Home Forums Challenges Living with Clutterers All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

This topic contains 40 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Ella 7 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #159609

    Hayley
    Member

    I’m a college student living with my mom who has a small house full of clutter and no where to store it. She’s been trying so hard on her own to get the house under control but with two young boys (ages 3 and 1), a teenage daughter (age 15), and myself, a moms work is never done. My mom is a couponer to boot so she ends up with tons of excess stock from her sales and can’t keep up with the garage sales to get rid of it all and doesn’t have the space to store it. For Christmas I didn’t want to get her any more clutter but I don’t have the money to higher a professional organizer and I can’t do it all on my own because of the possibility of getting rid of something important; plus my mom can’t let go of something unless she makes a profit off of it. So I’m really at a loss for how to help her get organized and help her have a more functional de-cluttered house. That’s the gift I want to get her for Christmas, a fresh start and get her on the road to a cleaner, more efficient home. I need advise on how I can give that to her for Christmas. Anything would be appreciated.

  • #197964

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hi Hayley. Welcome to the forum!

    It’s very hard to persuade someone (especially family) to declutter when you’re not on the same page. Your motives are loving and admirable, but your mom might not be willing. I’d try this: ASK HER what specific thing(s) you could do to help. Start the conversation by telling her it’s important to you to contribute to the care of your home. Identify a selection of tasks that you could do to help declutter and organize. Offer her that selection of tasks and ask her to choose which ones she would let you do. Even if she only lets you take responsibility for just one thing, it’s a foot in the door, so to speak. If you can show her that you can do that task consistently and with respect to her boundaries, you will pave the way to adding more tasks. You will gain awareness as you go along. Hopefully, she will too.

    Always remember that decluttering is an ongoing process, not an event. It took a long time to build up the clutter (and the cluttering mindset), and it’s going to take a long time to sort it all out. Keep reading and posting on this forum. We’re here to support you with ideas and encouragement. πŸ™‚

  • #197971

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    I just thought of another idea…
    Since your mom is a couponer, you could make her a booklet of coupons for Christmas with each coupon offering one of your services for cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. Make the booklet cute and “Christmas gifty” πŸ™‚ If you work with her love of redeeming coupons for free stuff, you might be better able to charm and cajole her into your decluttering program.

  • #198009

    bandicoot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    hi hayley….your mum is lucky to have a daughter like you!
    your proposed gift is nothing short of awesome.

    i agree with everything that ella has said (she is a wise cookie), particularly about decluttering not being an event.
    it is a process, sometimes a long process, and usually requires great shifts in thinking.
    if your mum is open to the whole idea, then her first step is to completely stop buying coupon stuff.
    step two is to start getting rid of the stuff already in situ.
    this is where you come in: get garage saling, ebaying, donating, recycling, trashing, whatever you have to do.

    of course, before you begin anything, you will have to have a chat with your mum and find out what her goals are with regards to this.
    get on the same page before you start…it will be a lot easier in the long run.

  • #198011

    Sky
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hayley, your Mom is fortunate to have you! Since your Mom is probably the only one that can make the decision of what to declutter, maybe you could take care of the boys while she declutters. Also, you and your sister could keep the house clean and the laundry done to free up Mom’s time so she can declutter.

    Maybe she would let you put like things together for her to go through. You are so sweet to want to help your Mom.

  • #198027

    Hayley
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Wow thank you all for the amount of feedback you’ve given me, I never expected this.

    Ella, my mom is on board with the idea of having a decluttered home, I grew up with her trying sites like FlyLady and what not, she is just not the most proactive about it as she is a busy mom as most of you probably understand. I agree it is a process, and I thank you for reminding me of that. Sometimes I forget and am impatient — I need to work on that. My sister and I actually have tried the coupon gift idea many times. However being teenagers we wouldn’t always follow through when she wanted to redeem them so the idea has lost its credibility for her, but thank you for the suggestion.

    Conny, it’s funny you mention that because just in these past couple of months I’ve started auctioning stuff for her on Ebay and Craiglist because she never has time to put the auction up and managed to sell off 11 pairs of maternity clothes, a coat, and even some of my own stuff on there. However I can’t get her to let go of the prom or wedding dress still in my closet. I never realized that I was helping her that much by doing that. I was just trying to get it all out of my closet because I can’t stand a cluttered room. Thank you for that realization.

