Messy House is Depressing!
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Messy House is Depressing!
In the scope of things this is pretty insignificant yet it bothers
me quite a bit. I grew up in a household with three other
females and a father who was well trained by his mother
and being in the military. Between the five of us our house
was always clean. I actually LOVED to clean when I was
young (nothing better than getting in the tub and scrubbing
the tiles!) and I stayed in this mode until a few years into my
current 12 year marriage. My husband is not a slob but he's
also not into cleaning at all. We had many many arguments
early on about cleaning the house, to the point where I got
tired of arguing and gradually I've sunk to the lowest
common denominator and the house now gets really dirty
before I'm motivated to clean it. We can't afford a house
cleaner. I understand that he works very long hours (without
bringing home much income, but that's another story) and
doesn't want to clean on days off, but it's depressing to me
and in my stubborness, resentment and sense of futility I've
become someone I don't recognize in this regard. My son,
newly out of the house, is also not a cleaning fanatic. I also
work outside the home and cleaning up after males has
never been my idea of fun. How do other couple deal with
I have done Flylady and it has helped a lot. I don't espouse
every one of her views, but I get what I need (a routine, what to
clean, etc.) and leave the rest. www.flylady.net
You sound just like me. My fiance and I have been living
together for about three years. We were best friends for YEARS
before and silly me - I knew he was a slob. He can barely put a
cap back on anything he opens – mayonnaise, soda, shaving cream
(nothing). When my family calls and asks what I’m doing I
almost always say that I am cleaning up. My grandmother finally
says - you guys have a little house (typical Berkeley
bungalow) ''WHAT are you always cleaning.'' We have no kids and
He works F/T and goes to school F/T so he complains about the
long hours and having to get fussed at by me as soon as he gets
home too. Lord knows how this will change when we do have kids.
House keeper is also not an option.
How do we deal with this? There’s three sides to every story.
1. When I get completely fed up I yell. I tell him I am
not strong enough to do my work and his work too and something
has to change or I will snap – and then I break into tears.
(this happens once a month – hormones).
2. I clean up. I bought a box and his stuff goes in the
box. If the box fills up it goes in his closet and I make
another one. But I keep on cleaning. I add it into part of my
routine and clean clean clean. I clean when I get up (he stays
up late studying and snacking.) I clean when I get home – the
bathroom, his clothes from the morning and whatever he ate. I
clean before I go to bed. (My grandmother says it’s a woman’s
work and I better find a routine now before it gets out of
control. Yeah, yeah I thought it was antiquated also until I
realized somebody has to clean this house and it will never be
him). Luckily, I don’t do any of the cooking so I justify it as
the trade off.
3.&nb! sp;When in doubt I call my girls and they let me share my
fantasies (having enough money for a housekeeper, coming home
to a man that cleans, kicking him out so I can have some sanity
again) and before I go to far they chuckle and tell me it will
Was any of this the concrete advice you were looking for? I
don’t think so. But I hope you find solace in knowing that you
are not alone. There are many men and women that are stuck with
a slob for a partner. My grandmother is a domestic goddess.
Worked every day of her adult life and to this day at 80+ keeps
an immaculate home (with a messy husband). I’m just not strong
enough. My grandkids will not be able to say the same of my
If my fiance could clean I would think differently but I’ve
seen him try to clean. He can’t stay focused on one task at a
time and ends up with twelve started and unfinished projects
lying around the house. My only option is to get rid of the
fiancé and recapture a clean home because my fiancé just
doesn’t have what it takes to be a clean guy. Since I don’t
want to get rid of him I also learn to live at the lowest
common denominator. Some people call it settling. I call it
getting past my expectations and dealing with the reality of my
I know you said you couldn't afford a housecleaner, but what
about once a month? (or even every-other month?) My once-a-month
cleaner costs me $68 ($17/hr x 4 hrs.) to clean about 2,000 sq.
ft. Once-a-month cleaning means that if I never clean, the house
still gets done, and if I want the house cleaned more, I just
clean a l! ittle. In short, i probably vacuum once a month (but not
always!), and clean a few sinks and toilets once a month. But I
never bother scrubbing showers, tubs, etc. and rarely dust.
I don't recommend cleaning services -- they overcharge you and
underpay their people. Just find an individual.
That said, can you possibly get your husband to take
responsibility for one small job? Maybe cleaning a half-bath, if
you have one, which just means sink, toilet and floor?? It's
about 20 minutes of work... Or could he vacuum, if you're willing
to do all the pick-up and other rooms?
I've heard putting mats outside and inside all your doors reduces
dirt tracked in the house. A shoes-off policy is even better.
Cuts down on the need to vacuum.
Also, maybe assess the problem. Too much clutter? That's picking
up, not cleaning and calls for different solutions. (Find better
storage solutions and picking up regularly.)
My Spouse Doesn't Clean Either
Check out www.flylady.net. I've been using the routines and
zone cleaning ideas for about a month and my house is much
cleaner and organized with (what seems like) a lot less effort.
