I’m currently housesitting for my cousin whilst she’s away in Mexico (I’m not jealous at all…) and I think I was completely unprepared for what I was about to do for almost 2 weeks! She lives in a three-bedroom house with a lemon Basset Hound who is less than a year old, so became dog Mum straight away!
There are a few basic things you’ll need to think about when you’re housesitting, but the main thing is to enjoy!
Just like you would for your holidays, make sure you pack everything you’re going to need. Make sure you have enough clothes to last (including underwear!!) but ask if you can use the washing machine while you’re there. You might spill food down your favourite jeans so you’ll need to be able to wash it.
Lay out the clothes you want to take, and match them up into outfits. Doing this means that you won’t get there and realise that you’re missing a pair of socks! It also means that you know that you’re packing outfits that actually work instead of random tops that you haven’t worn in months.
If you have to do your own food shopping, have a look to see what supermarkets are close by. If you don’t drive, find one that’s on a bus route or is close enough that it doesn’t cost a fortune in a taxi.
Make a list so you know what you need and don’t get home to realise you’ve forgotten the milk!
Another great thing to do is plan your meals. I have a history of eating disorders so I won’t eat if no one cooks for me, or I’ll just eat junk food.
It’s best to think of cheap meals that you can prep and freeze like spaghetti bolognese and curry, or meals that use the same base products. For example, you can get a couple of chicken breasts and make a curry, pasta, stirfry… The possibilities are endless with chicken!
Like I said, I probably won’t eat if it’s not cooked for me, but I’ve been trying to make an effort with my meals.
If you work from home, make sure you stick to your normal mealtimes, don’t let the time get away from you. I’m really guilty of this. I’ll have breakfast and get on with whatever I’m doing and when I look at the clock, it’s 3 pm and I’ve missed lunch. Set an alarm so you don’t forget to eat.
In the same thread, don’t just eat takeaway because it’s easier than cooking!
On my first night, I ordered a Chinese because I hadn’t had the chance to go food shopping. I know that I’d order takeaway every night if I could afford it, but it makes me feel sluggish and bloated. I had my appendix and gallbladder removed when I was younger so I can’t eat a lot of grease and fat. Takeaway has a lot of these so I have to be careful of what I’m eating.
I hate doing housework, but when I housesit for someone, I turn into Kim and Aggy!
I like to start with the kitchen; wash everything up, wipe the counters, vacuum then mop the floor. Make your way through the house (or just the living areas if you’re feeling a bit lazy!) and give everything a quick wash. It doesn’t need to be a deep clean, but a quick wash will help keep things clean.
Doing this regularly helps keep on top of it. You know the daunting feeling you get when you see a mountain of washing up, so it’s easier to do a little bit regularly than to have to do a huge clean when you leave.
Are you going to be looking after pets? Make sure you know what pets they are BEFORE you go and see them!
I arrived at my cousin’s to meet a basset hound puppy who bit me. He was excited and wanted love so he climbed onto my lap (and my laptop!) and started nibbling me everywhere. I’m not one to allow biting, and I will try and train any animal that I look after.
If the people you are housesitting for are training their pets a certain way (like sitting at the curb when going for walks) then make sure you keep up with it so the dog has consistency.
If they have a walking or feeding schedule, write it down and stick it to the fridge so you can check it whenever you grab a cuppa.
Having a list of general instructions is ALWAYS a good idea.
Ask them for a general schedule of what happens when. When do the bins go out (and where should you put them?) When do you feed the pets? Do different pets have different food?
Having it all written down means that you can check back when you start to doubt yourself.
You can also ask them for instruction on how to use the appliances, like washing machine and dishwasher. There’s nothing more annoying that needing to use the dishwasher but not being able to work it out. You’ll just have to wash everything by hand (which is never fun!)
If like me, you’d be happy to spend all your time with just the dog, you need some plans to make sure you don’t get caught in a rut of solitude.
Make sure you carry on with your normal activities (I coach cheerleading on a Wednesday evening) and maybe even see what’s going on around you. Try and organise your friends or family to come round for dinner (or you can go over to theirs), or maybe even a movie night! If the house you’re looking after has a big tv, then get some people over and watch a film with some popcorn! A lot of the newer Virgin Media boxes have Netflix as standard so you have a huge selection at your fingertips!
Budget Your Money
This one is tough because I tend to get a holiday mentality if I’m in a home that isn’t my own. I go to the shop and buy bottles of Diet Coke instead of drinking squash like I normally would, getting takeaway a few times a week, buying unnecessary stuff like new shampoo and bubble bath.
If you’re buying food, don’t buy stuff that you wouldn’t normally buy. If you need to buy household stuff, you don’t need to buy branded things. Own brand fabric freshener is exactly the same as Febreeze! Don’t feel pressured to buy the expensive stuff just because it’s not your house.
The house won’t fall apart if you leave it for the day! Carry on with your normal life and try not to worry. It’s a house, it’ll be fine!