    Bandicoot, I think getting her to stop her couponing is not an option for her. Couponing for necessities such as groceries is one thing that I think is actually a good thing, it’s the things like toiletries and medicine that she gets because they basically pay her to buy it that bothers me. But she makes too much money off of it in garage sales for her to give it up. Again it’s all about profit and the “I might need this later” mindset that gets her in this situation. When I decluttered my room it took me only a few weeks and three boxes to get my room nice and neat. But I’m not very sentimental, have a relatively small room, and about to go off to uni so it’s not like I really need all this stuff to go with me. My mom’s situation is a little more permanent as we’ve lived there for over 14 years.

    Sky, you are totally right, my mom is the only one that can make the decision on what to declutter and that is really frustrating to me because it all looks unnecessary to me and I want to do it for her. Most of her clutter is stacks and stacks of paper. Where does it all come from I wonder sometimes? And you’re right I should probably take the boys and chores off her hands it’s just that they are such a handful. I wish my sister would jump on board too with the boys and chores however she’s 14 and her room looks worse than all of the rest of the house combined but that is a whole other matter to tackle at a much much later time.

    Anyway I think I’m going to try and be a little more patient and just set up like a couple days where I just watch the kids while she works on the house and like actually start doing chores like laundry, dishes, and cooking dinner for her. I realize now that that is where I would be more efficient and more helpful for her even though those tasks are sound more unpleasant and I would rather do the decluttering. But if it means a cleaner house and my mom is less stressed, I’m willing to do some unpleasant work. Thank you all for hearing me out and giving me much needed advise. All along I guess it was more a matter of me reevaluating my approach and how I could help her indirectly than how to directly get rid of the problem — the cluttered house. Thank you all again a thousand times over.

  • #198053

    lottielot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    You sound like a very thoughtful daughter, let us know how you go πŸ™‚ Maybe you could also be her clutter companion? You could be the one who organises supplies for her: boxes labelled with destinations for stuff to be sold, bin liners for rubbish, maybe some folders or organisation system for coupons? I bet you’re already very helpful in helping eBay stuff for her, but I agree that it must be very hard to try to unclutter with 2 such small kids to look after. Tell her you want to help, ask her to think over the best way you can help her, and follow through on your promises. Maybe get your sister to babysit for a few hours while you help your mum get started, getting started is often the hardest bit. Then you could take over from your sister while your mum gets on with it. It sounds like she needs a longer term solution to storing all her stuff to sell, but for the time being, just getting started on getting rid of junk and organising things seems like a first step. Well done for your consideration πŸ™‚

  • #198055

    Anonymous

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Wow, the previous posters are right on – you’re a great person to help your mom this way.

    I wonder if your mom might have a ‘big’ sort of goal to save for – a new or newer car, new furniture, a holiday trip, that sort of thing? If she does, then maybe you could use the goal of selling things more quickly, (and setting aside the money for the Big Goal) might not help your mom be a bit more on board and active?

    Good luck with all of it! And let us know how you get on.

  • #198059

    Emilie
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hayley, I can relate! I also live with my mom and try to help her out the best I can. She definitely struggles with clutter and I’ve helped her with that as well. With my mom, I’ve tried different approaches, and I think the best one is for me to mostly stand back and wait for her to ask for help. I try to set an uncluttering example and give her encouragement and positive feedback. I’ve found that if I push her too hard, she starts to go “hey, maybe decluttering is Emilie’s idea and not mine”. Of course, your mom may be different. My point is that there is no “one size fits all” strategy.

    Is your mom’s clutter primarily from couponing? The sad fact is, if stuff is entering the house faster than it’s leaving, decluttering is just not going to be possible. Does she need the extra money? Is there some activity that can give her the thrill of couponing without the stuff? Can there be a designated space for couponed goods, and once that space is full, she could stop getting more until she sells some? Just throwing ideas out there.

    It can be frustrating to live with someone who has a different “clutter threshold” than you do. It sounds like your mom’s is much higher than yours, even if she does want to reduce her clutter. I think some people wonder what their house will look like without clutter, or if it’ll really be worth the effort. With my mom, I think there is definitely ambivalence on her part, even though she expresses a lot of overwhelm about the clutter. So, take it slow and try to be patient πŸ™‚

  • #198074

    bandicoot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    hayley, you say your mother can’t/won’t give up bringing new stuff home with coupons.
    well, not to be a bitch about it, but she cannot have it both ways.
    to declutter, you have to get rid of stuff faster than you acquire stuff.
    i mean, that is just a law of physics that cannot be escaped.
    if she won’t quit couponing…at the very least until the current situation is sorted out…then the project is doomed to failure.

