisby*

          I tend to agree. Teach a kid how to do laundry? That should take about 20 minutes. Teach a kid to do dishes? Maybe an hour? (depends on whether you have a dishwasher). Now, making sure they do it regularly is something else – but those are not “skills.” They’re on a par with using a broom to sweep the floor, and using a sponge to clean a countertop.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          On behalf of friends with disfunctional or nonexistent homes (one friend went through at least a dozen foster homes), I’d like to point out that many families do NOT teach the obvious. It’s the same reason sex ed is crucial.

        3. GrumpyGnome*

          Respectfully, this would not be a waste of school time for those that do not get taught these things at home. Many of the suggestions on this thread are things that could be taught at home but that doesn’t always happen.

          My mom had some issues relating to what I think might have been OCD – I wasn’t allowed to wash dishes (not even putting them in the dishwasher), cook, wash and fold laundry, vacuum, sweep, clean anything, or many other of such ‘basic’ things. My dad taught me how to change a tire, check fluids in the car and change oil, but I never learned these household things and I know plenty of people that grew up in other dysfunctional situations that also would have benefited.

      2. TechWorker*

        Your second bullet is one of the main focuses of English language (which is a separate exam to ‘English literature’) in the U.K. (As I remember when I took it about a decade ago :p)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      how to write a budget
      mortgages: NO, you do not take the price of the house and divide by 30 years to get your loan payment per year.
      REAL career planning advice
      REAL resume writing advice
      how to buy a car, car insurance, without getting ripped off
      how work places work: Yes, you have to do what the boss tells you; no, you do not have to put up with abuse
      how to pick out an apartment, understand a lease, know what a good landlord does
      learn about grief- the stages of grief, the symptoms of grief and all the different ways grief expresses itself

      Great question, btw.

      1. Girasol*

        Just the things I was thinking. Also I wish I’d been taught about how compound interest works, so I understood from the start why your first huge mortgage payment pays off such a minuscule amount of the value of the house, and how credit cards really work, and why, when you’re young and starting out and have barely a dollar to save, it’s worth saving it because the power of time could increase it so much. Some schools teach this but mine didn’t.

        1. LPUK*

          I was taught in school about how compound interest and mortgages payments worked and was so horrified I decided never to have a mortgage. Until I became an adult and realised how much renting cost! Still it did enable me to have the confidence to turn down the endowment option brokers kept pushing on me in favour of a repayment mortgage that explicitly allowed me to overpay and have that come off the principal, so it was very useful.

    9. anon24*

      So many great answers, so I’ll just add rather than repeat – how to access healthcare and what is appropriate for different symptoms. When should you call a doctor versus urgent care versus drive/taxi to the emergency room versus call an ambulance and what a true medical emergency is. It astonishes me how many people genuinely do not understand this and call for an ambulance because they’ve had an upset stomach for 3 weeks or went out drinking last night and woke up this morning with a hangover.

    10. MMB*

      I work with college students and definitely agree with other posters on the “basic adulting” classes. Including basic home maintenance – changing a light bulb, unclogging a toilet or drain, how to shut-off the water, light a furnace, complete a W-2…….

        1. Liz*

          I knew a young woman who owned her own apartment and called an electrician to change a bulb. She tried to do it herself but elected to grasp it with pliers because she was “scared to touch it”. The electrician had to remove the metal base piece from the socket and gave her a tutorial on how to change them.

        2. Morningstar*

          I’ve learned that city people don’t change their own lightbulbs. They actually call building maintenance to do this.

          1. Washi*

            I can’t entirely tell if this is a dig at city people? When we’ve called building maintenance to change a lightbulb (only once, I think) it’s because it’s a light fixture belonging to the apartment/complex and not to us. No need to pay to replace a bulb that the building will change for free!

            1. Morningstar*

              Oh no, not meant as a dig. Just putting out there a possible explanation for why someone might reasonably not know how to do this.

              1. udon the day away*

                I assume by ‘city people’ (it does sound one step away from ‘citiots’) you mean people who live in some sort of building complex? In my experience residents were sometimes required to call maintenance to replace bulbs in certain fixtures, but definitely not always.

                1. Morningstar*

                  I mean people who live in cities. In my experience just as you are speaking in your experience. I can’t imagine why you’re offended. IMO, the assumption that everyone knows how to change a lightbulb by the time they’re in high school is flawed. What is there for you to be offended about here? I’m saying it’s not stupid or even amazing that someone wouldn’t know how to do something.

                2. Morningstar*

                  Gotta add I’ve never heard the term “citiots” before & could have gone my whole life without it & been happier for it.

            2. Annie on a Mouse*

              I ask maintenance to change my light bulbs, not because I’m lazy or incompetent, but because I don’t have a ladder high enough to reach my ceiling!

              1. allathian*

                I’m afraid of heights, and yes, a kitchen ladder counts. So I’ll happily change a lightbulb (really a led light) in my reading lamp, but I’ll leave the ceiling fixtures to my husband. Added to that most of our ceiling lights are the flat kind with a glass bowl that you need to take off before you can access the lightbulb itself, and that’s more than I can handle. I’m so clumsy I’d probably drop the glass on the floor while trying to change the light.

          2. pancakes*

            Where did you learn this? I’m sure my super would laugh at me if I tried to summon him to my apartment to change a bulb. I would of course let him know if one of the common area lights was out, though. Tenants don’t maintain those.

            1. Morningstar*

              What’s your point? Is OP completely crazy for suggesting high school students should be taught “basic home maintenance like changing lightbulbs” or is it possible it could be useful to someone?

              1. pancakes*

                I was asking where you learned that city people supposedly don’t change lightbulbs. It seems like a pretty straightforward question. I didn’t comment at all on the OP’s question more broadly, but I think it’s an interesting one.

                1. Morningstar*

                  Oh, well I’ll tell you more about it. I had the personal experience of moving to a big city apartment & roomies had never changed their own lightbulbs. The interior ceiling bulbs. I tried to run to the store for some & they’re barely stocked here. I suppose it’s a cultural difference of living in “luxury” high rises. It might not be commonplace but my roomies (born & raised in the area) thought I was the one who was weird for being like “I’m just gonna change it” vs putting in a work request & giving someone access to our place & living in the dark until someone got around to it. Have had this service provided in subsequent residences also. Maybe it’s a regional quirk. And probably many of these people will never need to know how to a change a lightbulb for better or worse.

                2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                  Depends on the place. I lived in a studio in a converted building in London for a while that had really high ceilings and there was no way I could have safely reached them by the usual method of standing on a chair. I wasn’t going to buy and store an appropriately tall ladder for this occasional job, so when the bulb went I got maintenance to change it for me.

            2. Clisby*

              My daughter’s had to do that. Her apartment has 15-foot ceilings. She knows how to change light bulbs, but has no way to get up that high.

    11. Asenath*

      I suspect I’d recommend nothing. Stick to solid academics, and students can use that information then and later to figure out the answers to everything else when needed. The curriculum is already crammed, and putting in more information, particularly information students may not need or use at the time, means they gave less time to spend on core skills and also will not remember information on, say, taxes because it seems irrelevant when they learn it and will be outdated later.

        1. Why are you horrified*

          Which ones horrify you and why? Most of the ones I’ve seen I would have like to learn (thinking of cooking/house maintenance/taxes, etc).

          1. Asenath*

            I can’t speak of Old and Don’t Care, but of those, I learned to cook at home – and most of my classmates, like me, later didn’t cook much at all, or took up very different styles of cooking as adults. I grew up in a rented house, and any maintenance skills and all knowledge of how to file taxes I learned as I needed to, as an adult. The fact of taxes and the reasons for them was probably mentioned in school and was certainly mentioned in government ads. So I can’t see needing to learn those skills in school. Just because something is or will be useful doesn’t mean it should be taught in school.

          2. Old and Don’t Care*

            Well, I agree with Asenath above and below, and Raging ADHD below. Life skills are important but that doesn’t mean schools need to teach them. I think the libraries and extension programs make a lot of sense, and have the advantage of giving people information when they are ready for and interested in it. Ideally students should learn research and critical thinking skills so they can learn for themselves what is relevant to them.

            I don’t think it would ever be the place of a school to determine what is a toxic relationship and how to avoid one, though that might be an interesting idea to explore in a literature class. I don’t think it’s a school’s job to decide what is a medical emergency and when to call an ambulance.

            Most of the non-academic subjects floated here strike me as inefficient, impractical or inappropriate to be taught in schools.

    12. TexasRose*

      > Basic first aid
      > Basic fire safety
      > Basic weather safety
      > Hurricane preparedness (we live in storm country)
      > Identification of dangerous wildlife (and identification of when to treat wildlife as dangerous, that is, how a rabid wild animal acts)
      > How to deal with someone else’s service animals
      > Etiquette for helping / interacting with someone who is blind or in a wheelchair
      > Basic info about invisible disabilities or variable? disabilities (when I had active CFS, some days were better than others, so sometimes I needed to use a cane, which caused consternation among co-workers)
      > Basic cleaning-chemical safety (don’t mix bleach with ANYTHING but water, unless you read the label)
      > Goal setting and time management
      > Negotiation techniques
      > Anti-bullying techniques
      > How to read a rental agreement or cell phone contract
      > How to make decisions with others (as a culmination of the previous few items)

    13. Mx*

      All of your list Ellyfant. That’s so essential !
      I would add Civic Education. That was done in my country until the 60’s or 70’s, but then they dropped it.
      I would include understanding and respect of the atheists in religious studies ( I don’t know if it is done as we don’t have religious studies in my country.)

    14. Pippa K*

      Great suggestions above, and I’d add very basic legal education. Concepts and terms like liability, consent, self-defence, as well as elements of the legal system most relevant to people in ordinary life: jury service (in systems with juries), family law, contracts, employment, and some criminal justice issues (police power, detention, sentencing, etc.)

    15. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I was just talking to my mom and my nieces last night about how schools should teach people their legal rights when dealing with the police — things like you don’t have to consent to a police search of your car/home/person (without a warrant), you don’t have to stay and answer police questions, what to do if you’re arrested, etc. I can guess why this is rarely taught, but it should be.

      1. Clisby*

        Those are all good.

        When my 2 kids were minors, we drilled it into them: “Never talk to the police without one of us present.”
        Now they’re 18 and 24, so we’ve updated the advice to “Never talk to the police without a lawyer present.”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Can I add on to that? I also think it’s important to tell them exactly how to say it. I was talking to my nieces about this last night — it doesn’t need to be confrontational or a huge deal. Like if a cop stops you and you don’t want to consent to a search, you don’t have to stiffly say, “No, I do not consent.” You can! But you can also say in a pleasant tone, “No, I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry, I can’t consent to a search, I need to be on my way.” A lot of people are much more comfortable saying the second one than they are the first … and when people are more comfortable with the language, they’re more likely to actually use it. Not to mention, it can keep things from becoming adversarial when they don’t need to be. (Although also teach them what to do if that doesn’t work.)

          1. Clisby*

            Agreed. And we didn’t tell our children to be hostile to police if they said they had to have one of us present. We told them to say something like, “I’ll be in big trouble with my parents if I answer questions without one of them here. “

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That’s perfect. Reminds me of how I’ve suggested to people (maybe not here) that they can say things like “It’s been drilled into me to always do X” if they feel awkward about, for example, taking a couple of days to think over an offer or not signing without reading the full 29 pages or whatever. (Not that anyone should feel awkward about those things, but sometimes they do and “borrowing authority” — their parents’ or whoever — helps.)

      2. Artemesia*

        LOL IN parts of the country obsessed with people saying ‘sir’ to adults, you’d get fired teaching that. I used to teach the first amendment very aggressively as well as ways to influence government policy in the PNW to high school seniors and we got considerable hassles from the local John Birch infused community. My principal had my back — but that is less true in many areas and for all I know less true today than it was then where I taught.

      3. matcha123*

        This was actually something a number of my high school teachers impressed on us. I forgot until reading this comment. I graduated high school in 2001, for reference.
        I forgot a lot because some things were focused on car searches and I didn’t have a car, but some schools/teachers do teach this!

