Household / Floor Cleanliness in Collective Household With Newly Crawling Baby - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 03-22-2012, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm wondering where other moms are at when it comes to cleanliness of the floor and general household cleanliness with their crawling infant. 

I am a first time mama, my ds is 7 and 1/2 months old and just started crawling. We have gone the no-vax route.


We had to move around a lot after he was born due to abusiveness in our domestic situation, and as of this February live in a collective household of ten people (including us) to give us a sense of community and also cut the costs (I'm low-income with no child support or outside help).


Ok, so back to the topic at hand. The household I live with has kids, but they are two teens and a 10 year old. It's a bit of a "punk house" with kids, anarchistic, countercultural, blah blah. And I am having major issues with the level of cleanliness to that is kept by the group as a whole. The floors are generally filthy, and I just made a request that we start a no-shoes rule in the house since we live in a dense urban environment and I don't feel comfortable with the shoes in here given the amount of time everyone seems to spend cleaning (little to none). So far there is general cooperation with the shoes-off agreement, but some people aren't so into it and don't respect it.

The kitchen is at best wiped down on the very surface but very sticky and grimey. The bathroom is difficult for me to deal with, mildew and gunk in the shower that I can't even get out. 

There are three cats, one dog, and a hamster.


I feel a lot of emotions around this and I think it might just be a new mom thing and also control thing, given that I planned to have more control of Nate's home environment before our lives were disrupted. But I also really feel like there is some basic standard of cleanliness that needs to be kept for a baby. 

Plain old dirt isn't an issue for me, but urban filth is quite another thing. 


I am just starting to get out there and try to meet other moms with babies after our whirlwind of traveling for a home, so I don't have anyone to speak with about this. The mom who lives here seems to think it's more about my own issues than anything else, but she has teens and is very wrapped up in their current age dilemmas.


Any thoughts? I really need stability and to be in a place that I can afford, but I'm considering leaving.

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#2 of 9 Old 03-23-2012, 08:16 AM
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mamaleila, I think you've had a lot to deal with as a new mama!  I'm sorry I don't have any clear advice or ideas to offer.  I think you know you need to leave, for the safety of your baby.  There is "not spotless", there is "fairly messy" and then there is "downright dangerously filthy".  No matter what your position on vaccination, natural living, etcetera, I think we all agree that basic hygiene does a lot for maintaining our health.  A sticky, grimy kitchen isn't safe.  Mold and mildew aren't safe.  Please get yourself and your little crawling (no doubt sticking everything in his mouth and licking what he can't lift) baby out of what sounds like a less-than-ideal environment.  Please keep us posted!



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#3 of 9 Old 03-23-2012, 09:24 AM
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I lived in a similar cooperative housing place during my first pregnancy. We decided to move out before the baby came because I knew we wouldn't be able to put the amount of time/work into cleaning when we had a newborn as we were before and the roommates would definitely not pick up the slack, they would've gotten grosser.Ultimately what we decided in our very punk group was that everyone had different standards of cleanliness, and those that wanted it cleaner had to clean more.  If I had a 7 month old, I could probably manage cleaning the floors and kitchen weekly, as long as everyone took care of their basics like doing there own dishes and keeping their stuff picked up. So, if I liked the people and community, and felt like I could put more effort into cleaning, I would stay in a situation like that. I think the shoes off in the house rule would be a good one...maybe you could talk to all of them about how strongly you feel about it and they could make more effort so you could feel like you could stay there? good luck!

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#4 of 9 Old 03-23-2012, 10:22 AM
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My husband and I bought a house with my parents, and overall, we think the arrangement is beneficial to all, even though it can be tough with four different adults living together as equals. One thing we found after a while, is that everyone gave up on keeping the house really clean. My husband used to clean our apartment about once a week so that it was beautiful and spotless. In this size house, that level of cleanliness would take more than twice the effort. Mom and I share cooking and dishes, but rarely clean the kitchen down to the cracks. There's a kind of mindset of hopelessness and "why should I do this when someone else is gonna come along and make a mess?" when you live with several people. I imagine everyone in your household is suffering from these feelings. Then there are the teenagers who just won't clean. My advice would be to clean the worst of the grime yourself. The stuff that really concerns you. The clutter, you could maybe get several boxes or baskets and pile people's stuff into them in order to do the cleaning you feel is necessary for your baby.

