weekend open thread – January 15-16, 2022

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Ghosts, by Dolly Alderton. It’s light but it’s dark. It’s a rom com but it’s more. It’s about ghosting but it’s also about aging parents and changing friendships and career angst and the general mess of life, and it’s funny.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,236 comments… read them below }

  1. Barbara Eyiuche*

    You showed us a photo of your study recently, Alison; could you show us a photo of your library? I’d love to see it.

      1. Schmitt*

        Your house looks super classy. I am over here afraid of buying nice stuff because my experience is the cats (and we have only two) will either barf on it (rugs, parquet) or scratch it up roughhousing (parquet, nice furniture) or knock it off and break it (anything left on a surface; I’m looking at you, Mo).

        Any wise thoughts on how to combine nice stuff + cats? Declawing is not an option! (Training the deaf cat to stay off stuff is a project we gave up on years ago. She laughs in our faces.)

        1. StellaBella*

          Same here – beautiful library, Alison. My cat hoarked a hairball onto my nice carpet this morning. Ugh.

        2. Cricket*

          This is coming from someone who owns some very nice things but, full disclosure, inherited them and isn’t super well versed in furniture care, but—I have accepted that the stuff that my cats mess up just has some extra character now. But also—my two favorite cleaning products, white vinegar, and Feed N Wax wood cleaner—can help so much!

        3. SpellingBee*

          Re breakable things on surfaces – museum putty. It won’t harm the thing you’re sticking down or the surface you’re sticking it to, and it’s completely removable. It won’t save a tall thing against a really determined onslaught, but it holds surprisingly well against the patting paw or even the accidental brush-by during playing.

            1. SpellingBee*

              I’ve found it at Home Depot I think, also Amazon sells it. One of the brands is Quakehold, but there are others. A little goes a long way and once things are stuck down it lasts, so it’s been quite a while since I bought it!

        4. Sundial*

          Honestly, doors. My cats don’t have free reign of the entire house. Some rooms have glass French doors, so the house maintains light passing through and doesn’t feel closed off.

          My husband is a musician and we are not willing to allow our cats near his expensive or rare equipment.

          It takes firm and consistent training, but it can be done. We have small squirt bottles on the floor just inside the disallowed rooms, so anyone trying to shove their way in gets a snoot full of water.

          1. Dawbs*

            Some cats handle that better than others.
            My smarter cat could force open a door in our basement project room (the door couldn’t be fitted better. Hard to explain). So we locked it & he learned to undo the hook and eye latch. We reinforced and the bastard went up into the drop ceiling in another room and then dropped through the drop ceiling in the sealed room. (Which left a mastermind grumpy cat sealed in the room of dangers- it wasn’t as easy to get OUT of that room)

            We ended up giving up on the doors & building drawers in the space and dangerous and expensive stuff can’t be left out of them.

        5. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, I was nervous about putting that white rug there because we have two who throw up on the reg but they don’t really hang out in that room without us so it has remained safe. (We have found this spray works well for the rooms where it happens though.) (But also, I have accepted that some day it will probably happen in there and I don’t know if a spot will fully come out of a bright white like that, so I definitely factored that into how much I was willing to pay for the rug!)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh, and we’ve accepted that upholstered furniture will get scratched up. For the places we really don’t want them to scratch, we’ve used that two-sided tape to protect things … but of course then you have tape on your furniture, and is that really better than having it scratched? So we’ve tried to mainly use it temporarily to train them out of the habit before removing it … with varying degrees of success. We have two armchairs that are allegedly “cat-safe fabric” but which Eve absolutely destroyed within two months, and I think when we replace them, we’re going to need to go for something with a wooden frame so there’s less area to scratch (which is not my preference design-wise but I think is the only option).

            1. Windchime*

              My 9 year old cat has all the sudden decided that he is going to start scratching the furniture. I think I’m going to get him a cat tree with a vertical scratching surface; do you have a good cat tree that you can recommend? I don’t want some cheap thing that he can just pull the sisal off in 5 minutes and I thought you must have a good tree for your cats.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                This one is really sturdy, but I think they actually like the cheaper ones better for some reason. I think the big thing is to get them a variety of scratching surfaces — at least one vertical and one horizontal. Also, ours love these..

                1. Seal*

                  I have a couple of the scratching posts in the first link and can attest to their sturdiness. They’re also tall so my cats can get a good stretch while they scratch. Definitely saved my furniture!

                2. Lcsa99*

                  We got two of those S shaped scratchers and the cats love them! Not only as a s scratcher but also to lay on like a hot dog in a bun.

          2. Cedrus Libani*

            The Bissell pet sprays are magic…however, they destroy paint and varnish. I have a plastic tray for the bottle to live on, and I also keep a sweatband around the bottom of the bottle so that any drips are contained, because I still owe the husband a refinishing job from that time I left the bottle on his new dresser and I don’t need any more expensive brain-farts.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oooh what is the source of those shelves? I might be able to make those work in front of baseboard heat.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          They’re from Ikea but they’ve been discontinued. I was trying to get them about 2 months ago and they were listed as “get it while they last” and my local store didn’t have them so I couldn’t order them.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I love those shelves and the cabinets. I would love to have something like that in the future, where I could put my books and my things together but not on the same shelf. Imagine me all clumsy over here pulling out a book and destroying a priceless heirloom. :’D

        1. Pam*

          I knew someone who had lots of both books and art, so they hung pictures on the front of some of their floor to ceiling bookshelves.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I bet that looked awesome, but I think it would bug me. Sometimes when I’m trying to decide what to read, I look at the shelves like you would at the library. I don’t want to have to move stuff to get to them.

      4. WoodswomanWrites*

        Alison, all of the images of your home are always so beautiful. You have such great taste.

  2. Raven*

    That’s such an artful shot! You should consider buying some gel lights, too, for the next time you take photos of your cats.

  3. awesome3*

    A series of questions related to this site: How do you make italics in the comments? How do you quote part of the column? And if a users name is “anon for this” is that one person or is everyone welcome to use that name? Thanks!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Regarding the last, generally people switch to “anon for this” or something similar when they don’t want to use their regular name (say, for identifying details), so it’s not reserved to any one person. Alison, as the site manager, can tell if people are abusing the system by changing names, like when someone posts multiple posts with different names and the same opinion, to make it sound as if lots of people agree with them.

      (Clever word plays on anonymous tend to be people’s actual usernames).

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      If you go to Alison’s commenting rules, she gives instructions on how to format comments with italics, bold font, etc. I’ll add the link in my next comment to avoid it being in moderation.

    3. Princess Deviant*

      To make italics write at the beginning of the word/ sentence (without spaces) and at the end of the word/ sentence like this:
      example
      (But no spaces!!!)

      For quotes, replace i with blockquote.

      If you want to bold it, replace i with b.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Ay caramba. That was a monumental mess up >.<
        Apparently it works with spaces though which is new info for me!
        Woodswoman writes' comment is better advice.

    4. Slinky*

      To italicize, use html italic tags. Basically, use this format, but replace square brackets with angle brackets: [i]How to italicize[/i]

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is on the “how to comment” page linked above if you’re ever looking for it in the future but:

      <b>This will make the text bold.</b>

      <i>This will give you italics.</i>

      <u>You can underline</u>, or you can <del>cross things out.</del>

      <blockquote>You can quote someone this way.</blockquote>

  4. Jean (just Jean)*

    I’d like to open something similar to the small joys thread, but for something more serious. Let’s call it the “overcoming small or large sorrows” thread. But in order not to flood ourselves with our own tears, let’s focus on our solutions instead of describing our problems.

    So here’s my contribution:
    1. Life usually looks better in the morning after a good night of sleep. (I know, some folks get insomnia when life gets difficult. Also, I need to quit commenting and go to bed!)
    2. Usually, whatever’s happening can be summarized by “it could always be worse.”
    3. Good home cooking (nothing fancy–just banana bread or a nourishing soup) almost always helps–probably because nutrition, like sleep, is a basic component of a reasonable existence.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Make a list. Check something off. Have a cookie.

      Good enough can be better than perfect.

      You can’t have everything. Making a choice is better than making no choice.

      Don’t talk to yourself in ways that you wouldn’t let someone else talk to your best friend.

      Sometimes things suck. It’s okay to acknowledge that.

      ***

      I know that these sound like aphorisms and not solutions. But for me, when I’m able to act on these aphorisms, a lot of times it helps me find solutions.

      1. Sloanicote*

        I read somewhere that we *think* we feel better and then do something, but in reality it’s often that we do something and feel better. The emotion follows the action. I try to remind myself of this every day, because I’m often wondering when I’m going to feel “up to” tackling some unpleasant task, and the answer is never, but if I can do it anyway I often feel better and can do more things.

        1. NotReadyToQuit*

          One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was:
          Think – Act – Feel
          Act – Think – Feel
          You can influence the first two, they influence the feelings. Feelings are valid but it is ok to manage what affects them. You have the power to “self-talk”. You have power over your actions.
          Example: Sometimes you have no choice but to feel deep, painful emotions like grief. But staying in that state over a prolonged period of time is unsustainable.
          Think: “I loved that person well” (STOP – “I wish I had…” Sometimes, I literally tell my brain “STOP now!” and replace the thought with a more positive one)
          Act: Do something you enjoyed together, reach out to another person to bring them joy, walk in the sunshine – bake something, create something, move!
          Feel: aknowledge
          Repeate

          Most of the time I have problems with the “Think” step, then I do as suggested above and just “Act”. Sometimes I choose to let the feeling wash over me, with cleansing tears. The key is knowing I can choose to move on to begin healing rather than allow a downward spiral such as negative self talk leading to potentially destructive behaviors leading to additional negative feelings.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        similarly — if it will take two minutes to do, do it now and get it out of the way. There’s a good chance it will take longer and be more complicated later, so make things easier on future!you.

    2. StudentA*

      Jean, I love your list. I also fully admit those are things I struggle with. Well, 1 and 3, not so much 2. So maybe that’s why it resonates with me so much.

      Here are mine, and I realize they are not everyone’s cup of tea. But they make me a difference for me.

      1. Giving in to cravings as long as I don’t go overboard. I know I don’t do well with just wanting something for days on end.

      2. Get as many hugs from my loved ones as possible. And yes it’s harder now with Panama so I mainly rely on the ones I live with and my cats.

      3. I got a terrible, just terrible, rejection this week. I tell myself when that happens in the midst of my heartbreak that someone else was going to be sad if I got it. This was my turn to be sad. Even if I often have to carry the burden or my luck sucks, no one gets No forever. At some point, some good has to come my way.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Going with your first one, I like this idea:

      If you feel like everyone hates you, you need to sleep. If you feel like you hate everyone, you need to eat.

      1. Anon attorney*

        Oh, I hadn’t heard this before but it really sums it up. I have learned to recognize when I’m paranoid due to fatigue but the journey to that point has the debris of unnecessary arguments cast all along it.

      2. kathyglo*

        I noticed when I am very tired I feel very sad about all the bad in my life. It helps not to let myself get very tired.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      This phrase: “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.”
      Was in my thirties before that actually resonated with me- the idea that the task was necessary, but that I didn’t have to ‘act as if’ I liked it or approved of it; I wasn’t required to do any pretend happiness. I had never separated the two parts of the statement before.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Ha! I used to hear that in the negative, like the person giving the direction didn’t care that I was miserable, but you are recasting that for me now.

    5. Janet Pinkerton*

      If you wake up in the middle of the night, make your peace with it until your body is tired again. That way you never enter the anxiety spiral of “it’s so late I need to sleep but I can’t sleep”.

      If you think everyone hates you, sleep. If you hate everyone, eat. If you hate yourself, shower.

      Exercise really does give you endorphins. Going on a walk usually helps most things. (It’s also good for seeing sunshine in winter if you can do it during the day.)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Oh I love this thread.
      1) Find something simple and quick that CAN be done.

      2) Nothing, and I do mean not one thing, ever gets resolved at 9 o’clock at night. Lord knows, I have tried this many times. So this means I am on a mini vacation until I get up tomorrow.

      3) Understanding that sorrow/great pain does not mean the world stops revolving and some how this can get very disconcerting. s/X happened, the planet needs to come to a full stop, of course./s When everything feels Too Big that is because I am trying to do too much or reaching too far ahead of myself. The answer is to slow down and just take one day at a time. What can I do *today* to help me?

      4) When the world generally looks big and scary and I start thinking about the future, a good rebuttal is to take care of the things that I know in present time that need care. Do what is right in front of me. It’s too easy to gloss over this step and skip it entirely. Stop, backup and do this step.
      This one is different from #3 because this is more about the general state of things rather than a specific sorrow or loss in my personal life. Confusingly we can grieve our loss of sense of security- but it’s good to be aware of that sometimes we need to deal with a general sense of loss or a sense of insecurity.

      5) It’s one level of concern when people do not realize *I* have a serious concern. But there is one thing worse than this and that is if I am aware that I have a concern and *I* do not take action. Therefore, it logically follows that I do not need validation from others to proceed in addressing what concerns me. I can go ahead and seek resources to deal with the situation.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      When things aren’t going well, go for a walk outside, preferably with trees and nature, but anywhere there’s natural light will do in a pinch. If the weather is bad, dress accordingly. If the weather is actually dangerous, then stay in and pet the dog (or cat).

    8. J.B.*

      Sometimes when you are in a spiral it is your brain telling you to rest. So rest. And then decide to do something using your brain and body-I like baking bread for this. It makes me focus on something but gets away from the emotion.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Re grudges, including in the context of past bullying:

      A counselor gave me the following definition of a grudge: In the past, someone violated your boundaries and hurt you. The grudge is a response that ensures you continue to feel violated. Thinking about this formulation has helped me break out of some cycles of grudge holding. (That were affecting the grudge-ee not a whit that they cared about.)

      Relatedly, in a past discussion of bullying here, someone distinguished having a grudge (at the point you draw a line and say your cousin is not borrowing your car again, you are probably experiencing some grudge emotions toward him, being human; over time the boundary holds but the grudge fades) and nursing a grudge (taking it out and petting it and cooing to it and polishing it up and admiring all its sides).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve heard that (using your distinction, which I love) nursing a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to drop dead from it.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Exactly! There’s a saying “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past.” So it’s not actually forgiving your cousin, it’s just an acceptance of what happened in the past and understanding that it will never change.

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Try to find some good things in bad situations. Like when my dad died (a long time ago): he wasn’t alone, he didn’t outlive his money (he was always concerned about that and didn’t even come close), we had a good relationship, he didn’t have a long, drawn-out, painful illness. (Obviously there are some situations where you wouldn’t even try this, but for many things it works.) Also: cuddle a pet (borrow one if necessary); go for a walk/get some fresh air; clean something. A friend who lost a spouse went thru some mantra that went something like: if you get it out, put it away; if you get it dirty, clean it; etc.

    11. Cartographical*

      Make the bed or scrub the toilet or something small but visible. My theory is that my brain can’t tell the difference between big and small effects, it only knows something matters because of the attention I give to the effect. So, if I’m feeling hopeless, I do something small and then make a big deal about it to myself and my brain seems to perk up about life in general. It feels like I do have control and agency and things will be okay.

      Set aside “be sad” time. This is kind of the opposite of “gratitude journaling” or “mindfulness” but it works for me. I sit down and make a little list of disappointments and sorrows and pay attention to them for a set time — I honestly get bored after a surprisingly short time but I stick it out. If something comes up on the list consistently, I make a plan to put it to rest. If I can’t fix it or mitigate it, I have a little farewell party of sorts for it. For my brain, I find it interrupts me with upsetting things because it feels like an unaddressed problem. Doing something about it, even putting it on a list of “sh*t happens” lets my brain put it down for the day and eventually forever. I don’t need to keep remembering it because I wrote it down.

      The corollary to that is finding little things that make me happy and giving them attention. When I find myself feeling positive about something, I stop and let myself feel it. Nothing is too small. Great job on that cup of coffee, me. Look at that nice row of stitches on that shawl. Hey, some kudos on that old fanfic archive; good job, buddy, still making people happy.

      If I’m feeling sad about someone or something I’ve lost, I do something nice for someone else in honour of that loss. I leave a nice comment on someone’s art or I give the dog a treat “from” that person or to celebrate that thing or anything I can do that adds a little positivity to the world. It may be goofy but it settles my brain to know that whatever it is was not forgotten or is still meaningful. It also takes the sorrow out of my head and turns it into an action and that seems to help my brain let go of it.

      1. Jortina*

        Cartographical, thank you so much, that is all wonderful. I copied and pasted to in a Note to read later.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        This is so lovely! And incredibly helpful. I’m writing it down to read when I need it. Thank you!

    12. Librarian of SHIELD*

      1. The Fray were on to something when they wrote the lyric “sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” Your choice might be really hard to make, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice. Your choice might make you sad, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice.

      2. Never underestimate the power of a Feelings Journal. It can be as fancy or as unfancy as you want (mine’s just a regular notebook I got at Target when the back to school supplies went on sale), but it’s a great way to work through what you’re feeling and why you might be feeling it. I don’t write in it every day, but sometimes I’ll have a major feelings epiphany in my journal. You may not be able to make your situation better right away, but you can learn to better understand yourself and your reactions to the situation, and that can be really helpful.

      1. Jay*

        “Your choice might make you sad, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice.”

        This was a huge learning for me a year or so ago (and I’m now 61, so it took a while). Until then I thought that the right choice would always make me feel better – if not happy, then at least peaceful and settled. Nope. Sometimes the right thing is the hardest option. Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes it makes me sad. If I really stop and listen to myself, I still know it’s the right thing.

    13. Girasol*

      If I get in a spiral over something, just ruminating, I pick up a game or puzzle that requires enough concentration that it kicks the issue out of my head for awhile and resets my runaway train of thought. (Puzzle Baron puzzles are great for this.) At night an audiobook takes my mind off it. I might sleep or I might not but I get wrapped up in the story and let go other thoughts for awhile.

    14. the cat's ass*

      I like this! certainly fit my week. So:
      Take the first step, no matter how small;
      Eat, hydrate, walk;
      Hugs are good;
      Do something nice for yourself/someone else;
      everything is improved by a nap/a good night’s sleep;
      your pets love you!

    15. Fellow Traveller*

      So many great ideas!
      Things I find helpful:

      -Calling a friend, often helps me. I have a really good friend who is great at being in my corner but also helping me see the big picture. I recently took part in a screen time study where i had to report my mood along with track my screen time and I noticed I always felt more hopeful after hanging out with my friend, which I thought was interesting, but made so much sense.
      – do something nice for someone else.
      – social media/ screen break.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        – do something nice for someone else.
        Oh yes, good to be reminded of this. Thank you!

    16. Jean (just Jean)*

      So many good responses here! Thank you, everyone who has replied (and also those who have not replied but might reply later…and those who read and think they might reply, but don’t because life sent them onto a different path). My sadness has not closed its office and gone home (which would be nice! but isn’t likely) but I appreciate everyone’s contributions. I may even download all comments to a Word file titled something like “Collective wisdom from the AAM Commentariat, 1/15/2022, on the question of living with sadness.” We’ll see. The weekend is still young and I still have other tasks to tackle. And no, despite a source of sadness, I’m not spending every last moment focused on it. One still has to eat, sleep, work, exercise, pay bills, maintain connections with other people, etc. I guess that it’s part of the human condition just like joy and exhilaration and being inspired or infuriated by current events or past history. Well, off to the great outdoors for a while, aka the great outdoors as tamed by inner-suburbia.

    17. OTGW*

      The amount of times I go to bed feeling pissy and sad, only to then wake up feeling 1000% better is astonishing. Sleep really is the cure all.

      I also just let myself cry. I cry at everything. The bills! The plague! Stupid patrons at work! If I feel like I need to cry, I let myself do it and I feel better afterwards.

      My mom has a saying “life’s a bitch then you die” which I used to feel :/ about. But I’ve kinda taken it (she does not take it this way) to mean—life sucks but who cares! Do what you love! Those student loans will never be paid off so who cares if you spend money on other stuff! Etc, etc.

      Idk, those are weird ways to overcome sorrows but like, it works for me. I’ve always found like, gratitude journals or “if you do one thing it counts!!” kinda pointless (no offense to everyone else, it’s just really not my thing) embracing the suck helps sometimes. Like, I feel pushing aside the suck can make it worse, so I’ve found it better to acknowledge it, give it space, and then do what you need to do. Or whatever.

      1. Hamtaro*

        I saw a t-shirt back in the ’90s that read “Life’s a bleach and then you dye.”

        I’m sticking that one.

    18. Pippin*

      HALT.
      Am I:
      Hungry
      Angry
      Lonely
      Tired
      I have to check all those things and remedy them before I trust my emotions/reactions to things..
      Or as a friend of mine says “sometimes all you need is a nap and a sandwich”

    19. CheerfulGinger*

      I hear Liz Gilbert talk about breaking the anxiety/shame spiral by telling herself to “Stop smoking that cigarette”. Meaning that it can almost become a habit to ruminate on a negative memory, to the point of being addictive, but it is not good for your health. Gently remind yourself that although part of your brain might be craving that cigarette, it won’t make you feel better in the long term. Put down the cigarette and engage with something more positive. I find it helpful to have that mental image of putting down the cigarette to transition myself from negative ruminations to literally anything else!

      1. Agnes*

        If you’re in a bad mood, do something annoying.

        It’s in the “never let a crisis go to waste” vein. I hate filling out paperwork x. If I’m in a bad mood, might as well fill out paperwork x. Best case scenario, I’ll feel better and now paperwork x is done! Worst case scenario, I’m still in a crappy mood, paperwork x is done, and I didn’t destroy a good mood by doing paperwork x.

  5. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Anyone else been watching oft forgotten 90’s TV shows, lately i’ve been rewatching the Sentinel and Relic Hunter.

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        Mash is good.

        My favourite quote of the week:
        Hawkeye: It just proves the old adage; he who lives by the mouth gets punched in it.

      2. Scout Finch*

        Col Blake, checking Klinger’s past requests to go home on emergency leave:

        “Father dying last year. Mother dying last year. Mother AND father dying. Mother, father, and older sister dying. Mother dying and older sister pregnant. Older sister dying and mother pregnant. Younger sister pregnant and older sister dying. Here’s an oldie but a goodie: Half of the family dying, other half pregnant. “

    1. Miss Weiss*

      Relic Hunter is a childhood favorite of mine. It was so rare to see a character like Sydney: smart, strong, brave, independent, has casual things with man around the world. I loved the travel, the outfits, the mystery. (Watching it now, I cringe when Claudia (?) is portrayed like a ‘dumb blond’.)

      1. Sloanicote*

        I remember liking that show! And Tia C is so beautiful. Yes, some jokes really don’t hold up these days, while other things do. It makes me wonder what things we put in our shows now that will make future viewers cringe.

        1. JustForThis*

          That’s a really interesting question! Seeing people in old TV series smoke indoors feels quite strange now, and I wonder whether the next generation or the one after might feel surprised by seeing people driving a huge car in a city.

      2. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        I know, other than Claudia it aged well.
        Other shows like Married with Children aged really badly.

        Fresh Prince of Belair has aged okay.

    2. Sloanicote*

      Ha, there is a channel on my antenna that shows me all these shows and I am *here for it.* I miss the era of adventure TV. I liked Xena and Hercules, Star Trek Voyager, yes the Sentinel and the Pretender, and also sitcoms like Frasier, Will and Grance, The Nanny. I am definitely dating myself here hahaha.

          1. allathian*

            Me too! We watched it recently with our son, and he enjoyed it as well. Introducing him to an old favorite was a lot of fun.

    3. Luna*

      Hah, a few months ago I randomly found a children’s show on YouTube from 1990 called “The Girl From Tomorrow”. Absolutely fascinating seeing the clothes and technology. And a good story, too, good actors. Wondering if I should write some fic for it actually.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      Rewatching Northern Exposure & realizing how much it influenced so many other shows worldwide.

      1. Windchime*

        Our family used to love that show so much. It was filmed in a little town about an hour from our then-home. My kids were little at the time, and we would all dance to the opening music. I would love to re-watch that.

        I recently watched all of Seinfeld from beginning to end. There was only one episode that I had never, ever seen before. It’s still a very funny show, but there are some parts that have not aged well.

    5. allathian*

      I doubt it’s forgotten, and it did start in the 80s, but we’ve been watching TNG. I’m really enjoying it again.

    6. Public Sector Manager*

      I’ve been streaming Stargate SG-1 and Wings lately. Also, one of my favorite 90’s shows, Sliders, is now on Peacock (I just haven’t watched it yet). I do have Homicide and Boomtown on DVD (but the only DVD player I have anymore is my 2008 iMac!).

      But some ones I’d love to watch and can’t stream are Third Watch, Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Ed, and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Not necessarily forgotten but I’ve been watching Seinfeld. Husband is watching Frazier.

      If I ever get time I want to check out (or rewatch) Ghostwriter. And 90s episodes of Saturday Night live. I used to watch it with my older brother in the late 90s so it’d be nice to check it out as an adult

    8. Quinalla*

      Star Trek DS9 is one I got back to over and over. Farscape started at the very end of the 90s and is another I enjoy.

      I’ve been more apt to watch shows in the 2001-2010 era lately – The 4400 (the original), Fringe (damn this show is still so good, to be fair not without problems), and Life (stars Damian Lewis, wish it had gone more than 2 seasons).

