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Carrie12345

My people are gross.

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Maybe this sounds silly, but I’m genuinely trying to figure out how people define a “clean” house.

I know there’s always the joke about how kids and partners act like they can’t do things right in order to get out of it, but I don’t think that’s what I’m dealing with. I have been desperately struggling to get my family to do thorough tasks for a very long time, but I’m pretty sure they really do think I’m insane.

To be clear, I’m not obsessive. My bed isn’t always made, I’m not immune to leaving coffee cups in random places, I generally ignore crumbs in the fridge until fridge cleaning day, my nightstand is often a wreck, I procrastinate on washing floors until it can no longer be ignored, and I sometimes pile my clean laundry on my dresser for a few days until I have the energy to tackle it.  I think I’m fairly “normal”.

Today, my kids were having a guest. I was fine with taking on the bulk of the common area cleaning, but they had to tackle their bathroom.  After we were told it was done AND after my husband went to check it, I went in to find a dirty, smelly toilet, drippy mirror, and sink covered in (I hope) hairspray residue.  The floor hadn’t been spray mopped, and behind the toilet was just gross.  Three grown/practically grown people had deemed that not just clean, but guest clean!  I guess because they had put away all of the towels, clothes, and stuff, which is more than they tend to do for “regular” cleaning.

That’s pretty much how every job goes.  They have seen a clean bathroom. They have seen an empty kitchen sink and clean counter. They’ve seen a car after it’s been cleaned out. They’ve been in other people’s “normal-clean” bedrooms. They’ve even seen laminated checklists for how to get all of those things and more cleaned. The nearly-grown kids have been handheld through just about every job there is in the past. But when I ask them (including the grown adult) to help me understand where the disconnect is, every single one of them gets very upset and gives me an “I don’t know.”

Sometimes I’m just annoyed or angry but other times, like today, I get near a total breakdown because it truly terrifies me. My in-laws had major housekeeping issues that, over many years, devolved into complete destruction, being deemed an inappropriate environment for children, and then even inappropriate for animals.  (By the authorities, that is. I deemed it inappropriate years before that.). 

Sometimes it feels like gaslighting, with all of them acting as though I have unreasonable expectations.  The younger kids now make comments about how Mom wants everything “perfect” and how it’s so unfair.  But it isn’t about perfect, though I do think it should be pretty darn clean at least some of the time. I just don’t want my family to be comfortable in a consistent layer of filth. Or for my guests to encounter filth beyond what might normally show up in a busy day or two.

I don’t know what else I can possibly do to open their minds to the idea that it’s gross to expect guests to use bathroom sinks that have toothpaste on the handles.  Never mind that they shouldn’t, either!

I’m seriously considering attempting to find a therapist to help us all get on the same page, but it feels ridiculous.  What else is there?!?

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So um this is just a thought: perhaps they need to clean the bathroom with you every single day for a month. If it’s done daily it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. 

The idea is that they get used to a pristine environment. After the month is over you alternate who cleans the bathroom each day so it never gets bad. 

And you must check it daily so if someone slacks you can be on top of it immediately.

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34 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

So um this is just a thought: perhaps they need to clean the bathroom with you every single day for a month. If it’s done daily it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. 

The idea is that they get used to a pristine environment. After the month is over you alternate who cleans the bathroom each day so it never gets bad. 

And you must check it daily so if someone slacks you can be on top of it immediately.

I do have to be better about keeping tabs, and I’ll admit I’ve been too resentful to do so for a long time. I’ll have to weight the pros and cons of trapping myself in such a small space with a ticked off nearly-grown woman. 😕

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Making them clean the bathroom daily would just solidify their idea that you need things perfect. Once a week for bathrooms is plenty. I'd simply send them back in and point out what isn't cleaned and tell them to finish the job. Rinse repeat.

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Seriously, even with naturally clean/tidy people, I’ve found that you actually have to walk them through every step with cleaners and do the work with them for them to know how to clean.

I took on a high school boy for a summer job who helped me clean houses most days.  He helped his mom around the house and was generally neat - no mess in his room, etc - but I still had to walk him through every job and even show him how to hold the sponge so you can get into corners and whatnot.
This isn’t unusual.  A lot of times, when I’ve invoiced a client, I’ll mention some special job that I decided to do while working on their house.  Without fail, they will say “wow I didn’t even notice it was bad but thank you! It does look nicer now”. 
Train your people how to clean, and to observe things that are/aren’t clean.