    16. Roja*

      How to work hard and persevere, even when it takes a while to see results. How not to skip ahead in the process and thereby short circuit your own learning. How to hold your work/learning/whatever to a high standard, but also give yourself grace when you mess up.

      All things I strive to teach in my classroom, but those are hard lessons for adults sometimes, let alone kids.

    17. Secret Squirrel*

      – Handling your emotions/emotional intelligence
      – Growing your own fruits & vegetables
      – How to socialize (for those of us who didn’t know how to talk to other kids)
      – Taking care of pets
      – Vaccinations for adults/info on being responsible for your own health care (if you can afford it)
      – Critical thinking/logical fallacies/cognitive biases
      – Importance of getting information from the most credible and least biased news sources

    18. RagingADHD*

      Serious question – all the folks who think high schools should teach how to choose health insurance, file taxes, choose an apartment, etc:

      Like, do you think everyone else knew these things at age 18 and you missed out? No. You aren’t supposed to graduate high school with all the knowledge you’ll ever need for the rest of your life, and then stop acquiring life skills!

      I had nice, loving, responsible parents. They never “taught” me to do dishes, file taxes, or change a tire.

      They instilled in me that I’m a reasonably intelligent and capable person, and that if I can’t figure something out by myself, there are either a) instructions, b) books about it, c) people I can ask about it, or d) people I can hire to do it for me. And that was before the Internet and YouTube.

      And you know what? Thank god they didn’t waste instructional time in school on insurance plans or taxes – because none of that information would have been valid a few years later.

      I certainly hope that teachers can instill a sense of self-efficacy in their students, especially those who are neglected or mentally beaten down at home. But that’s really not something you can put in a curriculum.

      As the old folks say, it’s “caught, not taught.”

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        So what we want schools to do is teach children to be inquisitive and resilient. That seems to me to be baked into the general ethos of a school or teaching method rather than a separate part of the curriculum.

        Even teaching children how to Google (that is, about choosing search terms and how SEO affects the results you see and whether to trust the links you click) is useful. That can be part of History or Geography or Science or anything.

        I agree that for example “how to fill in this specific edition of this particular form” isn’t useful, but a more general “how (and why) to fill out and submit official forms” session would be useful.

      2. Washi*

        But isn’t that true of almost everything you learn once you get to high school? I took a class on Greek myths, but I could have read them all myself. My “genetics” class included a substantial amount of time reading AND watching Jurrasic Park. Definitely could have managed that on my own.

        The definition of school and what is considered important to learn has always changed and evolved. For a long time girls DID learn life skills like housekeeping and various handcrafts in school. Colleges were once very focused on the classics. You’re right that there’s not enough time to learn everything under the sun, so how and what do we choose? How does that reflect the priorities in our culture? I think these are all legitimate questions!

        And to answer your question, yes I still wish that maybe in my Civics class, we had covered taxes and health insurance. Specific forms change, but I was never going to remember specific forms anyway. But having a grounding in those areas would have helped me evaluate reliable sources when I was scouring the internet for information later. And stuff like “what is an HMO?” doesn’t really change as quickly. Plus it could have tied in very nicely to discussions of policies and how they affect us in real life!

        1. Batgirl*

          Its considered outdated in schools nowadays to teach knowledge as an end result rather than skills. So for example, a school is rather more judged on whether the students CAN read (infer, extrapolate, analyse, evaluate, criticise and so on) than if they can simply recite the material. This is so they can read and research whatever they want for themselves later on. Reading is interspersed with writing for an array of purposes so that students can write for any purpose. The reason that we practice these skills on things like literature or other academic topics is because those are the very things they won’t come across or read up on in the course of everyday life (we have no idea what the future looks like anyway) and the body of knowledge is being preserved. Or presented to those who might pursue the knowledge further.
          Additionally it is exasperating as a teacher to constantly get things piled on to “what children should learn at school” as though it’s not possible for them to learn anywhere else. I teach children who are behind in their reading, so they have to miss a bit of Spanish or history for this more immediately vital skill, because the school day is finite and many children hate being confined in a classroom for as long as they are.
          Children also need out of school relationships and experiences.

    19. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Adulting in general. Paying bills and taxes, budgeting, taking out mortgages and loans. Cooking and cleaning, light DIY.
      Not just sex ed but love and respect, as from age 5 like in the Netherlands.

    20. MissDisplaced*

      If it is now a non-academic subject, I would say household/personal budgeting, bookkeeping and taxes and what used to be called “home economics.”
      When I was in school, this was a core subject in about 8th or 9th grade (ages 15-16), but it seems to have fallen away now? My nephew graduated high school 4 years ago and had no idea how to write checks, balance his checkbook and pay his bills, or cook anything for himself.

      I would also put in there, that young people should at least know how to go shopping for, and learn the basics of, cooking their own food (important for both budget and health).

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’m with you there. At least the definition of what ethics are. From the number of questions that come up here about “is this ethical?” it would appear that there are quite a lot of people who aren’t really sure what the word means.

    21. Dumpster Fire*

      With all due respect to everyone’s input (and as a long-time high school teacher), mine would be how to teach YOUR OWN kids many of the things that have been listed here. The vast majority of these items should be either taught by parents, or come as a result of life experience. A big part of growing up is figuring out how to do things you don’t know how to do; and a big obstruction for many young adults is the need for a detailed list of steps explaining how to do something – which is exactly why they DON’T know how to figure things out. The biggest idea that I try to impress upon my students (generally juniors and seniors) – other than my specific content area – is that if they don’t know what to do, they should ask questions and do something, anything. Let yourself make mistakes and learn from them. Once you’ve figured a few things out on your own, you develop a sense of confidence and self-sufficiency that no instruction book can ever provide.

    22. LPUK*

      Basics of planning , project management, time planning – what will you need to have, know and find out to do a task. Who/ what could help you, how long might that take? What problems could delay you or make it more difficult? How could you resolves those. Took me far to long to realise that thinking through things instead of leaping into action immediately saves time money and stress. Currently trying to teach this to my nephew

  6. Richard Hershberger*

    An “amateur archaeologist” announced that he had discovered the location of the Holy Grail, in West London. The Jerusalem Post treated the story with the seriousness it deserves by noting that “Finding the Holy Grail is the Holy Grail of Archaeological finds.” Insert the obligatory Monty Python jokes.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I loved that line in The Detectorists.

      “Saxon hoard is the holy grail of treasure-hunting,” says Lance.

      “Well actually, the Holy Grail is the holy grail of treasure-hunting,” replies Andy.

  7. Dwight Schrute*

    Curly hair thread! What are your favorite products and techniques to avoid a frizzy mess, especially after sleeping. Relevant info: I shower at night, and have 2c-3a curly hair about collar bone length. My hair can look nice before bed and then in the morning is frizzy and has lost definition.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I sleep with mine in a bun, though that’s less helpful for short-hairs (and I keep it in a bun like 23.5 hours a day anyway). You might try a sleeping cap though, or otherwise wrapping it?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You might have to attack in the morning. I started using a leave-in conditioner plus Aveda Be Curly, and my hair is so much smoother and the curls are better defined. It even works when I need a midday spruce-up after pulling my hair back. My curls are also 2c/3a.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Bit of a bugger to sleep on at first, but I changed my pillowcases to ones of satin like/silk like fabric – basically extremely low friction. I look far less like I’ve stuck my finger into a 240v mains socket when I wake up now.

      Other than that I use a ton of Frizz-Ease (the strong serum, not the regular one) and black almond oil (obviously do not use if allergic to nuts)

      1. Roy G. Biv*

        Yes – silky/satin pillowcases! My 2B-2C hair is now graying and the cotton pillow case had begun sucking all life and moisture out of my hair overnight. Mother was right all along. Get a satin pillowcase.

    4. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

      Back when I cared about my curls, I would wrap my hair in a silk scarf before bed. You can find a lot of “how-tos” showing you how to wrap it so it’s comfortable to sleep in, protects your curls and doesn’t unravel in the night. Be warned: you will look like a 1950s housewife. As an insomnia sufferer, I needed something that wouldn’t make it harder to fall asleep and this was the only thing that worked.

    5. Cabin Fever*

      I have a spray bottle filled with water and a little curl cream product dissolved into it. I attack the frizz with the spray bottle on the mornings I don’t wash my hair.

    6. D'Euly*

      No helpful hints unfortunately, but I am immensely tickled that Dwight Schrute needs tips for curly hair :)

    7. Loopy*

      Someone here recommended Shea Moisture products and now it’s the only thing I use! I use a combination of curl cream and leave in conditioner. I also invested in a better sulfate free shampoo and conditioner (blanking on the name). However, I should admit….I do shower in the morning as I’ve found despite preferring nighttime showers, the big difference in styling my hair wet is worth the morning time.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Ugh yes morning showers definitely make my hair better but I just despise showering in the morning

    8. Mella*

      I wash at night, rinse out conditioner poorly (leaving some in) and apply nothing else. Sleep on satin pillowcase (fresh one every night). Jump in the shower to rewet and scrunch in gel. Hands off afterwards; curly hair is like muffin mix–overdo the prep and you get a mess.

    9. Jane*

      For my similar hair I refresh it in the morning – let it get close to the shower steam and/or scrunch the ends with very wet hands, though I don’t fully wet the hair because then it takes ages to dry again. Once out the shower I ‘plop’ it on top of my head with some bamboo fabric, sometimes adding a little more gel to the ends, then let it dry naturally. It’s more faff than I’d like, but the only way I’ve found to not have the curls either flattened or frizzy overnight. I’ve tried wrapping my head before sleep before and the scarf has always slid off overnight, but I’m going to check out the tutorials Yennefer mentions to see if it’s my technique or my weird shaped head causing that!

    10. DustyJo*

      REALLY enjoying the replies to your query!
      As you know, hair follicles are kind of built like snake skin. On straight hair, the follicles all lay flat and smooth, but on curly hair, they fly out and about. So, for starters, dry your hair by “blotting”, not rubby-rub-rubbing with your towel.
      I’ve got a bob these days. I was tired of the hair on the side I slept on looking crunched and just not falling nicely. So now, for sleeping, I gather my hair in 2 ponytails on top of my head! Keeps it relatively NOT, so to say, rubby-rubbing on the bedding and ruffling up the hair follicles.
      Next is a spray bottle of vinegar! I was SOOO tired of the dry, porous look. I googled it, and among the list of miracle (hah) products was the tip to do a vinegar rinse after shampoo/conditioner. Knowing I would NOT be standing in the shower pouring vinegar over my hair, I tried a spray bottle of vinegar. I spray while my hair is still damp, sliding it through my hair with my fingers, maybe a little extra on the ends. I sometimes spray a little during the day, on dry hair…
      Last: Coconut Oil. After hair is dry and styled the way I like it, I take a SMALL amount of Coconut Oil, rub it on my palms, and kind of glide my hands over my ‘do. Adds a bit of shine, plus kind of settles the hair.
      Hope these help!

    11. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      Before anything else, I have to ask; are you showering every night? It wasn’t clear, but if you are please stop! I mean, wash your body, but most 2b+ hair can’t take it and it could have a lot to do with your attacks of frizz. Try getting yourself down to twice a week and I think you’ll notice a big difference. You might find your oil production goes into overdrive for a few weeks but then it will regain equilibrium.
      If you’re already doing this, then following a modified Curly Girl method has done wonders for me. I found it a few years ago and it was world changing. I couldn’t cope with the ‘no-poo’ method but now that you have sulphate-free, silicone-free shampoos there’s no need. If you’re physically able, bend double and flip your hair over in the shower, shampoo and rinse in that position then squeeze out the excess water and liberally apply the conditioner and try to pile your hair on your head (this is good for volume later). Leave it in for at least ten minutes then rinse out, doubled over again. Still with your head flipped over squeeze the extra water out with an old t-shirt, or a smooth Turkish towel, of something without too much friction. Gently scrunch in your product of choice startingfrom the tips (mine is a homemade mixture of cold pressed sunflower oil and coconut oil) and you can finally stand up straight. Once your hair is no longer dripping, place another low friction towel on your pillow and lie down and spread your hair over you head like a Disney princess hair halo. This will maximize root volume (therefore minimizing triangle head) and leave you with much smoother hair in the morning.
      So that’s my method. I hope a combination of everything we’ve said leads to your perfect curl technique, the curly community is with you lol!

