weekend open thread – June 11-12, 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: Happy for You, by Claire Stanford. Midway through her dissertation, a woman leaves grad school to study happiness at the world’s third largest tech company, while grappling with race, family, (possible) marriage, and (possible) motherhood.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,012 comments… read them below }

  1. CrankyNeighbor*

    Fellow apartment dwellers (past or present), who were your worst neighbors and why? I need help reminding myself that there can indeed be worse neighbors in the world than my current upstairs neighbor who apparently lifts (and drops) weights between 2-3am every night.

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      The ones who smoked on their balcony above ours and didn’t think they needed ask trays because they were outdoors. The falling ash made it so we couldn’t be out there when they smoked, and they once melted my toddlers inflatable pool we had out there, but the worst was when they set fire to their wooden chair and we had to evacuate at 3 am.

      1. Flash Packet*

        I had the reverse situation. It was my downstairs neighbors who smoked, indoors and out. As everyone knows, smoke rises, so my apartment stank and I couldn’t sit on my patio or open my windows if they were home.

        They also played music at a volume loud enough that people in other apartment buildings in the complex would complain, but the cigarette smoke was worse.

    2. Raboot*

      Had a convo yesterday with my neighbors about the last building they lived in, where there was a guy who fell asleep while filling the tub… Multiple times. Everyone knew this because it would leak into the apartment below every time. Who falls asleep before the tub is even full??? Go to a doctor my dude! And stop taking baths!

      1. pancakes*

        We had one of those. It wasn’t that she would fall asleep, more like she would wander off and get distracted. She also had a remarkable ability to find similarly forgetful people to sublet to when she went on tour. (She was a musician). She was a sweet woman but maddening to live downstairs from.

        1. Raboot*

          Right like you’d think that after one “fall asleep in tub” incident he would like, take steps to not be in that situation again.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      The guy who screamed, banged on a pipe in his apartment hard enough to cause a leak in ours (upstairs), & broke the glass front door of the building, apparently by running straight into it.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      We have a first-floor patio that opens onto a shared grassy area so there are constantly children getting in our space and asking/demanding to use our stuff. Only one of them ever wore a mask at any point during the pandemic. It doesn’t feel right saying children are the worst neighbors since it’s not their fault I find them annoying, so I’ll say all the parents who allow their kids as young as 4 to run around unsupervised even during a health crisis.

    5. Mid*

      I had a neighbor who would play music with so much bass that I had *multiple* pictures fall off the walls. And it was an old building with thick, well built 1920s walls. It felt like a cartoon at first, because I didn’t think that could actually happen.

      Then I had a the roommate who would say she was going for a day hike and not come home for 4+ days, without letting anyone know she changed her plans and decided to camp/stay at her boyfriend’s/visit her parents/study in the 24/7 library/whatever. Like literally would disappear for days. The first few times, I got worried, because it’s a huge safety issue, but eventually I just gave up and hoped she didn’t die so I wouldn’t look like an a-hole for not calling SAR after 3 days. This same roommate gave me the silent treatment for weeks because her boyfriend said I was attractive, while I wasn’t there, because apparently it was my fault I existed?? She also got mad when I threw out a bag of salad that had become liquid in the bag, saying it was “still good.” (It was not. Not even close. Nothing even vaguely edible remained in that bag.)

      There was also the neighbor that would get “super drunk” and “accidentally” try to walk into other apartments, but somehow only the ones belonging to 20-30-something women. (In this building, a lot of people didn’t lock their doors but chained them open to get cool air from the hallway.)

      Growing up, my neighbors on both sides liked to party, together. And then get in loud, drunken screaming matches with their friends and romantic partners on our lawn since it was between their houses. At least once a month during the summer, someone had to call the police because the fights turned physical (not dangerous/DV, more like Jersey Shore hair pulling and name calling stuff.) A few times someone would be passed out in our yard when we woke up in the morning.

      Want more? I have a lot more

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Sure, more!
        Have you written about the partying neighbours on both sides before? I feel like I’ve read that… Or maybe (probably?) there are more people out there with such neighbours xD

    6. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      The ones directly above us who were being evicted, so they decided it would improve the situation if they smashed up all the toilets, sinks, etc., left all the faucets running, and then left. Late at night. They were so noisy normally that while we did hear this, it actually didn’t register as all that unusual. It was a good thing we had stayed up late watching TV so that I noticed the rain noises were coming from the bathroom, not outside, and then we saw the big hanging bubbles forming on the ceiling…

      (We got very lucky that the damage was relatively easy to fix, and all we actually lost was a roll of toilet paper. Would have been a different story if we hadn’t been awake at the time.)

    7. The Violent Drunks*

      The a-holes (for a long time leading up to this) in one of the upstairs apartments in the fourplex where we lived who got into a drunken fight with some women who were their guests and shoved one down the stairs (she went down hard). I developed PTSD from witnessing the incident. And yes, I decided to move out.

    8. RagingADHD*

      This is heartbreaking, rather than annoying, but it also had some serious negative impacts on us.

      Our upstairs neighbor had severe dementia and should not have been living on her own. She had no family, and her misguided friends were committed to keeping up the illusion that she was competent. So every time that social services had her formally assessed for competency, they would rally round to make sure she was bathed, dressed, coached, and took enough medication to make it through the appointment. Then they’d vanish again.

      She physically attacked anyone she didn’t know who came to her door, including the mail carrier, maintenance workers, the exterminator, and the paramedics that she called everytime she fell (and instantly forgot). Sometimes she’d walk up to other residents in the lobby and just slap them out of the blue.

      She threw her Meals on Wheels leftovers out the window on a daily basis, so there was a terrible problem in the courtyard with rats.

      She went so long without anyone bathing her or washing her clothes (and was apparently peeing on herself) that the entire wing of the building including the floors above and below her could smell when she opened her door.

      She would wake up in the middle of the night and move all her furniture around, then in the morning have a screaming panic attack thinking someone had broken in.

      Because of the food scraps and no exterminator, there was a horrendous roach infestation that spread down to us and was uncontrollable. For years after we moved out, I flinched every time I opened a cabinet. I can’t bear to imagine what it was like at the epicenter.

      She would from time to time stuff the sink drains with clothing or paper and leave the water running, so she flooded our place several times.

      The building management had disabled her stove years before due to her starting fires. Since nobody had a POA and she was passing her assessments, building management took legal advice and tried to get her placed in a nursing home–but in order to do that, they had to evict her. And then our city’s strict tenant-protection laws kicked in. For the court hearing, those “helpful” friends showed up to make sure she was presentable in court. Why they wouldn’t show up to keep this poor lady from living like a frightened animal and wandering down the street in her underwear in freezing weather, I don’t know.

      I called adult protective services multiple times, but nothing came of it.

      After we moved out, we heard that she’d finally fallen hard enough that she couldn’t answer the door to the paramedics or fight them off, so they got her into the hospital (and someone official got a look at her home). The hospital discharged her to a dementia care unit, so I can only hope that she finished her days clean, dry, warm, safe, and with proper medical care.

      Y’all, for real, sign a POA and healthcare proxy while you can.

      1. TM*

        My goodness! I thought my situation with my paranoid elderly neighbor was bad but your’s is much worse.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        What a horrible situation. I’m unfortunately not surprised by these friends who didn’t get your neighbor the support she needed. There is a widely held belief that staying in one’s home supercedes all else, even when the person is completely incapable of being safe on their own. I’m glad she eventually got care and that your own living situation improved.

      3. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Holy hell. Before I got to the part about the need to evict, I thought, this is the other side of good tenant protections. I am friends with a landlord and when there is a tenant from hell, he has to go through a LONG process and the person will drive every other good tenant crazy for months or a year or two. It’s insane. I hope people realize that that isn’t a “tenant protection.” I wish there was a middle ground, like a ground between not being able to kick people out without notice, and having to house someone who isn’t paying and throws trash in the halls and has parties in the middle of the night, for a year.

        The part about rats made my heart sink. I clean every evening and have no crumbs and still magically saw mice twice this winter. It made my blood pressure jump so high from the surprise

    9. TM*

      My current next-door neighbor thinks I am an Indian terrorist that was also his neighbor at his last apartment and breaks into his apartment daily and steals his things. I am a white lady who has been in this apartment for six years and has had a handful of interactions with this man over the past year, all initiated by him.

      I couldn’t figure out why this guy was being so objectively weird to me until the police showed up one day informing me of my neighbors concerns. They knew he had obvious mental issues and nothing came of it. I’ve tried calling mental health services to try to get him help and asking my property managers to do the same to no avail yet. I have to wait until he either quasi-threatens me again or physically does something to me.

      1. WellRed*

        Omg. I have a friend, male, who keeps getting screamed at by the crazy woman who used to live downstairs and is convinced he’s the Indian neighbor who used to live there. She now lives across the street, has a no trespassing order and still came over at 3am pounding on his door and screaming. Multiple times in one night.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The guy next door to my house (I’ll call him Sam) was starting to get paranoid as a precursor to probable dementia. We had keys to each other’s houses in case of emergency, I looked after his cat while he was in the hospital once, and he would feed mine when I was gone. Some time after the hospital visit, he started telling the other neighbors I was going in and stealing from him and changed the locks.

        One day the neighbor across the street called me and told me Sam had called him and said he was going to get his shotgun and come to my house and get his stuff back. We called 911 and the cops removed weapons from his house and told him to stay away from me. I didn’t talk to him again until I moved away and caught him in one of his more lucid moments, so I was able to say goodbye to him. Up until this started, Sam had been a very good neighbor, so it was really sad. :(

    10. Ewesername*

      There is maybe two feet between my building and the building next door. My bedroom window faces my neighbor’s, who is currently renting the place out as an air b&b. I have gotten my share of … let’s call them “free shows”.
      I now have frosted paper over my window.

    11. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I lived 8 years in a large building that developed in length. All apartment doors opened on covered communal walkways where a few people tried hard to make their lives everyone else’s business, and sounds echoed A LOT.

      – People thought nothing of having very loud phone calls in the hallways late at night. Screaming match at 11pm? Sure, neighbour, I’ll listen, it’s not like I was going to sleep.
      – Same goes for loud pounding on doors. Random doors, sometimes. It happened to us at 1am on a New Year’s Day, going on for like five straight minutes, and it was spooky to say the least.
      – Some residents just dropped their rubbish in the hallways and stairwells. There was a waste disposal area for everyone to use. There were on-call services to pick up appliances and bulky items. Nope, let’s just dump it all on the floors. Cleaners serviced the building every morning, but only on weekdays, and some weekends the sights and smells could be too much.
      – Children were constantly playing ball games or cycling in the hallways, even during the pandemic when households were not supposed to mix, and always in spite of the huge “children must not play here” signs. There were noise complaints from several households. They changed nothing. No parent was ever heard calling their kids back home or telling them to keep the noise down.
      – One household had a large, overenthusiastic dog they didn’t always keep on a leash. The owners employed the universal excuse when it jumped at people in the hallways (“oh but she’s soooo friendly!). On the last instance, the day before I moved, there was a younger dog too. Because they are beautiful dogs, I asked the owner about them, were they mother and daughter? He said no, they were unrelated, but the older dog had in fact had puppies the night before. There were eight they were looking after. In a shoebox apartment with three people and two cats. The people next to and above them must have been delighted with all the barking (and come on, a flat that size can’t have been comfortable or safe for so many animals, even Dog #1 alone must have struggled with space).

      And that’s without even touching on the years I spent in shared houses as a student. Your situation sounds super annoying nonetheless, wishing you a swift end to the noise or at least powerful noise cancelling headphones!

    12. Bread Addict*

      When I was 20, I lived alone in an apartment that was upstairs. I was so proud to not have a roommate for the 1st time. It was old and the floors were made of sandpaper. Every step I took could be heard below me. I would walk up to my door and the downstairs neighbour would start screamin profanity at me for walking on his ceiling before I had even gotten into the apartment. He hurled verbal abuse at the other people who lived in the block too. The police were called on him several times and he was rude to them but nothing came of it. I moved out at the end of the 1 year lease. Spent most of the time at friends houses and only went home to sleep, shower and change clothes. I was a 20 year old woman and found him so intimidating. I had my own apartment but only had a person over once and she got yelled at too and immediately wanted to leave. It was awful.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      I once rented a tiny place that was half of a duplex, an accessory dwelling behind a friend’s house, when I was living in the area temporarily. It was a tiny place with a toilet, sink, mini fridge, and hot plate. For showering, I would the bathroom in the main house belonging to my friend and her husband.

      This living situation put me in a position of knowing way more about their dysfunctional marriage than I wanted to know, watching her co-dependent behavior and having to listen to her complain while he basically ignored her, instead of leaving which is what she needed to do. After they got married, they also began working together where he had professional power over her position as the CEO.

      The same unhealthy caretaking meant that she tolerated the alcoholic neighbor on the other side of the wall of my duplex, who had no job and drank in the middle of the night and kept me awake with his loud stereo and solitary yelling, despite my complaints. It really affected the relationship I had with my friend. Thank goodness the plan was to be there only a few months. I couldn’t wait to get out of that place.

      The good news is that a couple years later she reinvented herself, left the marriage, pursued a fulfilling career, and eventually married a good guy. We reconnected as friends years later.

    14. Jackalope*

      A couple of stories! One was a friend of mine, but I visited regularly. She had someone in her building who was obsessed with the idea that my friend was sneaking people into her [my friend’s] apartment as extra, unclaimed roommates. In this apartment building, the utilities were divided up between each apartment based on the number of residents; apparently this resident had illicit roommates & accused everyone else of doing the same. When my friend would have someone come upstairs in the elevator, the neighbor would come out & check out the situation, & apparently accuse my friend of moving people in on a regular basis (even if we were, say, just dropping by the apartment for 5 minutes to pick something up).

      Also, I had a ground floor apartment, and a family with small children moved in over me. By nature I’m a night owl, but at this point in time I had to get up around 5:30 in the morning for work, so I had to get to bed early. They apparently were also on a night owl schedule, & their toddler’s room was right over mine. Most nights until after midnight (sometimes after 1 a.m.) there would be the stampeding elephant sounds of a toddler stomping all over his room, right over my head. I’ve lived with toddlers before, and I know that you can’t really make toddlers be quiet every night (especially right before bed when they get the Zooms), but it was so frustrating, even though I know the parents tried really hard. I talked it over with my apt. manager & she eventually suggested that I move to another apartment. Ironically, it was right across the hall from the stompy toddler & family, & we got along much better once I could get sleep.

    15. StellaBella*

      Well, I had that neighbour – their 6 year old never slept and some nights it sounded like elephants bowling above me … summers the kid would be on the balcony yelling at midnight …. now the one above me in a new place has a toddler that literally (this is not an exaggeration) shrieks 2-3 nights a week from 8pm to 1am at full volume and is somehow afflicted as even in the day I see her with her mom sometimes walking their dog and the kid is crying the whole walk too. It sucks but honestly she is a single parent above me and where i live kid noise 24/7 is tolerated as in the quiet rules do not apply. Hoping in 6 months the kid outgrows this. They have lived upstairs now onlz 7 months.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That poor child. That’s so rough for everyone involved – the kid, the parent, sibling and neighbors. I hope for everyone they outgrow it quickly!

        1. StellaBella*

          I know right? I really have no idea why it scream and cries all the damn time. No evidence of abuse but maybe there is something emotional going on …. no idea.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Honestly, who knows. I have an almost-2 year old and I still can’t figure out why she has tantrums sometimes. It doesn’t help that she’s still not talking and we’re working on our communication skills. It’s tough. We live in a single house and only one neighbor so you can’t really her her, but it does wear on me. In public she doesn’t do that so much thankfully. Also, thank you for not making any assumptions about the child or judging the mom.

    16. Chuck*

      I lived in a subdivision where the neighbours behind us were paranoid and very mentally unwell. They would accuse us of spying on them and tampering with their internet and would threaten violence. The only way they could access their property was to walk through our backyard and so eventually we weren’t even comfortable going outside

      In another situation, we were the bad neighbours. I was sharing a unitwith my brother and his ex-gf. Ex-gf was charming, manipulative and had a substance abuse issue where if she consumed any drugs or alcohol she would go on a binge and become belligerent. I woke up at 3 am once night to ex-gf screaming at my brother in the driveway. She was furious that he wouldn’t let her urinate in the garden and suggested she hold it until they got inside. I came down in my PJs to try to diffuse the situation to which she started screaming at me to go the f*** to bed. A neighbour leaned out their window and shouted “we’d all like to go the f*** to bed love!”

    17. UKDancer*

      The most amusing one I had was in my last flat. I was in a small block that had 2 flats on each floor with a landing in between. I was on the top floor. The other flat was occupied by a Polish couple who had long screaming rows at each other in Polish and refused to even say hello or be pleasant to the neighbours and gave us evils when we passed. They also (in violation of the leasehold rules) kept airers with their clothes on out on the landing. Regularly I would leave for work in the morning and find the husband on the landing in his birthday suit looking for his clothes. This was not a pretty sight but because he was a large and unfriendly man I didn’t want to say anything.

      They also had a very large dog which was just wrong because the flats were tiny (as London flats mostly are) and they didn’t walk it enough and left it alone all day so it would sit there and howl like a soul in torment most of the day.

      Things much improved when the husband got arrested and taken away as we had six months of peace and quiet while he was doing porridge. They moved out soon after that. I spoke to the landlord for that flat and apparently they trashed the place before moving out and they had to replace all the carpets because the dog had crapped everywhere.

      I’m relieved to say in my current block of flats most people are only mildly irritating and that’s mostly a soundproofing issue. I mean I can hear my neighbour’s daughter playing the clarinet badly as she does her practice but I don’t mind that.

      1. pancakes*

        That poor dog!

        We have a neighbor across the way who is learning violin, but our building is old and has such thick walls, I only hear it if they happen to be practicing when I use the bathroom. I think the building is from the 1920s or 30s. There’s a disused dumbwaiter door on every floor.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. I felt so sorry for the poor creature. I mean it was the sort of dog that needed a large amount of space to run about and wanted company. It was the size and look of a Great Dane but had something else mixed in there. A few of us reported it to the RSPCA but I don’t think they could do anything.

          I don’t mind the clarinet because I’m sure she’ll improve eventually and play something other than scales.

    18. Janet Pinkerton*

      My upstairs neighbor is in her 70s and routinely blasts Harry Styles at like 10:30 pm. Which is better than when it was Blurred Lines on repeat.

      Also, in her first conversation to us when we moved in, she said how glad she was that we didn’t have kids because the baby from the tenants before us (we bought from someone who had this as a rental) was quite annoying. Fast forward five years and we have a baby but frankly this neighbor is louder. She’ll also “woo!” along to her music when she’s feeling it.

      She also caused water damage to our bathroom and accidentally flooded our kitchen and the one below us when she tried to adjust her radiator and it created a geyser. (It’s in the condo rules, don’t adjust the radiators, call for maintenance.)

    19. Academic Fibro Warrioe*

      Not an apartment, I’ve been lucky so far, but renting a house in an older neighborhood. The guy next door would call the city whenever the grass in our yard got taller than his (he mowed two or three times a week…all year. Even in Alabama the grass stops growing when it’s cold.), called the cities when he found snakes in the ground ivy (again. It’s the south.), kept nagging us to cut down our trees (they didn’t seem to know the difference between trees and weeds? Whenever I weeded the stuff that grew along and up the shared fence they got really excited I was cutting down trees?), and mowed every Sunday at 6 am. The only day I got to sleep in past 6 or go to bed before midnight (my jobs at the time didn’t pay well or didn’t have enough hours to do the one job, so I worked a lot.) Our upstairs neighbors who just moved out wore clogs so they sounded like horses, which was annoying but at least they weren’t calling the city on me.

      The old neighbor did not once actually try to talk to us first. Oh I forgot. His daughter’s boyfriend liked to sit in the car and lay on the horn until she came out for dates. Boy was apparently unable to walk up to the door or even call her that he was there.

      After that we moved to Atlanta and I slept so much better even though it’s in an apartment surrounded by busy roads.

    20. Well...*

      Not the neighbor’s fault, but during lockdown a leaky shower upstairs led to a huge hole in our kitchen ceiling. It took weeks to fix because everything was shut down and maintenance people were overwhelmed. This was the intense lockdown, so no restaurants or takeout were available and we couldn’t go outside even to exercise, while our apartment smelled like wet ceiling. There was periodic downpour every time the neighbors took a shower. The shower leak was solved after a few days but the hole endured for a longgg time.

      And I wonder why I was so unproductive in 2020…

    21. Just another queer reader*

      I’ve had two different neighbors accidentally set the apartment building on fire.

      First one was due to smoking on the patio; second one left a towel on the heater.

      Thankfully nobody was hurt and the damage was minimal both times.

    22. Just another queer reader*

      I have a happy ending story:

      My housemate at the time was a professional musician, and was practicing clarinet at 10am on a weekday. The upstairs neighbor left a grumpy note on the door about not making noise till the afternoon.

      I put on my best conflict-resolution face, bought some grocery store cookies, and knocked on their door. I asked about their work schedules and if there’d be a better time to practice. The note-writer sheepishly said that he was unemployed and that 10am actually was a fine time to practice, he’d just been grumpy in the moment.

      We coexisted peacefully after that, including the time when my friend accidentally walked right into their living room because she’d forgotten which unit was mine. She saw three guys playing videogames and realized she was in the wrong spot.

    23. Kathenus*

      When I was in my late 20’s I lived in an apartment complex on the ground floor, and there was a small wooded area behind my apartment between it and the next complex. I started having someone knock on my windows in the middle of the night, like 2 or 3am, which was pretty terrifying living alone. I did call the police a couple of times but there was no one there when they arrived. I started sleeping with a large kitchen knife in my bedroom.

      Finally one night I got up the courage to go to a different window and look out when it happened and recognized a man who lived in the complex and called the police and this time identified him and he was arrested. It was apparently not the first time he had done inappropriate things, I heard he might have exposed himself to someone else at some point. My report was the last straw I guess and he was evicted. Then when he was released from jail on bail prior to trial the police had called to notify me that it was happening. That night I had a knock on my front door at 11pm or so, and even though it was not the same pattern as with that guy it definitely scared me. But turned out it was actually the police checking in to see if things were OK. I never heard from the guy again, thankfully.

    24. Lore*

      My grad school upstairs neighbors were geology grad students who I swear threw rocks for their dog to play with. Also they owned exactly three albums and played them loud at 7 every morning : Steely Dan’s greatest hits, that Blind Melon record with “No Rain” on it, and one hip-hop record that I never knew what it was. Twenty-plus years later I still twitch when I hear any of those songs.

      More recently, my previous upstairs neighbor was a professional musician with a baby grand piano and insisted he’d done “everything he could” to soundproof it. It sounded like he was playing in my living room. Practicing generally involves playing the same eight bars over and over. It was annoying but not maddening till pandemic, when it overlapped with WFH…and he started giving Zoom lessons to children so the eight bars were, like, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over. I learned a lot about the loudest ocean sounds available to stream on YouTube.

      1. Lore*

        Oh and then there was the neighbor two floors up who dragged a bedbug infested mattress down four floors to the trash without wrapping it and spread bedbugs through the building. Then she dragged her feet about arranging an exterminator because her “husband had been kidnapped on a business trip in Asia” when in fact they’d had a fight and he didn’t return her calls for a few days.

    25. Stitch*

      I had a neighbor who smoked pot in their kitchen. The reason this was bad is we had shared ventilation so it made my kitchen smell like pot too. That was really unfun. It’s not a smell you want.around food.

    26. Elle Woods*

      My very first apartment was built in the 1930s so there was little in the way of soundproofing between the floors of each unit. The neighbor who lived below me was a divorced dad who had his girls on weekends. Every single Saturday morning his girls would begin practicing their violins at 7:00 am. They were beginners. It was awful.

    27. AnonToday*

      We had awful simultaneous domestic violence situations adjacent and below at our last place, relevant content warnings apply.

      The adjacent guy (who also played loud music all day regularly until 3am) would get a girlfriend, yell and throw things at her late at night, spend the entire next day scream sobbing to his dad on the phone, and repeat. I think there were 2-3 different women, and I know at least the first one was let out of the lease.

      The woman below would get into loud fights with her boyfriend, lock him out, and then open the door to pelt him with his keys or phone before slamming it again. She’d also lock her dog in the bathroom to cry all day, and multiple times I saw her yank it off the ground by its leash when out for walks. She would also smoke weed inside (the complex was supposed to be totally smoke free), which would cause my entire unit to smell.

      Obviously the victims had it much worse than me as a neighbor and I hope they’re in a safer situation now, but living there was awful and the worthless managers didn’t help. It’s over a year later and I still get very anxious when I hear noises from neighbors, which is incredibly rare now that I’ve moved into a better building.

    28. the cat's ass*

      So nice to know we are not alone with our nutty neighbors? Mine were an older couple and the wife was….something. We had a yard sale fund raiser and she came over to complain that it “lowered the tone” of the neighborhood. On another occasion she called the fire department b/c our property was a fire hazard (it was not, just not as meticulous as her garden). Lots of pot smoking, which i didn’t really care about tho it drove the neighbors on the other side batty. The husband never said anything but frequently looked uncomfortable/embarassed. She died just before the pandemic and hubs turned into a sweet chatty neighbor. Go figure.

    29. Sticky Kitchen*

      While in college in non-campus housing, our upstairs neighbors, despite multiple reminders from apartment management, seemed incapable of remembering/understanding that their sink did *not* have a garbage disposal.

      Every time they put things they shouldn’t have down their drain, guess where it ended up? Our kitchen floor. About once a week maintenance had to come A) unclog something and B) deal with a sticky, gross, flood in our kitchen.

      Fun fun times. /s

    30. Voluptuousfire*

      Not my story, but my good friend’s. She lived in the top apartment of a 3 family home along with her husband. The side apartment was rented to two younger women for about six months. They were strippers who were full of drama and nocturnal—constant loud arguments, music until 6 am. The landlord rented to them because they charmed him. My friend has chronic illnesses and is immunocompromised, so all the stress and lost sleep caused her gallbladder to be removed. They were finally kicked out after not paying rent for 4 months. My friend and her husband bought their own house 6 months after that.

      My friend recorded tons of their malarkey so she had evidence for the landlord to back up her complaints and he was like “oh, they’re nice girls. They’re not doing anything.” LOL

    31. Squeebird*

      The woman who set off the fire alarm regularly for such reasons as “oh, I knocked a candle onto the stack of newspapers I have on the stove”

      This was after the building next door had burned to the ground and left dozens homeless, so we were all very unimpressed.

    32. Marion Ravenwood*

      The guy who played loud music with heavy bass at 2am was a particular lowlight.

      But in all honesty, most of my neighbours have been pretty good. Which I think might mean I’m the bad neighbour…

    33. Gotta be anonymous this time*

      Years ago, we had neighbors who left a stereo blaring when they went out of town for the weekend. When they returned one Sunday night, we went next door and asked them not to do that anymore. The wife just replied that they were broken into once and the noise made burglars think someone was home.

      The next time they left it going while gone, my husband found the box where all the apartments’ mains were (outside and unlocked!) and turned theirs off! Blessed silence for us. He turned it back on on Sunday afternoon and we heard them come home and exclaim that their refrigerator must’ve broken as all their food was spoiled.

    34. Irish Teacher*

      I wasn’t living in the apartment but I think the next door neighbour who yelled at my dad, “don’t you ever knock on my door again,” after he’d knocked to let her know a delivery had been left outside her door, who went around to numerous houses in the street insisting people cut down their trees so leaves didn’t blow into her garden and who put up a fence and then poked a twig through a tiny hole in it, presumably for fear we might…I don’t know, have our eyes glued to it to watch her through it? merits a mention. She also would not open her door to anybody, to the point that both a representative of the electricity company and a census ennumerator asked me about who was living there and why they were not getting any answers when they knocked.

    35. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

      Most of my current apartment building neighbors will not wear their masks in common areas like the hallways, mail room, garbage room, laundry room, elevator, stairways, etc. They @#$%#@$%ing gave me covid this January doing that. I have stayed in my apartment as much as I can since the beginning of the pandemic because going through common areas to get outside feels like taking my life in my hands.

      I could put up with almost anything else, I think, but their selfish, nay, sociopathic unconcern for potentially sickening, disabling, or killing others makes me lose faith in humanity.

