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Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:26 pm
by Mustardseedmama
A friend/neighbor of mine (we’ll call her Lea), is going through a really tough time. The bursting of the housing bubble here in the States has left her husband unemployed for quite a long time now, and their savings is gone. They have four children, ranging in age from fourth grade to college. One of the children has a debilitating disease that requires long-term medication--to the tune of $500.00 a month.

They are scraping by on small jobs here and there, and she is trying to do everything and anything she can to help pay the bills…spending a lot of time on crafty-type stuff to try to sell online. She has also taken up gardening, and is asking for help (I’m glad to do it) with learning how to can different things, recipes, cheaper ways to feed her chickens, etc… All of a sudden she is extremely busy!!!

Lea never was even an average housekeeper, and things have gotten much worse. Her house is absolutely filthy, and the children are not helping her.

Now before you think I am Mrs. CleanFreak, I should tell you that I am a reformed slob myself. I know all about working too many hours at an outside-the-home job that completely stresses you to the point of losing your health, and then coming home and just not having the heart to clean anything! I know about realizing twenty minutes before you have to leave the house that there are no clean undies/socks/jeans to put on, and getting home from the farmers market with a trunk (boot?) full of lovely produce, only to be slapped in the face with a refrigerator that should have been plowed through weeks ago.

I know about dust buffaloes (way too big to be called “bunnies“), about corners that you could plant corn in, about dog hair in the utility room that probably could be baled, and the embarrassment of cleaning for “company’s coming”, only to realize that bathroom sink really is white,…it wasn’t just “tanned with age”.

My friend Lea is depressed, and I was too. Several years ago, my husband lost his job, and we were in serious danger of losing our place. Between the drought, the workload of the farm, and the eminent defeat of losing the farm, I was down so low I couldn’t see up. The housework was left undone for weeks, and we all got really snappish with each other.

A dirty house makes everyone feel uncomfortable. It’s heaping depression upon depression! By the time you realize just how bad it is you feel trapped in it---it’s too overwhelming to even begin. You know you’d feel better if the house looked and smelled nice,…but you just don’t have the energy to start.

That’s where my friend Lea is now. I’m going to help her a couple of days this week with cleaning her bathrooms, etc. Seeing her like this made me remember how things were for me way back when,…and so I thought I’d leave this little encouragement---start NOW.

If you are not a “decent” housekeeper (realizing that is a relative term, and different people have different standards) work on changing. If your spouse is the primary person in charge of the housework, help them (in a non-condescending, kind way please). Take a few minutes and define what is acceptable for you and your family. Write it down. Then develop the fastest, most streamlined way of keeping it up to your own standards, and make it habit now, before life throws curveballs at you.

There are systems available out there that you can personalize to fit your owns needs. Probably the most famous of these is the one that helped me--FlyLady. She breaks tasks down into manageable, scheduled increments, and shows you how to make them habits. Some people find her writing style a little cheesy or emotional---she is passionate about helping people to find a better way. If you don’t care for her style there are others.

Extremely challenging situations in life (even moving to that new homestead!) can be made easier and far less stressful if good cleaning/maintenance habits are firmly ingrained.

I know this little essay is not for everyone---maybe not for anyone on this board for that matter. I just felt inspired to write it, thinking about my friend. She’ll be more encouraged when her house looks and smells better--I just know it!

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:58 pm
by happyhippy
It must be quite debilitating to be sat around mess when you would'nt normally be.When I lived in Australia my best mate kept her house quite scruffy.She was'nt depressed,she just could'nt be a**** lol I actually admired her for being able to let go like that because I was brought up in a household where no mess was allowed.I would'nt say my house was pristine,but its usually tiday and quite clean.I like to have things in the right place,be able to find stuff easily and so on so it suits me to be fairly houseproud without being OTT.Its nice of you to help Mustardseedmama,and I hope your friend's depression subsides.

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:14 pm
by Mustardseedmama
Thanks both...I'm sure she'll be alright when her Hubby gets back to work. It's incredibly stressful to be unemployed, but then with her daughter's condition it's massively difficult.

I'm still not June Cleaver,...but I do have control of the house, rather than it controlling me!

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:42 pm
by chickenchargrill
:cheers: Nice little essay. Sounds like she's got a good friend :wink:

There's a few of us Ishers who do Flylady too. It certainly does help, but when life weighs you down that much it's hard to see how. Best wishes to all x

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:22 pm
by demi
I just spent till midnight last night cleaning our appartment which we rent out to the american peace corps voulenteers. we have a girl staying there, on her own, and she had asked us to paint againwhile she was away for a week. my husband went into paint and came back saying the place was a complete mess, so i went down last night to tidy things up. a complete mess was an undertatment, absolutly manky is more acurate. lol. iv never know any girls to live in mess like that, iv seen it with guys, especially those who dont have current girlfriends or female falt mates.
the appartmemt was spotless when she moved in, shes been there a year now and im sure she has NEVER cleaned anything in there. the kitchen and the bathroom were the worsst. it was like an episode of how clean is your house! lol.

