A friend's house is filthy, WWYD? Updated - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 65 Old 03-18-2013, 02:37 PM
 
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I'm with the people who would get a team together to get things cleaned up. I'd focus on the stuff that could cause illness - feces, cat stuff, that kind of thing. Clean out the fridge too - IMO kids should be able to open a fridge and find something to eat without having to worry about what's OK. But I wouldn't call CPS over something fixable like a dirty house. I'd help her clean and help her get some strategies together to keep it clean. IMO it does need to be at least made more sanitary, even if it remains cluttered. Even if you don't call CPS, someone else might, and I'd get it cleaned up before anyone does.

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#32 of 65 Old 03-18-2013, 03:09 PM
 
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"Just wanted to say that I agree completely that toys everywhere aren't a huge deal. It was more that they're everywhere, mixed in with cat litter and probably mouse droppings because they have never been picked up to clean the floors underneath them.


She has a friend that I have met a couple of times, that I think I will contact to see if we can come up with a plan together. I know she once hired this friend to help with cleaning, so she isn't new to the situation either. Like I said I am reluctant to call and report anything unless we try and things are still bad or worse. Thanks so much for your replies and suggestions, they have given me lots to think about!"

 

Want to second the poster who said that she's lucky to have such a caring friend. It IS tricky, I agree. I think you are taking very much the right approach here in trying to develop your relationship and see what she wants first. I don't see any point in just cleaning up for her, its very clear that there are deeper issues here.

 

My question would really be, aside from the health side do you have any concerns about her relationship with her kids? How was she with them when you were there?


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#33 of 65 Old 03-18-2013, 04:33 PM
 
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I think, yes, there are elements of the house that are unsanitary but the reality is that in 21st century America no one is going to die or probably even get sick. TBH if this has been going on some time everyone will have had toxoplasmosis and anything else they are going to get, if the cats carry it-although she needs to be a bit more careful with the baby. 

 

I think some people are too quick to forget this. No matter how clean someone keeps their cats, it doesn't change the fact that cats step in their letterbox and track the urine and feces everywhere.

 

I grew up on a farm as did many kids around me, you could say we "lived in filthy conditions" too because most of our days were spent in a barn. Cats, mice, dogs, horses... everything pooped and no one ever cleaned it up (until it was time to load manure onto a trailer and move it to the garden! lol). Our clothes were always filthy from being where we weren't supposed to be, no one ever got sick from it. I don't ever recall going all the way inside to wash our hands before we ate anything.

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#34 of 65 Old 03-18-2013, 05:00 PM
 
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I think some people are too quick to forget this. No matter how clean someone keeps their cats, it doesn't change the fact that cats step in their letterbox and track the urine and feces everywhere.

 

I grew up on a farm as did many kids around me, you could say we "lived in filthy conditions" too because most of our days were spent in a barn. Cats, mice, dogs, horses... everything pooped and no one ever cleaned it up (until it was time to load manure onto a trailer and move it to the garden! lol). Our clothes were always filthy from being where we weren't supposed to be, no one ever got sick from it. I don't ever recall going all the way inside to wash our hands before we ate anything.

Very true. We used to live in a 900 sq ft house with 3 indoor cats and a 170 lb dog. It drove me nuts to keep up with the fur and cat litter pieces, but the mess can be minimized greatly. I kept very good track of the cats especially near the litter box. I was very diligent in vacuuming frequently, getting the disinfectant wipes and cleaning the floor in the immediate perimeter of the litter box, scooped it out daily, washed it and changed the litter weekly, and whatever else had to be done. If you don't stay on top of it, you'll lose control of it. Sounds like this is the case here. She needs help.

 

 

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Does your friend have children? It's not okay for children to live in filth and never have anyone come visit. You are not doing the children any favors.

I agree. There really is no excuse for filth. Clutter, yes. Filth, no.


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#35 of 65 Old 03-18-2013, 05:22 PM
 
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Is this the first time you have ever been to her house?

If so, as a former CPS investigator, my money is on her house having always looked like this. It's the way some people live. Baseline for this house is probably everything except the dirty bathroom. Hence the comment pointing out that she hasn't cleaned it in awhile. I'd think there is definitely some sort of mental illness going on, but If someone can plan a play date for 5 days in advance and stick to it, they could probably wipe the poop off the toilet seat 5 minutes before you get there. It's probably not as big a deal for her as it is for you.