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Do you take them back into the bathroom and point out the dirty areas? I would do that while trying to remain calm. And, as said above, walk them through exactly how to clean those things. Sometimes people feign ignorance because they don't want to be bothered. Maybe they know you'll come after them and clean it to your standards.

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1 hour ago, WendyAndMilo said:

Seriously, even with naturally clean/tidy people, I’ve found that you actually have to walk them through every step with cleaners and do the work with them for them to know how to clean.

I took on a high school boy for a summer job who helped me clean houses most days.  He helped his mom around the house and was generally neat - no mess in his room, etc - but I still had to walk him through every job and even show him how to hold the sponge so you can get into corners and whatnot.
This isn’t unusual.  A lot of times, when I’ve invoiced a client, I’ll mention some special job that I decided to do while working on their house.  Without fail, they will say “wow I didn’t even notice it was bad but thank you! It does look nicer now”. 
Train your people how to clean, and to observe things that are/aren’t clean.

I have.  I mean, not recently, but in what I found to be the particularly “duh” stage of tween/early teendom. About the same time that all the specific steps to personal hygiene were reviewed. (Those stuck with them, thank god!!!). 
And then I made laminated checklists.
The checklist in the kitchen still stands by the sink, but no one - except for me - thinks these things really need to be done well, if at all.

Dh will sometimes reach a breaking point with the kids over certain things, but most of the time he, too, is oblivious to mess.  He’ll participate in “cleaning” to show a united front, but then act offended when I go back to finish the leftover dishes, sweep the floor, pick up muddy shoes, or whatever.  I’m not talking cabinets arranged precisely, spotless grout, or pillows fluffed to perfection.  Just basic cleanliness.

For quite a few years, dh’s mom dusted once a year, for Christmas.  At some point (after I quit going,) even that stopped. And it was with a house full of animals.  I know she KNEW HOW TO dust, but something in her brain made her, and the rest of her household, content to live in filth.  Which is why this freaks me out so much.  I know how far down she went.  I know her son isn’t terribly bothered by mess. And now his kids think dirty is normal and fine.

 

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From the perspective of someone whose priorities are vastly different than my mother's, I will say that there is only so much you can do.

You can insist, through daily cgevks, that they complete the laminated checklists. Know that this might help some of them become, like you, aware about & care about the level of clean you want in your house (both normally & for guests). But, more likely, they will continue their view of your insisting on perfection (even though you just want non-gross). They may, in time, cone around. Or they may not ever. Their priorities & views are different from yours. (Lead a horse to water & all.)

In my case, one of the many, many differences I have with my mother is on clothes, makeup, and appearance in general. I simply don't care. She does -- to the point that she visibly & audibly dispairs when she sees me. She would likely insist I was killing my chances for advancement if I still worked outside of the home. She will not agree to disagree.

But, I am an adult that makes my own decisions & your kids will be there some day, too. My point is that you can only do so much, and when they leave your house, be prepared to let go. Good luck.

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I think the standard is different for different people. I've seen people who have a sticky kitchen floor (like think your feet stick to it, your shoes make a sucking sound when you walk) and they appear to think it is clean. I've seen people whose carpet has obviously all been carefully vacuumed so it is all laying the same way. 

You can do the best you can with your kids - teaching them how to clean to a minimum standard (your minimum). But that may not be their minimum standard. 

You could try finding pictures of cleaner/dirtier bathrooms online and seeing if they can tell the difference. 

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I call this "my vagina eyes." I live with all males and I swear, they dont see the mess, dirt, pee, etc. My vagina eyes are like my sixth sense or superpower. With my vagina eyes, I can see floor pee, dirty clothes, dishes, you name it.  My vagina eyes are also capable of finding things in cabinets where they have always been. It's a gift and a burden to have this superpower. 

But seriously, keep on keeping on. I make them clean the whole house every evening. My prayer is that by the time they are launched, they will be able to see and take care of the mess by themselves.

 

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4 hours ago, hjffkj said:

Making them clean the bathroom daily would just solidify their idea that you need things perfect. Once a week for bathrooms is plenty. I'd simply send them back in and point out what isn't cleaned and tell them to finish the job. Rinse repeat.