anyways, i left the place shining again last night and she got back this morning and sent me a text saying thank you.

im not a neat freak but i like everything to be in its place. once i start cleaning i cant stop till everything's sorted out.

iv got 2 kids and a messy husband who hangs his clothes up on the floor, i somtimes cant face washing the dishes ( like today, tired from all the cleaning last night ) and leave them by the sink pilling up till the evening. but i hate things being messy and once the kids go to bed i allways tidy up and do the dishes. i dont understand how she can live like that, its really easy to keep everything clean when you're living on your own with nobody to mess up what you've just cleaned! and i can NEVER have visitors in my house if things are messy, id hate for other people to see dirty dishes ect laying arround, its embarresing. but this girl obviously isnt bothered about it, she new we'd be comming in to paint, it was her that asked us too. if it was me the place would be presentable when i left, especially seeing its the landlords comming round.

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:28 pm
by boboff
Indeed I am with Susie on the MIngin' Tennant.

Cleaning is a pain, but when I became a stay at home Dad I did it allot, and I got fed up with it.

We now clean together, when it's needed we will both do the house in a morning, it is so much less depressing than having to do it on your own. The children help with dishes and cleaning the kitchen daily, and pegging out / in washing, which helps.

The thing with cleaning is it shouldn't be anyones job, it should be everyones job, once that's established then it doesn't seem quite as depressing.

If you are on your own, then you really should clean as you go.

So I would get your friend straight and makes sure they set aside Saturday mornings, 2 hours for every man women and child to clean and tidy, a 9 year old can be surprisingly good with a vacuum, get the Music on Loud and make it fun, sure they may be broke but they can have family fun, and all share a bit of pride in a job well done.

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:47 pm
by chickenchargrill
boboff wrote: So I would get your friend straight and makes sure they set aside Saturday mornings, 2 hours for every man women and child to clean and tidy, a 9 year old can be surprisingly good with a vacuum, get the Music on Loud and make it fun, sure they may be broke but they can have family fun, and all share a bit of pride in a job well done.
Exactly. My 8 and 6 year-old have both pitched in to clean and scrub the kitchen this afternoon, including mopping,they followed with towels. Music on loud, lots of bad singing and dancing. Even my 1 year old 'helps' now. Even if it's just him passing me wet clothes to go on the airer, putting his toys back in the box, cleaning one tiny bit of skirting.

Time for round two now dinner is done with.

As for girls being cleaner than boys... pfft! I didn't last long in the girls' quarters at uni.

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:03 pm
by Thomzo
I think attitude to housework can be affected by your parents' own attitudes. If parents regard it as a chore to be endured then the children will too. If parents make it fun and show pride and pleasure when the job's done well, the kids will be more relaxed about it too. I didn't realise just how much I enjoy cleaning until I left home and had a house of my own. I still struggle to get started as the negative chore feelings are too deeply ingrained.

It does help if you have enough time to do the job properly rather than just rushing around trying to do the bare minimum on a Saturday morning.


Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:47 pm
by oldfella
"Whew " I'm knackered just reading this topic; ... 9fd9rq.jpg

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:45 pm
by demi
SusieGee wrote:Hmmm seems like you just rewarded her for being messy! I'm afraid if I was her landlord she wouldn't have got a thing decorated until she had cleaned up her mess! As it is why would she bother, she has come home to a lovely clean, newly painted pad :shock:

Yes thats probably true, but it when i go into people messy houses i feel this overwhelming urge to clean everything! :lol:

Maybe she will take the hint that she needs to clean up and hopfully keep things cleaner from now on......but maybe not.

I dont want to offend her by telling her she's manky, we need her there to give us money :lol: we're depentdent on the rent to pay the bills.

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:40 am
by boboff

Totally understand that. Why not however turn this into a possitive.

Have a little chat " You been great the last 12 months, lovely having you here, however that was the only time I clean up after you, you either keep it to a standard or I am happy to pop in and clean for a couple of hours a week, shall we say £10 an hour?" Or Euro's or what ever.

Also do you have a deposit? If you do it may well again be worth mentioning that if it had been left that way when she does leave you would be looking at keeping back £150 to cover the cleaning costs.

In my experience people don't take the hint, and also they can be very thick skinned about such matters, and are actually gratefull for clear guidance rather than thinking "what's up with Demi" type thing if you know what I mean?

Re: Housecleaning Habits

Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:31 pm
by demi
I dont think there is a deposit, she just pays 3 months advance upfront, every 3 months. She moved in when we were in the UK and it was my OH's mum who signed the contract and everything. Also, its not her that pays the rent, its the US Peace Corps, and iv never bothered to look at the contract! :lol:

Also, we are friends with her, and all the voulenteers who come as they speak ENGLISH and therfor im drawen to them for a bit of decent conversation and to complain about how disorgonised this contry is :lol:

She's invited me over tonight with some others for a girls night, must be because i cleaned everything so now the place is presentable! But i will definetly be dropping hints about cleaning to her, hopfully she'll get the message.