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Thank you! I don’t wash my hair every day! I wash it like once every 3 days maybe? I don’t keep track lol but it’s not every day unless I notice some sort of scalp funk going on or am getting like really sweaty

    12. Batgirl*

      I’m a frizz-prone 2c curly girl. I seem to have conquered frizz for the moment. My stand bys are:
      – Not using sulphates. Shea moisture weightless coconut shampoo gets me a half week of clean hair without drying me out.
      – Heavy duty masque conditioner: Shea Moisture weightless coconut masque or their argan masque.
      – Detangle your hair in the shower and once dry, use silk or satin gloves to detangle or scrunch your hair. Fingers make frizz and brushes are a no go.
      – My hair is too easily weighed down for most commercial leave ins but if it’s frizzy weather, I make a recipe from the neals yard beauty book: 2tbs coconut milk, 200ml chamomile tea, 2 drops chamomile oil (chamomile soothes the scalp too). Use a spray bottle to apply either as rinse out or leave in. I leave it in. Its totally invisible, bouncy and gives great shine.
      – I smooth on a small amount of Umberto Gianni curl jelly over wet hair to create a soft cast on the frizz prone surface areas (no need to scrunch it out), it can be further softened by mixing with water before application.
      – If I’m going to bed with wet hair, I’d probably Dutch braid into one or two plaits as my curl pattern is not symmetrical otherwise and it frizzes when drying on a pillow. Tension also prevents frizz. If my hair curled more reliably I’d probably make a satin or silk covered bun secured with a satin scrunchie (as I do on dry hair).
      – I sleep on a two sided pillow (cotton and real silk) as I get hot and the idea of satin on my face gives me hives. I try to fall asleep on the silky side so my hair doesn’t get tossed and turned on a rough surface. The cotton side is for the cool pillow flip during a lie in.
      – If your overnight plans go awry, Shea moisture coconut water spray will calm down frizz in the morning, as well as preventing it on rainy days.
      – Don’t demnoise frizz. Even healthy shiny moisturiser hair can have a little frizz. Rita Hayworth made it work.
      – If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. When you find products that work, stop experimenting. Whenever I do that I find that the shiny new product creates such build up or weighs me down so that I spend ages clarifying it out which is a great recipe for frizz. Apple cider vinegar is good for that though.

  8. Picky eater*

    I’m looking for healthy breakfast ideas for winter (so no smoothies.) I usually have multigrain bread toast but I’m hungry 2 hours later. It needs to be fast, so either made with little fuss or reheated.

    But I’m a picky eater. I only like eggs if scrambled. Making them from scratch isn’t feasible every day and they get really rubbery when reheated. I love the *idea* of steel cut oats and have made them numerous times, but the slime factor grosses me out.

    TIA!

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Do you like granola? I’ve been making my own from scratch lately which means I put in only things I like (yes to dark chocolate chips, dried blueberries or cherries, and slivered almonds; no to coconut and raisins). It’s very easy and it’s fun to tinker with the recipe: lots of gingerbread spices in the winter to add flavor without adding to the calorie count, bourbon instead of vanilla extract, whether you use maple syrup or honey to bind it together, etc.

      I won’t post the link because that will send this to moderation, but the base recipe I use is the Cookie and Kate Healthy Granola one.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I have a peanut butter and nutella sandwich for breakfast everyday. Takes maybe 2 minutes to put together and it’s got enough protein to keep you full.

    3. Jay*

      I need protein or I am hungry an hour later no matter how much cereal or toast I eat. There are a bunch of recipes out there for high-protein waffles that can be made in advance and toasted. I’ve had one made with mozzarella cheese and I liked it. Definitely not slimy. I bet you could also add protein powder to a regular waffle recipe.

      Keto websites are great sources of high-protein subs for food that is usually made with all carbs. If you’re not following keto strictly (I don’t) you can use honey and sugar instead of monkfruit and stevia for sweeteners.

      Or forget about what breakfast is supposed to look like. My daughter sometimes makes herself a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich for breakfast. That may not be faster than scrambled eggs, but you could pop your whole-grain toast in the microwave with a little cheese on top to melt it. Anything that amps up the protein will keep you full longer.

      1. sswj*

        Yup, I’ve been known to open a can of tuna, add a dollop of mayo and a bit of lemon or herb-y seasoning mix and plonk that on some good toast. Fills the void nicely! Also a fan of leftover beef stew for breakfast, also with good toast to mop up the juice.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Adding a vote for cheese. I have a nice sampler of cheeses and crackers and attack that in the mornings. For some reason toast and cereals tend to give me migraines.

        1. Flair of Ashes*

          A wheat or barley intolerance/allergy could be the culprit of migraines. Or you might simply not like them.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have to have proteins for breakfast, or as you show, I am hungry by 9 am.
      I do make scrambled eggs every morning- but I want other things.
      My current alternative is some ground chicken. Bonus points for ground chicken, you can mix it with veggies/other things and eat it over a couple days.
      There are all different brands of vegetable drinks. What I like about this is that I do not have to mix them in a blender every day. They are already made. Veggies for breakfast will help your food stay with you.

      Alternatively, you could plan a mid-morning snack. I did this also when I had a really physical job. By lunch time I needed a full dinner’s worth of food. So I started loading up at mid-morning with a healthy snack.

      Don’t forget to hydrate. One of my biggest mistakes was assuming every hunger pang was hunger. It was NOT. Some of it was thirst, as thirst can masquerade as hunger. It’s so easy to forget water in the winter. I measure out what I should drink at the start of each day. I put it in mason jars so I can put a plastic lid on it and take it with me when I leave.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I was going to say, definitely need some protein. Nuts, eggs, meat, whatever works. Maybe make scrambled egg breakfast burritos ahead of time, freeze and reheat?

          1. ThatGirl*

            Let the eggs cool completely before wrapping them, along with any other cooked ingredients. Add cheese, don’t overdo the sauce, wrap and then wrap tightly in foil or parchment and put ‘em in a freezer bag. I nuke mine for about 90 seconds-2 minutes but if you had a few extra minutes, heating them on top of the stove would help keep sogginess down too – spray lightly, flip over once and cover for a couple minutes to let the inside warm up.

    5. 00ff00Claire*

      I like toast with almond or peanut butter or a frozen waffle with almond butter. I buy the Kodiak brand of frozen waffles because they have more protein and keep me full longer.

    6. Curious Canadian*

      My two weekday breakfasts are Cottage cheese/ Greek yogurt/ homemade protein granola/ fruit and overnight oats. I modeled my overnight oats after Ask a stole woman, found on Google

    7. GoryDetails*

      I’m fond of El Monterey’s frozen breakfast burritos. They come in several versions, each with scrambled egg plus meats – bacon, sausage, etc. – and one with potatoes as well.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband is super picky about reheated eggs because of the texture, but if you bake beaten eggs in muffin tins in the oven (Google “egg muffins”, but you basically just bake them in a greased muffin tin at 350 for about 18-20 minutes as I recall) they’re basically baked scrambled eggs, they freeze well and reheat in 30 seconds in the microwave and he says they don’t get that rubbery texture like pan fried scrambled eggs do. They can be eaten plain (I generally put cheese and sausage or bacon in them) or mashed up with a fork and put on toast or in a quick breakfast burrito after reheating.

      1. Otter Dance*

        Interesting, I had “egg bites” at Starbucks today, and remembered that I have a recipe to make them in the instant pot. No Gruyere on hand, as they use, but plenty of eggs and bacon crumbles and other kinds of cheese. Maybe I should do those again someday soon.

    9. CTT*

      On oats, I used to hate them for the same reason as you (so slimy!) but I started putting in less water than the instructions called for, and that made a huge difference for me.

    10. Lobsterp0t*

      Idk about healthy, but I like a protein and fat heavy breakfast because it helps my adhd meds “stick”.

      We make our own version of Leon avocado and halloumi toasted muffins. And outright own version of Egg McMuffins.

      I guess if eggs aren’t possible a whole milk yoghurt with frozen berries and honey is quite nice. I like to let the berries melt and then eat it all together while it is still cold

      1. StudentA*

        Wow, can you say more about making your meds “stick”? Because I’m guessing that would be the case for other types of meds and perhaps supplements.

    11. fposte*

      A recurring breakfast for me is sliced turkey (I get the precut Boar’s Head) on bagel/bread/crispbread. So I join the chorus suggesting that you throw some protein on your bread.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      Pre-made oats
      Egg bites made in muffin cups and reheated

      I’ve always love a peanut butter and jelly or PB and honey sandwich on whole wheat bread for on the go breakfasts.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Plain yogurt with fruit (usually frozen berries, which I take out of the freeze first thing in the morning and let defrost part way while I have tea, wash, and get dressed).

      Have you tried high-protein cereal? I like the “Kashi GO Lean” brand, and generally buy either cinnamon crunch or berry crunch.

    14. Courageous cat*

      Things you have to make ahead probably. Baked oatmeal (less slimy imo), egg and bacon cups (just whisk ’em together and bake them in a muffin tin), toasted waffles with pb on them (will help you feel more full)

    15. Girasol*

      I can’t do a carby breakfast in the morning. Oatmeal or dry cereal will make me hungrier by ten than I was before I ate. Last night’s leftovers are perfect for me – say, a bowl of beef stew warmed in the microwave – but my husband insists on having breakfast foods for breakfast. Sometimes I scramble two eggs in a bowl, add a splodge of salsa and a slice of cheese, and microwave two minutes for a lazy man’s omelet. I also like to warm frozen berries in a bowl and add cottage cheese and nuts.

    16. Joie de Vivre*

      I like breakfast quinoa. It isn’t fast, but it is definitely a make ahead and reheat recipe. I got it off of a quinoa package. If you are interested, I can post the recipe later.

    17. bunniferous*

      I would spread some cream cheese on that toast myself. As to steel cut oats, I make a batch in my Instant Pot and reheat portions in my microwave. If you like milk in your oatmeal you can put up to half milk half water in the original cooking liquid with that method.

      My husband likes cut up apple and peanut butter for breakfast when he is not in the mood for eggs.

      Avocado toast would also work well for you if you like that sort of thing but for me that might be more of a warm weather breakfast…

      Also is there any reason not to have soup in the morning? A hearty soup could be made ahead of time and reheated. Nice and warm for a winter morning, if not traditional.

    18. Gingerblue*

      I have similar feelings about oats and really like this recipe for baked oatmeal. A pan made on he weekend will last me most of the week: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018672-baked-oatmeal-with-berries-and-almonds

      I often like fried vegetables and some sort of protein for breakfast. If you have 5ish minutes, you can throw a selection of things in a skillet with a little butter or oil: frozen or pre-boiled and diced potatoes, pre-cooked spinach, a handful of fresh greens which will wilt in the pan, frozen peppers and onions, frozen mushrooms, etc. I usually add an egg or two, but you can also do a slice of ham or a piece of pre-cooked salmon or something. I’ll cook the spinach and salmon or whatever on the weekend and then it’s just reheating things quickly in the pan in the morning.

      Or how about adding a slice of cheese and cold cuts to the multigrain bread for an open-faced breakfast sandwich?

    19. Anono-me*

      If I have time, I do a fried egg on toast with a slice of cheese and tomato. But if I don’t have time, I just microwave some leftovers from the night before.
      Breakfast can be pork roast and sweet potatoes or spaghetti.

