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A friend's house is filthy, WWYD? Updated

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
I wasn't sure where to put this, so feel free to move if its in the wrong place smile.gif

I visited a friend a few weeks ago, and can't stop thinking about the state of her home...and can't figure out what to do or how to help her. She has 2 kids, a 3 year old and a 5 month old. This was also not a surprise visit, we planned to have a play date with 5 days notice. Basically, in the very short time I was there I saw:

A crazy amount of clutter. There are some rooms you can't walk into and there are toys literally covering the floor, as well as other random household things.

Piles of dirty dishes, garbage overflowing.

Cat litter everywhere. On the stairs, in every room, on the counter.

Cat hair everywhere.

Piles of dirty clothes in the living room. Now she is in the process of going through and getting rid of clothes so I also wasn't super alarmed about this.

Dirty floors and counters, for sure hadn't been cleaned or scrubbed in a while.

The thing I was most concerned about though: their bathroom. The toilet had feces all over the back of the lid and the seat. There is a potty on the floor and it was full of stains, looking like it was just dumped and not washed. Litter box is in the bathroom and not cleaned, it had definitely been a while. The tub had a layer of brown grime in it. There was dust everywhere, covering the floor and register.

Some things this friend has told me:

She had only bathed her baby 3 times by the time she was 10 weeks old, not sure if she does it more often now.

She told me up front that the bathroom hadn't been cleaned in a while.

She stays in her bed most of the day with her baby.

She doesn't have time to shower most days.

WWYD? I don't live close enough to go over and clean, and I can't afford to hire a cleaning service. I have been there a few other times and while it has always been very cluttered and somewhat dirty, never quite this bad. Any suggestions? I am worried about the 3 year old, and the baby who will soon be crawling...
Edited by kristah1000 - 3/19/13 at 5:10am
post #2 of 65
Is this a new friend? Tell her the home is not okay. Ask how you can help. Maybe she will respond to that. If not, can you talk to her spouse? She needs help and fast. No child should be subject to that amount of filth at any age. Not when we have running water and soap handy. My grandma, who grew up at a poverty level always preached that it didn't take money to have a clean home.

And really, it might not be out of line to CPS if she is unwilling to clean up for her children.
post #3 of 65
Is your friend depressed, do you think? I would speak with her sincerely and try to brainstorm together what to do. She needs to know someone cares about her and the situation.
post #4 of 65
You've described my house except a lot more intense. I have piles of clean laundry all over the sofa, the bathroom isn't in great shape (but useable and sanitary by most standards) and the toys are everywhere. I'm about halfway through a major declutter downstairs in an effort not to end up with the house you describe. I'm expecting baby #2 in July and DH and my mon both were off work for a week at the same time to help me get as far as I did. I'm not trying to make excuses for your friend but she sounds like where I would be in a year if I didn't get the help to make a real change in the way I keep the house. Does your friend express dismay at the state of her home? I must admit, I've had a friend or two over when my house was in no shape to host anyone but I did my best to pick up the living room and hoped their toddler wouldn't venture much further during the visit. I always apologized about the state of the house but it was overrun with clutter and it was nearly impossible to do a thorough clean and keep it tidy with my 2 year old hanging off my leg. I guess what I'm saying is that there are two possibilities here: a) she feels bad about the house and would love an opportunity to change it or b) she's indefferent to it/has given up all hope of change. If the former then she'd probably appreciate you coming over to watch the kids so she could get some decluttering/cleaning done (or find another way you could help her find this kind of support). If the latter then any mention of the topic would likely feel like an attack on her as a mother. You know her better. Do you have any mutual friends or can you approach her loved ones to ask what they think is her opinion on the subject? I think how you move forward has a lot to do with how close your friendship is and how open she is to help. I wish I had more advice. I just wanted to say that some of us have an issue with being overwhelmed and aren't happy with the state of things but need some real tangible support (and whole lot of internal motivation) to make a big change. All hope is not lost. I went from a notorious, dirty dishes everywhere mom to never leaving anything in the sink dirty except the rare overnight soaking. I had to let go of a LOT of items and it was a LOT of hard work where I had my one child occupied by a caregiver for a week straight. I can't imagine doing it with two small kids and no substantial outside help. Try to figure out where she stands and if she's motivated, find some way to line up some real, elbow grease type help for her - whether it's childcare or cleaning. Good luck. She's lucky to have a caring friend like you smile.gif
post #5 of 65

Maybe she has postpartum depression?