  6. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I got to see a great production of “The Music Man” by my high school Alma mater. Musicals make me happy.

    Please share your joys!

    1. Kate in Scotland*

      I found a new walk near my house! This is amazing because I walk every day and I’m limited to 2-3 km by back and joint problems so I thought I’d exhausted all the options.

    2. UKDancer*

      Really good ballet class this week. Some days it’s hard and others it just comes. Some of the exercises just clicked and I felt I was really connecting with the sequences and the corrections. I came away feeling on top of the world and like a prima ballerina.

      Then I had an eye test and they said my eye health is good. I picked out some pretty new glasses which really looked great on me and am looking forward to collecting them.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Yarn! During the past 2 years, I (semi successfully) used up a good chunk of my yarn stash to make afghans, scarves, and hats for donations and gifts. My sweet family, alarmed by the sight of empty plastic bins, surprised me with new yarn…12 skeins! Soft gray and deep plum, 6 of each. I’m looking forward to breaking out the crochet hook on this cold (4°) day!

      1. Windchime*

        Oh that sounds gorgeous! I’m a knitter and a quilter, and I’m working on sewing down my fabric stash. I probably have enough to keep me busy for a year.

    4. AGD*

      I bought lots of fruit and set up a big new fruit bowl in my kitchen! The colors really brighten the place, and anytime the room smells like citrus it makes me smile.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      The library coughed up the second Tuesday Murder Club mystery. 20 pages in and I’m in love.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Losing power on Friday night may have been fun for me, but apparently it made my husband worry about us losing power for a long time with the big winter storm ‘Izzy’ that is on its way.
          What do you think, is it possible to be too prepared?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Serious nesting fail! That was supposed to go up in the little joys where I commented on Friday’s brief power outage!

    6. Bluey Christine Heeler*

      My long distance SO liked the hat I knit for him and sent me a selfie of himself wearing it.

    7. RagingADHD*

      My brother, sister in law, and neice are in town. Haven’t seen them in a course of years and it is awesome.

    8. Lady Danbury*

      Trying new recipes, including chicken sharwarma bowls (with hummus, arugula, cucumbers, grilled veggies and feta), turkey enchiladas (best way to use up leftover turkey, frozen from Christmas) and caramelized croissant french toast. All three were really good, so both the cooking and eating brought me joy.

    9. fposte*

      I am apparently getting back into making music! A friend I reconnected with after a bit of a drift is a tireless enthusiast and wants to play together, so I’ve gotten the guitar out, looked up chord charts, and bought new strings. My fingers are very sore, but I am really enjoying rediscovering a minor competence.

    10. Generic Name*

      I’ve “friended” my 7 year old niece on messenger for kids, and it’s a delight. Conversational skills are developing at this age, so we don’t have discussions per se, but we’ve been sharing videos and stickers, and there’s a feature where she can send me a drawing and I have to guess what it is. It’s super fun, and hopefully it will help my sister a bit because it’s been so hard these last to years for parents of small children.

    11. the cat's ass*

      Got through a hairy week.

      Just finished “Finlay Donovan is Killing It” which was so absurdly silly that it took me away from the hairy-ness of the week.

      Got a good report from my ortho-my knees aren’t that bad but i need to step up the PT (hard with the panini)
      The new stove is AWESOME after not having a functional broiler for a decade.

        1. The cat’s ass*

          I know, I can’t wait! Just put in for it at the library on pre-order. Hope it’s as silly as the first.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Fist bump for physical therapy for knees. I’m doing the same and it’s really helping a lot.

    12. Girasol*

      Sunshine! It’s been cloudy so long and this week was supposed to be cloudy too, but we had some glorious sunrises and blue afternoons this week that were an unexpected treat.

    13. GoryDetails*

      Scored a couple of nifty geocaches in between the cold snaps. (It’s 9 degrees F/-13 C today – at noon – with windchill of -9F/-23C – and I am not going out geocaching in that.) Since the ground is mostly covered with a thin but solidly-frozen layer of snow and/or ice, many of the trails aren’t easily navigable, and even end-of-guardrail caches might be hard to reach due to frozen snowplow mounds, so finding caches that I can reach safely is a minor celebration all by itself!

      1. Rara Avis*

        Discovered that adventure lab trails seem to interest my teen more than regular caching — got her to go out twice with me in the last ten days.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Very cool! I’ve been tempted to try Adventure Labs, but I don’t have a smartphone yet…

    14. Slinky*

      Watching Community on Hulu. It’s the third time I’ve watched the series and it’s still funny.

    15. Rara Avis*

      We brought home a new kitty, a half-size mini-me of our Leo. Typing one-handed because she’s lying on my hand at the moment.

    16. Chaordic One*

      The days are slowly getting just a bit longer and I’ve been enjoying some beautiful sunsets out my windows in the late afternoons/early evenings.

    17. Stantheman*

      Gary, Indiana
      Not Louisiana, Paris, France, New York, or Rome
      But Gary, Indiana
      Gary, Indiana
      Gary, Indiana
      My home sweet home

    18. allathian*

      Northern lights! We don’t usually get them this far south (60 N) and this is only the second time I’ve seen them. They look better on photos, though, because the human eye can’t distinguish the colors as well as a camera can.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We lost power Friday night and after shutting down the laptops, we lit a fire in the basement wood stove, brought in a bunch more wood, and spent some time on the lawn admiring the moon shadows.
      Then we set the camping kettle on top of the stove for tea, and settled in with blankets and a rechargeable flashlight to read a chapter of Fellowship of the Ring.
      When the lights came on, we turned them off and kept going.

    20. PrincessB*

      My very old phone is still getting updates although the manufacturer announced that they wouldn’t support it anymore. I hate transitioning to a new phone, finding all my app sign ins and figuring out how it works.

  7. Llama face!*

    My sleep schedule is all out of whack and so instead of being soundly asleep here at 12:30 am I am just finishing baking the last half dozen of the 3.5 dozen double chocolate cookies with dried mango and roasted almonds I decided to make at midnight. What do you all do late at night when the world is sleeping but you are not?

    1. Bethlam*

      I’m currently pedaling on a stationary bike (no hands required) because it’s just about the only thing that alleviates my leg cramps.

      But usually, I read or watch TV shows that I’ve taped that my husband doesn’t watch. Sometimes, work on the computer (personal stuff, not work work).

    2. Asenath*

      Replay audible books (so I don’t get caught up in the plot or miss important bits when I finally do fall asleep).

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I finally gave up, turned on the light, and read my book, but what I kept hearing the siren call of the kitchen, where I had already done a lot of the prep work to make and can black currant relish.

      But. I thought that committing to a three-hour project at midnight might not be the best idea.

      Instead, I work up at 5 and got out of bed at 6. Then I started cooking.

      I miss sleep so much.

      1. Pippa K*

        I hope you get some better sleep soon, but in the meantime, can I ask about this blackcurrant relish recipe? I love black currants but I’ve made enough sweet jams for a while.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Hi Pippa! The relish is good!

          I also tried a new recipe – currant chutney, which is absolutely delicious. I mean, it’s so good I am not going to share it with anyone.

          I will put the link to the chutney recipe after this post. I have only a photo of the relish recipe, but I have posted it for you on my facebook page (Texan.in.Exile). If you don’t have FB, you can find my FB feed on my blog (search Texan in Exile blog).

          1. Pippa K*

            Thank you so much for posting that – I found it through your blog page and it looks delicious! My next canning project.

    4. StellaBella*

      More and more people I know in these last 2 years are having sleep troubles. I have menopause and drink a lot of water so get up usually once a night, sometimes can go back to sleep, other times nope. I am trying to now remember to make warm milk when this happens, with a bit of honey, to try to force it. Not sure it helps tho.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Agree – although my naturopath said it’s partially peri-menopause (for me) and the mental stress of the pandemic is impacting many people. I have tried the strategies of of using my bedroom area only for sleeping (no phone games, leave the light on if I’m reading) to try and train my body that darkness in the bedroom means sleep. Sometimes it works – sometimes 4am calls and nothing helps until an hour before I have to wake up anyway.

    5. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Ironing. It’s quiet, I don’t have to really think about it, and I’m getting something accomplished. Sometimes reading, occasionally sewing (if it’s just basic sewing – NO CUTTING).

    6. Pool Lounger*

      Read, watch a movie, sometimes work on a craft project. The kitchen is near the bedroom so cooking is out—don’t want to wake my partner up!

    7. Generic Name*

      I don’t suffer from insomnia usually, thank goodness, but if I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself wide awake, I’ll read a book with a book light but keep the lights off otherwise. It’s very cozy and enjoyable, and I think keeping the room mostly dark tells my brain that I should be sleeping.

    8. Angstrom*

      I heard a podcast on sleep which was a good reminder that biphasic sleep — having two sleep periods with a waking interval — is a normal human pattern. It didn’t become “insomnia” until we all had clock-driven schedules and electric lights and had to get all of our sleeping done in a limited time.

    9. Oh.My.Gosh.*

      I spend the night hoping Llama Face sends me some double chocolate cookies with dried mango and roasted almonds.

      1. Llama face!*

        Lol I can’t do that but if you’d like to make your own:
        DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

        Ingredients:
        1 1/4 C Butter
        2 C Sugar
        2 Eggs
        2 tsp Vanilla

        2 C Flour
        3/4 C Cocoa
        1 tsp Baking soda
        1/2 tsp Salt
        1-2 C Semisweet chocolate chips
        Optional to add 1 C nuts, 1 C dried fruit

        Directions:
        1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
        2. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well
        3. Combine flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt in separate bowl then blend into creamed mixture
        4. Stir in chocolate chips and any optional ingredients
        5. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets
        6. Bake for about 8-9 minutes at 350°. Do not overbake! Cookies will be quite soft when you take them out of the oven.
        7. Cool slightly and remove from cookie sheet. Makes about 3 to 3 1/2 dozen cookies depending on how big your spoonfuls are.

        Just a fyi: These cookies are very good frozen and eaten while still frozen. And they store well in the freezer.

  8. Tell Me About Blogs*

    I’d like to have a space where my family can post and share things, like a family blog or a Facebook group, but one goal is specifically to share recipes amongst us. The Facebook groups that I’m on mostly seem to just post chronologically, sometimes with tags, so there’s no real organization by theme or topic. If we had a family website I guess we could have different pages on it, but I’m pretty uneducated about these things.

    What are some suggestions for how we can have a fairly free-flowing place to post kids’ photos and comment about our vacations, but also organize our recipes and maybe other family information in an accessible way?

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Like you, I started a blog with little knowledge of how they work, which is the same name as my handle here. A friend suggested I try WordPress, and they give you a bunch of templates to choose from. I’ve had my blog for more than a decade now so I’m sure things have changed with more options now, but they have some formats that are free and others that you pay for. If you pay, you can buy your own domain and keep it ad-free. It’s relatively inexpensive and paid on a yearly basis, so that’s what I do.

      In addition to picking a format that would lend itself to the kinds of things you want to share, WordPress gives you the option to tag posts for different topics. For example, I have a bunch of topics related to my nature writing and photography. You could add a tag for Recipes, or Family Trips, or whatever and then anyone who wants to explore your posts on that topic can find them all easily with that heading.

      Of course there are many other platforms out there. WordPress is the one that I know and can recommend as someone who’s not particularly tech-savvy.

      One other thing that came as a surprise–I originally started my blog just for family and friends, which sounds comparable to your intention. It’s the only social media I used and even though I didn’t promote it (with the exception of my handle here since I joined the AAM community), people I didn’t know have came across it over the years and started following my posts and commenting. That’s been fun.

    2. Catherine*

      Try making a Discord with different channels for different topics! It’s like Slack but the free version lets you have infinite text history, plus video/audio chat is built in. This is how my friend groups keep up and it’s very convenient (and searchable).

      1. Clare*

        Seconding Discord. It can also be used for calls and it has the ability for individuals to mute the people they are in the same room with, which Zoom and Teams both sorely lack. So Mum and Dad can both be in the same room on their laptops video calling the kids without hearing each other twice.

        1. Ron McDon*

          Thirding Discord – it sounds like a perfect fit for what you want to do,

          If you have children aged 10+ they might be able to help you set it all up – my kids were on it long before I was :)

    3. Miss Weiss*

      Have you tried Padlet? It’s an online bulletin board. Mostly used for class discussions but I can imagine making something similar to what you describe for families/groups of friends.

    4. The Dogman*

      I know google docs makes sharing things easy, not sure if it would be quite what you need, but might be worth a go?

    5. Miel*

      How about Tumblr? It’s highly customizable and can do photos, text, videos, messaging, etc. You can use the tags to categorize and you can create links to everything with a certain tag, for example, my blog. tumblr . com / tagged/ recipes.

      Downsides are the wacky ads and occasional spam/ porn bots who try to follow you. They are easy to block/ ignore respectively, but wanted to mention for the sake of thoroughness. (You could also make a password protected blog which would solve the bot problem, I think.)

      1. Mannequin*

        Tumblr has the worst ‘blog’ format of any place I’ve seen except instagram.

        It’s impossible to search or organize specific posts, comments aren’t linear, and can’t always be added without reposting the original.

        I have one for following a game I play, but I hate it.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Yes, try Discord.

      You could set up channels for #recipes, #kid-pics, #chat, #personal-news, and #general-announcements to start with.

      Servers are invitational, so you’d want to send a message (email, group text, individual phone calls, whatsapp, whatever you’re already using) with an invitation link. You can invite people to a server that’s already up and running, if you forgot about a second cousin, or want to add someone’s new partner.

    7. Cartographical*

      Seconding WordPress for a blog that can be made public, which I’ve used successfully with limited skills. If you want something more private, you could look into Trello which allows for all kinds of organizational tools. I prefer Slack to Discord when it comes to channels and such but my kid and husband prefer Discord — Discord has an advantage over blogging platforms of built-in chat channels for video, voice, or text and that might be good. When it comes to archiving information and getting it off the site for future access, I’d go with WP but only because I don’t know Discord’s export tools. Maybe someone else can speak to that.

      1. pancakes*

        WordPress blogs can be made private or password-protected. So can individual posts on an otherwise public blog.

    8. OTGW*

      My vote is also for discord! Like the others mentioned, you can set up different channels so it’s very organized. There’s no ads, it’s completely free, customizable, there’s different bots to add on if you want, and if you’re worried about trying to figure out who’s Mommycat216, you can set up nicknames so everyone goes by their regular name.

      And it’s also another way people can chat and see what everyone is up to.

    9. Wordnerd*

      Here to also hype Discord. My pretty non-techy 60-something mom was able to jump right in, and it works well on mobile and desktop. We had a channel for holiday planning, one for pets and kids, one actually to discuss AAM posts, etc!

    10. Not A Manager*

      Hi, I am the OP for this one. Thank you so much for the thoughts and suggestions! I hear the kids these days all talking about this “discord” thing. I guess I will need to check it out! Appreciate all of your comments.

  9. Helen Knows The Owner*

    iPhone user pros- please help with me not needing to repeat multiple steps here!

    My phone was close to out of storage and I didn’t have enough left to back the phone up. I deleted enough from my phone to free up 8GB and assumed I was good. Now it see my 50 GB of iCloud storage is full so I still can’t back up. I last backed up in May 2021.

    The majority of photos both in my phone and iCloud are random screenshots or not important photos so I’m taking this as an opportunity to clean out everything I don’t value. There are also tons of repeat photos on my phone and in iCloud.

    I don’t want to have to delete photos from both iCloud and my phone twice. I also don’t want to lose all my photos from May-now. What’s the best way to go about this so I’m not spending hours on it and doubling my work? I’m hoping I’m missing some easy step here. TIA!

    1. Gina*

      Call 1(800)MYIPHONE. It’s the Apple support line and it’s free. They are very nice and patient.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I gave up and purchased more memory (monthly fee) the second time it happened. I had ignored the warning that my phone wasn’t backing up for a few months but I was about to go on a trip and just paid the money to avoid the hassle.

      BUT you can go to the iCloud on a web browser from a non-Apple computer (My only Apple is an iPhone). You can download the photos to your computer (you can download batches as zip files) and store them there or somewhere else on a drive and cloud and delete them from the the iCloud. I’m pretty sure you can delete them from both from the iCloud via a web browser.

      You photo are no longer on your phone or iCloud so keep them safe.

      Remember the days when you could plug your iPhone into your computer and access its memory and files that way? I wish we could still go that.

    3. The Dogman*

      I would second Person from the Resume* and suggest downloading all to a PC or laptop (apple or MS OS) and then it will be easier to delete the ones you don’t want, then clear the cloud storage in one go.

    4. Jortina*

      When I delete photos from my phone it says “this will be deleted from iCloud on all devices”. So I don’t think you would need to do it twice? Maybe that’s a setting in iCloud?

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My photos are linked to my icloud so anytime I delete something from icloud or my phone, it deletes from both. Before you delete, it will ask you if you’re sure. But even if you do delete it it’s not gone forever as pictures stay in the deleted folder for up to 30 days.

      I have about 20k photos on my phone now, I’ve had an iphone since 2011 and just always keep the stuff. I’d say a good quarter of them are screenshots of memes, information etc.

      Another trick is that if there’s information you need to have on hand quickly (ie, i keep my insurance card, and back and front of my ID, as well as vaccination info), you can “favorite” it by tapping the little heart, and you have quick access to it.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Oh wow, I had a question about exactly this. I get the same popup message about deleting everywhere, but I recently found photos in iCloud that I had deleted from my phone months ago (and had backed up my phone several times since)- I believe this was making me run out of space on iCloud and my phone-based deletion efforts were ineffective at reducing the iCloud stored amount. I would like to not have to delete things in iCloud that I already deleted on my phone; I’d like what’s on (and not on) my phone to be reflected in iCloud.

        I know it’s late, but if anyone’s reading this and can point me in the right direction, I’d very much appreciate it!

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          That’s odd. Is your iCloud connected to your phone via Wi-Fi? I never used to use cloud but when I began using it I’m able to update through Wi-Fi

  10. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Last week I asked about knowing when it’s time to put your cat to sleep, and I wanted to give an update and thanks (nested).

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I thought it might’ve been caught in moderation so I didn’t want to repost, but I’ll try again!

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      My family took her the vet and confirmed that, bony as she was, she was already in a fair amount of pain, so we organised for a specialised service to come to the house this weekend. I hadn’t seen her since the Christmas break, and I was surprised to see how much she had deteriorated in only a couple of weeks. She got so much attention and so many cuddles in her last few days. For her last night with us, I drove across the city to the best seafood shop in town to source ingredients for a gourmet seafood platter including 3 types of smoked fish, the fanciest imported sardines, fish paté and caviar and presented it to her on the nice servingware. She dutifully tasted the range, loved it all, and let me know that hot wood smoked salmon was her favourite. So she got bottomless refills of it all night and all morning.

      When she picked her sleeping spot for the night, I grabbed a pillow and blanket and slept on the floor beside her giving her lots of cuddles. I recorded the sound of her purring so I can listen to it when I miss her. Though she rallied at times, by morning I felt confident it was the right time. I can read my girl pretty well and I know she had arrived at the point of existing more than living.

      The vet who came was so beautiful and caring with her and with us. As much as I wanted to be the one who held her, she’s always been calmest in my Dad’s arms and he can hold her for much longer than anyone else before she wants down, so I asked him to and the rest of us took turns giving her pats and telling her how much we love her while she slowly and peacefully slipped away.

      Her passing was so gentle and full of love. I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to give that to her and that my memories of her won’t be of her sickness and suffering. Without the advice and reassurance I received here, the outcome would have been different. I would have struggled a lot more with the decision and she’d probably have suffered longer than she needed to. And with Omicron being what it is right now, a few days or weeks longer and we might not have been able to get an in-home appointment, which would have made her last moments unnecessarily stressful.

      There were so many lovely and helpful comments, but I wanted to thank Lizzie (with a deaf cat) in particular for saying that sparing our pets from suffering is a gift we can give them, and while the decision is sad for me, it isn’t for her and she would enjoy all the treats and affection. These words really stuck with me and carried me through. And to machinedreams for sharing the butthole cat story and the part about being good to them right until the very end, that will carry me through the next few weeks. A big thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart.

      1. FalafalBella*

        I wish your kitty Godspeed and you and your family peace and love. Our cats give us so much joy and it is a blessing that you were able to do this last gracious act of kindness for your kitty.

      2. Cendol*

        This brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss but also so glad you were able to give your cat such a love-filled passing. I hope I can do the same for my cats when it is their time.

      3. allathian*

        I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m glad you were able to make your cat’s final days and passing better.

        1. HoundMom*

          I am so sorry for your loss but you gave her the greatest gift by making her passing gentle and just being there. She had a true guardian in you. Peace.

      4. Purple cat*

        Thank you for sharing.
        I’m crying bittersweet tears for you because the love you have for your cat is palpable. You did right by her. I’m sorry for your loss.

      5. I take tea*

        I am sorry for your loss of a long time companion, but it sounds as you gave her the best farwell at a good point. The memories will feel better with that knowledge.

      6. Double A*

        It’s so hard when our pets go. That sounds like a lovely passing for your cat.

        My 17 year old kitty is sitting on my lap right now. Just in the past 3 months or so she’s started dropping weight and is getting pretty thin. But when I’ve taken her to the vet they say she looks amazing for her age and there’s nothing concerning in her bloodwork. Still, I have a sense that a rapid deterioration is coming, so I’ve been really starting to think about end of life care for her. I’m hopeful we could do a home euthanasia; I did that with my last cat and it was really so peaceful.

        Sending you much love!

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      You gave her a meaningful and respectful and loving send-off, with happy memories for all of you, thank you very much for telling us how it went.

  11. Sunflower*

    I just moved and my new bedroom is quite narrow. The only convenient place for the bed is next to the heat radiator. I have the bed pulled away from it but I’m nervous it’s blocking heat from circulating as it’s usually pretty cold in my room (I live in an old walk up in NYC where heat is controlled centrally for the whole building).

    I have my mattress on a tall platform frame that is pretty open (although I do have storage boxes under my bed) to hopefully help but is there anything else I can do to circulate the air?

    1. WellRed*

      I have radiators and hate them. They really only heat, in my experience, when actively running. Are you sure it’s giving off heat? In My bedroom, the radiator is blocked by my open closet door. I still roast when it’s running strong. It stops, the room gradually gets colder and colder and colder till it kicks in again.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        This has been my experience with them as well. I’ve had my bed blocking them before and my room always got incredible hot when it was running and cooler when it shut off

      2. Sunflower*

        I can feel the heat on my bed but it definitely turns off and on throughout the day- it seems to be pretty chilly at night and must kick on around 6am because I’m usually sweating when I wake up around 830. Same with the other radiators esp during the day. I can get pretty chilly in the living room during the day even with full sweater, sweatpants and fuzzy socks.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      A fan. Small desk fan near the radiator, aimed out to get some more air circulation going.

    3. pancakes*

      Make sure the radiators in other rooms aren’t turned off. I live in NYC as well, in the same type of building, and we only have two or three of our radiators turned on because otherwise we’d be broiling. Ask the super to show you or just search “how to turn off nyc radiator.”

      1. Clisby*

        I went to college back in the dark ages, living in a dorm with radiator heat. We couldn’t turn them on or off; they were centrally controlled. There apparently were 2 settings – OFF and BLAST FURNACE. We would go weeks during the winter with the windows wide open because it was so dang hot in there.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          When I lived in an apartment in NYC they would turn the heat on in September. When it was still hot. That was hell.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I reas something recently about those 1920s to 1940s urban apartment blocks. The writer claims These buildings were intentionally overheated because people were supposed to open the windows to improve air flow inside the buildings. If that article was correct comma it is entirely overheated on purpose, in reaction to the Spanish flu pandemic.
            I haven’t gone looking for confirmation yet.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Ugh, this was the case with the AC in one of my college apartments. They had it set on Stun for a while and I could not stand how cold it was in my place. I plan to ask questions about temperature control when I’m looking for rentals in future. It wasn’t even on my radar back then.

        3. IT Manager*

          I heard recently on a podcast that this was by design – after the 1918 pandemic, it was felt that you needed to be able to keep windows open in winter for hygiene so for a long time, they over-engineered heating to allow it.

          Can’t vouch for this but thought it was interesting!

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Somehow I missed this comment when I added my comment on the same subject… I like the way you think!

        4. pancakes*

          Even with most of ours off, we still keep a couple windows open a crack during all but the coldest weather. It’s pretty comfortable but difficult to get dressed during the winter – anything suitable to wear for a long walk feels absolutely stifling and has to be put on at the last minute.

  12. Dark Macadamia*

    What are your favorite encouraging lines from fiction or poetry? Things that give you strength whether they’re optimistic, determined, or just make you feel seen.

    “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – Anne Shirley

    “We can try … I mean, why not try? It’s better than not trying, right?” – Eleanor Shellstrop (doesn’t sound all that impressive but in the context of the show and character it’s a really great moment)

    “I am so tired of waiting,
    Aren’t you,
    For the world to become good
    And beautiful and kind?
    Let us take a knife
    And cut the world in two–
    And see what worms are eating
    At the rind.” – Langston Hughes

    1. UKDancer*

      I love Langston Hughes, his images are so startling.