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#5 of 9 Old 03-23-2012, 01:23 PM
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The easy answer for me, as I'm not in your shoes and only reading about your situation, is to tell you to move out and find a different situation.

But it sounds like you have had more than your fair share of struggles in the last year, and moving out might not be an option. So, if you don't move out, I have a few ideas that might work to help make your place more liveable for you and your baby.


Does your group have any kind of regular group meeting in place? If so, I'd plan to talk to them at the next meeting. If not, you should schedule one.


Before the meeting, try to make a list of your actual concerns. Not what you would like to see, but your concerns. For example, don't say you want the floor swept every day, but say that you want all choking hazards out of baby's reach. Do you see the difference?    Make a list of these and present them to the group.  Present it to the group that DS is a member of the group as well and has rights, just like we all do. Since he can't speak for himself, you have created a list of his needs. Ask the group what they think about these needs, if they are true. If you make them actual "needs" like I described above, then no one should really be able to argue about them. I mean, how can anyone argue with "I don't want baby to choke." So, now you have common ground because everyone agrees that the baby has rights and that his needs are clear to everyone. Then, have a discussion on how to meet each of these needs. See what they come up with. Maybe the "shoes off" rule will just come out on it's own, without you having to bring it up. Who knows, they also might come up with a "mom should clean everything and we won't change" rule. You never know, but I always find groups respond well to the ideas that they themselves come up with. 


Finally, come up with a plan of action and possibly consequences for what happens if people don't follow through. And if you feel like the solutions they come up with are not reasonable or unfair (ie: you basically become everyone's maid), then it might be time to move out, even though it's hard.


I wish you luck with this! My DS just started crawling last month, and it's thrown us for a loop for sure!


Also, check out craigslist for baby gates or playyards, so that some parts of the house can still be baby-free.

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#6 of 9 Old 03-23-2012, 01:59 PM
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It sounds like it will be difficult, but the 'no shoes' rule seems very important. I agree, urban flith, sidewalks with human urine, smears of dog feces, human spit and phlegm, shoes that go in public restrooms....

If it is not possible than perhaps there is one room you could keep the floor clean and let baby crawl, then the rest of the time, sling or baby carrier on you. 

I don't know, that's a tough situation with a newly crawling infant. My thoughts are with you.

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#7 of 9 Old 03-24-2012, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to all of your helpful suggestions. We have already discussed this in two meetings, the last one (before I posted this) in more detail. I think that I am going to continue working on communicating with the house while keeping my eyes open for other opportunities to live in cleaner environs. 

Cat13, your suggestions about noting my actual concerns is particularly helpful in this case. Thank you.

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#8 of 9 Old 03-25-2012, 11:30 AM
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I don't know if you've thought about making it fun. It might take some work on your part, but a friend of mine had a situation where she was moving into a filthy house. So she had a cleaning party, where friends, part of a co-operative community, signed up to clean the dirtiest rooms, but it was a contest to see who could make the room cleanest in a certain amount of time. We took pictures of before and after, had a panel of judges, good music, some adult beverages, snacks, appetizers and food, and a prize for the winner. Everyone had a good time, and she had a clean start in her new place. From there it could be much easier to maintain, even if a good amount of housekeeping duties fall to you

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#9 of 9 Old 04-04-2012, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestion, rtjunker. I think that a fun cleaning party would be great, but unfortunately would not address the greater issue of constant maintenance. We had a few house meetings and decided to start trying things out, but what I've found is that the three teenagers in the house are unwilling to help and their mom doesn't have the energy or resources to keep up with their mess. She also doesn't want any of us to be the ones providing feedback to them about how we live in the house together, so it's really making things hard to work with. 

For now I've decided to just keep the baby contained in our room with a baby gate until we either find a new place or can come to a greater solution as a house. But at this point I'm feeling like it's going to be more likely that I find a new place. 


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