Kids griping about "perfect" is just a way to push buttons.

I don't have super high standards. And my kids still gripe about "perfect." Whatever.

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So, I have a little of this, but not quite this bad. One of my people has visual processing issues--not terrible, but enough to make this a big chore to see. The other two seem to need to "feel" the grunge. One of those two seems to need magic lighting. It has helped to realize this is the case.

The thing I would clamp down on is the attitude they display here:

6 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Sometimes it feels like gaslighting, with all of them acting as though I have unreasonable expectations.  The younger kids now make comments about how Mom wants everything “perfect” and how it’s so unfair.  But it isn’t about perfect, though I do think it should be pretty darn clean at least some of the time. I just don’t want my family to be comfortable in a consistent layer of filth. Or for my guests to encounter filth beyond what might normally show up in a busy day or two.

That kind of complaining is not okay. What you are listing is hygienic, not "perfect" or unreasonable. I do know a few people who are naturally neat but not clean or people who are clean but not neat (I am partially in the clean but not always neat category!), but even then, most people aren't gross. 

I wonder if, instead of a checklist, you have a series of relevant questions. Things like, if I wipe the floor behind the toilet with a piece of toilet paper, does the toilet paper get covered in crud? 

Also, does it help to change tools? I have sometimes told my family that they can clean it with whatever kind of cloth or tool they like if it actually gets clean. If my method doesn't work for them, fine, but it has to actually come clean. (And they can't wipe off the toilet and then use the same thing to wipe the sink--ew!)

I also have sort of pre-clean method I try to get them to follow where they wipe a bunch of stuff down quickly to get the worst stuff of--damp rag, no cleaning solution, etc. You don't have to be particularly picky. It gets rid of 90% of the dust, hair, fuzz, sticky junk, and other things that tend to just shuffle from one surface to another. Then, they get a new rag, and they do the "for real" cleaning. I have tons of rags, and I tell them this is not a contest to see who can use the fewest rags. Just get the job done--we will NOT run out, lol! 

The bathtub was our battleground for a while. I had two brawny males that could NOT get the scum off the tub. They are both about 20x as strong as me, and I could get it clean. I basically mocked them until they decided to make a reasonable stab at getting the tub cleaned. It helped. This is one of the areas where they needed different lighting and needed to feel the scum with their bare hands before they really understood.

And yes, some people are gross. I moved into an apartment post-college that had recently been vacated by...drumroll...nursing majors. It was almost the most disgusting place I'd ever been. Dead mouse, mice poop everywhere, mold under the sink, carpet that was so filthy it changed color when I swept it (like 1/4 inch of dust and dirt and mouse turds on it), a shower stall that turned out to also be a different color after what I can only describe as "debridement" of the shower walls (I could probably have used a vegetable peeler to shave crud off in layers). It was so, so bad. 

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I’d give them the laminated list for the bathroom before, and after they’ve ‘cleaned’.  Have them check their work against the detailed checklist.  Then ask ‘will I think it’s clean?’  That always gets my gang scurrying back to redo their cleaning.  Or ask ‘will our guest think it’s clean?’  Somehow, even though they know how to clean and tell me they’ve cleaned, if I ask that question, they realize they didn’t do a good job. 🙄. Every time! 

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1 hour ago, annegables said:

I call this "my vagina eyes." I live with all males and I swear, they dont see the mess, dirt, pee, etc. My vagina eyes are like my sixth sense or superpower. With my vagina eyes, I can see floor pee, dirty clothes, dishes, you name it.  My vagina eyes are also capable of finding things in cabinets where they have always been. It's a gift and a burden to have this superpower. 

But seriously, keep on keeping on. I make them clean the whole house every evening. My prayer is that by the time they are launched, they will be able to see and take care of the mess by themselves.

 

I spit my drink out when I read this! 🤣😂 This will go down as a new phrase I will say to myself along with RBF "Resting B*#@! Face." When I said RBF to my sister, she asked, "Where did you hear that?" "TWM forum, of course." I learn so much here. Thank you for adding to my education. 😁

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Speaking from personal experience, there's probably psychology mixed up with your husband. I'd suggest counseling, but honestly, it may be more cost effective to spend that money on professional cleaners to come in every week.