      I think one of my favourites is Invictus by WE Henley because it was my grandfather’s favourite and I always remember the line “it matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll. I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.” It reminds me that even when things feel impossible I still have a choice and I won’t give in.

      I love some of the wisdom of Jane Austen and still quote with my mother some of Pride and Prejudice from the 1995 TV series “take every opportunity of enjoying yourself” when one of us is off on an adventure and “Lady Catherine will never know” when we’re doing something a bit silly as well as asking each other for compassion on our poor nerves.

      When I’m dancing I always think of the Maya Angelou line from “Still I Rise” about dancing like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs because the visual image makes me feel strong and confident when I go into class.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Ha! My family also quotes “lady Catherine will never know” to each other all the time. I’m not even sure that line is word-for-word in the book, it’s definitely the BBC series we’re thinking of.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. A couple of years ago I was talking to a Swedish contact from one of our partner companies and she mentioned she and her sister were going on a Jane Austen tour of England that summer. I said to her “take every opportunity of enjoying yourself.” She recognised the quote and burst into laughter, as did I. Then she said she’d try and find a gentleman with ten thousand a year at least. My boss (not an Austen fan) and her boss (also not a fan) looked completely confused as to why we were laughing so much.

          There’s something lovely about meeting someone who knows what you’re quoting.

          1. M&M Mom*

            It pkwy not apply to these scenarios, but when I am annoyed at someone, sometimes I think to myself “I send no compliments to your mother”

      2. the cat's ass*

        Both of these remarkable poems have a graphic page illustrating them on the Website “Zen Pencils” by the talented Gavin Aung Than. He’s not updating anymore because he’s writing and illustrating chapter books FT, but i adore the site because it’s so inspiring. Thank you for reminding me!

      3. eisa*

        My favourite Austen quote :
        “I have two small favours to request. First, that you will allow me the free use of my understanding on the present occasion; and secondly, of my room.”

    2. HNY*

      My absolute favourite is the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling – particularly the opening section:
      If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
      If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
      But make allowance for their doubting too;
      If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
      Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
      O being hated, don’t give way to hating,
      And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

      If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
      If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
      If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
      And treat those two impostors just the same

      I am also a huge Austen fan, and after lots of recent relationship related doubts have returned to ‘Emma’ several times:
      “I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him.”

    3. Sloanicote*

      This may seem like an odd one, but the line that spurs me is:

      “Now that my ladder’s gone,
      I must lie down where all my ladders start,
      In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart”

      – the Circus Animal’s Desertion – W.B. Yeats. It doesn’t *sound* encouraging, but it is about seeking inspiration by looking inward unflinchingly, something I deal with all the time in my writing.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      The closest we get to time travel
      Is our fears softening

      Our hearts unclenching
      As we become more akin

      To kin, as we return
      To who we were

      -Amanda Gorman, from Back to the Past in Call us What We Carrry

    5. fposte*

      I’m going to go with a corny but effective classic, Stan Rogers’ song Mary Ellen Carter–since it’s music, what really makes it is the absolute roaring sea-song energy:

      And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
      With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
      Turn to and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
      And like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, I listen to or play this song on one of my instruments when I need inspiration, and appreciate the last lines:

        No matter what you’ve lost
        Be it a home, a heart, a friend,
        Like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

    6. Jamie Starr*

      Rainer Maria Rilke —
      Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

      The first part “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart…” is my favorite. I am a chronic worrier, always thinking, “What if this happens? What if that doesn’t go the way I planned? Should I do this? Should I do that?” It helps remind me to slow down my thoughts and a lot of times the solution becomes clearer; or I realize the thing I’m worried about didn’t happen.

    7. The Dogman*

      “I must not fear.
      Fear is the mind-killer.
      Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
      I will face my fear.
      I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
      And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
      Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

      Frank Herbert: Dune

      Man’s unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist.

      Academician Prokhor Zakharov, “For I Have Tasted the Fruit” (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri)

      “Learn to overcome the crass demands of flesh and bone, for they warp the matrix through which we perceive the world. Extend your awareness outward, beyond the self of body, to embrace the self of group and the self of humanity. The goals of the group and the greater race are transcendent, and to embrace them is to achieve enlightenment.”

      Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, “Essays on Mind and Matter” (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri)

      “If our society seems more nihilistic than that of previous eras, perhaps this is simply a sign of our maturity as a sentient species. As our collective consciousness expands beyond a crucial point, we are at last ready to accept life’s fundamental truth: that life’s only purpose is life itself.”

      Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, “Looking God in the Eye” (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri)

      “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

      Sun Tzu “The Art of War”

      “Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.”

      Terry Pratchett

      “If you trust in yourself…and believe in your dreams…and follow your star…you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”

      Terry Pratchett

      “THAT’S MORTALS FOR YOU, Death continued. THEY’VE ONLY GOT A FEW YEARS IN THIS WORLD AND THEY SPEND THEM ALL IN MAKING THINGS COMPLICATED FOR THEMSELVES. FASCINATING.”

      Terry Pratchett

      I have more, but that is plenty for now…

        1. The Dogman*

          Good one… I love DEATH… looks weird written down but he was a great character in the Discworld!

    8. Blomma*

      I have this one posted on my bedroom wall:
      “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

      I love it both from a ‘living through terrifying current events’ perspective, as well as my own reality as a chronically ill person. I don’t have a choice but to exist in a body that apparently hates me, but I can choose how to respond to it all.

      1. Jackalope*

        I also appreciate the bit where Frodo says that Gollum deserves to die, and Gandalf responds, ““Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” The US culture is so focused on punitive responses to people doing wrong. I get it; I grew up here too, I understand the impulse. But I appreciate the reminder that it isn’t always the best or most just way to do things.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes, I thought about including this one! It’s been making the rounds a lot during the pandemic. I also love Sam’s “stories that really mattered” speech, makes me cry every time

        1. Blomma*

          I love that speech too! I’ve had the quote I shared posted where I can see it every day since approx. November 2016. I was in the midst of a particularly terrible run of health issues, I was in a toxic job, and the results of the 2016 presidential election in the USA was horrifying to me. I needed some words of hope, and this Tolkien quote helped.

    9. eisa*

      From Vergil’s Aeneid :
      “O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.”
      – O you that have been through worse, a god will also grant an end to this.

    10. Pippa K*

      “Revenge is not redress. Revenge is a wheel, and it turns backwards.”
      —Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment

    11. Potatoes gonna potate*

      This past Monday marked 4 years since my dad passed away suddenly.

      Best thing I’ve read:

      If tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not here to see,
      If the sun should rise you find your eyes all filled with tears for me;
      I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,
      While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.
      I know how much you love me, as much as I love you
      And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.
      But when tomorrow starts without me please try to understand,
      That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.
      He said my place was ready, in heaven far above
      And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love.
      But as I turned and walked away a tear fell from my eye.
      For all my life I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.
      I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do.
      It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.
      I thought of all the yesterdays the good ones and the bad.
      I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.
      If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while,
      I’d say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.
      But then I fully realized that this could never be,
      For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.
      When I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow
      I thought of you and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow.
      When I walked through heavens gates I felt so much at home.
      God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne
      He said, “This is eternity and all I’ve promised you”
      Today your life on earth has passed but here life starts anew.
      I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last
      And since each day is the same there’s no longing for the past.
      You have been so faithful so trusting and so true.
      Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.
      You have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.
      So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?
      So when tomorrow starts with out me don’t think we’re far apart,
      For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.

    12. Coenobita*

      I’ve always liked this line from The Waves by Virginia Woolf: “One must be skeptical, but throw caution to the winds and when the door opens accept absolutely.” In context, it’s someone describing how to be a poet (the full passage is lovely too) but I like it as sort of a general philosophy too.

    13. Jackalope*

      There’s a quote by Andre Trocme, who was the pastor of a Huguenot church in France during WWII, and he (along with his congregation and multiple other congregations in the area) sheltered a large number of Jews & in some cases helped them flee the country. His words about standing against evil while not giving in to being evil oneself have been very helpful for me: “Loving, forgiving, and doing good to our adversaries is our duty. Yet we must do this without giving up, and without being cowardly. We shall resist whenever our adversaries demand of us obedience contrary to the orders of the Gospel. We shall do so without fear, but also without pride and without hate.” (For those of you who speak French, I like the original version better: “Aimer, pardonner, faire du bien à nos adversaires, c’est le devoir. Mais il faut le faire sans abdication, sans servilité, sans lâcheté. Nous résisterons, lorsque nos adversaires voudront exiger de nous des soumissions contraires aux ordres de l’Évangile. Nous le ferons sans crainte, comme aussi sans orgueil et sans haine.”)

      I also like the line from Jack Shepherd on the TV show Lost: “Live together, die alone.” Especially during the pandemic as we’ve been physically separated from most of the people around us, I appreciate remembering that we are a community and we can’t get by without supporting and being supported by those around us.

    14. OtterB*

      I’m with fposte on The Mary Ellen Carter

      Also, from Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day
      “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
      Tell me, what is it you plan to do
      with your one wild and precious life?”

      And, when I’m trying to be more organized and structured, this from Annie Dillard:
      “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. “

    15. marvin the paranoid android*

      “Fly the plane, Maddie”
      –Code Name Verity

      It probably doesn’t sound like much outside the context of the book, but I like how short and utilitarian it is, and yet how meaningful. I often say this to myself when I need to do something hard.

    16. JustForThis*

      This one struck me recently while reading a science fiction novel by Becky Chambers:
      “Ashby didn’t care much for gravity that couldn’t be turned off.”

    17. I heart Paul Buchman*

      “Sorrow and tears show their love but want the remedy”.
      – Thomas Hargreaves

      Want in the old sense of ‘lack’.

      This spurs me to get moving when I’m upset rather than wallow.

    18. Smol Book Wizard*

      I am an anime nerd, so I like to think about Shiro Emiya running up the ruined hill near the end of Fate/Stay Night, yelling “my dream is not a mistake” to his cynical and overwhelmingly strong opponent.
      And, since we just re-watched Madoka Magica, what is it… “don’t forget – always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you.”

      Lots of Bible verses too, with similar vibes. I am very much here for the idea of hope against the odds.

    19. Rara Avis*

      Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit. (Vergil, The Aeneid): perhaps some day it will be a pleasure to remember even these things.

    20. WoodswomanWrites*

      Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese is a favorite.

      You do not have to be good.
      You do not have to walk on your knees
      for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
      You only have to let the soft animal of your body
      love what it loves.
      Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
      Meanwhile the world goes on.
      Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
      are moving across the landscapes,
      over the prairies and the deep trees,
      the mountains and the rivers.
      Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
      are heading home again.
      Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
      the world offers itself to your imagination,
      calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
      over and over announcing your place
      in the family of things.

    21. allathian*

      I agree with the Anne Shirley quote. Like Anne, I’m prone to “Jonah days” when everything goes obliquely wrong.

      I’m a Terry Pratchett fan, and he’s very quotable.

      “There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.”

      “The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.” – from Monstrous Regiment

    22. I take tea*

      I love this thread! I live a lot in books.

      When I was a teenager I had a whole wall of quotes. One of them was Kurt Vonnegut, from Mother Night
      “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

      For me, it says that what you do and say is who you are, and intentions aren’t enough. You need to act on your real values. For me, action is hard, so I try to remember this.

  13. AcademiaNut*

    Does anyone have good suggestions for cloud backup options?
    Looking for suggestions for cloud storage.

    I’m looking for something to back up personal files (photos and other media, etc). I use an external disk for my primary backup (incremental backups) for accidentally deleted files, or bricked computers. I would a less frequent long term storage option for the fire/flood/earthquake situation. I need internationally available (I’m not in the US), but not based in China (work related security issues), on the order of 10 TB of storage, and what I would really like is to be able to directly sync via rsync based command line tools, rather than a specialized web interface or a constantly syncing system like Dropbox.

    Any recommendations?

    1. JustForThis*

      Protonmail, based in Switzerland, was founded to provide secure email and VPN; they are very serious about data security. They have now added a cloud drive to their services which might fit your needs. Link in next comment.

    2. Miss Weiss*

      I’ve heard good things about Tresorit. I don’t know if they offer personal cloud storage but their enterprise offering is solid so it’s worth looking into it.

    3. TiredEmployee*

      Specifically talking backup solutions (rather than sync or storage), Backblaze could work for you. It has no storage limit, but pricing is per-machine. You can make it do either daily backups or only backup when you click, but the default is continuous syncing.

      Another potential option is iDrive, which has a 10TB “personal” plan, but I don’t know what would happen if you went over. Backups can be scheduled for a specific time daily/weekly/specific days of the week, or only backup when you click.

      Both are based in the US but are available internationally.

    4. Observer*

      DropBox might have a plan you could use. Google One has something as well. Neither is a backup per se, but you can set it up that way.

  14. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Looking for recipes for fresh tasting vegetable side dishes that can be made with frozen or canned veg? I’d like to have some long shelf life things on hand for when we inevitably get COVID and can’t leave the house. It’s summer here and we eat a lot of salad, which I usually only buy fresh produce for on the day I need it. The options for delivery in our area aren’t great. My friend made a delicious salad for me recently using frozen peas, goats cheese and fresh herbs from her garden. Looking for ideas along those lines.

    1. river*

      — Bean salad with canned beans, vinegar and seasonings, chopped onion. It’s vinegary but tastes bright, and onions keep for a long time. I can’t give you a specific recipe but I’m sure there’s some online.
      — I make a pasta salad with frozen peas, fresh mint and parsley, salt and pepper and a dash of maple syrup and olive oil. Optional canned chickpeas or frozen edamame beans (not the ones in the pod).

      1. river*

        Also, coleslaw. A whole cabbage makes loads and cabbage keeps a surprisingly long time in the fridge. If you don’t eat dairy you can make dressing from cashew nuts. It’s pretty good. I don’t like coleslaw but my family loves it. Grated carrot in it too, if you want.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      I’d go with frozen over canned if going for fresh tasting. Generally I just roast them. Broccoli with a little garlic and some times some chili powder, green beans with garlic and cumin. You can also sauté them, or add to stir fries. Corn is great defrosted and added to salads – I get frozen grilled corn at Trader Joe’s that I like to add to pasta or salad, if you have something similar available.

    3. beach read*

      Add frozen peas to tortellini. You can do a chilled version (add some kind of salad dressing) or warm version (add alfredo sauce).

    4. LemonLyman*

      Agreed with the advice for a pasta and/or bean salad with frozen veggies. Also recommend juicing then freezing lemon or lime juice as little ice cubes. They defrost quickly and can be added to the pasta or bean salad for a little added zing and extra fresh flavor.

  15. Janet Pinkerton*

    Can we have a thread for practical/concrete advice for new parents?

    I’m specifically looking for advice like “here’s the family recipe for treating diaper rash, it’s dark magic and amazing” rather than “cherish every minute”. I love hearing people’s oddly specific advice.

    I’ll start. I am about one month away from being a parent for the first time and my advice is: think ahead and have your baby shower more than a month before your due date.

    1. Some Advice*

      Diaper rash: Oversteeped black tea (obviously not boiling hot). I’m not making this up: they used it in the hospital (we were there for two months). If professionals use it, you can too! If you’re going to use creams of any sort, dry the baby off (or let the baby air dry a bit) before you smear them on, otherwise the moisture gets trapped and it makes everything worse. If you have crazy diaper rash regularly, use soft fabric dipped in fresh water rather than the wipes. Although the wipes are mostly water, they have other stuff like preservatives on them which some baby skin reacts to.

      Other advice:
      -Your baby cannot fall off the floor. If you ever need to do something with both hands, the baby is far safer on the floor than on anything else. Don’t be afraid of the floor!
      -Toys are lovely, but babies are really easy to entertain with everyday objects. I think going forward, our new-parent present will be some stackable tupperware of various sizes. That and spatulas entertained my child far more than most of the baby toys. Way easier to clean, too.

      Opinions:
      -A fed baby is better than a hungry baby. There are SO MANY opinions about nursing, how everyone can do it, have you tried X, and people being butts if you can’t. Most people are lovely, but a few ruin the whole conversation. Take a deep breath and do what is right for you. Congrats if you try and it works! It did not for me and my baby is now three and happy without any of the negatives that people were sure he would have.

      Best mantra:
      It will be ok. You will be ok. The baby will be ok. If it is not ok, you will be in the hospital with doctors who know what they are doing.

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        I want to second this advice, particularly the advice about nursing. When our first was born, my wife tried to nurse her but after a month or so it just wasn’t working out for various reasons. After the initial worries and stress, we realized bottles were fine. When our second child was born, my wife tried to nurse her in the hospital but it wasn’t working, so she told the Nurse “get me a bottle” and we never looked back. Our third child, she didn’t even bother – just went straight to bottles. All are well adjusted adults now. If you are able to nurse, that’s great. If you are not able to (or just don’t want to), that’s fine, too. It will be ok.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Yes, formula fed here, and I am fine, fine, fine as a middle-aged adult. It was the best thing for my mom and for me since I don’t think my mom would have been psychologically or physically up to nursing me at the time. (It wasn’t the fashion then either.) This way, she and my dad could just relax and feed me.

          Also, my grandparents got my folks a baby nurse to be with me at night for the first six weeks. I think that started them off with plenty of sleep, and they turned into extremely chill parents because of not being all sleep-deprived and stressed.

          Whatever you decide to do or not do, don’t listen to people who try to guilt you about it.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Best baby and toddler toy is a set of plastic measuring spoons on a ring. I don’t know why they love it so, but both of mine did.

        1. Clisby*

          Those and measuring cups on a ring. Also wooden stirring spoons because they make a delightful racket when banged on pots and pans. When our daughter was about one, our kitchen included a microwave on one of those wooden stands that has a cabinet at the bottom. We put a couple of older pans, measuring spoons, measuring cups, wooden spoons, and stackable drinking cups in there – she found it endlessly entertaining.

          1. Jay*

            We had one low drawer full of dishtowels and potholders, and a low cabinet full of plastic containers. She could entertain herself for hours.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes, “fed is best” really is true! And if you choose to nurse and it works for you, you still don’t have to love it. It’s okay if nursing makes you feel like a bored cow instead of a nurturing goddess.

        Also, “fed is best” means you too! Don’t forget to make time for yourself to eat. The concrete part of this is to do a lot of meal prep now! Do freezer meals in small portions (ex: two square pans of pasta instead of one big rectangle) so you can get a little more variety as you thaw/heat things. Make stuff like muffins that you can snack on without utensils and a long bake time.

      4. PostalMixup*

        Another diaper rash remedy is a baking soda bath before bed! Just dump some baking soda in the tub, fill it up, let kiddo splash around, and the next day it’ll be SO much better.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          This is good for any sort of rash: diaper rash, heat rash, multiple mosquito bites, contact dermatitis.
          Speaking of that last, fabric softener is not a necessity of life. Dryer balls are cheaper in the long run, and far less irritating to sensitive baby skin.

          1. LemonLyman*

            I’ve started using vinegar as a fabric softener because I hate how those balls get caught up in my clothes and then the dog will chase after them.

            I use scraps of cotton fabric cut approx the same size as a store bought fabric softener sheet. Dip in distilled white vinegar and rung out enough that it’s still soaked but not dripping. Throw one in to drier with clothes. Clothes come out great! They aren’t staticky, don’t smell like vinegar (smell burns off), and I can easily reuse the cloth once I dip it in more vinegar. I pre make about 20 and store in a glass jar in my laundry area.

      5. Disco Janet*

        Adding onto the idea of using cloth wipes if your baby is prone to diaper rash – if you buy a wipe warmer, you can just put the cloths in there and pour some water on them. They’ll stay damp and at just the right temperature so you’re not running to the sink for warm water whenever it’s time for a diaper change.

      6. Very Social*

        On feeding, specifically: Exclusive breastfeeding is an option. Exclusive formula feeding is an option. But a combination of the two is also an option, and one that’s often overlooked.

    2. Cricket*

      1) When you’re stocking up for a new baby, don’t overlook Infant’s Tylenol, Mylicon gas drops and/or gripe water, and a good thermometer. These are things you don’t want to have to rush out in the middle of the night to buy the first time the baby is sick.
      2) If you’re preparing for a baby on a small budget, there are SO MANY THINGS the “baby industry” will try to sell you that you do not need. Keep it simple! You absolutely need a car seat, some kind of cloth or disposable diapers, some medical stuff like creams, and some clothes. You do NOT need every single baby container (bouncer, swing, floor mat, high chair, etc.) in existence. You also don’t need tiny baby shoes, tons of special blankets, or even half the outfits most people get. You can save so much money by waiting to see what you need and buying as you go.

      1. Clisby*

        Oh, yes. For example, I never had a changing table, even though parenting magazines will make it seem like that’s a necessity. I never had a baby bathtub – if you have a real bathtub, just fold up a couple of towels to make a thick layer, run enough water to barely cover it, and lay the baby down on that for the bath. Do NOT overbuy baby clothes. Thrift stores are your friend. Babies and toddlers outgrow clothes so fast they haven’t had a chance to outwear them (or in some cases, never had a chance to wear them at all), and they end up in thrift stores.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          My daughter was bathed in the kitchen sink. It was the right size, and I didn’t have to get down on the floor. Lots of sanitizing afterwards, of course ;.)

            1. allathian*

              Yes, the bathroom sink definitely worked for us. It also helps that bidet showers are standard here, and I loved ours postpartum.

    3. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Don’t talk ‘baby talk’ to your kid. Never did with our son, who could carry on a simple conversation at 2 years old.
      Also, read to them every night.

      1. TiredEmployee*

        What does “baby talk” mean in this context? I’ve heard the term used to describe speaking actual words in a swooping or sing-song tone, but also to describe nonsense “oobawoobadoo” type of “talk”, which strike me as very different things!

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, not sure about the nonsense words but I’ve read that the singsong tone and repetitive speech is actually good for language development!

          1. linguist ™*

            Soooo actually research suggests it doesn’t matter either way. There are cultures where parents “baby talk” to young kids and cultures where they don’t, and the kids turn out perfectly fine either way. What matters is that your kid is exposed to language via interaction with others (and barring an abusive situation, they will be), but whether or not you occasionally make baby noises at your kid will not stunt their development, promise.

            “Baby talk” from adults is usually just a slowed down version of the language they speak, anyway (“Hiiiiii babyyy!!! You wanna cookieeee??? A cookie???? <- all English).

            1. Imtheone*

              This! The “ no baby talk” advice doesn’t line up with research. They call it “Mom speak” in some research —but all adults may do it, older children too. It doesn’t delay speech.

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              This is exactly what I was taught in my brain development and language acquisition classes, and it’s what I teach in parenting workshops.

              The caveat I always add is that as your baby learns to speak, they will not pronounce all their words correctly because some phonemes are harder than others for babies and toddlers to say. But you, the adult, should try not to adopt their pronunciations. I know that can be hard because baby-isms for common words are frequently adorable and/or hilarious. But they won’t learn to pronounce it correctly if you don’t model that for them. Keep calling things by their actual names, pronounced correctly, so your baby/toddler can develop the vocabulary they need to interact with people outside of their family.

              1. Coenobita*

                But also don’t be afraid to keep a few baby-isms on purpose as family jokes/traditions. :)

                Signed, someone whose entire family still changes the TV channel with a “gamote gatrol” 30-some years after my brother learned the correct pronunciation

                1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  Oh yes! Remember the babyisms and have fun with them, but use the actual words when you’re talking directly to the kidlet. :)

                2. Windchime*

                  We still call fingers “heengies” in my family sometimes. The child who came up with that is 36 now.

              2. Dancing Otter*

                By the way – if your nephew can’t pronounce “TR”, you might not want to give him a truck for Christmas at Grandma’s. My SIL eventually forgave me for causing her toddler to run around shouting an inappropriate word at the top of his lungs. At least, I think she has.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Normal talk to adult: “Oh there’s Fred–he must be back from Walla Walla. We should say hi and ask him how his mom is doing, cause she had that thing.”
          Normal talk to small child: “Oh look. There’s Fred. We should go say hi.”
          Irritating talk to small child: “Oh wook! Wookie wook! It’s Freddy Weddy! HI FWEDDY!…”

          The second is a normal simplifying of speech, that uses small words and frames things simply. Don’t be surprised if the voice raises half an octave and tone is gentle, with no conscious thought of adopting those. The third is what people often think of as “baby talk” and it is wildly annoying to adults. But not what people mean when they recommend speaking to babies.

          Anecdote from a scientist studying this: She explained mom-speak to the big beefy construction worker dad as something they were studying. He told her gruffly that he just didn’t do stuff like that. Then he (unironically) turned to his infant daughter, raised his voice half an octave, and said “Daddy doesn’t do that, does he?” (shakes head) “No he doesn’t.”

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        On just talk to them:
        Scientists tried to teach something to small kids via just audio tape, video + audio, and in-person. They expected the latter two to work, because you could see a human. But only the last one, live interaction, actually registered to kids and they learned the skill.

      3. Ron McDon*

        I worked at a nursery many years ago, and there was a child (James) aged around 2.5 who had very indistinct speech and was very hard to understand.