That's just my two cents....
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#36 of 65 Old 03-18-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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Wow, reading this thread has made me realize how kindly a friend or 2 were trying to help me over a decade ago when I was overwhelmed & bordering on PPD... there wasn't a feces or a rodent problem, but my house was a mess w dirty dishes, tub ring, laundry, etc. Some of the things suggested are actually what my friends did that helped (although I didn't realize it at the time):

 

going outside/ out for coffee once in a while together (with or without babe/s in tow)

inviting me to their house (I saw another mom's struggle, but a good example, too)

asking -me- for advice to -them- re getting on a cleaning routine (1st w bathroom, then kitchen, etc)

one went as far as to offer for me to clean her house for pay (maybe just motivate me? or as an opportunity to give much deserved praise on cleaning, so I'd feel more able/ less in a rut? to boost my esteem by earning a little spending $? It did help, btw)

***FLYlady dot net*** (this is the single most helpful tool I have ever seen for LOVINGLY, non-judgementally, but also effectively teaching ONESELF to establish household routines that work, step by step, esp if you weren't "born organized" like some of the PP who just don't seem to understand what the issue is)

one friend actually offered to do the FLY lady beginning steps with me & we chatted about it daily (although she'd been doing FLY lady for years)

 

Also, as some PP have mentioned, the spouse is part of the problem-- they're -HIS- children, too, living in a mess! IME, everything changed when my MW offered prozac, & I suddenly realized *I* was not depressed, but I was in a *depressing* relationship... if your friend is in anything like a similar situation, the things (in addition to the above) that helped were:

 

constant care & emotional support from dear friends like you!

counseling

boundaries-setting advice/ reality checks, and ultimately

leaving (he was abusive in many other ways) the relationship

 

I won't claim that I am now the tidiest person ever, now that it has been years & healing has occured & my dc are older & I am in a loving relationship, but I know that although there's another baby on the way & a risk of PPD, I never need to go back there... and I know the way/s to seek help if needed. It seems like your friend just does not know how to begin, yet, but I hope you can help her find it.

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#37 of 65 Old 03-18-2013, 06:55 PM
 
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I am also on team "clean-up help"

Maybe it won't last, but it's a nice thing to do for a new mom, and it will make her feel better.

And convince her to find a new home for that cat. It's obviously more than she can handle right now.

As far as mice, you could try finding an enclosed trap (safe for kids) with good ratings on Amazon and sending a link with, " i heard this was a great trap..." that might work. How bad is the mouse problem?

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#38 of 65 Old 03-19-2013, 04:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I contacted 2 of her other friends, one of whom visited her yesterday and described the house in the same state, so my friend didn't clean up for her either. Both are very concerned. We are going to contact her mom today and try to set up a meeting with her so we can come up with a plan of action.

Also I talked to my friend tonight and she told me that she is seeing a dr tomorrow for PPD. She said she"lost it" with her 3 year old and "it wasn't pretty", and if anyone had seen what happened they would have reported her. I don't know exactly what took place. She said she has been having a hard time with anger and wanting to throw things. I suggested throwing a pillow at a wall or something but she said it wasn't heavy enough...also a few weeks ago I was on the phone with her and she was nursing the baby. When she bit her, she yelled "you little b----!". I am glad she is seeing a dr for sure.

So, that's the update. The two friends have both been involved with cleaning her house before, and I get the sense that this is a last ditch effort for them too. We can't just go in every few months and clean up, they have to maintain it and if they don't, and things are still unsafe, I suspect one of them will call CPS.
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#39 of 65 Old 03-19-2013, 08:43 AM
 
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Depression is, fundamentally, anger that is being turned inward.  There is plenty in her situation for her to be angry about, for sure.  The good news is that this anger can be a source of energy for cleaning--she can use it to aggressively throw away clutter, or to violently tackle a difficult mess.  "Throwing a cleaning fit" is what I call it.  I'm glad to hear that she is getting help for PPD.

 

I thought that all of Mum4vr's suggestions were great ones.  This mom doesn't need any more crap to deal with, she needs someone to support her and encourage her.

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#40 of 65 Old 03-19-2013, 09:23 AM
 
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I am so glad that she is seeing her Dr. for PPD.  I hope that she is able to get some help.  From what you said about her Husband I just feel like there are a lot of issues going on there and I think that whatever the plan is, he needs to be on board and be helping...I think it is very wrong that he is not being more helpful/proactive in this.