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I'll think outside the box here, and not because I disagree with your premise:  Adults, near adults, and teens SHOULD BE CAPABLE of basic hygiene, both of their own bodies and of their living spaces!!!  

Having said that, you have tried many systems and they were good ideas but did not work because your people just don't care.  

Now it's time for you to deal with your reality.  YOU, and ONLY YOU will be doing deep cleaning in your house.  Now, natural consequences of this reality:

- only you get to use master bathroom.  It is YOURS.  Put a keyed lock on it.  YOU should not have to deal with other people's filth.  

- you will decide if people can have guests over, based on your free time and whether or not your family members can scrape together money to pay you minimum wage while you clean their filth up, and whether or not you are interested in taking on the job.

- only you are allowed to prepare raw meat in the kitchen, because only you can be trusted to clean it up safely.  If that means the family has to eat vegetarian for the foreseeable future because you are "worn out," then too bad for them.  

- Objects left out will be thrown out every Friday at 4pm AND one hour before any of your own personal guests (as posted on the family calendar) are expected to arrive.  Those items will not be replaced at your expense.   

 

------

Obviously you don't need to do every single natural consequence as listed above, but I'm saying you no longer need to shield them from the natural consequences of their behavior and you also no longer need to put up with it in bitterness.  If you use a natural consequence, you also lose the right to b!tch about the behaviors (no offense, couldn't think of a better phrase!  😂)

If you are not comfortable with the natural consequences, you may need to consider whether or not it's time to give up the resentment and bitterness (both of which are NORMAL and warranted reactions to the situation!!!) and decide that doing this service for your family will be an act of self-sacrifice and love... and let it go.  You're going to be doing this work anyway, so let go of the emotional burden of it.  

 

Anyway, just wanted to think outside the box for a minute on this.  

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7 hours ago, annegables said:

I call this "my vagina eyes." I live with all males and I swear, they dont see the mess, dirt, pee, etc. My vagina eyes are like my sixth sense or superpower. With my vagina eyes, I can see floor pee, dirty clothes, dishes, you name it.  My vagina eyes are also capable of finding things in cabinets where they have always been. It's a gift and a burden to have this superpower. 

But seriously, keep on keeping on. I make them clean the whole house every evening. My prayer is that by the time they are launched, they will be able to see and take care of the mess by themselves.

Oh, lol!!!
It is such a shame that my primary targets here are girls!

2 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I'll think outside the box here, and not because I disagree with your premise:  Adults, near adults, and teens SHOULD BE CAPABLE of basic hygiene, both of their own bodies and of their living spaces!!!  

Having said that, you have tried many systems and they were good ideas but did not work because your people just don't care.  

Now it's time for you to deal with your reality.  YOU, and ONLY YOU will be doing deep cleaning in your house.  Now, natural consequences of this reality:

- only you get to use master bathroom.  It is YOURS.  Put a keyed lock on it.  YOU should not have to deal with other people's filth.  

- you will decide if people can have guests over, based on your free time and whether or not your family members can scrape together money to pay you minimum wage while you clean their filth up, and whether or not you are interested in taking on the job.

- only you are allowed to prepare raw meat in the kitchen, because only you can be trusted to clean it up safely.  If that means the family has to eat vegetarian for the foreseeable future because you are "worn out," then too bad for them.  

- Objects left out will be thrown out every Friday at 4pm AND one hour before any of your own personal guests (as posted on the family calendar) are expected to arrive.  Those items will not be replaced at your expense.   ------

Obviously you don't need to do every single natural consequence as listed above, but I'm saying you no longer need to shield them from the natural consequences of their behavior and you also no longer need to put up with it in bitterness.  If you use a natural consequence, you also lose the right to b!tch about the behaviors (no offense, couldn't think of a better phrase!  😂)

If you are not comfortable with the natural consequences, you may need to consider whether or not it's time to give up the resentment and bitterness (both of which are NORMAL and warranted reactions to the situation!!!) and decide that doing this service for your family will be an act of self-sacrifice and love... and let it go.  You're going to be doing this work anyway, so let go of the emotional burden of it.  

Anyway, just wanted to think outside the box for a minute on this.  