 

I think the bathroom is what puts it over the line for me, although the cat litter everywhere is pretty gross, too. 

 

I might open a dialogue around postpartum depression and getting enough omega 3s and how it's so hard to be motivated when you're depressed, etc. Does she have a partner?

post #6 of 65
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick replies smile.gif

I have known her for a while, we worked together a few years ago and have kept in contact, mostly via phone because we don't live in the same city. Depression I think might be an issue. I know she had PPD with her first and was on meds, not sure if she is still on them or not. (The first time she was diagnosed I was the one to call her Dr because she told me over the phone she wanted to shake her baby greensad.gif. She still doesn't know I was the one who made the call to her Dr.)

I know that some of the things on my list really aren't a big deal. I am also not perfect with the dishes and you would probably find laundry on my floor too if you came at the right time smile.gif. It was more the combination of everything. I also know her DH does nothing around the house, and she doesn't have many other friends. She doesn't have a ton of support from anyone (and kind of latches on to me, calls every day for at least an hour which is another issue altogether). I am afraid to call CPS because I don't want her kids to be taken, she is a good person and loves her kids to pieces. It would devastate her. PPD might be an issue again, but do I call her Dr this time? There is no threat to harm her kids, but is that something you would call a dr for?

I would love to go over and watch her kids, however I have 2 and honestly don't think it's a safe place for them to be....my DS is crawling and would be into everything. Plus I live over an hour away from her, so not really practical for a play date....unless I came and took all the kids outside. Might be a possibility to consider.

I know she was embarrassed about the bathroom, and I don't think is happy about the house but can't seem to find time to do any cleaning. I personally think her DH needs to either clean himself or take the kids so she can but he doesn't seem to care about the mess. He has a man cave type room to himself that is equally as bad and doesn't seem to mind.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that they have mice, and couldn't afford to call professionals so were trying to get rid of them with traps...I don't know how that is going, she hasn't mentioned. I know I need to talk to her about this, but is is so not an easy conversation to have. Has anyone done this with a friend? How did you start the conversation? I want her to know that I think she is a good mom, but also that her house is unsafe, at least in my opinion.
post #7 of 65

I had two small kids once upon a time. Business at home and  full university load. My house never looked that way.

 

Depressed or not, this is not acceptable. You friend can hire a cleaning service and have them clean, or, perhaps a cheaper option, hire a mother's helped to be with kids while she and husband clean on the week end.

 

 You are asking about your friend on MDC< but some of her other friends or relative would just call CPS. She is endangering the lived of her kids, pets and entire family with this filth and hoarding.

post #8 of 65

She sounds overwhelmed and depressed.

 

I think I would call CPS. Its hard to know which way it will go, but it might be a wake-up call to the husband, and to her, that help is needed. Our neighbors had CPS called on them (for a reason unrelated to cleanliness of the house) and when the CPS worker saw the condition of the house, she said gave them 30 days to clean it up. Which they did. CPS also recommended (well, insisted) that the mom receive care for her depression. The outcome is that the house is cleaner, mom is getting treatment for depression, and living in a clean house is making everyone feel better. They are less isolated now that they feel they can have guests over without being embarrassed about it, which is also helping with the depression.

 

I know people have horror stories about CPS but in the few instances I have seen, its been really positive, and the families have liked their CPS workers, and were kind of relieved to have a plan to make things better.

post #9 of 65
I would never call CPS on someone for having a dirty home. We've all been there (maybe without the feces) and I've never seen CPS help in cases like this, just make things worse.
post #10 of 65
I'm a foster parent and also worked with at-risk families for years. I would talk with her about my concerns. Focus on the parts that are truly hazardous to her family. I would strongly encourage her to start seeing a therapist and get help with either the house or child care so she can address the most pressing issues. If that doesn't seem to work, I would let her know that I was thinking about calling social services. I would encourage HER to be the one to call and ask for help instead of you doing it. We did that with a lot of families and it shows that she's being proactive in wanting to improve their lives.
post #11 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Escaping View Post

I would never call CPS on someone for having a dirty home. We've all been there (maybe without the feces) and I've never seen CPS help in cases like this, just make things worse.