    20. Artemesia*

      I eat toast made from what we call ‘floor sweepings bread’ i.e. ezekial bread made out of only rough ground grains — no sugar at all. You buy it frozen; I like the Sesame loaf. And use a very thick layer of peanut butter (whole ground, no palm oil or sugar or whatever — just peanuts). You have to stir it up at the start to redistribute the oil which separates, but then keep it in the refrigerator. The protein/fat in the peanut butter makes this last till lunch time for me. Along with a latte (been drinking them since long before Starbucks — learned in Italy 40 years ago when at breakfast they would bring pitchers of coffee and warm milk and I would go a third coffee/two thirds milk). When I can get fresh cranberries I make thick sauce with orange juice instead of milk and half the volume and two thirds the sugar in the recipe and use that as jam on top of the peanut butter.

    21. comityoferrors*

      I make the same breakfast every day and prep the materials on the weekend. It’s easily adjustable:

      -On Sundays, I cook 1 cup of dry green lentils (simmer over medium heat for 25 min, stir frequently, add water as the lentils puff up), then season them by adding the cooked lentils to a pan where I’ve sautéed half a chopped onion, 1-2 chopped chipotle peppers, and 1-2 tbsp adobo sauce. I add those because I love spicy food – you could sauté anything for your desired flavor (garlic, onions, bell peppers, etc. are good suggestions I’ve seen) or just season with your favorite salts. Lentils are very healthy, hold well in the fridge for a week, and soak up a lot of flavor. I’m a picky eater and very selective with textures, so I was afraid of trying them at first, but I absolutely love them now.

      -Also on Sundays, I chop up a sweet potato into bite-sized pieces. I store the chopped sweet potato in sealed containers in the fridge. They last at least a week, probably more (I can’t attest to that because they’re always eaten by that point in my house.)

      -Every morning, I heat up 2-3 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and chop a bell pepper as it heats. You can chop the bell peppers on the weekend too – it holds really well in sealed containers – but it’s a pretty quick process and I like to use an entire bell pepper every day which would be a lot of containers for me :) When the pepper is chopped and the oil is fluid, I throw in the pepper and pour in chopped sweet potatoes from the fridge, varying how much I pour based on how hungry I am (I eyeball it). Set the timer for 10 min and periodically stir with a spatula. 3-4 mins in, I add whatever seasoning I’m in the mood for (I use cayenne and paprika, but have also enjoyed adding onion powder, garlic salt, basil, black pepper, etc.)

      -At ~5 min into the 10 min cooking process, I add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of my cooked lentils from the weekend. I stir them in with the peppers and potatoes and mix everything together really well.

      -If I have greens on hand, I throw some on top at 8-9 min into the cook time. Just enough time for them to start to wilt but not get too soft.

      -If I’m really hungry or ran out of one of my ingredients, I cook a vegan scrambled egg substitute, which is liquid. With the pan already hot from the stir fry, it takes maaaaybe 5 minutes to cook. You can probably find liquid scrambled eggs in the grocery store which will be much faster than cracking all the eggs you need.

      The process takes me maybe 20 min on a slow day, and I use the cooking time to make my coffee, listen to a podcast, play with my cats, and so on. I just come back to stir the pan every few minutes. It’s really easy, healthy, filling, and you can substitute any veggies you have left over. I’ve used carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, onions…just make sure you chop each veggie roughly the same size and google “how long do I sauté [vegetable]” to make sure you time the ingredients right.

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fried rice with leftover veg & protein and an egg cracked in.
      Also think about other grains as starch — polenta, grits, rice porridge esp Asian congee.

    23. Mephyle*

      Breakfast possibilities expand almost infinitely if you break away from the idea that breakfast can only include “breakfast foods.” Make a little extra dinner and save some for breakfast the next day (or skip a day if you don’t want to have the same thing two meals in a row). You can have soup or stew, or salad, or casserole, or meat and veg, or a taco or wrap, or a hamburger or a sandwich… in short anything that you would eat at any other meal of the day. In smaller amounts, if you want.

    24. TechWorker*

      Idk if anyone else suggested already cos I didn’t read all the comments :p but I have a microwave egg cooker that produces something very close to scrambled egg (‘microwave egg boiler’ is what it comes up as on eBay). You put one egg in it, whisk it up with a fork and microwave for about a minute == done…

    25. Observer*

      What about adding some hard cheese? You can either add the cheese after you toast the bread, or toast it together for a different effect.

      Hummus and peanut butter are a couple of other items you could add to your bread. Both are high protein, which should make a significant difference.

    26. Pharmgirl*

      Baked oatmeal is a great way to avoid that slimy texture, and as a bonus you’re basically prepping for the week and reheating a slice every morning.

      Baked egg cups are good too, hold up well for a few days, and reheat quickly in the microwave.

      Do you like breakfast sandwiches? You can make English muffin sized omelettes with whisked eggs ( so scrambled-ish) with cheese +/- breakfast meat. I’ve also see versions where you can freeze a bunch for prep.

      This reminds me, you can batch prep and freeze breakfast burritos using scrambled eggs too. Tons of varieties online.

    27. A Non E. Mouse*

      Not trying to be funny, but: try non-breakfast foods.

      Especially in winter, a nice vegetable beef broth-type soup is warming and hydrating, has protein and veggies, and you make it a pot at a time so it’s accidental meal prep.

      Just a thought. Maybe switch to “brunch” menu in your planning?

    28. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Most classical American Breakfast items are not that healthy to begin with, unfortunately- too much cholesterol, fat and/or sugar.
      Most store-bought breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar, either directly or from chocolate, honey, or fruit. Eggs are good for you only in moderation (like weekly at most, I hear – as I have eggs for breakfast maybe once a quarter I did not research that further).
      What works for me as my go-to breakfast is two large slices of toast with Greek yogurt flavored with honey. About half of a 150g/5oz tub goes on the toast, the rest I’ll keep for the next day or eat outright. Keeps me going until lunch – no wonder as one tub of the yogurt has 200 calories/864 kJ, 10% of the recommended daily value, and 27% of the recommended daily sugar intake; two large slices of toast add another 200 calories/10%.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Eggs are actually pretty healthy on their own, even daily, they are a complete protein. The trick is to eat 1 or 2 paired with veggies and not too much cheese or bacon. They do contain cholesterol, but ironically, it’s saturated and trans fat that raise blood cholesterol, not dietary cholesterol.

    29. Batgirl*

      Have you tried overnight oats? Make them ahead with equal amounts oats and milk and the texture is springy and chewy. I top with Greek yoghurt and blueberries.

    30. I take tea*

      It might be to slimy for your taste, but I’ve sometimes made chia pudding. Easy to make several and keeps for days in the fridge. Lots of protein and other good stuff, and pretty easy to make. I do it with soy milk and a little vanilla and cardamom and a little sweetener of some kind, but there’s a ton of recipes out there. The key is to stir regularly for the first five or ten minutes to get the chia evenly spread out in the milk.

      Peanut butter or tahini is good on some bread, adds protein.

      I’m fascinated by all the people eating proper food for breakfast, I absolutely can’t. The exception being left over pizza, sometimes.

  9. MuddyBuddy*

    Anyone soundproofed a house before?

    Partner and I are looking to buy a house in the next 6 months to 1 year, and in talking about our wants and needs for it we both decided to look into making it more soundproof from the outside. (We’ve spent the last few years in an apartment where the mistreatment of women and animals, along with general inconsiderate neighbor noise at all hours, comes through the walls and I have become extremely anxious in my home.)

    Is soundproofing a house like that a thing you can even do (either yourself or hired)? I realize it’ll probably never be able to block out all sound, and budget is certainly a factor. When I Google it, I get a lot of results for in-home recording studios but that’s not quite what I’m looking for. Maybe it would be better to just find a remote place in the woods at this point, haha.

    Alternatively, when house hunting, are there any clues you can look for that the street/neighborhood is relatively quiet? Is driving by a potential house at odd hours multiple times a week too creepy?

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Hello! Look for a brick house with newer windows. I live in a house with siding and slightly older windows, and can hear thunder storms really well as well as normal neighbor noise like lawn mowing and kids playing. My parents have a brick house about the same size and got new windows and it’s so quiet! Can’t hear lawn mowers, kids playing and storms are much quieter. I also recently moved from a townhouse due to noise and not having shared walls has been the best change ever!

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Also wanted to add: I don’t think it’s creepy to drive by multiple times, we did that with the house we are in and no one batted an eye

      2. Artemesia*

        We live on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago which is a busy highway and very noisy day and night. We replaced the lake side windows last year with new state of the art double glazed windows and it is astonishing how dramatically that cut the noise — so definitely look at high quality double glazing. And newer construction often has insulation that is more effective for noise as well as sound. But with stand alone house — the key is likely the windows.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You might want to consult an acoustical engineer– many serve construction businesses, but some also do residential work. I live in DC where a lot of houses are very close together, so I imagine they do a good business in a place like this. Might be pricey, but I am also noise-sensitive so it looks worth it to me!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Insulation did it for me here. I can barely hear anything from the outside. It’s so disconcerting. However, insulation will do a good job for you.

      When you own a house, unless it’s a condo there are no common walls with neighbors so you will be less apt to hear things. My previous dog could hear the neighbors arguing but I could not. My dog also caught on that the back apartment across the street was being vandalized. I figured it out what my dog was saying to me, when that nice police officer explained it to me 10 hours later at 11 pm at night.

      Neighborhoods with less kids tend to be more quiet. I definitely would drive through the neighborhood at different hours to see what it’s like. As long as you do not stop and stare at a house, I think you will be okay. People know the house is for sale so they expect drive-bys.

      1. Venus*

        This. Insulation. The ability to efficiently regulate indoor temps is directly related to sound. There is a lot of emphasis these days on keeping homes well insulated, and you can take advantage of this. It is difficult to get info about noise levels in a home, but many places have programs where the municipal government will pay for a specialist to do an assessment on your home on where heat is escaping, and the best way to improve things. There is blow-in insulation and other options that won’t require stripping your drywall, although check as some of the stiffer ones may be less effective for noise.

        I would strongly recommend that you drive around the neighborhood, especially later at night on weekends (student parties) and earlier in the morning (7-9am, dogs barking) and weekend afternoons (kids playing). It also depends on your preference, as I had kids next door and I encouraged them to use my yard to play as they were respectful and it was nice to hear them having fun, and it was always afternoons when I didn’t mind a bit of noise with the windows open in summer. I also used to live next to a school, but I didn’t even notice as my home was well insulated but more importantly I was almost never home on weekdays.

        1. Venus*

          Based on comments elsewhere I will add that I have a broad definition of insulation. This applies to windows, and anywhere else in the house. Better flooring or whatever works for a home. If there is heat escaping (which it often does through windows) then look to improve the R value in order to improve the noise.

      2. Pippa K*

        Insulation is a good suggestion, but I’ll add that in a poorly-insulated 1940s house where adding insulation wasn’t an option, installing good-quality new windows made a shocking improvement in how much outside noise we could hear. It was great – and also made the house easier to heat.

    4. MissGirl*

      I would buy the house and then see if it’s a problem. I bought a townhouse and was surprised how much I don’t hear the neighbors even though they’ve had two babies in the last few years.

        1. ES*

          I think Miss Girl meant to see if there was an issue first before deciding to spend tens of thousands of dollars on sound proofing right off the bat.

          1. MissGirl*

            Yes, they’re spending a lot of time figuring out how soundproof a house and they don’t know for sure they’ll need to.

      1. Generic Name*

        My thoughts exactly. I’ve lived in 3 different single family homes over the last 20 years, and I have not once heard my neighbors inside their houses. I might hear my neighbors across the street in their front yard if I’m in the front room next to the window, but I normally never hear them at all. The lack of shared walls and physical distance naturally keeps things quiet.

    5. WellRed*

      Definitely do multiple drivebys. Look for a house in a less denser neighborhood. Also, I recommend not buying a house that is located near a multi unit. At least in my area, that often means younger, with friends in and out, later hours. (For the record I live in a three family among single family homes. I know there have been times/tenants that have been a bother to the neighbors).

    6. MMB*

      If your looking for an inexpensive way to reduce street noise you can use tall grasses and bushes just google landscape + noise barrier.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh this is a great point. Sometimes counties/municipalities plant rows of trees along highways to reduce the highway sounds for the residents nearby.