        One day I happened to be in the cloakroom when his dad picked him up, and heard his dad saying ‘okay then Jamesy-Wamesy, shall we put on your hatty-watty and your coaty-woaty?’ There we’re a few more sentences after that, which followed a similar pattern, but I’ve since forgotten.

        The speech therapist confirmed that the most likely reason for James’ speech issues was the way his Dad was using nonsense words when he spoke to him.

        So yes, definitely don’t do *that sort* of baby talk!

      4. Observer*

        Don’t talk ‘baby talk’ to your kid. Never did with our son, who could carry on a simple conversation at 2 years old.

        That’s actually bad advice. How quickly a child picks up speech and language has absolutely no bearing on whether someone spoke baby talk to them.

        What’s important is that you TALK to the kid. Baby talk vs “adult speak” doesn’t matter, so do what works for you.

    4. Bookish Me*

      The best baby toy for those early months is a whisk. A baby hairbrush is a close second. Seriously, don’t buy toys for the early months the household items will be way more popular. A tummy time mat and baby safe mirrors are good though.

      Cloth nappies (or diapers) aren’t scary. We’ve saved so much money by buying shells used and using flats. I wish we had a dryer since I’m hang drying everything, but with a dryer the washing isn’t bad. It’s just two extra loads of laundry a week.

    5. Arya Parya*

      If you plan to breast feed, get some formula just in case. Sometimes it takes a little while for the milk production to get going and it’s good to have something to fall back on. A hungry baby in the middle of the night is no fun. Also using a bit of formula in the beginning doesn’t mean you can’t succesfully breast feed later.

      1. Stitch*

        +1. Some breastfeeding resources will act like if you give your kid any formula at all, breastfeeding won’t work.

        But I formula supplemented my son for the first week and then exclusively breastfed after that just fine. So my experience says that’s simply untrue.

        The lactation consultants at the hospital were terrible but the one I hired who came to me helped me formula supplement and was way, way better.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The best Dr’s advice I heard (for premature twins after a really tough pregnancy) was to nurse and pump as mom could, and supplement with formula so others could feed them, and not turn herself inside out trying to nurse and pump enough milk to the exclusion of other aspects of being a new parent.

          Lactation consultants vary–some can be great for suggesting small hand or elbow shifts that make a big difference. Others not so much–if someone isn’t helping, you can drop them and try your cousin’s advice instead.

      2. HannahS*

        YES! This didn’t even occur to me–I wanted to breastfeed and had no opposition to formula–and, uh, look, the baby was fine, but I was NOT. You do not want to be postpartum and crying while holding your baby, who is also crying, because you don’t have enough milk. It’s horrendous.

        (We all survived. Baby still gets a mix of milk and formula because my supply has a really long lag; every time her needs increase, it takes over a week for my supply to respond. We go back and forth between exclusively breastmilk and topping up with formula. She is fed, I am happy, the end.)

        1. allathian*

          My son weighed less than 3 kilos (6 lb 10 oz) at birth, and he wasn’t allowed to lose any weight, and most babies who are exclusively breastfed lose a bit until the nursing parent’s supply catches up with demand. That meant supplementing with donated breast milk at the hospital (thanks to all donor moms, you’re fabulous!) and formula once we got home.

          My son also started sleeping through the night once we introduced him to solid food at 5 months. I’m a morning person, so 5 am didn’t count as a night feed, even if I went to sleep again afterwards.

      3. First of 5*

        You can also mix bottle and breastfeeding. My daughter didn’t mind switching and we had a rough schedule. Mornings, evenings and nights for breastfeeding and during the day she got bottles.

        I was told that she wouldn’t want me to bottle feed her because she would prefer breastfeeding, but it wasn’t a problem at all. She did prefer me to do all of her feeding so I just left the room when someone else gave her a bottle.

        I got my (only breastfeeding) nephew to accept a bottle by holding him in the same position as when he was breastfed.

    6. LCS*

      Buy multiple crib sheets and pads, layer them like lasagna all on the bed at the same time. That way when there is a midnight catastrophe, you pull off the top set and the bed is still made and ready for use vs. having to scramble to remake the bed in the middle of the night.

      The biggest benefits of baby enrichment activities aren’t for the kids. As long as you are interacting with your child, a trip to the grocery store or bath time can be as valuable as a structured “parent and tot” type activity. So if you’re going to bother with the time and cost to participate in these groups, prioritize activities where you can find a couple of awesome other parents. When the kid is less than a year old it’s more important for you to have strong social connections than for your child to build them with strangers.

      All formula meets the same nutritional standards, which are the highest of virtually any food. If you are using formula, buy the cheap stuff. Don’t get your kid used to the expensive sample brand and then feel stuck with it.

      1. Michaela*

        When I was buying washable puppy pads online – there were quite a few reviews on how it was great for their kid wetting the bed. They’re also absorbent and more comfortable than plasticky wraps around things like mattresses.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      Skip the wipe warmer. It only dries them out. The wipes don’t really get cold at normal room temperature. If they feel too cool to you, just hold one or two in your hand for about 10 seconds.

      1. It's Growing!*

        Unless you have a winter baby. Winter babies really appreciate not getting wiped with an ice cube at 2 am when their little tush is already cold from that warm, wet diaper being removed.

      2. Disco Janet*

        One of kids loved the wipes from the warmer and it never dried them out, so I would say mileage varies on this.

    8. J.B.*

      Do whatever it takes to get 5 unbroken hours of sleep. If formula feeding, switch off nights. If breast feeding have dad give one bottle a night once the baby is a couple of weeks old. Bordeaux’s bu++ balm is amazing for diaper rash.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think it’s Boudreaux Butt Balm. And yes, it’s awesome.

        Lanolin nipple cream and Aquaphor are also good for all kinds of skin irritation for grownups, so stock up. You’ll use it.

    9. Shiara*

      Ask the hospital for extra mesh underwear and extra witch hazel tucks.

      Go to the library and find out their children’s programs and new parent resources.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Mine had padsicles! Maternity pads cut in half and sprinkled with water, then frozen. Oh, they were heaven.

        On that note: get cheap maternity pads. They’re thicker and have a flat surface – the expensive ones I got were thin and had a quilted patterned surface, which pulled at my stitches.

        And if you have a vaginal delivery, for the first couple of days, pee in the shower. You can also squirt water on it but the shower is easier. They also gave me Ural sachets to take the sting away.

        1. allathian*

          I’m so grateful for the bidet shower attachments that are standard bathroom equipment here. No sitz baths needed, and I didn’t have to pee in the shower.

      2. Aealias*

        The mesh underwear is amazing! Look, a good pad is a blessing, but after several days of continuous use, being able to swap out for a cloth diaper held in place by mesh undies can be a godsend.

        Also seconding maternity pads, my stitches appreciated the softer padding despite the bulk.

        Don’t take the baby into the bathroom, no matter how desperately they’re nursing. You do NOT have a enough hands.

    10. Stitch*

      Diaper rash: Weleda diaper rash cream was by far the best for my kid. I also will put a little jock itch cream when you get the red bumpy rash (usually means fungal, jock itch cream is antifungal).

      I never mastered the swaddle despite trying many times. Try a velcro one. When transitioning out, my kid well in the zipadee zip. He was in once for over a year.

      If you nurse and start getting mastitis, just go to the doctor immediately. Antibiotics make you feel better almost immediately.you

      Baby led weaning is billed as this panacea but my kid gagged in everything more sold than a puree until he was about 9 months old, and that’s apparently not abnormal.

      This one is controversial, but, sleep training made everyone in the house cry less. I traded my kid crying for 20ish minutes a couple nights for a kid who wasn’t waking every 2 hours.

      1. Observer*

        Baby led weaning is billed as this panacea but my kid gagged in everything more sold than a puree until he was about 9 months old, and that’s apparently not abnormal.

        Not sure what you’re getting at here – baby led weaning generally happens after the baby is eating solids. The idea is that you keep nursing the kid till they indicate that they’re good moving on.

        1. Shiara*

          Weaning can refer to either starting solids or stopping breastfeeding.

          “Baby led weaning” started in the UK and refers to introducing solids via soft finger foods rather than purees. In the US it can also be called “baby led feeding” to avoid the confusion due to the difference in meaning across the pond.

          Both my kids did pretty well with it, which was a relief to me because I was dreading spoon-feeding after what I recall from my siblings’ babyhoods. There are definitely some over enthusiastic evangelists of it though.

          1. Stitch*

            This. “Baby led weaning” is really hot in mom groups right now and basically refers to never giving your kid purees or spoon feeding. I’m sure it works great for some kids but my kid literally threw up every time I tried it. For some kids their gag reflex doesn’t move backwards in their mouths until later. My kid was eating little bits of food by 10 months but not too much before that.

            “Weaning” as in stopping nursing should be whenever mom is done. Now of you’re using bottles you should try to stop using them shortly after a year because extended bottle use leads to cavities.

            1. allathian*

              My son weaned himself at about 4 months. I’d been nursing him for about 45 minutes, and he was still hungry, so I gave him a 120 ml/4 fl. oz bottle of formula, and he drank it all. I decided then and there that it wasn’t worth it for us to continue, and he didn’t seem to miss it.

    11. Ranon*

      If one of the parents is giving birth (and particularly if they are also breastfeeding): you’re going to be damp. Like, constantly. Postpartum is just really, really damp. Between hormone sweats and hot sweaty babies and spit up and breast milk leaking and etc, you’re just going to be damp. Stock up on towels and spare sheets if laundry isn’t easily doable.

      Related, dish towels make great burp rags. And you can just use them as dish towels when they outgrow the burp cloth phase.

      1. Swisa*

        Yep. And if you’re breastfeeding, some kind of good robe situation can be helpful.

        That, and spare covers if you have a breastfeeding pillow. We had a spare, and there were still times that they were both in the wash!

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      Broad: Humanity is here because most kids thrive under average parenting.

      Narrow: Desitin is really good for diaper rash.

      My own small irk: Pay attention to the quality of the baby books you’re reading to Peanut. Good ones are poetry–I can launch into “Owl Babies” and my youngest is in college. Ezra Jack Keats’ A Snowy Day is a classic for a reason. Some classics were simplified for the board book and the poetry flattened out (Dr Suess’s ABC–get the long version.) Some books feel like they were put together by a committee who had a list of things children like, and are godawful.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        People will inevitably give you the crappy ones, and those will be the ones your kid loves lol

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Your local children’s librarian is happy to help you find the good ones!

        Semi-related: Don’t feel like you’re stuck listening to baby music just because you have a baby. Music is really good for brain development and it doesn’t just have to be Mozart or Raffi. Every couple of months I put out a list of songs we’ve used in storytime and it runs the gamut from Skinnamarink to Harry Belafonte to The Beatles to One Direction. Make music a fun experience for grownups and babies alike!

        1. It's Growing!*

          When Grandson was about 3 he called out from the backseat of the car, “Grandma, play Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. It took a few tries to figure out what his request was as it was unexpected and a mouthful for a toddler. Whatever you enjoy with your child, they will enjoy with you.

        2. Observer*

          Don’t feel like you’re stuck listening to baby music just because you have a baby

          I’d go further. Mostly, don’t bother with baby music. If there is good music that has words that will teach the kid something, that’s actually useful. Otherwise, baby music generally doesn’t provide any real benefits. Play what you like, and what your kid likes.

        3. Stitch*

          Raffi and Laurie Berker are less annoying that a lot of kids music. I do quite like Raffi’s Take a Breath song.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Party specific advice: Do not have balloons at a party that has infants. The balloons will pop, and every time the infant will alert you to the clear danger of sabretooths sneaking up on the tribe.

    14. Swisa*

      Stock up on (or make) food that can be eaten with one hand.

      Protein granola bars, runzas, Jamaican beef patties from Costco are all great.

      Boudreax’s butt paste (in the red container) has, when I looked at it, the highest percentage of zinc oxide. They sell it in tubs.

      Good luck!

    15. HannahS*

      If you feel intensely sad every time you nurse for a brief period of time, but otherwise your mood is fine, you might have a dysphoric milk ejection reflex rather than post-partum depression or the baby blues. We were not taught about this in medical school, nor were my friends who are finishing family medicine residencies. Nor did it come up with any lactation consultants. Having now experienced it (it sucks! but it got better–though not perfect–with time), I’m pretty mad that I didn’t know about it. The current theory is that has something to do with the reciprocal relationship between prolactin (the hormone involved in nursing and the letdown reflex) and dopamine; when the baby latches you get a transient spike in prolactin, which (they think) causes a corresponding transient plummet in dopamine. I felt despairing and would sob for about 30 seconds, and then it would stop and I was fine but very puzzled.

      1. cuppa tea and a biccie*

        I’m sorry you went through that, but your phrasing on this: “I felt despairing and would sob for about 30 seconds, and then it would stop and I was fine but very puzzled.” is a thing of beauty.

      2. Kate*

        YES!! Omg I have never heard anyone else talk about this other than some random corner of the internet.

        It was actually what made me stop breastfeeding at the 1 month mark (well, that a low supply anyways) — I couldn’t take the desperate feeling that I wanted to drive my car into a lamppost every three hours (even if it was only for a minute each time).

    16. M*

      Our twins were born in the beginning of January so didn’t go out all that much in the first few months. So, we almost never got them dressed. And we did not use onesies except on rare occasions. (Yes, everyone thinks we were crazy- apparently the lack of a onesie is VERY taboo). Instead, we had a SLEW of zip-up pajamas and when someone spit up or had a diaper blow-out, the switch from one set of jammies to the next was quick and easy. We also kept a changing pad, a lot of pre-folded diapers, and a basket of clean said pajamas in the living room. We did daytime changes – both diapers and clothes there. No need to run up and down the stairs to their bedroom 100 times/day. They are now 9 years old and happy and healthy so the lack of onesies didn’t harm them but definitely saved my sanity.

      1. Washi*

        What is even the difference between jammies and clothes for a baby? Pattern? Fabric? Especially when they are tiny and literally sleep and wake around the clock, I’ve never understood why they need separate daywear and nightwear, other than appropriate layers to go outside.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          When my oldest was small there was a rule that all infant sleepwear had to be made of godawful plastic material that didn’t burn well, and so we ignored all the “pajamas” and put her to bed in whatever outfit she was wearing. With the various fluids involved, it’s not like staying in one outfit for 24 hours is really an issue.

          1. Observer*

            Yes. They finally changed that rule.

            At this point, I’m a big proponent of just getting whatever and putting the kid in it – it doesn’t matter if it’s “officially” a pajama or not.

      2. Cricket*

        An offshoot of what you just said—set up a station where you’re *actually* going to spend your time. It’s nice to have a beautiful picture-perfect nursery with a fully stocked changing table and adorned crib, but if you spend your days going from the living room couch, to the kitchen, to the bathroom, make sure you have what you need close at hand. In the early days, I often changed my son’s clothes and diapers on a loose changing pad on the living room floor. Definitely no need to walk him all the way into his nursery just to get use out of his “real” changing station!

      3. Lady Danbury*

        My nephews are 3 and 5 and still spend a significant amount of time in pajamas if they’re not leaving the house (and sometimes if they are leaving the house, lol). There have been days where they go to the park in pj’s or change from dirty pj’s to clean pj’s at bedtime. Especially over the past 2 years with lockdowns, remote schooling, etc. Nothing makes onesies/sweatsuits inherently better than pj’s.

        1. Windchime*

          I used these almost exclusively when my babies were brand new. Trying to cram little curled up baby legs into clothing legs was annoying. We all did much better with the little gowns. (Back in the day, they had a drawstring at the bottom which would be frowned upon now, but it seemed to work OK then).

      4. Swisa*

        Omg, I forgot about the zip sleepers! My daughter is 3, and she lived in zip jammies for her first few months of life. So much easier than a onesie + pants or something.

        1. Swisa*

          And seconding the advice about a changing station. We did this too! We actually did the majority of diaper changes on our kitchen island for the first couple of months. Good height. We got a wipeable changing station from skip hop, and kept a bunch of supplies on the counter.

          When you’re doing like 12 diaper changes a day, it helps to make it convenient.

      5. OtterB*

        Seconding “set up a simple changing station downstairs.” We put a changing pad, or sometimes just a folded towel, on the piano bench.

    17. Cooke*

      Baby Gap triple roll socks are extremelly hard for them to pull off and lose. I always give these as shower gifts.

      You can never have too many washcloths. Buy cheap ones you can bleach.

      Our kid had terrible infant acne. A tip from a friend: wash with unscented glycerin soap. This worked amazingly well.

      Some babies hate strollers, front packs, backpacks, specific backpacks…try to borrow new pieces from friends before you invest. For us, as soon as my baby’s neck was strong, the Kelty backpack was our go-to, but YMMV.

      If your baby is extremely clever (post 6-9 months of age) buy an extra chest clip for the car seat, so they can’t undo the straps…mine couldn’t defeat that thing but could easily wiggle out of the regular clips.

      Do not allow a standing/walking baby to stand in the bathtub. You will be at the ER an hour later getting stitches in the baby’s chin. Also, don’t feel bad if your kid someday needs stitches in their chin…my ex-h had them (from jumping off a chair, age 4), and our kid’s ER doctor told us something like 75% of adults have a chin-stitching incident in their own past. Kids!

      When the child is old enough to sit up and turn pages, record yourself reading favorite books/stories. My mom did this and I still have fond memories of her “reading” to us when she was actually busy in the kitchen.

      Feed your child a variety including food you don’t like, and never let on you don’t like it. Let them learn and decide what works for them. Don’t force them, but offer a huge variety. My kid loved things I never liked, such as pork chops, squid, etc.

      Don’t sacrifice everything that makes you happy just to give your kid a “good” life. Give them a good enough life.

    18. RagingADHD*

      Baby sign language is amazing, and easy to learn because you are adding words at the same rate your child is. When they start waving “bye bye” around 6-8 months they are assigning meaning to gesture, so that’s the time to start. You will be amazed to discover what your child is thinking or wondering about, and the child will be much less frustrated by being able to express themselves: more, book, music, food, drink, noise.

      Our firstborn always wanted us to identify sounds in the environment, coming from things she couldn’t see. We probably never would have figured out what she was asking until she was verbal.

      I also highly recommend the books Wonder Weeks, The Baby Whisperer, and The Happiest Baby on the block. The early years can be tough, and sometimes boring. It’s so helpful when you understand the tremendous amount of invisible work the baby is doing to master their body and environment.

      Also recommend baby-led weaning when they’re ready for solids. This is when you hand them large, graspable chunks of safe foods to gum on instead of spoon-feeding purees or cereal. We did a mixture of both for our first, and pretty much all BLW for our second.

      I don’t know that it’s “better” in any significant way, but it’s a heckuva lot cheaper, less hassle, and vastly more entertaining. Hand a 6 month old baby a hunk of avocado, and you have 20 minutes of wholesome entertainment right there.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, also since there is not really a One True Way of doing things, try stuff and get inspiration. For example, I found a lot of good ideas from Montessori books, but we didn’t terraform the house and go full on for the “method.” There are good ideas everywhere.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Seconding “There are good ideas everywhere.”

          At an elementary school meeting about the latest new math curriculum, an experienced mom contrasted having an experienced teacher who knew that the last set had some good features she should keep, and the new set also had some good features. While someone less experienced expected the new program to Do It All.

      2. linguist ™*

        I struggled over whether to say anything here, because I am absolutely NOT criticizing parents who use “baby sign” with their kids (if it helps you better communicate with your infant, great!), but rather the industry that’s developed around Baby Sign and the way it’s framed to the public as a thing to do for hearing babies while, in the meantime, there’s a long history of oralism (focusing on speech and depriving Deaf children of exposure to ASL) targeted at hearing parents of Deaf children.

        This OpEd lays out some of the issues better than I can here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/23/opinion/sign-language-isnt-just-for-babies.html

        The quote that sticks with me: “Finally, there is one more reason I feel ambivalent when my hearing acquaintances tell me they are using baby signs with their children. Often, I notice that these acquaintances are people who have never attempted to use any sign language with me — even though I am deaf, even though I am the one person they know who could most benefit from visual communication. This omission strikes me as a huge loss, even a huge injustice.”

        1. RagingADHD*

          I have also studied ASL, and baby sign is so oversimplified that it bears very little resemblance. I’m sorry you feel that your acquaintances are slighting you, but there’s a huge difference between picking up 5-10 signed equivalents to English words, vs undertaking to learn an entire other language with its own grammar and syntax.

          It’s not as if two adults could get very far in real communication if one of them can only say more, all done, snack, and hat.

          I wish more people learned ASL and that it was offered in schools as an elective language like Spanish or French. There just aren’t that many adults with the time, energy, or willingness to learn a new language that they don’t use for work or their own family.

      3. OtterB*

        Re baby sign: Being able to distinguish “more” from “all done” when they are fussing in the high chair is gold.

    19. Melon*

      Google the onesie diaper changing hack. It’s life changing.

      Onesies are made so they can be removed over the shoulders and down. Avoid poop in the kid’s hair!

      Baby acne is weird but normal. Cradle crap is weird but normal. Baby down is weird but normal. My kid looked like an alien that first month.

    20. Not A Manager*

      If someone offers to stay with you to help with the baby for a few weeks, see if you can get them to do night duty. (I did for my grandkids and I loved it. I hired someone to do it for me with my kids, and I also loved it.) The helpful person naps near the baby at night, cares for it when it wakes, brings it to the nursing parent just for nursing (if applicable), and then whisks it away.

      If you can’t get someone to do this for love, if you have any extra money then pay someone to do it for money. You getting something near enough sleep will make all other aspects of parenting and cohabiting much easier.

      Whatever you put on the baby for diaper rash, be sure to wash it off with mild soap and let the baby air out as much as possible. Before the baby is mobile you can just give it naked tummy time on a soft pad. Once the baby is mobile, treat it like a puppy and put it someplace tinkle-proof for playtime. Fresh air is the best thing for diaper rash.

      No one is more of an expert in your baby than you are. If you’ve given the “expert” advice a good try and it’s not working, find better advice that makes sense to you. This doesn’t mean shopping around for whackadoodle theories, but if you’re not whackadoodle you’re not going to do that. My pediatrician had very rigid advice about nursing, for example. I gave it a good try, it didn’t work, and then a lactation consultant told me that in other cultures women did exactly what was working for me, and it was fine.

      Speaking of nursing, I’m sure you know this, but nursing is a closed supply-and-demand system. Don’t let people tell you that just because your baby seems frantic for the breast, that means you aren’t producing enough milk. On the contrary, your baby is frantic for the breast because your baby is signaling to your body how much milk it’s going to need. Be patient, let your baby suck, and give your body a few days to catch up with the new demand. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but in my experience, a healthy baby isn’t going to become unhealthy because it seems to be hungry for a day or two.

      I agree with others that supplementing with formula can be very helpful at times, but if you’re committed to continuing to nurse your baby (which you might not be, and that’s fine), these growth spurt moments are the wrong time to supplement. The more you supplement, the longer it will take for your body to catch up, and the more worried you will be that you’re underproducing.

      When you decide to move to solid food, it’s very easy to make baby food from the food you make for yourself. You don’t have to buy specialized stuff in pouches unless you want to. Anything that you puree or mash up can be frozen in small quantities and thawed in time for the baby’s meal.

      I endorse everyone else’s comments that for infants and babies, you really don’t need a lot of equipment and specialized clothing. Get what’s needed for safety, and then wait and see what the needs are of your own household.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, nursing supply is based on demand (and good latch). A baby demanding more needs more frequent sessions and demand will quickly adjust.

        In the early days, it’s important to hear the baby swallow. Latch problems aren’t always immediately obvious or painful, so if baby isn’t getting good swallows and is constantly hungry, get your latch checked by a proper lactation consultant. We had some scary days early on followed by a slog to re-establish supply, because of a hidden latch problem.

    21. Hey it’s Teatime*

      – Period panties (eg Dear Kates) are great for postpartum, combined with extra long maxi pads (I like the L. brand at Target)

      – A pack of disposable bed pads is very handy – leaky breasts at night; baby’s naked butt time; backseat diaper changes…

      – One reason a new baby puts strain on your relationship with your partner is because it puts you in a position of directly competing interests: if I get a break, it’s because you don’t. So if you’re able to get any kind of third party assistance, prioritize organizing that from early on

      – Bathing the baby can be tricky. It helps to have 2 people, one to hold and one to wash. When alone I would lay out a stack of towels and a basin of water and first do all the cleaning on the floor, then transfer to the tub for rinsing and splashing. Now that she can sit by herself, it’s easier to wash in the tub. Also doing it right after I shower means the bathroom is warmed up.

      – Your baby might not like some stuff one is led to believe ALL babies want, and that’s just their personality, although at the beginning it can be stressful if you’re trying to do all the “right” things: for example mine hated skin-to-skin contact or being in a sling (loved to be carried in my aching arms though haha)

      – There’s a height adjustable rocker from Beaba that was the best baby seat for the first 6 months – it was nice to bring her up to a higher level

    22. Fellow Traveller*

      You only ever have to do up two of the three snaps on a onesie. And honestly one snap is fine most of the time.
      If you are planning on pumping, look up the “nursing bra to pumping bra” hack. I have three kids and this is the only thing I would say I found truly magical.

    23. Bruises*

      For bruises: plain unsalted butter works magic, put immediately on the bruise in thin layer few times a day! Milk protein helps bruise heal fast.

