How to cut down when family isn't into it *long* - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 09-08-2010, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
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I hope this is ok to post here. Please let me know if its not. I'm posting here because it does have to do with simplifying and organizing. I just have a family who may make it harder for me.

I'm sorry if this comes off as whiny too!

My family (mom and 2 sisters) moved in with me in December when I bought my house. For the longest time I envisioned a very clean, organized space. I don't have this.

Now that I'm expecting my first child I really feel like I need to get everything organized and back to what I wanted so that when my child is here, I'm in a much better state of mind. I want to cut down on the trash we put out to eliminate that expense, I want to be able to use my organized two car garage instead of having so many boxes in there that I can only fit in one. I want less junk and I want to put out less money.

I will admit that my family and I don't see things the same way. While my mom is fine hunting through all their boxes in the garage for something, I am not. I am not ok not finding things when I know I have them. I am not ok keeping things I don't need, wont use, don't want and I am really not into having a ton of baby things that I wont need. I like having very little.

My mother has a way of putting in her wants. I'm constantly stating that I want things done a certain way and its ignored by all of them. Small examples: it took forever before mom would stop putting a dish rack where I would ask her not to even after I would move it. Or I ask them not to give the dog snacks on my living room carpet or let her potty where people walk on my yard and they do it anyway. I am not home 12 hours a day so its almost as if its not even my house when it comes to certain things. I'm worried that when I do start changing everything, this attitude of their's will cause issues and even more so that once my child is born, she'll try to put in her wants there as well and my desires on how to raise my child will be ignored.

I start maternity leave at the very end of January and I don't plan to go back to work so far away and for so long during the day. How can I start putting in my rules, my desires and clear out all the extra stuff and just cut back when I'm the only one working towards it and when I'll have to do it from afar, on the weekends, at night with no real control over things during the days till I'm home for good?

I should mention that them moving out is not an option right now.

So, any ideas? Please let me know if you see anything that I can change in myself as well.

Thanks for reading this long semi-rant post.

Single mama by choice to sonbabyf.gif 2/2011.
I love showing my little sweetheart (now a busy preschooler!) the world!

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#2 of 9 Old 09-08-2010, 09:02 PM
 
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Gee that's a hard one....I have to admit I haven't got any real ideas, will have to think about it, but I wanted to answer so you know someone is listening!

The only idea that popped into my head is really a bit 'out there', and may sound totally crazy. I thought you could print out the post you wrote and 'accidentally' leave it lying around, so they read it and know exactly what is worrying you. That way you can say you had not wanted to confront them as you didn't want to hurt their feelings.

It sure is hard having to share your home with your mum and sisters...one that needs you all to be considerate of each other's needs. Although it may be a blessing for you when the baby arrives, having extra helping hands.

SAHM to three
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#3 of 9 Old 09-08-2010, 09:51 PM
 
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When you say that their moving out is not an option, do you mean that they can't afford to leave, or you can't afford to have them leave, or both? The answer, frankly, helps determine how much power you have.

But in any case, this is your place, and you should be able to set the rules. How comfortable are you about being firm about those rules? For example, would you be able to confidently go out to the garage, organize the stuff whether they like it or not, and present them with boxes of their stuff that they can either store in their bedrooms, or get rid of? Are you comfortable with _instantly_ rearranging the public spaces to reflect your order, rather than nervously asking them if they mind if you do so? Are you OK with throwing out expired food and trash without asking their permission?

One partial solution could be assigning territory, and allowing them to control their own territory, while not allowing them to have any input whatsoever into how you handle yours.

For example, if they really can't store all of their stuff in their rooms, and you feel that it's reasonable for them to store _some_ stuff in the garage, you could give each of them a cabinet with doors for their stuff (or half a cabinet, or a third of a cabinet), and anything that overflows that, gets put in their rooms. Similarly, you could give them each one kitchen cabinet shelf, half a refrigerator shelf, one bathroom drawer, that sort of thing.

If they seem to get along with each other's housekeeping styles better than they get along with yours, you could allow them to share spaces - they get one bathroom, while the other one is yours and the baby's; they get one full cabinet space, floor to ceiling, you get the rest. You could even let them put a second fridge in either the kitchen or the garage, and make that "their" fridge. And so on.

If the architecture of the house supports it, you could maybe even divide the house, so that your mother and sisters have one part, and you have the rest. That doesn't mean that you'd let them do whatever they want - you still have a right to ensure that they don't damage your home - but their untidiness might have less of an impact on your day to day life.

Also, you could start giving them fair warning, now, that their stuff _will_ have to fit into these specific spaces, and while you can't enforce that rule right now, you _will_ be enforcing it as soon as you're home enough to do so. I'd make it very clear that if they don't want you throwing out their stuff, they'd better start corralling it themselves. And then when that day comes, I'd toss their stuff - or hire someone to toss it, if your pregnancy is too advanced by then.

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#4 of 9 Old 09-09-2010, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you both for the answers. I do appreciate it.

Clutterwarrior, it is a very tough situation. I hadn't thought about leaving this note out there. I don't know how that would go over but the idea does make me think that I may need to just do something, say something sooner rather than later even if it is small.
The extra hands will be great but hopefully we can come to a balance. Thank you.

Crayfish, they can't afford to move out. They moved in because the previous house out of which my mother was working, was destroyed in storms. It's basically us working from the ground up right now. No job, no house, no car so they can't leave yet. It is helpful to me but not as much as it originally was now that I'm the only working and I'm getting ready to take leave.

Thank you for the ideas! Very helpful things to consider. I'm getting to the point now where I'm wanting to put my foot down but being 24 and not having had to do it before, it's taking me a bit to be able to do that with my mother and no I'm not very firm. I think I'll have to go the route of just doing it, making sure they know what I want and maybe figuring out what to do when I'm not listened to. That's the biggest issue since its three of them who are there more than me.

