Have I helped, or enabled? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-18-2006, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My best friend is seriously housekeeping challenged. We live in different states, but last time I was home, she had surgery and while she was in the hospital, I went to her house and cleaned. I probably spent a total of 8 hours over 3 days cleaning her house. I did things like clean out and reorganize her linen cupboard, go through her medicines and chuck everything that was expired (she had things that had expired in 2002, and expired kids meds, and multiple open bottles because they'd just go buy more when they couldn't find something), and even braved the garage to clear out some of her DH's junk and the trash (things like a broken aquarium--yes, glass all over--and dryer lint caked to the floor. I swear the place is a fire hazard) to clear a decent amount of clean space around her washer and dryer.

My mom has said she'd be happy to go over and teach her how to clean her own house--times when I've tried to help her, we tend to talk and get nothing done. But my friend is too embarassed for that. But she's embarassed about her house, too. Her DH is even worse than she is, the only time he lifts a finger to clean up the yard is when the city threatens to fine them. Their backyard is a hazardous waste dump, except for a small space cleared for the kids to play, with fencing mostly around it.

They own their house, but it's really small (2 bedroom and they have 2 kids), there is limited storage, it's like 60 years old, and maintenance just tends not to get done. Her DH is the king of the half-finished project. Like he took off the baseboards to sand the hardwood floor, and never put them back on. He owned the house before they married, and my friend hates it and I think that's part of why she doesn't like to clean.

I'm so jealous that they own a house, and sometimes just want to rail at her for not appreciating what she has and taking care of her stuff. But does cleaning for her really help? Or am I just letting her be lazy?

I'm moving back to our hometown, 20 min. from her, in the spring. I really am going to have to go clean her house if I want to be able to take my DD and niece (who is about the age of her older daughter) over there to play. I'm not a super housekeeper, but at least I manage to keep things safe and not filthy, even if stuff is cluttered at times in my house. I don't think she'd EVER wiped down her washer and dryer, which are in a dusty, dirty garage. And I won't eat at her house unless it's takeout, I'm afraid of her kitchen. Seriously. I was barely able to make a dent there.

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#2 of 11 Old 08-18-2006, 06:45 PM
 
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I'd say you don't offer if she's not asking. Some people just live in messy houses and are okay w/that. Perhaps some of your jealousies are playing into it more than her actual wants??

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#3 of 11 Old 08-19-2006, 01:17 AM
 
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I have a friend like this too. the more kids she ha the worse her house is. just aweful!!!! but and she's a cluttery messy person in general. stuf everywhere. everywherer..... but she is a big girl. and that's her desision. and unless she asks for my help (or if I'm there for say dinner and I help clean dishes or whatever) I'm not getting involved.

it's hard tho. hard ot see so much waste. so much crap. stuff blah. dirty yucky messy stuff! but again... that's her life. and me cleaning just makes ME feel better. not her.

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#4 of 11 Old 08-19-2006, 10:44 AM
 
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If she likes what you've done, then your cleaning DOES help her- it gives her a breather and a glimpse of how life can be easier if the house is neater. It sounds like she doesn't know how-or has trouble doing what needs to be done- to KEEP things tidy, which is the little routines of the day that help keep the mess from getting big. Some long-term, very kind guidance and support could make a big difference for her. If not from you or someone else IRL, maybe http://squalorsurvivors.com . It sounds like her problem is bigger than most housekeeping-tip type sites right now, but she might find helpful ideas in lots of different places anyway.
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#5 of 11 Old 08-19-2006, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She's always going on about how she hates what a mess the house is. She gave me her housekey to go clean. She's also chronically depressed, and while the meds she's on have helped a lot, the house is still a sticking point for her.

I'm thinking about reviving the habit we had as kids, of going over to each others' houses to help clean. As kids, it was just our rooms, but our parents knew that grounding one of us "until the room is clean" then after a couple of days letting the other come help, worked.

I think if I sent her to a website with the word squalor in the title, she'd get really, really mad.