    24. the cat's ass*

      nap when your baby naps.
      bottle fed is fine
      always have more diapers than you think you’ll need
      Boudroux’s butt cream is the BEST, and so is just letting your kid go commando for short periods for diaper rash.
      Congratulations!

    25. Dark Macadamia*

      Stock up on a good stain remover – someone gifted me a couple OxiClean Max Force sticks when I had my first baby and I still buy them 6 years later. They’ve saved soooo many clothes.

      I was skeptical about the Boppy nursing pillow but it was really helpful. Not just for feedings, but I had a C-section and needed to sleep slightly tilted like in a hospital bed, so I slept with the Boppy on top of my regular pillow (which also kept it handy for night feedings). You can use it as a headrest to keep the baby close while folding laundry, etc too.

      Experiment with your diaper bag setup. The first couple weeks I used a gigantic one with extra clothes for the baby AND me, diapers, wipes, bottles, toys, everything even if I was just running to the store. Once I calmed down I switched to a smaller bag and was more strategic about what was actually useful for each outing. Now the big one is a beach/day trip bag, and I don’t think I EVER used it as a diaper bag with my second baby.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Oh, and footie pajamas with snaps are the worst. I quickly learned to check if there was a zipper before I bought stuff because I hated the ones with snaps so much lol

          1. fhqwhgads*

            YES. I cannot emphasize enough how important this answer is.2-way zipper sleepers are an absolute necessity. Do not bother with stuff that snaps.

      2. Aealias*

        For stains, I swear by Grandma’s Secret stain remover, which you can get at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and maybe at your local fabric store. It got out ALL the horrible stains, (puke, poop, blood, auntie’s splashed wine – the works) and saved many a gift outfit that got hideously messed on first wearing.
        Also, when you get around to leaving the kid at daycare, if you can provide a breathable bag for sending messed things home, it will save you moody outfits – it’s amazing how the five hour wait to go home can destroy an otherwise salvageable garment.

    26. Double A*

      In the newborn phase, watch as much TV as you want. They really cant notice it and it’s about all you can handle in terms of mental stimulation. Screen time is not a thing you have to worry about with newborns (and I’m frankly skeptical about the whole issue period but that’s another topic).

      Don’t immediately touch/pick up baby with every little grunt and cry when they’re sleeping. Sometimes they’re just adjusting, and you’re actually waking them up. Give them a minute to see if they resettle.

      I actually managed to get a lot of reading done at night postpartum with my second with my Kindle because it has a backlight. I’d get in bed when he went to bed at like 7 and just read for awhile. Now do I remember those books? Only sort of.

    27. TechGirlSupervisor*

      Baby sleeping bags. For the life of me I can’t remember what the brand name is but they were essentially small sleeping bags with armholes and a zipper/buttons up the middle of the front. The straps go over the shoulders. Baby can’t pull them over their face and they can’t wiggle out of them. I had 5-6 of them in various sizes (doesn’t matter if they are too long), in various styles, thin cotton for the summer months, thicker microfleece for the winter and some in-between ones for the spring/fall. When they started rolling over at night, the bag goes with them. Just gave me so much peace of mind to know that they couldn’t lose their blanket and that they wouldn’t get it over their face.

    28. Purple cat*

      With my first i fought way to hard to get him napping in his crib. He was a terrible sleeper (didn’t sleep through night until 13 months). I wish I had given in to just laying on the couch with him much earlier than I did.

    29. Sparkly Librarian*

      Zippers, not snaps. There are sleepers with two-way zippers so you can undo the legs for a diaper change, and that is the only kind I want for baby #2.

      If you’re feeding with formula, it’s not necessary to use warm water to make bottles. You can make a day’s worth ahead of time and keep in a row of bottles or a pitcher in the fridge, or keep dry formula, pre-measured, with the bottles and mix each feed with room-temp water. (Some babies will protest, so do what works. But if they aren’t used to a warm bottle they may never notice.) We used ready-to-feed nursette bottles for the first week or two until we knew what we were doing. They’re more expensive than powder formula, but quicker. They don’t need to be warmed either.

      If you are not immediately bonded to your tiny scrap of a human, don’t feel guilty or wrong. It will come. Keep doing the caretaking work, and accept help so you can care for yourself as well. Babies learn to trust. So will you. Bonding is a process.

      1. Arya Parya*

        We had pre measured formula in a special container that held 6 portions. We also kept water in the right temperature in a thermos. That way we could make a bottle real quick.

    30. Falling Diphthong*

      Two laundry specific ones:
      • I found the cloth nursing pads way more comfortable than the disposable ones. Bought a large pack and just tossed them in the baby laundry.
      • Firstborn needed the baby laundry detergent–we even washed all our grown-up shirts in it, because otherwise she would get a rash where her cheek rested against the shirt. Secondborn never had an issue with detergent.

    31. Jay*

      Haven’t read all the answers so forgive me if this is repetitive.

      The baby will teach you how to be her parent. Pay attention to her, notice what “works” and do it again. Our kid needed a stable sleep schedule – she slept well but only if we put her to bed at the right time. If we waited too long, it was Not Good. This meant we had very limited flexibility in the evenings; we walked out of various social functions more than once to get her to bed on time. Not all kids are like this, but ours was, and if we’d tried to do it differently because other people could do it differently, it would not have gone well.

      This is even harder during the pandemic than it was before, but get out of the house. If it’s cold, bundle yourself and the baby up and go for a walk – even if it’s only ten minutes and you spend a half-hour getting ready, it’s worth it. Mine was born in January and I spent hours walking in the mall just to be out of the house and around people a little bit.

      Frozen bagels are the bomb for teethers.

      Your needs count, too. It’s OK to walk away from a crying baby and catch your breath. No baby ever died from crying. I needed to do this more when she was a toddler and I called it “putting Mommy in time out.”

      Speaking of which, we used to put toys in time-out when she got rammy. “Seems like the red ball is causing a problem. We’ll put the red ball in time out for a while.” Then the red ball would disappear from sight. She’d scream for a minute, calm down, and move on to something else.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “It’s OK to walk away from a crying baby and catch your breath.”

        If you feel you’re losing your cool, just put your baby down in their bassinett/crib/pack n play until you can trust yourself again. No guilt.

    32. Sunshine*

      Our Ped recommendation was calmoseptine for diaper rash.
      Also hospitals use these little disposable cloths for wipes. With warm water. In the beginning it was always better at preventing diaper rash than even the most gentle packaged wipes.
      There is a book/website called baby bargains (updated annually) that reviews baby stuff and has a good list of how to determine needs so you dont buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need
      Infant Tylenol and children’s Tylenol are the same except infant Tylenol comes in smaller volume and is more expensive.
      If you breast feed, make the hospital bring you their breast pump while you are there. It helps to get your milk going. And you can feed the pumped colostrum to the baby. It made all the difference in getting our big baby enough food so he’d sleep. But the hospital didn’t offer it to us until we were at wits end. If we’d gone through that at home the first couple weeks would have been awful.
      If you feel overwhelmed noise cancelling headphones help.
      Music always helps. Whatever you are doing. Soothing music. Clean up music. I love Elizabeth Mitchell.

    33. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Bananas stain. Don’t feed mashed banana without old sacrificial clothes (for both of you) and a large bib.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Also, you don’t have to fold their clothes. Just chuck ‘em into the drawers. It seems silly, but I folded them for months (tiny vests, onesies, even little hats) until I read a throwaway comment on a forum and it was like a revelation.

          1. allathian*

            Hard agree! My nice clothes hang in the closet and don’t need folding, my less nice ones (which I wore pretty exclusively on maternity leave) were jumbled in the dresser, and still are. So were my son’s…

    34. I heart Paul Buchman*

      Cool chamomile tea and a clean wash cloth for nappy changes (brew in a container with a lid and just dunk the clean cloth once and you can use all day).
      Breast pump equipment can be kept in the fridge in an air tight container and washed once a day target than after every use.
      A folded hand towel on the base of the sink makes a good bath.
      Secondhand baby clothes often have milk stains after storage. Wash and leave in the sun and they will be back to normal after a day.
      Make tea in a thermos and pack a lunch when baby has first nap of the day. Might be your best chance! Any time they sleep is a good time to make dinner. Hot food makes us all feel better.
      One fussy period a day and one fussy period a week is to be expected and planned for. Have what you need to cope on hand because it will be needed.
      I learnt heavily on la leche league YMMV.
      If you don’t know the songs or the stories don’t worry, few do. Watch a couple of episodes of Play School on YouTube and you’ll be right.
      If you don’t have time to fill in the baby book stick things on post it notes inside the book. You can do it when you retire and have plenty of time. You won’t remember this information even though it feels like you will.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Also, great for adults! Who knew all of those sock-matching problems in math class were based on people’s real-life experiences?

    35. Imprudence*

      Make up the cot/bed with two layers beneath: mattress/ waterproof sheet/ fabric sheet/water proof sheet/fabric sheet. Then when the bay leaks — at either end — in the middle of the night, you just have to take the top layer away and you still have a useable cot/bed.

    36. sara*

      Sleep when baby sleeps is fine advice, I guess, but also like just have some you-time if that’s what you need. Take a shower, play video games, tidy the house, read a book, etc etc. Don’t let your mother-in-law guilt you into feeling like the only thing you’re allowed to do when baby naps is sleep…

    37. fhqwhgads*

      I think everyone knows to expect not a lot of sleep with a newborn, but what I didn’t understand before is this isn’t just because babies wake up a lot in the middle of the night. You have to wake them up to eat every 2 hours for a while, and if your kid is like my kid, she won’t wanna. For the first two weeks do not expect to ever sleep for more than one hour at a time. Literally. If you get to sleep 2 consecutive hours, that’s a lot. I was not prepared for that. I knew newborns sleep like 18 hours a day so I figured I’d get some sleep in there somewhere but the tiny chunks of sleep the baby has on and off all day is nowhere near restful for an adult.

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, they tell you a baby will sleep 18-20 hours a day, which likely is true, but they don’t tell you that baby will wake up every hour-and-a-half to cry for 10 minutes.

      2. Observer*

        You have to wake them up to eat every 2 hours for a while, and if your kid is like my kid, she won’t wanna

        No, you don’t. At least not with most healthy babies. (Yes, there are exceptions, but it’s waaaay not the norm.) It’s bad advice, because as you say, if you’re nursing that means you also don’t sleep – and the can interfere with milk production.

        Many infants will eat every two hours, of course, and in that case you feed them. But if your kid has one (or even two )4-6 hour stretches? As long as they are doing ok otherwise, don’t wake them up.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It’s literally what the pediatrician told us to do until she got back to her birth weight. Only after that was she allowed to go 4-6 hours without eating. How long it takes a kid to do that varies. We got this from multiple nurses and pediatricians at the hospital as well as her own doctor after going home. In 2021.
          It’s not bad advice or as out of the norm as you’re implying. But this is part of my point: before she was born, sure, the lack of sleep thing came up a lot but not in specifics. I felt like it had been underplayed by basically everyone I knew. Afterward, while experiencing it and mentioning what the pediatricians had said, basically everyone was all “yeah that’s totally normal”.
          So, I guess my advice to the OP is: be prepared for the sleep deprivation for the first couple weeks to be worse than you expect. If it’s not, that’s great. But the lesson I learned is that the experience I described is apparently not rare.

          1. allathian*

            Yup. My son was also born underweight, and his birth weight wasn’t allowed to go down. This just meant supplementing with formula, and my husband, who’s a much better sleeper than I am (and moreover falls asleep pretty much without fail in 5 minutes after his head hits the pillow), did some of the night feeds, or brought our son to me for nursing. That said, we never had to wake him up on purpose, he woke up on his own when he was hungry.

            1. Observer*

              Well, that’s why I said “most healthy babies”. Underweight is one of those exceptions. And, as you noted, you didn’t need to wake him – he woke himself.

          2. Observer*

            It’s literally what the pediatrician told us to do until she got back to her birth weight

            That doesn’t make it good advice. Most pediatricians are TERRIBLE with the nursing advice. I think that doctors trained in the last 10 years are more likely to provide advice that actually makes sense. But things I’ve been told / heard that are just not backed by any sound science would fill multiple volumes. I’m talking current stuff, too. I’ve found hospital staff by and large are the worst. Although some hospitals are absolutely better than others.

            By the way, what your hospital told you is absolutely NOT universal practice.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              OK, fine. But I didn’t say it was “universal”. I said it because I thought the OP might find it useful because I was caught of guard by this and IF the same thing happens to them, now they maybe won’t be thrown in the same way.
              Either way, I think they should listen to their pediatrician over strangers like either of us on the internet. Even if you think pediatricians don’t know what they’re talking about with regard to feeding vis a vis weight gain.

        2. Clisby*

          At least, don’t expect to have to wake infants up every 2 hours. I guess there could be infants like that, but not mine. Neither of mine slept well at all during the day, so nobody had to wake them up for feeding. On the glorious occasion that they actually slept 3-4 hours at night, I wasn’t about to wake them up.

    38. Sunshine*

      Let people do a meal train for the first couple weeks. And by let them, make sure it happens. Have the signs up ready by the baby shower. My husband and I literally cried because we were so grateful for that first meal.
      But do not entertain. Make it very clear in the sign up that people drop food and go.
      Ask someone who loves you to pick up a sandwich platter to have when you get home. At the hospital they always had a night sandwich. It’s so nice to have something ready to eat.
      If you breastfeed (even if you don’t) when you settle in with the baby. 1 go to the bathroom. 2 get your food and drink. 3 anything else you might need 4 anything baby might need.

      Disconnect the doorbell

      Keep a change of clothes for everyone in your vehicle. They will poop/vomit on you in public at some point.

    39. Aealias*

      When baby gets a bit older… taste the baby food. Some of the stuff they try to pass off on our children is fit only for spackle! We have a bullet small-batch blender, and quickly resorted to blending some of what we were eating for baby’s dinner. That went over a lot better than jarred stuff.

      Also, weird thing: if baby smells awful (not their poops, their SELVES) think about their diet. I knew a mom who couldn’t stand the scent of her kid’s skin after baby ate bananas. My kid was Daddy’s problem after a slice of cantaloupe. Body chemistry is strange!

    40. Macaroni Penguin*

      Specific: Stock the freezer with pizza pops and burritos. The first month Is banana crackers.

      General: Communicate with your partner on a sleep schedule that works for both people.

      Not Useful Advice: You get through the sleepless nights with The Power of Love. (thanks mom …)

    41. Scotlibrarian*

      Ignore people who tell you ‘you’re making a rod for your own back’ about sleep issues. I had a premature baby who could only sleep cuddled next to me, so we safely co-slept. That meant I got some sleep, which was gold. ‘Teething granules’ (homeopathic) sold in tiny sachets, and amber ‘teething necklaces’ are completely not backed up by science, but when you are desperate, with a crying, teething baby, they work, try anything. Baby massage is great for colic. Singing to your baby is useful, especially when they don’t want a nappy change. The phrase ‘this too shall pass’ is actually true. My first baby was really really tough, not because I was bad at being a mum, but because they were autistic with sleep issues, in pain from colic or teething. Second baby is also autistic, but not in pain, no sleep issues, not a problem. Slings are great (stretchy cloth slings you wrap and tie round you) and babies love them. Breastfeeding is weird at first, it might hurt or be uncomfortable, ask for help, keep trying, it gets better. Ask for specific help (washing up, bringing cake, putting stuff in dryer) of visitors, even if they don’t offer. Sit around, do nothing, let your household standards drop. Go for a walk with the baby every day

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, we slept with our first a lot until she was 3-4 months old; that’s how we all got better sleep. My second was fine in a crib as long as he was asleep when we put him in bed. It might not suit everyone, but we didn’t even consider having our child in a separate room from us until they were at least several months old.

    42. Elf*

      Bathing the baby: I found it by far easiest to run a regular bath in the bathtub, sit in it myself, and lay the baby down on my legs to be washed. (this didn’t work for me with my second, because by then I had two children, don’t expect to do things the same from one kid to the next necessarily)
      I didn’t have to worry about dropping him because he was lying right on me and I could feel every movement, and he felt very safe and supported.
      The routine was that I would go take a shower by myself, wash my hair, put in conditioner but not rinse, and then fill the bath. My husband would bring the baby in to the nice warm steamy bathroom, I would bathe him, then my husband would take him away for lotion etc. while I finished my shower.
      This was great, bathtime was fun and I GOT A SHOWER!!!

    43. Chauncy Gardener*

      If the baby cries, check the diaper, feed, and then hold and burp them. Every.single.time. Do not attempt logic “well, I just fed him 20 minutes ago, he can’t possibly be hungry/need to be burped” “I just changed her diaper ten minutes ago, so it’s not that”
      Babies only have one way to communicate to you and your logic has nothing to do with it. A very dear friend, who is a midwife, had a very colicky firstborn. She later told me that it was her fault the baby cried all the time because she kept trying to apply logic as opposed to just doing one of the few things the baby MUST want. By the time she figured out what the baby wanted, the baby was completely beside herself and had cried herself into hysterics/colic

      Good luck and the best wishes for an easy delivery and healthy baby!!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Also, the book “The Portable Pediatrician for Parents.” Saved my sanity on numerous occasions, especially when my kids started to get sick. She discusses all the different illnesses that are common at different ages. She also talks about how to handle different things (moving house, etc) at different ages. I give this book as a shower gift all the time and my friends have loved it as well!

    44. KnittingFiend*

      The basic onesies with the overlapping fabric at the shoulder and snaps at the crotch are designed so you can roll them down the body to remove them, not just pull them over the head. This is particularly useful when there’s a poop blowout so you don’t have to pull a poopy onesie over the baby’s head. Absolutely blew my mind when I found out!

    45. Guava*

      I will be a first time parent in the summer. This is a great thread!

      I have a friend who is due with her third when I am due with my first. She has also recommended Baby Bargains. We don’t need all the extra junk! I keep reminding myself if I lived in another country, would I have access to this? Do I need this? Does a new mom on a remote island successfully raise a happy, healthy baby without all this stuff? Yes!

  16. Hsa*

    Be open minded on everything. Sleeping, feeding whatever. Let your house be a mess and sleep when you can. For me that meant going to bed before 7 pm with the baby so her dad was on baby duty and I was on baby duty from 2 am onwards.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s okay to try something, determine it doesn’t seem to work for your family, and try something totally different!

  17. Bibliovore*

    A question
    This might be an impossible question but for the older comentariot.
    How do you know when it is time to move- Is there a checklist?
    I live in a three bedroom house with a back yard.
    The plusses-
    It is ten minutes from my job.
    The neighbors are fabulous, inter-aged, international community.
    I am back to living in every room. (for about six months, I just staying in the kitchen and the porch and slept on the couch)
    The screen porch is my favorite place and I use it year round
    The back yard is a dog run and we have doggie playtime every morning from 7:30 to 8 am.
    I pay for the shoveling and lawn care and leaf removal.
    Turns out if you live alone there is a lot less cleaning. Someone does come every other week for the hard stuff.

    Negatives
    Its got two flights of stairs (not steep with solid banisters) and I have mobility challenges which are only going to get worse as I age.
    I worry (that might not be the right word) about things going wrong- pipes bursting roofs leaking. Hey what is the bump in the living room ceiling? Does that mean the whole thing is going to come crashing down one day? Does the sewer line need replacing?
    (I have been here almost ten years- the house is 72 years old. Is there such a thing as an inspection for peace of mind?)
    The bathroom (main one on the second floor) has a cracked sink and the tile in the shower needs repointing (is that the right word?) The room has a 1980’s vibe. So if I stay I would want to renovate that space. I would love a deeper tub/ soaking tub?(too much HGTV)
    My family who live thousands of miles away want me safely in an apartment on one floor with a doorman and someone available to fix the toilet if it breaks.

    Before Mr. Bibliovore died, we were already thinking of downsizing. Then COVID- we were grateful everyday having that space.
    I looked at apartments this week and couldn’t stop crying. All I kept thinking was- oh he would have loved this view. oh he would have loved this bathroom. oh he would have loved this heated garage. I didn’t think of anything that I liked except for one very deep Kohler tub.
    Biggest fear- waiting until its an emergency.

    1. Sloanicote*

      This is such a hard choice. I think my age would be a factor in this decision. It’s true that a lot of seniors stay too long in a house that doesn’t work for them until it finally becomes a crisis, so they still end up having to leave their beloved home, it just happens at the worst time without the consideration it could have had.

      1. Juneybug*

        I agree! Had a few relatives that should have moved/downsized way before they were ready (stubbornness on their part was only reason). It became such a hassle/crisis for everyone. For me, I would move sooner than later for health, peace of mind, etc.

    2. UKDancer*

      I think the right time to move is when the annoyances outweigh the pleasures. I am in a flat and parts of it are great but some things (lack of soundproofing because my neighbours exist too loudly, lack of a designated office and a feeling of being surrounded by people) are annoying me more especially given lockdown when we’ve been working from home.

      So I’m looking at moving not because my flat is bad but because my needs are different. I want a bit more space and privacy and a small garden. I’d also like to be a bit nearer my parents as they’re getting older now.

      I think it’s ok for your needs to change and ok for them not to. Only you know what would make you happy. My ideal is for the good things always to outweigh the bad ones.

    3. Asenath*

      Maybe you’re not quite ready to move yet, given the circumstances and how difficult you’re finding looking at apartments. For me, I had rather arbitrarily decided I’d think about it when I hit 65, which was when I was planning to retire. My main motivation was to get somewhere all on one level – I could and still can handle stairs, but if I reach a point when I can’t, I didn’t want to move then! And I could see that time coming. Like you, I didn’t want to wait for an emergency. I also lived in an old house which at one point I loved, but I knew that in spite of the repairs I’d done, it would really need major work if I wanted to stay on there. And as much as I loved watching reno shows, my own experience of having the roof fixed, windows replaced, roof again etc were more stressful than enjoyable. I mean, OK, get the crumbling front steps and door replaced – not that bad a job, until the contractor tells me that a beam that supports the whole front is rotten and must be replaced! So I’d decided to move (accessibility and repairs), I had a schedule, and I made a list of what I really wanted. A long list. And well before my planned date, I thought it couldn’t hurt to look around my target area for a condo because given the length of my list, I might be years finding something acceptable. I started looking early in the fall, and I moved in my new place just before Christmas. It was the best thing I ever did – but I was ready for the change, and I knew because of the needed repairs and the steps, that staying in the old place was not what I wanted to do for the long term.

      As for inspections, sure you can hire an inspector, but there’s a certain limit to what they can see – no one could have seen that rotten beam that was only revealed after work on something else began! A number of people inspected my old place, on my behalf as well as on that of prospective buyers. I eventually sold it more or less “as-is” to someone who renovated it – it looked like an after picture from HGTV when they re-sold it, although I couldn’t help noticing they’d put the second bathroom over the only entry to the crawl space, where the connection to the city water was located, and wondering if they’d corrected the slope in the back yard that made the back porch always damp and prone to rot. It was a really charming place, but I’m happy with my dry, warm place with an elevator when I need it. No doorman – they’re not a thing here – and since I chose a condo, I’m responsible if the toilet floods. But we have an excellent live-in super who will help in any situation, even if technically it’s inside the apartment. The location is great – on the fringes of my former, much loved neighbourhood – the cats are permitted and my space itself is very comfortable and not too big. I hesitated before signing the papers – it was a big move. But it was the right one.

      1. Sloanicote*

        I love my old home but I also remind myself that a new person with new energy and money will probably be able to do much to improve it, like I did when I first moved in and the house was empty, whereas now my enthusiasm for big, non-essential projects has waned. (I’m going to have to not look at what actually happens though, as I would hate to see a flipper make it look like the cookie-cutter houses I see on TV, or tear out all the original details I’ve enjoyed, cut down all the trees etc).

        1. Asenath*

          I remember seeing my grandparents’ home after they moved out of town to their retirement home – the new tenants had cut down all the trees! I was horrified. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and loved their little garden. Like my parents, they always had a garden. I suppose the new people thought there were too many trees, or too much shade or something. I don’t think they went quite so far as someone else in the area, who not only removed all vegetation but covered the area with gravel – so practical, you know. You don’t have to mow it, the rocks keep down the mud, and you can park on it.

    4. So Much To Think About*

      I’m going to go a little bit against the grain here and suggest it’s not time yet. Having great neighbors is GOLD, and not sharing walls with them might shine that gold even brighter. I have heard, anecdotally, of friends whose older parents lost their mobility very quickly after moving to a one-story living space, precisely *because* they never had to walk up or down stairs, and that rings true for me when I picture myself on one floor.

      But mainly it just seems like, from your post, it’s too soon after you lost Mr. Bibliovore. We’re also in the middle (ok, hopefully not the *middle* but closer to the end!) of a freaking pandemic, and everything is upside down. No reason not to wait a year and see how you feel next spring.

      For me, my biggest fear would be moving and regretting it, because what if you hate it? Moving *again* would be way worse than moving the first time, and – again, for me – I could imagine that hating where I lived would age me faster than anything else.

      One parting thought: Trust.Your.Gut.On.This. Not what your kids want, not what your friends have done, not even what this amazing commentariat has to say. Picture yourself moved – does that make the knot in your stomach bigger, or smaller? Picture yourself deciding to give yourself a year before you again consider moving – what does your small inner voice tell you? Neither decision is perfect – there’s no right or wrong to this – but which one gives you the most comfort right now? Go with that.