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#41 of 65 Old 03-19-2013, 02:25 PM
 
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OP, I'm so so very glad to hear that your friend realizes she has a problem & has already made the decision to reach out for help & that her dr office worked her in so soon-- help w PPD is not something that should wait! I can't help thinking that your concern for her (although you may not have mentioned it directly, I'm sure it showed in many ways) was a catalyst for positive change on her part. You've helped this entire family more than you may realize.

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#42 of 65 Old 03-19-2013, 07:53 PM
 
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I would follow up with her local friends and make sure she's actually getting help and things are changing. From experience, I'm worried that she's only telling you what you want to hear.
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#43 of 65 Old 03-21-2013, 07:39 PM
 
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ITA-- the battle's not won, but the first steps are taken & by the person who needs to do the changing. It's a good sign, but this journey is just begun. Do follow thru with the good ideas/ plans you've expressed, if possible.

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#44 of 65 Old 03-21-2013, 09:10 PM
 
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I would go at this from an "Are you OK?" point of view. "Look I noticed ____________ and ________ and I am really worried about you".


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#45 of 65 Old 03-21-2013, 11:12 PM
 
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I grew up in a home like that. It disgusts me to think about it. And whenever my home gets dirty it brings back terrible memories.

However, involvement from CPS was unlikely to improve things. Going into fostercare would NOT have been a better situation.

 

I'd say do whatever you can. Next time you visit bring some cleaning supplies and simply tell her you're going to clean up a little. Then explain why you're cleaning up and encourage her to continue it. Leave the supplies for her (out of the children's reach of course).

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#46 of 65 Old 03-22-2013, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are headed there this weekend to do some cleaning. She agrees that she needs the help, and was very grateful that we reached out to her.

However.

She seems to think we are going there to help her declutter, which needs to be done. However our first priority is to get the place sanitary. We had planned on starting with the kitchen and bathroom, then coming back in a week or so to tackle the clutter. She went out and bought a bunch of furniature for the "new room makeover". Stuff that she found on Pinterest. I also don't know how much she actually wants to get rid of.

Her DH is also really mad that this is happening...so I'm not sure what the day will bring. I'll update once the weekend is over...looks like our work is cut out for us!
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#47 of 65 Old 03-22-2013, 03:43 PM
 
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Wtf is her DH mad about?!

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#49 of 65 Old 03-22-2013, 10:03 PM
 
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Wtf is her DH mad about?!

Maybe because she got new furniture before cleaning up the feces her children live in. Honestly, I'm hugely skeptical, too at this point.
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#50 of 65 Old 03-22-2013, 11:12 PM
 
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Replying so I can follow. How is she doing now?
 


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#51 of 65 Old 03-23-2013, 03:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Apparently he doesn't want anyone going through and purging any of his things. She doesn't want to tell him that if he would just help her out it wouldn't be this bad, because she didn't want to start an argument...it sounds like he doesn't think things are that bad, either that or he is really embarrassed that this has to even happen.

She seems to be doing well, she told me that for the first time in months she has something to look forward to, so that is good. I think we still plan to declutter, but one of us will take the bathroom and maybe get started on the kitchen because we don't need all 4 of us doing one room. Her DH is going to be there, and in my opinion needs to be helping, but it doesn't sound like he will be.
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#52 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 09:13 AM
 
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I'm starting to wonder if this woman is taking advantage of your generosity. I hope not, but her excitement over the prospect of someone cleaning her house seems inappropriate? Maybe that's not the best word. It just seems odd?
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#53 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 09:46 AM
 
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Or maybe after an extended period of feeling "abandoned" by her dh and left to shoulder the burden of housework, cleaning, and decluttering on her own she has simply given in to the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. But now that she has some significant, motivated, "fresh" help to tackle this huge task she is feeling motivated and excited herself?

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#54 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 10:21 AM
 
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Or maybe after an extended period of feeling "abandoned" by her dh and left to shoulder the burden of housework, cleaning, and decluttering on her own she has simply given in to the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. But now that she has some significant, motivated, "fresh" help to tackle this huge task she is feeling motivated and excited herself?

That's true and a good point.
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#55 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 10:42 AM
 
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I definitely agree that her excitement--an maybe more so her focus on the decluttering aspect and buying new furniture etc over cleaning up the filth and making the house more sanitary for herself and her children--seems misplaced. But hopefully this is the kickstart that she needs to feel better about her space and herself. And perhaps once she sees the space as it OUGHT to look, she might be better equipped to maintain it? I hope so.

