“You don’t know how much you need something until it’s gone”, they say. And quite frankly, the same applies to humans. We all know how much we’ll miss our spouse when they’re gone… but we rarely ever think about how much we’ll miss not doing every single household chore again.
If you’ve never had to clean out the shower drain, check the smoke detector or fix the broken dishwasher because those were your spouse’s jobs? Then this guide is for you.
Adjusting to life without your partner can be hard. There! We said it! But, we’re going to teach you the ins and outs of those odd jobs you never had to think about before they were gone. We want you to feel equipped to deal with all the hurdles your home will no doubt throw at you over the coming days, months and years.
1. Check your smoke alarm.
This isn’t as annoying as it sounds, we promise. The last thing you need right now is another traumatic event, right? So making sure your smoke alarm battery is working is essential – it can genuinely save your life.
Grab a stool or a small ladder, and hop up onto it. Then press the ‘test’ button on your alarm (they all look a little different, so a quick Google or check of the user manual will show you what this looks like if you can’t find it). If the ‘test’ alarm sound is loud enough that you’ll hear it if you’re asleep or in another room, then you’re all good. But if it isn’t loud enough (or it doesn’t make a sound at all), then it’s time to replace the battery.
2. Find out which day is garbage day, and which day is recycling day.
If you know when to put your bins out – well, good on you! If you don’t, it’s certainly worth finding out. There’s nothing worse than hosting friends and family for a big gathering, filling up your bins as a result, and then missing the garbage truck the next day because you didn’t know when it was doing the rounds.
You can find out which day the garbage truck comes by doing a quick search on your local council’s website, or by asking a friendly neighbour. Then make sure you set a reminder each week so you don’t forget to wheel your bins out!
3. Regularly check for leaks around the house.
Sometimes you only know that something is leaking because it starts to smell. This can be the case for toilets, washing machines, sinks, baths, showers and dishwashers. However, this pretty gross smell is easy to avoid – simply do a quick walk around the house each month to make sure everything is in working order and isn’t surrounded by a pool of water. Make sure you have the contact details of your preferred plumber handy, so you can give them a buzz if something doesn’t seem right.
Which brings us to our next tip…
4. Create a list of important contact details and service providers.
If you weren’t usually the one to call the plumber, or the electrician, or the washing machine maintenance guy, then it might be worth setting some time aside to create a list of important household maintenance contacts. This can then become your go-to guide when something goes wrong, and minimises the stress of trying to find the phone number on your spouse’s phone, or having to call friends and family to heed their advice.
5. Learn how to properly clean the shower and remove mould.
Yes, this is a gross one, we know. But it’s absolutely essential. If you have a regular cleaner visiting your house and cleaning your bathroom from top-to-bottom, then you’re a lucky duck. But if you don’t have that luxury and have never thought about the fact that your bathroom has remained mould-free for years, then chances are your partner was taking care of all-things mould around the house.
Here are some cleaning products and combinations we’d recommend trying (and don’t worry, you’ll likely already have some of these at home):
Dilute some vinegar and allow it to soak into a microfibre cloth. Then simply wipe the mould off your shower floor!
If vinegar isn’t strong enough to remove the mould, then give diluted bleach a go! This will generally work if vinegar didn’t. It can be a good idea to wear rubber gloves when dealing with bleach so as not to irritate the skin on your hands.
Call an expert
You know that important contact list you created back in step 4? Take a look to see if you added your go-to mould guy, and give them a buzz.
It’s important to remove mould as soon as you see it so that it doesn’t grow further or cause hard-to-remove damage. Mould can also make you feel unwell, so dealing with it quickly and working to prevent it is our best recommendation.
Living in a widow's house is different to how you lived as part of a couple, and every household is different. While you might need to learn how to complete all of the above tasks from scratch, others might have an entirely different range of tasks they need to learn more about. If you aren’t sure where to start or which experts to call for help, your best bet would be to call a family member or friend and seek some advice (or helpful contacts) from them. Remember, your loved ones will always have your back, and are likely ready to lend a helping hand whenever you need it.
If you find yourself recently widowed, it's worthwhile updating your estate plan. You can start by writing or updating your legal Will wil Willed. Start today at willed.com.au.