    7. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Going by multiple times at different hour is not creepy – a good way to go. Seeing the neighborhood at different times, particularly at night, is important – preferably in warm weather when you can see the nighttime vibe before you buy.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      If you’re buying a single family home on a lot, I think that will solve 90% of the problem of hearing neighbor noises unless you’re buying a condo oe maybe a building in a tightly packed area that shares an outer wall with another building. If you have a single family home with even a little bit of grass/yard around it, you’re mainly going to be dealing with the sounds people make out in public, like driving cars, dogs barking, mowing grass/landscaping, and occasionally an outdoor party/gathering. Would those noises bother you the same way as sharing walls in an apartment?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        These sounds are different from the angry, frightening sounds you mention, OP. These are more like going about life sounds.

    9. Mystic*

      Soundproofing a house is possible, although admittedly most people tend to think about home recording studios. Your best bet is probably some form of insulation, and I did a quick search. There’s a website called “Soundproofcow” that might be helpful.

    10. Llellayena*

      Newer windows are the primary thing to look for. Specifically double pane, non-vinyl windows, preferably recently installed so the sealant is still good. If it’s been a while since the install you can also re-seal them. If you share a wall with an adjacent house, an extra layer of drywall will help, and there are drywalls that are specifically designed to help with sound (look for Soundbreak gypsum wallboard, it should pop up). Brick or stone on the exterior does help. If/when you need to re-side the house adding 1 inch of rigid insulation to the exterior will help too (bonus is a big improvement on insulation too!). There are acoustic engineers out there that might have other suggestions, though outside of an architect’s professional contacts I’m not sure how to find one…

    11. fposte*

      I agree that talking about it in insulation terms will be your best bet. However, depending on your region you may hit a conflict—houses in older areas have more mature vegetation, which makes a huge difference in damping sound, but they’re more permeable as well. I might pay for a meeting with an insulation specialist in your area before you start really looking to ask about tips in identifying a house that has the best potential in that area.

      FWIW, I really like quiet, but I’d actually be freaked out by a house that’s too cut off from outside sound—lightning with no thunder would make me really uneasy, and I like being able to follow the sonic syntax of the delivery truck noise before I get the knock on the door. So for me older vegetation is better than a new house I could fully muffle, even if it does leave me vulnerable to the occasional desperate dog barking.

    12. Mella*

      One noise issue I didn’t anticipate is my township’s policies regarding trash. We don’t have city trash, we have a set of licensed contractors to choose from. Every neighbor picks their own, so I have to be woken up by trash trucks ten times a week (five companies picking up trash and recycling separately). Earplugs don’t help much with that sharp crashing noise.

      Also, I’d love to know if you can look up dog licenses for a given area. The majority of my neighbors have poorly-trained mutts that they leave outside to bark all day and night.

    13. Me*

      We just redid our master bedroom last year. The house was built in the early 20s and the bedroom was remodeled/added on in the 50s.

      We had one long 13’ window with single pane glass. We knew there was some insulation but not much.

      We tore out the whole room including ceiling and walls. We ordered our favorite windows- which aren’t cheap but we are window snobs. We love fir windows with double pane glass and true divided light (no slap on grids to make the windows look like they have divided panes).

      The difference in the windows alone is night and day.

      We did foam insulation at the base of each wall bay (along with some hardware cloth- keeps the little beasties out). If our budget would’ve allowed, we would’ve done foam insulation but we put the most $ towards windows instead. I’m guessing that foam insulation (the type you pay someone to install) dampens sound even better.

      But what we did do is build out the 2×4 bays to 2×6, so that there were 6” of depth in the wall for insulation.

      We also put rock wool insulation in the ceiling- a specific sound proofing type. We have a TV room above the den and while our kids are off to college, when they’re home they tromp through there and it’s noisy. It dampens the noise but doesn’t block it completely.

      1. fposte*

        Can you expand on being a window snob? What are the standards, and what brands deliver? Following in snobs’ footsteps is one of my favorite shortcuts to good stuff.

        1. Me*

          Ha!

          Yeah windows have always been our thing. We’ve only owned two houses – one built in the 1910s and this one built in the 1920s. Both craftsman style with lots of stained fir trim. DH’s best friend is an architect and we’ve always used him on house projects that are major-ish.

          For our first house we used a local custom window company. These types of companies build the windows from scratch and you pick all the details including the profiles of the muntin bars between the panes. We get detailed drawings of each window to approve before construction. They typically take about 12 weeks lead time from the approval to delivery.

          In this house we have double hung windows and each window has seven panes of glass- the lower sash has one pane and the upper sash has six panes (divided by the muntins). Both sashes slide (one up, one down). They are fir on the exterior (we have them primed) and raw fir on the inside so we can stain them.

          We use a company in Washington called Quantum Windows (somewhat local but in another state) In terms of cost, the three double hung windows in our bedroom cost about $5k each. When we replace our living room window, it’ll be a set of three double hungs ganged together and will likely be a $15k window.

          The windows will last for the rest of our lives, much like the original craftsman windows in our houses. Of course they’ll eventually break down, but that’ll be long after I’m dead.

          Every time we look at moving, the houses have vinyl windows. We just can’t deal with vinyl, and it’s what a lot of people use nowadays because they cost a lot less.

    14. pancakes*

      The NYT has published so many articles over the years about frustrated people who live above bars, etc. I’d search their archives for soundproof and see what turns up.

    15. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I agree with @Dwight Schrute. Windows do a lot but the cladding really matters. State-of-the-art windows won’t get you so far if you put them on a house with siding. Brick and stucco let way less sound through. Also pay attention to the layout. Avoid bedrooms overlooking the street. I live on a what is most of the time a quiet street (in a city), but because my bedroom is on the street, I get woken up at least once a week by noise. Garbage truck, car alarm, motorcycle, barking dog, person who is on some kind of night shift schedule and walks their dog and loud toddler (???) regularly at 1am. I have double-paned windows and my building has siding, and the sound comes straight in. The biggest problem in my case is the layout, though.

    16. TechWorker*

      We live in a terraced house and paid extra for soundproof plasterboard on the walls adjacent to the neighbours. Not a quick or cheap job (the rooms were being renovated anyway) but we barely hear them at all and there’s a family one side and dogs on both sides.

    17. Fellow Traveller*

      I’m so sorry! Being anxious in your house is hard. I don’t know anything technical about soundproofing, but when we had our basement done, we asked our contractor about it because the basement vented to the kids’ room and we worried about noise from the tv keeping them up. He said he could put additional insulation in the walls, but for true soundproofing we would have to hire someone who specifically did soundproofing. Another anecdotal input – at work – well when I used to go into work – I work in a building where some of the rooms were rented out to opera singers and there were thick curtains hung around the walls in all the rooms to help dampen the sound of singing from travelling. It wasn’t perfect, but on days when you forgot to draw the curtains, the singing was definitely much louder.
      +1 on seeing the neighborhood at various times/days. Our neighborhood sounds very different during the weekend from the weekday. In fact, I might suggest getting out of your car and walking around. We definitely did that – we knew that our house was close to a major highway and wanted to see how bad the sound really was.
      You might also look at what else is in the neighborhood. We live close to a hospital and there are sirens at all hours of the day. It doesn’t bother us, and we actually joke that it’s as if we still lived in the city. But I can see how this kind of thing would bother someone else. (Bonus, though is our street always gets plowed first in a snow storm!)

    18. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      What works best for soundproofing depends on the frequency of the noise.
      (I’m simplifying here, so any acoustics specialist may forgive me.)
      Low frequency sounds (subway, train rolling, traffic, footsteps, deep bass from music) travel through the structure and the ground, high frequency (shouting, kids, car horns, most part of music) travel through the air.
      Heavy building materials (bricks, concrete) are very good at blocking high frequency sounds. They can’t to much about sounds that travel through the structure; to block that, you’d need to insulate the house from the ground as is common in earthquake areas.
      Lighter materials are good as heat insulation but not as good at blocking sound. Acoustic fiberboard (a light material) works well by having many little cavities; the sound waves lose their energy by having to switch from one medium (air) to another (fibers) many times.
      For an existing house, I’d hire a consultant. At mayby $1000, she can recommend measures that work for the particular noise problem; from replacing the wrong window installation foam or caulking, a layer of acoustic fiberboard on critical walls, closing or dampening attic vents, adding a soundproofing insert to critical windows, etc.
      I would definitely go for that before moving in (if you want to renovate a wall anyway, it’s a good time to add a layer of fiberboard) and maybe before buying.
      A custom soundproof window can cost $25,000 or so I read; these have laminated glass that is usually also fairly burglar/violence proof – a fact that can make some noise less scary.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        One more thing: For bedrooms, shutters can also help – they add another sound barrier at night that does not have to be transparent so it can be very tight. Exterior rolling shutters are very popular in Europe; you can add them to existing windows for around $1000-1500 including a remote control motor.

    19. Melody Pond*

      A couple of resources for you:

      https://howloud.com – kind of like the WalkScore website, except it gives you a Sound Score for pretty much any address in the US, I believe.

      https://indowwindows.com – this is a company that makes window inserts to improve your insulation and/or soundproofing (they have an “acoustic insulation” option in their inserts, I believe).

      The Indow company is pretty cool – I remember reading a news article about them when the pandemic was pretty new. They took some particular process design protocols and applied them to their work environment to minimize exposure to Covid for their employees that had to come in. For example, they removed all of their door handles and replaced them with arm hooks, so their employees would use their forearms to open and close doors, rather than hands touching doorknobs. And their whole sales/order process is remote (and it was that way even before the pandemic). You put in some initial measurements for the windows you have, then you talk to a sales associate a little more, and then they send you a laser measuring kit via mail. You use that kit to take your window’s measurements, then you put your final order in, and they build your order custom for you and ship it out to you. It’s WAY less expensive than getting whole new windows, and comes with energy efficiency that is on par with getting new, fancy windows. And like I said, they have an “acoustic” grade option that is specifically targeted for significant noise blocking.

    20. BellaDiva*

      Remember to roll your windows down when you park. Friends bought a house near am internal airport under a flight path. They had checked the sound level sitting in the car with the windows up, which was quite different from sitting in the backyard.

      Also, keep in mind that winter neighbourhood sounds will be different from summer neighbourhood sounds.

  10. Latch hooking*

    Is anyone into latch hooking?

    I’d like to try to make a rug and a lot of the rug mat grids available for sale online do not have good reviews due to falling apart, smell, etc. Does anyone like a brand they like?

    Also any suggestions for videos or blogs they found useful when starting out?

    Thank.

    1. Not Australian*

      Did quite a lot of this years ago, not recently. I bought kits from Readicut, which still exists but may be a different entity now, and paid the extra for pure wool whenever I could. End result; of four rugs I made, two are still going strong, easy to clean, not smelly and not falling apart although you do have to be very careful with binding the edges. The other two were really too small to be much use and went out of fashion so I donated them; it was all about the ‘making’ rather than the ‘having’ for me anyway.

    2. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Although I haven’t done any latch hooking in a while, I did lots in the 1970’s and 1980’s. There is a company Shillcraft dot com that sells quality (wool) kits (I still have one of theirs my grandmother made in the 1970’s that is still in great shape –looks like new, but it was hung on a wall and not walked on). I made some that I wad up for the cats to sleep on and they are fine but I hand wash them and let them air dry. (From Herrschners dot com.) I do understand that contemporary materials may not be of the same quality as materials of the past. At one time, they made washable canvases, that went fine thru the washing machine, but haven’t seen it advertised in a while. And as I type this, I am reminded that I still have a kit somewhere in storage… Good luck with latch hooking–it goes fast and is good for those who like instant gratification.

    3. Claritza*

      They are fun and easy to do! When we were kids in the 60s (ages about 7 – 15) we made one for our grandmother. It’s wool and still going strong! Attaching the yarn takes very little attention.

