Easing the Transition to Adulthood

This morning, I loved reading this hilarious, practical list on Apartment Therapy about "8 Things that Would Have Made Adulthood Easier."
My favorite was "There's More Than Basic Chores: It wasn't until I had been married and moved 4 or 5 times that I really sat down and made a list of all the little things that, although don't need to be done everyday, do need to be done. Cleaning vents, the tops of ceiling fan blades, wiping down baseboards and mouldings. If I would have had a checklist from the start, these little things all make a house feel much more fresh and help motivate and inspire your cleaning routine."

Who would think about the air conditioner filter, the space above kitchen cabinets, the back of the hall closet or the area behind the recycling bins under the sink? I never do. Unless I'm setting something up there, having trouble cooling a room, or find something sticky. I need to be better about the once-a-month deep clean.

I've only lived in three apartments since college, twice with roommates and now with my husband. But here is what I would add to that list:

9. Set ground rules. If you live with roommates, set ground rules. Who pays the bills and when? How often do you clean, how how do you divvy up chores? I had one roommate who was a fanatic about cleaning the bathroom and another who you could sweep around without her doing more than lift her feet for you to clean beneath. What is the procedure for coming in the door—does everybody take off their shoes? Is there a place to drop your stuff or do you take it directly to the bedroom? Do you do the dishes as you use them or wait until you can't find a clean cup? These are seemlingly-small things that may end up making or breaking your relationships. So write it down and agree to reevaluate after a couple months.

If you live alone (which I've never done), set rules for yourself. It's much easier to maintain the cleanliness and the upkeep of your apartment if you stay consistent. Clean on a regular basis, even if you're not expecting out of town visitors. I used to be able to gauge how long it had been since my family came to town by how much dust was on our bookshelves. Your furniture will wear better, your appliances will last longer, and your home will be a place of refuge if you keep everything consistently in order.

10. Take out the trash before you leave. There is nothing worse than coming home after a weekend away to the smell of smell hot trash in the kitchen. It sucks all the fresh air you've absorbed right out of your lungs.

11. Purge the fridge. This one shouldn't be that hard, but it's easy to forget that the ketchup is getting old (no, it doesn't last forever). I'm pretty compulsive about not eating old produce, probably to the point of wastefulness. I won't eat lettuce once some of the edges have started to wilt. But it's harder to tell with olives or pickles. Once a month, I try to go through all the salad dressings, condiments, back corners and really scrub the entire thing out.

12. Read and keep the instructions. This one was in the comments several times, but it's a valuable tip. We have a storage box with instructions, cords, installation discs, etc. Most of the time, we don't need them but when something breaks or stops working or falls apart, it's invaluable.

13. There is no shame in inexpensive or ordinary. When we got married, we thought our days of Ikea furniture were over. We were wrong. In an apartment, there are too many spaces that need to be fully utilized, and Ikea has the best selection of inexpensive, just-the-right-size pieces. Much of our other, non-storage furniture are pieces my mother and I found over the years at antique stores, consignment shops and flea markets. But that's just the thing—it takes time and patience to find the right pieces that reflect your style. Even the perfect reclaimed project or Ikea hack takes time. So don't beat yourself up if you have to move in quickly and end up assembling some Ikea solutions. Someday, you will find the perfect china hutch and be able to replace the Besta unit. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

"6. You Get What You Pay For: It doesn't matter if it's electronics or cookware, 9 times out of 10, you get what you pay for. Although there's something to be said for a little diy or repurposing, when it comes to major purchases, research, read reviews, and buy the best you can when you can."

We followed this rule with our few major purchases. For the office, we wanted a pull-out sofa that fit a specific space and had the most comfortable bed possible. We wanted something we wouldn't be embarrassed to have our parents sleep on, if necessary. I had childhood memories of the metal frame, thin mattress and squeaky springs of my parents' 1980s pullout. After doing some research and trying out beds in several stores, we settled on the Patterson sofa by American Leather. Their Comfort Sleepers have some of the best mattresses out there and come with an optional Tempurpedic upgrade. It's all pretty boring, but the bottom line is that we invested in one and are pretty pleased. My grandmother stayed on it for 3 days in July and was very complimentary. And you can bet she would tell us if it was uncomfortable! 

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