My husband sounds similar to yours and its taken me years to
convince him to take responsibility for a couple straight
forward everyday tasks (namely emptying the dishwasher and
taking out the garbage). Those are the only two things he does
without me explicitly asking and any other request is met with
opposition. But I just started something about a month ago
that is actually working out pretty well. I have a nine-year-
old daughter, too. So I introduced the idea of us all (at the
same time) spending 1 hour of our weekend on cleaning. I put
pieces of paper in a bowl with different items on them,
like ''Pick a Bedroom'', ''Pick a Bathroom'', ''Kitchen''
and ''Frontroom''. Each of us picks a piece of paper. There's a
short period of trades, where I basically let them take mine,
if they'd rather. Then we set the kitchen timer fo! r 30 minutes
and each goes to their selected room and cleans. Then we come
back and take a second ''turn.'' I'm actually pretty amazed at
how well this has worked. Neither of them have complained
(yet) and, although we don't get all the rooms done every week,
we're bound to get them done every other week. And 1 hour
doesn't seem too terribly overwhelming to anyone. Often I go
in and do a thing or two more in the rooms they cleaned, but
it's so much easier than doing the whole thing myself that I
don't mind at all.
I am sure you will get a ton of people recommending this website
to you... but that is because it is WONDERFUL!!!
Try it and you'll be thrilled!
My best advice is to re-think the affordability of a
housecleaner. It may be less expensive than you think, and if I
had to pinch pennies, there are a great many things I'd give up
long before the housecleaner. (Cable TV comes immediately to
The other possible solution is, rather than trying to get your
husband to do his share of the cleaning, you could make a
conscious ''trade''. You'll clean, because it's important to you,
and he'll do some other task or tasks that matter more to him --
car or yard maintenance, perhaps, or the grocery shopping. In
fact, the division of labor in your household may already be
more fair than you think it is. (Or, if it isn't, perhaps your
husband would be more open to discussing it if you were
proposing something other than him doing more cleaning.)
Hasn't Cleaned a Bathtub in Years
Yes, this issue can be a killer! My husband and I spent a long
time fighting about housecleaning (we can't afford a cleaner
either) until we reached a compromise. Two things work great-
first, instead of nagging him all weekend to please do
something around the house, ! he has one weekly chore that he
does with the understanding that he must do it every weekend
and I won't nag or mention it. His chore, we decided, it to
vacuum the whole house. Second, I swear by www.flylady.net.
Her system of daily maintenence, decluttering and weekly chores
will keep your house spic and span. Yes, you get a million e-
mails, but I think its worth it. The key is really to do a
little bit every day instead of letting it overwhelm and
depress you. Will you do more work than your husband? Yes.
But its more important to you (I am convinced that left to his
own devices my husband would live in complete squalor) and once
your house is beautiful again, I doubt you'll care. Once you
are able to let go of your resentment, you'll be amazed at the
happy (and even sometimes productive) husband and marriage and
house that emerge.&nb! sp; Sounds simplistic, but I speak with
experience! Good luck!
I'd start limiting their sphere of influence. Let your husband
make a total mess on his side of the bed, and beat him around
the head and shoulders if he messes up the rest of the house
(ahem. figuratively speaking, of course). This type
of ''training,'' should take about three years, of course.
In the meantime, this is obviously getting you down, so I'd
start flylady. www.flylady.com
I didn't read the original post; but take it from someone who’s had a
weekly cleaner and who’s had to fight the battle of a messy house for
years anyway. Until recently, when I decided to really organize my
I started with the kitchen and bath cabinets and eventually moved onto
my husbands office and daughter's room. I found all sorts of neat and
inexpensive draw and shelf organizers, door hooks, etc at the hardware
store that really helped. And I threw away and donated tons of stuff.
With the piles of stuff off all the surfaces, I 'm able to display some
things that have been buried in all our junk.
The main ''work'' --getting started with the kitchen took a few days;
once I got on a role, this cleaning process built up its own momentum.!
My husband even pitched in, taking pride in his contributions.
The organization has been contagious! My family has
Started being much neater because the house looks so much better.
And I'm on considering getting rid of our house cleaner because the
house looks almost as good before she comes as after she leaves!
Being pregnant and at my wit's end with our messy house and lack
of energy to clean, I started a new schedule. I've broken down
the components of our house which need to be cleaned into 10
individual jobs (e.g., one room at a time, floors, etc.) I then
calendar each job once over a two week period. I am able to
find the time and energy to clean on this basis. The tasks that
take more time and/or energy I calendar for days that have
little else going on. I've also picked a couple of things I
really don't like and have assig! ned them to my husband
(oven/stove, master bath, mowing the lawn). I feel like it is a
fair trade and it feels very doable. Hope it helps.
-- Can't afford a house cleaner either!
this page was last updated: Aug 19, 2004
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