I have. Many, many, times.
post #12 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Escaping View Post

I would never call CPS on someone for having a dirty home. We've all been there (maybe without the feces) and I've never seen CPS help in cases like this, just make things worse.

No, we haven't all been there.

I attended college with a newborn and part time job and my house was never filthy.

All feces must be dealt with in the right way or its a health concern to anyone who enters the home.

Rodents in the house can spread even more filth and disease. Mice have no bladder, they pee on everything they walk on. To subject children to that unnecessarily is beyond gross and negligent.

CPS will help these kids. They deserve better!
post #13 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post


No, we haven't all been there.

I attended college with a newborn and part time job and my house was never filthy.

All feces must be dealt with in the right way or its a health concern to anyone who enters the home.

Rodents in the house can spread even more filth and disease. Mice have no bladder, they pee on everything they walk on. To subject children to that unnecessarily is beyond gross and negligent.

CPS will help these kids. They deserve better!

 

Last I checked, college, a part time job and a newborn didn't run around pooping and shedding in your home wink1.gif

 

This lady has a potty training 3 year old, a 5 month old and pets. Sounds to me like she's overwhelmed, maybe she hasn't slept in 5 months (or more) and cleaning is the least of her worries. She doesn't need a threat from CPS, she needs a maid, or at least a helpful friend or family member. If someone is a cable guy just passing through a random home and sees something like this, I can understand calling some kind of authority if one is really concerned, but to call on a friend without any sort of discussion or offer of support, I'd find a little offensive... Especially if the friend who called was another mom. (Remember, the question was "what would you do?" This is my answer smile.gif). I'd start maybe with speaking with her partner. Tell them these aren't acceptable living conditions for children or pets and if they don't start taking care of it, THEN a call might be warranted. 

 

CPS isn't going to come in and do anything EXTRA, that a friend couldn't do. They're not going to send a maid or help with cleaning up. If they see a problem, which it sounds like there is, they'll just remove the children until the mess is cleaned up. I can't imagine having her 5 month old removed from her care is going to improve her morale and help her clean her house. If someone took my 5 month old, I wouldn't grab a vacuum, I'd just go insane. Not productive, but that's what would happen. 

 

...and mice DO have bladders, they're actually very clean animals (unless they're in someone's home, I agree that's gross). We used to have mice in our cottage when we closed it up for the winter and when we came back you could see they're very organized little critters if left undisturbed for half the year. We installed ultrasonic rodent repellers and that solved the problem. They just need to be placed properly.  

 

So "what would you do?":

-Speak with her partner, ask if there is any depression going on or if she's just overwhelmed. 

-Contact other close family members of hers like parents or siblings, maybe they can help clean up or throw together some money for someone to come in once a week.

-Offer to watch her kids and/or pets so she has some quiet time to clean up her house or at least take care of health & safety issues.

-Find some local PPD resources which are really helpful for moms even if they don't have PPD. OP, I see you're in Canada, I'm not sure what province but Ontario has several programs which are really helpful and not at all judgmental. 

-If nothing else works and you really feel the kids are in imminent danger, then I'd think about calling CPS.  

post #14 of 65
I agree with Escaping. That's a sound plan. Giving your friend a safe place for her children to be while she focuses on cleaning could go a looong way. And talking with her partner is a great idea. Some men do help out when they are being watched by someone outside the home. Maybe if your husband talks to him, it would be even better. Men speak to men differently than a women do.
post #15 of 65
Honestly, a maid service is not gonna help this woman. Her home is probably too far gone for most house cleaning services. They'll want extra up front just to be able to make paths and clean up extra hard to get down to a regular routine of cleaning. A friend of mine owns a house cleaning service and shes very wary of taking these situations on because there's no upkeep by the homeowner between weekly visits by her employees.

And really, heath of children vs. offending a friend? Children should win out every time.

