Need help getting dh to chill about cleaning - Mothering Forums
The Mindful Home > Need help getting dh to chill about cleaning
SashaBreeze's Avatar SashaBreeze 05:56 PM 06-23-2010
I have had a really hard time with illness/fatigue with this pregnancy and now that we are expecting twins I dont see things getting any easier any time soon. I have had to re-align my priorities when it comes to housekeeping. As long as the dishes and laundry are washed and the floors have been swept at least once that day then I am done. This of course has left little piles of clutter all over the place. Nothing gross, just kid/life stuff.
My dh is not dealing well with this. Once he realized I really really did not care and was not going to do more he now cleans cleans cleans on his days off. It is driving all of us crazy. I offered as a half way solutions to go through the house with him and put in storage or ditch anything that is not completely necessary. As an example I have a collection of several thousand books (we homeschool) and since we moved I dont really have a room for them anymore so we have bookshelves all over the place in the way that the little ones get into. So I went through and boxed them up for storage with the exception of the ones I knew we need so I am at least temporarily proud of my commitment to help him stress less about it.
We are still in the process of getting the house down to the basics but he is still having a really hard time. He still expects the floor swept after every meal, the toys put up on regular intervals throughout the day so on and so forth.
To his credit he is not really pushing me to do these things but he drives us all insane with his super deep cleaning every day he is off work and he is making himself miserable in the process.
So how do I get my border line OCD husband to chill and just let it be in this phase of our life?
Also do you think the major purging of our "things" will help at all or is it just setting him up with false hope?

Alyantavid's Avatar Alyantavid 07:10 PM 06-23-2010
I'm with your dh on the ocd thing. It drives me batty that when I leave the house everything is put away and clean. Then I come home and it's a disaster, so I spend more time recleaning. I know my dh hates that I'm grumpy while I clean, but I can't get him to understand how much help it is to me when he and the kids pick up after themselves.

Yes, purging will help. Is there any reason your kids can't help out during the day? Mine are 4 and 8 and they do pick up regularly throughout the day and can help with dishes and laundry and just general upkeep.

I think my house cleaning tendencies are control issues so it may be that he feels like the house needs to be under control right now especially with twins coming.
prothyraia's Avatar prothyraia 07:11 PM 06-23-2010
Not much to add, just that purging will be a huge help.
Jaesun's Dad's Avatar Jaesun's Dad 07:28 PM 06-23-2010
Is he cleaning or making a show of it? If he's just cleaning why is it driving you nuts? When my partner was pregnant I actually heard "I'm sick of you doing all the laundry!" ... if he isn't making an issue of it but just going about cleaning maybe consider letting him go at it.
tpase's Avatar tpase 08:39 PM 06-23-2010
I hear you, Sashabreeze! First of all - you are just amazing to even have the band-width to do the laundry and dishes and sweep the floor once with all those kids running around - outside and inside you! I understand what you are going through with your husband driving you crazy with his drives me up the wall when my husband starts to obsessively clean and clean and clean any chance he gets - bc I know its his cry for help! As in, HELP! I wouldn't be cleaning if you had kept it clean in the first place. To me, the situation is torture - I feel badly for him, I feel angry with myself for causing him this grief, I get pissed off that I am not able to be on top of things, I feel badly for myself bc it is impossible to raise kids the way i do and still be able to keep the house perfect, I feel angry that we are in this helpless crazy situation where cleaning has suddenly taken precedence over cherishing our time together.
My husband's ocd cleaning becomes a problem whenever he is stressed and need to regain a previous poster insightfully pointed out. It is important to de-clutter one's surroundings, but it is quite another to obsess over cleaning as life is passing you by. I was raised in an impossibly perfect home - and what I remember is that my sister and I, as kids, yearned for my mother to be more relaxed about the cooking, and cleaning, and sewing, and mending and making our lives perfect - just so we could spend more time just being lazy and happy and stress-free. On my more clear-thinking days, I say, balls to cleaning - being with my kids is more important. Your husband needs to relax and instead of sending you on an unwitting guilt trip, perhaps sit down have a glass of wine and come up with ways to keep the house neat and de-cluttered in record breaking time so you are not spending more than 15-20 percent of your lives cleaning and schlepping. I know I am going to break my dear husband's strange ocd....lead him towards a healthier, running, perhaps?
Katie T's Avatar Katie T 11:55 AM 06-24-2010
I would find out why he was cleaning before you let it offend you. My guess is he is either doing it so he feels like he has some control over life with twins coming or he does it to relax. Or maybe he thinks he is being helpful.