  11. Grits McGee*

    Thanks to everyone who commented on my question on the gift recommendation thread a couple weeks ago! I was asking for some low stakes/low investment art gift suggestions for my brother; someone recommended the book 365 Days of Art and he really liked it! Unfortunately the accompanying watercolor pencils are in transit somewhere :(

    Did anyone else give iffy gifts this year that the receiver ended up loving?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was the receiver – my husband picked out a large rug for my living room for me (which I knew because it’s hard to hide a 9×12 rug, even rolled up, when I’m the one who works from home and sees the delivery guys) and I was super nervous about what style/pattern he’d picked, but I’m super pleased by his choice and it was one of the top two options I had been considering originally anyway. :) He didn’t know that, because when I asked him if he wanted input he told me it was my choice, so I hadn’t gotten around to showing him options yet.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It was, and I’m so glad!! I recommended those all over the place, and they seem to have been a hit for a lot of folks :)

    2. Asenath*

      A sweater I bought sight unseen for a little girl. Normally, I’d buy something at a sale supporting an organization, but this year there was no public sale and an option was to phone a knitter and place an order. I ordered a purple cardigan, thinking the girl would like purple, but not realizing that the knitter’s idea of purple was rather more intense than mine, and the design more elaborate. I had serious doubts when I saw it, but the little girl adored the colour, the lacy bits, the hood and the bow. It was one of my more successful gifts, although I usually avoid giving clothes (except for infants) because of concerns over style, size and colour.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I received one– my husband was really worried about giving me sheets, but he got me the 100% linen I’ve been coveting for several years. I’m over the moon. I didn’t even have them on my list anymore…he remembered me talking about the options and that in itself was a gift.

    4. LGC*

      Okay, here’s one: I braved the mall yesterday (I know, I KNOW – I went early in the day, and only stayed there for half an hour) to grab my great-aunt a warm and fluffy housecoat.

      She adores it.

      (To be fair, she always complains about being cold in her room – she lives with my parents, and her room is in the corner of the apartment building, so it does get drafty there. But it was a bit of a stretch.)

    5. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I sent a Penzy’s Spices gift pack to a family member and I think it was a big hit.

      I also bought myself some spices from them today (free shipping plus a free thing of spices today.)

      Thanks to the person who suggested this!

  12. Keymaster of Gozer*

    For my fellow people into strategy games (computer or board): any recommedations for really immersive games?

    I can lose entire days to Civilization or Stellaris on the PC and I’ll happily beat anybody at Risk on the board game so I like complex stuff.

    1. Caterpie*

      I really liked Frost Punk, and have had a lot of fun with Crusader Kings (although I didn’t really play the game other than the matchmaking part). I’d say CK has a lot more intricacy in the strategy but Frostpunk is extremely immersive and you definitely feel a sense of foreboding.

    2. CatCat*

      Star Wars Outer Rim board game was very complex, but we had a blast once we understood the mechanics of the game play.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Cheers mate, that looks exceptionally good – and the husband unit is a big star wars fan so it’ll fit in well here :)

    3. Meerkatting at mention of games*

      For computer games,
      * Europa Universalis (They’re on IV right now; but III is solid, cheap, and doesn’t have the flood of DLC that modern Paradox games have.);
      * Dominions 5 (Meh to okay single player, quite enjoyable multiplayer; I typically play with 1 or 2 friends hotseat as a team against the computer. Absorbing the rules to the game, particularly the magic system, is akin to drinking from a firehose, though. Graphics are from about Y2K, if that’s a concern — I didn’t know anyone still used the .tga format — but the code is *tight*: a 30-player game turn will process in a few seconds.)

      For board games, it’s harder to make recommendations, because there’s such a diversity of primary and secondary mechanics that “strategy game” kinda blurs. But contenders would be:
      * Twilight Imperium (It’s big, long, and requires a minimum of four players (IMO), and is better with six. Now on its fourth edition. Probably closest to what you mean by “strategy game”.)
      * Anything in GMT’s COIN series. (You’d want to go over to the GMT website to get details of the theming of the various titles, but I can vouch for both Fire In The Lake (Vietnam War) and Pendragon (fall of Roman Britain). Most of the entries are best with four players, although you can play with fewer — either allying co-belligerent factions, or using the bots provided for solo play. Very strong as solo games, once you get used to the bots.)

      Games that I wouldn’t really call ‘strategy’ but might qualify under ‘immersive’:
      * High Frontier (A doozy of a planning game. Just released its fourth edition. Do your review research on this one, as it’s definitely not for everyone.)
      * Sidereal Confluence (A nearly pure trading game. Requires four players, but shines with 6 to 8. Just got a reprint.)
      * Spirit Island (Cooperative planning and disaster mitigation; very strong theming. Both the expansions are good: Branch and Claw is more of a completion of the game; Jagged Earth adds some very strange (often quite complex) spirits to the mix. Also good as a solo game.)

    4. Roja*

      My husband is quite the gamer and he recommends XCOM: Enemy Within and The Way for PC, and Twilight Imperium and Zombicide for board. D&D seems like a classic one to recommend, of course. Also, he says The Way is currently on sale for $1.50 on Steam so that would be a cheap one to try out.

    5. Dan*

      I don’t think it’s billed as a strategy game per se, but on the PC, I really, really, like the Hitman series. It lives up to its namesake, but it’s a game where if you get caught doing the hit, you pretty much lose. Which means that even though you carry a gun around a lot, using the gun usually gets you noticed and therefore caught.

      But it’s a *good* strategy game. There are several different ways to complete an objective, and you can only do a few per any play through. So you have to play through each level multiple times in order to truly complete it. And the more you play through the same level, the more familiar with it you get, which in turn helps with the strategizing you have to do.

  13. Dwight Schrute*

    Update question: did we ever get an update on the OP with the boss telling weird lies about them? I think about this one every so often and it’s just SO ODD

  14. Invisible Fish*

    What are you doing to gear yourself up for x more months of what’s going on with the pandemic? Being off for Christmas has allowed me to be still long enough to truly think about the next 9 months unfolding like the previous ones …. I can keep wearing the mask and taking the precautions because those are just “things it is smart to do,” like wearing a seatbelt or using pot holders. But putting up with people who aren’t taking things seriously …. that’s where I’m going to struggle. How do you keep calm in the face of this lack of concern for others? How do you think you’ll keep calm as we move ahead?

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Oh this is a struggle for me as well. I discuss it with my therapist. I’ve taken to loudly proclaiming that masks don’t work if they don’t cover your nose, and saying WEAR A MASK in public because I seem to have lost all filter. It’s probably not the best route to go but it does help me feel better in the moment. I’ve also snoozed news sources and unfollowed anti maskers on social media so I don’t have to see their posts anymore

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’m fortunate enough to work at home, so what with that and using curbside takeout, I don’t really go out that much, so I haven’t encountered much anti-mask stuff in person. I have had to snooze/unfollow some people on Facebook.

      2. allathian*

        My husband does most of our shopping, usually once a week. We live in an area that’s not so crowded that you’d need to wear masks outdoors. Since the pandemic started, I’ve only used public transit once, in September.

        I’ll use a mask when I can’t avoid going somewhere and stay home unless I absolutely have to go somewhere, because I’m very sensitive to excess carbon dioxide, which I’ve learned during this pandemic, although I do remember getting a headache in our stuffy, windowless meeting rooms as well. I get a headache every time I put a mask on and wear it for more than 30 minutes. It’s not a matter of running out of oxygen, but excess CO2. Luckily I can WFH 100% and this isn’t likely to change until the pandemic is beaten so I’m not going to be forced to put up with a headache to work at the office or to travel there.

    2. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

      I mean… I live in Sweden and the complete disregard for others is taken to another level here (people are just now starting to wear masks and it’s far from everyone). The way I deal with it? I worry about myself and my family and don’t worry about what the next guy is doing. That means I wear a mask and it means skipping visiting older relatives for xmas. I don’t really see the point in actively being upset by what other people are doing since my being upset will not force them to change. Instead, I’m focusing on my own mental health and learning to enjoy this quiet time with my husband. I’m tackling some long-standing issues with my relatives (in therapy), I’ve started painting, I’m pursuing a professional certification, I’m applying for jobs, etc. Some days it’s easier than others, but in conclusion: Focus on yourself, not on others. Focus on the present and where *you* are today, and not on the future and the implications of other people’s actions.

      Note: I’m someone who’s happy when I’m working towards a goal (hence my long list of activities). That’s not to say I think you need to fill your time and accomplish a bunch of stuff. Do (or don’t do) whatever makes sense to take care of yourself.

      1. ....*

        This is exactly my approach to. I can genuinely say most of the time I do not feel anger /resentment towards anti mask people etc because I know I cannot change 50 million peoples opinions. Also being angry and frustrated at them does nothing for me except raise my stress levels and insomnia and cortisol running through my body is only going to make me sicker if I caught covid. I got an additional work certificate and am now working on a longer term additional degree. I cook a lot I spend a lot of time with my dog and shoot I watch TV all the time because I love TV! Am I pretty much dying to go to a workout class and a restaurant?! Yup!! And I will do everything in *my power* to not contribute to the spread of covid.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, this is pretty much my approach as well. I can’t change how others behave, but I’ll do what I can to limit my exposure, even if it means missing out on things I’d like to do. I’m also not above using blackmail on my husband, whose friends seem to be a lot more cavalier about COVID than I am. I told him one day, “go see them if you must, but if you do, for the next two weeks I’m not staying in the same room as you unless you’re wearing a mask”. Needless to say, he didn’t go.

    3. Lobsterp0t*

      I make a conscious decision that the person not appearing to take it seriously is someone who is entitled to the exception and I keep my distance and offer them that grace as much as I can.

      Of course if they’re being an asshole then it’s a case of removing myself from their presence.

      This is hard but it’s really the only thing that I have found to do that helps my mental health.

      These individual decisions wouldn’t matter as much – and don’t – if the public health infrastructure is there. So maybe give yourself a “judgement jar” every time you find yourself thinking judgementally and put a few pennies in it. And then at the end of the month donate those pennies to public health organisations helping in your area.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I like that last idea. Even if I get rebellious and want to buy myself a bunch of judgment it still has a purpose.

        1. A313*

          I like the idea of buying myself a bunch of judgment! It’s a purchase no one else needs to know about and goes out into the world transformed into help.

      2. Tired of Covid-and People*

        No grace for those offering sickness and death to others. These folks can always stay home. It is projected that death will reach half a million in the US. That’s obscene, as many as in the Civil War.

        I too have lost all filter. I stay home as much as I can, it’s what helps me stay sane. I cannot be at peace with covid deniers.

      3. Jackalope*

        I appreciate the idea of assuming the person without a mask is an exception (unless they are making it loudly and clearly obvious that they aren’t). I keep reminding myself of a friend whose son has nonverbal autism and has not been able to tolerate a mask. They’re working on it with him and he’s up to wearing it for about 20 seconds, but that’s as far as he can go right now. She’s gotten a fair amount of hate when she’s been out with him (which she has to do a lot these days because of school closures) even though she’s wearing a mask and clearly complying. So I think to myself that I don’t know all circumstances and maybe this person is unable to wear a mask for some reason. Doesn’t change my behavior but makes me less angry.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s been…probably one of the worst years of my life. I’ve lost friends, my sanity at least once and a lot of faith in the human race as a whole.

      (also I have mental illnesses, was unemployed for a long time…)

      So, here’s the things I have done to help steady my mind:

      1. Stop watching the news. I’ll get info on vaccine development from the scientific community and what Tier our local area is at from the government. Anything else I’ve dropped because I can’t spare the resources to process it.

      2. Really cull my Facebook friends list and groups. Anyone posting conspiracy theories or ‘I’m not wearing a mask for the flu’ got unfriended. I don’t want to see that stuff, I can’t handle it. This does mean there are some friends that are now ex-friends. Bottom line is I have to save myself from going crazy again.

      3. Have plans and practise for when people try to force the issue. Like, what to do if someone stands 2 inches from me in a queue and coughs. Knowing I’ve got a plan for situations reduces my stress level.