 

I grew up in a household with 7 children and a very overworked, under-appreciated step-mom who received little to no help from my father (actually, his presence probably just made things worse!) And while we never had feces on our toilet or mice in our home, we did live in near-constant chaos with dirty dished strewn everywhere and clutter++ and piles of dirty laundry next to piles of clean but unsorted laundry all over the place. I hated it, but that experience has taught me how easy it is to become overwhelmed by being the only one in charge of household duties, and also how easy it can be to become sort of desensitized by clutter and chaos. If you are so used to seeing it every day, you kind of STOP seeing it, you know? It just becomes the norm, and suddenly seeing the space the way it "ought" to be can be awfully eye-opening.


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#56 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 01:38 PM
 
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Maybe because she got new furniture before cleaning up the feces her children live in. Honestly, I'm hugely skeptical, too at this point.

 

They are his kids too. Nothing is stopping him from taking a few minutes and cleaning the bathroom.


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#57 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 03:49 PM
 
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To preface my impressions here's a bit of my backstory.

 

My dad is an awful hoarder, and if it wasn't for my mom we would have lived in filth.  He instilled a fear of purging belonging in me that is really hard to shake.

 

I've suffered from PPD and just plain depression.  I'm dealing with ADD or an ADD-type thing.

 

My father, aside from being a hoarder, was very abusive.

 

My impressions:

 

Purging helps my home to stay cleaner.  Once I've gone through and done a purge it's easier to apply myself to the day-to-day cleaning since I'm not frantically trying to stem the clutter.  This mother trying to purge may be trying to get on top of things.  Once she has a house to be proud of it may be easier for her to keep it clean.  I know it helped me a lot.

 

If she lives with a hoarder, and it sounds like she does, it makes it hard to do anything with the house.  She needs to figure out her relationship with her husband if he is a hoarder.  Why won't he let her throw anything out?

 

I don't know what her childhood was like, but I know what mine was like.  It takes a lot of my energy to treat my children better than I was treated.  My children and their well-being it always my first priority, but that takes so much energy when you're fighting so much internal rage.  Often my housekeeping slips in order for me to be a better mother.  Depression certainly adds to this, because I have even less energy.  Her kids are at that stage where they need sooooo much mother interaction, I see how it could be quite easy to let the house slide.

 

Her house is filthy, that's true.  It shouldn't be like that.  But, come one ladies!  We're always talking about how much community is important for our mothering.  Let's get off our high horses and help another mother.  Stop judging and start realizing that everyone is not like you and that's okay.  And it's okay to help each other.


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#58 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 05:37 PM
 
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Lazurii, I couldn't have said it better! Wish I could find the applause smiley on my phone!
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#59 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 07:09 PM
 
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I don't know about other places, but here in Ontario Canada CAS will not take your children for a filthy home.

My sister suffers from mental health issues. She has a VERY filthy home. Sometimes it is just filthy, and sometimes it is so dirty that it should really be condemned. She has had CAS in her life for many years. They worried when she sisn;t take her kids to school. They worry when she won't let them out of her sight or have any independence. They worried a bit about the mess, but more so because it was a manifestation of her mental health, not because it was unhealthy.

They would offer her parenting classes. They would suggest cleaning. But it wasn't a pre-requisite for her keeping her children.

 

And my sisters home was WAY worst than what this woman's sounds like. Dishes piled up and so dirty for so long that they were mouldy. Food spilled on the floor and not cleaned for weeks. Cat litter so over flowing that the cat wouldn't even go near it. Etc, etc, etc.

 

So yes, great that you can help a friend. And hopefully it will help. But I do not think that CAS will take her kids. But CAS may have help in the form of parenting classes, recommend therapy that could help, etc.


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#60 of 65 Old 03-24-2013, 09:40 PM
 
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Apparently he doesn't want anyone going through and purging any of his things.

Oh, interesting.  Honestly, I wouldn't purge any of his things, I probably wouldn't purge her things either, unless she had gone through them already and told me which things I could get rid of.  I've tried to help someone organize/declutter once, as a paid job, and it was an exercise in futility. She really wanted to save every tiny scrap of crumpled paper and seemed to think I should know how to organize it.  I thought I would too, because so much of it could be thrown away, but she wouldn't let me do that.  It's easier when it's not my stuff. 

 

Hopefully you can at least go through and clear out some of the excess toys.  Good luck to you!

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