You know the feeling all too well. You walk in the door of your beautiful pre-war apartment, ready to unwind…only to trip over sneakers in the hall. Or you find the kitchen you left spotless littered with more pots than you even knew you had. Like, really, you used the Crock Pot today?!
You’re definitely not alone. As a class A neat freak, I’ve learned quite a lot from my time living with messy roommates and now a significant other. It’s not easy, but here’s how to keep your sanity when living with a hot mess.
Don’t take it personally.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in my space-sharing is that bae is not actively trying to piss me off. For me, it comes so naturally to put things back where they belong, or at least somewhere that’s not the floor. It was hard for me to realize and accept that for some people, namely every person I’ve ever lived with, those things just don’t come as naturally. Try to be patient with them. Accept that they need to actively work at being neater and you’ll find yourself being a bit more patient.
Pick your battles wisely.
This time last year, I was an already-irritated preggo, and I found myself perpetually pissed off at my poor boyfriend. It felt like every place I looked there was something out of place, some mess left for me to clean up. One day I realized that I was literally always complaining to him about his messes. This did NOTHING but make us both grumpier and definitely did not solve the problem. So instead, decide what is really important and talk about that. For me, it was (and still is, hint, hint hubby) putting away clothes and helping with dishes. Make your list of pet peeves, cross out 75% of it, and that’s what you fight for.
Get a system going.
Once you know what chores you can’t bend on, you need to figure out how to get them to actually do them. Figure out when these things should be done. Are we washing dishes every night or as we use them? Is one of us always responsible for vacuuming the floors or will we take turns? Sit down and make a little cleaning schedule so you both know what to do, when. This is really useful for roommates because, let’s be honest, it’s much easier to forgive your boyfriend when you’re trying to get some later.
Work with them, not against them.
Trying to get my carefree bae to actually hang his clothes up is harder than trying to find Becky with the good hair. I was ready to go all Amanda Bynes crazy on him when I finally had a breakthrough. I just needed to give him options! A few over-the-door hooks and a storage ottoman later, I can come home to a tidy bedroom (or at least a fake one for company with a 10 minute heads-up). Figure out how to make it easy for your sloppy sweetie to make you happy. Maybe it’s easy storage options, or code words to help remind them what needs to be done without actually saying the words ‘dishes’.
Find your happy place.
Realistically, the likelihood that your hot mess will totally clean up their act is about the same as Blac Chyna making Kylie her maid-of-honor. They’re still going to be less than perfect. So, appreciate what they do change, and escape from what they don’t. Make yourself a happy place that you keep nice and neat, just the way you like it. For me, it’s our daughter’s nursery. He has no reason to make a mess in there and until she’s big enough to wreak her own havoc, I’m enjoying every last color-coded moment of it. If you’re roommates, this will probably be your own bedroom. Couples can be trickier, but it can be as simple as a closet that’s perfectly organized and smells of organic soy candles. Whatever works for you.
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid, or at least live through, one of the most common disagreements among cohabitating adults. If not, well, there’s always that beautiful fourth floor studio calling your name.