      4. Try not to dwell on how things ‘used to be’. This is going to go on for a while and all the wishful thinking and tears I’ve shed over this won’t change it. Crying gives me a migraine anyway.

      And lastly: I’ve sent letters and cards to various friends and family to say nice things about them and say they are loved. Because there’s people I’ll never get a chance to say that to again because of this virus and I’ll regret that I didn’t say those things to the end of my days.

      TL:DR : Do whatever I can to keep myself from going stark raving bonkers.

      3.

      1. Random commenter*

        Those all sound like excellent coping mechanisms. I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough year. Please keep taking care of yourself, and finding ways to connect with those you love.

      2. Reba*

        Yes to the Facebook cull! Several family members still follow another relative (whom I never followed in the first place) who is being obnoxious in every way about current events, and like… Who is better for knowing about this??

        #3 is also great — as a strategy for managing anxiety in general, and also for just observing in what new ways we are wearing our stresses* and how we will deal. We need new coping mechanisms.

        *Stress showing up in things that aren’t even covid related: spouse is now much quicker to anger at bad drivers out on the road (to be fair, they are legion). My procrastinating is way worse than this time last year.

      3. Llama face!*

        At the risk of digressing:
        If you don’t mind me asking, what *is* your plan for something like #3?
        At this point I’ve been trying to avoid the situation entirely by becoming a pseudo vampire (only going out for essentials very early before the sun rises or late at night since that’s when the stores are emptiest) but of course that isn’t always possible.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’m a self-described ‘corporate goth’ and me and the husband unit are very solitary people so we don’t go out much during the day. But my plan for that specific situation is:

          Immediately step away from the situation if possible. Use my walking stick to clear a path if necessary.
          Say clearly and loudly ‘do not cough on other people, that’s revolting!’
          If it’s a queue for say entering a shop, try to get the attention of shop staff to ensure they are aware that there’s a potential spreader.

          In the 2 incidents where I’ve had to use this, the first one got the guy politely removed from the premises and told to stay away. The second one rather escalated after I’d left the store but that guy was shouting racial slurs and qanon stuff by that point and they were calling the police. I’m not sticking around when that goes on!

      4. Anono-me*

        Thank you for sharing your plans. Sensible and compassionate plans from sensible people help me resist the urge to order a ginormous super soaker and use it to maintain social distancing while screaming things like “What’s the matter, it’s just a little water! ”

        I’m going to start writing letters to friends and family and also to people who touched my life in meaningful ways, like former teachers and coworkers.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Seriously, do the letters thing. I’ve heard back from several people that getting a card basically saying ‘I care about you, you’re lovely’ helped with their isolation depression.

          I wrote a letter to each of my dead friends, and sent it to their parents so they could have a record of how much their daughters meant to their friends. (Did ask the family first if that was okay).

          Invested in a new fountain pen too.

      5. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I’ve definitely lost faith in a lot of things, especially the US political system. I curtail news watching to help with the anger and despair.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          That’s why I read the virology and immunology papers, the work done on the vaccines is not only top tier brilliance but it’s a real concrete hope for an end to this pandemic. Makes me feel positively when I read what my former virologists are up to.

          (I switched careers from virology to IT a long time ago. In hindsight I wish I’d stayed)

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      Those are all really good points!
      I have and will continue to:
      1. not watch the news – skimming the headlines of google news and a little BBC is enough for me (I’m in the US).
      2. stay off social media (and I was a very big user)
      3. Crochet! Its meditation for me. And I joined some crochet alongs to have projects that I did not plan and to be with other people with a shared interest.
      4. assume everyone has COVID and I just have to do the best I can to protect myself. We order a lot online.
      5. Ignore other people’s COVID related behavior. I cannot fix it so I just focus on myself. After lots of reading, my spouse and I wear a good mask and a face shield everywhere we go and try not to go anywhere but work for me and grocery store for him. And f0llow other good practices like hand washing.
      6. take things in small chunks of time – if I think 9 more months, its stressful. If I think here is my plan till early January, through the holidays, it is much more manageable.

      It’s my job to tell people to put on their masks and the best wording I have found is, “oh, your nose has come uncovered,” or “oh, your mask has come off.” Said in a the same discrete tone I would if their penis was hanging out and OF COURSE they would cover it. Only one person argued, the rest look like they want to but don’t quite know how to since I was “helpful” instead of arguing myself.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’m deliberately not thinking too far ahead, except for making medical appointments and having ordered plants to be shipped in April (which would still be useful even if I could go to a garden shop myself by then). So I focus on “I’ll email Phil and ask if they’re delivering this weekend, they might not because Christmas” and “It’s time to get more eggs” rather than “I want this to be over so I can comfortably get on the T and go to Tosci’s” or how much longer it will be until I can see my mother.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’m trying extra hard to be good to myself and my friends and family. For me it means making the effort to get enough sleep and eating right and getting enough exercise. I’ve been talking with friends on the phone more often now, instead of vising in person. We have long 2 or 3 hour conversations.

      I’m finding the exercise thing especially difficult right now because I really don’t want to leave my house. I seem to have become a bit agoraphobic since the pandemic hit. Of course I’m wearing a mask when I leave and constantly washing my hands and using hand sanitizer.

      I’m also trying to redo some of my organizing and decluttering. I’ve really gotten into “Swedish Death Cleaning.” The only bad thing is that the charities where I might usually donate things are all overwhelmed with donations right now so I have some things boxed up and ready to send, but no where to send them.

    8. Rainy*

      We’ve been rearranging our apartment, and we’ve gotten a lot more, better storage solutions. We’re trying to make more of the space we have and make it easier to exist in our home. We’ve also been going through our stuff and culling, which is really nice. I find that feeling like my immediate surroundings are orderly and appealing has helped my mental state a lot, considering that I work from home and don’t really leave the house.

      Other than that, just sort of keeping on. I try to avoid the news as much as possible while not living under a rock. I stay off Facebook. For other reasons I’ve really been limiting contact (ESPECIALLY incidental social media contact) with my in-laws, and I find that it’s being super helpful because it’s just so important to keep my incidental stress low. I have asthma (I found out in January of 2020) and my major exacerbation is stress, so keeping my stress level very low is super important for my lung health.

  15. Professor Plum*

    Amazon Echo: is this a helpful personal assistant, an intrusive listening device, or somewhere in between? For those who enjoy an Amazon echo, what are some of your favorites ways to use it?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mostly what I do with mine is play music and audiobooks, schedule the smart lights to turn on and off at my convenience (my Christmas lights are scheduled to turn on at 3pm, she shuts off all the downstairs lights at midnight, etc) and she’s a doorbell chime – my dogs go bananas if the doorbell has an actual bell, but they don’t care if she says “someone is at the front door.” The one in my office also has a screen so I can check the front porch camera.

      I personally think the stuff about “omg it’s listening to me” is kinda silly, myself, but I also just found out that my husband occasionally has irrational concerns (his words) about someone using the smart plug on the Christmas lights to hack into our network and … do something, he doesn’t know what. I dunno. I’m the type who’s quite ready to have a cellular data connection jacked straight into my brain. I am also scrupulously polite to both Alexa and Siri, so in the event of the robot uprising they’ll hopefully remember that I always said please and thank you. Mostly, I’m just not interested in worrying about it because I have about six thousand things that are higher on my radar and having it is more of a convenience than a problem.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      I really like our echos. I use it for lights, music sometimes, alarms, reminders, and timers! It’s definitely convenient. I’ll also ask questions like the weather, what x plus x is, who’s the lead in what movie, etc.

    3. BRR*

      I’ve had an echo for years now and am still choosing to be ignorant on the privacy concerns (for now) for how much I use. I use it for the lights, I listen to npr every morning, as a sound machine at night, the weather, a timer, the shopping list, and occasionally music while cooking and cleaning.

    4. Courageous cat*

      Right now I don’t have any smart home stuff so it’s kind of useless. The number one thing I use it the most for is a timer. The second thing I use it for is playing music when I’m doing stuff around the house (I use Pandora on my TV for when I’m just sitting around).

      It can be useful to ask the time or the weather when you’re rushing around doing stuff.

      Past that, idk if it was intensely worth it. I plan on getting Philips Hue lights at some point which will hopefully round out how much it gets used.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Oh shit! I totally forgot about this, I haven’t done it in so long!!! Thanks for reminding me: Jeopardy and Question of the Day, if you like trivia.

        I loved to put on Jeopardy while I was doing my makeup so I had something to distract me. Holy crap I can’t believe I just stopped doing it one day and never thought of it again.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It IS an intrusive listening device. It can be other things as well, but there’s no getting around the privacy concerns. If you want one that’s fine but you need to be ok with the downsides as well.

    6. Double A*

      Everything people say it’s useful for I find are things that are super easy for me to just…do, mostly with my smart phone. Timers? Music? Podcasts? Weather? I just do that all with my smartphone. I prefer to type commands and am constantly annoyed when I accidentally hit my “assistant” button (I don’t enable voice commands).

      I avoid all smart home stuff because they seem like they’re just more stuff to break and not work and render products useless sooner than necessary. The conveniences they promise in exchange for giving up unknown privacy and information never seem like a good trade off. This is also a reason I will never do a DNA testing service.

      Google is the omnipresent tech giant I’ve opted to sell my soul to; the conveniences they offer me genuinely make me life easier, even though I don’t really know what I’m giving up in return. Amazon probably knows plenty about me, but it doesn’t need to niggle into everything else. Maybe I can’t avoid selling my soul to a tech giant, but I can try to limit how many.

      I’m 37 years old and came.of age with the internet, so I’m not just someone who is curmudgeonly about technology.

      1. Dan*

        In reality, pretty much all tech is a convenience item more than a creator of new functionality. But then sometimes the increased convenience of Old Task X saves you time that you can use for something else.

        If you’re avoiding smart home stuff in general, then I don’t think you’ll find smart home assistants to be of much use. To me, the power of the smart home assistant comes when you have lots of smart home things. I have lights, a thermostat, and speakers all tied to my phone. It can be really annoying to thumb through a bunch of apps on my phone (assuming I have it on my person at that particular moment).

        1. Liz*

          Agreed! I have a smart thermostat which was recently installed. I CAN operate it from my phone, but I genuinely find it easier to just get up and walk over to the thing than to dig my phone out from the couch cushions, locate the app, wait for it to load, and remember which button I need to press. I can see how the app or a smart device would be handy if I were less mobile, but as it stands I’d rather take a short walk.

          We have acquired an Echo Dot for Christmas. So far we have managed to get it to play music from spotify, with rather mixed results. We had to create an additional household spotify account, duplicate all our playlists, and even then we found Alexa only plays the correct one about a third of the time. I think I might get more reliable results by just streaming spotify straight from my phone to the speaker, if indeed I can do that.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I don’t use a voice assistant because I don’t hear well. We also note that when Google had a major system failure this week, a lot of users suddenly couldn’t turn on their lights / doorbells didn’t work / etc etc.

        We do have some integrated systems at home, but all app controlled. It’s going to be interesting when we move house (should be early 2021) and they *all* have to be recalibrated. The new house is already hard-networked and set up for the system, but you have to pair everything up.

    7. Bibliovore*

      Helpful to me.
      I mostly use in the kitchen.
      Listen to the local MPR station. Play music when I am cleaning. Loud Rock and roll. Play podcasts when I am cooking like Fresh Air or On Being.
      I sometimes ask for odd things like . Alexa Meow.

    8. Dan*

      Things I do regularly:

      1. Control the lights in any room (and shut off the whole apartment when I go to bed)
      2. Control the temp. For some reason, I find myself picky (and inconsistent) about the temp I want in the room, so I change the temp one or two degrees fairly regularly. Yes, I have a programmable thermostat, but hey…
      3. Check the time (I don’t have any wall clocks for whatever reason, I’m not sure why)
      4. Get the weather/forecast
      5. Set timers/alarms. For timers, multiple timers can be set with names, which can be helpful if you’re doing a lot in the kitchen.
      6. Grocery list. The Echo is synched up with an app on my phone, so when I run out of staples in the kitchen, it can be convenient to make a note of it when I toss the bottle.