I clean because it is my way to de-stress. Seeing a dirty house makes my blood pressure go up I swear. I don't keep my house clean all day long though. You can hardly walk through my dining room right now because they kids have all their toys out and are playing nicely together. But I do clean up after meals as soon as we are finished. While the kids are playing outside I hang laundry on the line and later fold it when taking it off the line. There things only take moments but need to be done. I get to spend most of my day with my children. Then when everyone is asleep, including my dh I clean the entire house. Thing is it takes 30 minutes to a hour because it is done everyday.

So I have the best of both worlds, time with my family which is most important of course and a clean stress free house.
SashaBreeze's Avatar SashaBreeze 04:49 PM 06-24-2010
Thank you all for your responses.
It is not so much that he has been offending me it is that he has been driving me crazy because we are all use to him hanging out with us when he is home from work and we just plain out miss him. He does an amazing job at cleaning and really gets the job done, but he is in a VERY bad mood the whole time he is doing it. Like dont dare talk to him while he is cleaning because it will end in at least one person with hurt feelings.
I sat down and had a long heart to heart with him and basically it is because he really can NOT unwind as long as things are not put up the way they should be or if he knows that under the couch or in the fridge are things lurking that need to be dealt with. It makes him batty and he just cant hang out with us until those things are taken care of.
The older kids do help out. We rotate dishes and they put away laundry once I am done folding. They are also responsible for their own rooms. Our oldest dd takes out the trash. We homeschool year around so I really dont want to ask anymore from them than that because I dont/wont cut into their school time like that.
Also to clarify about being ill during this pregnancy. I was vomiting a LOT. So almost 3 weeks ago I was vomiting yet again and my nose started bleeding. For about a week we had a huge scare because I was vomiting and coughing up blood several times a day and the hospital kept wanting to do x-rays of my lungs but I wouldn't let them because of the risk to my pregnancy and because everyone agreed my lungs sounded fine. I finally got a doctor to listen to me that it was NOT my lungs and we discovered that I had lightly tore my upper back throat from the violent vomiting. So every time I would cough or vomit it would tear those places in my throat back open. I am now on meds to stop the vomiting and happy to report no more blood. The medication however makes me very sleepy. We then of course found out we were having twins. So I really dont feel like I am being lazy here, I just had to make the decision to treat myself lightly and try to keep myself under low stress and try to keep our boys inside me for as long as possible. I worry about my husband though, because a stressed out husband is no fun or is not fair to him either. Besides the kids and I just plain out miss him.
I just wish I knew how to get him to believe this is just a season and that no this does not mean that I will always be like this.... maybe that would help him relax a little bit?
SashaBreeze's Avatar SashaBreeze 04:54 PM 06-24-2010
oh, I forgot to add that our tossing of the "stuff" is going very well.
I dont remember where I saw the link to the blog Walk Slowly, Live Wildly but WOW what an inspiration that blog has been, she is a true lady and reading her blog has really helped me get rid of things that I know we would have kept otherwise.
So far this looks like it may be a major help in getting dh to not worry so much, almost all the little piles of things are gone just by benefit of us getting rid of most of it.
Katie T's Avatar Katie T 01:48 AM 06-25-2010
I am so glad you had a heart to heart with your DH, I hope you continue to feel better and the meds keep working. Sounds like you are making great progress on getting rid of "stuff" which makes such a huge difference in being able to keep the house clean and organized!

Good news!
mamallama's Avatar mamallama 02:02 AM 06-25-2010
My apologies if this is off in the stratosphere...but can you hire someone to do the heaving cleaning for you? Temporarily?