    36. Emotional support capybara*

      The one that left a pot of something cooking on the stove while they went off to do laundry, started a fire thusly, and got mad because another neighbor broke their window to get in and put it out.

      They moved shortly thereafter, much to everyone’s relief.

    37. Gotta be anonymous this time*

      We had some doozy downstairs neighbors when we lived in Las Vegas in the early eighties. There were nightly fights with lots of screaming and doors slamming. It got quiet for a few days, but then we heard a gunshot one evening and saw the guy running away from the kitchen window below. He was bleeding profusely from his chest. We called the police who told us she had kicked him out and he was trying to get back in to get his stuff and she shot him. Don’t know if he was ok because in those days, that sort of thing was common news in that town. We moved really soon afterwards.

    38. Salymander*

      Worst neighbor was when I lived in my first apartment. He was really interested in hitting on women, to a ridiculous and obnoxious degree. Our neighborhood seemed to have a lot of people who walked or rode a bicycle, so he had lots of targets for his attention. He would park in the one parking space in front of our building, normally reserved for people unloading their shopping or being picked up by a cab or the senior center van. All the other parking was behind the building, and all the doors to the apartments were in front, so you had to walk all the way around and hope no cars needed to get by in the narrow alley/driveway. Worst Neighbor stood next to his red trans am for hours and hours almost every day, calling out to every woman under 40 or so, making kissy noises and calling us by creepy pet names. He tried to give gifts to women passing by, and they generally just ignored him and walked faster. He repeatedly set off his car alarm in order to draw attention to his car, I guess because he thought women would be super interested in him if they saw it. His technique did not seem to be working. Worst Neighbor stole my barbecue from my storage closet, and tried to act all scary to intimidate me into letting him keep it. I was super pissed off, and lost my temper. I yelled at him, and got up in his face. He ran away. I was a 19 year old, and super tiny, but I really scared him for some reason. After that, he was still gross, but he didn’t ever try to talk to me again. He would occasionally mutter things under his breath, mostly about uppity women who need to learn respect, but he was too scared to do anything more. What a jackass.

  2. Purple Dragon*

    What do you do when you feel like you’re floundering? I feel very unsatisfied with everything in my life: job, hobbies, friends, food habits, wardrobe, everything. Some of it is mental health stuff, that I know; I’m looking for a counselor now. But I’m feeling like I want an overhaul of my life and I’m so overwhelmed that I don’t know where to start. There is a lot to love about my life and I have plenty of moments of being happy but I also have a ton of moments where I hate it all. Unhappy and unsatisfied keeps coming to mind. What do you do when you hit this stage?

    1. Mid*

      I did one of those “what are your values” things. The one I did started with like 40+ values and you were supposed to narrow it down to 3 top ones and 5 secondary ones. It took me like 3 weeks to really decide. And then, I started thinking about my life and how I could best live my values and priorities. It’s an ongoing process.

      Another thing is to try changing one thing. You want to change everything, but that doesn’t happen all at once. So what’s one thing you can change now?

      One of the easier ones: Do a wardrobe overhaul. Start by making a Pinterest board to see what your style goals are, then look at your wardrobe and see what you like in there and why. Donate anything that doesn’t fit or flatter you. Create a list of pieces you want to fill out your wardrobe from what remains.

      Another option: take a class! You could do something online or in person. It could be academic or something more fun. Learn how to make chocolate teapots or clay sculptures of bananas or garden or weaving! Or learn a new skill that you’d like in your career! I’m doing a data analytics course right now and it’s been great to feel like I’m actually learning something since my job has been so stagnant for so long. Take a cooking class!

      And, it does sound like you could be dealing with some depression. I’m not a medical professional and this is not a diagnosis, obviously, but depression doesn’t have to be the severe can’t get out of bed, always sad. It can present as a general dissatisfaction with everything. So that’s something to consider before making any major life changes! It could also be burnout, or just a general symptom of *gestures at entire dumpster fire world.*

    2. Aphrodite*

      I have a couple of things.. Whenever I feel like “everything!” is going wrong I take a deep breath and lay out, either in writing or using a mental list, of the specific things that are irritating me right then. A couple of weeks ago it was (1) the cats destroying something I wanted to keep by using it as a mouse, (2) some dirty dishes in the sink making the kitchen seem annoyingly messy, (3) dirty laundry hanging off a doorknob in the bedroom, and (4) a bill I hadn’t paid yet hanging out on the counter. None of them were big by themselves but added up along with some other not-that-important things it just seemed as though everything was wrong. So having laid it out I dealt with the first thing and fixed that–and almost immediately felt an immense sense of relief and control.

      Earlier this evening I was feeling very irritated both physically and mentally. My skin was itchy, and I was still annoyed as hell by checking my work email on this vacation day and finding that two different teachers and a co-worker all sent snarky and even accusatory emails about issues that strongly implied their issues were all my fault. (Hint: they were not.) I couldn’t reach any friend to vent to, which proved to be good because I realized part of my issue was feeling hot and prickly. I hate summer with a passion most reserve for dark winter so I decided to take a wonderful cool and cold shower and get into a clean nightshirt, then turn the forced air on. Now things are great again! I took care of myself in ways I love so the irritation (and prickliness of my skin) have disappeared.

    3. Michelmas Jones*

      I’m still in the swamp, but I really like “Chop wood, carry water.” In other words, do what you can so that tomorrow if you feel the same or worse, at least you have a stack of wood by the fire and fresh water (or clean laundry and an empty sink). And if all you manage is to move the laundry basket a few feet, that’s ok too.

    4. Bread Addict*

      1. Get a counsellor

      I felt that way last year and then sat down and made 3 lists. 1 of things I am thankful for and like in my life to remind me of the things I do have. 1 of ideas of things I enjoy that make me feel better like bubble baths for when I am stressed and need some self care.

      And 1 about who I want to be. Not like have a lot of money type things but things like I want to be someone who can go upstairs without being winded which I used to be before I stopped gyming because of covid. I want to be organised. I want to drink water more often. All that. And then thought about how to become that person and what I would need to do it. Each month I pick 2-3 things and decide those are my focus for this month. One of this months focuses is to put laundry away as soon as it comes out of the dryer instead of leaving it in a bag for a week. Another is to be more social and see at least one friend a week in person. And talk online or over phone with at least 1 other each week. I am not always great at putting in effort in friendships especially if the friend lives far away. I attend stuff but very few people do I reach out to regularly first and I am working to change that. Slowly.

      The key is to think about who you want to be and then take small steps to get there. But definitely get a counsellor to help in the here and now. I did and its been great and also helpful to deal with the feelings that have come up as I try to be more of who I want to be.

      1. BethDH*

        That friend one is a really good idea. I’m bad about that and it makes such a difference.

    5. Inkhorn*

      Ugh, I know and hate that feeling.

      Whenever it strikes, there’s two things I like to do. First, separate the genuine frustrations from the collateral damage – things which are actually going okay but got caught up in the general cloud of blah. I also think about *why* I’m frustrated. If work’s getting me down, is it because of the type of work? the amount of work? the people at work?

      Identifying the *why* gives me a target for step two: coming up with ideas of things I could do or changes I could make to deal with the things that are bugging me the most. They don’t need to be good ideas, or big ideas (in fact tiny ideas are best, because they look manageable even when your energy is low). They don’t even necessarily have to be put into practice! Sometimes it’s enough just to know that you have options and you’re not doomed forever.

    6. Janet Pinkerton*

      I tidy and clean. It works out some of my feelings and I’m left in a more peaceful environment.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      One thing that may help is the thought that realistically speaking we need to swap out what we are doing every 7-10 years anyway. That is because our needs change. My suggestion is to switch from telling yourself “I want an overhaul and I am overwhelmed” to saying “my life has changed enough that I should now consider what my current needs are for this stage of life.” The beauty of this is you can reuse this one over and over as the years roll by.

      Get your basics in place. I am a big fan of eating whole foods and hydration. Raw veggies such as a salad more days than not can help support the body’s function. Annnnd you don’t really want to know what happens to a dehydrated brain. Get that water going on, with the goal of drinking a set amount each day. This can help with organ function- when the organs work the brain has an easier time of thinking through things.

      Make sure you are getting adequate rest. Again, a rested mind and body can work through difficult things easier.

      My wise friend used to talk about times in life where we need to just do the things that are in front of us. This may be where you are at. What I like about this is that it narrows the scope of the problems down to the immediate, sometimes there is plenty within immediate reach to keep us busy. I remember one time where I asked myself what is in front of me today? I had a stupid answer but bear with me. My insurance had gone way up and the bill was ridiculous. I called my agent and worked through the problem. I cut my insurance bill in half. Time well spent. BECAUSE I felt really good about fixing that one problem, I gained an ounce of energy to tackle the next thing in front of me. It’s funny how some little thing can give feelings of success and help us to continue on.

      I also suggest seeking contentment as opposed to happiness. Just my opinion but I think happiness is fleeting. It comes and it goes like a friend brings you a present- ooo NICE– then that moment is over and what’s left?
      I think that if we are content then once the happiness about the gift dies back, we have contentment left.

      My wise friend talked about watching the highs and lows. If we go too high we can expect to go too low later on- similar to a roller coaster. He said to watch the highs. For me, my highs were pushing through a lot of work either at work or at home. The huge amount of effort I expended set me up for a lull where I had to rest, no choice must rest. I did that to myself, really. I found I was much more even when I set a bed time and kept to it. NO excuses. I let myself read in bed if I really could not sleep, but surprisingly, that was not too much of a problem. It was a relief to know my day had ended. I woke up with enough energy to go at problems the next day.

      Please know that it is possible to dig out of this and reconfigure things. It takes time. And to some degree we are always adjusting and reconfiguring, so out of this will come some new life habits. Am I happy all the time, heck NO. Sometimes I sit and cry. But overall in many ways I have some very good things that I have never had before in life. And I actually marvel about that.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        The 7-1o year thing resonates a lot with me. I just came in from watering the garden (part of our rental) and while it was perfect the first year now Im all about burning it down. We don’t even own this place!

        But its a symptom of just a general feeling of Over It which has really crystallised in the last six months – I did what I wanted to do 9 years ago and now my needs most certainly have changed and are not aligned with my current situation. Thinking back this is about right on schedule to prior Big Changes I’ve made in the past. So what Ive done is:

        a) Accept change will take 12-18 months – nothing happens overnight
        b) Decide what my needs are now and what/where/how would best address them
        c) Workwise – explore adjacent areas that are more aligned with my interests, but aren’t so far removed from my current line of work that I can’t make a transition without a lot of retraining. My job has strayed too far from my interests leading to dissatisfaction and boredom
        d) Identify courses and projects to learn something new for both work and personal reasons
        e) Take on a scary project! Ive volunteered to write, free, a piece of content for an online site about something that is of interest to me. Its a quick win and mental lift.
        f) Purge – go through boxes of stuff and keep, toss, donate.
        g) Decide what will make my current situation better through this transition. Staying in our current flat makes sense for many reasons, so how do I get it more comfortable? Solution – store extra boxes of stuff for the next year to open up the space more. Also to hire a cleaner to do a deep clean on the place.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Listen to “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. She has a really neat chapter about not pursuing “your passion” but rather anything you’re mildly curious about, and following it like a trail of breadcrumbs.

      Are there any areas of your life where you’re NOT floundering? What are they?

      Are there any times in your life where you felt how you want to feel? What was present then? How can you incorporate that now?

    9. Frankie Bergstein*

      Here are some things that have helped me when I’m in the same spot:

      -remembering that humans are just discontent creatures, always seeking, never content to just sit on their laurels. It’s okay that I’m feeling unsatisfied, not-quite-okay with things as they are. This is very normal, what changes is the extent of it.

      -solving actual issues in my life. The 2-3 people I was with most often at the-place-that-shall-not-be-named-here really got under my skin for various reasons, and my learning curve had flatted. I have this tendency where I don’t make changes until I totally understand why a situation isn’t working for me rather than just that the situation isn’t working for me… in this case, I started to make moves even when I couldn’t figure out exactly why it wasn’t working. I’ll leave it at that since it’s the weekend.

      -pleasure-seeking. I read Adrienne Marie Brown’s book on pleasure activism and how feeling good is the point, particularly for folks whose existence is never centered but rather exploited. I put some pleasure in my life. For me, that means long hot baths with epsom salt, fancypants coffee beans and bath products, and getting the foods I really like. I’m also learning how to make cocktails, which is a joyful little weekend ritual for me. Pleasure-seeking is also just fun — trying new restaurants for takeout, going to pretty places outdoors, smelling the air when the rain hits the concrete, the way my mind calms during a long walk.

      -taking care of my body. I know, boring – sleep, exercise, nutrition, flossing, showering & skincare daily. Boring, boring, boring. But at least then I knew my discontent wasn’t something related to self-care.

      -creating order — like others have said, cleaning.

      -reflection about the state of my current discontent and getting into a habit of daily reflection. I love the Shine app (it’s sort of like the Calm app or Headspace – I’d call it a competitor) but has a focus on BIPOC folks or other minoritized folks (gender, sexual orientation, etc.). There’s a daily section for me to reflect on my mood, what’s causing that mood, gratitude list, if a friend were feeling the same way — what would I tell them, etc.? When I look back through all of my check-ins, I can see patterns (e.g., sickness came with a really bad mood for me/I’ve been stressed out the first half of this month, my really bad days are preceded by an argument with my husband, my really good days are preceded by hanging out with my friend and having a really deep real conversation).

      -ignoring the issue for a bit. Now, I’m the kind of person who when she has a problem CANNOT stop focusing on it and trying to fix it (like a dog with a bone). If I can stop for a minute and distract myself with something — long walk with an audiobook, TV series, going out with friends in a COVID safe manner — that helps.

    10. Stephanie*

      I refreshed my wardrobe this year, and it made a huge difference in how I feel in general. I don’t really like shopping–trying on clothes in stores is tedious, and just finding things that I like and that are flattering can be overwhelming. Some of my go-to online shopping sites haven’t been as great for me lately, and I was feeling dowdy and blah about my clothes. After complimenting a coworker on her outfit a few times and hearing that it was from Stitch Fix, I decided to try them. Somehow, everything they’ve picked for me has been a success, and many of the items I would never have chosen for myself. It seems like a small thing, but wearing clothes that you like and that make you feel good just…helps. It gives me a lot more confidence, which makes everything else just a little bit better. It might be an easy place to start, since you’re feeling overwhelmed, and Stitch Fix does all the work of choosing for you. You just get your box, try on the stuff, and decide what to keep.
      (I promise, they’re not paying me, I’ve just been really pleasantly surprised with how good they are.)

      1. WillowSunstar*

        I need to do that. Just worried that if I get rid of all the stuff I haven’t worn since COVID started, work will suddenly change the dress code policy to be actually dressy again. (Currently we can wear nice jeans, clean sneakers, and “casual knit tops with no collars” meaning nice T-shirts).

    11. Girasol*

      I’ve gotten a lot of comfort from the Did-It file. Every day I write down the useful and positive things I did that day, always being as generous as I would be if I were writing it down for a friend, with the rule that there can be no negatives and no excuses in that record. When it feels like everything is wrong, nothing is good, and nothing is getting done, I look there and see how much good there is that my negative mood isn’t counting.

      1. SocialWorker123*

        I also try to do this, write down something positive I did in my personal life like walk outside for 20 minutes or see a friend and also write down something positive I did from place that shall not be named til Monday. Also cognitive behavioral therapy books/worksheets can be helpful, especially asking myself Is everything bad? Or am I frustrated by A, B, and C?

    12. Aphrodite*

      And one more thing that I have found invaluable: If you can do something in less than one minute, do it. Empty the dishwasher. Clean the litterbox. Sweep the floor. Make the bed. Put away your shoes. Pay that bill online. It doesn’t matter what it is. Drink a glass of cold water. But it does make a difference.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I have been keeping a gratitude journal. I received a nice preprinted one as a gift, but you can use any notebook or a cellphone notes app, etc.

        I used to use my phone but find writing them in a nicer book with prompts makes me more likely to write them. I’m not together enough to write them every day, but try for at least a few times a week.

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      There is free class in Coursera called The Science of Well Being (also known as the Yale Happiness course). The professor talks about various things that are scientifically proven to increase one’s sense of well being and every week, there is an assignment to practice ine of these. Some of the assignments resonate more with me than others, but I found it gave me some good foundational habits for day to day. The units on practicing gratitude, acts of kindness, exercise, and sleep helped me the most. Meditation, not so much.

    14. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      A friend who is a coach agreed to do an assessment with me. It was free of charge because she needed to complete some assessments for some course she was doing. It soon transpired which one thing was holding me back and she sent me some appropriate leads to help me.

  3. Mid*

    What books did you think you wouldn’t like but ended up loving in the end? And in the reverse, what books did you think you’d love and ended up disliking?

    For me: Foundation, it was a slog to get through but when I finished the trilogy I realized I actually really enjoyed it. And Bone Shard Daughter was one I thought I would love but ended up really disappointed with it.

    1. Double A*

      My husband loves the Expanse books. I thought they sounded ok but was more interested in just watching the series and didn’t feel the need to read them. Once I got into the series, I decided I was interested in reading the books and they’re super fun even if you’ve watched the show. Or at least the first once is; I’m still on a wait-list for the second one from the library.

      I picked up a Joyce Carol Oates book thinking she was someone I should read sometime. I didn’t really have expectations, but it was terrible. Boring characters and plot. I read maybe a quarter of it. I can’t even remember the title… something like We Were the Mulvaneys?

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, I read We Were The Mullaneys years ago, and like you, was underwhelmed. (Mostly I felt sorry for that poor girl that her family treated her so horribly. ) I finished and asked myself “why?” I have avoided that author since.

        1. Kripke Kale*

          I don’t remember what I read of hers but I came to the same conclusion to stay away and not waste my time.

      2. Bobbie*

        I watched the series all the way through. I couldn’t get in to the books. Every so often I feel like the shows/movies are better than the books. Maybe I should try giving the books another shot.

    2. CatCat*

      Ha! I’m the reverse with Foundation. I thought I would love it because I loved other Asimov works, but I hated it and thought it was super boring.

      I wasn’t sure I’d like Crazy Rich Asians. I loved it and read all three books. Super fun and outrageous.

      1. allathian*

        I agree with you on Foundation. The original three books are a slog to get through. I much prefer the prequels (Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation) about the life of Hari Seldon, because the scale is one human lifetime rather than 100,000 years, as well as the sequel, Foundation and Earth. The later books also have female main characters, and even human hermaphrodites (the Solarians, in Foundation and Earth).

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Unexpected love:

      Valley of the Dolls – someone else chose it for book club and I thought it was going to be trash. It kind of was, but I really enjoyed it.

      World War Z – I don’t know why I picked it up because I’m not into zombies at all, but the oral history format was great.

      Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – it’s so funny? The movie was fun too.

      Unexpected hate:

      Children of Blood and Shadow – cool concept, favorite audiobook narrator, complete disappointment.

      The Penelopiad – the Odyssey from Penelope’s POV, by Margaret Atwood, should be amazing but it was not.

      The Soul of an Octopus – the author’s perspective is kind of disturbing, like she goes on and on about how smart and majestic and spiritual octopuses are but shows zero empathy when they suffer. Very weird dissonance that ruined all the great anecdotes that were the reason I wanted to read it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ll second the unexpected love for World War Z. I’d love to see someone do a movie or tv series, since the one with that title took nothing else from the book.

        Unexpected bleah: The Sharing Knife series. (After loving Curse of Chalion’s Iselle, I found her later ingenues–she’s not a virgin! BUT she is kind of inept and gets into lots of hapless trouble. And the hero watches her scurry a lot–all grated.) Marks a point with Bujold where everything before that I have reread multiple times, and everything after was from “eh” to “Let me tell you how unsexy mind controlling someone into having sex with you is, book.”

        1. Russian in Texas*

          Yes! WWZ! I do not like the zombie genre on general, but that book was great. The audiobook is a gem too.

        2. Morrigan Crow*

          Totally agree with you on The Sharing Knife series! And I love ALL of her other series including new ones (always happy when a new Penric & Desdemona novella comes out)

    4. Bread Addict*

      I really loved A Memory called Empire but hated the sequel Desolation Called Peace. I really didnt expect to like the 1st one as much or hate the second as much.

    5. Raboot*

      I didn’t enjoy that book either, I feel you! I wanted to, but there were just many things about it that rubbed me the wrong way. But at least I got 10-15 minutes of enjoyable brunch conversation out of it so hey, silver linings.

      I read The Disposessed for the first time last year and wow! I never really thought I could enjoy “classic” scifi but I’ve been reading more Le Guin and realizing not all Classic Sci Fi is what I thought it was. I still don’t see myself diving deeply into classic sci fi in general but I’m definitely going to read anything by her that I can get my hands on.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        The Dispossessed was a game changer for me and SF too! Only read it after a friend pushed it into my hands, and was blown away.

      2. Virtual Light*

        Yeah I think a lot about the history of sci-fi as a genre and the path that female writers walked in the 70’s and 80’s. LeGuin succeeded despite her gender and was well aware of it; I’m glad her books are a pleasant surprise for you! She wasn’t trying to follow the pack for sure.

        IIRC she was (one of?) the first big female sci-fi authors not to publish under a male pseudonym; she refused to. (Publishers though that the male science-fi audience wouldn’t read books written by women.) I admire her so much and need to read more of her work.

      3. thebeanmoveson*

        the dispossesed made me really think about how i interact with theworld around me, i loved it!

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      A friend with similar taste to mine gave me The Overstory by Richard Powers. I had high hopes, given we usually love the same stuff. I hated every page. I found it pretentious, preachy and overwritten. Also, I read it in my native language, and as a bilingual person, spotted quite a few instances of what seemed like sloppy translation. I only finished it in the hope I’d finally see what my friend saw in it. I didn’t.

      Unexpected love: the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante. I tend to resist picking up books while they are getting a lot of hype, and so it took me years to get to them. My mother pretty much shoved the first one into my hands, and I was still hesitant (our taste overlaps only a little, and lately she’s mostly been recommending historical novels, which she enjoys a lot more than I do). Well, I was hooked. And what hooked me in was what I least expected – the historical side! I learnt so much. The portrayal of Italian society and its changes over the course of 60 years is so, so interesting. I hope that comes across strongly to non-Italian readers too.

      1. Jackalope*

        I had a similar issue with The Overstory. I was going to read it for a book club, but got about 100 pages in & gave up. For me it didn’t hang together at all; I understand that the author may have brought all of the story lines together after the point where I stopped, but I needed them to come together sooner.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          You saved yourself time and effort, because…he doesn’t. Or at least, he does with some of the characters, but a few others continue to have their own standalone storylines, which to me is a sign the book would have worked just as well without them. There are at least 3 characters I found completely redundant. Shame, because I thought the initial short chapters where they are all introduced were promising.

    7. Jackalope*

      I’m still thinking about this question, but here are some thoughts. I haven’t read romance novels for most of my life, although I read some books that were, say, fantasy romance, where the genres overlapped. One of my good friends gave me some Courtney Milan books for Christmas a couple of years ago, and… I LOVED them. She’s such a good author, & I love her books SO much. It’s made me start tentatively dipping my toe in the water of the romance genre, which has been fun even though none of the other books I’ve read have been as amazing as CM’s books.

      Someone else mentioned a series below with a similar title, & I’m reminded of the Children of Blood & Bone series by Tomi Adeyemi. A friend loaned me the 2nd book in the series after I mistakenly told her I’d read the first, so I went & got the 1st book & tried to make it through them. For those who aren’t familiar, the books are about racism, & specifically about violence against Black people in the US. They have a rage similar in feel to the Black Lives Matter protests from 2020. I will give the disclaimer that the books are well-written, & I would happily recommend them to someone else wanting to read about a cool fantasy world, or a blunt depiction of racism in a fictional format. But I just… couldn’t. It was 2020, and I’d been surrounded by rage & grief & despair & fear for several months (this was towards the end of the year when I read them). I needed books to relax & unwind & disconnect from real-life stress. Just picking up the book & trying to open it started making me feel anxiety, so I gave up. In addition, in book 2 the characters were all self-centered, and ran around betraying each other & being angry at each other all the time. I prefer characters that like each other & treat each other well; I got to where I couldn’t do it anymore.

    8. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Saul Bellow – thought I’d hate, but a friend got really into his work a few years back and I really dug them.

      My favourite contemporary novel – The Small Hours by Susie Boyt – had such a grim cover and blah title I picked it up to mock it as yet another mediocre middle class white lady whining novel, and I adored it.

      Thought I’d love the Sparshot Affair by Alan Hollinghurst but oof, lad needs an editor.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Two by Neal Stephenson, who I find hit and miss especially with no editor:
      Absolutely loved Anathem. About a world where the math and science types live in isolated enclaves similar to monasteries. It takes 300 pages for the plot to get moving and 500 for things to really pick up, and on reread I wouldn’t take out a thing.

      Bored by: Seven Eves, about the end of the world when the moon blows up. I spent a lot of time lecturing the characters–this is a terrible place for your sanctuary!–and the writer–this is not how human mating patterns work!

      1. EventingForChickens*

        I would call him one of my favourite authors but on an individual book level it’s so polarizing. I’ll either love a given book (Snow Crash, Diamond Age, Seveneves) or find it such a slog that I may or may not just put it down (Zodiac, Cryptonomicon). I know my “hits” are “misses” for other people and vice versa.

        I do find that even in the books I love, his endings are not his strength. Snow Crash just kind of ends; Seveneves that whole last section just feels so tacked on that I wish he would’ve given it a real ending and then written another novel(la) if he wanted to do all that extra stuff.

    10. Nicki Name*

      I thought I’d love Far From the Light of Heaven— murder mystery in spaaaaace with a non-Western cultural background. The setting came through but it’s a thriller rather than a murder mystery. Things just happen to the characters for two-thirds of the book until there’s a big infodump and a final battle.

      1. scarlet Magnolias*

        The Benjamin January series by Barbara Hambly, great reads. She also does a vampire series but it is pretty “meh”

        1. Clisby*

          I really like the Benjamin January series, but a few of them have kind of lost the plot. They need to stay closer to New Orleans. Like, no, Ben, you and Hannibal do NOT need to go to Mexico. That is a bad idea.

    11. Double A*

      Oh I have another one! I read “Let the Right One In” after seeing the movie because it was in an ebook share, so I just randomly added it. It was SO good. Spooky and weird and just a great read. I liked the movie well enough but loved the book.

      1. scarlet Magnolias*

        I agree with the book of Let the Right One In, and the first movie is wonderful, but the American remake is abysmal

        1. Clisby*

          I was wondering about that. My daughter said the Swedish version was really good, but hadn’t heard about the American one.

      2. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

        Random name drop: I used to live near Blackeberg, the suburb of Stockholm where a lot of the location shots were taken. Pretty sure I’ve been through that tunnel more than once!

    12. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

      Just read *Anne of Green Gables*, t0 which I had taken an unreasoning dislike when I was a child. LOVED it!

    13. Russian in Texas*

      Unexpected hate: Wolf Hall.
      Should be perfect for me, but I just could not get in to the writing style.
      Ender’s Game – I was super bored. Also, it was my last foray in to militaristic scifi or any books with long descriptions of battles. I screen this type of books out now because I just can’t slog thought this stuff, excluding the Expanse series.

    14. M&M Mom*

      The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I had read the description, did not seem to be something I would be enjoy. But a friend gave it to me and I really liked it.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I read it for an online book club and I thought the same. I normally don’t read anything like that, but I really liked it.

    15. Chauncy Gardener*

      I really thought I would love Cider House Rules, but then couldn’t even finish it. I was SO surprised.

    16. Ariaflame*

      One that I had difficulties with initially, because it was written as an epistolary novel (letters between the main characters), but that I ended up adoring and reading almost to death (only the final publication of the ebook version saved the physical copy from complete collapse) was called ‘Freedom And Necessity’ by Emma Bull and Steven Brust. Set in mid-victorian England mostly. Secret societies, freedom fighters, politics of the age and a bit of romance. This does not adequately describe it.

  4. aiden's mom*

    Alison, I saw your post on facebook about the fried peanut butter and jelly for a teenager and it made me want to ask how fostering is going if that’s something you can share (not asking for any private details of course!) Hearing a little about your journey has gotten my husband and me talking about doing it some day too.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Exhausting and hard and worth it! We currently have a 16-year-old with us for most of the summer (loves cats!).