Maybe this is the reminder that I really need.  Over the past few years, I HAVE put a lot of effort into acceptance, for the most part. I’ve doled out other jobs that are less.... subjective, for lack of a better word. I’ve had conversations with myself about how, if I’m the only person who wants something, I’m going to have to “get it” myself.

All of that went completely out the window yesterday. I didn’t remember a single bit of it until reading this post. Maybe I’m not capable of 100% acceptance every single day and should aim for something closer to a middle ground.  Even though cleaning is the issue at hand, it’s the emotions around it that pulled me back into this battle.

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8 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Oh, lol!!!
It is such a shame that my primary targets here are girls!


Maybe this is the reminder that I really need.  Over the past few years, I HAVE put a lot of effort into acceptance, for the most part. I’ve doled out other jobs that are less.... subjective, for lack of a better word. I’ve had conversations with myself about how, if I’m the only person who wants something, I’m going to have to “get it” myself.

All of that went completely out the window yesterday. I didn’t remember a single bit of it until reading this post. Maybe I’m not capable of 100% acceptance every single day and should aim for something closer to a middle ground.  Even though cleaning is the issue at hand, it’s the emotions around it that pulled me back into this battle.

 

I think, very justifiably, you feel disrespected by the behavior of your family.  I certainly would.  And that is a lot worse than feeling embarrassed that a guest might see a yucky bathroom.  Maybe, somehow, this is a conversation you can have with at least your husband.  And sometimes, it's a for better or for worse situation, and you choose to stop engaging in the battle for your own emotional health.  It really sucks and I don't want to downplay your situation at all.  I'm just encouraging you to stop beating your head against a cement wall.  Big hugs! 

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So you know those little stickers you get in a garment that say “this garment inspected by ——“

perhaps for the sake of your sanity, you need one for your bathroom so that all guests know who did this. 

The kids who cleaned, or poorly clean the bathroom gets to own it. 

Like a chalkboard or something that says “this bathroom cleaned by ——-“ where the cleaner signs their name.

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23 hours ago, hjffkj said:

Making them clean the bathroom daily would just solidify their idea that you need things perfect. Once a week for bathrooms is plenty. I'd simply send them back in and point out what isn't cleaned and tell them to finish the job. Rinse repeat.

My kids can destroy a bathroom in less than one day. And they do it daily. 

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On 12/7/2019 at 4:03 PM, Carrie12345 said:

Three grown/practically grown people had deemed that not just clean, but guest clean!  I guess because they had put away all of the towels, clothes, and stuff, which is more than they tend to do for “regular” cleaning.

I would like to suggest that perhaps you need to make sure explain that there is a difference and WHY there's a difference.  Because I can tell you that in our house, "guest clean" and "regular" clean mean very close to the same thing.  

Now, "DEEP clean" and "clean" don't mean the same thing.  Like, we do our toilets every day, but we don't get behind the toilet every day and doing the tub, it probably happens like once a month or so.  And we just close the shower curtain to the tub anyway when guests come lol.  However, if I sent the kids to "clean the bathroom" they would all do their particular bathroom chores and consider that clean enough.  it wouldn't be until I said "ok, we need to DEEP CLEAN" this bathroom things like putting the shower curtain in the washer, wiping down the tub, etc etc would happen.  And I would have to reiterate that specifically.  Because if regularly cleaning is good enough for "regular" cleaning, then it's got to be good enough for "guest clean."   At least that would be the thought process.

Now, my kids are quite a bit younger, but I can tell you that that thought process is exactly the thought process that would happen for DH too.  

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19 hours ago, annegables said:

I call this "my vagina eyes." I live with all males and I swear, they dont see the mess, dirt, pee, etc. My vagina eyes are like my sixth sense or superpower. With my vagina eyes, I can see floor pee, dirty clothes, dishes, you name it.  My vagina eyes are also capable of finding things in cabinets where they have always been. It's a gift and a burden to have this superpower. 

But seriously, keep on keeping on. I make them clean the whole house every evening. My prayer is that by the time they are launched, they will be able to see and take care of the mess by themselves.

 

This, and I think the rest of them just don't care. I am certain everyone saw the brown streaks (please be chocolate, please be chocolate) from someone's hand on the inside of the hall bath but no one actually cares enough to clean it except me. 

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