It just might be worth the money.
dbsam's Avatar dbsam 02:21 AM 06-25-2010
OP, My husband sounds just like yours. Prior to having children we had twenty years of harmony because we were both like this. After having twins I've relaxed my standards out of necessity but he is having a difficult time. I've found I need to let him do his thing and not take offense. (Although sometimes he is irritated while cleaning then I sometimes get angry. It helps his mood if I pitch in.) There are some things I will never do as well as him, like clean bathrooms, so I do not get offended when he re-cleans a bathroom I just cleaned. Actually I rarely do a thorough bathroom cleaning since I know he will re-do it. I remind him periodically how quickly the children are growing and how much we miss by spending too much time cleaning, organizing, and maintaining the house.

Now that my children are older I've been trying to keep the house in order because it really stresses him out and makes him miserable when the house is messy/dirty/etc. Until my children turned two this was not possibleā€¦our house was a chaotic mess. I remember once we pulled into the driveway and he didn't get out of the car. He said he dreaded going into the house. It was messy but not horrible; but it was too much for him to deal with. (Sometimes I need to remind myself too when my OCD tendencies take over. Finding balance is really difficult. Nothing is ever clean enough and it is easy to lose the day trying to make things perfect.)

So I do not have answers but I know it helps us to periodically discuss the situation and remind ourselves to strive for balance.
happysmileylady's Avatar happysmileylady 03:35 AM 06-25-2010
I would like to suggest that your older two don't help out enough. I understand that you home school and you don't want to cut into school time, but I imagine they have more time than you think. Especially since it is summer. I have one 14 year old. Her chores are the dishes (every night, because she's the child old enough, my other is 1.5) her bedroom, her bathroom, trash, cat boxes, cat food and her own laundry. On top of this, she is doing soccer conditioning over the summer and taking summer school classes online, and works part time (average around 10 hours a week). And you know what, she still has time to veg in front of the tv, play with her baby sister, make me a pb&j when I am feeling like crap like today (27wks pg), and basically help out as a part of this family.

You mention that your older two put away the laundry after you fold it, I imagine they could actually fold it for you, if not actually DO laundry at least once or twice a week, with a little guidance. Or perhaps you could assign them the jobs that are your DH's worst "triggers"-the things that bug him the most when he gets home and then maybe he could compromise and relax his need for clean some also.

JMHO. It's of course worth all the pennies paid for it
SashaBreeze's Avatar SashaBreeze 09:48 PM 06-25-2010
Unfortunately hiring help even for a short time is not an option. But wow would that be great! Just to have someone come in and clean stuff like the stove/oven, tub and toilets would be awesome!

I think I may be going overboard with the purging.... I just cant seem to stop myself.

The goal now is that I want all of our possessions (minus furniture and large appliances) to be able to fit into our van. The way I am looking at each item is that, God forbid, our house burned what would we HAVE to re-buy or that we would miss forever if it was gone (deceased grandmothers guitar, baby pictures and so forth).

I have even reconciled with letting a HUGE portion of my books to go. DH has promised to buy me a kindle soooo a lot of my books I will just re get that way as we go (yes I am keeping a list).

Am I crazy to be so excited? The house has already transformed and every step just makes it look so much better.
philomom's Avatar philomom 09:52 PM 06-25-2010
I relax better when the house is picked up. I feel happier, less stressed and even more affectionate if I feel "on top" of the day's chores.

I hope you and hubby can come to some compromises. Oh, and make those kids help out more, too!
MrsH's Avatar MrsH 12:08 AM 06-29-2010
Our kids also do more in the way of chores than yours, though of course everyone's life is different so I'm sure that there are areas where they're doing less! We've pitched it as a thing that our family does so that we can all work together to make this a happy place. For example, around five a clock we do a quick pick-up before daddy gets home. It sounds cheesy but we turn some music on and together put all the toys away and generally straighten up (perhaps sweeping if needed, or wiping the table, loading the dishwasher, getting rid of the laundry on the couch or whatever needs doing). Our 8 and 4 year olds both are totally fine with it, and even the 14 month old will throw things into the boxes we point at. After that they can take out one toy at a time, and often they choose to read, color, or just hang out in the kitchen with me.

We also spend about an hour together on Saturday morning doing chores, and everyone helps with getting dinner on the table. Both of the older kids have one job for the week so they can really master it, and then they rotate on. The 8yo might have something like "get all the plates/silverware/napkins out" while the 4yo would only have one of those things as his job. Now that we do it every day, they're fine with it and it hardly takes up any extra time, just 1-2 trips from the kitchen.

Good luck!