      There’s such a big need for homes for teenagers. If you are at all interested, definitely look into it!

      1. Melody Pond*

        I was interested, too, thanks for the brief update! I don’t want to have my own kids, but I definitely think I could (and would like to) foster teenagers! Hoping Mr. Pond will be up for it, someday. :)

      2. Invisible fish*

        And now I shall share my annoyance with the world, or at least AAM readers: I am in Texas, so since my partner of 10+ years and I are not *legally* married, we cannot foster.

        I teach children; he works in elder care; we’re used to dealing with folks with a variety of needs who may be going through some stuff. We have a stable, secure home with lazy, well kept animals; we have good family and friends. We’re willing to attend training and learn and grow and develop so we’re prepared to help a child or teenager who is dealing with a stressful situation. We aren’t criminals or addicts or even people who wear white after Labor Day. (Ok, that part isn’t true- I don’t pay enough attention to my wardrobe to match it to holidays.)

        But without a sheet of paper from an indifferent clerk in a stuffy county office … nope. No fostering for us. If we’re not committed to someone else’s idea of what commitment is/looks like, we’re not fit to open a safe home to children in need.

        This may be what prompts two people who give side eye to traditional marriage in the US to actually give in to societal expectations … one day ….

        1. ThatGirl*

          I assume that’s a state requirement? My unmarried aunt and her unmarried “friend” had a foster home back in the 80 in Indiana. Granted they did not present themselves as a couple but thinking back I find it interesting.

          1. Invisible fish*

            Yep. We live together, but aren’t legally married, so nope. Now, if I kick him out and live alone, I’m good to go!

            1. WellRed*

              Well you *are* living in sin, don’t ya know. That is seriously stupid, especially in a state trying to force birth.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That’s interesting. In Virginia you don’t need to be married as far as I know (but anyone living in the house, partner or not, needs to go through all the training and background checks to be licensed). I do know that if you divorce while you’re fostering, they want you to wait a year before you continue fostering because they are concerned about stability for the kids who are with you (which is also why they want marriage-like relationships to be established for a certain amount of time first too).

            3. Legalize Texas*

              I am 99% sure there is no such state law here– my partner and I were unmarried cohabitants when we started the process to get licensed, and it was emphasized to us by the state depts we had to deal with early on that there were no laws regarding marital status or the number of parents that had to be present in the household or anything like that.

              Now, the way it works is that Texas, lover of privatization that it is, does not do most of the licensing for people to foster or adopt. They license private agencies, who then in turn license families to foster or adopt, and those agencies are able to set their own rules of eligibility for who they will license. They are allowed, through I guess the loophole that they are not government entities themselves, to set standards that are stricter than the state’s and even ones that would be illegal for the state itself to enforce.

              So for example, we had to weed out all the agencies that will not license same-sex couples, which are mostly religious agencies. Some won’t accept single parents, either. I didn’t check for any refusing to license us because we were unmarried, but I bet the reason I didn’t encounter it is that we were already having to discount most of the religious agencies because of the queer exclusion.

              So you should definitely look into it again. The biggest agencies are mostly secular ones that do not set any goofy additional rules like that, so the first ones the state pointed us to were ones that were welcoming to all kinds of families.

                1. Legalize Texas*

                  Yeah, basically, the only legal requirements are that you are an adult with no history of crimes involving children and have a reasonably stable living situation. Everything that comes after that is up to the individual agency you’ve chosen to go with, and there are a ton, so you can tell the ones that have stupid rules to go kick rocks.

                  You can also opt to be licensed directly by the state, too. The advantage of going with one of the bigger agencies, though, is that they are not as understaffed (naturally) so you can get more time and attention from them. They often also offer additional services that might be valuable to you. The first step to getting licensed is to go to a state info session, and after that they’ll send you listings of all the agencies so you can kind of shop around and choose whichever one offers the things you think you’ll need most.

      3. Anonthistime*

        Minimal talk about off limits place- in my work, I sometimes have clients who have had home issues, foster homes ,etc.
        Having stable adults available is such a game changer for these kids. Having access to your own counselor to help process some of the difficulties these kids exhibit in attachment and behavior can be really helpful.
        Also for anyone who is inclined to help but not ready to foster, please consider big brothers big sisters (or other well supported mentoring programs). This makes a huge difference and there is always a shortage of bigs.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, or also becoming a CASA (court appointed special advocate). CASAs are volunteers appointed by a judge for a particular kid, and your job is to advocate for the best interests of that child/teenager (in a system where often no one else really is).

          Just got our kiddo’s ears pierced! She’s very excited.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, a *GOOD* CASA can be a game changer. Not good ones can do a lot of harm.

            If it’s something you can do, kids stuck in the system could use a good advocate. Because even when BOTH parents are not trying to use the kids as weapons, the kids often need an advocate. When one or both parents are gunning for the other. . . They really, really need it.

          2. Clisby*

            Yes, I think in SC it’s the guardian ad litem program. (Not that the person is an actual guardian – but they’re there to represent the child’s interest in court.)

    2. The Dude Abides*

      I forget who I stole it from, but my favorite variant of PBJ is to use frozen waffles in lieu of bread, and that became my go-to meal when less well-off.

      Anyone reading this who currently fosters or ends up fostering later – please check with your CW/state agency regarding Social Security benefits the agency may be collecting on behalf of the youth. I can’t really go further without Alison’s blessing due to it being part of “that thing we don’t talk about on weekends.”

    3. PhyllisB*

      I missed the post about the pb&j. Where was it posted? (If it was twitter, never mind. I don’t do twitter. :-)

  5. What’s the formula?*

    Seeking advice – if anyone is in an equitable relationship/marriage, how did you do it?

    I am a female in a heterosexual marriage. I bring in the majority of financial resources AND do at least 65% of all work for the family/home, including 100% of all emotional labor. It’s a raw deal and I need to return to the negotiation table. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    My spouse is supportive and wants to contribute more, but, he has not taking any initiative. He “doesn’t know where to start” and instead prefers doing only structured, reoccurring tasks. I am exhausted and embarrassed I let myself participate in this.

    1. Holly*

      I’m in an equitable serious longterm relationship, and I did it by starting that way and making it clear from the get-go that that was the expectation – as did he. And we communicate a lot as soon as either of us starts feeling bad about anything, including division of labour. But that doesn’t help you right now! I’m sorry you’re going through it, it’s all too common. If you don’t already know the term “weaponized incompetence”, it’s one to look into, because as you say, you’re doing all the emotional labour, and part of that is having to delgate to your husband like he’s a child. He’s an adult and can figure out how to take initiative but says he “doesn’t know how”? Yeah, ok *eyeroll*. Get that man to a therapist. You might also check out Captain Awkward, I think she’s written about this kind of situation before. I don’t know how to help in the immediate term otherwise, I’m sorry, but sending strength!

      1. Spearmint*

        “ He’s an adult and can figure out how to take initiative but says he “doesn’t know how”? Yeah, ok *eyeroll*.”

        I don’t think this is fair. A lot of people struggle with ADHD, mental health problems, demanding jobs, etc. that make taking initiative hard. Doesn’t mean the husband shouldn’t improve, but a condescending message of “grow up” is not helpful.

        1. J.B.*

          Openly condescending – not helpful. Irritated with the pass that men get in our society that tends to set women up as the executive function for the family despite sometimes their own challenges with executive function – you better bleeping believe it.

      2. Alexis Rosay*

        It varies for my husband and me based on how stressful our other life stuff, but he actually probably takes on about 60% of both emotional labor and chores right now because I’m going through a lot with work. At some points I’ve been doing more than him, but I don’t think it’s ever been more than 60/40 either way, and often it’s 45/55. But yeah, we got this way by me being very vocal about it from the very beginning. It does fall on (mostly) women to do the labor of explaining this over and over again, but it is worth it. I think you can either do the labor of the chores themselves, or you can do the labor of explaining and advocating for yourself. I prefer to explain and advocate for myself. One conversation is usually not enough–it takes years.

    2. PollyQ*

      The big answer is going to be couples counseling, which I think is crucial if you want to have a marriage that you’ll be happy to stay in. That “100% of all emotional labor” sounds very bad indeed. I’ll also share a tip about household chores from Carolyn Hax (I think), who noted that planning and managing tasks is a task in itself. So if you’re the one responsible for all of that, then he needs to be doing significantly more of the hands-on tasks, not just 50%.

    3. Bread Addict*

      As a female in a heterosexual marriage. We both contribute 50-50 financially, my husband does the majority of the household chores and I am not sure how I would split the emotional labor. We dont have kids just us and the cat.

      I am getting better about doing my fair share of household chores. We came up with a system that I unload the dishwasher and he loads it, I make more effort to do laundry (excluding wool because it scares me), and the rest we kind of talk about and divide together. I tend to keep the kitchen island tidier because I notice it. But I dont notice the shower. I dont notice the floors the way he does.

      On sundays we make a meal plan for the week coming. Figure out if/when we need to collect any groceries. Once a month we have a big grocery shop delivered that we both put together. And on sunday we also dole out what needs doing in the flat. Most of the time we both run the robot hoover around the flat but sometimes we need to do a full hoover. Clean bathrooms, etc. And that includes a walk around to put things back in their homes.

      I think the first place is to make a list of everything both household chores and emotional labor things. Then you can discuss what he can be in charge of, what you can be in charge of, and what you can do together. And approach it with the goal of making things equitable. How can we split this in a way that is fair to both of us?

    4. Melody Pond*

      I’m sorry, that sounds exhausting.

      I’m not in the exact same boat, because Mr. Pond and I make very close to the same amount of money. But I’ve had a similar complaint in the past – especially around the mental labor. I’m the one that is able to “notice” when something needs to be done, but that takes a lot of executive mental energy!

      What has worked for us:

      Mr. Pond is primarily able to do structured, reoccurring tasks – basically anything that doesn’t require critical thinking beyond a schedule like, “it’s been a week, so it’s time to sweep the floor again.” In particular, he’s got some kind of a “habits” app which is set up to pester him repeatedly if he hasn’t done the thing (whether it’s brush his teeth, work out, clean the bathroom, etc.). It turns out that that’s worked fairly well to get him to adopt the vast majority of the regularly-occurring tasks. And luckily, he’s perfectly happy to take on the lion’s share of those regularly occurring tasks, as long as it means he’s “held up his end” and if it means I won’t be unhappy with him (or overly critical about how the things are done). Because at the end of the day, he’s more distressed by relationship strife than by extra housework.

      So, weirdly, on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, I probably do a lot less of the housework now. BUT – I take on everything that doesn’t work well on a schedule and instead just needs someone to pay attention and notice when the thing needs to be done. I do the deeper, infrequent cleanings, I’ll clean the more remote rooms of the house when company is coming over. I wash our heavy wool blanket once a year when the weather is warm enough that I can put it out on our clothes line. That kind of thing.

      I hope you find a balance that works for the two of you!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          This may not be the exact one Melody Pond was referring to, but Habitica is a very popular app to gamify doing the things. You get XP and can level up and such. (I haven’t used it, that’s not how my need to gamify works, but my husband has used it on and off for a while and when he’s on with it, he finds it works pretty well for his particular type of executive dysfunction.)

        2. Melody Pond*

          @curly sue – I just asked, and he looked it up: Loop Habit Tracker (on the Android operating system; Google Play store). :)

      1. BethDH*

        We’ve done a lot of this too, and one thing we did was brainstorm about which tasks could be made recurring. One easy way is just setting a recurring time to check whether something needs doing. The task becomes “check for x, execute if needed.”

        We also found it useful to repeat some of the exercises that were part of our premarital counseling. We saved some pdfs but there are useful books and might be good alongside/before counseling if that’s going to take a while to set up. Ours had questions to help talk through things like what we wanted our home life to look like, and we were both surprised at how much that had changed over the almost-decade since we got married.
        I’m not going to say it fixed everything, especially since one thing we realized is that we each put different things at the top of the “most important” household tasks, but it has helped us approach it more as a cooperative game to maximize team resources. And for some of the stuff, it helped to have the acknowledgement of the situation. He is never going to think putting laundry away is less stressful than digging through the basket finding something in the moment. But at least I know that it’s because he doesn’t care about the task being done at all, not that he’s just counting on me doing it.

      2. Ellie*

        Wow, your husband can’t remember to brush his teeth unless he has you or is using an app. I’m not trying to be snarky towards you. I just want to highlight how women have gotten so accustomed to weaponized incompetence and all around slothfulness from men that things like this don’t even stand out. I don’t even know where to begin if having to make sure men remember to brush their teeth.

        1. Spearmint*

          I think you’re misreading it. The husband set up that app on his own a long time ago to remind him of stuff he does, and then they realized he could use it for chores too. He wasn’t requiring his wife to remind him.

        2. Disco Janet*

          Ummm I use an app for this. Because it’s not okay for me to say, “Oh, I have ADHD so I can’t remember that – someone needs to remind me.” The app is my strategy to remember. (Oh, and I’m a woman.) This seems unnecessarily snarky and like it doesn’t need to be a gender thing/isn’t even properly understanding the comment you’re responding to.

        3. RagingADHD*

          This is the opposite of weaponized incompetence. This is an example of someone taking responsibility to create a system that works for them and ensure they are pulling their weight.

          There are a lot of people who use detailed reminder systems for self-care. It is particularly common among folks with executive function issues who have learned to use external supports to be more successful.

          So you describing this as “incompetence” and “slothfulness” carries a lot of really ugly baggage, not just toward Mr Pond, but toward a whole class of people who may do the same thing to cope with very stigmatized disabilities.

          The most common insults leveled at people with executive disorders Is that they are “stupid” and “lazy.” Your comment rings both those bells in one go.

          1. Melody Pond*

            Thank you. We are pretty sure Mr. Pond has undiagnosed ADHD, so your comment is right on the money.

            1. Juneybug*

              I read your comments as Mr Pond is a loving person who is trying to help in the best way he knows. Good for him! And you as well for understanding your husband’s methods might not be the way you would do it but doesn’t it matter as long “it” get done.

      3. Catlady*

        Yes this is very similar to how me and my long term partner (Hetero couple) break it up. He isn’t good at noticing the bathroom needs a deep clean etc but is good at remembering all our trash days/scooping the litter box/grocery shopping.

        We have had so many conversations regarding not just the labor of the house but also the mental labor of me being the person to manage it all. It has taken years but we are at a place where we both feel happy with what the other one does around the house. In the beginning it was a lot of him asking me just to tell him when to clean things and then getting huffy when I did. So it definitely can get better but your husband has to want to actually be an equal partner otherwise he is just using weaponized incompetence

      4. MissCoco*

        This is a similar setup to what I have with my partner is also incredibly reliant on the loop app (including for tooth brushing). He often shares how many tasks he has on a given day, and it’s often in the 50s-90s, which I would hate, but he gets a little dopamine hit from checking boxes, and it’s a really effective part of his ADHD management.

        I do a lot more noticing, deep cleaning, and minor repairs, while he does more everyday simple cleaning.

        Cooking was a big conflict for us because he struggles with looking in the fridge and figuring out how to turn ingredients into a meal, but currently my “other place” situation makes me unwilling to to be solely responsible for food on table, so 2 weeknights are his dinner nights, whether it’s frozen pizza, one of his 2 meals we always have ingredients for, or takeout.

    5. RagingADHD*

      There are many different ways to run a household, and different standards of what needs to be done, and how often. Ownership and equity also means having equal input in the decision-making. If he doesn’t feel that your standards are necessary, he isn’t going to take ownership to fulfill it.

      So I think the place to start is with a discussion about expectations for the outcome / standard that you each want or care about.

      For example, my husband comes from a large family with many siblings, nieces and nephews. Mine is small. When we were first married I was busting my hump trying to keep on top of cards & presents for all the birthdays, graduations, etc. At some point I realized that if he cared about keeping up those connections with his own family, he could do it. We talked, and (lo and behold) he thought it was nice, but he didn’t think it mattered enough to do it himself. And I had to get over my internalized pressure to fill that role.

      That’s just one example, but the key is to come to an agreement about what matters, and be prepared to let things go when they don’t matter.

      We have general groups of chores that we each own, but there’s a lot of overlap, and we often ask the other person to pick up slack on something. Life is complicated, and a lot of flexibility and communication smooths the way.

      1. Jay*

        This. My husband never remembers birthdays. The first year we were married my MIL said something to me about not having heard from him on her birthday. I told her to talk to him about it. No idea if she did but she never mentioned it to me again. His family, his relationships, his responsibility.

        I had this conversation with a friend who was complaining about how she had to buy presents for her husband’s family. I said “Why not let him do it?” and she had a whole pile of reasons. To each one I said “Why not let him do it?” and the final answer was that she thought he’d spend too much money. OK, then, but stop complaining about being “forced” to do it.

        1. Sloanicota*

          this one is hard for me because what often happens is that sweet loving people get neglected while men shrug it off and figure it doesn’t matter. And the wife gets blamed anyway.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Yeah, it’s a whole process of confronting gendered expectations and letting them go – your own and other people’s.

            Like, when you get to the point where you can say in your head, “Well, just because my MIL is sexist doesn’t mean I have to be,” it helps.

            And after all, if you *want* to be in charge of presents (or anything else) because you like it, or it is meaningful for you, or you feel like it benefits your relationships with those sweet people, go right ahead!

            The difference is between “choose to” and “have to.”

          2. Disco Janet*

            But if your husband is ignoring the birthdays of his kind mother or other relatives, even after they’ve told him it matters to them…that’s a whole separate issue. My brother is like this, and yes, it is hurtful when he ignores birthdays. But that’s not his partner’s fault, and it’s not her job to tell him to call. If someone is blaming the wife, that’s a problem with the person doing the blaming.

            1. Jay*

              Bingo. My brother rarely remembers my birthday. I no longer expect him to. When he was married, I didn’t expect his wife to do it, either.

          3. PollyQ*

            That’s two different problems, though. Your neighbor, or co-worker, or 3rd cousin may be neglecting sweet loving people, but that wouldn’t make it your responsibility. I would say that it’s the same with your husband/partner. The part where the wife gets blamed IS a real problem, and the answer to that is we all need to set a different expectation, that it is now the 21st century, and a wife is no longer the household’s social secretary.

          4. kiki*

            Yeah, this is hard for me too because even if *I* understand that I’m leaving it up to my male partner, even if my male partner understands that this is his responsibility to take care, even if I explain this to as many people as possible, somehow people still perceive me as a bad girlfriend if it doesn’t get done. An ex of mine never bought his family gifts for special occasions before or after I entered his life, but somehow once I was in his life, it became my fault his family received no gifts. Go figure.

        2. Ellie*

          I feel your comment so hard. My husband comes from a family that loves gifts for every holiday (Mother’s Day, birthdays, Christmas. It’s overwhelming!) and I made sure to never let it be My Job to buy the gifts for his family. It’s awkward because my MIL gives me wonderful gifts and sometimes my husband produces less-than-ideal gifts for her. But my reasoning is, wouldn’t she prefer the man she raised buy her a Mother’s Day gift and not the person he married?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Gifts/cards. It’s great that you mentioned this. I gave up with cards and gifts when I did not see them in return and I watched for years. So I quit. I told my husband it was up to him. And then nothing happened. I do mean nothing. NO cards, no gifts AND no one got angry over it or upset about it. Life just went on as if no change had happened.

        I should have quit sooner. I can say though that all of us had houses full of crap and none of us wanted more crap. So in some ways it was good.

      3. SoloKid*

        +1.
        One caution is that part of implementing “if he cared about keeping up those connections with his own family, he could do it” is the potential for his family to say/imply things like “YOU don’t care about us?”. I show up empty handed to his family for Christmas because that’s what he does to mine (even though I bring things for my family.) They’ve never outright said anything to me but I do often feel guilt.

        I feel bad that his MIL rarely gets as much from us as my family gets from me, but I see that as how she chose to raise him (by doing all the emotional work of getting gifts).

        1. RagingADHD*

          If you want to give your MIL presents, nothing is stopping you. I love my in-laws and I do give them presents.

          What I don’t do anymore is spend October to December orchestrating gifts for a couple dozen people all by myself just because of the “supposed to’s”, and run a year-round calendar of what to ship to whom, when.

          1. SoloKid*

            Yes exactly. I do make some gifts for MIL (I DO appreciate her) on her birthday but Christmas in particular in their family is way over the top with gifts that I don’t feel comfortable doing the same level.

    6. Invisible fish*

      Obviously, you should work toward a healthy balance that helps you both to have the best life possible …. But I can only speak about a strategy I took that may be a bit unbalanced … and that is I “noped out” of a lot of emotional labor stuff. Back in the day, when I was young, I did the “we’ll do Christmas here and Easter there and make sure to do X for your mom” type stuff while the person who is now my ex just drained me dry. Nowadays, I go where I want to, and my partner can come if he wants or not. He wants to do something different? He wants me to come? Then he has to do the emotional labor of figuring out how to make that happen. Please don’t think I mean I just do what I want without taking anyone else into consideration!! But planning and adjusting and asking for feedback so the plan makes everyone happy and such just is not something I’m willing to do anymore. My life is better for it. It prompts my partner to advocate for himself instead of waiting for his needs to be anticipated and met; it prevents assumptions about things; it requires that other people plan in advance, etc. When people ask you “What does John think of this” or “What does Bob want to do,” you get to resold with “I don’t know – you should ask him.” It’s glorious.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I definitely think sometimes you have to drop the rope. Be at peace knowing he may so it differently than you. My good friend organizes a bi monthly mom’s trip and just leaves her learned-helplessness-prone husband with the kids. He figures it out one way or another and even though he dumps some of it on his mom (sigh) at least my friend still gets her break,

    7. Jackalope*

      I’ve found a lot of help from books by John Gottman; he has a great deal of wisdom in relationship areas. One of his books (I think it was Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work) had a section talking about splitting labor. He had a long list of many different chores and household responsibilities, & suggested that couples sit down & see who’s taking care of each task, & try to figure out a fair balance. One of the things that he said he often sees is that neither party knows how many things the other person is doing; something like this helps clarify how much effort is coming from both sides, & makes it easier to figure out a plan for splitting things. I haven’t sat down & gone over the list w/ my spouse, but I have used it to inform discussions w/ my spouse when we discuss things like this.

      I’ve also heard good things about the book Fair Play by Eve Rodsky, which also attempts to help partners figure out balancing workloads (including emotional labor). I haven’t read this one personally, but I have heard people say they found it to be very helpful.

      One other thing that is important when figuring this stuff out is to consider ALL of the steps. For example, let’s say that you’re thinking of cooking dinner. Some of the steps include: planning what will be for dinner; making a grocery list; buying ingredients; maintaining the basic necessities of whatever your household uses so that the cook won’t randomly find themselves w/o, say, salt; food prep (chopping, grating cheese, etc.); actual cooking; eating prep (setting the table, or clearing off the tv trays, or whatever’s relevant in your home); cleaning the kitchen afterwards; washing dishes; putting dishes away. All of those steps are actual work, but a lot of times it’s easy to ignore many of them & just focus on food prep & maybe dishes. Especially since you mentioned the emotional labor, make sure that all of those things are on the list for “cooking dinner” responsibilities. My recent experience was that for part of COVID I was the person doing all of the grocery store runs because out of the 3 adults in our household, I was the only non-high-risk person. Each weekend I would spend 3-4 hours buying groceries, getting pet food, and otherwise running errands to keep the house going (but mostly food-related). During the week I had less time to cook than the others did & sometimes I felt bad about that, but I reminded myself that the 3-4 hours on the weekends were a part of my contribution to the making of food, & it was okay to let my spouse & our housemate take on more of the actual cooking responsibility.

      And last, one thing that you may have heard, but it’s something I try to keep in mind: one possible good rule of thumb is that most of the time both you and your husband should get roughly the same amount of leisure time. If one of you has a lot of time each day to play around or engage in hobbies or otherwise do fun things, but the other one is working all of the time, then that’s not a fair breakdown of the household labor, & things need to be reconsidered.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think cooking dinner is a great example of making room for different styles.

        Some people meal plan and buy ingredients accordingly. Other people buy a list of staples every week and make what they feel like on the night. Some folks do a hybrid. All are valid.

        Same with laundry. Some folks sort and separate everything, and fold it. Other people wash everything on cold, hang stuff up and toss the rest in drawers unfolded. Best for folks like that to do their own.

        My husband and I exchanged a few words about the fact that I don’t fold towels the way his mother does. And so he became in charge of folding towels for a while-until he realized that laundry is his mother’s favorite hobby, but not his.

        So you may not wind up with all the same steps within the task area, and that’s something to discuss.

      2. Despachito*

        You pointed out one very important thing – we often think “I am almost the only person who does the laundry” and then find out that your partner thinks the same. It seems that both of us do it but do not see the other one doing it, and we undervalue their share of work because we do not directly witness it.

        If this is the case, it helps to remind each other sometimes “I did the laundry”, just for both of us to realize the extent of this unseen work.

        1. MissCoco*

          This is so true! We have also both worked on noticing when tasks are done and telling each other thanks when we notice, which has made us both feel much less put upon and alone, since those little acknowledgements are now part of our daily conversation.

        2. Jackalope*

          In our household we try to thank each other for doing household chores and such. Say for example any time someone washes the dishes, or vacuums, or whatever, we mention it. Some people might find that tiresome, but for us it’s a chance both to appreciate and feel appreciated, and it helps to remind everyone that we’re all trying to pull our weight. And over the last couple of years when life has been so tough and sometimes everything is a SLOG, sometimes it’s a major act of heroism to wash the dishes.

          1. RagingADHD*

            We do the same. It makes a nicer atmosphere in the home, and especially with kids it is a good opportunity to use positive reinforcement.

          2. Pom*

            We have family quirks that a person who has done some laundry can say ‘laundry hug’ and gets hugged by whoever is nearby, also after you do something annoying/difficult you can say ‘praise me, PRAISE ME!’ a la Invader Zim to request appreciation.

      3. Onomatopoetic*

        Yes to cooking dinner including much more than the actual cooking. I do most of the food at home, because I enjoy cooking and my partner doesn’t. But all the work around it used to make me tired and resentful. Now we have a system where they help me come up with what to eat and prepping the ingredients, which is the part I find most boring, but they don’t mind. It has eased the work significally.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes! My husband makes our weekly dinner menu as far as a list of meals, and then I do the grocery shopping for them and allocate each one to a particular night. I do most of the actual cooking, unless he’s put one of his specialties on there (in which case he cooks that one and picks which day it goes on to best fit his schedule), but he does the taking-meat-out-to-defrost and any necessary vegetable chopping.

    8. Despachito*

      Is it by any means possible that he may feel you are “in charge” of most things, have your own idea how they should be, and just wants to stay on the safe side of things? Sort of “whatever I do, there is a risk that it won’t be right, so I am not going to venture anything but the safe recurrent things”?

      Do you feel that the “majority of financial resources” is an issue, and why? Is your husband lazy? Or does he just have a different type of work that does not pay as much? Because if my significant other mentioned that he makes more in relation to household chores, it will hurt me that he thinks that I should somehow compensate for the difference by doing the chores I hate. (And I never suggested such a thing when it was me who was making significantly more).

      65% versus 35% of chores – perhaps it would be worth a discussion (that is, if you have not had it already) what expectations do you have and what part of your 65% would you like him to take over? Is it possible that you have a specific idea but he does not share it/know about it? If so, could it help if you specify it (eg. “can you please sweep the floor every Thursday)?

      Re the 100% emotional work – this would be the thing which would cause the most concern to me. One scenario when I can imagine it for myself (and I can be completely wrong) is that “that other person has so clear ideas what everything should look like that it is easier for me not to interfere” or “there are so many things that s/he considers important but I do not care for them and I refuse to spend my energy on them.” Think for example the birthdays of all the cousins twice removed someone below mentioned. This would be a demanding task if someone decides to do it, but the other person can very well consider it not necessary and might not be willing to participate in it).

      I think it will be definitely worth counseling to help both of you clarify what you want/need, and I wish you the best of luck to be able to sort it in a way feasible and agreeable for both of you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding there were times in my marriage where one of us was head and shoulders above the other one in a particular skill. It just became apparent as the years ticked by. I could send my husband to pick out a tv/sound system/computer for me and he’d get something I would like. But he told me to take over the decision about siding the house. He said my eye for color and style was better than his and he had decided he would like what ever I came up with. The tech choices and the siding choices both came out well.