  • #198076

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hayley — you are a good and thoughtful daughter! As you’ve pointed out, you are out of the house soon, and focusing on what you can do to help is a great idea and has a time limit — it’s not forever. You might want to ask you mother what she needs most from you in your remaining time at home.

  • #198077

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hayley: Can you give us details of the cluttered areas and the types of clutter there? Is it a pile-up of dirty or clean clothes? Piles of papers? What kind of papers and where? Piles of coupons? What kind of stuff to be sold on garage sales? Where is it, in what rooms, in bags or in piles on the floor? Is the kitchen a mess? Dirty dishes? What about the bathroom?

    In other words, identify the areas and the specific clutter there. Then choose at least one area or one type of clutter to be responsible for yourself. Post about it here, and we can give you ideas and guidance.

    You’ve said that you (and your sister) didn’t follow through on your past offers to help your mom. If she feels that she can’t really count on you, that could be a big source of her stress and sense of being overwhelmed. So it’s important now to show her that you can and will follow through. Not just for Christmas, but every day that you continue to live there.

  • #198090

    mili
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    bandicoot is right about the couponing. I’ll go one further and say that she can’t be making as much money as all that if the stuff is moving slow enough to stagnate into clutter. Plus, selling on unwanted stuff to get back a little of what you paid is one thing, and making money off of (re)selling things is another. The first is something anybody might do – just an alternative to donating the items; the second is a business venture, however small-scale or after-hours. IT sounds like she says she is doing the latter, but is in fact according to all available evidence doing the former.

    So, she needs to decide whether what she’s after is getting rid of excess (in which case selling it is only one option, and by no means always the most sensible) or make some dough. Which with four kids would not be a bad idea at all, but again, selling random batches of stuff with no specialization or specific business plan is not necessarily the savviest, most-likely-to-succeed way to do it.

    You know, Hayley, I think you’re a great kid, and your mother should be both proud of you, and thankful to have you. But if I may say so, I also worry you’re shouldering far too much of the responsibility in this situation. I understand absolutely that you hate to live in the clutter, and being on the cusp of adulthood, your room is no longer sufficient space on a mental level – you want the rest of your space to reach a few bare-minimum benchmarks of order and cleanliness, and right now it sounds like it doesn’t. More, it sounds like even your room isn’t fully yours, since at least that wedding dress would be your mother’s (prolly the prom one too). So I get the desire to take charge and effect change – in fact, it’s an admirable one.

    What I’m not sure it is, is realistic or in your own best interests. Specifically, I think you’re taking on too much of the burden of keeping a house that is NOT your turf – it’s your mother’s. If on the practical/organizational level a parallel may be made between a household and another organization such as a workplace, then your mother’s the CEO, even if as the eldest child you are middle management and are allowed some initiative. In school terms, you may be a department head, but she’s the principal πŸ˜‰ She has the power to reverse decisions you made (such as regarding what to get rid of, and how), as well as the power to not take action about matters you think need addressing. I am concerned that trying to effect change from your position may end up giving you more trouble.

    Unless your mother actually starts decluttering herself, properly showing the will to do this, it doesn’t seem to me like you will be able to make significant, lasting changes – and I am very much afraid that trying too hard to make those changes will result in tension at home. You are already at a tense time – you get three females, all three at key transitional life stages, living in cramped quarters, with seemingly quite different requirements of their space, THAT is a powder keg if ever I heard of one. And believe me, I know a thing or two when it comes to female-dominated groups – I spent a good part of my formative years in that kind of dynamic.

    At this point, I think the best thing for yourself is to shift your focus away from correcting the situation in general and onto looking after your own best interests. First, by making sure your own possessions as are decluttered as you want them (but no more; you may find it a challenge not to get rid of stuff you DO need just as a result of being swallowed up by other people’s junk). Second, by enforcing boundaries so that others keep their junk in their space, not yours. Starting with that wedding dress and prom dress your mother’s stuffed in your closet!