      Good luck to you! Sending good thoughts.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree. It’s too soon. And while all the reasons you must are reasons to move, it sounds manageable for now. Plus, as someone in an apt, with decent other tenants, man do I wish they were a tad further away!

        1. Anon attorney*

          I agree with the advice on checking in with your gut.

          The accepted wisdom is that one shouldn’t make major life changes within a year of being widowed. I don’t agree with that. There’s nothing special about the one year mark. However, I’m ahead of you on the journey (nearly six years now) and what I do believe is that you always know when the right time is to do something. Whether it’s taking his clothes to the Goodwill or selling your home. You will just realize at some point that you’re ready.

          I sold our house almost five years to the day after he died. I had thought about it for years but done nothing, and then a property came on the market that I liked and the whole deal was done in six weeks. I was ready. Saying that I don’t have aging in place concerns yet (I’ll have to think about that for the next house as I’m in a fifth floor walk up!) and they are important. But I agree with the comment that you shouldn’t let anyone else decide this for you even though they’re acting from love.

      2. OTGW*

        I agree. Like, on one hand—if you were my mom, I’d be encouraging you to move. But! It is also hard to leave a house you know and love, and honestly, it sounds like you have the time to take your time with this. Having to share a building with neighbors has some plusses but lord, is the privacy of a single home fantastic.

        I’d wait. Give it 3, 5 years, do some projects you want/need to do, and then see about moving. See how you feel then.

    5. Janet Pinkerton*

      The very first thing I’d consider is: Is there a full bathroom on the first floor, and how many steps is it to enter/exit the house? If the answers are yes and zero, then you really never *have* to move. Or maybe a ramp could be built—many times one could be.

      The older house concerns are another aspect but honestly those can be somewhat outsourced.

        1. Janet Pinkerton*

          The lack of first floor bathroom would have me nervous in your shoes. Unless you could install a chair lift, which is honestly a solid option—I’ve had a few family members with them.

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            My family’s experience with chair lifts was also good. The local company was friendly and competent, and they were able to install lifts in places where it didn’t look like they could. If you decide to stay put and wind up having difficulty with stairs, OP, I agree with Janet that this is a reasonable option.

    6. Swisa*

      If you cry every time you think about it, it’s probably not time yet.

      Maybe make a plan to revisit this, perhaps after the 1 year point of his death?

      In the meantime, can you keep a running list if things you would want in a new place, or even places you would be interested in? I like Pinterest for this type of thing. Any time there’s something you like (like a soaking tub), you can pin it to a board. Or if there are resources you find, like a moving company, you can pin that too.

      Basically, the list will be there for when you’re ready. And you’ll already have ideas! But it’s low pressure, and you only need to look at it/deal with it when you feel inspired to.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ll echo Asenath that it sounds like it might be too early for you to move.

      Your plusses: To me, the short distance to work and neighbors are huge. Huge. I would hate to give that up. If you don’t have option of a nice apartment in the same neighborhood I’d be very reluctant to move. Also the yard–with the dog, with covid.

      Your negatives: Yes, you can hire a home inspector to let you know what might need attention in the next few years. Just like for buying a new place.
      The datedness isn’t something I’d worry about short term.
      Is it possible to formulate the house so you use the first floor, and the second and third are reserved for visiting company? Can have heat shut off now, for example. That would let you continue on in place for a while.

      Do you have family–grown kids, sensible siblings–who can help you figure out what’s a short-term worry vs a long-term “we should look at this again in 5 years” level concern? That neighborhood sounds so lovely, and one thing you can’t remodel about a home is the surrounding neighborhood.

      1. Jay*

        Rather than a home inspector I would try to find a good general contractor and offer to pay him for his time by the hour. If my very handy husband were no longer around, I would also cultivate a relationship with a handyman. There are several in our area who do a variety of small jobs and my single or non-handy friends rely heavily on them.

        We are in our early 60s and both now retired (very very lucky). We made the decision to stay in our two-story home rather than move or downsize for a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with location and community and the fact that we’ve spent a lot of time and money making our house exactly what we want. We also have a screened porch and I wouldn’t give it up for love or money. We might be able to put a full bath downstairs (we have a half bath) but I think we’d rather put in a stair glide, which would be very effective – one long run of stairs with our bedroom right there at the top. We already have a ramp into the house which we installed when we redid our front stoop years ago. We had friends and family members who used wheelchairs and we wanted them to be able to come into our house.

        There’s always a tension for us older folks between the independence we need and the safety our loved ones want for us. It’s a trade-off. Sounds like you’re still OK where you are and mostly worried that it might become too much. You can always leave when it really does become too much.

    8. Trixie B*

      I would take the time to look around at places and revisit them multiple times at different times of the day. I would also think about if I liked my family enough to move closer to them at some point. If I do, then I would visit their location and if I look at possibilities there.

      Safety is important to me so I need to feel safe wherever I am located. I am not handy so the less that needs fixing the better.

      Take care. I have been wondering how you have been doing.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Not me, a beloved aunt. When she lost her husband it was very clear that she was not going to mow acres of land each week. The farm house they lived in was just too big to take care of alone.

      Now this is normal, but in her time frame it was unusual. She bought a condo. The purchase was so well thought out that she was able to stay there until she was 92. Everything was on one floor. The guest room was upstairs but that was the only thing upstairs. The finished basement was her storage area. The attached garage had entry from inside the house and was only a short step down.

      She hired (her words) “a rent a husband”. He cleaned behind the fridge, changed filters and did various other jobs. She sorted through her furniture and kept what made sense for the new space. It looked like a magazine picture. Unexpectedly, she ended up VERY excited about her new place.

      A few punchlines:
      I think it’s fine to start looking now. But you do not have to look all the time or every day. Just randomly check around.
      In my story about my aunt, she KNEW she did not want to stay put. She was ready for the move. I think your setting is different. And one of the biggest tip offs is where you show that you see the place through HIS eyes. I think that even as short as 6 months could make a difference here. If you waited about 6 months and started looking again- see if you see it through YOUR eyes.

      What I mean by this is you finding your own thoughts and putting your own preferences at the front of your choices. There are going to be things about any place you move to that you will know he would have liked. And that will happen for reasons because of knowing him so well, because of shared interests and likes and so on.
      But the goal is to find a place YOU like and find a place that suits YOUR needs. A few more months of waiting will give you a little more clarity so you can feel more confident about any decision you make.

      In the end, it should feel more like you are going toward something, rather than you are going away from something. This is why I think it might be just a little too soon. (I could be wrong so this is FWIW.)

      You know, Biblio, one of the most freeing thoughts I have ever had was this: I can go anywhere and do anything and he will always be a huge part of my life story. I will never entirely lose him because he so radically changed my life. It dawned on me that I could get rid of everything he owned (which I won’t) and he still made a permanent and huge change in my life for the better. Key part: I will always get to keep the results from all the changes in my life that happened because of him.

      Give it just a short amount of more time, Bibliovore. I think you will see things will settle down a little more for you and you will feel like you can make choices that you are proud of. And I think you will feel him cheering your good choices.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think this is a good insight re whose eyes you see it through. I’ve often characterized marriage as deciding to always consider another person’s needs and wants, and sometimes they will trump your own. It’s natural for it to take a long adjustment period for “How would spouse like this potential (shared living space/ vacation/ book/ etc” to not be prominent in your thoughts.

    10. Ins mom*

      Hugs! You are thinking clearly, and taking a first look at apartments. Good for you! If it made you cry, probably too soon for any big changes. Take your time, take note of suggestions others have made, and know you are moving forward with your life.

    11. Not A Manager*

      Ah, Bibliovore. I’ve been thinking about you.

      As my late husband used to say, “measure twice, cut once.” Unless this is an emergency, don’t do anything rash or irreversible. It’s great that you’re living in your house again. Don’t deny yourself this transition time from your immediate mourning to re-engaging with your life, by creating another big loss and another big change. Enjoy your house and your neighbors.

      On the other hand, “measure twice” means keep checking those metrics. Definitely keep window-shopping (see what I did there?) and imagine yourself in different homes. And pay attention to how difficult/inconvenient it becomes to remain where you are. When it’s time to move, I think you’ll know it.

    12. the cat's ass*

      Maybe wait a bit? Grieving a move, which is a loss, even when you want to move, on top of the loss of your husband is a lot. Though i like your pros/cons list. I love my home but don’t want to live here when I’m old because I won’t be able to care for it adequately/too many stairs. We are getting rid of stuff incrementally, cleaning stuff up, just replaced the ancient stove, etc. But you are on the right track!

    13. Girasol*

      That’s such a tough decision. Dad tried to follow a friend’s advice not to wait too long, but with stepmom’s sudden health issues, he was frazzled with dealing with downsizing, finding a new place, moving, and the house sale while while caring for her. He had already waited too long. Having watched him, we downsized while we were both healthy to a city house half the size of our big, high maintenance rural place. We wondered if we’d made a mistake because we missed the grand vistas and were wakened by neighborhood lights and noise. But very quickly we realized that we socialized more and were keeping up on maintenance tasks much better. All too soon I ended up in Dad’s situation: my husband has been on crutches for six months and couldn’t have climbed the stairs to bed in the old place. Had we waited I would have been hard pressed to deal with his needs plus downsizing, moving, and home selling/buying. So I’m kinda thinking that if you’re wondering if it’s time, that may be the hint that you’re at the threshold of “don’t wait too long.”

      1. Sue*

        This has been my experience. My parents waited far too long, Dad was ready but my Mom would have liked to stay indefinitely even though their home was not senior friendly and the yard was way too much. Moving was very stressful for (her) them. They needed to downsize and every item was a struggle. The kids and grandkids did most of the physical labor but it was hard on everyone. My daughter has stories!
        The move turned out to be a blessing, they are still in their own home but it is in a senior neighborhood with accessible spaces.
        Many of my friends have had the same experience, we are all seniors ourselves with older parents, many of whom have fought moving only to enjoy their new homes. Some have really flourished with easy social access as well as the services. It has made all of us swear to make these decisions for ourselves and not burden our youngers.

      2. retired3*

        Don’t wait too long. I was 70 and healthy and active and talked to my kids about moving closer to them by the time I was 80. We thought it would take several years, no hurry. Our real estate sold much quicker than we thought it would and we suddenly had to “do” it. We ended up converting a 2 1/2 story house into a duplex…I have the daylight basement. We gutted it and rebuilt it to my specifications. (My son is in construction). I mourned my old house which I loved. But then I had a botched colonoscopy, emergency surgery, an e coli infection…having my daughter in law close was a literal life saver. I still mourn my old house/neighborhood, but this is better for me now. And I have a really cool yoga teacher I wouldn’t have had in my more remote rural area.

    14. Sparkles McFadden*

      I think it’s important to remind yourself that big decisions are really a hundred little decisions grouped together. I understand the impulse of identifying an issue and wanting to get things done immediately so you can have things resolved, but, I think it’s wiser to break large decisions down into smaller parts and take your time. This is especially true when one has suffered a great loss, as you have. It hasn’t been that long, and you may not be ready for a big change yet…so make only incremental changes.

      I hope t’s going to be a long time before I will want to move again, but I am already thinking about that very question. I am treating it like I treated the recurring work question of “Is it time to leave this job?” What I’d do with the job question is look into other positions. The end result of that was that I felt better taking some action…and I usually ended up staying put because I liked my current job more than the other jobs I looked into. Sometimes, though, I would find something better and make that change.

      I am approaching the house question in the same way. Since I couldn’t take everything with me if I move to a smaller place, I am going through things in the house, sorting out what I’d keep, what I can donate, and what should be tossed. In doing this, I realize I am in no way ready to move to a smaller space. I am still doing my own yard work and repairs, but researching the costs of hiring people when I cannot manage. So…I’ll have a list of whom to contact when I want to, and estimated costs…and so on.

      Then, when you really feel it’s time to move, it will be a natural decision, not a “I think I need to do this now to get it over with” decision. At least that’s what works for me.

    15. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I would wait a bit, at least six months. In the meantime you can: read the real estate ads/go to open houses/check out neighborhoods/look on Zillow…to form good ideas about what is out there. If you decide not to move, that’s fine. Also in the meantime: go through each room/downsize, have someone look at your house (a contractor) to see what would need to be done if you were to sell (and start in on some of those projects), make a list of what you would like to have done with the house if you stay. If you decide to move, you will be more ready than you are now. And then just periodically revisit how you feel about things. Best of luck during this difficult time.

    16. OtterB*

      This is hard. We are in our mid-60s. Our house is 90 years old; it had a major renovation shortly before we bought it 20 years ago. Because of its age and our location, we are likely to be the last people to live in this particular house; whoever comes after us will almost certainly tear it down and build new, which changes the calculations on renovations and upgrades.

      2017 was our medical year from hell when for about 8 months either my husband or I was sleeping on a pull-out sofa in the living room post-surgery. We have 3 bedrooms and a bath upstairs, and a bath with shower off the kitchen downstairs. We looked at getting a 1st floor bedroom added onto our house in place of a side porch that needs something done about it anyway, but decided it was cost-prohibitive.

      One of my hobbies is browsing Redfin or Zillow looking at houses. I probably don’t want a condo, although some of them appeal. I most like the idea of a townhome with either a first floor bedroom or an elevator. Maybe a newer rambler-style house with one-floor living. The thing that keeps me from pushing for moving now is that we have such great neighbors.

      Good luck with it.

    17. CaptainMouse*

      Is there a full or 3/4 bath on the first floor and a bedroom/guest room to sleep in? (Porch, unless you live in the tropics is not good for Winter sleeping.) Where is the laundry? I’m going on 65 and not thinking of moving yet. But I can stay completely on the ground floor if I need to. Did this after my hip replacement in 2019 and it meant I didn’t have to go to rehab.

      I’d say that if your current place works and allows for intermittent mobility issues then stay as long as possible. You sound like you really love the house and the location and neighbors sound perfect.

      Later, if you end up in a city apartment, a doorman can be a wonderful benefit. I’ve seen how much the doorman is helpful to my parents and everyone in their building.

      Finally, and you don’t sound like you are anywhere near this point, you want to move or figure out your plan for aging in place before you lose the cognitive/emotional competence to adjust to a big change. (Ask me how I know, hi mom!)

    18. A thought.*

      Hello Bibliovore. May I gently suggest there is wisdom in the oft-repeated notion that one should wait a year after a big shock/change to do anything drastic? Doing so can sometimes prevent mistakes one will regret. In this case, it might prevent you from moving and realizing you wish you were still in your home, or prevent you from moving someplace you don’t really like just to get it done quickly. Doesn’t mean you can’t move ever, but might give you enough breathing space to be sure. Good luck, and warm thoughts at you, as always.

    19. Bibliovore*

      Thank you everyone. Your reflections have been very helpful.
      I like the idea about being ready to downsize if I need to suddenly.
      I have been “Swedish death cleaning” and the empty closets and basement storage area have brought me a measure of peace.
      I needed others to tell me and they are right. I’m not ready.
      I like the idea of paying a contractor. I have friends who just renovated their second floor. I will see if this would work.

    20. Cacofonix*

      We are solving this problem by having the where next and what does that look like discussion. We live in a steep ravine in the woods which is like a lovely sanctuary. Multi level older home that is a stairs-slog to get to the front door, never mind what awaits inside. We love it. But next is a condo and location is a compromise. So there’s a new development that will ticks all the boxes. 5 years to complete. We may invest a down payment in that, and decide whether we need to sell and move or, if we can manage it, close and rent it out if we’re not ready. Gives us time to get used to the idea. We are mid fifties so we have time. But we want to renovate/fix our house in the meantime to enjoy it. Lesson learned when we sold our tiny starter home in a downturn. We had to fix it up to sell it and we almost hated to do all that and never enjoy it. I’d recommend getting a few fixes and updates if you can for peace of mind while you think about your options.

    21. Morning reader*

      You mention that your current home is close to work. I wonder if you know yet what you plan to do in retirement? If your house suits you well enough now, I would wait until “the job” is no longer a factor in your choices. Maybe you’ll want to move somewhere else. Maybe (as remote as the possibility seems now) you’ll want to move with someone else. Maybe you’ll want to put it all in storage someday and take a trip around the world. I concur with others who suggest it’s too soon for you yet. Wait until you find somewhere you want to go.
      You might want to think of moving costs, too, and compare them with the costs of installing that soaking tub. I just put one in last year and now, I barely want to go anywhere. It’s too good here to want to leave.

      1. Bibliovore*

        oh oh oh. Just the words soaking tub lift my spirits.
        I have no kids. My family (brother and his kids) are east coast. I have at least 5 years before I retire. I’ve bloomed where I have been planted so I think (right now) that my life is in the midwest. Mr. Bibliovore’s family is here. Due to underlying conditions, I am back on lock-down until science catches up with people like me.
        Mr. Bibliovore’s family is here and I adore them but do not want to be a burden to them.
        One of the young nieces has offered to pick up a pile of magazines and glue stick to make a vision board.
        Suggestions for magazines to ask for would be welcome.

    22. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ll say that I also feel like it’s too soon, but for the things you are worried about you can definitely get someone in to check them out.

      We happen to have a friend who’s a surveyor, so we had him come around and take a look for us, but you can certainly hire someone to do this. We also had an electrician come and inspect all the wiring and test everything, then later we hired him to replace the circuit board (called a consumer unit here). Same thing with plumbers and gas/heating engineers. Sometimes they will try to sell you services but I’ve had pretty good luck with just getting a straightforward report with recommendations.

    23. Chili pepper Attitude*

      We moved from a house we owned to a rented apartment. We thought there were so many pros to the house but found there were others we had not even thought of with apartment living.

      We are so much less stressed about all the things: is that thing a sign of a plumbing problem we had better fix now? Can I find a decent repair place to fix it or to do the modernizing I would like? We had no idea the minor stresses like that were adding up to so much stress for us!

      We are still in our 50s so it was not an age related move, more a good time to sell a house that was a bit too big and have an adventure.

      We are really happy we did it and I can see advantages to moving while it is more a choice and not a requirement. It made the whole process much easier for us.

      Good luck with your decision and possible move!

  18. Greenie*

    Something I think about *all the time* is how the idea of “personal responsibility” as the solution to climate change (that you, yourself, should drive less, reduce the heat/AC in your home, not run your washing machine etc) was very carefully promoted as brand management by companies that cause a lot of climate emissions. They could reduce emissions ten thousand fold over what you could do, but reframing it as a matter of personal discipline lets them off the hook. Literally a lot of the PSAs are funded by energy companies. We do this a *lot* in the environmental field, and some of the interventions – like restaurants not serving straws or businesses not providing takeaway bags – feel like they’re really aimed at making the customer feel it as much as possible, leading to resentment. I have certainly been trying to drink a thick beverage like a milkshake without a straw and thought, “stupid greenies” – and I’m a career greenie!! So, do you think there are *any* actions an individual can take that actually make a meaningful difference for the planet?

    1. So Much To Think About*

      I don’t have an answer, just wanted to say how much I also think about this question!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        That’s what I was about to say. Vote vote vote and help others vote.

        In Wisconsin, a judge has just ruled that we can’t have ballot dropboxes. This hurts Milwaukee and Madison residents – people who take covid seriously and would rather not vote in person. Yes, people can mail their ballots, but our postal service in MKE is really stressed with covid.

        You can help by volunteering as a pollworker to make sure that all polling places are open.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes. And to channel Sarah Vowell “Yes, less evil is better than more evil! Vote for the lesser evil. Why is that even a question?”

        Some people will explain that letting it all go to hell is their plan. One thing that made me shake my head the past five years is the sheer range of political philosophies espoused by people who believe that if we just burn everything down, the survivors who crawl from the ashes will be waving the speaker’s manifesto as the guide to rebuild society. And not any of the other manifestos.

        1. Well...*

          Is voting for less evil that much different than pushing climate change action onto individuals? If neither side is fixing things, voting for the person who makes a bigger show of trying just makes us feel better, right?

          I’m no fan of accelerationist rhetoric and I will keep voting to minimize harm, but it certainly isn’t curing my deep sense of dread that neither electorial politics nor individual consumerism choices are well suited for the radical change that at this point is needed.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            If everyone voted for less evil, then the average would shift in that direction. And then can be shifted again. And again.

            I had a discussion about same-sex marriage with my five year old, and expected that it might change fifty years down the road. It changed a few years later.

            An old liberal observed to me that a real problem he’d seen over time was people get very into one cause. And if the approach to that one cause wasn’t perfect, then don’t bother.

            I don’t think there has ever been a time in human history when we were choosing a really political option that was going to really fix everything. It’s always flawed and damaged and only fix some things part way each time.

            1. Well...*

              I could easily construct a counter example. Imagine there are two parties that both are moving to the the conservative right at the same rate, but one is a few steps behind. Voting for the latter party consistently is the less evil choice, and yet if everyone left of center did it, the party would have no incentive to stop moving right, as long as it s to stayed a few steps back. This situation would require a press that encouraged both sides narratives and a hardcore far right minority. And there would need to be some incentive to continue drifting right, like say a minority of influential donors.

              That’s not necessarily what’s happening now but if it were, voting wouldn’t save us.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                I would much rather try to accomplish something politically using people who vote because it’s the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, rather than using people who will vote if they feel super inspired and like their one vote is the critical one and they are very enthusiastic about this candidate on every single issue.

            2. Texan In Exile*

              It took more than a century to eliminate slavery in the US. It took more than a century for women to get the right to vote. We have to do what we can and hope that our descendants will have it better.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            It’s more a matter of not making “good” the enemy of “perfect.” The ballot propositions available for us to vote on are usually not going to do everything that needs to be done to solve the situation entirely. Some people see those propositions and say “it doesn’t go far enough and it’s not going to fix the problem so I’m voting no.” But a more realistic view would be “it doesn’t go far enough and it’s not going to be a complete fix for the problem, but it will ease some aspects and make the situation a little better than it is now, so I’ll vote yes because that gets us closer to where I think we should be.”

            I’m always going to be in favor of making things better. I might not have the power to make it all the way better, but a little bit is better than nothing, so if voting for a little bit is all I can do, I’m going to keep doing it.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I am finding this has so many parallels to how to keep your house maintained and tidy. In a good way.

          3. MissElizaTudor*

            You’re right. As individual actions go, voting in the vast majority of elections, especially in first past the post elections, is probably less impactful than individual consumer choices because companies will respond to shifts in spending even if a harmful product is still selling, and your choices can be part of that shift even if the more harmful product is still selling more than the less harmful product, but if you vote and the other side gets more votes, your vote made no difference.

            I hate it, but individual consumer choices and electoral politics are not going to fix the problems we’re facing. The things that will are difficult, time consuming, sometimes dangerous things, like direct action (like stopping a pipeline, not like going to a rally), building up alternatives to existing institutions, and changing the minds of large numbers of people.

      3. MissElizaTudor*

        To be honest, voting as an individual action, which is what we’re talking about here, has essentially no impact. Especially with first past the post voting, your individual vote is mathematically a drop in the bucket in most elections, so the chance it has to make a difference to the final outcome is negligible.

        Helping many other people to vote, or convincing many others to vote the way you think is best is far more important and impactful than a single vote. This is not to say don’t vote, but if you vote and don’t do those other things related to multiple people’s votes, it isn’t realistic to feel as if you’ve made a difference yourself.

        1. Coenobita*

          I was in college during the 2004 U.S. presidential election and one time Howard Dean came and gave a talk on campus after he dropped out of the primary. He said that voting makes you a D-minus citizen – you’re not failing, but it’s the bare minimum. I am pretty sure that I have not thought about Howard Dean otherwise since then, but I think about that idea a lot.

          (That said, there are plenty of close elections, too. Here in Virginia, control of our state legislature was literally decided by drawing a name out of a bowl after a tied election a few years ago. And I live in an area dominated by a single political party, but our local primary elections – i.e. where the real decisions about who’s in charge of our community is made – are generally low-turnout and close.)

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            Voting in local elections is really the key for getting people and policies that you like better. People often sit them out because they aren’t big issues or names and they don’t think it matters who the dog catcher or school board members are, but those are the people who get experience and name recognition and end up being influential in wider politics. You don’t necessarily have to run yourself or spend a lot of time volunteering for campaigns, but if you pay a bit of attention and make a point to vote in those off-year elections it does have an impact. I think we tend to pay too much attention to the big noisy issues and that allows other things that have more immediate effects on our lives to slip by.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      There are only two I can think of and the second is YMMV on it.

      1. Vote. That’s the best thing but also hold the people you vote for responsible. If they don’t hold true to their promises regarding the environment (or any of them), make sure you hold them responsible by voting them out of office or protesting.

      2. Don’t have children. We live in on an overpopulated planet and it’s going to get worse the more we progress into this century and choosing not to have a biological child is one of the best ways a person can make a meaningful impact. But, of course, that depends entirely on the person.

      1. Pool Lounger*

        Yep, these are the main two things I think individuals can do. Having information literacy (learning to decode commercials, new stories, etc so as not to get influenced as much by stuff like the ban straws thing) and protesting when possible are also up there.