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#6 of 11 Old 08-19-2006, 05:14 PM
 
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Taking turns cleaning each other's houses is a great idea. But she really sounds like a candidate for a once-weekly cleaning service, if she can at all afford it. They'd keep the place from falling into complete dissaray.
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#7 of 11 Old 08-26-2006, 08:58 PM
 
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She'll never learn if people keep doing it for her/them.
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#8 of 11 Old 08-31-2006, 12:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravin
She's always going on about how she hates what a mess the house is. She gave me her housekey to go clean. She's also chronically depressed, and while the meds she's on have helped a lot, the house is still a sticking point for her.

I'm thinking about reviving the habit we had as kids, of going over to each others' houses to help clean. As kids, it was just our rooms, but our parents knew that grounding one of us "until the room is clean" then after a couple of days letting the other come help, worked.

I think if I sent her to a website with the word squalor in the title, she'd get really, really mad.
this is a great idea! I have a hard time cleaning alone but when someone is there to help, I do a lot better. Try it for six weeks and it becomes a habit! Maybe then she can do some of it on her own.
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#9 of 11 Old 08-31-2006, 11:14 AM
 
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I would go in and help her get things in order. She is probably overwhelmed and has no idea where to begin. But make sure that she is right there with you cleaning, tossing, organizing etc. Then maybe you could help her figure out a routine that works for her. And like the PP said a once a week cleening service if she can afford it would be a help. You have to have everything picked up and put away once a week so that the cleaning service can get in and do there thing.

Once the house looks nice and is clean and organized she may be motivated to keep it that way because life is much nicer and easier in a clean home.

That squalor site is scary.

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#10 of 11 Old 09-02-2006, 12:40 AM
 
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I'd say if it helps her do it. BUT I'd ask for like, a reduced housekeeper weekly pay (because it's taking time away from your family). My mom paid DH and I $70 to come every two weeks to do basic general maintenence on a 4 bedroom house (dusting, cleaning the bathroom, vaccuuming, etc) --- to maybe help you out on what a fair but discount price for her would be?

GREAT MOM to dd (5) and )ds( [sept 26 2006]
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#11 of 11 Old 09-02-2006, 07:52 AM
 
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You know what, if she is asking for help, I would recommend Flylady.com. I found Flylady here on MDC (I just had to go to the site because I was on this forum and I couldn't figure what the heck everyone was talking about with Flylady!) I was never living in a total pit or anything, but I had a really hard time keeping the house clean on an ongoing basis or decluttering effectively, and I felt like I was always cleaning and never getting anywhere. One of my major fears about starting a family was actually that I felt so overwhelmed just dealing with work and my house, how the heck would I handle all the work of a baby AND the house? Flylady has turned out to be a HUGE gift in my life.

If your friend really wants to change something but is just overwhelmed and doesn't know where/how to start, Flylady can be just the thing for her. I also really like her book, Sink Reflections, although most of the content in the book is also on the website, sometimes it's just easier to sit down with a book. Also, Flylady (Marla Cilley is her real name) has struggled with serious depression, and was even hospitalized for it, which she talks about openly. So it's not about just housekeeping tips, she really focuses on taking care of yourself first, practicing loving yourself, etc., and feeling like you are worth taking care of and you are worth having a home that you love living in. And it's all about overcoming perfectionism and taking babysteps--she always says, "Your house didn't get dirty in a day, and it's not going to get clean overnight."

I have also looked at that squalor survivors website (my mom has some, ahem, issues with cleanliness and hoarding) and Flylady is one of the sites they link to.

I'm almost embarassed to be going on and on about this, but it really has been just one of the greatest things that has happenned to me and my home! It has helped me INCREDIBLY in overcoming my perfectionism, and this started with housekeeping but has spread to other areas of my life too, so that I am much freer and less constrained about things.

It sounds like your friend is asking for help with this situation, and this could be just the ticket!! Really, it is wonderfully nice of you to help her with cleaning, but unless she develops some skills of her own, even if you got her house spotless and totally decluttered for her, it's just going to turn into a mess again and she's going to end up even more bummed about it, because she doesn't have practices in her life that will keep it clean. And it will end up frustrating the heck out of you too, because there's only so much you can do.
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