At the moment the only space that I get to control is my bedroom, the rest of the house even my yard is not up to me. I do like the idea of just going for it and giving them their areas and making sure to keep the rest as mine but I think it will take so long for that to go over well.

Good ideas though. Its got me really thinking now.

Single mama by choice to sonbabyf.gif 2/2011.
I love showing my little sweetheart (now a busy preschooler!) the world!

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#5 of 9 Old 09-09-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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This is only a temporary situation -- they are not planning to live with you forever, right?

Because I think I would just let it ride for the next six months.

It is not worth having a big confrontation and setting rules that might end up causing a rift in your family.

Especially not over boxes in the garage.

Their house was destroyed. That was devastating to them. It is going to take them a long time to get over this.

You are being so very very generous letting them live with you. If I were you, I would retreat to my room and power through this -- keep helping them find a way to get back on their feet. Because years in the future, when they look back on this time, they are going to be so grateful to you.

Your baby is going to completely change any organization and cleanliness habits you have right now. Trust me on this one -- I'm a clean FREAK -- it all changes with little children.

Go hug your Mom and hug your sisters and shut your eyes to the disorder. They are more important than the stuff. This too shall pass.

 

 

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#6 of 9 Old 09-09-2010, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Crunchy.

It's not that temporary of a situation. To wait six more months would be put me back to where I am right now. Considering that no one else is working, it's going to be at least another year, closer to two before anything changes and letting it go that long is not optional for me.

The situation was devastating. It was my house too. It was horrible all around but retreating to my room in my house hasn't worked for me in any way in the last 8 months so I prefer not to do that anymore. Promises of all kinds were made before they moved in and almost none of them were kept. I let that go but now letting them continue to disregard my wants, change things because I'm not there and add more clutter to my house does not help me and its not helping them either. I'd really rather not sit in it any longer.

I love them and they are more important than having a clean house but its a little more than just having a clean house at this point. It's about having a family that supports my need to have my house organized (I don't just mean organized as in clean) in a way that benefits all of us in every way and not just them.

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#7 of 9 Old 09-09-2010, 07:04 PM
 
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In that case, you have the power. I really strongly suggest that you use it.

I know that sounds horrible and awful and mean. But I really think that it's not. I'm not suggesting that you go into their rooms and criticize their bedmaking skills, or that you order them to sort their clothes by color.

I'm suggesting that you insist that the shared areas of _your home_ remain _your home_. And that the private areas remain undamaged. And there's not a single thing wrong with either of those things.

Now, I'm coming at this from the point of view of a child of a hoarder. And that means that I have some very, very firm opinions about home and territory and respecting other people's needs in the home. And I have some knowledge, and some experience, about how bad it can get if you _don't_ lay down the law in the home. And how bad it may be _for your child_, if you don't take authority and make your home a clean, pleasant, safe place to be, a place where your child can be safe and where _you_ can be calm and happy for your child.

One of the main things is that the person in the family who is the messiest, and the closest to a hoarder, is the one that takes all the power and takes over the home. They can achieve that because it somehow feels more aggressive for the neat person to move someone's stuff, than for the messy person to leave stuff lying around. The stuff somehow seems to take on some sort of authority, to have a "right" to be there. When the right to property over the stuff conflicts with the right to property over the space, somehow the stuff wins by default.

So I think that you need to act firmly to reverse that default. For example, when junk piles up on the coffee table, that junk lands in the bedroom of the person who piled it there. You dropped it in the wrong person's bedroom? That's an awful shame; maybe the owner should put it in their own bedroom in the first place next time. And the same strategy should be true of every single public space. And if they mistreat the private space - if, for example, they leave rotting fruit around, or stinky laundry, or they pile things up to the point that fixtures are damaged - they lose some of their sole authority over their private space, too.

I don't have any idea whether you qualify as a child of a hoarder; if you do, there's a support group just for that, where you can get a lot of support for the idea that it's _not_ a fairy tale about the evil obsessive housekeeper versus the lovable sloppy people. It's about having a home that functions as a home, and about living your life in a way that isn't utterly controlled by the stuff and the stuff's keeper.

I know she's your mother and you're used to her having authority, but it's your home, you're about to be a mother, and it's time to unsheath the tiger claws and be the bad guy in defense of your home, your child, and yourself.

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#8 of 9 Old 09-09-2010, 07:19 PM
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i'm with crayfish on this one.

i might also bring in a third party. an organization expert can be very helpful. you might see if there is someone just starting out, who would be willing to do some low cost/free work for you as part of their training or gaining a client portfolio (or do some trading with them).

you work with this person to determine the issues of power, etc, and then this person should know how to help the others fall in line with that situation. they have particular tactics that they learn to help people let go as part of their training (well, the good ones do! LOL some people, like my mom, just go in and help people organize by listening and then creating a system that works and keeping the person motivated in the process. in this case, you need someone to convince and educate, so it's tougher).
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#9 of 9 Old 10-07-2010, 11:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post

One of the main things is that the person in the family who is the messiest, and the closest to a hoarder, is the one that takes all the power and takes over the home. They can achieve that because it somehow feels more aggressive for the neat person to move someone's stuff, than for the messy person to leave stuff lying around. The stuff somehow seems to take on some sort of authority, to have a "right" to be there. When the right to property over the stuff conflicts with the right to property over the space, somehow the stuff wins by default.
By gosh, you're brilliant. Your posts, are very, very helpful to me. I just wanted you to have that feedback. I'm sorry for how you grew-up. I don't want to do that to my children. We aren't THAT bad yet, but I feel like we are one crisis away from BECOMING that bad.

Third generation WOHM. I work by choice.
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