      2. pancakes*

        I don’t have children myself and have never wanted them, but everything I’ve read on this topic has debunked your second recommendation. As one article I’ll link to in separate comment put it, “ExxonMobil doesn’t care whether you have another kid.” Simply not having children will not in itself redistribute power or resources.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I wouldn’t call the claim “throughly debunked.” “Not helpful in the short term,” and “applies more to Americans than most other countries,” yes, but could be helpful in the admitedly unlikely event society survives beyond the immediate crisis (the articles you posted don’t dispute that).

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Thank you for dropping these links here, I appreciate it. I hadn’t heard that this theory had been debunked so I’m definitely going to look into this more.

      3. Well...*

        Omg no overpopulation has been thoroughly debunked as an environmental catastrophe, please be careful with this rhetoric!

        Resources/person is just as important as # of people, and the problem of decreasing the # of people has. Been. Solved! Giving women access to birth control consistently curbs population growth and caused declining birth rates.

        The problem we don’t have a solution for is decreasing the resources/person. That’s the problem we must solve.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Access to birth control and economic opportunity (a better hope for their children means people invest in a smaller number). And if you can only do one, that first one has been shown to work alone. Make it easy for people to limit the number of children they have, and they will.

        2. Girasol*

          In the short term it’s all about resources per person. But if we cut our food waste and consumption of meat, excess clothing, water, and so on, instead of reducing population, then the population will continue to grow. With more people, overall resource utilization go up even if each person is frugal. Then we’ll have to limit each person’s resource utilization even more. Some researchers argue that population reduction alone can’t make a difference in the short term, which is true, but reducing personal consumption alone can’t solve our problems in the long term. We need to do both.

          1. Well...*

            You’re incorrect that as resources/person decreases, that triggers a population increase. There’s no evidence to support that, and giving women access to birth control decreases birthing rates. This just isn’t a real problem.

            1. Girasol*

              I didn’t mean to suggest that. Population growth was triggered over a century ago by the industrial revolution and the discovery of a number of modern medicines. Population has more than doubled in my lifetime. It grows more slowly now but we need to keep that slowdown going. If we could cut everyone’s consumption in half and then let the population double, we’d end up where we started. We need to hit climate change and pollution with both reduced consumption and reduced growth.

              1. Well...*

                There no indication that the population will double though? And every indication they given healthcare access population will continue to decline. Concern about population growth has been thoroughly debunked.

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              I don’t feel piled on!

              The reading Pancakes gave me has been super informative such as the fact that if we don’t fix the issues by 2030 then, well, it won’t really matter with population size at that point. It’s such an interesting angle that I hadn’t considered before and I feel that I’ve been using overpopulation as a cause for concern when the reality is it’s so much more nuanced than that. I’ve also found a podcast from Future Perfect where Dr Kimberly Nicholas is interviewed (she’s the one who’s cited in the links Pancakes gave) that I’m looking forward to listening to on the drive home tomorrow.

              (Link here for anyone who’s interested: Future Perfect podcast)

              So I’m appreciative that you and Pancakes raised this for me otherwise I wouldn’t have known!

        3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Yeah, birth rates are below the replacement rate in most (all?) of the developed world, and dropping rapidly in the developing world. The population of the world will continue to grow for a while, but that’s because all the babies people had in the past haven’t gotten old and died yet. It takes about 80 years on average, after all.

        4. Jen*

          Smething that helps curb overpopulation is reducing the child mortality rate. People who believe their children will survive to adulthood have fewer kids and invest more in each individual kid. So supporting clean water and vaccines for kids helps reduce overpopulation.

        5. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I can’t remember when or where I read this, but I was under the impression that industrialization and technology in farming and other industries were artificially inflating the number of people the planet could support (which is why we’re tearing through resources). Do you have any sources that show the planet could support its current number of people if we changed farming/fast fashion/other industries that cause pollution? I’d be curious to read that!

      4. Foreign Octopus*

        I’m going to add a new point to this based on the reading I’ve been doing since Pancakes and Well.. raised that my second point has been debunked.

        3. Donating to charities, particularly the following two, as they’ve been recognised by the Founders Pledge as being the most effective in combating climate change.

        a. Rainforest Coalition
        b. Clean Air Task Force

    3. Ranon*

      Big but easy one- talk to other people about climate change.

      In individual political action, join an advocacy group that works on legislative change rather than individual action, help others use their voice to also lobby for legislative change. Call your Congresspeople about climate legislation, write op-eds to your local paper about climate issues, write to your city council about climate change and resiliency issues. If you’re in an industry with third party standards, lobby for those to contain standards that reduce carbon emissions (construction obviously has more opportunities for this than, say, HR). If something opens for a public comment period and there’s a climate implication, write a public comment (transit, city planning, utilities can be big ones there).

      There’s a lot more to political participation than just voting. Granted a lot of it can feel like banging your head against a wall which is why doing it with a friend or joining an organization is important, too- make that individual action collective!

      1. Coenobita*

        +1 I work in the enviro/climate field and communicating, organizing, voting, advocacy are always my recommendations.

        It doesn’t have to be quote-unquote environmental advocacy either; addressing the underlying factors that make people and communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change (poverty, structural racism, etc.) is also essential. A healthier and more equal society is a more resilient society. So if you care about climate change but would rather spend time working on voting rights or housing affordability instead of, say, renewable energy – by all means do it!

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. Getting involved in local mutual aid is a good way to make one’s own community more resilient.

    4. Batgirl*

      I agree with you so much on businesses not doing anything to inconvenience themselves. I am starting to get very annoyed with supermarket food packaging. I could care less about those little plastic windows that you can see the food through, but clearly it’s important to them. My ideal shop is one we used to have in our town centre called Tuckerbins. There were big bins of cereal, flour, lentils, sugar, teabags, bake mixes, .. pretty much anything you could put in a bin. There were also jars of biscuits and sweets. Not only could you decant straight into your tupperware if you wanted to bring it, but you could choose exactly how much you wanted. No more unloved leftover recipe stuff.

      1. PT*

        Unless the store is very upscale and aggressive about monitoring the bins, people stick their filthy hands into the bin and contaminate the whole thing (I once saw a mom encouraging her kids to choose candy from them, pawing their grubby preschool hands through the whole bulk bin to get their preferred flavors.) After COVID that method of shopping is probably dead.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Even in the 90s places were having a hard time with people bringing in dirty containers to fill. Containers had to be inspected and their weight written on a sticker. I used to bring my own containers and finally no one was allowed to bring in containers.

          More currently, I have noticed that the bulk bins have vanished from most of the stores around here.

        2. pancakes*

          People in upscale groceries have zero shame about plucking olives with their unwashed hands to “sample,” in my experience!

      2. Mannequin*

        I used to enjoy places like that but after Covid? I will NEVER shop from a serve yourself bin again. Sorry, just too risky.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      The straw thing blew up as one parent entered hospice, and I had to hunt for them. He needed a fucking straw–he couldn’t raise the cup to his lips. (I eventually got some sippy cups that were not too floofy and took out the plastic valves. And yes, threw them out.)

      I was very mystified that all of a sudden we were like “this plastic straw is BAD but the much larger plastic cup it’s in is totes FINE.”

    6. mreasy*

      Voting and other political activism and advocacy. But in terms of recycling and not using straws, that’s mostly just giving us all comfort (lord knows I do it though).

    7. Not A Manager*

      I’m a cynical capitalist. In my opinion, even more important than voting (which is important) is donating to responsible organizations and politicians who are in a position to affect public policy. Money talks. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t pour so much of it into politics.

    8. The Dogman*

      “o, do you think there are *any* actions an individual can take that actually make a meaningful difference for the planet?”

      No.

      The US military alone puts out as much carbon pollution as the bottom 140 countries.

      Until the USA, China and Russia stop the dick waving contest we can do nothing that will matter.

      I am not saying we should give up trying, but lets all be realistic, it is not regular people driving this issue. It is the Kleptocrat class who cannot allow anything to get in the way of their profits, and they have so much invested in the fossil fuels industries they simply will not make meaningful changes unless forced to do so.

      Since the top polluters are all corporations and the US military making them change is beyond us as individuals, and since the Kleptos in the USA make sure the two sides (of the same coin) will never oppose the constant theft and corruption I cannot see the USA making any meaningful steps alone, and the other countries will use that as an excuse to do nothing meaningful either.

      Bit grim, but that is the facts at the moment.

      1. Another_scientist*

        It’s overly simplistic to say that the top polluters are all corporations. Most of these claims originate from a study called the Carbon Majors Report that found wide media coverage in 2017. Headlines typically were that over 70% of emissions originated from fewer than 100 companies. Since then we’ve been talking more about systemic change, which is good. But we’ve been assuming that individual choices don’t matter, which I think is wrong. The crux is that that study assigned the full amount of emissions from burning fossil fuels to each company that was mining the coal, oil, or gas.
        The study explicitly did not take into account whether the fossil fuels were traded on and someone else ultimately burned them and created emissions. That was not the focus of that study.
        It’s not accurate to blame e.g. Exxon for the emissions of every gallon of gas that my car burns. Yes, they produced it, but I bought it. And I bought high emissions products like tinfoil or beef. I think saying individual choices don’t matter is as much of a cop out as saying individual choices are the only thing that matters.

        1. The Dogman*

          Why did you buy that petrol though?

          Cos the corporations have forced that “choice” on us.

          We have to use fossil fuels because the Big Oil lot lobbied hard to prevent electric cars becoming the norm, and in some places are still lobbying hard to stop EV being normalised.

          They corrupted governments all over the world to stop supporting public transport and there are still US billionaires who oppose all public transport and EV’s.. The remaining Koch brother for one.

          The people have never been the choosers in Capitalism, the owners pretend we have choice to keep the easily mollified calm, but we are unable to “choose” anything that will meaningfully address the issue.

          They have even stopped the US public from being able to meaningfully “choose” who represents them for the most part, aside from some peoples politicians like AOC and Bernie the corporate takeover of US politics is complete.

          So no, our choices do not matter at all, unless we can choose to act in a united and giant fashion, and the Kleptos spend huge amounts of money keeping everyone arguing over nonsense like BLM and Covid/antivax etc. (not that lives of our black sisters and brothers do not matter, they certainly should anyway, but that the movement was a perfect “divide and rule” opportunity for the ruling class to exploit and they did that with gusto as usual) to avoid that class consciousness.

          We should be more like the French in someways, they know how to hold and carry on a protest…

        2. pancakes*

          Buying their products isn’t quite the same as co-signing all the lobbying they do to keep regulations in their favor, politicians in their pocket, and meaningful change at bay.

    9. Generic Name*

      Yes. Voting. Donating to environmental NGOs. Registering others to vote. Driving others to the polls. Running for office. These are not mentioned because companies like Shell Oil and BP want you to get your warm and fuzzies from meaningless gestures like carrying a reusable straw with you wherever you go.

    10. Reba*

      Yes, this is a feature of neoliberalism and it stinks. I also think a lot about the belief we seem to carry that technology will save us — we won’t have to substantially change how we live or be very inconvenienced, just adopt new _____ — but these are just incremental changes to an immense carbon way of life (see my car example below).

      Even knowing it’s a scam/my impact is nil, I do try to do a few things that I can. I do own a car (bad) but it’s a plug in and I have arranged my life not to use it too much (privilege). I have slacked bigtime on recycling because I know that one is not effective.

      All that being said, the biggest move I have made was becoming a vegetarian 14 years ago and I think it would be marvelous if more people did the same.

      1. Sloanicote*

        That is the one I’m focused on too. It is a good intersection of multiple things I care about, and there really has been a consumer-driven shift over the years. But again, it’s maximally inconvenient for the person struggling to change how they approach every single meal (at least for me, a person from the midwest with a very meat-centric diet to overcome) and is only moderately impactful, big picture. But it’s more impactful than like hand-washing your straws.

    11. marvin the paranoid android*

      I think activism/community organizing/community engagement is my first answer. Neoliberal capitalism is what’s gotten us into this mess (we could have easily started transitioning to clean energy in the 80s if it wasn’t against the neoliberal expansionist agenda) and capitalist logic is not going to get us out of it. On the plus side, a lot of interventions against capitalism are also good for the health of society as a whole, since capitalism creates so much inequity.

      My second answer, which is I think is equally important, is to cultivate a more engaged and reciprocal relationship with the land you live on. Spend time with it, learn more about it, think about it as a part of your community, learn about what it looked like before colonialism, support Indigenous resistance in your community. Get involved with projects that help the land thrive, if only in a small way.

      I think the kind of logic that you describe is a type of propaganda that makes us think an anti-capitalist, pro-land way of living is necessarily going to be a hardship for us. But actually, resisting capitalism really helps us to thrive in a lot of really meaningful ways: it helps us build community support, cultivate a meaningful relationship with the place we live, work less, spend more time engaged in activities that are meaningful to us. Capitalist (colonial, racist, patriarchal, etc) logic tells us that communal wellbeing comes at the expense of the individual, but that really doesn’t reflect how human beings actually feel.

      1. retired3*

        I saw your name and always have loved it…and I agree with you. I stumbled into a local group opposing a very rich developer who is being supported by the county in very shady ways. I actually stood on the land we are trying to save and made a promise: I will do the things I do well every day. I can’t promise I can save you, but I can promise I will do that. It’s been 20 years. No development. I do a little something every day. Other people do too…it’s very loosey goosey and we have no money, but 20 years…

        What do you do well? What are you “pulled” to do. I’ve had to learn stuff I never thought I’d learn (websites) but my skills come from years of being a bureaucrat…how to use the government in our favor (like go around local folks to the state folks). It’s terribly stressful but everyday I make the decision that I can do 1 thing.

        This actually has brought me awareness of indigenous rights as local tribes have been opposed to the development as well.

        You put it all in context better than I can, but I don’t try to save the planet or even this land I care about so much. I just try to keep my promise that I will do what I can.

    12. Olivia Oil*

      Political action! The problem is we focus on the wrong type of individual action. We should be focusing on individual *political* action, not consumption habits. This includes voting, community organizing, etc.

      As far as consumption habits go, what you DON’T buy saves way more carbon emissions than what you do buy, because you aren’t creating a resource demand.

    13. Morning reader*

      I too am cynical about the potential of personal action, but I’ve been reading some encouraging ideas lately:

      Using your own land (if you have any) to provide habitat for wildlife, planting native species, etc. especially if you are on a migration route for birds or butterflies, this can help.

      Not using chemicals that runoff into the water.

      Some electric companies have plans that allow you to buy your energy only from renewables. (The more people do this, the more demand for renewables, the more the companies will want to provide.)

      Reduce your driving, drive a hybrid or electric vehicle. Take trains rather than planes when possible. (Remember the Obama era buyback of old cars? It made a difference.)

      You are correct that each individual’s practice doesn’t do much on its own, but creating trends and movements toward more sustainable practices gives the corporations incentive to do more.

      Besides all that, educating yourself and supporting political positions that help can also be effective.

      Recently I read Bill Gates’ book that exhaustively covered some of the potential technologies. (The audio read by Will Wheaton, made me feel like Wesley Crusher is coming to save us :). David Attenborough’s a witness statement has some exciting ideas about rewilding the world. Simon Winchester’s “Land” talks about some interesting developments in Scotland and elsewhere on that. (Also a good one for the history books thread!)

      I also support reproductive choice and girls’ education global organizations because I think that anywhere women know enough, and have access to medical care and birth control, we will always, on average, opt to have fewer children who all live, rather than many children and few live. There’s not a woman on the planet who wouldn’t rather have 0-3 children who survive, than 6-12 children and 0-3 of them live. (Still a few who will want to have many if they can, but they will be the outliers and not affect the average that much.) So, supporting education and birth control for everyone will be good for the planet, too. (I say women because that’s how reproductive rates are counted but men can do their part too! If you already have all the kids you want, or don’t want any, get a vasectomy ASAP! Good for you, good for the planet.) in any country that allows women to choose, we do, and the birth rate goes down.

    14. Mannequin*

      Putting “saving the environment” on individual humans also puts an unfair burden on people who are disabled and/or low income.

      The ban on disposable plastic straws was harmful to people with disabilities that require the use of a straw to drink liquid or nutrients, and for whom reusable straws do not work.

      If I don’t drink enough water, I end up with health complications, and the ONLY way I can be sure to drink enough is to buy bottled water. I have tried EVERY other way to do so and simply cannot make it work. I drink so much water that I buy gallons by the 6 pack at Costco, so it does reduce the plastic waste.

      If I don’t have heat & eat food in my house, I’ll end up just not eating, because I don’t have the executive function skills to cook almost anything anymore. I mean I will literally go hungry with a fridge stuffed full of ingredients because I cannot get my cooking sh!t together. Yay ADHD/autism!

      I can’t keep up on dishes and it was giving me panic attacks to have a sink full of dirty dishes, so I started buying paper plates & bowls.

      Anyone who is going to give me a hard time because I need these ACCOMMODATIONS to lead a happy, healthy life can F off.

    15. the cat's ass*

      I can’t remember where i saw it-a meme one of my friends sent me? It more of less said, all the people don’t have to do all of the things all of the time, but at least if some of the people do some of the things some of the time, we are all better off? I fear I’m mangling it.

      So, recycling, voting (and supporting unrestricted voting here in the US), using public transport/bikes/less cars, etc; what ever you can do in your community. the straw thing annoys me too but i bought some reusable metal/glass ones. One of us may not make much impact, but groups of people totally do.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      I have been interested in protecting the planet since I was a kid in the 70s.
      By the 90s I saw so many problems I felt dwarfed by it all. Then I decided, all I can do is control my own actions.

      Number one on my list was (and still is) to consume less. Our elders were correct about taking only what we need, IMO. This works into a huge conversation and can cover many books on various topics.

      I see a lot of blame on capitalism. But selfishness, unethical behavior, harmful behaviors, etc. can exist under any system. And we can find real life proof of this. It’s nice to have one thing to blame for all the problems but the real answers run much deeper.
      I had an uncle who believed that until people feel it in their wallets they will not prioritize the planet over their own desires. I tend to agree that we have a percentage of the population who will never, ever get this. Even some will continue to pay no matter what the price rather than reduce.

      I have no idea what the answers are but until there are easy to access, viable alternatives, I do not believe anything plan will take hold in a sustainable manner.

      On the positive side, I also believe that some effort will give us some benefit, and more effort will give us more benefit. But this means no instant improvements.

      1. retired3*

        I had the same realization in the 60’s. Thought from Quaker Meeting today: the most radical thing we can do is to meditate.

  19. Sloanicote*

    Oooh, I’m so upset! My dog has an ear infection, I’m pretty sure, and the vet says they cannot see him for nearly three weeks! I bought some over-the-counter ear cleanser (although he probably needs antibiotics) but he hates me fussing with is ears and will barely let me near him. Of all the delays due to the pandemic – not being able to get contractors to work on my house, not being able to receive some important supplies I ordered, lack of tests in stores, long lines – this vet thing is the one that makes me so afraid. The vet office message just literally says, “if you need immediate care go the animal hospital.” I’ve been a member of the clinic for years and now I’m basically on my own with my two aged pets. The animal hospital is always hugely crowded with long waits and costs a fortune, so I’ve just been hoping my dog can hang on :( Does anyone have any tips on managing this at home?

    1. LaDonna*

      Could you send in photos and your vet could prescribe something after taking a look? My vet does that quite often, saves me a visit!

    2. Missb*

      I’m so sorry! My pup had an annual visit this week and he’d been scratching it his ears for not quite two weeks. Yeast infection, she said his ears were inflamed. I knew he had an issue, just wasn’t sure if it was mites or yeast. I used ear cleaner but really needed the antibiotics.

      He is on day 3 of the drops and he is barely fussing with his ears, so the drops seem to be working just fine. I guess my point is that the couple of weeks delay may not be bad? I wouldn’t go digging around in your pups ears.

      Any chance for a mobile vet? I understand not wanting to go to the emergency vet- wait times around here are sometimes 12 hours. Have you tried posting on nextdoor to ask about where folks take their pups? Usually a newer clinic pops up in the replies, one that I haven’t heard of, and newer ones are more likely to take new patients.

      I feel for both pet parents and vets right now. The demand for services is so high. My pup’s first appointment was rescheduled for a week later because the vet caught Covid.

      1. Sloanicote*

        I feel so terrible about not taking him to the hospital – but yes, it can literally be a 12 hour wait, during a pandemic, and I’ve got a medically vulnerable contact I’ve been trying not to bring the virus to. It doesn’t seem like an emergency at this point, so I’m holding off. You’re right, maybe a newer clinic can get him in. I’m sure simple ear drops are all he needs.

        1. Imtheone*

          Emergency vet near us takes the animal in, but the owner waits in the car. Not great – hard on the pet- but T least the owner is not sitting in an indoor waiting room for so long.

          1. Chili pepper Attitude*

            Ours does the same and it’s really hard for my doggo but they do a great job helping us manage and it’s meant little waiting for care, like when he pulled off a toenail and had an infection.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m having a similar problem with my dog! He’s got a very nasty cough and I’m worried it’s bronchitis and that he needs antibiotics but my vet can’t see me for ages. What I’ve done is found another vet close to me and book an appointment there for next week so I’m hoping thatll help. Maybe finding another vet, temporarily, is an option for you A QWLL?

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      Does your area have a walk in vet? My area has two of those, and one will do telehealth too via app. I didn’t know about them until my regular vet told me on a day where my dog needed to be seen on a busy day. If your vet can’t see you, then I would send photos and ask to pick up a prescription. If they won’t do that or at least provide you with urgent care options, maybe it’s time to find another vet.

      If you are on Facebook, the local community pages are good for finding out about pet walk in clinics too. Googling “walk in vet” showed me the few near me, so maybe that query will work for you too .

    5. pancakes*

      Can you wrap him in a towel? That helps minimize wiggling during ear cleaning. Also, if you have drops to put in, warm the bottle in a mug of hot water. I do this for my cat and between that and the treats she gets afterwards, she has become very good about cooperating.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Try to find a different vet. Seriously. Around here there are vets that will come to your home.
      My dog gets ear infections and I know for a fact that this is something that cannot wait.

      OR
      Some healthfood stores have a pet section, you may be able to find something natural that you are comfortable giving him.

      OR
      Likewise with pet stores, if you have a pet store where you are familiar with the employees and trust what they say you could check in with them.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Now I’m looking at this on-line vet, Vetster. Has anybody used a service like this? It’s kind of amazing if it works, but I don’t know how someone can tell if it’s yeast or bacteria through a computer. But at least he could be “seen” right away.

        1. Sloanicote*

          Update: it looks like they can’t prescribe in my state, I’m going to see if Chewy can. I’m pretty sure what he needs is a prescription ultimately.

    7. Invisible Fish*

      Find another vet.

      Sure, make an appt for three weeks out with this person, but start calling reputable vets until you can get him in somehow, then cancel other appts. We did this and ended up totally switching vets because we got more realistic *everything* at new clinic.

      1. the cat's ass*

        yes, the vet-during-COVID thing has been really weird. My fam has used the same vet/hospital for 20+ years for our kitties, and things have totally fallen apart with COVID and the place being sold to a big conglomerate. Long waits for care, much higher prices, and then demands for unnecessary testing and treatment, upselling, and all the vets we knew have departed. I have my eye on a local private practice that does house calls but she’s closed/not accepting new patients till after the omicron spike has passed. I hope the Chewy option works for you!

  20. Werewolf? There wolf!*

    Whenever the housing market starts to level out, I’m thinking of leaving my rental and buying a home. Any tips for a first-time homebuyer? Useful stuff to know?

    1. LaDonna*

      Find a very experienced real estate agent, and not one who just wants to sell you a home. My father-in-law is a retired broker, and he was very well known for being a legit real estate agent who wanted to sell the best property. He would go into homes and if the flooring was off (not balanced), he would make sure the people looking to buy knew that the house has or would have foundation issues one day. He would make sure to warn them about flood zones, structural issues, things like that.

      Find a real estate agent that’s interested in finding you the best home, not one who’s just interested in making a sale.

    2. UKDancer*

      Don’t look for property at the top of your budget. You’ll need money to do stuff to it so look a bit under. Also factor in other costs such as stamp duty, removal costs and legal expenses. Make sure you get a solicitor who knows what they’re doing.

      You can change a lot about a property but not the location. So find the location and then look for property. Make a list of what is essential to you and what isn’t.

      It doesn’t matter what colour the walls are if they’re structurally sound. It’s worth getting a proper survey done as it could save a packet later. Bad paint colours can be fixed but subsidence is a lot more of a headache to deal with. New kitchens and bathrooms aren’t that expensive but major works are.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Seconding UKDancer on location.

      I found the Not So Big House books (check your library) useful for putting names to patterns, so rather than “I like this space but not this one” it was “I like the loop rather than the dead end.” It helped me figure out what could be readily changed and what was going to be difficult to alter.

    4. Cookie*

      Buy in a neighborhood you like and have researched, don’t just buy a house you like.

      As someone else said, buy less than you can afford, so you can afford to do stuff to the inside. I spent some of my house-buying budget on new appliances to replace the 20-year-old rusty ones that were here. No regrets on that!

      A home warranty doesn’t cover everything…my garage door broke twice in the first year and I spent over $400 repairing it, out of pocket. Be sure to keep some liquid cash for unpleasant surprises.