  • #198094

    bandicoot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    mili makes a great point about the selling-of-couponed-goods.
    if it is coming in fast enough BUT moving out slowly enough to be actual clutter….then it really isn’t an efficient business model.

  • #198109

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    From what I know of couponers (my sister has been doing it big time for years), there’s no talking them out of it. It is a seriously addictive pastime, to the point of obsession (such as my sister). But it is also possible to be an organized couponer.

    mili: I don’t see that Hayley has taken on too much responsibility. Or any yet.
    So far she hasn’t mentioned whether she is actively taking care of ANY of the general everyday housekeeping chores, outside of her own room. Hayley: Is your mom the only person doing all the shopping and cooking and cleaning for the five of you?

    I’m assuming that’s the case based on what you posted above…
    “Anyway I think I’m going to try and be a little more patient and just set up like a couple days where I just watch the kids while she works on the house and like actually start doing chores like laundry, dishes, and cooking dinner for her. I realize now that that is where I would be more efficient and more helpful for her even though those tasks are sound more unpleasant and I would rather do the decluttering. But if it means a cleaner house and my mom is less stressed, I’m willing to do some unpleasant work.”

  • #198127

    Hayley
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Again thank you all for the continued support. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to implement even of your suggestions as my mom is on vacation right now but I will definitely talk to her to work out some sort of game plan together once she gets back next week.

    Today I attempted to get my sister onboard with helping with chores and the boys but she seemed very uninterested. Who knows, maybe she’ll get on board if she sees me helping or mom will make her get on board. Haha.

    I don’t think my mom has a certain big goal in mind. She just saves money because that’s her lifestyle. And also I assume in the case of emergency situations such as cars breaking down and perhaps so she has a little wiggle room to go on vacations like the one she’s on now. I’m not really sure since I don’t have to balance the pay check. I don’t believe we are any financial trouble so I can’t quite wrap my head around why she must make a profit in every situation.

    Emilie, thank you so much for your advise. I think my mom has a very similar attitude about clutter as your mom does and I have been acting similarly, only helping when she wants the help. If I harp on her too much she just roles her eyes at me and stubbornly holds on to things.
    You know I really don’t know where the source of it all comes from exactly but she’s been couponing since I was born so I’m sure it’s the biggest contributing factor. Sometimes I don’t think she realizes the couponing is getting a little overwhelmingly extreme. Compared to the extreme couponing shows she doesn’t see herself as that bad, but for me I don’t like to buy in stock but it might just be my age. A storage area would be very beneficial to her but she has two sheds for that that are already full and that’s not stopping her so I think she has to clear out the sheds first like you said. I just don’t know how to make her understand that she has to cut down on what she’s bringing in.
    I have a very low “clutter-threshold”, I guess it comes from being a perfectionist but like you said it can be very hard to be patient.

    Ella — as far as cluttered areas, I find the kitchen, living/dining area, and any storage areas (such as our two sheds, a back bedroom, closets, and cabinetries) all stacked to the brim with miscellaneous items. She often has those recyclable bags lining the back door and kitchen area with the stock I mentioned earlier such as boxes of toothpaste, off-brand medicine, off-brand vitamins, canned goods (because the pantry is too full). I think the worst area in the whole house is a toss up between the dining room table and the kitchen counters. The table is covered in coupons, medical and financial records from when she tried to reorganize the filing cabinet, mail, notes she jotted down, toys and movies from the boys, you name it. The kitchen counter has tons of unwashed dishes, more coupons, mail, more bags from coupon sales, and overflow from the kitchen table, you get the point. The living room has lots of toys all over the place but what I find worse than the toys is the boxes and stacks of paper (I don’t know what their purpose is, there probably isn’t a purpose). The shed has two four-wheelers and I think a bunch of garage sale stuff and more stock from coupon sales.
    On a side note, I’d like to point out that when I went through a massive cleaning of my room I filled three whole boxes and wanted to get them out fast so I was going to bring them to Goodwill but my mom had me put them in the shed instead because again she wants to make a profit. That was frustrating for me.
    I hope I was descriptive enough and gave enough details of the type of clutter and problem areas of our house.
    I’ve really been trying to help my mom and have given her my advise and support by trying to inspire her with my own success with my room de-cluttering. So I feel like she and I have gotten closer and are at more of an understanding and she actually trusts me to follow through and get things done so I don’t think that’s a problem. However the dishes is a sore spot for us as I extremely distaste washing dishes and she won’t use the hand me down washing machine we have so we’ve had our differences there. I really am going to do my part more for the remainder of my time at home in hopes that will help her get things a little more under control.