        What is key here is these are things that come up once in a while, unlike dishes or laundry. And dishes or laundry can be learned. In the wool example, my solution was not to buy many wool pieces AND I learned about home dry cleaning. I use the kits on the few good pieces I have. My thinking here is that stuff that is recurring, we need to just sit down and teach ourselves. Google, talk to a friend, whatever you have to do in order to learn how to deal with these recurring tasks. There are work-arounds for almost every thing we can think of, it’s just a matter of finding it. In my life this has been an on-going approach to things.

      2. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        Despachito’s first paragraph is an important thing to consider. That’s not meant to say “it’s your fault that he doesn’t do things”, but if it’s never “right”, it removes motivation. Of course another possibility is he is using weaponized incompetence, where he figures out that “if I always do it wrong, my spouse will take over and I’m off the hook.”

        1. Ariaflame*

          I left home knowing only a few recipes because any attempts to do cooking in the kitchen (apart from a few distinct recipes) had mum taking over because I was too slow. Which meant of course I didn’t learn to get faster.

      3. Clisby*

        And if you can afford it, hire somebody to do the things you really hate. We have a cleaning service come in twice a month because we both hate housecleaning. We’re fine with keeping things neat, putting away laundry, doing the dishes, etc. but a cleaning service keeps the rest up to a basically acceptable level. My husband works, I’m retired. He has never once suggested we should drop the cleaning service just because (theoretically) I could clean the house. It wouldn’t happen. Or maybe it would happen, but it would be substandard. (We both like to cook; it would have been more strategic if I had married a man who liked housecleaning, but it didn’t work out that way.)

    9. 30ish*

      My partner has an extensive to do list for house work and his phone will send him reminders whenever something‘s due. So e.g, every 2 weeks he will get a reminder to deep clean the coffee machine or to place a food order. I feel like it is helpful for men to approach this like the management issue it is and find their own system to work with.

    10. Jay*

      I’m a woman married to a man and I have always earned at least twice as much as he does. We’re now (mostly) retired. We shared the physical labor fairly equitably at the beginning. When we had a kid, we had to renegotiate that because I picked up most of the kid-related labor. What worked was me saying “I’m not OK with this. When xyz happens, I feel like everything is my job and you are ‘helping.’ I want to feel like we are partners.” I went through each thing I was doing solo and we split up the tasks. Grownups have to do things we prefer not to do. It’s part of being a functional member of the household. We also made things as easy as possible – she went to full-time daycare even when I was working part-time and she went to their camp all summer, also full-time. When she started elementary school she bought hot lunch in school.

      The emotional labor piece was much, much harder. That took several rounds of couples counseling. During the first round, he didn’t understand what I meant by “emotional labor” and the counselor couldn’t get through to him. What finally happened, unfortunately, was that my mother developed progressive dementia and I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to manage that plus trying to support my kid through it plus the emotional labor of taking care of our marriage and the marriage was the thing I dropped. We went back into couples counseling when we had a screaming fight because I asked him to make plans for my birthday, and this time he understood what the issue was. It’s better – not perfect – but better.

    11. Angstrom*

      One stumbling block I’ve run into is getting hung up on “Not doing the thing the way I would do it” vs. “Not doing the thing”. That can lead to a lot of frustration on both sides.

    12. Kate*

      This is going to sound flippant, but I swear it’s not: divorce!

      This is a second-go-around for both my partner and I, and it is so much more equitable than either of our marriages were.

      I attribute it largely to two things:

      1) we’ve seen firsthand how destructive the inequity and building resentment over what seems to be a dirty glass beside the sink (but isn’t) can be to a marriage and we’re determined not to repeat it; and

      2) after both being single parents with ALL the responsibilities on our respective shoulders, the gratitude for being able to have someone help out has definitely not worn off yet.

    13. Swisa*

      The book “fair play” by Eve Rodsky is great for this conversation. It has a “game” for dividing up chores. You can even buy cards to go with it, but you don’t have to.
      I’ve listened to both the audiobook and read the paper book, and eventually bought the cards (would not recommend the cards alone without the book).
      Definitely worth a library checkout. It has cheesy parts, but it gave me words to start the conversation.

      1. Juneybug*

        I came here to recommend Fair Play by Eve Rodsky too. It’s a life changing in understanding the emotional energy behind some chores.

        What is helped with my husband and I is we have a weekly meeting about your upcoming schedule, chores, etc. We discuss who is going to take care of what, when, so on…

        We also have daily check-ins (quick 5 min) each morning of what our plans are for the day, what we are hoping to accomplish, what we need help with, etc.

    14. Fellow Traveler*

      I fully admit that my husband does most of the housework. I think it is partly about standards and priorities for us. At one point in marriage counseling, it came up that he would rather clean the kitchen than cuddle with the baby’s and I would rather cuddle with the baby than clean the kitchen. I think this stems from the fact that he finds a clean countertop calming and I find cuddling the baby calming. But he felt like it was unfair that he was constantly cleaning, and I felt like his standards were higher than what I wanted to spend my time doing, which also felt unfair.
      One thing we realized, though, was that chores were infinite, but time, free time, was not and it was just as important to split the free time as the chores. So now we have a system where we each get nights off from household chores to have time to themselves, and we make sure there is “alone time” on the weekends too. Making sure we each get this “alone” time has been huge to saving us from resentment and burnout. I read a quote last week that said burnout was not about work load but about investing emotionally and not getting any return. I felt like that can be really true in marriage and the expectations we have.
      Also, hiring a cleaner so that I know at least twice a month the house will be as clean as he wants it.

      1. Despachito*

        This is true on so many fronts. And kudos to you that you managed to figure it out – not everyone does!

    15. Frankie Bergstein*

      I just wanted to say… if you need validation, pretty much ALL research and my experience (of colleagues) validates it.

      Don’t be hard on yourself for “letting yourself participate in this.” If it’s most couples out there (so says the research, there’s so much of it!), that means it’s not just you — it’s something structural.

    16. Despachito*

      And I think that the “who earns more” thing is a dangerous trap and mostly irrelevant.

      I’d consider it relevant only if one of them was not working or clearly not pulling their weight at work without a reason, and they were struggling financially because of that.

      I have always considered a well-functioning family as the biggest unit when communism can actually work in practice – ideally, you work according to your abilities and receive things according to your needs. So who brings home more money is not important at all because all the money is put together and used by every member of the family according to their needs.

      So I would rather not use it as an argument here because it is a red herring. Time spent in earning money is not always proportionate to the amount of money earned. I’d consider a much more reliable indicator free time – is THIS divided equitably?

      1. Girasol*

        It shouldn’t be a part of the equation but I’ve read in several places recently that it often is: studies show that when a woman earns more than her husband she ends up with more of the household chores. Not a typo: women who earn more end up doing more work, not less, at home. No explanation given.

        1. Quadra*

          I’m in that category and a die-hard feminist… For me, it’s being very sensitive to my husband’s ego, even though he’s totally fine with the fact that I earn a lot more. My earnings (and my work in general, now that I’m thinking about it) aren’t a topic that we discuss very often.

          1. Despachito*

            I’ve always heard (but never experienced myself) that it is likely to be a big problem if the wife earns a lot more than the husband, and I always wondered why if it does not matter if it is the other way round. The usual explanation was that it makes the husband somehow feel inferior because from the traditional point of view it is him who should be the main breadwinner (which is irrational and BS but I sort of understand why someone can feel that way), but then comes the even more irrational part I do not understand – that he takes it out on his wife just because she earns more. As if she somehow emasculates him (and of course it was HER fault that she dared earn more).

            This BS made me retch every time I heard it, and I was even asking myself how my husband will take it when we both started working and my salary was three times higher than his. Fortunately, he had never had a problem with it, it is rather me who feels bad when it’s now him who earns more (and it’s just me, because he never had a problem with it either way), because my uncertainty makes me hesitate whether I am pulling my weight.

            1. Despachito*

              Just to remark – I have never felt I was not pulling my weight in terms of chores, not because I did so many chores but because I never considered them to be my exclusive responsibility. ANd from experience I know that a lot of them JUST DO NOT HAVE TO BE DONE AT ALL or can be done much less frequently. And they are the least priority and the first thing to drop when something more important/more interesting arises.

    17. Stitch*

      It’s hard because it’s too late for this advice but: be careful who you marry. My husband was equitable in our relationship before we married. Having a kid did change things a bit because I was nursing I naturally had to do more childcare. So I leaned on him to do more things like cooking.

      I’d also advise anyone getting married to live with someone for at least a year first. That way you get to know their habits.

      1. kiki*

        I’d also advise somebody to live with somebody first. I did it and led me to end the relationship. A few older relatives told me, “Oh, it’s too bad you lived together before you got married and it didn’t work out! Next time get married first!” I had to explain that I was happy he and I lived together even though it didn’t work out. I would have been happy and excited to marry my ex before we lived together. He was great in that context. But after a couple years of living together, I realized I just couldn’t do it. A break-up is easier than a divorce!

    18. Quadra*

      We had a similar dynamic in the past and have mostly solved it with a shared task app with a lot of different tabs (grocery, home improvement, etc. and then larger and more nebulous to-dos) and everything goes in there. No more “remind me to do / buy X” conversations! When we need to tackle things, we divide up from the list.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Not being snarky, genuinely asking: are you the one who puts most of the items on the list?

        1. Quadra*

          Ha, fair question! I’m not, but in the beginning it was a lot of me saying “put it on the list!” until it became a habit. I am more likely to initiate conservations to look at and split up the list though. That’s good enough for me.

        2. Clisby*

          The only shared list we have is groceries, and it’s on paper, not in an app. I do put most of the things on the list, but that’s because I do most of the M-F dinner cooking (breakfast and lunch is every person for themselves) and what we need in regular pantry supplies is in my head. The list is right there for my husband or college-age son to add what they want. If they don’t, too bad. They can make another grilled cheese sandwich.

    19. Former task manager*

      I haven’t figured out the emotional labor equality, but for chores, we started using an app called Todoist. You can both have access to it and set up one time or recurring chores, and see what needs to be done every day or in upcoming days. It took away a lot of the confusion and bickering about what needed to be done or had already been done around the house.

    20. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      As a cis bi female married to a cis heterosexual man who does most of the emotional labor …. After being previously married to a man who did NONE of the emotional labor…I can tell you it is freaking amazing not to work so hard. I agree with dropping the rope on the things you’re laboring about.

      The hard part is grieving the loss of your hope that he will pick up the slack and you will have an equitable partnership. Grieve it and let it go – and if he comes through, that’s gravy. But letting it go will help keep you from subconsciously picking back up any of ‘his’ emotional labor that you’ve dropped.

    21. Pop*

      Captain Awkward’s answers to LWs #506 and 507 has some strategies and a robust comment section filled with discussion – I just happened to read it last week and there were a variety of concrete strategies!

      I also want to acknowledge that once again, you are doing the emotional labor here of solving a problem in your marriage and how much that sucks. Almost (but not all!) of people who look for advice like this seem to be women in cishet relationships.

    22. pancakes*

      I’m not sure I agree that this is something that can be negotiated. It’s not quite like a business arrangement, where you can just walk away if the terms aren’t working out, because love tends to be an incentive to stay. If he wants structured, recurring tasks, maybe try just giving him a list?

        1. pancakes*

          If you have alternate ideas about how to get someone who doesn’t take initiative to become a person who takes initiative, I’m curious to hear them. I think the only way to do that reliably is select for it from the start.

          1. Disco Janet*

            Doing less was my method (although this has never been a huge problem in my marriage – maybe because I don’t stretch myself until I’m overloaded – I just do less. Or maybe it’s because he lived by himself for a couple years and generally knows what tasks must be done). But once my husband has to deal with what happens when I drop the ball on a certain task, and he doesn’t notice and pick it up, he starts taking more initiative in that area. Because it’s not fun to realize the kids have no clean clothes and you’re doing drop off, there’s no groceries to pack your lunch, someone’s birthday is tomorrow and you don’t have a gift yet, etc.

    23. Spearmint*

      Ok, I was in a similar boat in a previous relationship, making more money, doing most “emotional labor” (I kind hate using the term this way, but alas that’s a losing battle), and doing most household chores. Though in my case I was the male half of a hetero relationship.

      On the money point, I understand why you brought it up, but ultimately I think as long as your partner is working and contributing to the necessities in a fair way, this should not be relevant to the division of chores or emotional labor.

      On emotional labor, I have two thoughts. First, have you just tried doing less? I realized that I was sometimes doing emotional labor on my partner’s behalf because I was anxious/worried about her, but actually if I just let go, and trusted her to handle it, she’d usually end up handing it herself. Occasionally she wouldn’t, but I just had to be ok with letting her fail sometimes. She is an adult, after all. We talked about it and she realized was feeling resentful that I kept trying to remind her of stuff and manage her life so frequently, and that prompted her to resist in ways that exacerbated the situation. So make sure you’re not taking on emotional labor you don’t have to, and give your partner room and see what they do.

      Second, I do think the fair distribution of labor in a relationship comes down to each partner putting in equal effort rather than each partner doing an equal amount of the work. In my case, I just accepted that I’d probably always do the majority of the emotional labor in our relationship. My partner had a more demanding job (despite making less money) and more mental health issues, so emotional labor was more taxing for her. That doesn’t mean I accepted her doing nothing, but I did accept that I’d do more if we both put in equal effort.

      On chores, others have given better advice than I could, but I’d just add that make sure you decide together, as equals, What Needs To Be Done. In a lot of relationships it seems like the partner who does more chores also feels entitled to define What Needs To Be Done and to judge if it has been done well enough, without any negotiation or input from their partner. And then the other partner will feel less motivated or competent because they don’t get an equal say in things. Make sure you’re not falling into this trap.

      1. Spearmint*

        (On a side note, as a man who has been in this situation, I resent how people try to gender this every time it comes up. Not you OP, but many of the other commenters in this thread. Yes, as a sociological fact it’s true women are more likely to end up in this situation, but many men do as well, and frankly the narratives that this was a woman-only experience made it much hard for me to recognize the imbalances in my relationship.)

        1. Pippa K*

          Hm. But it *is* a gendered experience for many people, and you acknowledge the gendered social pattern, as well. Identifying that can help people to call out the elements of what’s going on in order to combat it.

          That doesn’t mean that this disparity has sexism as its *only possible* cause. But when that’s a prominent aspect of sexism, of course people will, and I think should, talk about that. It’s like some of the common types of racist discrimination – those particular things can also happen from causes other than racism, but it would be odd to say “hey, that thing can happen to white people too, so I resent people talking about how it’s part of racism.”
          (I’m not directly equating racism and sexism here; that’s a different discussion. I’m just talking about the logic we use in identifying causes and patterns and tolerating, or not, generalizations that don’t apply to our own situations.)

      2. pancakes*

        No, I think your last paragraph is good advice and well put. And just as a practical matter, if you don’t agree on what needs to be done, that can be an enduring source of friction. Experimenting with doing less where you can is worth a try.

      3. RagingADHD*

        I think it is a self reinforcing cycle. The partner who has the longest list of things that Need to Be Done will do more of them, because the other person truly does not care if they get done or not (or not that frequently, or not that elaborately).

        And then that inequality of effort feeds a dynamic of parentification, where the person with the longer list is setting tasks and judging results for the other (which creates emotional labor). Which feels even more unequal. Round and round.

        It can get really toxic if the partners don’t interrupt the pattern and reset on a footing of mutual listening and respect.

      4. Despachito*

        Thank you, this is very nicely put.

        It is wortwhile for the one who feels they are doing more chores/emotional labor to ask themselves the crucial question – IS WHAT I AM DOING REALLY NECESSARY?

        Because you are so right that sometimes more investment in either of these can be actually counter-productive, and you are also right it is an issue that should be discussed between them as equals, and it is possible that the result would be not for the less active person to do more but for the more active person to do less.

    24. Katiekins*

      When you say you do 100 percent of the emotional labor, do you mean you listen to his problems but he doesn’t listen to yours/you pay attention to any kids, he doesn’t/you keep up the relationship building work for his side of the family, he doesn’t? Or do you mean you do 100 percent of the mental load, like you take ownership/final responsibility for all the tasks/track the tasks/are the one keeping on top of the tasks? I ask not to nitpick word choice but because I think for unequal emotional labor, you have a real talk or counseling or even leave, and for mental load, you ask your partner to take responsibility for more tasks from start to finish.

      Eve Rodsky’s Fair Play (as mentioned in other comments) is a good conversation starter. I think Jancee Dunn’s How Not to Hate Your Husband after Kids talks about this, too. (I don’t have kids and I still found this book helpful for my relationship.)

      1. Katiekins*

        As for what helps in my relationship:
        –we each do our own laundry
        –we each do our own grocery shopping and cooking (I know that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and has some pitfalls but mostly works for us)
        –we each take care of our relationships with our sides of the family (I don’t do cards for his family for him, he buys presents for them, or not, without me keeping track)
        –we take turns washing the dishes
        –if I notice something undone (like the floors need to be swept) and I have been doing more chores, I ask him to sweep
        –we both get individual counseling which helps keep the emotional labor balanced

        1. pancakes*

          These are good.

          Dinner is easy for us – he doesn’t like cooking and isn’t good at; I enjoy it to the point of it being a hobby; I hate doing dishes and he doesn’t mind; he does all the dishes. Occasionally I do my own if I’m cooking a lot and need something clean in a hurry, and that’s totally fine. He’s not super great about cleaning otherwise, but not terrible, and often good. Bringing me cappuccino in bed every morning makes up for the lil’ shortfall.

    25. Rara Avis*

      My husband suffered a traumatic brain injury a year before we were married (27 years ago). We didn’t realize the lingering effects until many years later. But one of the outcomes is that in addition to the well- documented imbalance between men and women, there are a lot of tasks that fall to me while he is doing the best he can to handle his own stuff. He’s great at special projects (deep cleaning the bathroom, for instance). I won’t deny that it is really hard and I sometimes get very frustrated. We sit down and talk it out and that helps.

    26. Square Root of Minus One*

      Square Root of Minus One*
      June 11, 2022 at 1:44 pm

      I’m sorry, honestly. Currently going through a similar crisis here (well, sort of, but the details aren’t for now).
      It’s not exactly about equitable but more about disastrous habits of his I can’t live with. I tackled his bad finances three years ago (I’ve asked for advice here btw, thanks again everyone, now we’ve gone from F to about a B- I guess), and right this week I’m onto his hoarding habit. You’d see his place, he’s owned by piles of things and junk, honest.
      Long story short, negociation. And what pulled him at the negociation table was me blowing a fuse.
      I’m not a tyrant, but I have my limits, and I know he doesn’t want to lose me. While, and I suppose that’s key, I’m prepared to walk. It would hurt, but I would.
      You can only go to the negociation table with something to negociate, or you’ll end up with a raw deal just the same.
      I’m sorry again.

      1. Owler*

        Square Root: how did you help your partner tackle his bad financial habits? Through depression, I’ve gotten myself into some bad habits that I’d like to correct, but I’m having a hard time starting anything. Thanks.

    27. marvin the paranoid android*

      One system that can help make the inequity clearer is to do an audit of how much free/leisure time each of you has. That can help balance out differences in how much time each person works and how some household tasks take longer than others.

      I would also say that if your spouse is really invested in improving this, a good start would be if he takes the lead in coming up with solutions. If he’s normally good about being organized and on top of things, he’s likely gotten used to leaning on you to have everything under control, and only he can figure out how to get out of that pattern. If he has larger issues with executive function, perhaps it would be worth looking into strategies that will make things easier for him or solutions (like hiring a cleaner or deciding to have lower standards about some stuff) to take the burden off both of you.

    28. J.B.*

      My husband finally agreed to go to couples therapy when I was ready to leave. The message was that I needed to ask for more (which still leaves the mental load on me, but anyway). At first he reacted pretty negatively but I didn’t back down.

      What works more or less is that I have handed off certain jobs – paying for our cleaning service, handling or hiring out home maintenance, and we split kid chauffeuring. There is still a lot of mental load on me especially because we have special needs kids and therapy is a key extracurricular. I emailed him instructions for next week so he can have the details on his phone without other reminders. Shrug.

    29. What's the formula?*

      Hi everyone, thank you for excellent advice (as always). We will be reading the recommended books and checking out the habit app. I am also going to contact my EAP and see if we could go to some couples counseling.

      To clarify some things – I do 100% of the invisible labor. All the planning and coordination to keep the house running. My husband wouldn’t know how to check our bank or pay the mortgage if I was hit by a bus tomorrow. I wrote a detailed instructional for him should something happen to me, but I made sure to give my sister a copy too because I don’t trust my husband to keep up with it.

      Examples of inequality:
      1) My spouse did not renew their passport even with months of steady reminders. I finally had to do it for him and pay $60 extra to get it fast tracked. We’re going to Canada (a lifelong dream of mine) and I felt his neglect of this task was reflective of how he was not committed to making my dreams come true. I’ve planned, paid for, and coordinated a hopefully amazing trip and I just wanted him to do this one thing and he did not. My primary love language is acts of service so this neglect hurts deeply. I go out of my way on a regular basis to try to enrich his life and treat his goals as important as mine, but, I do not get that in return.
      2) My spouse puts to-do items on my plate without help constantly. i.e. “the sink is clogged,” “the dog needs meds,” and ” called and needed something.” Why are these all things I have to do? Shouldn’t he know how to use Drano, or give the dog meds, or he can google and make a good faith effort at least?
      3) I have to manage his benefits through his work because he “misses emails,” He once missed open enrollment and almost lost health insurance. That could have bankrupted us. Now, its one more thing on my plate.
      4) In general, he is not clued into things. He is very comfortable sitting back and letting me run the show when that is too much weight for me to carry alone.

      I do like the house cleaner than he would like it, and that’s why I’ve done most of the household chores on top of all executive tasks. But, I think this has to stop because I get maybe 3 hours of downtime a week and he’s averaging that every day. Plus, I know from cautionary tales this is only likely to get worse once we have children.

      I appreciate everyone advice and will revisit it as we navigate the next couple months together. One of my friends told me marriages go through the cycles every couple years and it will be messy but we can get through it. I am hopeful.

      1. lobsterbot*

        Do not have children with this person until things are more equitable. Good luck!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yes! I’d go further and say do not have kids with this man, period, unless you fully accept that you will do everything, and he will maybe help out a bit, if reminded. He’ll go from three hours a day down time to maybe two, and regard it as a huge sacrifice. You’ll give up your current three hours a week, sleep a couple hours less a night, the house will be a disaster area, and he’ll be sitting there playing video games or watching TV, while you run around trying to keep things going. And that’s without considering what happens if, say, you have a special needs child.

          Your description reminds me a lot of a friend. Her husband’s not a bad guy, he’s just in many was functionally a 14 year old. He does well at his job, but she manages everything at home. When it was just them, it wasn’t too bad – she’s high energy and a managing type, and they ate takeout a lot. With two kids, he still manages hours a day playing video games, and does his chores when reminded (he does the dishes at night and drops the kids off at school and occasionally mows the lawn) and she basically does everything else and all the planning.

          Honestly, my bar for having kids with this guy would be that he can demonstrate that he can take over *all* the household stuff, including reminders, for a couple of months and do so cheerfully. Having kids tends to widen any imbalance in responsibility – someone who is happy watching you exhaust yourself doing everything and responds by adding things to your to-do list is not going to step up and take responsibility for his share of the work.

          1. Melody Pond*

            Yeah….. @What’s the formula? – I’m inclined to agree with everything @AcadamiaNut says here.

          2. kiki*

            Honestly, my bar for having kids with this guy would be that he can demonstrate that he can take over *all* the household stuff, including reminders, for a couple of months and do so cheerfully.

            Seconding this. Being pregnant and giving birth can be exhausting in ways many people have never experienced before. Some people have an easy time with it, but it takes a lot of people out. Don’t go into this with somebody who couldn’t pick up the slack if you can’t contribute the same way you have been.

      2. David Purefoy*

        Don’t have kids until/unless it is resolved. Do not believe anything except actions. Assurances (words) that he will step up once kids are in the picture need to be ignored. Full stop. Because otherwise the needs of the kids and your sense of responsibility can be leveraged…. I am a divorced mother of two because of this dynamic.

        1. MeepMeep02*

          Yup. And don’t believe the short-term actions, either. This is not someone who is capable of being a father, period full stop. Even if you can somehow force him to do his fair share when you’re an equal partner and have no vulnerabilities, he will stop when you’re vulnerable, unable to advocate for yourself, and have kids whose needs can be leveraged.

          If you want to have kids, find someone else.

      3. Despachito*

        If it was just the sink-like issues, I’d say try to resist the urge to understand it as “go and take care of it” but rather to take it as a piece of information which does not imply that it is you who should do it.

        But I understand you cannot let the dog die, or that the health insurance thing could become a big problem.

        I’d see as key here – is he open to talking/counseling and acting on the results?

        If not, I’d rather consider it a lost case because then you would have someone who just does not care (whatever the reason) and is not willing to make things better. To have kids with him would be a emotional suicide.

      4. Pocket Mouse*

        Do not have kids with him. Definitely not now, and possibly not ever, unless you are prepared to be a functional or literal single parent.

        The extreme inequity in downtime is worrisome. Don’t let him put tasks on your plate, that’s exacerbating the inequity! If he tells you the sink is clogged, you get to say: “Sounds like it needs to be cleared out, and you need to be the one to do it because I’m busy/because this is the first time I’ve had a chance to rest all week and you’ve had all evening to relax. Drano is in the cabinet.”

        Also… next time, seriously consider traveling alone or with a friend instead of with him. I’d be curious whether he runs out of food/toilet paper/clean clothes, and if so, whether that prompts a shift in at least his awareness of needing to get things done, plus perhaps a bit of practice doing those tasks once he recognizes the need.

      5. Chestnut Mare*

        This person is content to watch you burn yourself to the ground; your struggles do not seem to elicit any sense of compassion or empathy. I can’t imagine seeing my partner working himself to the bone and not be moved to do anything in my power to help, and I’m confident he feels the same way. This is very sad.

        1. kiki*

          Seconding this. Your partner should be the first one to jump up and make sure you’re not burning yourself to the ground, not be the cause of the fire.

      6. Observer*

        Hire a cleaner to handle major housecleaning things that affect both of you.

        Do not accept anything he puts on your plate unless the result of not handling it is going to be something that has a significant negative impact on you. And I do mean significant. Otherwise, find a way to work around it. Which is annoying, but he needs to feel the effects on not doing things. And, yes, you shouldn’t have to be teaching a grown up lessons like this, but at this point it’s either getting some change in place of this relationship is going to fall apart.

        When he tries to put stuff on your to do list, hand it right back. “the dog needs meds” – “Go ahead and give them to him”. “The sink is clogged” “If we have drano, it should be in closet X. I’m sure you can find some to buy if we don’t have any”. etc.

        Don’t make any plans for yourself that require him to accomplish anything. To take your Canada fiasco as an example: You could just book the trip for yourself, or book in a way that allows you to cancel last minute with minimal loss of deposits etc. If you really want him with you, plan to renew his passport and *schedule* for it, so you don’t have to scramble and you can leave of something else you would otherwise have taken care of.

        1. Observer*

          All of this being said, it’s still possible that this marriage is not salvageable. But at least, for the most part this will reduce the stress on you no matter what.

      7. allathian*

        Why are you still with this man? Quite honestly, he’s not behaving like a competent adult. Either he has a severe executive dysfunction issue that means he’s incapable of learning to do better, in which case he should be in assisted living, or else it’s learned helplessness (*much* more likely), which means that he could learn to do better with sufficient motivation, like you kicking him to the curb and him ending up homeless for a while because he can’t be arsed to take responsibility for himself.

        Whatever you do, do not have kids with this man.

        1. pancakes*

          It seems like plenty of people with severe executive dysfunction issues are capable of doing better than this. Most do, from what I see. This guy doesn’t want to and doesn’t have to. He has someone to do everything he won’t, even manage his work benefits.

        2. djc*

          Agree. Start looking for a divorce lawyer. No amount of counseling or books will change this level of incompetence. And take back that instruction manual you gave your sister. If something should happen to you, he should not become her burden.

      8. pancakes*

        Living with someone who “is not clued into things” to this degree sounds like a huge drag. I couldn’t do it. Don’t have kids with this guy!

