To those of you who have never lived on your own or are gearing up to move out and have some reservations, fear not! I’ve compiled a quick list of helpful advice to help combat the prospect of becoming overwhelmed.
(Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am in no way insisting that everyone must do these things to succeed. These are just some tips that have worked for me over the last few years.)
So, without further ado (and yes, it’s “ado” not “adieu.” I checked on my favorite grammar resource Grammar Girl!)…
Keep up on your chores so they don’t pile up.
Since you’re the only person who is around to keep your house/apartment from becoming a complete disaster, I highly recommend staying on top of things the best you can. The more you leave each week, the more you have to do next time. What I’m saying is…. Yes, you should probably be doing your laundry once every one or two weeks!
Pick up your apartment before you go to bed each night.
My mother taught me a great tip that she learned from my grandmother: before you go to bed, make a quick run through of your living areas and pick up or tidy things. Much like I mentioned above, doing this little by little makes the dreaded CLEANING DAY a little less stressful! It also gives you peace of mind if an unexpected guest stops over after work or school one day.
Don’t go grocery shopping after work (unless you absolutely have to).
From my experience in a relatively large city, grocery shopping around 5 or 6 p.m. on a weekday is an absolute disaster. Trust me: everyone else also had the bright idea to stop by the store on their way home to grab something for dinner. Obviously, this sometimes cannot be helped. However, on the days that it can, I highly suggest going at an “off” time. I’ve found this to be mid-day during the week, or even Saturday night has yielded some great results. Depending on where you are, you might find a better time that’s less busy. Please share in the comments below!
Group your errands together on one day.
The daunting task of weekend errands is enough to ruin any hopes of relaxation. However, I’ve found that if I strategically plan them out on one day, I can save the other day for relaxing or fun. How do you do this? Make your grocery or shopping list(s) before you leave and try to consolidate things as best you can. Believe it or not, grocery stores carry a lot of items you think you might have to go to a specialty store for!
Think ahead when making meals — Freeze what you can.
One of the great benefits of living alone is leftovers. At least it is for me! “Cooking for One” can get a little complicated, and I almost always end up over-cooking. Instead of throwing out the leftovers, I take them for my lunches or even freeze portions for later.
Some quick tips: If you buy a large amount of meat because it’s on sale, freeze single portions for later use. Soups and stews are also great to separate out and freeze for later. Bread is another item that freezes well. Whenever I run out, I just throw the frozen one in the refrigerator to defrost. It will be more than ready the next day for your sandwich. I even like to keep frozen vegetables on hand. They are easy to throw into last minute meals without the worry of fresh produce going to waste. Finally, my favorite pro-tip is freezing cupcakes! If you take one out and leave it on the counter for an hour or two, it will be defrosted enough to enjoy for dessert!
Spotify/Music/TV makes excellent background noise for when you’re doing chores.
This might be a “duh” tip, but I thought it warranted mentioning. Silence can be incredibly deafening and distracting when you live alone, believe it or not. Having something on in the background can make chores go much faster.
Musical inspiration when writing this post: Alessia Cara
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Sometimes your house/apartment is going to be trashed. Sometimes you’re going to have to resort to takeout because you didn’t have time to get groceries. Sometimes you’re going to want to cancel social plans because you’re too tired to go out. This is all OKAY. You’re not perfect, so please don’t expect yourself to be.
Accept the fact that your friends who have roommates or live with a partner will not understand the amount of work that actually goes into living alone.
The responsibilities and obligations of living alone are hard to understand unless you experience them first hand. My friends who live with their partners have someone to split the chores with. The people you know with roommates will most likely just blame the mess on someone else. You don’t have either of these options, and they probably won’t be very sympathetic about it. However, you have an advantage they don’t: when you go home, no one else can tell you what to do or make you feel guilty!
I hope this post is helpful to some of you. Just please remember this: do what’s right for you and what makes you happy.
What are your best practices for staying on top of things when living alone? Post them or your questions below!