    9. Disco Janet*

      I love ours! I don’t usually have my phone on me, so it’s super helpful to just be able to say, “Alexa, what’s the weather like today?” as I browse through my closet. Or set a timer hands free. Or turn off our bedroom light without having to get out of bed. Or tell it what song I want to hear. Or to turn the TV off when I can’t find the remote or don’t feel like walking across the room to pick it up.

      Wow, this sounds incredibly lazy of me. I’m okay with that, haha.

    10. PX*

      I see it as a helpful personal assistant and an intrusive listening device. BBC had a great article about Amazon and how they got to where they are and what they do with your data; if you search for ‘Amazon: how Bezos build his data machine’ it should be the top hit.

      Personally I’m not a fan of smart devices in general, mainly because its starts with them being useful and then turn into an essential service and who controls that? The best example of this is WeChat in China – and this article – again from BBC – about what happens when it basically becomes another element of oppression. “China social media: WeChat and the Surveillance State”

    11. DarthVelma*

      I love ours – we have 4 – kitchen, bedroom, office, and front room. I use it for alarms and timers, to check the weather, to check my calendar for the day, to play music and podcasts, all the stuff others have mentioned. I really like asking it for terrible jokes and having it “meow” at my cat.

      But the two functionalities I find most useful are:
      1. Using it for my shopping list – I can literally just tell it to add things whenever I think of them since almost every room has an Echo in it. Plus I can add items in the phone app or online.
      2. Using it as an intercom – I don’t have to holler when I want to ask my partner a question from a different room. I can just use the “drop in” function and talk to him.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        For the shopping list- can more than one person have access to the actual list? We use google docs so we can add whatever whenever we think of it and can both see it, BUT, I’d love to add in an echo capability so when my hands are dirty or I don’t have my phone on me I can add something as I think of it

    12. Professor Plum*

      Thanks for all the replies—appreciate getting a broad spectrum of insights—this is such a great place for that!

  16. Sleep Number Mattress*

    Sleep numbers! Did you love it? Hate it? Has it held up? Good for a heavier person (250)? Hold up to adult extra curricular activities?

    Tell me all about your sleep number experience!

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Ok so I don’t have a direct sleep number experience but my boyfriend manages a sleep lab and one of the labs he’s worked in had sleep numbers. He said he and patients didn’t like them because they felt almost comparable to an air mattress? Like you could feel it when it added or decreased the air to make it softer or firmer and it just wasn’t all that comfortable. I’ve never slept on one myself but I trusted him when we picked a new mattress last year. We went with a purple mattress and my parents subsequently also got a purple mattress and were all very happy with them!

    2. D3*

      I’ve only ever slept on one in a hotel, and it suuuucked. Lost a lot of firmness over the night, and when I had sunk in too far, I tried to add firmness in the middle of the night and it was LOUD!!!! and startled me and woke my partner, too.
      It was brand new, too. Hotel had just opened and a family member was the manager and had invited lots of family and friends to stay for free the first night and post reviews. They asked us to specifically mention the amazing beds they’d spent so much on. I talked up the great breakfast and didn’t say anything about the beds. They asked me about it. It was…awkward.

    3. TextHead*

      I tried one at a home show and it feeling like an air mattress is a good description. A nice one, but still…

    4. Generic Name*

      I slept on one in a hotel, and it was okay, I guess. I know a couple who got one because each partner had radically different preferences as to softness level of the mattress to the point where they were considering sleeping apart. I don’t think I’d get one unless it was the only way my spouse and I could share a bed.

      1. Artemesia*

        we had one at a vacation rental and it felt like an air mattress to me — so nope.

        We had a pricey department store mattress that was hills and valleys within the year. Replaced it with a casper on line mattress about 3 years ago and it has been super comfortable and held up so far. The only drawback is you have to get rid of the old one. I live in a high rise and we were able to basically bribe the local garbage guys to take it away.

  17. Laura H.*

    Little joys thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    Mountain Cedar pollen is playing dirty by hitting early this year so my little joy is allergy medicine that works well for me. And also I got two chocolate oranges this year.

    Please share your joys, I smile reading them.

    1. fposte*

      Neighbors did a ring-and-run drop at my door last night with a bag of spiced nuts and a nice holiday note—I suspect they did it for the whole block and personalized everybody’s note. It was pitch black out and they were gone by the time I got to the door and saw a little ribboned bag, so I just yelled “Thank you, elves!” into the night. I heard them answer and thought I heard some jingling bells, and I think they may have jingle-belled up the kid’s stroller.

    2. Professor Plum*

      There were several friends who reached out to me with Christmas greetings before I reached out to them. It was nice not to be the initiator yesterday—and made me smile.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I bought an Atari Flashback for me and my husband and we spent some time playing it yesterday. What a blast from the past! Though I have to admit, we aren’t nearly as good as we used to be. LOL

    4. Victoria, Please*

      I started setting up my 2021 bullet journal. That’s always quite a delight. Also my husband got each of us one of those five-year one sentence a day journals so we can document our next stage together. Aww.

      1. Crafty*

        Could you elaborate on what setting up a bullet journal involves? I’ve heard of these but don’t know how to start.

    5. Girasol*

      We went out in the front yard on solstice evening with the spotting scope and astronomical binoculars and saw the rings of Saturn and three of Jupiter’s moons during the conjunction. Then we came back in and had a Yule log for dessert. It felt especially festive.

    6. Llama face!*

      My landlords (who I share a house with) usually give me a bookstore gift certificate for xmas each year since they know I love to read. This year, since they knew I haven’t been going out for any nonessential shopping, they switched it up and got me a gift certificate to a local tea and coffee merchant that I frequent. And they made sure to let me know that the store does contactless delivery and curbside pickup so I wouldn’t even have to go inside if I didn’t feel comfortable*. It was so sweet and thoughtful of them.

      *I actually already knew this, but it was kind of them to clarify those details for my comfort.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ve ordered books from Powell’s Bookstore in Oregon. They have free shipping if you order a certain dollar amount or more.

    7. Beth Jacobs*

      I read the short story ‘Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court’ by P.G. Wodehouse. It’s a humorous take on the gap between old British nobility and their younger offspring who prefer art and humanism. Lovely!

    8. Lcsa99*

      My silly husband got me sparkle syrup! Its maple syrup with edible glitter! Its so ridiculous but it definitely put a sparkle in my day

      1. Disco Janet*

        Omg edible glitter – that sounds amazing! And like a Tom Haverford creation (if you watch Parks and Rec.)

        1. saf*

          It’s made from a vegetable gelatin, at least the kind I get at the baking supply store is. And it is fun!

    9. GoryDetails*

      Some Boxing Day joys for me (I’m in the US and we don’t celebrate it here, but I’m an Anglophile, so here we are): I got a box of hobby supplies in the mail from a friend who’s scaling down and is no longer very active in that hobby – but I’m still active, and the supplies are very welcome indeed. And another friend stopped by (cue mini-panic from me, as the house is a mess and a half, but friends can pretend not to see that, right?) and gave me a nifty cook-set – small silicone trays that fit neatly into a sheet pan, to simplify portioning and/or making smaller amounts.

      And in cat-related small joys, while my friend was here, one of the cats entertained us by avidly hunting a piece of onion skin all round the kitchen floor! [OK, I’m easily entertained.]

    10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      New shoes! I bought fancy new shoes on pre-order months ago, and they are finally here. I love them as much as I thought I would. They are very simple lines but still flashy and quite unusual.

    11. Might be Spam*

      I’ve been dancing with a folk group in another state for the last 6 months on Zoom. We decided to design our own t-shirts and mine finally came today. And it fits!

    12. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      My toddler said ‘I love you’ off his own bat for the first time this week. I was a living heart-eyes emoji for hours and it still makes me feel cozy inside.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        aw that reminds me of a NY party with our kids. They were playing Boney M’s “Sunny” and my son misunderstood, singing “Mummy what’s so true I love you” which just melted my heart. It was about 24 years ago and still makes me feel all fuzzy.

    13. Not Australian*

      Discovering that I’d received a Christmas card from my 95 year old godmother whom I haven’t seen for a very long time; she’s in residential care and I was worried that she may have passed away and they didn’t have my details to let me know. (The envelope was in someone else’s handwriting, but she’d managed to sign the card inside despite failing eyesight.)

      This is important because I’ve reached a point in life where I’m running out of family members, especially those older than me; I have a Just No Uncle and a whole raft of second cousins – some of whom I’ve only met once or twice in my life – and my son and his children, and live a very long way from all of them. Seeing my godmother again is now top of my priority list for 2021, though, Covid permitting.

    14. PX*

      Listening to cricket commentary is something I generally only tend to do around Christmas – usually when I’m in an airport somewhere on my way to see family. Not in an airport this year, but there is still something extremely soothing about listening to it. The phrase ‘dulcet tones’ tends to come to mind.

    15. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I hit on the idea of getting second-hand soft toys for my dog, and filled a big tote bag with them for just €3! He will be able to rip them apart to his heart’s content. It’s the best way to keep him distracted while I concentrate on my work.

  18. Dog and cat fosterer*

    I got a puppy for Christmas!! Rescue is unpredictable, and the right one showed up this week, so I scooped her up immediately and can’t believe how lucky I am. I have been waiting for a golden retriever pup for the last year, as they have been so rare with covid. I only got her because I’ve been a volunteer for many years and was lined up to get the next retriever, and if pup had been posted in public there would have been hundreds if not thousands of applications. All my fosters this summer and fall were the side-effect of a pandemic pup, specifically older puppies with serious separation anxiety, so this one is an absolute dream.

    I want to do more than the traditional training, and am wondering if anyone has suggestions. I know people who do agility, Rally-O (rally obedience), tricks, and scent training. There is also therapy work, where we visit others for an hour or two per week, although that is mostly dependent on personality in a couple years. I will introduce pup to new places and people, so that she continues to be confident and friendly, and hopefully she can be a therapy dog when old enough. I am tempted by scent training as they have such a good nose, as she came running into the kitchen when she smelled bacon despite never having tasted it.

    Do you do special training with your dog? Do you recommend it?

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      One game that we play with our dogs is “Find it!”. Dog sits and stays in another room (close the door if they aren’t solid on stay) while you hide a small treat. Release the dog and tell her “Find it! Find it, Flora”. The first time, you ‘hide’ it in the middle of the floor, then gradually work your way up to inside a shoe or tucked on top of a drawer pull.

      I dog sat a beagle last year and this game was a lot of fun because she got very, very good at it. Took her only a few minutes to find the treat the first time I hid in the basement instead of the main floor. I suspect a retriever would be similarly skilled. You could also probably swap out for different objects that she has to find.

      We haven’t done much specialized training. It’s more games we play with them. My dad usually has some sort of routine that he goes through while feeding supper. At one point the dogs had to wait for the “Amen” at the end of the blessing for the human’s supper before they could eat.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        I love beagles and their noses. She probably was smart enough to know where you had walked to hide it, based on the strength of your smell! I can imagine that she loved your game, and you are so good for having played with her. I do something similar with my dog, where I hide food in the house, although it’s a relatively small bungalow so I run out of hiding places. Yet the game is still exciting and enjoyed :)

        I like to do little games too. I make mine wait on a ‘drool mat’ which is just a small mat that would typically go at the front door, and the dog has to sit on it while the food is made ready. It doesn’t take long to scoop it out, but there can be a lot of drool very fast. Only when I say so is the dog allowed to eat. There are probably other games but they are littles ones that we work on over time, where a bad habit needs to improve or they have a fun trick that we want to repeat on command. A few months ago it was “Speak” as a way of guiding barking into more controlled behavior. Thanks for the ideas!

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I did what they called “nose work” at a local dog club/vet. It was like dogs that sniff for drugs but they are eventually trained to sniff for something like eucalyptus. There are competitions but we just wanted something for our dog to do. We all loved it and I still do a version at home every so often.