      9. Juneybug*

        I have an ex-husband for the same reasons you mentioned above (not pulling his weight as an adult in a committed relationship, nor wanting to change the dynamics of me doing it all). It was draining! We already had a wonderful child but I wanted a second child so bad so we both agreed and after they were born, this situation got worse. After two years of marriage counseling, the marriage was over/dead.
        I didn’t file for divorce as I had to deploy overseas for a few months with the military. Plus, I was hoping some time apart would help the situation. Spoiler alert – Nope. Not at all.
        Came home to children who had lost weight and not seen their doctor for annual check-ups, the house was a disaster, no food in the house, bills hadn’t been paid, numerous violations from base housing management for not mowing the yard, and less than $14 in our bank account. Being a (temporary) single dad would justify most of the issues falling under he tried his best but he actually quit his full time job to “take care of the house and kids” (which I found out after I came home). Here’s the kicker – one kid was in school full-time, the other at day care full-time. So instead of being a responsible adult during the day while the kids were out of the house, he played video games and hung out with his friends at the local bars and casinos. I filed for divorce within a week of coming home (after I got the bills caught up on next payday, cleaned the house, mowed the yard, and feed the kids a lot of meals/snacks).
        Years later, he said he thought I would come home and fix everything. I did but also left him. It was less stressful to be a single parent to two kids than be married.
        It all worked out in the end as I have two wonderful adult children and later on, married an amazing guy. Ex-husband never did change or step up to be an adult.
        So long story short – make sure he is willing to change before putting in the effort. And as many folks have stated here, don’t have kids with this guy. I wish you the best!

        1. Observer*

          Years later, he said he thought I would come home and fix everything.

          So major league jerk AND delusional.

          It’s one thing to not do anything for yourself. But when your kids are literally being starved?!

      10. kiki*

        I don’t want to sound flippant about this, but I was in a situation really similar to yours and the only thing that worked was breaking up. He is letting you run yourself ragged to get everything done while he puts more on your to-do list, I feel like that’s the bigger issue than the exact formula for splitting chores. This is bigger than you liking the house cleaner than he does or forgetting to renew his passport. He sees you struggling and doesn’t even try to do anything about it. A problem like that in a marriage necessitates serious action to fix, like therapy or counseling. I’m sending good vibes your way. I hope you know you deserve someone who tries to take care of you too.

    30. Pocket Mouse*

      He “doesn’t know where to start”… tell him “literally anywhere”. That means if he notices something needs to be done, he does it—whether that’s sweeping a dirty floor, washing a dirty dish, buying a food staple the household just ran out of. If a dirty floor is 80% cleaner after he’s done with it, that’s a huge improvement both in cleanliness and his initiative. Initiative doesn’t have to mean taking on a whole realm of responsibilities at once and forever , it’s about being an active participant in what needs to get done.

    31. FACS*

      I am in an equitable marriage. Heterosexual. We both have demanding jobs (specialist health care) and 2 sons who are young adults. We are well paid, thankfully. We are each gone for afternoons/nights, etc and the other person has to manage and so does. Have you thought about declining certain tasks? He can do his own dang laundry and cook meals. We have a “you manage your people” rule about family. I get my demanding sister, he gets his father and uncle.
      And I need to add that “he is supportive and wants to contribute more” is BS if he is actually not doing anything. If you get taken up in a whirlwind he will figure it out.

    32. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Are you 100% sure your breakdown is correct? I would reanalyze that before I proceed.

      Men and women view “emotional labor” differently. He may be worrying about things like your safety or the long term financial stability of your household all of the time, and you don’t even know he’s doing it.

      And why is it “exhausting” he does repeat tasks? doesn’t that free up time and mental space for you, knowing that recurring thing is taken care of?

      1. Another health care worker*

        The OP has commented that her husband would not even know how to pay the mortgage by himself, and doesn’t even trust him to consult an instructional manual that she made for him in the event that she dies unexpectedly. It’s not plausible to me that he is burdened by the “long term financial stability of their household all of the time.”

        1. kiki*

          Yeah. If OP’s husband is worrying about this stuff, he’s not doing anything about it. Perhaps that requires a different approach in therapy, but it’s still a huge problem in their relationship that isn’t LW’s to solve.

      2. Observer*

        Did you actually read what the OP posted – even the initial post? “Worrying” about stuff is not emotional labor that contributes to a relationship or household. It’s personal emotional stuff. Considering all of the additional information the OP posted, including stuff she posted before your response, it’s pretty obvious that this is not what is going on. And what’s more it would NOT matter, because what he is doing is simply adding work to the OP’s plate.

        Essentially what you are claiming is that the OP needs to consider whether her husband is SO busy worrying about the household finances or something like that, that he “can’t” get the dog to the vet, handle minor repairs around the house, figure out when some extra cleaning needs to be or even take care of his own paperwork *after he has been asked to take care of it for explicit reasons*.

        Reasonable relationships don’t work that way.If his anxiety about something is that bad, he has a major functional problem and should be in therapy that is focused on enabling him to function like an adult in an adult relationship. If he’s NOT actively working on that, then that’s on him not the OP.

    33. Bibliovore*

      Maybe this will help. This how we renegotiated money/labor/expectations during the 30 years plus we were married.
      We gave up the notion of compromise.
      Compromise meant no one was happy.
      On the other hand we took to heart the notion that some tasks were “service to the marriage”
      I am not loading the dishwasher with his overnight snack dishes “for him” I was doing service to my marriage.
      Chores were assigned to the person least annoyed by them.
      He never cleaned a bathroom but he did fold all the laundry and carry it up the stairs.
      He did tasks as directed without complaint as he could NEVER see the garbage was full or the dishwasher needed unloading.
      He did the bill paying from the common pot.
      I did all the shopping and cooking or else we would have been eating Dominoes and popcorn for every meal.
      He took care of the dishes, I took care of pots and pans. (because I didn’t trust him with them)
      We got a housekeeper every other week when it became obvious that me doing most of the housework wasn’t going to change.
      Money- each to their own needs. I made less but worked more (teacher) He made more but didn’t love his job.
      He paid the big bills- mortgage etc, I paid everything else. We had about the same “mad money” left over after about 5 years of super inequity and a serious discussion about it. He retired 6 years ago. Then I was the major breadwinner.

      Location- I moved for his job as that was the one keeping the roof over our heads. Then 25 years later we moved to be closer to his family, so he could retire, to be relieved of Big East Coast City stress and economics.

      Looking back the best thing we did was not keep secrets or harbor resentments for very long. If I was perseverating about something and couldn’t talk about it with him, I talked to friends or even posted here to get language to figure out if I was over reacting.
      Oh and we both read a book called The Second Shift in manuscript way in the beginning of our marriage. If one of those issues came up, my shorthand was “this is the second shift” and he immediately recognized that this was a big deal deal to me and he had to step up.

  6. Midwestern traveler*

    So I have a question tangentially related to travel to Iceland: what are ways to dress when you need to be active outdoors but it’s cold enough to cause pain? Does anyone have specific recommendations for warm, lightweight fabrics, or even brands? I am from the Midwest US, so not a stranger to cold; I just don’t stay outside in it for very long!

    I currently have a system I use that is not conducive to being mobile:
    1) long sleeves with a tank top underneath below 70
    2) below 60 I need to start thinking about covering my ears and my temples (cheeks would be great, but not my mouth). Muscles in my face start seizing up as well. But I can’t figure out what to wear without my hair coming out from under it looking like I just woke up.
    3) my hands start locking up below 55 or so. I haven’t found gloves that consistently work for long periods.
    4) Below 40 I need two pairs of pants (leggings under jeans) and three-four shirts. My winter coat (bulky) goes over all that.

    In short, I’m trying to find a way to trim down or lighten up layers so I can cut down on what I pack, still be comfortable moving around, and not carry a bunch of extra weight. I’m also just trying to find ways for my hands and face to exist outdoors that isn’t a balaclava and two pairs of mittens.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I get cold easily, although not as easily as you seem to. I love a balaclava – try the silk ones you can get online. They are very light, keep you warm, and cut the wind. I like mittens better than gloves. Get some disposable hand warmers – keeping your hands warm helps everything feel warm. Instead of leggings under jeans, try silk long underwear for a lightweight layer, or merino wool for a warmer layer. I have a down vest that’s super lightweight but also very warm. And always wear a hat.

      I try to put on a layer before I need it – it’s a lot easier to stay warm when you dress for the cold than it is to warm up after getting chilled. Also, be sure to have high-energy snacks available. When you get hungry, you get cold.

      1. Pippa K*

        Also came here to say mittens. I have poor circulation that turns my hands, toes, and nose to ice at even moderately cold temps, but I love winter weather, so I’ve tried a lot of gear. Mittens definitely work best for me, and depending on how much manual dexterity you need, the type with the flip-back portion over the fingers can be convenient.

        You might also consider a rechargeable hand warmer. I got an inexpensive one off Amazon that also serves as a power bank for recharging my phone. Produces a shocking amount of heat, too. I love it. (Search for ‘rechargeable hand warmer power bank.)

        And as people said below, a longer coat. I’m much happier when my butt is warm.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Have you ever used silk thermals? If you are layering cotton tanks and leggings, they are exponentially warmer and nearly weightless by comparison.

      You can also get rechargeable electric heated vests and gloves.

      1. Scout Finch*

        My aunt swears by Cuddl Duds. I don’t think they are silk, but they are SO warm (and thin!!!). They have bottoms as well.

      2. pancakes*

        Yes. My understanding is that cotton is a bad first layer because it absorbs moisture. If you sweat in it it’s going to stay wet, and in cold weather there’s a real risk of hypothermia.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Hard yes. Avoid cotton in general, and especially for inner layer for cold weather – it absorbs moisture frim your body, and then gets cold. Wool and silk all the way, and the modern thin “technical” wools are not itchy. Wool will remain warm.

          Source: am Norwegian, with winters.

          As mentioned by others, look to SmartWool, IceBreaker and similar brands, and to adventuring outfits for proper kit.

    3. Mid*

      I don’t know what brands you currently wear, or if you have any restrictions about materials, but I’ve found merino wool layers to be very helpful.

      Smartwool is one common brand, and REI makes store brand base layers that are very nice. I’m also a fan of the brand Outdoor Research but they are $$$. I have found the quality to be worth it though.

      I don’t have physical issues with cold, but when I’m doing something in extreme cold (like winter hiking in Yellowstone when it was -40°), my go to is the following:

      Feet: liner socks of silk, second warmer wool socks meant for skiing (socks have temperature ratings, get the ones meant for very cold), then the warm winter going boots. Fox River, Smartwool, and REI store brand are my usual go-tos but there are a lot of good warm socks out there.

      Legs: merino wool base layer/long underwear, fleece lined leggings, then wind proof pants (usually ski pants if it’s really cold or windbreaker pants if it’s not super cold.) Tuck baselayer into socks and have leggings over socks so no ankle peeks out. If you don’t want the look of ski pants, there are “weather proof” jeans from a few brands, Du/Er is my favorite personally. Again, not cheap at all ($200US for a pair usually but they do have sales.)

      Core: tank top, merino wool long sleeve base layer, thin fleece jacket, wind proof coat on top. Tuck base layer into pants to prevent riding up. I like the 3-in-1 style coats that have a wind proof and water proof shell with a removable liner jacket inside so you can adjust for warmth. If you want something to look less “sporty”, a wool pea coat should work fine as well, or a leather jacket. Make sure it has a good collar.

      Head: fleece lined or “heatech” beanies (I think the latter is from the Colombia brand), and then a cute, wool scarf or gaiter to adjust around your face. You could also look at fleece or wool headbands instead of a full beanie. For hair, can you braid it back so it doesn’t stick out? If you want to warm your cheeks without covering your mouth, I do think a balaklava is your only option unfortunately.

      Hands: liner gloves, then another layer of glove over that, heat packs in my pockets for extra warmth, and for super cold I wear mittens. I believe all of my gloves are from Outdoor Research currently. If you want a more fashionable look, liner gloves and then wearing wool lined leather gloves over might be warm enough while still maintaining dexterity.

      The biggest thing, for me, is investing in good quality base layers, the one closest to your skin. So good socks, good long underwear, good liner gloves and a good hat make the biggest different for me. Looking at shops that specialize in outdoors clothing will help you find things that preserve dexterity more, because people like me do things like climbing or photography in the cold and need to be able to be flexible and mobile. But, the quality things are not cheap. Like I believe the retail price for my base layer alone was nearly $200USD (but I got them on sale for $80, still not cheap but more affordable, and I wear them constantly in the winter.) REI garage sales are one of my favorite places to score more affordable high quality gear. Try on different brands and styles in person and then shop around online to see if you can get better deals elsewhere.

      1. Cold*

        Seconding investing in very good quality materials for socks and base layer. I love my merinos. Expensive but worth it.

        1. pancakes*

          Some of the wool base layers are recycled now, too. There’s a line by Kari called Wastelayer that looks cool. Will link separately.

      2. every day is snack day*

        I was going to suggest much of what was in this answer: Get to REI, look for really good quality mountaineering wear, underlayers and thermals. It will be pricey. It won’t be jeans or a tank top. Outdoor research is a good brand.

        1. Raboot*

          REI also has a lot of really good guides on their website for anything related to outdoor gear. I will often google “rei cold weather hiking guide” or whatever and find then quite helpful.

      3. Mid*

        Oh! Try on all things together. So if possible try on base layer plus mid layer plus over layer so you can see if you need to size the mid and outer layers up one! That will help with feeling like you can’t move—it’s usually the restricted movement from having too tight layers. I usually go up a size on my jackets and ski pants because I like the extra room, but it’s personal preference.

      4. BethDH*

        On the cheeks issues: a parka with a hood that comes pretty far forward (most common on the ones with fur edging) will often do enough for me. I always assumed those were for *fashion* but it’s basically like putting your face in a cave — really cuts the wind and creates a little cushion of warmer air.

      5. Missb*

        I was going to suggest Merino wool too. There are so many options out there for thin, lightweight merino layers.

        1. pancakes*

          I want to add, Bombas merino wool socks and hiking socks are great. We like these because they come in sizes and fit really well, and they’re very well made. (Both boyfriend and I are tall and have big feet, and having hiking socks that don’t pinch is really important!)

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Things I find help
      – gloves (windproof fleece) then gortex overmitts. The gortex holds in some warmth and blocks all the wind/snow, but I can pull them off when I need to use my hands. Then buy a bunch of handwarmers, so that you can warm them up thoroughly occasionally. You could fit these inside the mittens if needed.
      – a three layer pant system. Long underwear, then slacks (go for wool instead of denim), then Gortex overpants. You can get ones that can be removed without taking your boots off. It’s less bulky than snowpants, and more flexible as you can adjust layers.
      – wool polypropylene blend hiking socks, inside fairly high waterproof hiking boots. The polyprop helps wick moisture away from your feet, keeping them warmer.
      – a long winter coat (mid thigh) with detachable hood, and an adjustable waist to keep cold air from flowing up. For maximum warmth, the hood, with a fuzzy cap underneath, and a carefully wrapped large scarf. I wear glasses, so that protects my eyes.

      I’ve done picket duty at -20 C in that outfit.

      1. Cormorannt*

        Yes to liner gloves with over mitts! It made a huge difference in keeping my hands warm. Double yes to a longer jacket (mid thigh at least) with a hood. You also want the outer layer to be wind proof. I prefer to layer, so I have a wind proof ski jacket shell that I wear over a down vest or down puffer coat. You can get jackets with the insulations built in or with a zip-out insulated part, too. I find balaclavas a little too warm so I wear a hat and a neck gaiter that I pull up over the hat in back and over my face if necessary. It keeps a nice bubble of warm air from my head to my waist.
        For my lower extremities I layer knee-high wool socks with polypropylene long underwear and then wind proof pants. I don’t tend to get very cold feet, so that along with hiking boots or snow boots is fine. If your feet get cold, I would recommend sizing up in insulated boots and wearing thinner liner socks under thicker wool socks. Make sure you have enough space in your boots because if they are tight, it will restrict blood flow and make the problem worse. That goes for all of your outerwear.
        If you are concerned about bulk or packing space, I highly recommend down or down alternative fiber fill. It is very light and fluffy and can be squished down very small for travel. It will keep you nice and toasty. You absolutely must keep it dry, though, so it has to be under an outer layer that is wind and water proof.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        I’ve heard Gortex wears out after a couple of years and you need to buy replacements. Is this accurate?
        What works for me is silk undershirts and silk undershorts/pants.
        Happy Travels!

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I’ve worn out the Gortex lining of a rain jacket, but it took about six years of heavy use. Buying good quality helps a lot, and I find jackets with a separate lining wear better than ones where the Gortex is a laminated on a single layer. My last Gortex boots wore out the soles before the upper waterproofing (my feet were wet, but it was coming through the bottom).

    5. Koala dreams*

      I usually have a baselayer with long legs and long sleeves, a regular shirt and pants, and a winter jacket and maybe winter pants on top. Sometimes a fleece jacket. Warm winter boots are important, although warm insoles and socks help a bit. It’s important that the legs and arms are warm, otherwise I get cold feet and hands. So I can’t use tank tops. I only buy brand name for the winter jacket and the boots, otherwise I buy low cost versions. Often more expensive brands are less bulky, so in your shoes I would get a nice quality base layer and nice quality jacket and winter pants at least.

      Personally I find it a lot easier to move around when I’m warm. It’s a lot harder to move around in thin but cold clothes. However, I usually have a low to medium activity level. When you are more physically active, you’ll get warm from moving, so you need to be able to scale up and down layers.

      Also, make sure the clothes aren’t too tight. It’s the layer of air in-between your layers of clothes that keeps you warm.

    6. Ranon*

      I would second the merino baselayers/ no tank top suggestion. I prefer Icebreaker over Smart Wool for merino layers, my spouse is the opposite- kind of comes down to build. The 250 weight will keep you toasty without adding much bulk. If you can’t do wool Uniqlo makes very comfortable, cozy base layers. Patagonia also has very warm synthetic base layers. Wool layers can be reworn more times without washing than synthetic ones, typically.

      For socks Darn Tough makes a fantastic wool sock, their hiking socks are particularly cozy and comfy. Shoes/ boots that are big enough is key to warm feet- pressure points mean you don’t have an insulating air layer where you need it. You can also get wool insoles which add insulation at the bottom- I use some in my fall boots and it pretty much extends them into mid winter (I’m in the upper Midwest so there’s winter and then there’s no, seriously, it’s winter here)

      In other items there are battery powered heated vests, mittens, and all sorts of other things that may very well be worth looking into for you given your needs, my neighbors love their heated vests.

      For hands definitely liner gloves + mittens, there’s a brand called Free the Powder that makes a seriously heavy mitten for a price point a fair bit lower than the big ski/ snowboard brands

      We’re a big Buff brand family for neck/ face warmth. Hair wise I’ve simply given up caring so no good solutions there I’m afraid. I’ve also found that even just wearing a K94 or whatever on my face helps a ton with cheeks/ nose/ etc.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      I lived in the Midwest for 17 years and I have Raynaud’s syndrome (basically, my hands get migraines if they’re cold). For prolonged outdoor exposure in real cold, I settled on liner gloves and big, bulky, snowmobiling mittens. I know they’re big and heavy but not having my hands hurt is priceless. The liner gloves let me take off the mittens for a second to actually use my hands, but the mittens were a game-changer for me.

      I used to wear a Neoprene balaclava for bicycle commuting (it had little ventilation holes at the mouth), but I love the idea of a buff.

    8. Fit Farmer*

      I think a lot depends on how much “being active” you’re talking about. If you’re used to just “being” outside at a certain temperature, you might find that doing physical activity adds 10-20 degrees to what temperature it “feels” like outside. Also, wind is a huge variable.

      If style isn’t a concern, you could look at workwear meant for people doing physical work outside for long periods. In my experience the lower half of one’s body is often neglected, and insulated overalls can have an outsized effect on keeping warm, especially since they “button up” the pants/tops gap at the waist. For outdoor physical work, Carhartt is a classic. Quilted overalls.

      For feet, sock liners and heavyweight wool socks and insulated boots — and “hot-hands” type foot warmers that stick to the bottom of your socks.

      My go-to for “COLD,” whatever temperature that is for somebody, is thermal long underwear top+bottom, thickish cotton pants and shirt, insulated overalls, thick wool sweater, windproof insulated canvas coat. If that’s not enough to stay warm, adding layers doesn’t help too much — better to just do more work :)

      There are certainly sleaker options than puffy jackets, and thermal underwear and Thinsulate do go a long way, but you may run up against the essential problem that the warmer you need the clothes to be, the bigger they’ll be!

    9. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

      When are you going? If you’re going to Iceland in the summer, you probably won’t see temperatures below 40. You do have to be prepared for rain however, make sure you have a good rain jacket and rain pants that can stand three days of constant drizzle.

      If you’re going in the winter, there is snow and then there is really fierce wind.

      I have a heated vest. It has a big battery do it won’t save on weight, but I can wear it like a regular insulated vest and when I get too cold I can turn it on for a while and get a warm glow. Having my core heated is huge. I have not used a battery operated hand warmer but that or the chemical hand warmers would be a huge help. I used to wear foot warmers in my riding boots on cold mornings and it kept my toes from going white and numb.

      I’ve heard great things about merino but before you buy a whole outfit, buy one piece you can return and wear it against your skin for a while to see if you are one of those unlucky ones who finds it itchy. I am still looking for merino I can wear.

    10. Squidhead*

      I wrap a fleece scarf around my head and ears instead of wearing a hat/beanie. It covers my ears better and my hair looks better when I take it off. (Basically, start with one end of the scarf at one side of my neck, go over the top of my head, under my chin, around the back of the neck, and tuck the end in the front. Adapts to covering my mouth/nose when it’s really cold.) I can pull a hat over the scarf if needed and still mostly keep all my hair from sticking up when it’s removed. It looks like I’m wearing a snug hood and doesn’t really impede moving my head around.

    11. MissCoco*

      I’m going to be honest I have never, ever found a solution to not getting hat hair, but I have very fine thin hair that is readily crushed. Braids help a little, but a spray bottle and wide tooth comb works better if it won’t mean you’re walking around with a wet head outdoors just after “fixing” it.

      Smart wool makes neck gaiters that stay warm while damp which have been lifesavers for me. If you want cheeks only you can also do a headband/earwarmer around your face and nose.

      For hands, my favorite liner gloves are Seirius heat wave + a heat pack (the heat pack is the thing here, but these liner gloves are supposed to transmit heat, and I do notice an improvement in the warmth of the tips of my fingers compared to other liners), and then mittens overtop. Make sure those are windproof and insulated. I graduated to Hestras a couple years ago and though they are quite pricey (and I’m sure there are cheaper similar options), they are pretty effective.

      I’d recommend leggings under not-jeans if you can swap those out. Maybe a windproof layer or wool blend instead? I just don’t find cotton or denim very warming or insulating.

      Rather than 3-4 shirts, I’d consider swapping to a baselayer and 1-2 midlayers. I usually do an undershirt, a quarter zip shirt in a winter blend, thin fleece quarter zip/sweater, puffy coat, and then my soft shell jacket on top (with or without my zip in puff depending on temps)

    12. Bluebell*

      So I went to Iceland a few summers ago, with my niece, who was initially shocked that the high would be 60 if we were lucky. (She lives in Southern US) I had a friend take me to REI as she was an experienced traveler to Iceland. I bought two pairs of hiking pants that would fit over my silk long underwear and also one pair of rainproof pants. Usually each day I’d wear a shortsleeved synthetic wicking tshirt, a north face zip over that, a fleece vest over that, and a rain parka. I wore a buff to keep my ears warm when needed. I found myself putting on and taking off layers all the time, but it worked out well. Be sure to treat yourself to one of the community swimming pools- they are heated and so nice. And the ice cream!

    13. DistantAudacity*

      A little late, but a key thing as it gets colder is to make sure your outer layer is wind proof. Even if it is not windy, this helps prevent the cold air to get in.

      E.g a duvet coat is great for this, as it is usually quite wind proof. They exist in many different thicknesses, fir different temps.

    14. Legalize Texas*

      I’ll tell you how I stayed comfy in the literal Arctic in Norway despite having joints that hate the cold: 100% wool baselayers and down jackets and coats. Real actual down, not synthetic, except maybe in your outermost parka. My favorite long underwear are the 100% wool ones from Kari Traa, and you can get surprisingly affordable down jackets as a middle layer from Land’s End or Eddie Bauer.

      The outfit goes like this: Silk and/or wool socks, your regular undies and bra, the wool long underwear on top of all that, a wool sweater or a fleece, a softshell-type down jacket, and then an outer parka with water/windproofing and a hood. I’ll have a fleece or wool beanie to cover my ears, and I braid my hair on one side or in pigtails to keep it out of the way. Pants depend on what I’m doing– I’ll wear normal ones if I’m just in town, if I’m going out in the snow I’ll have either water resistant softshell snow pants or heavy waterproofed & insulated snow pants. When I was dog sledding, I wore the coverall kind with suspenders and huge insulated bunny boots with an inner fleece bootie.

      Shoes also depend on the activity and weather, but big heavily insulated boots make a huge difference. I have bought a lot of winter boots that were useless and left my feet very cold, the boots are something you need to spend a lot of money on and choose very carefully. That’s true no matter what you’re doing. Those heavy duck boots that come with a fleece or felt bootie liner are a good bet.

      As for accessories, I like a fleece neck gaiter I can pull up over my face. I’ll also have an insulated hat with ear flaps on top of the fleece or will beanie if necessary for the occasion. As for hands, mittens beat gloves every time. A pair of gloves alone are not going to do the trick, even very nice ones. If you’re a cold hands person like me, get high quality wool or fleece mittens or gloves and a big ole pair of insulated/water&wind-proofed snow mittens for over top. You can even get a very thin synthetic liner glove to wear underneath all that, if you want. For normal times, though, I have heavy wool or fleece mittens alone.

      I know you said you don’t want so much bulk, but doing outdoor sports in very cold places means bulk. You should not feel cold at all if you’ve done it right– if you feel cold at all, you’re not dressed well. It sounds like you’re wearing a lot of layers, but the layers are not the materials that will provide the best protection, and layers of just regular shirts and sweaters is infinitely less comfortable than wool long johns and a sweater. Wool long underwear + a fleece/sweater + heavy casual pants + a down jacket should do you for just about anything, plus quality wool or fleece covers for your head/neck/hands. I do like covering my face, hence the fleece gaiter. It’s way way easier to wear than a big ole balaclava, too, because you can easily slip it on or off.

  7. Scout Finch*

    I need help with wedding clothes ideas, y’all. I (cis F – 60 yo -never liked dressing up) am going to my friend’s daughter’s wedding in about 3 weeks. I am short (5’4″), round (235 lbs) & can barely match my socks to each other. Sister got all the fashion sense.

    The wedding is in a Catholic church in somewhat rural SW MO. The MOB mentioned pants were OK. All of my “interview” pants are black – probably not best for a mid-day mid-summer wedding.

    Ideas? I was thinking about maybe medium gray pants. I have not a clue on the top. I have Macy’s. Dillard’s, Lane Bryant close by. Maybe some more that I am not aware of, as I work in IT & can basically wear polos & cotton pull-ons from Kohl’s every day. Looked at Cato’s yesterday – nothing.

    I would be grateful for any ideas. I am just SO clueless. I don’t want to embarrass my friend or my husband (who is wearing dress slacks & shirt & tie). I am committed to shopping every day after work until I get this right,

    Thank you so much.

    1. Mid*

      I think the biggest thing is feeling comfortable with what you wear!

      With light grey pants, I think a floral patterned blouse in pretty much any color would look nice. Add a light cardigan over it since some churches can be cold in the summer.

      I’ll post some links in a comment to tops that would be cute, depending on your comfort with each style!

      Another option is a jumpsuit, then it’s the benefit of a dress (which is that 1 garment is the entire outfit) without the stress of a dress.