    Mili, as my post is far longer than I intended to be as I ramble a lot I can’t comment specifically on everything you said however I never saw it from that point of view and truly appreciate your input and concern. I really am ready to have my own place and to have everything neat however I feel like my room is sufficient for now. I only wish to help my mom more than I already do. And all I do as of now is keep my space tidy and babysit the boys from time to time.

    You are correct Ella, my mom does all the shopping, cleaning, and cooking for the six of us. I really don’t help all that much and that’s my fault. So I want to pick up the slack. I know my mom wants to get things in order. She has some mental blocks and time is just never on her side. But maybe if I help, but not over do it, she can get there in the next few years when I do have to leave.

  • #198129

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Thanks for describing all the details, Hayley. I get the picture now, and now I can understand why it seems so huge and utterly overwhelming, both for you and for your mom. Yikes.

    But we have a favorite motto here on the Unclutterer forums…
    How do you eat an elephant?
    One bite at a time.

    You need a place to start, and I think you already know what it is. Fate seems to have decreed that you will be the designated dishwasher. πŸ˜‰ We all have to learn to master the dishes sooner or later. Believe me, sooner is better.

    If there’s one thing the FlyLady got perfectly right, it’s the supreme importance of having a shiny clean kitchen sink. This means that after ALL the dishes are done, you finish up by cleaning the sink, then drying it so it shines.

    It sounds simplistic but it works. Some people shine their sink after every meal, some only once a day. But it needs to be done consistently, to become a habit. From there, the cleanliness and orderliness begin to spread out like ripples in a pond. If you can master the sink on a daily basis, you can conquer clutter. The same principle applies.

    Now hold on… if the thought of doing the dishes is just too disgustingly abhorrent to bear… try this for starters: Be responsible for washing your OWN dishes. Plus, if you ate food that was cooked in a pan, wash that pan. If the food that you ate was stirred in the pan with a spoon, wash that spoon.

    You get the idea. Be responsible for the things that are involved in your own care and upkeep. Eventually you’ll start helping with the shopping for the food that you eat. You’ll start helping with the cooking of the food that you eat. But for a place to start now: Start with washing your dishes and shining the sink after you’ve finished.

    You can do that while your mom is on vacation, and you’ll be well on the way to getting used to it by the time she comes home.

  • #198130

    pkilmain
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    And what about this used dishwasher you have. Is it installed? Does it work? Can you learn to operate it? Once the dishes are clean, it’s much easier to keep them up. I can wash dishes after a dinner for two of us in about 10 minutes. So 10 minutes, 3 times a day, means I spend a half hour or so a day (in reality my husband does them at least one meal a day). Part of maturing is learning to do the things necessary to maintain a clean, safe and sanitary living environment. You’ve made a great start b decluttering your bedroom, and you have good instincts about improving the rest of the house. Keep up the good work. πŸ™‚

  • #198134

    bandicoot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    i’ve washed dishes every day for decades, since i was 8 years old.
    i’ve washed dishes for a living.
    what is the drama? hayley, is it the greasy water? you can use gloves and/or do some selective pre- rinsing.
    i insist on music of my choosing when i am washing dishes. i get the music on and i have some sort of drink planned for after it is all done….coffee, tea or wine, depending on what time it is.

    washing dishes is not the most glamorous part of my day, for sure, but it beats the hell out of living with a dirty, smelly kitchen, and you just know that food on plates will bring vermin sooner or later.
    truly, washing the dishes each day is far far far the lesser of the nasty options!
    believe me, it is not a job that anyone loves.
    it is a job we just have to learn to do, to look after our homes.
    the way i see it is straightforward….i am a decent human being, i deserve a decent environment to live in, nobody else owes me that or is going to magically provide it for me, so i’d better organise it for myself.
    and you are a decent human being who deserves a decent place to live too….and like everyone else, you will have to organise it for yourself.
    there is no getting around that.

    get yourself an apron, some rubber gloves, put the music on loud and get stuck into the kitchen twice a day and you won’t believe what a difference it will make.
    keep us posted, please!

