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Everyone has been there.
Nothing is all that different. Nothing has changed, but one day you walked through your front door with an armful of groceries and just say “ick”.
By the process of just living in a house, we are guaranteed to make messes, dent walls, and accrew way more material possessions than is ever good for us. This, amongst other things, is going to make a house feel dingy, cluttered, and depressing after a long enough period of time.
This doesn't mean you've done anything wrong, so turn off that Mom guilts and listen for a second.
All this feeling means is that your house is in need of a little TLC. If you never combed your toddler's hair, it would look like a nest of New York City Subway rats had taken up residence on her head. It's the same with your house. Especially when you have kids, pets, and God knows what else you have living there, houses are going to need a little bit of extra attention every once in a while.
The good news is that it doesn't take too long or too much effort to get rid of that dingy feeling and make your home feel clean, sparkly, and exciting all over again.
The following are six different reasons why your home can start to feel dingy, paired with how to fix each specific reason. It could be just one of these things making your house feel dingy, but usually it's a combination of several different list items.
Whatever the cause, a little bit of grunt work and deep cleaning and you should be back to loving your home again in no time.
Realtors refer to the front of your house, including your front yard, as "the frontage" of your home.
The reason the frontage is important is that it is your house’s first impression. Imagine you're driving home after a long day, you turn the corner, and get the first look at your home. Does that site make you sigh a breath of relief, or does it make you start reciting to-do list items and landscaper phone numbers in your head?
If you are in group B here, there are number of things that could have gone wrong with your “frontage” to make it a less than welcoming site. Here are the most common culprits:
The outside of your house needs new paint.
The driveway is crumbling or damaged.
Whatever foliage you have is over ground and or full of weeds.
Your front door or front gate is broken, creepy, or otherwise in disrepair.
Your yard is filled up with kids toys, so you can't tell if there's actually a yard beneath it or not.
Some of these, like organizing kids toys into waterproof storage benches or pulling weeds, are fairly easy and inexpensive fixes. Others, like replacing a broken driveway or repainting the outside of your house, are going to have to go on a list for when you have money saved up for home maintenance.
However, even if some maintenance is needed, there are quick fixes you can do to help in the meantime. Straightforward actions such as washing the windows, installing some window boxes, and self-repairing any chipped or flaking brickwork on the front of your home can help to make a massive difference to the Overall feeling your house gives off as you turn that corner.
Many people neglect the front yard, because not many of us spend too much time in it, but it really does make a psychological difference to have the first mental image you get every time you come home be that of a happy, well-maintained home.
The backyard is usually a little bit more of a factor when it comes to day-to-day life.
Since it's not by a busy street, the backyard is an ideal place for kids to play, you to actually get to see sunshine every once in a while, and the pets to get some energy out without dragging you for a walk around the block.
The major danger with backyards, especially as a mom, is that they often get run over by children's toys and other playthings. I actually wrote an entire blog entry on how to have a beautiful backyard and have kids at the same time, because believe me it is not easy.
I highly advise you to take a look at the whole article if you are thinking that this is one of your problem areas. However, I do want to specifically point out the benefits of a usable garden area out the back.
Gardens are fantastic for so many reasons. First, you can buy plants that are very hard to kill. (I kill plants almost for a living, so I can vouch for the fact that some things can survive even the least green of thumbs.) Second, kids absolutely love mud. Letting a kid put on clothes that they can get dirty and allowing them to stomp about in the garden with you, especially if they get to pull weeds, is going to be the highlight of their tiny, muddy day.
Finally, if you are actually inclined towards plants, you can grow your own vegetables with a surprisingly little amount of effort. This is fantastic not only for your healthy eating habits, but to teach your kids about healthy eating habits. I'm actually contemplating making one of those for us, because the other day my three-year-old began a song that started “candy is my favorite vegetable…”. I didn't stick around for the second verse, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't going in a good direction.
if we were asked to describe our dream home, most moms would include a lack of clutter somewhere in the first sentence or two.
Yes, you heard me right. Non-parents dream of spiral staircases, scenic views, and outdoor hot tubs. Parents fantasize of a lack of Legos on the living room floor.
The road to organization is very hard, especially when you have a horde of small humans following you around and undoing everything you do as you do it. Even so, it is possible to organize your home like a model home, even with kids. The keys here are putting fewer things on each countertop, fewer pieces of furniture in each room, and an overall vigilance for the clutter that seems to pile up overnight. (If you’re having trouble with this, try my secret two-minute rule.)
If you're looking to do something a little bit more drastic with the inside of your house, a coat of paint does wonders to brighten the place up a bit. Paint isn't actually that expensive, and if you do it yourself you can have a new look for quite cheap. I wouldn't recommend doing this all the time, but if you need something severe to get you out of your home blues, this might be the ticket.
Obviously, any maintenance issues are going to make you curse and mutter under your breath whenever you walk by. If you need any help, check out my guide for household management and really don't be afraid to Google things.
No, I'm not suggesting you maintain your house yourself using just YouTube as a reference.
I am suggesting that you form a priority list of what needs fixing first, with YouTube as a backup reference so you actually know what you're talking about (mostly).
Any major things like roof repairs, plumbing, damp, or subsidence issues need to be dealt with immediately. Similarly, anything that poses a safety risk to you or family needs to be taken care of yesterday. (When we first moved in we had a huge list of these, seeing as our house was an as-is sale. Yikes.)
However, even tasks that add value to your house, like replacing windows or recarpeting can be considered as well. I'm not suggesting you spend a fortune you don't have on replacing everything in sight, but if you start saving a little bit each month you can take off tasks as you get to them on your priority list.
Another main reason people start disliking their homes as sheer boredom.
We like a change every once in a while, decorating things is fun and exciting, and after a while, we start to get twitchy.
One way to handle this and she ate it is by doing a couple of seasonal changes, as you move your way across the calendar. If you have a special centerpiece that only comes out at Thanksgiving, bowls of candy canes that get put out around Christmas time, or fun juicer that goes on the kitchen in the summertime, it really helps feel like you're changing things in your house, without having to yank out all the carpet.
If you're finding yourself in the category where you want to change or update something in your house, but nothing actually really screams “I need maintenance”, you can try making small seasonal changes like this. It will give you something to change and work on in your house, without any unnecessary expenses or time spent.
This isn't a specific problem in a specific location, but an overwhelming feeling that you can since when you walk into some houses.
If the first thing you see when you walk into a house has a giant slide, Toys all around the floor, and children's artwork duct taped to the walls themselves, you get a sense that the adults have kind of stopped trying.
Don't get me wrong, we have a very large ramp and car set up in one of our hallways, so I'm not saying don't by fun things for your kids. I am saying that the things our kids have should not overwhelm the fact that adults live in your home as well.
(If you ever try to find an agent in an attempt to sell your house, this is one of the first things they're going to mention as you go into the showing process.)
Try to find creative ways to make things fun for your kids, without surrendering the overall adult appeal of your home. It might seem counterproductive if you're drowning and diapers and homework assignments, but it will actually benefit your psychological state of well-being.
Founder | Contributor
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
Stay Sane Mom gives support to the over-worked, under-slept, marker-stained, soul-hungry moms of the world, so they can be more than just "mom".
You just want to keep the house clean, have a happy marriage, raise functional kids, and still have a little left in the tank to be a real person as well.
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