      1. Mid*

        https://www.lanebryant.com/classic-no-peek-extreme-peplum-tunic/prd-375346.html This is a cute blouse that also wouldn’t be out of place at work/interviews/other fancy occasions.

        https://www.lanebryant.com/surplice-neck-peplum-top/prd-375543.html This one is also cute and has a pretty coral color or a classic black.

        https://www.lanebryant.com/elbow-kimono-sleeve-v-neck-jumpsuit/prd-375623.html This is a cute jumpsuit, but it might be long on you. Nothing some scissors or safety pins can’t fix though!

        https://www.lanebryant.com/flutter-cap-sleeve-linen-blend-jumpsuit/prd-376059.html This is on the more casual side but still good for a wedding!

        https://www.macys.com/shop/product/vince-camuto-plus-size-3-4-sleeve-blouse?ID=14015117 This blouse at Macy’s is cute and flowy so it shouldn’t be too hot in the summer heat!

        https://www.macys.com/shop/product/city-chic-trendy-plus-size-aria-jumpsuit?ID=14329248 There is also this jumpsuit as well which is cute.

    2. Princess Xena*

      I would go relatively simple and lean into your accessories. Jewelry can go a long ways in taking an outfit from simple to dressy, as can a nice silk scarf. Grey pants with a simple flowery top in a non-neon color are great.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I would suggest maybe considering a lightweight jacket over a nice blouse, but Mid has really picked out some nice tops as suggestions and Princess Xena’s suggestions about adding jewelry or a scarf to dress up a top are on target.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Maybe a ruana? Chico’s (and their Off The Rack component) tends to have a lot of them in floral or geometric patterns. They look dressy but also comfy and you probably already have a solid colored tee or tank top you could wear underneath.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Disclaimer: I got married in California in summer and it was foggy/cool, so this may not directly translate. My mum has a similar body shape to you and she wore black trousers/pants with a lightweight short-sleeved cream jacket. She looked great! I think you’ll be fine with black trousers and a colourful or contrasting jacket or top.

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I would go with the pants (any colour) under a tunic, so basically a long flowy top, in a lighter colour or print. No one will notice the pants, it’s formal but not too over done, and just one piece of clothing to get. A scarf can compliment the look. Judi Dench does a high end version of “pants plus tunic plus scarf” all the time if you want inspo

    7. StellaBella*

      Go for linen dress slacks, light weight, grey would be fine. Also for a top try a silk or linen print, floral, or colourful design or solid print in a colour that looks good on you. Short or 3/4 sleeves should work. Can wear ballet slippers or other flats with this too. If the top has no collar, find a lightweight nice scarf to match too and tie around your neck. Good luck!

    8. philmar*

      If you’re buying a whole new outfit, I would go with white slacks and a dressy top that is brightly colored/patterned. maybe a tunic. Or a bright blazer with a more understated shirt underneath (like a floral pattern, and the shirt is one of the colors from the blazer).

      I would also say, just go into Dillard’s and ask one of the women working there for advice. I used to work at Jones New York (women’s business wear and casual clothes that skewed more middle-aged with a good plus section) and all my coworkers LOVED helping people out with things like this. Even I, who was not particularly fashion-savvy, after a few months I had a pretty clear idea of what women who came to JNY were looking for.

    9. Ins mom*

      Nothing wrong with black pants and one of the colorful tops many have suggested. Forget the jumpsuit though; too complicated at restroom time for women of a certain age or size( like me). Cold water creek online has pretty things too but I understand a need to try in person.

      1. rr*

        The customer service there has really gone downhill there, from my own experience. And I’ve heard many complaints about quality too – though I can’t personally comment on that, as I purchased from them for a gift, as the person I was buying for used to love their stuff.

    10. Purple Cat*

      Would you consider a maxi dress? That fits summery and nice while still being simple. You can wear shorts (tight leggings style) underneath for comfort.

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’m also older and rounder and in the midwest. If it’s a rural area (and SE Missouri is, mostly), it won’t be all that dressy. Gray is a good idea. And don’t forget navy, which is traditionally the summer replacement for black. A tank top to match the pants and soft fabric open shirt/blouse should be fine. If the shirt is a print, the tank can match one of those colors. Got pearls? That will dress up anything.

      1. Dreaming of daffodils*

        Interesting—my sense is that for church weddings, the more rural a location, the dressier the guests’ attire!

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          I live in Missouri, which is where this wedding will be – and some I’ve been to were in SE Missouri. Maybe in more southern states they’re dressier?

    12. Voluptuousfire*

      I went to a wedding in March and I wore what I called my sassy grandma look. I wore black wide legged pants, a black camisole and a pretty kimono robe I bought on Zulily. It was peacock blue with a peacock and cherry blossoms. I also wore sneakers that have rose gold sequins that matched the cherry blossoms.

      Something like that would be a good idea. The pants I wore were from Jessica London, the Travel Pants. I got them on Amazon and they were like $40. They’re very comfortable and can be worn anytime. Jessica London is plus sizes, so it should be a good option.

      A simple all black outfit with a nice kimono or similar top over it is ideal.

    13. Trawna*

      Black is just fine. I suggest: flowy black pants, black 3/4 sleeve tunic, with a bright or pastel shawl. Above all, have a wonderful time : )

    14. Wishing You Well*

      Black is traditionally not worn to a wedding and if you’re sitting in the sun for any length of time, black pants will feel like they’re burning your legs! Medium grey pants and any dressy top would do! Knit tops are too casual.
      I hope the wedding is wonderful and that you have a great time!

    15. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

      This might sound weird, but if there’s also a David’s Bridal near you, they have “special guest” and “mother of the bride” options that might easily get you in a cute but fancy-enough pantsuit with colors that match or go together. They have plus sizes, so I think you should be fine on that. And once you own the thing, you’ll have a fancy-enough outfit you can wear to other occasions! : ) Best of luck from a fellow short, round person.

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      In a VERY similar situation. Was absolutely dreading the clothes shopping for this wedding. Ended up in a consignment shop and bought THREE dresses for US$85!! They are light, two have 3/4 sleeves, one is sleeveless. And they look good! And I am quite large and short and am very happy with them! They are cool and light, but not see through or anything.
      So I vote dresses, most surprisingly!

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.

    I finally had some time to work on my projects again, worked a bit on the loose ideas I had over the past few weeks.

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I am planning to carve out some time on a short story for an anthology submission later today – gonna try the pomodoro method to get me back in the swing.

    2. Academic Fibro Warrioe*

      A little behind on my summer goals and the stress is doing a number on me right now! But I’m nearly done with chapter 4 in my dissertation (1 to go that’s half written) and finishing a book chapter for an edited collection tomorrow (it’s due Wednesday so will be really happy to get this off my plate). Hope everyone’s writing is going well!

    3. Maryn*

      I’ve slogged through combining four false starts of a novel into a single document, I think without major omissions or repeating myself. It’s good to have that behind me!

      This week I’ve been doing critique for others, trying to keep my touch light while being completely honest as I nit-pick grammar, syntax, punctuation, clarity, etc. We’ll leave theme and plot holes for someone else.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m going to a nerdcon in OldCity next weekend with a very strong writer’s track and two very accomplished guests I know whom I haven’t seen in ages. Some of the panels cover stuff germane to indie pubbing, with some good creator stuff too. It will cost a whole paycheck from my temp job because I had to wait until almost the last minute to book (ugh, hotels), and the drive is looooong, but it’s worth it for the professional discussions. Plus, nerd stuff is fun. :)

      I wish I could sell, but that isn’t feasible. I can’t afford a booth or to buy stock (my books are print-on-demand so I would have to pay printing costs and shipping). Maybe next time.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I lucked out on this one; one of the guests and I follow each other on Twitter, and he posted about it. You could probably google sci-fi/fantasy conventions in your area or in your nearest city and find some.

          I think this is an offshoot of an old one in OldCity every year. Some of the past organizers were not great people and the con got a bad reputation, plus it changed venues a few times. Guest had stopped going to that one because of the bullshit, but he is pretty confident this one will be okay. The last time I saw him was at the old con when it was in ResortTown. That year, a snowstorm hit right in the middle of the weekend. He arrived, looked at the weather, and left.

          I stayed, but the half-hour drive home on Sunday took me three of the most terrifying hours I have ever spent on a highway—I had shitty tires at the time and it’s all straight up-and-down hills. At least this time, it will be hot, so no snow!

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Sorry, but… you spent half your recent income from your temp job on a trip? Well. Hope it’s a fun time!

    5. just another bureaucrat*

      Last week I mentioned that I was struggling and then went and write trashy trashy junk and burn this on the cover page of a notebook to not feel like I was enshrining something quite as much. I’m already halfway through! It’s all trashy trashy junk but it feels so good to write. And when i write something that I’m going to immediately abandon I just scribble junk or trash or nope or whatever over the page and flip to a new one. It’s been a nice liberation exercise for me.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Nothing wrong with writing some gibberish every once in a while! I’ve had it happen before that I came across gibberish from years ago and realised “hey this would fit perfectly into my current WIP”.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want to including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    I had some time last week so I played some Skyrim. There is something wrong the the SkyUI mod (or more accurately the script extender) – still works, but gives an error every time I load the game from a save file and it won’t actually show the buttons I need to press, but for the rest it’s been a dream.

    1. Mid*

      Finally completed Pokémon Legends Arceus! 100% Pokédex, all the extras, every side quest, fully done! I haven’t 100’d a game in a while so that felt weirdly awesome.

    2. Bookgarden*

      Still working on the Final Fantasy XIV story and loving it. Also playing Terraria in the Switch. I am so excited about the game “Stray” that’s coming out that I played the company’s earlier game, “What Remains of Edith Finch” and oh my goodness I can’t stop thinking about it. It was one of the most imaginative games I’ve played in a long time and was only as hours long.

      Going back to Stray, for anyone that hasn’t heard, it’s a game where you play as a cat with a little backpack and meow and knock things over in a cyberpunk-y environment. It kind of looks and sounds like the best thing ever.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Where are you up to in FFXIV? I’m currently on a break away from the game and looking forward to starting a newgame+ when I get back to it

        1. Bookgarden*

          I’m about halfway through Endwalker, the last expansion. Making very slow but steady progress!

    3. Jackalope*

      Skyrim – I just finished up the main quest line (defeating Alduin). I’m…. not quite sure what to do with myself next. I still have plenty of quests to complete, & will see what I think about playing post-main-quest. But this was my first time making it to “the end”, so I’m going to enjoy that for now.

    4. The Dude Abides*

      I have fallen down the rabbit hole that is Diablo Immortal. Made it to Hell 1, and still love it.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I don’t play a lot of videogames or online games, but I’ve recently been tempted by “Dream Daddy: a Dad Dating Simulator” (on Steam). It’s a dating sim in which the characters are all single dads, and all gay or bi or pan, and it looks like a lot of fun. What with my not spending time on actual gaming sites I only heard about it via a graphic novel that contains five stories, each based on different sets of characters from the game and each by different artists – my favorite is one in which the guys are playing D&D, so we get their “real” personas as well as their player characters.

      1. Philmar*

        I had a lot of fun with Dream Daddy when it came out. There was some REALLY stupid controversy about it when it came out, don’t let that put you off.

        After you play through a couple times, look up the Margarita Zone ending, which is like an homage to how visual novels/dating sims often have a creepy or horror style secret path.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I loved Dream Daddy! I am not a dating sim person at all, but something about this really grabbed me. It’s funny, wholesome, dark, and real all at once. It exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations and I’d recommend giving it a go.

      3. VegetarianRaccoon*

        I don’t do dating sims at all, OR have a thing for dads in particular, but the reviews were so positive I downloaded it. Good quality game, and so fun and sweet, and SO MANY DAD JOKES! My only regret is, if you haven’t heard of it, the title sounds kind of strange, and I recently had a computer repair store transfer my stuff from the hard drive of my sad dead laptop onto the new one…I realized when I came in to pick it up. My face was undoubtedly very red.

    6. DarthVelma*

      Well, I have officially been sucked back into ARK. I ended up with identical twin T-Rexes out of a single egg I incubated this morning. They’re so cute. Periodically you have to interact with them to keep them imprinting on you – they ask for food, or to go on a walk with you, or for cuddles. Cuddling a half-grown t-rex may be one of the funniest things I’ve ever done in a video game ever.

    7. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I’ve been playing Pikmin Bloom but am rather annoyed by a couple recent changes.

    8. MEH Squared*

      I have officially gotten the plat for Elden Ring! I tried to get it in one playthrough, but save-scumming did not work on Steam. So I told myself I had it in my heart and continued to play the game (to get the two other endings I needed). Roughly 350 hours after starting my journey, I now have the Elden Ring (achievement for getting all the achievements). I’ll still play the game, but I may give it a little break for a bit.

      Spry Fox announced a Cozy Grove 2, which excites me. Cozy Grove was a cozy sim about helping spirit bears move on from this world (not depressing–I promise). It plays in real time and there is only so much new content a day. It’s wonderful.

    9. Russian in Texas*

      I broke down and bought the Wingspan app for Android. It’s very nice, but I highly recommend to play in the standard grid mode, not in the individual habitats.

    10. Emotional support capybara*

      Coming up on the Yakuza 0 endgame. The last few chapters have been one gut punch after another so I’m backburnering the main plot for a bit to beat up random punks and drunks and do minigames.

    11. Smol Book Wizard*

      Fire Emblem Three Houses, again. Surprising nobody. What can I say? My autistic brain loves what it loves, and loves it fiercely. Although doing Crimson Flower is breaking my heart now that I actually know everyone. (I did recruit Ashe and Mercedes, thankfully.)

    12. Dino*

      Chasing the Perfection achievement in Stardew Valley currently.

      But is anyone else excited for Stray??? I’ve been rockin a PS3 and nothing has really caught my eye enough to upgrade, but Stray looks like a blast and has me considering….

      1. MEH Squared*

        I am HERE for Stray (Blue Twelve Studio)! Cannot wait to play as a cat with a backpack in a wild and weird world.

  10. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Last week’s thread about unacceptable grocery substitutions got me thinking about discontinued grocery products that I miss.

    What discontinued food or beverage do you pine for? Mine: The chocolate company Green & Black’s used to make the richest chocolate ice cream. It’s been gone maybe 15 years. I still think about that ice cream. No other chocolate compares.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Kraft golden Caesar salad dressing. I very rarely buy pre-made dressings, but I loved that stuff.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      One time I was really craving plantain chips and was thrilled to find that my regular grocery store carried them! The next time I wanted to buy some they were gone – no empty shelf, no tag, no evidence that they’d ever been sold there. I eventually found another store that had ones I liked better anyway, but it was so weird how they carried this product for who knows how long and then it vanished as soon as I discovered it!

      1. Sam I Am*

        Makes you wonder how long those had been sitting there before you broight them home!

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      There are a few items I feel have gone down in quality over the years, and I find myself missing the way they were.

      – Puff pastry. It used to be one of my favourite ingredients and now I barely eat it anymore. The brand I was loyal to must have changed its recipe, because a few years ago I started noticing a weirdly cheesy aftertaste I wasn’t expecting and didn’t like. They did something similar with shortcrust too. Supermarket own brand is ok but not particularly tasty, and easier to undercook, so I buy it way less.
      – We get 3 brands of chickpeas at the local store, and one has tasted consistently better for years. It has now fallen in line with the others, and we started to get tinier chickpeas that are a lot drier when mashed or blended. Doesn’t justify the price difference anymore, so I’ll be back to supermarket own brand.
      – Last but not least…I wish Cornettos and Magnums went back to the larger size they were when I was a kid! It’s been years since they reduced them, but I still long for the good old days. The Cornettos especially are way less satisfying the size they are now.

      1. pancakes*

        I almost never buy puff pastry because in the US very few are made with butter. Only Dufour, to my knowledge, and it’s expensive. The Gordon Ramsay recipe for rough puff pastry is a good one and not terribly difficult.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Trader Joes has some puff pastry that is only made with butter. From their website: “Trader Joe’s puff pastry is made with just five ingredients: flour, butter, salt, sugar, and water.” The catch? It’s only available in the winter but it does freeze well.

    4. Yum*

      Oh! There was a cake mix my brother and I adored as little kids — burnt sugar cake with caramel frosting, or something like that. It was sooooo good.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Oh, I remember that ice cream! I don’t eat much ice cream, but it was so good.

      Moving countries brings a whole other level to the concept of missing certain foods. When I moved from the UK to US, the only food item that I missed enough to track down online was Marmite. When we moved back to the UK, my American husband resorted to buying Jif peanut butter online because peanut butter here is notoriously bad. He also misses Wheat Thins for some reason, but we have a friend whose husband is in the US military and can sometimes buy them on base.

      The only US food items I really miss are Chobani Greek yogurt and Popchips popcorn cakes. Oh, and you can get snacking cheese over here, but for some reason you can’t really get good string cheese.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I loooooooove Marmite. I got a huge jar of it for Christmas a while back and I’m still working on it. I know it’s not helpful now since you’re back, but I think you can get it in the US at Williams-Sonoma.

        They also have a ton of Fortnum & Mason teas. I had to tell my mom to stop buying it for me because I have like eight tins now and it will take me ages to work through it all.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Since moving to France I have suffered from the absence of
        – cereal, but now that it’s available I’ve stopped eating it
        – oats, now widely available
        – baked beans: Heinz tried flooding the market with them a while back but it didn’t work because you can’t find them anywhere now
        – peanut butter, but the organic shop now stocks one that’s heavenly
        – Marmite, but it lasts a long time so I simply stock up any time I cross the Channel
        – cider, ditto
        – ginger beer, ditto, the case is getting very heavy though
        – a lot of Indian foodstuffs but nowadays we have a sizeable Indian community in Paris so I can get most stuff there

        And now when I go abroad it’s French food I crave. One of those “you know you’re from X when” articles showed a French woman crying in frustration at a dairy aisle in a foreign country and I immediately thought, yep, I’d cry too at the sight of that pathetic selection of yoghurts. And then trekking in Nepal, we were on a diet of rice and lentils every day, and I started hallucinating, seeing an enormous pot of yoghurt with red fruit instead of the path (everyone else kept harping on about “you need a good steak when you’re putting in this much physical effort” – but clearly the Nepali people didn’t).

    6. Jackalope*

      Trader Joe’s used to have this awesome maple yogurt that they’ve discontinued. I’ve tried other maple yogurts but I don’t like any of them. Maple flavor in food (at least when it’s strong enough to stand out) isn’t my favorite (although I love maple syrup), but this one was perfect.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I love Trader Joe’s but they are notorious for discontinuing so many items. Either that or they sell out super quickly and aren’t brought back in stock.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It’s part of their business model – they only ever carry x many products at a time so in order to add something, they have to remove something.

      2. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

        Trader Joe’s also used to make these yogurt star cookies (star-shaped cookies covered in a yogurt coating). Really good, haven’t seen them in maybe seven years? I think about them all the time.

      3. Missb*

        Trader joes also had this wonderful wild rice mix. My mom still asks me to look for it for her, but I haven’t seen it since the pandemic.

      4. Lore*

        My list of discontinued Trader Joe products could go on for days. Muhammara. Canadian white bread. Mango chutney. Lemon ginger snap ice cream. A holiday cookie that tasted just like leckerli. Sweet potato and kale pizza. Many types of crackers. Also Glad seems to have stopped making handle-tie trash bags, which I am weirdly attached to.

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          Trader Joe’s birdnests and frozen langoustines. Sometimes they have them, sometimes not

            1. Three Pines Visitor*

              Chocolate covered triple ginger snaps. Trader Joe carried it around the holidays until they didn’t.

        2. Not a cat*

          Queen Victoria’s Shortbread. I used to buy a case at a time. Seasonal and discontinued.

          1. Squidhead*

            They have those again! But not the raspberry flavor, just the orange. (And watermelon, in the summer.) They’re in a resealable bag, not a tub now.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        Aldi does that too; stuff goes in and out. They ran out of my vegan breakfast patties recently and I spent a month pining for them.

        They also had this GORGEOUS pink imported French berry soda in beautiful glass bottles for a while, but I haven’t seen it in several years. I wish it would come back.

      6. beach read*

        The last few years I have found a yummy Maple yogurt at the beginning of fall at Aldi. (Which I believe is related to TJ)

    7. inkheart*

      Dressel’s chocolate cake with a 3/4 inch layer of whipped cream between the cake layers.

    8. Asenath*

      Cross and Blackwell piccalilli. I think they changed the recipe a bit some years back, but even after that there was no other piccalilli I liked as much. Now it has entirely vanished from all the local stores, and none of the replacement brands are as good, although one or two are tolerable. I may have to resort to buying it online.

      Red River Cereal. I know what happened to that; the manufacturer discontinued it, probably because it wasn’t very popular. No other cereal, or combination of grains mixed up at home, is quite right. Not even the ones claiming to be similar. Mostly, they have too little texture.

      And not strictly grocery – the producer of the best ice cream available locally is closing down her business. That stuff was so good!

      One of the local grocery companies used to sell their own brand of spicy plum sauce, which I loved. I haven’t seen it in years, and had almost managed to forget about it. Of course, lots of companies sell plum sauce, but this one was exceptional.

    9. Decidedly Me*

      There was a house made salsa at a local grocery store chain that I loved – I’d buy it constantly and then suddenly, it was gone :( I never found anything comparable.

      There have also been a few Grocery Outlet items that I really liked, but of course, were discontinued items.

      1. rr*

        Sometimes I think I’m imagining products I used to buy, because it has been so long. Of course, I’m sure I’m making them out to be better than they were anyway.

        A nutella type spread. All I can remember is that it was in a fancy jar and was better than nutella was.
        Chicken parm hot pockets. I was addicted to these.
        The Arizona Iced Tea brand used to make a pina colda drink that I loved. Then I stopped being able to get it and found another pineapple drink in a jar (Knudsen’s?) which isn’t made anymore, though they do make another one. But it isn’t the same.
        I found some very fancy ice cream in the store one time that my mother loved. I had a hard time getting it, so I looked into the company a bit. I can’t remember the name anymore, but it was a brand launched by chefs. While reading about it, I read some of the reviews by unhappy employees, which was pretty off-putting. I don’t remember the name anymore, but I know I don’t see it anymore – but since I shop for groceries online, maybe it is still out there. I don’t know. They did have an option where you could get it delivered, so maybe they switched to that.

        A couple of items I think are probably going to eventually come back, but have just not so readily available because of the pandemic: ore-ida chicken patties (yes, I know, but they are addictive), hebrew national sliced salami, chuao peppermint chocolate bars. Though the last usually was more available under christmas anyway.

        1. rr*

          oh, and entemman’s used to make a chocolate chip crumb cake. I don’t think they make it anymore. Or at least, not the version they used to. That was a good cake.

    10. Merle Grey*

      I used to pine for a Breyer’s ice cream flavor that was vanilla with swirls of raspberry and blueberry. I haven’t seen it in 20 years. The last time I got some of their ice cream, we didn’t finish it – it tasted like over-whipped artificially-flavored cold plastic (such a change from when they used to brag about using real vanilla beans and only recognizable ingredients).

      What I really miss are foods my mom and grandmothers made. I have their recipes and my versions are good, but they aren’t the same. Well, except for the buttermilk biscuits. Those taste like happy memories.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I remember that flavor! It was soooo good.

        I haven’t eaten Breyer’s in years.

    11. Llellayena*

      Godiva white chocolate raspberry ice cream. The Haagen-Daas version is good, but the chocolate truffle pieces they add really get in the way of full enjoyment.

    12. beep beep*

      Trader Joe’s used to have this fantastic premade beef and potato hash that was apparently made in Brazil and discontinued some years ago. Man, I could eat a whole pack of that stuff in one sitting, it made great easy, delicious protein for a quick teenage meal.

    13. The OG Sleepless*

      A few months before the pandemic I discovered these packs of little cups of flavored butter at my local grocery store. There was a rosemary herb and an Italian herb or similar. They vanished during the pandemic, the Italian one was back for a bit, and now they are both gone. I can’t remember the name, but I do remember that the last time I searched for them online I found the Italian one. I really liked the rosemary one. The brand was something like “Martelli’s.” Anyway…it was really excellent on roasted potatoes. I should probably just make my own.

      1. Missb*

        I would think it would be easy to make your own! Just soften butter, add herbs and then chill into the shape you want.

        1. Aphrodite*

          It is so easy to make your own flavored butters (and oils and vinegars). Just google “flavored butter recipes” and you’ll find hundreds of them. You can also freeze them. They truly are easy to make.

    14. Emma2*

      Green & Black still make chocolate ice cream – at least they did about a year ago which is probably when I last bought it. I agree – best chocolate ice cream ever!

    15. the cat's ass*

      Campbell’s Scotch Broth soup. It was SO good and i always had a couple of cans in my pantry. And then one day, poof! Discontinued.

      1. Grey Panther*

        Agreed, the cat’s ass. Scotch Broth was so good—it was always a keep-on-hand for me too. Even now, on grocery store visits, I can’t leave before checking to make sure it hasn’t suddenly reappeared.

      2. Girasol*

        If you can get ground lamb it’s surprisingly easy to make and tastes like you remember. Brown the lamb crumbles, add water and barley, simmer until the barley is nearly all puffy, add diced carrots, onions, salt and pepper, and simmer until everything is cooked. A little thyme and sherry improve it. If you make a huge batch it freezes well. Now, if only I could make a black bean soup exactly like Campbell’s discontinued black bean.

    16. Lurker*

      Peanut butter Twix! (Those are from a lonnnng time ago.)
      Uncle Ben’s used to have a dry mix for black bean and rice soup that I used to love as a poor recent college graduate.
      Brummel & Brown used to make a cinnamon spread for toast.

      1. Jackalope*

        Oh my gosh. I still look for the peanut butter Twix sometimes. It’s been forever, but I remain a fountain of optimism!

    17. DarthVelma*

      My local Harris Teeter used to have really good individual sized crab wellingtons at their seafood counter. I really miss those.

      I also miss the single serving Jello chocolate mousse cups I used to get. They came in a 4-pack and were a really nice snacking size.

    18. Sundial*

      Ben & Jerry’s Doonesbury Sorbet. The perfect fruit blend of blueberry and raspberry. These days all the available sorbets are full of stupid crap: chocolate drizzle, layers of crunchies, just way too much stuff getting in the way. Ironic since normally I dislike Ben & Jerry’s specifically because their ice cream is too busy with add-ins for my taste.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh that was good. So was Product 19, and I haven’t seen that one for ages either.

        1. RC+Rascal*

          Product 19 was still around until a couple of years before the pandemic; my local store carried it. Loved the stuff.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        Ooh, I miss both of those cereals! I don’t really eat cereal any more, but I loved Cracklin Oat Bran especially. Even if it did sorta look like Purina Puppy Chow.

          1. Might Be Spam*

            I have Chex cereal, peanut butter, and chocolate and now I want to make the Puppy Chow (AKA Muddy Buddies) recipe. Yum.

    19. Bluebell*

      I feel like it’s always a risk to get attached to new things at Trader Joe’s. I loved the cacio e pepe rice and corn puffs, and now they are gone, alas.

        1. Filosofickle*

          TJs is inconsistent — sometimes they have it , sometimes they don’t , and it varies by store. It was always that way but worse now with supply chain glitches. My closest TJs didn’t have my hash brown patties for the entire last year, but stores not far away had them. *shrug*

          I have a theory that they don’t spread scarce items around, they deliver full shipments to some stores and none to others rather than a partial shipment to all stores. That keeps them from having half-empty shelves.

    20. Might Be Spam*

      I miss Mandarin Orange Fresca. My local store stopped carrying it and I was never able to find it again.

    21. HBJ*

      Don’t know the specific brand, but the breath mints I like keep getting removed. Two different ones now. I do not like Altoids or anything else that burns my tongue off, and it’s hard to find something milder.

      Speaking of altoids, I loved those fruit Altoid sours from long ago. Why’d they get rid of them?

    22. Elizabeth West*

      There used to be a Midwestern regional potato chip brand called Kitty Clover. I think they were based in Nebraska; we could get them in Kansas City and in my hometown grocery south of there after we moved. They were the best I have EVER tasted, bar none. Salty, light, tasty—Lays wishes they were these potato chips.

      Sadly, they no longer exist. Not in the earthly plane, at least. They better have them in the Realm!

      I also really miss Krispy brand saltines and Hydrox cookies. Oh, and there used to be a fruity cereal called Freakies; it was like Trix but with little creature mascots. We had a whole set of refrigerator magnets of them. I’m dating myself horribly with this, lol.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s a cute brand name. I love trying regional potato chips wherever I am. I’m more of a salty person than a sweet person. Maine chips tend to be very good because they grow good potatoes there. I just signed up for an international snack box and last month was France – roast chicken chips, and another bag was goat cheese and piment d’espelette. They were both pretty tasty.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It had the cutest logo EVER! Google it!
          I love potato chips, but not kettle-style chips. They’re hard and they taste oily to me.