  • #198142

    Hayley
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    It seems that is the place to start. I admit when I’m home alone I do my own dishes and I am perfectly capable of doing more than just my dishes. I kind of wish everyone would just wash their own dishes but that’s not going to happen. I guess I’ll just have to be out of the norm and do mine and every one else’s too. I know how to wash dishes, it’s just that I’d rather just put them in the dishwasher and be done with it. Because dishes tend to build up at our house, perhaps could you give some advise on how to keep the build up from happening? I have a very different schedule from my mom and my sister. I’m home when they are not and they are home when I’m not (usually around dinner time) so it’s hard to like set up a time to do dishes because it’s not like a breakfast, lunch, and dinner round of dishes. It’s just anytime and all the time dishes pile up. I guess that’s normal right?

    Bandicoot, my mom is not very fortunate to have me as a daughter. My mom doesn’t delegate tasks, so I wouldn’t do them. As far as chores go I admit I have been a very selfish and lazy when it comes to helping out my family. I just recently in the past few months since I started college started to become more helpful to my mom.

    I think in the past it really wasn’t about washing dishes, it was the idea of chores. The only real “drama” was how long it took to wash dishes and the method. I remember whenever I actually did do dishes I would have to stand for about thirty minutes to an hour and wash them in a tub of water (mom likes to save water so she uses one tub of water to wash everything) then put all the dishes in another tub of bleach then on the rack to dry (and there was never enough room on the drying rack). Also I’m not the healthiest person in the world so I’d start to feel dizzy and nauseated because I don’t stay hydrated and apparently I lock my legs while standing over the sink. I’d have to lay down until it wore off which made the process that much longer. I also had to wear rubber gloves and the smell nauseated me too.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum at my dads or work all we have to do is stick them in the dishwasher and put it away, which is kind of a more fun task. But maybe that’s just me being lazy…
    I’m pretty sure the dishwasher works, my mom just won’t use it because in her experience dishwashers don’t do a good job and so she feels like she’d have to go back through and wash everything that wasn’t clean by hand. In my experience at work if something doesn’t get clean the first time through we just spray it and send it back through. It seems simpler.

    Forgive me for sounding like a snobby nose brat for not having the desire to help wash dishes. I just grew up not having to do it or do it that way so it’s a little frustrating because laziness, selfishness, and procrastination is a hard thing to conquer.

  • #198143

    Rosa
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    If you’re home when she’s not home, what happens if you just load/run the dishwasher? Would your mom be angry?

    It sounds like your mom has made a perfect system that’s the enemy of the good; even if a few dishes from each dishwasher load need to be rewashed, it would STILL be less work than having to go through that rigamarole to wash them in the first place. And dishwasher-cleaned dishes are less sterile than bleached ones, but they are less germy than a stack of unwashed dishes.

    This isn’t the advice you asked for, but here’s what I think: you’re falling for her trick of blaming outside forces for the status of the house, instead of blaming your mom. Even if you and your sister were slovenly, your mom is the adult. The state of the house is not your fault, unless somehow you were left alone for a day in a pristine house, and trashed it.

    Instead of trying to fix the house, against the forces of inertia and possibly your mom, figure out what YOU need to be able to live there until you move out, and try to do that. If you achieve that basic level of livability, and still have energy, carve out something for your sister (like clean dishes, or making sure she has some clear play space). If your mom wants help, she will ask for it – and if she is mentally healthy and really wants to see the place cleaner, any progress you make will get praise and help, not criticism and obstruction.

    That complicated, limiting dish-doing system sounds like what children of hoarders, like the blogger at tetanusburger.com, describe – “if you can’t do it right/my way, don’t do it!”

    If it really is just tiredness/overwhelm, and not a situation where your mom really won’t accept help, I suggest Flylady.com – along with the cleaning system, the affirmations & personal stories can be great help.

  • #198144

    Rosa
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    p.s. – when I got behind on my dishes because of being ill and having a toddler, I would load up a laundry basket of dishes, then take it to a friend’s house and run them through her dishwasher. If your dad has a dishwasher, or if you have a trusted friend who does, that might help. Just sneak them in/out so your mom only sees clean dishes suddenly in the cupboard.

  • #198152

    Anonymous

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    As I read more about your situation, I think Rosa’s comments are right on. You are not the adult here, your mom is. If you focus on what you can do, and what you need to do for yourself, you’ll be way ahead.

    Your mom’s dishwashing routine does seem a bit overboard to me. Good luck with all the changes you’re working on.