Yes, talk to your friend candidly about her unacceptable living conditions but be prepared to call the authorities! This kind of filth usually indicates mental illness.







http://ratbehavior.org/WhyDoRatsPee.htm
post #16 of 65
Thread Starter 
I talked to her again last night, and the subject of cleaning was brought up. I casually mentioned that having 2 young kids I find it hard to keep my house clean, and actually cleaned while I talked to her (I suggested that she do the same, since we talk most days for quite a while, why not kill 2 birds with one stone? But she told me it is her time to relax). She talked about going through each room and purging some of their stuff. She was in the process of cleaning out one of the rooms but kept getting interrupted though by the baby, and eventually gave up. I think right now she is so focused on purging their things that she is neglecting the day to day stuff that needs to be done. I think it's way too big for her to handle on her own. I asked her if her husband would help and she said no, that he doesn't even clean the litter box (apparently not even while she was pregnant).

I am not sure that talking to him would help, he seems to be very much of the mindset that it is the woman's "job" to keep the house clean. She mentioned that it had been several weeks since she had cleaned her breast pump and parts and the other day she told me she finally was able to get some bottles washed, that they had been piling up. I may try to contact her mother, she might be able to help pay for a cleaner.

As for the kiddos her 3 year old is in day care full time (she is on mat leave for the year but they opted to keep him in day care because she didn't think she could handle both of them, probably the best thing right now). I can offer to take her baby, but like I mentioned I don't want to take my kids to her house, there is literally no where to play that is clean. It might be best to wait a few weeks for when it gets a bit warmer, then I can take them for a walk outside.

I will look into some programs for PPD, and suggest them to her if I find anything. I want to at least try before I report anything, I feel like she wants to change but it's just too huge of a mess. I think I am going to suggest that she stop purging and take a day to clean the bathroom, it's honestly keeping me up and night it was so awful...I think it needs to be more of a priority than the purging.
post #17 of 65

I know this situation needs to be remedied but I really feel for her.  I had my kids close together, dealt with a lot of PPD and an abusive husband (now Ex) and there were definitely times when my home was just like this (except for the feces).  It is hard when things pile up and you just start to feel depressed and hopeless about it.  It definitely sounds like she doesn't know what to do and needs some help.  Would she allow a few people (friends or family) to come over on a weekend with some dumpsters and just help her to power clean/purge?!

post #18 of 65

You're a good friend for trying do what you can to help first. The conditions sound pretty bad but I can empathize with the poor mom.  My house is nowhere near what it was before I went on mat leave. My husband is also of the opinion that "domestic tasks are a woman's job" but he fails to take into consideration that my job used to pay for the upkeep of the house, which is way too big for one person to take care of (in addition to a new baby). I've had to cut out all my spending because I'm now living off a tiny fraction of what I used to earn.

Would she be open to rehoming the cat? Maybe you could help by sourcing someone looking for a cat. 

post #19 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

 I would let her know that I was thinking about calling social services. I would encourage HER to be the one to call and ask for help instead of you doing it. We did that with a lot of families and it shows that she's being proactive in wanting to improve their lives.

 

That is what happened with the family across the street. I called CPS with the mom sitting next to me, with the mom's agreement. She didn't want to make the call herself.

 

They assigned a "community navigator" to the family, who meets with them once a week. The mom also calls the cps community navigator for support and guidance whenever she wants to. It has worked out to be a blessing for the family. There are things they have to do, like keep the house clean, and the community navigator assisted in finding other homes for the pets, with the plan that the pets can come back when the mom feels like she's ready to handle taking care of them.

 

It is a scary process. Once you invite CPS in, you can't uninvite them, and they will insist that you make changes. There's no going back. But the changes have been good, and the workers have been supportive and understanding. Plus the neighbor children (mine included) can now play over there. Before CPS got involved, I only allowed their children to play here, and would not allow DD to go over there.

 

There's usually more going on in these situations than a parent who is too overwhelmed to find time to clean. It would be good for the family to have someone who can help them figure out what else is going on and come up with a plan for dealing with it. If you have the time to do it, I agree that it would be better to have it come from a friend than from CPS. But something needs to change. If she wasn't asking for help changing on some level, she probably wouldn't have allowed you to come visit in the first place.

post #20 of 65

We have not all been there. I always have two cats . At some point it was two cats, two kids under 3., college, job and a husband with a busy job, I got various help when needed. My mom died I felt super depressed, but you know, spending a day in bed  and  watching your family swallowed by filth helps no one.

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