        2. Sundial*

          We did Universal Yums last year and got SO MANY ketchup-flavored potato chips. Apparently half of Europe is obsessed with them.

          1. pancakes*

            Canadians like those too. I’ve tried the “All Dressed” chips, which the local H-mart carries, and those are good.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I love a lot of the Walkers flavors from the UK, even the weird ones. And Hula Hoops.

            My favorite Lays flavor is Sweet Southern Heat BBQ. But I have to be very careful because I eat way too many, lol. I also like pickle-flavored chips.

    23. Astoria*

      They wer pure junk food, but I miss Keebler Pizzaria Pizza Chips from the early 1990s.

      1. Stinky kitty*

        I think these are made by a different company along with “Tato skins” baked potato flavored chips. I see them every so often in small bags at gas stations.

    24. Aphrodite*

      Trader Joe’s Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce, which I used for pizza sauce with diced chicken and onions, and also their Passion Fruit Sorbet. I still dream of those. I now make my own peanut sauce though, which admittedly has become better than the original, because I do not like tomato sauces for pizza or pasta. And I cannot stand Alfredo.

    25. ronda*

      Kraft carmel cubes — except they were chocolate!
      Costco chocolate covered toffee.

      yes, yes I do like candy

    26. Fellow Traveler*

      Ben and Jerry’s Cool Britannia ice creaM. Strawberry with shortbread chunks. So good!

    27. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Trader Joe’s sliced yogurt cheese. Buttery, amazing, and didn’t upset my lactose-intolerant system. When they discontinued it I literally wrote them an email (no response).

    28. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

      Tab. Pepsi Light. Little cans of serenity, they were. The old Burry chocolate chip girl scout cookies from the 70s. Sara Lee Chocolate Bavarian Cake. SnakPak pudding.

    29. The Dude Abides*

      Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale.

      It helped me wean myself off of an unhealthy relationship with caffeine/energy drinks – at one point, I downed 16 cans of (free) Red Bull in 36 hours, and over the next two weeks I had two a day (also free).

    30. Forensic13*

      BBQ Fritos. NOT Honey BBQ Fritos. Man those were so good. You can still find them in random regions, but not easily.

    31. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      When I was a kid, there were frozen jelly filled doughnuts at the grocery store that you (actually my mom) could reheat in the oven. They may have been made by Welch’s – ie: grape jelly filled.

      I still, almost 50 years later, check out the frozen food section to see if there are any doughnuts. The only ones now are gluten-free.

      Those doughnuts probably were not as delicious as I remember so it’s probably for the best that I can’t find them.

    32. Stinky kitty*

      Mine are spicy Italian flavored Totinos pizza rolls. They not only had a great flavor but more crispy, crunchy texture, and Hoopers Hooch. It was a lemon flavored malt alcohol made in England. Hard lemonade is close, but Hoopers was less sweet and was so good,I could drink it piss warm.

    33. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I don’t know if it was discontinued… once a friend brought me some peanut from the UK. Knowing that I go for organic healthy choices wherever possible, she got me a 1-kilo tub of peanut butter made only from organic peanuts, no salt no sugar. It was heaven in peanut-butter form and I ate it quickly. Arguing that without salt and sugar it might not last as much, but I can’t say I had to force myself…
      Every time I was in the UK after that I’d look in the store she bought it from but never found it.

      1. londonedit*

        We have lots of peanut butter brands like that here – Meridian, Whole Earth, Biona (my favourite), Pip & Nut, Manilife…lots of them! Most come in giant tubs, I know Meridian and Pip & Nut definitely do 1kg tubs and I’m sure the others do too.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        Yes!! I had a Carnation breakfast bar before school for years!! The texture was amazing!

  11. Chaordic One*

    Lea & Perrins Marinade for Chicken. (Originally sold as Lea & Perrins White Wine Worcestershire Sauce.)

  12. Cat Person*

    Seeking advice for a litter box issue. After multiple requests from the cats for an upstairs litter box (in the form of… using the bathroom floor instead of going downstairs), we caved and put one in the bathroom. The cats spend most of their day upstairs, and so no surprise, it became the most popular box (although the downstairs boxes still get plenty of use too). My problem: how to manage the odor? We scoop 1-2x/day, try to make sure the box is always full of clean litter, & otherwise try to stay on top of it, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. The upstairs is small – there’s a landing that’s about 3 feet squared, w/ 3 doors coming off of it (the 4th side of the square is for the stairs going down). It’s the bathroom & 2 bedrooms. I know that litter boxes are going to smell at least sometimes, but the smell is taking over the tiny upstairs, and I don’t really want to either a) keep our door closed all the time or b) have the bedroom always reek of cat waste. Any ideas? Note that we have multiple people in the household w/ scent allergies/sensitivities, so that limits our options a bit.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Have you tried different types of litter?
      I found the crystal type pretty good as it dehydrates everything pretty quickly and cuts down on smell.
      Will the cats use a covered box? I used to have one with a catflap which also had carbon filters which did help reduce smells.
      The other thing that might help would be looking at their diet. I know when I last got a cat, and gradually switched her to high protein kibble from the cheaper kind it made a massive difference – smaller quantities and far less smelly.

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      I put a layer of bicarbonate sofa in the bottom of the litter box before I put the unscented clumping litter in, that seems to eliminate any urine smell. I scoop the clumped urine and poo at least twice a day and top up the litter every couple of days. Whenever I go into the bathroom my cat rushes in to use her tray as she seems to think going to the toilet is a mandatorily communal activity. Once a week I empty the tray and wash it with a bit of liquid soap or detergent etc. When you scoop the litter, what are you doing with the waste product? I have a container with a disposable liner and I put the clumped waste in there, it has a lid, and then that ‘collection’ gets put in the outside bin every couple of days. So far so good!
      Putting bicarb at the bottom of the tray is going to be the cheapest first thing to try, I reckon. And if you think of it, to switch on the bathroom extractor fan in the evenings for an hour before you go up to bed. Good luck with it!

    3. DistantAudacity*

      Use the clumping kind – EverClean is great. There is a version for mutiple cats. No odours from the kitty Houseguest.
      Also maybe use a bigger lidded box?

      I do have an airfreshener close by – very occasionally there might be an odour right after that is not caught by the sand. But that is very seldom.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes I think lidded boxes are better than open for smell, and my cat doesn’t seem to care either way

    4. Purlesque*

      Get an airpurifier that uses charcoal filters. If you can’t afford one, I had decent results with a box fan with a 20×20 furnace filter stopped on the back. Some diy instructions say to seal the filter to the fan with tape but I don’t bother. I use bungee cords. Cuts down on the dust too. I used this set up when I had 2 litters of foster kittens in one room. The fan helped me get through.

      You also could try Bye-ByeOdor. It is similar to Febreze, although a bit more expensive and effective. I think it is marketed for commercial uses. We used it at a cat shelter before open hours to freshen up for visitors. Available on Amazon.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Bowls of vinegar will absorb odors. If you can smell the vinegar then it’s probably done its job.

      You can check with your vet to see if you can change what you are feeding them to get different results. Us humans can use yogurt.

      I dunno how many cats you have but you might need to put out another litter box upstairs, that might help.

    6. Purple Cat*

      We recently switched to the Arm and Hammer clump & seal (black box) and it works so much better than the yellow box kind we were using before.

    7. Sundial*

      Our litterbox bathroom has the vent fan running 24-7. We never turn it off.

      Also, consider diet. Our one cat was bombing the litterbox until we got her on grain-free food.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Diet change is my advice. I’ve said it here before that my two cats eat well-sourced raw food and I could have their litter box right in my living room and no one would smell it.

    8. Grey Panther*

      I’m in a one-bedroom apartment, currently a one-cat (down from two) household, and my cats are always indoor cats.

      I’ve been a fan of PetCo’s scoop-it-yourself litter for decades. It’s really efficient clumping litter, it seems to stay in the litterbox rather than getting tracked all over the place, and it costs less than the big-name brands. (Added benefit: When the kids were younger, they loved the Petco trips that involved sand-shoveling.) The litter box is cleaned just once a day, every morning, and visitors are usually surprised to learn that I have cats at all because there’s no odor. Also, the resident cat(s) always seem to like it.

    9. pancakes*

      Are you being generous with the litter? If they can’t cover their business thoroughly it’s going to be smelly.

    10. Catlady*

      We switched from a standard litter box to a storage container from target where we can get the litter really deep at the request of one of our cats (he was pooping right next to the box). Having deep litter (5-6”) means they can really bury their stuff and helps a lot with smells.

    11. merp*

      this may not be the issue at all, but where do you keep what you scoop, does it get taken out immediately? in my case, it ended up being fixed by litter genie, since my previous system of bagging it wasn’t doing enough.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s a good point. We always put cat stuff in a separate bag to take downstairs sooner than the rest of the garbage. We’d only combine it if the kitchen garbage was 90% full and sure to be taken down soon.

      2. cat socks*

        I was going to ask the same question. When I had a foster cat in a bedroom, I noticed the smell coming from the litter box trash. A Litter Genie helped.

    12. Aphrodite*

      Do NOT use any scented litter. Ever. Perfumed litter mixed with urine is … unbelievable.

      I use Arm & Hammer Fragrance Free, not just the unscented which they also offer, but “Fragrance Free.” (Make sure the box has a small blue oval in the upper left with exactly those words.) I tend to scoop four times a day–when. I first get up, before I leave the house for the office, about two hours later, when I come home and before bed.. If I am working at home, it may get scooped more often.

      Another trick you can try is to keep a small bowl of plain white no-name vinegar nearby. (It works far better at absorbing odors than baking soda.). You want it out of the way and not too close but in the same room.

    13. Can’t Sit Still*

      An old apartment had a motion detector fan, which I strongly recommend. I also had a covered litter box and used a Litter Genie, plus I scooped every time I was in the bathroom for any reason. There was never any odor and guests were always surprised to see cats.

      I have a Litter Robot now, which I like a lot, but they aren’t cheap. The new one coming out later this summer is smaller, and supposedly, quieter.

    14. RagingADHD*

      If we get a particularly strong deposit that lingers, a spritz of the Citrus Magic litter spray works great.

    15. I'm Done*

      We have two cats and one litterbox and buy the Target brand scoopable scented litter. The scent of the litter is not overwhelming and we have no issues with any urine odors.

    16. ESus4*

      LitterRobot changed our lives. Definitely an investment but worth it. No more scooping, almost no odor.

  13. Jackalope*

    Reading thread: what books are you reading this week? Any recommendations or requests for recommendations?

    I just started the 2nd book in a series by A. K. Larkwood. The book is called The Thousand Eyes, & it’s going well so far. I’m glad that the main characters from the last book seem to have had a couple of years of happiness & positive adventures, although it seems like that’s about to end. They’d had a lot of lousy stuff happen in their lives before this, so they needed a break!

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I read and loved The Disaster Tourist earlier this month, and I desperately enjoyed Ama Ata Aidoo’s book Changes – she is like a Ghanaian Barbara Pym.
      Currently I’m reading two books – one for work, on digital marketing and SEO, the other a fun Dick Francis mystery. I read a MM romance novel called Nook Island which was beautifully written but SO SAD that it wasn’t the escapist fun I wanted. Next up I have a Victor Pelevin novel and probably more full work books.

    2. UKDancer*

      I’m reading Nicola Upson’s books about Josephine Tey which have her as the protagonist of a series of crime books set in the 1930s and 1940s. They’re an interesting insight into the period. Tey has always been something of an enigma as she was intensely private so very little is known about her and it’s interesting because these books also feature real people.

      So I really enjoyed “Two for Sorrow” which is about Tey trying to write a book about the Finchley Baby Farmers because she talks to the (real life) Governor of Holloway Prison and there’s some fascinating discussions of penal reform.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I started Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss (which may have been an AAM recommendation years ago, or am I misremembering?). I think I might drop it for a while. It’s shaping up to be quite philosophical, and I’m too scatterbrained to focus on something like that now. Perhaps, in a few months’ time, I will be in the right mood again

      I’m about to go on my first beach holiday since pre-pandemic, and in the Before Times, I used my seaside time to read long nonfiction books that would otherwise take me months. So yesterday I went to the library to get a book about football history that had been on my list a long while (Fear and Loathing in La Liga by Sid Lowe). Can’t wait to be reading in the sun!

      Also, thoroughly recommending the novel I just finished. Emily Austin’s Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead is just brilliant. Darkly funny, heartwarming, and the most realistic representation of mental health issues (especially intrusive thoughts) I’ve seen in fiction in a long time. TW for suicidal thoughts – it can get grim at times, but at its core, it’s filled with hope.

      1. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

        Oh, reading in the sun on the beach sounds so lovely! Have a blast!

    4. Teapot Translator*

      I read Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman. It’s a fun read. If anyone has recommendations for spy novel in the same style (light story, unconventional protagonist), I’ll take them.
      I’ve started The Invisible Library by Genevieve Gogman and I’m not sure I like it. I’m going to finish chapter 2 and decide if I’ll finish the book or put it aside. I have 15 other books from the library and so many more on my to-read list. I’m starting not to spend time on books that don’t grip me from the start.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I found the same with The Invisible Library. I *wanted* to like it – cross dimensional librarian inventions, steam punk world – but didn’t enough it enough to want to continue. It was obviously intended as book one in a long series, setting up so many threads and mysteries and competing groups, that it forgot to function as a complete story in a single book, and I never got particularly interested in the protagonist.

          I can happily read books where I don’t engage with the main character, but they tend to be books which are very idea/theme focused, rather than character/relationship centred. I recently read the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, and I didn’t particularly like any of the main characters, but still thoroughly enjoyed the read (the characters being self-centred jerks for most of the trilogy was intentional, and part of the story).

      1. Forgotten username*

        Mrs. Pollifax on Safari was my favorite of that series! Try The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman if you haven’t already read it.

        I loved the idea of the Invisible Library books, didn’t really enjoy it either and never read anything past the first.

      2. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

        I loved a lot of the Mrs. Pollifax series! Maybe try one of the Modesty Blaise books by Peter O’Donnell? They’re not quite the same style — they are the adventures of a retired-but-still-young crime syndicate head and her able lieutenant as they fight rather cartoonish baddies in various impossible situations — and they are reasonably light (though stay away from *Night of Morningstar* and “Cobra Trap”).

    5. Bread Addict*

      I just finished Ink Death. The third book in the inkworld series by Cornelia Funke. Very good books. I really enjoy them. A bit lost now as I have been reading them in order for about 2.5 weeks now. Including while I had covid.

      Does anyone else ever get so into a series that you are then like wait what? I have to read about other characters? I am attached to these ones now! They helped me get through covid. I want to read more about Dustfinger and the Black Prince and his bear and Battista. And the strong man. I feel like I dont know how to just start reading something else now! That always happens with series but this one especially so for some reason.

      1. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

        I can relate! I feel like there’s always a bit of activation energy for me to get into a new book with new characters — must be why I like series so much!

    6. Lore*

      I just finished Maud Newton’s Ancestor Trouble and was incredibly disappointed. Did anyone like it who can tell me why? I felt like it was oddly performative and made weird assumptions of universality about her very specific white American family history.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Fencing With The King by Diana Abu-Jaber.

      I’m having a little trouble getting into it. The editor let her get away with a bunch of really confusing character designations in the first act. Like, the MC will be in conversation with a couple of other people who are sometimes referred to by name, sometimes by relationship (her uncle, her dad, her dad’s friend, etc), and sometimes by description (the man with green eyes, the tall one). So sometimes it’s hard to tell how many people are there and who is saying what.

      But the premise and plot points are really interesting, and we’ve just seen the inciting incident, which is very intriguing, so hopefully I’ll get acclimated soon.

    8. Stitch*

      I just read Malibu Rising. I forgot the author wrote Evelyn Hugo until I realized the characters overlapped which was interesting.

      I couldn’t get through Anxious People.

      I discovered the library I just got a card from had all the Terry Pratchett books on Libby so I’m filling the gaps.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I couldn’t get through Anxious People either. It took me a bit to get into his other books, so I kept trying, but I just gave up. I knew I was supposed to be really moved every time the connections between two people were revealed, but it just didn’t happen.

    9. Jamie Starr*

      The Authority Gap: Why women are still taken less seriously than men, and what we can do about it (Mary Ann Sieghart)

      I didn’t realize there was a term (the authority gap!) for what I experience all the time at my job. Sigh.

    10. Bluebell*

      Right now I’m reading Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho – it’s a collection of stories about the two main characters, rather than a novel. Both are children of immigrant families from Taiwan. Earlier this week, I read Float Plan, which was a romance, but I liked the fact it took place on a sailboat, and the heroine was very independent. I’m waiting for Rax King’s Tacky to come off the hold list.

      1. Jamie Starr*

        I read Fiona & Jane late last year. Overall, I liked it. I found the title characters relatable in different ways, even though my life experience couldn’t be more different from theirs.

      2. MEH Squared*

        Thanks for this! My parents are from Taiwan so I’m always interested in Taiwanese authors (especially female ones).

    11. pancakes*

      Margery Allingham’s The Tiger in the Smoke. I like it a lot so far. She’s a stylish writer, more so than Agatha Christie.

      1. Mephyle*

        Margery Allingham is one of the great Queens of Golden Age Detective Fiction. Tiger in the Smoke is great, but it’s untypical of the rest of her work, being more thriller than mystery. Her series detective is Albert Campion, who matures from an almost-caricature in the earlier books to a well-rounded, complex character in the later ones. His man Lugg is also a fascinating character. I highly recommend her detective books, too!

    12. Clisby*

      Finishing up Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood – it’s really 2 novellas: Mr. Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin, both set in the period between WWI and WWII. Isherwood’s stories became the basis for Cabaret.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I bought Elie Mystal’s “Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution” on Kindle. Can’t wait to start it.

      I also finished The Book of Accidents. I haven’t been reading much lately, just didn’t have the bandwidth. It feels good to finish something again.

    14. Irish Teacher*

      I’ve been reading St. Augustine’s Confessions, pretentious as that might sound.

      1. Jackalope*

        No worries. It’s not pretentious to read something you’re interested in. I’m not interested in Augustine per se, but I’ve read other stuff from a similar time frame that was also classical.

    15. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress as usual, including:

      The Mistletoe Bride and Other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse, a collection of surprisingly gentle tales, most of them retellings of traditional ghost stories.

      The Vine That Ate The South by J. D. Wilkes, in which a young man sets out on a trek through long-derelict Kentucky back roads with a rough-and-ready friend – very unusual, and oddly compelling.

      Oh, and Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating comic book, based on characters from a dating-simulator game – and very entertaining! (I already mentioned this one in the “gaming” thread.)

      On audiobook, I’m re-listening to Edith Wharton’s Custom of the Country. The heroine of this story is totally self-centered from the get-go and has been badly spoiled by her doting parents, which (not surprisingly) leads to some pretty awful levels of bad-things-happening – though one could argue that she causes more collateral damage than she takes herself, at least in her early years. It’s fun in a trainwreck kind of way, though it makes me want to forcibly send her and her parents to a therapist within the first couple of chapters…

    16. A Very Cranky Squirrel Nutkin*

      Madeline Miller’s *Circe* — it’s sort of a 21st-century perspective on the Titans, Olympians, and lesser divinities as one big extremely dysfunctional family, with our protagonist Circe as the scapegoat surrounded by narcissists/golden children, etc. I’m enjoying it.

  14. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    One thing I really miss about the Before Timed was going to the movies after work, I’d go 1-2 times a week (I live in London and have loads of options so there would always be something on). Now I’m back in the office x2 a week but so tired out by even that commute I can’t face going to the flicks after, I just drag myself home and lie down on the couch and stare at my phone. Am hoping between Good Luck to You Leo Grande, The Worst Person in the World, and even Top Gun: Moar Topping I can build up momentum to get out…. anyone seen anything good to inspire me? I love most genres, weird art house stuff, high or low brow…

      1. cat socks*

        Yes! I wasn’t that crazy about the original, but this was fun to watch on the big screen.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Everything Everywhere All At Once, if it’s available near you. It is about the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen, but also strangely endearing.

      1. I take tea*

        I liked it too! Quite fun, a bit absurd, but also with the message that kindness matters.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      If you’re in London, with the way Everyman’s been expanded, you’re never too far away from a very, very nice cinema. I’m not quite back to being comfortable with being back in one yet, but when I do I know part of overcoming the ‘I just want to go home and lie down’ is knowing I’ll be going to a cinema with lovely seats and good food and drink.

      1. pancakes*

        I was impressed with the comfy cinemas in London. We have a couple things like that here but not as many options, and not quite as comfortable.

    3. CTT*

      I LOVED Worst Person in the World – literally laughed and cried when I saw it (which I could do loudly, because I was the only person in the theater. Thank you COVID + a city that does not have much appetite for foreign movies!).

      I also really enjoyed Top Gun – it was very dumb but all of the practical effects were really stunning. It was also a much better movie than the original (which, low bar, but it was paced much better and had more stakes to the plot).

    4. Astoria*

      If it plays in the UK, I recommend Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story. Makes you feel as if you are there.

  15. Daycare (potatoes)*

    Looking for advice from parents/child experts/former children/etc….how long is the typical adjustment period for daycare? When do you realize that a it isnt’ a good fit and time to move on? My kid started on May 9th and has been there 12 days so far; she goes 3 days a week and missed a week b/c of the holiday and was sick the rest of the week.

    We put her in so that she could socialize with other kids her age and play and have some structure. But from the reports and what we see on camera, she’ doesn’t do that. She wanders around by herself and doesn’t engage with anyone. The first day we saw that she was following around the teachers but they were ignoring her. Biggest issue is that she refuses to eat there. I’ve fed her before leaving the house and of course after but that leaves her with a 6 hour gap of no food! She cries a lot when I drop her off and most mornings are rough where she’s clinging to me when waking up. She is in speech therapy as well and delayed in speech and (if this is relevant) we have OT evaluation & audiologist & dev pediatrician coming up.

    My parent groups have all assured me that this is all normal and she’ll be fine. I understand the teachers aren’t ignoring her they’re doing their job and aside from the first day I don’t glue myself to the cameras. but I don’t know how much longer to keep going with this. We had toured several daycares and I loved this one bc the staff was so warm and welcoming. Her teachers are nice and patient but ultimately I am worried this may hurt my child more than benefit.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I’d say twelve days is not enough time on such an irregular schedule. I’d say something like 2-3 months. Teachers ignoring her is a bit off but it’s true they can’t necessarily carry her around all day when there are other kids to deal with. I’m not sure of her age based on your description.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Are you saying the every other day (Monday Wednesday and Friday) is irregular or that she missed a week? Part time was all we could afford right now – when I go back to work full time I’ll be switching her to 5-days a week.

        My parenting group was really helpful in resetting my expectations. I definitely never expected them to give her constant 1 on 1 attention but the few times I viewed her, I did feel….hurt? for lack of a better word..that she was wandering around alone while everyone ate or played.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I think Sloanicota is saying that it’s just not enough time to tell yet, especially given the m/w/f schedule, and to give it time.

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Having worked in daycares/preschool, I will say it generally took longer for kids who were coming 2-3 days a week to adjust than kids who were there all 5 days. The 2-3 days kids DID adjust eventually but it took several weeks longer than the others.

    2. AspiringGardener*

      What age?

      In my experience, even my kids who attend daycare full time were a little out of sorts after a long break, particularly when they were young.

      I’m guessing that the sporadic schedule isn’t helping things. After some more time I’d expect it to get better. And even if it doesn’t – I wouldn’t consider it to be a problem with the daycare center itself, more so with your kid’s personality.

    3. Hazelnut Bunny*

      Former teacher here.

      You don’t mention the age of the child. I’m assuming child had not been in a child care setting before?

      From my personal teaching experience, every child is different. Some children acclimate right away while others take months to adjust. There is no right answer. (My personal opinion, 12 days of care is not a lot. Typically, I’ve seen full time kiddos take at least 1-3 weeks to get acclimated. Take that with a grain of salt as your kiddo is part time.)

      As to the eating, is your child still eating normally at home? If your child is still being fed, I wouldn’t worry too much. This is a new adjustment.

      I don’t know what your region is like on terms of finding care, but mine has waiting lists of a year for all ages. So changing care would be very difficult for me and many others. Also, changing care is another adjustment for your child.

      Ultimately, when parents came to me with these similar concerns, I would share this information and also as a parent, you have to do what YOU feel is best for your child with the information you have.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Sorry I forgot to mention age. She will be 2 next month. Prior to daycare she had never been alone with anyone outside of her dad or myself, not even a grandparent. So I did expect some clinginess and adjustment, but just wondering when things will change. She does eat normally at home, but she’s on the skinny side so that does worry me. W began looking in late April for a start date of May and all of the ones we saw were either available immediately or in July which we were OK with. I really don’t want to pull her or change though.

        1. Disco Janet*

          I would consider hiring a babysitter occasionally while you run errands or have a date night or some time for yourself. Going from never being away from a parent to no parents plus a bunch of other kids the teachers’ attention is divided between is going to make the transition longer/more difficult. Giving her some time where she can have one on one attention from someone who isn’t a parent might help.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m so sorry I don’t know why I blanked on mentioning her age – she’ll be 2 in exactly one month!

    5. Swisa*

      How old is the kid? That makes as difference. I would give it at least another month or two. 12 days is not long. My kid was in daycare for a year, and then had it really sporadically at the beginning of covid (a couple of days a month, for about a year). When we finally started her back 3 days a week a year ago, it took her awhile to get used to things again, and she already had some familiarity with being in daycare. Your kid is starting fresh. It’s a big adjustment, and takes time.

      The not eating thing is something I would talk to her teacher about. They likely have strategies.

      And for socializing, my kid didn’t do much of that until age 3, and more as she got older. I think a lot of it is developmental.

      I overall am so glad we’ve had her in daycare. We did have some tough periods where she’d cry during dropoff, but she has learned so much from her teachers, and social skills from being around other kids, and just learning how to adapt to situations that are not home, and caregivers who are not us. I feel like she is much better prepared for kindergarten, etc, than if we hadn’t done this. There will always be a transition period. But I’m glad she has experienced a lot of her transition at a younger age.

      Hang in there! And if it seems like it’s not getting better, talk to her teachers, and also her pediatrician.

      Oh, and in having a part time schedule, I’ve found it helpful to set it up so she’s at daycare at least a couple of days back to back (vs alternating every other day), just to give her time to get in the groove. A 3 day block would be ideal.

    6. Stitch*

      Seconding the “how old” question.

      Kids under a certain age don’t really play together as much. My son has been in care since 5 months but he didn’t really start cooperative play until age 2.

      Separation anxiety, particularly at about a year to 2 years is SUPER normal. My son went through it even though he had been in daycare.

    7. Childcare adjustmenr*

      My kid is older than yours, but just started preschool this week after a few years in a nanny share.

      My basic rule of thumb for “new” stuff is to give at least two very consistent weeks to adjust in general, and I’d probably increase that in your case since it’s part-time care and there was what sounds like a significant disruption for illness (which, n.b., having even just a cold can be discombobulating for a little kid–sleep and eating are often disrupted, and it takes time to get back on track, even when you’re not dealing with a new care situation). For my kid, this first week of preschool has gone really well at school *but also* he has been exhausted and cranky every evening and certain aspects of his sleep have gotten a little out of whack. That seems like it’s basically par for the course and is fine for now–we’re glad things at school are going well and we’re here to be a soft landing place for him to blow off steam and work through whatever he has going on emotionally as he adjusts to a pretty big change.

      I’ll also say, in general, that you shouldn’t necessarily expect lots of playing together between your child and the others there. From a developmental perspective, playing together doesn’t really show up until age 3 or 4.

      On the food thing, for my own kid food has been tricker than at home. He’s eaten more as the week has gone on and I’ve been experimenting a bit with what foods and formats work well for him at school (he seems to really prefer containers to Ziploc bags and also seems to really want a fork even for foods he could easily eat with his hands like strawberries). Anyway, that’s all to say that I wouldn’t yet worry about the food thing either; it’s part of the overall adjustment.

    8. blue giraffe*

      I’d give it a few months – maybe 3 or 4 months of regular schedule, and not worry about eating. She can go 6 hours without food – she can go even longer. it might take her awhile to figure out how to play with other kids – that’s ok, give her that time. If you take her out of daycare, she’ll still need the same time to learn to play with other kids, she’ll just be older, and maybe more aware of things.