      Get an independent home inspector recommendation…don’t take your realtor’s recommendation. Ask a trusted handyman, ask your new neighbors, ask the local Reddit for your city.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In case you find something the home inspector missed, be aware that at least in some states there is a defined time period during which if you find problems the home inspector missed, the home inspector is liable.
        If you are buying something with property, make sure that the land boundaries are marked.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      I recommend you get a book or 2 on house buying; there’s a lot to know. But here are 3 thoughts:
      Realtors say “location, location, location” are the 3 most important factors for buying a house. Don’t buy next to undeveloped land, a backyard on the north side makes for more pleasant summers, etc.
      Insist on a thorough house inspection. You should flush all the toilets, start the dishwasher and look at the walls and sills behind any window coverings and under all rugs, etc.
      Insist on a day-before-closing walkthrough. Make sure the previous owner didn’t strip the place of things that should have stayed with the house. (Ask me how I know about this little gem!) You have much more power before you close to negotiate an issue.
      Best of Luck in your Househunting!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      They will preapprove you for X amount. Reduce that amount by 1/3 and that is your price range. Buy less house than they tell you that you can afford. You will never, ever regret doing this.
      OR
      Use a real estate calc online to find out how much mortgage you can take on.
      For monthly payment I put in my current rent amount.
      For term of loan I put in 30 years x 12 mo/yr.
      For interest rate pick a high rate for your setting.
      Then solve for loan amount. That dollar amount is probably where you should be.

    7. BlueWolf*

      Oh man, I just bought my first home last year during the crazy home buying rush, so I could probably write a whole book. Other commenters above have covered a lot already. First, find a good lender and get a pre-qualification so you know what you can afford (but also seriously look at your budget and determine what you think you can afford). The price my lender said I was “qualified” for was way more than I actually would have been comfortable with, plus you have to factor in maintenance costs. My lender was really helpful as a first time buyer though. I found her through my state’s first time homebuyer assistance program. I didn’t end up applying for down payment assistance, but my lender was really helpful in comparing the options and also explaining the home buying process and associated costs because she deals with a lot of first time buyers. As for determining what you can afford, it’s easier to think of it in terms of the monthly payment versus the overall price of the home. Most of the online listing sites have monthly payment estimators for each home, so you can get an idea of the full monthly price including insurance, taxes, HOA or condo fees if applicable, and you can adjust it based on your estimated interest rate and down payment amount. However, if I saw a home I was seriously considering I would send it to my lender and she would prepare a detailed estimate of the actual closing costs and monthly payment.

      Once you have an idea of your budget, you’ll know what types of homes or locations you can afford. Then identify your must-haves, nice to haves, or what you don’t want. After 7 years living in a noisy, run-down apartment, I wanted to get away from people so bad lol, and I’m a bit of a homebody, so a detached home was really my ideal. I also don’t mind doing a few things myself like mowing the lawn or minor repairs around the house, and I wanted my own outdoor space. I had to compromise on some other things in order to find that in my budget. If you aren’t planning to stay in the house forever, don’t worry about it being your perfect dream home. Focus more on the bones of the home and the condition of major systems (roof, HVAC, water heater, etc) and if it is good enough for the amount of time you plan to live in it. I figure I can live in my house for 7-10 years, build up some equity, and eventually upgrade to something better. As others have said, a good real estate agent is also invaluable. I went with a buyer’s agent. Since they don’t represent sellers, they won’t be trying to direct you to their own listings. They weren’t necessarily the best at identifying listings for me, I pretty much found them myself online, but there are so many online tools these days that you don’t really need the agent for that anymore. They were most helpful in evaluating homes as we looked at them, like identifying the age or condition of major systems, and looking out for water damage or other possible maintenance issues. The major (expensive) mistake I made was not shopping around for a home inspector ahead of time. I went with one my agent recommended and he missed a pretty major foundation issue in the crawl space, which meant expensive repairs once I had an actual foundation expert look at it. Some of the challenges in my home buying journey were the result of the crazy market and having to make decisions so quickly. In hindsight, I probably would have done some things differently, but I’m not planning on this being my forever home. Lastly, there are so many little unexpected costs related to closing, plus moving costs, furnishings, etc. so make sure you have a good chunk of cash set aside for that. And don’t take out any new credit or rack up balances on credit cards right before you start looking at homes and definitely not during the closing process. Any changes to your credit during that time period can derail your closing. Don’t buy a car, don’t start pre-buying furniture on credit or anything.

    8. Jay*

      What everyone else said about location especially if you will have a commute to work. We bought our first house when our jobs were far apart and we each had a 45-minute commute. Eventually we moved and both changed jobs. His commute dropped to ten minutes on a bad day and mine to 20. I can’t even describe the difference it made. I would buy a smaller house for less commute again in a heartbeat.

      Look past paint and wallpaper. Other people won’t be able to and you will get more house for your money.

    9. Sloanicote*

      As a first time home buyer, there may be special programs you are eligible for, but they may have restrictions that will drive all your other decisions so it’s good to know first. Google “first time homebuyer program” + your state and then try your county. I called the person at the state who was in charge of it so that I could be sure I understood, as they are quite complex. Mine was worth doing because it meant I didn’t have to pay PMI even though I didn’t put 20% down – but I had to use one of the approved local banks to get it. I was surprised but pleased to be eligible as my income would usually be above the cutoff for most programs. It has been great.

    10. Let me be dark and twisty*

      My advice is more on what to pay attention to when you’re looking at houses/going on tours rather than the financing and closing processes that everyone else is sharing — which is also incredibly useful! Here are the things I have learned about house-shopping that might help you:
      * Don’t get distracted by the cosmetic appearance of a house. Paint, flooring, kitchen cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, etc. can be easily changed. What’s not so easily changed? What kind of storage space you have, or whether there are ceiling vents that blow on your stovetop (which can make cooking harder), or creaky and squeaky floors, or the location of the washer/dryer (is it in a cubby next to the kitchen so you might have lint going into your pasta? is it in the basement and you’ll have to go up and down three flights of stairs to put your laundry away? is it on the floor with the bedrooms?).
      * If you have a car, be able to picture its size or dimensions so you can tell if it will fit in a garage. Cars are getting bigger but garages (especially one-car garages in new builds) are getting smaller.
      * Decide how much outdoor maintenance and yardwork you’re willing to do. Shovel a driveway or sidewalk? Mow a small lawn? Mow a large lawn? Rake leaves? This can inform how big a lot or property you want (for instance a townhouse versus a “regular” house versus a condo).
      * Think about what kind of area you want to live in or the lifestyle you want to have. If you’re active or have dogs, then you probably might prefer a home in a neighborhood that has sidewalks or play/exercise structures.
      * Homeowner associations (HOAs) are notorious for rules and busybodies but not all of them fall into the stereotype. So buying into an HOA isn’t the end all be all, but make sure you know what you’re getting into. If you have an agent, ask them what the law is regarding HOAs – for instance in my state, if a buyer requests HOA documents, then they have 3 days from receipt to review them and decide if they want to pursue the sale. If they don’t, and it’s within those 3 days, then they can pull out with no loss.
      * Have a general idea of what you want before you get serious looking so that when it’s time, it’s easier to whittle down all the options into your must-have priorities. The easiest way to do this is to go around to open houses now. You’ll learn quickly what you like and don’t like.

      1. Llellayena*

        Anyone know if that HOA 3-day review thing (or something similar) is in effect in NJ? Are sellers required to provide a copy? My realtor said we can’t get a copy until we ask for it from the seller as a condition of the offer because the HOA is reluctant to provide copies to non-residents.

    11. Clare*

      Anything you might want to paint, paint BEFORE you move any stuff in. The weekend that you get the keys you should paint that weird magenta feature wall and the orange ensuite. Painting when you’re living in a house is a nightmare. Moving furniture, setting up drop cloths over stuff you can’t move, dealing with paint smell, discovering you accidentally bought full tint instead of 1/4 so you have to re-do it next weekend…. Save yourself the heart ache.

      Obviously most people need to paint whilst in the house at some point in their lives, trends change etc, but if there’s anything that you know that you’ll paint within a year or so then do it before the move. My parents are house flippers and I’ve lived through both. Painting while you’re in is very stressful.

      Another paint tip: colour is obviously personal, but if you’re looking for a neutral that goes with everything I recommend a cream mixed from red and black. It just matches with every other neutral from grey to brown. 1/4 Hogsbristle is popular for this reason. It looks like whatever colour it’s next to. But a paint mixing shop will be able to show you other neutrals that are different ratios of red and black. And beware, full tints of light colours are still way darker than you think!

      1. Sloanicote*

        This is a great tip. I wasn’t prepared for this (and of course I had just spent, like, all my liquid money, so that didn’t help). The weekend after closing is the perfect time to do as much as you can – I did all the flooring – because your stuff isn’t in there yet. What a lot of stress though, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t quite swing it all. I was afraid I might not close on the planned date, having heard all kinds of nightmare scenarios about the final walk through or some kind of financial issue coming up.

    12. BooLawns*

      In retrospect the jump from an apartment to (in our case) a half acre of lawn and landscaping to maintain was not one we were ready for. It takes us about three hours a week to mow (we’re not comfortable buying a riding lawn mower for various safety and sustainability reasons) and it’s a weekly chore six months of the year here. Several life events and four years later we still haven’t figured out how to manage the yard and our schedules.

      So I would definitely recommend thinking about how yardwork will fit into your routine and what that may mean for the size of yard you want.

      1. Observer*

        and it’s a weekly chore six months of the year here. Several life events and four years later we still haven’t figured out how to manage the yard and our schedules.

        A bit of a side note – but is it not realistic to bet a service to do this?

        To the OP – think about stuff like this when you think about what it’s going to cost to actually live in that house.

        1. BooLawns*

          We’ve tried four so far. Each gave us an initial quote, did it once, then came back to us with an apology and that they’d need to double the price going forward. One of them tipped their riding mower. Apparently our elevation is bad but stealthy about it.

    13. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I bought and moved (from a rental) just recently, so this is still painfully fresh. I’m in Australia so certain things may be different, but here’s my advice.

      Research research research. Know the area you’re aiming for and get to know the agents. Don’t rely on online research, an in person visit will often be quite different. Bookmark the places you visit and note what they end up selling for. Get to know the difference between a bargain, a fair market price and a “good offer”. The last one especially if you’re buying into a hot market.

      Negotiating in a competitive environment: no one enjoys doing business with a pushy or illusive jerk. Be friendly and transparent, be accommodating if you can and it costs you nothing. I looked out for clues about the sellers and the agent to make conversation and find common ground. I knew what a “good offer” for the property was, put that in upfront and then stayed firm on price but was easy going on the rest. There were competing offers and ours was marginally less attractive, but ultimately they accepted it because we “seem like such nice people, and if the offers are similar why not sell to the one who’s nice to deal with?”.

      The first 48hrs after your offer is accepted will be one of the most stressful times in your life. You won’t have much time to research and compare your options, so you can make it easier on yourself if you pre-organise, or at least have shortlisted: a solicitor, building/pest/asbestos inspector and insurance (I didn’t know the property would be at our risk already from date of contract and I was floored by how expensive the quotes were). Also check what the daily transfer limit on your account is, because your initial deposit will be required immediately.

      If you’re not going for pre-approval (we didn’t bother because they’re only valid 90 days and it took us 2 years to find the right place) get as much of your documentation sorted in advance as you can. If your employment situation is anything other than “reliably employed for several years with the same company”, assume you’ll need additional supporting documentation. Find out what that’ll be from your lender in advance.

      Give work a heads up that you’ll need flexibility to make urgent calls, meetings, fill out paperwork etc during the conditional contract period. Or better yet, try to get some time off. I was part time thankfully and could take care of everything on behalf of both of us. There was so much to stay on top of and I’m glad I didn’t have to do it late at night with an exhausted brain.

      Some property searches your solicitor will offer (eg zoning overlays) are openly available online for free with local council or state services. You can save on fees by doing it yourself, and you can dig further into anything of concern.

      Lastly, when it comes to taking possession and moving in, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If it’s lining up contractors, fine. DIY: estimate your energy reserves conservatively. Others have mentioned doing painting before you move in and having done it, I wouldn’t recommend it. Between the packing, lifting, carrying, unpacking, cleaning before putting away at the new place, and scrubbing clean the old place, my middle aged body could’ve done without cramming in the additional 12 hours of stress painting before moving in the couch. You can (and will) rearrange your furniture later anyway, drop sheets exist, as do low VOC paints, and once you live in a space you might have different thoughts about colours anyway.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

    14. Chili pepper Attitude*

      There are some great dot gov websites that are helpful. I’ll post links in a reply. But you can also google this
      first time home buying state name site:.gov

      That’ll get you some good info.

    15. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Make a list of questions/things you want to know about the property. As a jumping off point:
      -What schools does it feed to? (even if you don’t have kids, it can affect the value of your home)
      -What is located nearby – do you have access to shopping/parks/amenities? Is it near your work? Family/friends you want to socialize with? What about other places you may frequent? Doctors’ offices? Vets?
      -What expenses are locked in (e.g. HOA dues, condo fees, etc.) Make sure you account for those.
      -How much are property taxes in your area?
      -What are your must haves? What are your nice to haves? Really think about what can be easily fixed/changed and what is more involved. Looking back, while I’m glad we didn’t spend a ton to upgrade the floors, countertops, etc (new construction), I now have a much clearer view of what my husband and I are willing to do as far as upgrades and wish I had some of those things
      -Hire an inspector… a really really good inspector and make sure that they are thorough and that they answer any questions you have about the condition of the property.
      -For your mortgage – will you escrow, or will you self-escrow? Some people prefer to have the mortgage company escrow because they don’t do well with saving up to pay annual expenses like homeowners insurance. Others prefer to do that themselves. If you have an FHA loan, you may be required to escrow.
      -Do you qualify for any special tax benefits for being a first time homebuyer (covered above, but definitely look into this)
      -Also be sure to drive by the property multiple times on different days, different times of day, etc. Make sure it is a place that you can feel at home because it will be your home.

      Good luck!

    16. Observer*

      When you make a budget think about what it will actually cost to live in that house.

      * Mortgage payments
      * Property taxes
      * Insurance
      * Utilities
      * Maintenance
      * Other taxes and fees

      I’m also going to say that I was strenuously against a variable rate mortgage when we bought. A LOT of people were telling us that we were being stupid and wasting money. But when the financial crisis hit, we were very happy we had done it my way. One of the key problems that hit may homeowners was that their mortgage interest had gone up well past what they could afford. In our case, out interest started a bit higher than a typical variable rate loan (and on a loan the size we had to take – we’re in NYC – that wasn’t chump change) but we knew that, barring job loss we could swing it. Withing a few years, most variable rate mortgages were well above what we were paying. We’d have been well and truly messed up had that happened to us.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        On the flip side though, it’s worth OP bearing in mind that fixed rate loans can come with astronomical early exit fees, and a rise in interests rates can also negatively impact property values. My friend did the same as you Observer and was initially glad for it. But then her father got sick, she had to sell and move and she got stung for over $40k in exit fees. That was the major thing that made me go with variable. I was worried that if one of us lost our jobs or fell ill and we were forced to sell before we could build enough equity, that it would eat up our entire safety net right when we most needed it. Whichever way you go OP, just make sure you read the fine print and crunch the numbers.

        1. Observer*

          Exit fees tend to exist regardless of fixed vs variable rate. But, you are right – that is definitely something to look for when considering any mortgage. If you are looking at a longer term loan (I’d say anything over 5 years), having a significant early termination penalty can be a real risk.

          But I did insist that we get a mortgage that would not penalize us for paying out early. I wasn’t so much concerned about selling early, but because I was hoping that we would be able, at some point, to manage to pay down some of the mortgage and I didn’t want that savings to be eaten up by early payment penalties. And we did in fact pay of the mortgage quite a few years earlier than the full term which saved us a considerable amount over what it would have cost us, even allowing for the fact that we refinanced to get lower rates.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            That also really underscores the need to know what you want in a mortgage product and shop around. I just compared mine out of curiosity, and the exit fee is $250. If I had locked in a fixed rate loan for say, 5 years and decided to sell in 2 years, I’d be up for $97k. I sweat bullets just thinking about it!

            1. Observer*

              That also really underscores the need to know what you want in a mortgage product and shop around.

              This X 1,000!

    17. Public Sector Manager*

      Three things I wish I would have done when I bought my first house:

      1. Hire a company to inspect the sewer line with a camera to see its age and longevity. I didn’t and ended up having to replace the sewer within the first 12 months.

      2. If the old owner talks about any upgrades that need a permit, pull the permits to see if the work was done. My house had what I thought was a remodeled bathroom. The work was done by the owner before the owner I was buying from. That owner did all the work themselves, didn’t pull any permits, and they had their mother as their real estate agent who had a false listed. By the time all this was discovered, the statute of limitations in my state expired. Suffice to say I had to do a bathroom remodel as well. And 6 years later, discovered the illegal sewer line coming out of the washer and dryer in the garage. If the current owner says anything is an upgrade, make them show you the permits. And if they didn’t do the work, go to the county to see if any permits were pulled. This would have saved me a lot of angst and marital woes after my wife moved in.

      3. When you tour a house, if they are using incense, fresh baked cookies, etc., 90% of the time it’s not to make the house more homey, but to cover smells that might reveal a problem.

      Is it over the top? Yes. But had a done these things, I would have saved a good $17,000 and discussions with a couple of real estate attorneys.

  21. I'm just here for the cats*

    Has anyo`e eve had ceramic tiles removed from your floor? I have a very small bathroom about 6 feet by 6 feet not including the tub. The tiles are starting to break and thers a bit of water damage to the subfloor. My landlord has someone commming today at 10. Is one day enough time to remove the tiles pull the toilet, fix anything and then lay the linoleum down?

    1. Red Sky*

      Ideally, yes that’s enough time if they’re just replacing the subfloor and reflooring with lino, but sometimes there’s unplanned for surprises under the rotted subfloor (leaky plumbing, rotting joists) that may also need to be addressed, so that can add to the scope of work.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      Good luck with that. If the subfloor is involved, and they’re not even starting until at least ten, I would be very surprised if they finish by quitting time.
      Even if, and it’s a big if, they finish that day, what does your landlord suggest you do for a toilet during that time?
      I don’t know where you’re located, but most places have tenant rights laws that at least require working plumbing. (I hope that formatting works.)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For someone who needs to call and get A professional to do that kind of repair on her own home, what professional do I call? We have a shower that is leaking and the subfloor needs to be replaced. (The comment I made on another thread about having a certain period of time where the home inspector is liable? This is the problem I didn’t know he was liable for until a month after the time period expired.)

  22. Dwight Schrute*

    Anyone else enjoying playing Wordle each day? Are their similar games you suggest in an app so you can do more than one per day? I downloaded the wordle app but they’re too easy to make it very fun

    1. Eden*

      I would google “mastermind with words” and try out some results – looks like there are various other homebrews out there.

    2. Helvetica*

      A word of note – the Wordle app is not created by the creator of the original Wordle but someone else who just decided to make money off of it. That put me off the app, even if I would love to play it forever because I just can’t justify the actions of the guy who made the app. Sure, the original Wordle is also derived from previous similar games but that creator never tried to monetize it.

    3. Purple cat*

      I’m thoroughly enjoying wordle. But have found I have a somewhat addicting personality with games with endless levels, so I like the one and done.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes I agree – otherwise it would just join the many other quick phone games that I play obsessively for a couple of weeks and get bored of. I like that this is just once a day. My mother is now doing it and posting her result on the family WhatsApp chat each morning, as an alternative to checking in with us or with the call-line facility in her retirement home, to confirm she is up and ok in the morning – she’d been balking at the other options and getting cross when we tried to suggest them ( I understand why) but this has solved the problem, so thankyou Wordle!

    4. Cookie*

      I play Lexulous aka online “scrabble” and am always looking for new people to play against. You can play against the computer, or do a two-player game with a friend (or a stranger). It’s not the same kind of one-and-done puzzle, though.

      1. Fletch*

        There is a game similar to Wordle that you can infinite amount of times in a day:

        octokatherine.github.io/word-master

    5. anon7557*

      Seven little words, monkey wrench and red herring are all fun word games. “Four pics one word” is too.

    6. OtterB*

      Not exactly similar, but I’m fond of a game called Word Stacks. You get a grid of letters and as you select horizontal or vertical words, those letters disappear, until you’ve used them all. You can continue playing, but I don’t find it as compulsive as some of the other level-based games.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How do you UK commenders feel about Wordle using US spelling?
      I’m told twitter was in an uproar over the game spelling ‘favor’ with 5 letters.

    8. bratschegirl*

      If you’re musically knowledgeable, particularly on the classical end of the spectrum, there’s “Byrdle,” where all the 5-letter words are choral-music-adjacent. Play is the same, one per day.

  23. Little Miss Mess*

    Any fellow slobs on here have advice for how they became an organized person? Tips from people who have grown up in a super tidy life because I find it hard to relate. I’m that person that had toys and clothes strewn all over my floors basically until I moved in with my husband (who is organized and from a tidy household). I’m getting better but I’m still far from the standard my husband would like. It’s hard to explain because I do feel better when the house is organized, and enjoy the benefits of all my clothes put away and the couch not covered in clothes and toys but in the moment I feel sort of blind to it/I’m too tired and it’s not second nature at all.

    I have to mentally psych myself up to do any sort of cleaning, tidying and I’m not sure why. We’ve talked about paying someone to do that for us, but that wouldn’t fully solve the problem. Any advice? I don’t want to be this way!

    For reference, what I’ve tried is Marie Kondo, lots and lots of youtube videos which gives me temporary motivation but that subsides after the first deep clean.

    1. Dino*

      I recently realized that I never learned to like, put away my coat when I get into the door instead of throwing it on the floor. I was not raised tidy and have lots of shame-spirals related to cleaning so I feel you!

      Easiest thing that’s made a big difference? Twice a day (morning and night), set a timer for 5 minutes and pick up things, collect dirty dishes, put things in the trash, etc until it goes off. It’s amazing how much better your place feels after just 5 minutes of effort. If twice a day doesn’t work for you, or your place is really big, adjust time and frequency to suit you so it can become a sustainable habit.

      1. Dino*

        Forgot to add: I like the 5 minute thing because I don’t have to psych myself up or follow a checklist or do anything involved. I just ping-pong around my place finding things that need to go elsewhere, or fluffing my couch pillows, or wiping a counter, or throwing something out from the fridge. Then when the timer goes off, I take in the progress. It’s helped me stop the dreaded “stress about, procrastination, yell at myself until I clean it, now I never want to clean again, oh everything is a wreck again” cycle.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Ooh, I like this!

        It also helps to have some designated bins/etc. for clutter. My dirty clothes will never make it into the laundry room immediately, but if I keep a hamper in my closet they at least end up in there and not piled up on my chair and floor for days on end.

      3. Little Miss Mess*

        Your first sentence made me LOL. That is so me. If I weren’t living with my husband and kiddo and left to my own devices I would come in, kick my shoes off and fling my jacket on the couch, throw mail around. I was raised in a messy (not dirty) house by a single mom who worked multiple jobs and just didn’t have a lot of structure.
        When I first visited my in-laws house, I was like, woah. It’s soooooo clean. It, at all times, is ready for a magazine crew to show up and take pictures for Good Housekeeping or AD. His mom spends at least 1-2 hours cleaning the house everyday and then does a deep clean weekly. Just so different from how I was raised.

    2. TiredEmployee*

      Look for tips on housekeeping written for people with ADHD. I don’t have it, but they basically amount to different ways to make things easy for you, which works for everyone. Not only does everything need a “home”, but that “home” needs to be as easy to use as it can be.

      Decluttering has helped me a lot – I had much more success doing this very slowly with Dana White’s methods than Marie Kondo’s – but so has buying the right storage furniture for the stuff we’re keeping. I also rely heavily on a task-management app with recurring tasks for all housework and anything that needs remembering. Not that it’s a solved problem by any means, since my partner and I both have this issue, but our home is a lot better than it was, and it’s still slowly improving.

    3. Ins mom*

      I feel for you! I’m not a tidy person, and neither is spouse. Try small improvements, maybe handling something only once- dirty dishes go straight to the dishwasher and don’t stop on the counter first. Junk mail goes straight to recycling, doesn’t land on the counter. Toys with hundreds of pieces get downsized to 50/ if the kid is too young to count good luck

    4. Admin of Sys*

      So I can’t help with the motivation, but I love the basket technique for actual tidying up of stuff. Basically, in every room there’s a small semi decorative basket or fabric cube or other container that acts as the collector for anything that doesn’t belong in the room. Toys, sweater you took off when you got in, random book that belongs upstairs, whatever. (note: not dishes or food – those need to just go back into the kitchen because bugs/germs/etc.)
      That way, when you see something out of place, instead of having to figure out where it goes and take it there, you can just toss it into the basket. When you have a bit more energy and time (or the basket is filling up), then you take the basket around to all the other rooms and put stuff where it belongs. This keeps the individual rooms much more organized without feeling the constant stress of running around or getting distracted putting away the stationary when all you wanted was a cup of tea. It also makes it easier to find things when they’re not where their supposed be – if they’re not in their home, they’re probably in one of the baskets.