    9. Double A*

      My daughter started daycare when she was almost 3, and it’s taken months for her to regularly participate in the group activities and play with other kids. And she is happy to go and generally likes other kids and is very confident. She is also just very independent and strong willed about doing things her way. So she often eats lunch standing off somewhere by herself rather than sitting with the group. It took a long time for her to sit with other kids are circle time. She basically isn’t very influenced by peer pressure.

      Now that she’s going on four she has discovered bossing other kids around so that’s motivated her to participate more and tell other kids what to do

      1. allathian*

        Ugh, I hope the other kids get help in telling her to stuff it occasionally. The kid who enjoys bossing others around is the one everyone else loves to hate. Learning to take turns is important, the sooner the better.

        My son’s never been the bossy one, but he’s not particularly influenced by peer pressure either. When the bossy kids tried to tell him what to do, he just refused to play along if he didn’t feel like it. He’d much rather play by himself than be bossed around, and thankfully his daycare teachers realized this and allowed him to play as he liked.

    10. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Give it more time, and see if you can try some different things with the food. My kid also did not want to eat at daycare for a while. Do you provide the food from home, or do you have the option to do that? We would send food from home since he wouldn’t touch the other, but it still took a while. I would have him help me pack it and he would be munching on it as we packed, then he would not touch it at daycare! We tried different dishes and containers too but he would just wait until the afternoon snack time when they had food he liked and ate that. Toddlers can be so weird about food.

      Also remember that 2 year olds generally don’t play “together” even when they are totally happy and comfortable with the situation, it is more the parallel play where they may be next to each other but doing their own thing. Or taking things from each other… it seems like that thing the other kid has is always better than what they have, lol.

    11. Developmental Therapist*

      Does she receive early intervention or does she go to a clinic for speech therapy? I work in early intervention and if a child is starting at a new daycare, I like to try hold my session at the daycare to facilitate an easier transition. That way, while it’s not a parent, a familiar person can be there for the child.

    12. SofiaDeo*

      My grandmother was my “day care center”. I went through a period of weeks where I would cry, cry, cry after being dropped off saying “I want Mommy”……then would cry, cry, cry after being picked up, saying “I want Grandma”. Every kid is different. I recall a conversation with my Mom where she asked me about things that affected *her* greatly in the moment, but I didn’t even remember some of them. Your child will be fine. Sounds like the teachers are acting appropriately; if you give”extra attention” to all the crying, the kid quickly learns how to use that to manipulate. She won’t be permanently harmed by not eating with this others, and this might also be an attempt to “control” by refusing to eat. Not all kids make friends easily, I didn’t. I was super super shy until junior high, then I blossomed. One of my cousins didn’t blossom until after high school, and we had similar upbringing.

    13. Smol Book Wizard*

      I can’t say for certain because everything does indeed develop at different ages for each kid, but as a pediatric occupational therapist I’d definitely recommend the evaluation. We’ve seen a lot of kids at our clinic for whom the last few weird years have combined poorly with their neurotype and developmental patterns, and are happy to offer tips and tricks to parents and caregivers whether kiddo has any specific diagnosis or not.
      This may be me projecting, as I had trouble with this as a child – but I wonder if sensory factors are making it harder for them to eat in the daycare setting, for instance there being different smells present, the food being cold instead of warm, etc.

    14. California Dreamin’*

      When my oldest child started preschool (he was 2 1/2 when he started) he had trouble with crying at drop-off for a while. One thing that really helped him get over the hump was his teacher’s suggestion that every morning when I brought him in, I would walk him directly to her and she would greet him and sort of keep him next to her for a few minutes until he was ready to play (at his school the morning started with outdoor yard play so when we would arrive, all the kids would be running around the playground. My son really didn’t like just being left in the middle of the chaos, so just being under the teacher’s wing for a bit was helpful for him.) It was probably a month in that he got comfortable, and he went five days a week.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, for my son it was similar. It helped that we’re early birds and he was almost always one of the first kids there, so that he got a bit of 1:1 time with his favorite teacher before most of the others arrived. On the days when he had speech therapy and arrived in the middle of the day, the drop-off was always a bit more chaotic.

    15. allathian*

      Your daughter’s been in a family setting, surrounded by the people she knows best all her life. It’s going to take a while for her to get used to the change.

      My son also went to daycare when he was a bit more than 2 years old. When he went, he had a vocabulary of about a dozen words, including yes, no, mom, dad, gran. He learned fast, though, when he had to communicate with people who couldn’t understand his non-verbal communication the way we as his primary carers did. My son’s also a singleton, and he hadn’t really socialized that much with other kids before he went to daycare, certainly not for more than a few hours at a time. He had a soft start, on the first day I was there with him, on the second I left him for a few hours, until by the end of the second week he was there for a full day.

      Is your daughter a picky eater at home? Do you have to coax and cajole her to eat, or does she do it happily on her own? The different texture and temperature of the food they’re providing can be one issue, but another is that the noisy environment of a normal daycare group with a number of kids may be making her a bit anxious, and the anxiety may be preventing her from eating. But that’s something you should discuss with her daycare teachers and her pediatrician, obviously. If she isn’t eating for 6 hours, I would expect her to eat more when she gets home. But if and when she goes to full-time daycare (8+ hours), she’ll obviously need to eat at some point during the day to stay healthy.

    16. Wilde*

      I’ve got some cents from my own experience. I’m a full time stay home parent to two kiddos. I’m not sure what your work situation is, so my experience may not be exactly applicable to yours.

      Our oldest was in a similar environment for a year – he attended two days a week from 18mo.
      He took about 3 months to really build a good connection with his key teacher and for drop offs to be a pleasant experience.

      Some things that helped
      – he was able to carry his comfort toy all day long (at home it was only used at sleep times)
      – I allowed the daycare to do whatever it took to get him to nap. In that adjustment period he mostly fell asleep on an adult and was then transferred to his bed
      – the staff created a book of his learning journey and included some photos from home that he always had access to.
      – outside of daycare, we talked about the routine. “We walk to daycare in the pram, Mama will read you a story, have a cuddle and wave goodbye at the window. I’ll come back after your afternoon snack.”

      The reason I put him in care was our second baby came along only 15mo after him, and I wanted a couple of days a week to spend with her, run errands and catch up on chores and sleep at home. Initially I thought it was for the reasons you described above, but it turned out to be far more beneficial for me, as a parent with PND and (according to my latest bloods) glandular fever.

      So why did I choose to pull him out now he’s at an age where he could benefit from that structure and social experience?
      – while he enjoyed his time at daycare, I think he really just tolerated it until pickup. Since we pulled him out, he’s never asked to go back.
      – he was at an age where he would have “graduated” to the next room and I didn’t think the staff there were as good
      – I didn’t need time away from him just to manage life any more.
      – instead we joined a regular playground three days a week. This provides structure and routine in our week, gives us a regular opportunity to get out of the house. Playgroup does plenty of messy play and has lots of toys that we don’t have at home (and will never have). On any given day there are 10-20 kids, all five and under so there’s lots of opportunities for social interaction. Plus all those kids parents are present too, so I get regular adult contact too!

      All this to say – I’d recommend reevaluating why you’ve got her in daycare. If it’s for you, then know it will (probably) get much better. If it’s for her, then consider pulling her out. If you can access playgroups, fun music classes or sports groups for preschoolers AND you’re up for full time parenting during business hours, it’s such an incredible experience to play alongside your kids as they learn the ins and outs of the world. Not always easy (my kiddo had a 30 minute meltdown on a very public footpath last week), but so worth it.

      I hope you find a routine that works for your family! I’m glad you’ve got some other parents alongside you too. The village, we need it, hey?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m going to echo Wilde on whether this is for her benefit or yours. If it’s for your benefit (you need to work, you need to physically recuperate) then humans are very adaptable and she will eventually adjust; I would predict it will be anywhere from fine to great. If it’s for her benefit to give her socialization, then you might want to look for a different option. From my and my friends’ experience (kids now 20 and up):

        • The eval might open up some preschool options that can only be accessed with the right officially recorded issue to address. (This was the case for a kid I know who is going off to university next fall.)

        • I had my youngest in full-time daycare 2-3 days a week for a couple of years. Then I was a stay-at-home parent for a while, and then at age 4 we found a half-day preschool so he could get more socialization as a school prep thing. The second school being only mornings (you could extend for a few more hours once kids were settled in the 3-hour routine) was just an easier chunk of time to tackle for him. As a bonus, it put us in contact with parents on a similar schedule, so it was easier to set up playdates outside of school.

        For my own son–he had a rough, slow adjustment to the start of daycare, start of preschool, and start of kindergarten. And then he adapted and blossomed and had a great time in each, but it took a while. I had to be really convinced that it was a good thing for him–as it was–to get through those rough transitional times. All through elementary he was in the same class as one friend because that friend had an even rougher time with transitions, and so his parents requested that they be together so they could say “Bobby will be there! So it’s not that different!” As they hit their tween/teen years everyone got far better at handling transitions–some things you just need more years of brain development to handle differently.

    17. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Not sure if you clarified this somewhere, but are you sending food in with your kid, or is she eating food provided by the center? If the food is from the center and new to her, think about asking the teacher if you can send in a snack she enjoys at home.

    18. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I would give it a month, but also go with your instinct and if another suitable option presents itself to you, don’t worry about anyone’s feelings.
      For the not eating thing: babies wake up to feed at night then when they finally sleep all night nobody worries that the baby didn’t have as much to eat. Six hours without eating is not a problem unless she is already underweight.
      If you saw the teachers ignoring her the first day, I understand you could be worried. Did you talk to them?
      I had a young girl look after my daughter (after babysitting with my son no problem) and my daughter started crying as soon as she came in. The second time that happened, a friend of mine was round at my place to print stuff on my printer, and she reported back that the young girl was doing all she could to get my daughter off to sleep, even though I’d explained that she didn’t normally sleep at that time of day. The girl was doing this to get her school work done. I told her I didn’t need her any more and found another solution.

    19. kiki*

      I think for a 2 year old who has probably been isolated due to the pandemic, it may take longer than was previously normal for your daughter to acclimate, maybe even 2-3 months before she feels totally okay going.
      I would do what Disco Janet suggested and try to incorporate other environments where your daughter is without you into her routine. That way daycare isn’t the only place she’s without you and spending time apart from you becomes a normal part of her routine beyond just daycare.

  16. Falling Diphthong*

    Ask a Manager throw pillows:

    Inspired by last week’s question about favorite Captain Awkward posts, what’s a concept this site helped you come to realize? It could be something you already knew but someone expressed it pithily, or broke it down really helpfully.

    Mine would be “Having ideas is easy; executing them is hard.”

    I think first from the “I want to be hired as an ideas person” letter, but it’s come up in other guises. Usually the commentary is about half from writers, about how having an idea for a book is not a rare one-off generational event and professional writers have oodles of them, and are not looking to steal your idea for a novel. I recall someone gave an example of this debate from a writing colloquium, and they wound up putting a bunch of done-to-death ideas in a bowl and a professional author on the “execution is what counts” side drew two slips and then launched a successful series combining Pokemon and the lost Roman Legion.

    1. JustKnope*

      So many issues can be solved with clear communication. And what WE think is clear communication might not actually be. It feels so simple but the fact that a good 60% of Alison’s advice is “just tell them what you told me but in a slightly edited way” really opened my eyes.

    2. Purple Cat*

      “Be direct”
      Don’t be vague and dance around issues. Quit softening the message, while still being kind.
      Truly great life advice, not just workplace advice.

    3. kiki*

      It’s not kinder to avoid having hard talks with people. I think a lot of us come from cultures where we avoid being completely honest to save others’ feelings. That’s well and good sometimes (people don’t need to know you think their outfit is wild in a bad way), but at work, people need feedback in order to grow.

    4. Rara Avis*

      Use Your Words. So often the advice is to make sure you have communicated clearly without obfuscating the issue.

    5. Princess Xena*

      In case anyone is curious, the writer in question is Jim Butcher and the series is the Codex Alera. It’s quite good and I would recommend it.

    6. Cacophonix*

      For me it was refusing to drown in tumultuous seas is not a sign of weakness. Whether the risk is continuing to work in an unsuitable role, in a toxic environment, or to my health, it’s a strength to recognize to bow out for awhile or for always. Do it with integrity, and for this one life we all have.

  17. Australia Trip*

    Thank you for everyone’s tips for Sydney and Melbourne awhile back. I had a fantastic time! In Sydney, I did do the bridge climb, as well as visiting the opera house, Darling Harbor + the park, Featherdale, the botanical gardens, and a few other things. In Melbourne, I was working, but I managed to do a Twelve Apostles day trip on the weekend and visit a local market. I ate a ton of delicious food and really miss that and the coffee, lol!

    I’m hoping to extend my next work trip out that way to include New Zealand – open to any suggestions there :)

    1. Kiwi gal*

      Kiwi here. I would guess you would only have time to do one Island if your tacking it on to a work trip.

      In winter I would do the south island- gorgeous scenery, snow and glaciers.

      In summer I would do the North Island- Wellington for the coffee shops and great shops, drive up to Taupo and Rotorua for the hot pools and Auckland for the city vibes

    2. Wilde*

      Another kiwi here! Based on your Australian experiences I think you’d love Wellington! Plus it’s easy to tack on a weekend up the Wairarapa for small boutique towns, wineries and beach scapes too.

      There’s a reason Queenstown is so popular. A real tourist destination which means there are plenty of all-expenses-covered day trips. As the commenter above mentioned it’s incredible in winter but we went in the heat of summer and I loved it! I am a person who prefers summer over winter though.

      Other great places which would be awesome for shorter trips – Bay of Islands, Abel Tasman, Marlborough Sounds, the Coromandel.

    3. ScarlettNZ*

      I’m going to put a plug in for Dunedin – if it’s great food and coffee you are after, it’s the place to come! We have a wonderful farmer’s market that is held every Saturday at the railway station and so many great cafes and restaurants. There is an abundance of wildlife practically on the doorstop (Otago Peninsula) – sea lions, yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals as well as the only mainland albatross colony in the world, so depending on the time of year, you could get to see chicks (check out the albatross web cam – there are chicks in the nest currently). Larnach’s Castle is also located on the Otago Peninsula. Dunedin has a lovely botanic garden, Olveston historic house, Tunnel Beach, Baldwin St (the world’s steepest street).

      The Catlins is less than a two hour drive south and has stunning scenery. You can see native forests, lovely beaches, waterfalls, blowholes, caves, lighthouses and a petrified forest.

  18. curly sue*

    I have a cat behavioral question, but it’s not something serious, or that I would take to a vet… I’m just curious.

    I’ve always had cats, so I have a general good vibe with them & their body language signals. We got a cat when newly married, and she was spouse’s best shoulder cat and best-besotted love.

    The moment I got pregnant with our eldest, cat flipped allegiances and bonded to me like I was the only human on earth. I would wake up with her in my arms like a teddy bear, she followed me around the house, adopted both kids and treated them like her kittens. I assumed this had something to do with her being siamese, and present in the ‘colony’ when I was pregnant- that it tripped some ‘now I am mom’ in her tiny kitty brain.

    We got a second cat (a tabby) when elder cat was about 7, and when my son was born, jr kitten bonded hard to him. Great! He felt loved and special, cats each had their people.

    Except we had to put elder cat down in April (19, kidney failure). And since then junior cat (now 12) has switched allegiances… to me. She’s not as cuddly, never has been, but now she sleeps on my bed instead of son’s, comes to me first for pats and playtime, and he’s broken-hearted.

    I’ve now accidentally stolen a cat from each of the men in my life. Am I just a kitty homewrecker? Or is there something happening with pheromones or perceived seniority in the colony? The kids feed the cat, spouse cleans the litter box, but I get 95% of the love and it’s starting to cause dissent in the ranks.

    1. rr*

      I always used to joke, semi-seriously, that cats know who the servant is in the house – that is, the person who does the work associated with caring for them. And the servant gets less affection because cats recognize status. I don’t know.

      We had a cat who we recently had to put down as well. I loved her a lot. But she was not my cat, even though I did most, if not, all of the work. She let me pat her and brush her, and give her treats, and mostly seemed to appreciate the attention. She always seemed to me to be grateful when I recognized she was sick and took her to the vet (that is, she was grateful after). But she really never came to me on her own for patting or snuggles. I pretty much always went to her. Except once, more than ten years ago, I had to have a trach. It was pretty traumatic for me, and afterword, I had to have this loud suctioning-type thing while I was in bed. None of the other cats would go near me when I first came home. But she came and got right on top of me and stayed there, despite the machine and noise. She didn’t ever do it before that or after that, but I think she knew I needed her then. I think cats can know things that aren’t said. And maybe the junior cat recognizes that you need her right now.

      1. rr*

        And also, I forgot to add, associates you more with their missed companion. They probably need you more now too.

    2. Purple Cat*

      It’s not much reassurance for the little ones, but cats are fickle, fickle creatures and their allegiances shift over time. It’ll likely shift back to the kids.
      My oldest son is our cat whisperer. Our super-senior (16 yrs) never really liked people but now spends 23/24 hours in my son’s room – on his bed. Even the kittens like him the best. My younger son isn’t happy about this, but all I can do is remind him that it’s good the cats are happy, safe and loved and “by whom” is less important. He should just keep on loving them and now worry about what he gets in return. (Which I have to consciously remind myself of when the kittens go running past me to get to my older son)

    3. ImInSpace*

      Since you were the closest to elder cat (condolences btw), younger cat wants to comfort you

    4. Not a cat*

      My niece (who has deep, deep connections with animals) says that cats respond to what’s inside of you and dogs respond to what’s going on outside of you.

    5. Flash Packet*

      All of the cats I have had (maybe 20? in my lifetime) have ended up bonding with the least-energetic human as they age (the cats, not the humans).

      My ex was stompy-footed and very loud [in everything: his speaking voice, the TV volume he preferred, his sneezes, his chewing, and even his breathing]. As kittens and “teens”, the cats we had during our 17 years together were all over him like kids on a playground.

      Once the cats hit 3-5 years old, they started spending more time with me. By the time they were seniors, the older cats were mostly avoiding him.

      There were two cats who were exceptions to this, and they were both really “clingy”; they wanted to be petted 24/7. Since Ex spent most of his time planted in front of the TV, he and his lap were always available to them. When we split, those two cats went with him.

      My mom lives with me now and the elderly cats hang out with her / around her as much as they can. She is in her mid-70’s and is very much *not* an active senior. She, too, spends the bulk of her time parked in front of the TV. So in her they have a calm human who is almost always around, whereas I work 5 days a week and am constantly doing chores around the house in my “free” time.

      So I’d say it comes down to cats having different relationsip needs throughout their lifetimes.

    6. Dodubln*

      My husband and I have two cats. The 12 year old Siamese is bonded to me, the 14 year old marmalade/tabby is bonded to him. Two weeks ago we had to put the Siamese down, and the literal minute we got home from the vet, the tabby switched allegiance to me, and has not switched back. He went from paying me NO attention, to doing all the same things my Siamese did with me. Sleep on my pillow, sleep on my lap, sleep next to my desk while I work, you name it. I feel badly for my husband, because not only is he missing the Siamese more than me, now he doesn’t even “have” his own cat for comfort the way he used too. Solution for us is to go back to the shelter in a few weeks, adopt another cat, and hope that his cat flips allegiance back, or the new one bonds to him.

    7. ScarlettNZ*

      I’m also a cat-stealer. Cats just love me, even ones that don’t love anyone else. When I was living in London my then partner and I were chosen for a flat because the resident cat liked me. From the moment we moved in I became her human and everyone else pretty much stopped existing as far as she was concerned.

      I’ve visited houses where the resident cat has walked over it’s owners to come sit with me (accompanied by exclamations of “he/she never does that!”). Strange cats run up to me in the street, miaowing for pats and loving. Perhaps I was a catnip bush in a previous life? :-)

  19. Llellayena*

    Painting a house is hard y’all! I got my new house and now I’m rushing to paint the inside before moving everything in. I have 4 walls of a 3-bed house painted after one week. I’m hoping to get most of the rest done this weekend.

    Anyone have tips for painting a ceiling and not getting yourself covered in paint? I picked a ceiling color in one room that’s too dark to be used in actual ceiling paint (go me) so I’m using wall paint. But it’s thinner so it’s more prone to drip/spatter on the painter…

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Painting ceilings is a mess, embrace it. Wear a hat you don’t mind ruining. Good for you, it’s a big job as you say!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never tried it but I wonder if a sprayer would be easier on the ceiling than brush/roller?

    3. Maryn*

      Painting ceilings is my least favorite, but sometimes you just have to.
      *Cut in the edges with an angled brush (I like 2.5 inch) before you do the roller work.
      *For cutting in, put the paint in a small container that you can easily hold, unless you can balance the bucket on a ladder you’re going to move many times. We use an old tub that once contained margarine.
      *Stir paint thoroughly before pouring. Colors separate. A plastic pouring lip keeps it tidy and costs what, a dollar?
      *If time or energy is limited, cut in one day, roller another.
      *Wear a disposable painter’s cap or another hat that you don’t mind ruining when you use the roller.
      *Tuck ALL your hair in the hat, or supplement the hat with bandanas you can ruin. If your hair is long enough, clip it up at the back with a barrette under the hat.
      *Apply lotion to your hands, arms, and face before beginning. Paint comes off your skin much more easily.
      *If you have to wear glasses to see what you’re doing, dig out the old ones.
      *Paint ceiling before walls. Minor spatter on walls can be painted over.
      *Empty the room if at all possible. (You haven’t yet moved in, so that’s good.)
      *Cover floor with quilted moving blankets–much more stable than dropcloths, newspaper, etc.
      *Keep a clean sponge in a container with a quarter-inch of water (we use an old sandwich box for packing lunches)–wipe major spatters as they happen, whether it’s on you or the wall.
      *Before you start, get some music playing that you won’t have to adjust. It’ll entertain you and give you energy.
      *Leave some time for cleaning brushes and roller tray.
      *Unless you’re dead broke, forget washing and re-using rollers. At the end of the day, put it in a plastic bag, knot it shut, and throw it away.

      Happy painting!

      1. Llellayena*

        We can’t seem to find anywhere selling a painter’s hat, unfortunately. I hadn’t thought of the lotion though, I can try that. The person doing the painting has very short hair and doesn’t normally wear glasses (like the rest of us do) so he’ll be able to use standard safety glasses. We do have an extension pole. We will need to paint around a fan, I don’t trust trying to remove the fan just for painting…

        1. Maryn*

          If you have a good paintbrush, your skills at cutting in (brush painting the edges and other places the roller can’t go) get plenty good enough to paint around a ceiling fan’s base. Cover the blades with plastic bags or Saran Wrap and you can probably use the roller above them.

          It will not be fun, but it’ll get the job done.

          FWIW, we bought painter’s hats at Home Depot years ago. But for a painter with short hair, a thrift store knit cap will be fine.

    4. Missb*

      A pole is helpful. Even a short pole – like less than 2′ – gets the roller just a wee bit further away from you.

      Plus, wear a hat. Paint stores sell lightweight painters hats, or you can sacrifice a baseball cap if you want. The bill helps prevent you getting splattered too.

      Ceiling paint is a different sheen usually than wall paint.

      I usually paint the ceiling and then the walls. Top down, so that as I’m painting the ceiling, if I splatter some on the walls then it gets covered by the wall paint.

      Finally, I feel your pain. My kitchen has drywall in at this point, but nothing else. I mean, I have temporary cooking facilities in there, but it all gets wheeled out when work needs to be done. Cabinets are about a month out, we’ve had our kids home for about a month and the last one is leaving next week. I have to roll everything out again and start painting the ceiling. I primed everything and walked away. It’s especially painful for me to get on a ladder. Dh doesn’t paint – and I don’t want him to as it’s not in his skill set. And it’s a reasonably small space, so I can deal with it. But I’ll be signing up for days of pain.

      Congrats on the new house!

      1. Girasol*

        We bought a paint roller extension that’s 6 feet long telescoping to 12 feet. Sherwin Williams insisted we’d want it and I thought, yeah, right, use it once and it’s cluttering around forever. But no, this is the *best* thing! It gets easily to places that I can’t reach even with a ladder, of course. But it’s way better than a ladder for ceilings. Just stand comfortably on the floor and roll way up there. I also find it oddly easier to handle than a paint roller alone when I’m on the floor doing places that I actually could reach with just a roller. It gets the job done so fast. (Be sure to follow the rule of “look at your feet and move your feet or look at the roller and move the roller but do not move what you aren’t looking at.” When rolling is going on so far from where you stand it’s awfully easy to step over an edge or into the paint tray by accident.)

    5. Fit Farmer*

      I dunno, you’re painting a whole house, so maybe it’s inevitable that over the course of the project you end up covered in paint? I’d suggest safety glasses/goggles.

      I painted a room recently and bought high-quality paint (Benjamin Moore Regal Select) and I was surprised at just how much better it was than the box-store paint I’ve always used in the past, and that my parents used, etc. It was thicker than I was used to, didn’t drip, and covered 100% in two coats. It was well worth the significant cost increase, especially given how much work painting projects are. I felt like the extra dollars were negligible compared to the amount of effort going in overall. It sounds like you’ve already bought the paint (and maybe it’s top-notch paint!) — so more a comment for others.

    6. MJ*

      I found rolling up an old sweatshirt at the back of my neck for support (tying the sleeves around in front to keep it in place) drastically cut down on neck pain. It was hot, but the extra support when looking up for so long was worth it.

  20. BigMove*

    My mom and I are researching the possibility of her renting out her home and moving closer to me to help with childcare. Has anyone made a similar move or helped a relative who did this? I’d love to hear stories (good and bad!) and advice.

    1. just another queer reader*

      When my partner was a kid, her grandparents lived a block away, and it was awesome!

      1. just another queer reader*

        Adding on: said grandparents rented out their former home, and it was a disaster. (I think there were several factors at play, but tl;dr being a landlord sucked for them, emotionally and financially, through little/no fault of their own.)

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      My mother grew up next door to her grandparents. She always had a sanctuary when things got rough at home. And when my great-grandmother was older, it was easier for my grandma to keep an eye on her & help her out as needed.

    3. Ali G*

      I grew up 2 blocks from my mom’s parents. I have a lot of good memories from that time! The trick that I understand now, is boundaries. My grandparents never stopped by unannounced. I imagine they had a key for emergencies but they never used it. We had bagel brunch (even the dog came) with them every Sunday and all Holidays were at their house until my mom took over.
      They would take us to the pool in the summer and were generally just really helpful and great to have around.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If she’s moving cities or states, definitely look into property management agencies for the house. Keeping up a rental is work.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      Being a landlord is hard work and can go bad really fast. I would sell her house and have her find a place nearby.

    6. Swisa*

      No advice for moving, but my parents live an hour away, and it is awesome.

      My mom is retired and watches my preschool age kid in her home a couple of days a week (we meet halfway and do a drop off). We still do daycare, but it gives them time together.

      And every month or two, they take my kid for a night or two, which has been amazing for doing weekend getaways.

    7. Bluebell*

      Different scenario, but one of my cousins moved home to have her baby, and have her semi-retired mom do childcare. Saying it didn’t go well is a huge understatement. The biggest lesson that came out of it is to make sure you are on the same page with expectations, and to have some boundaries.

    8. Asenath*

      Renting out a house can be a real minefield. I know someone who did it successfully, and others who did it successfully for a while until they got fed up with the hassles. If the house is any distance from the proposed new home of your mother, the problems involved in renting will get more complicate.

      As for her providing child care, a lot depends on how well you both communicate and agree, whether she needs outside income, and whether her health enables her to keep up with active young children. It’s an arrangement that’s quite common where I live, and can work well, but not that many grandmothers are providing full time child care. Mostly they help out in emergencies, or provide regular care for part of the day (after school, for example).

    9. Double A*

      My parents moved closer to us not long after we bought our house and I got pregnant a month later. They have watched our kids anywhere from 3-5 days a week their whole lives. It’s amazing. It’s so helpful, and I love being close to them and that my kids are growing up with such a close relationship with them.

      If you get along with and trust your parents, this is probably the best case scenario for childcare in the non-system of childcare we have in the US. It sucks that you have to luck into it, but if you do it’s great.