  • #198153

    Shortbird
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hayley, have I got this right? From reading your most recent post, the washing up has to be done perfectly or not at all?

    So, if there isn’t time to do the dishes perfectly either by your mom, or by your mom’s preferred method, they won’t get done at all and get more and more horrid?

    I’d just get some dishwasher cleaner, run the machine to make sure it’s working OK and get the job done to be honest.

  • #198155

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hayley — I have a friend whose mother sounds very much like yours. She, too is a perfectionist and as a result lives in a state of semi squalor. Her dishes also need to be done perfectly, so they don’t get done at all — so the family eats take out food (as there are no clean dishes) and the pizza boxes stack up because there is not a perfect environmentally responsible way to dispose of them — and it’s the same with the laundry, and the paperwork, and the dusting and vacuuming …

    It’s very dysfunctional and if my friend’s experience is anything to go by, there’s not a lot you can do. She’s tried to help — spent weeks cleaning and organizing — and all too soon it’s back to being the way it was before — only worse.

    Perhaps the best you can do it to love her, take care of your own messes, and pitch in when you can, without any expectation of solving all the problems. Best of luck to you.

  • #198157

    chacha1
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    You know, I’m surprised this word hasn’t come up yet: hoarder. I think Hayley’s mom fits the description. House full of rubbish? check. Storage sheds full of more rubbish? check. Won’t let anyone else deal with the rubbish? check. Things have to be done a certain way and there’s never “enough time” so it never gets done? check.

    Hayley, you are clearly a loving and good-hearted person and I think the best thing you can do is … what you can do. If the dishwasher works, go ahead and use it. You know what a clean dish looks like. (Don’t stand over a pan full of bleach (no wonder you would get light-headed! that stuff is toxic!) for an hour.) Tidy up after yourself, offer to help and then follow through.

    BUT: do this as a gesture of love and to train *yourself* to live a different and better life, not with the expectation of changing your mom. She loves her stuff more than she loves having a clean house.

    Good luck, we all wish you the best.

  • #198158

    bandicoot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    ok, if i was you, this is what i would do.
    1. i would do ALL of the dishes once per day, at a time suited to my own schedule.
    just clearing the kitchen once per day is fine. any time of the day that suits you. maybe when your mother is out and cannot interfere?
    2. i would skip the bleach on health grounds, but not make a huge announcement about it to my mother.
    3. i would pre rinse everything, then wash everything in a huge tub of hot soapy water ( in this order: glassware, plates, cutlery, serving utensils, food containers, cooking pots/ pans) then rinse in a tub of very hot water.
    4. if i couldn’t rope in someone to help, i would dry the dishes with a cloth as i go.

    i don’t have any experience with domestic dishwasher machines, so i cannot help you there.
    but i bet it would be worth trying your dishwasher out to see if it works.
    if the goal is to do the dishes, and you are the designated dishwasher….then you get to choose the method.

  • #198160

    Shortbird
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    And if she’s still on holiday… then this is the time.
    Whether she likes it or not.
    By the way, is the stuff safe in terms of the littlest ones not being able to injure themselves by pulling over a pile of stuff, is all the toxic stuff out of their way?

  • #198169

    Juliska
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Your mother is being irrational. A dishwasher uses water at a much higher temperature than human hands can take; the heat kills germs. Even if the dishes aren’t perfectly clean by her standards, they are sure as heck sterile or close to it.

  • #198171

    Hayley
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Rosa, I’m not really sure how to operate the dishwasher or if it’s connected at this time. I’d have to ask my mom or step dad. I think the deal with the dishwasher is more than just about efficiency the dishwasher uses a lot of water and energy so my mom finds it more financially reasonable to wash them by hand.

    Now I do agree that her method is overly complicated, but I do NOT think my mom would object if I used a less complicated method to cleaning everything instead of washing everything her way. Our neighbor who babysat a couple weeks ago did dishes for her and it wasn’t the way my mom does it but my mom was very appreciative and loved the help.
    I hope I didn’t leave the impression that dishes never ever get washed. My mom will wash everything in bulk in the early morning the next day because by the end of the day she is exhausted. And it’s not like it’s going to kill us when a few things haven’t been washed to get it out of the sink and wash it ourselves. After all my mom is the only one that does dishes. But this is going to change since as I stated earlier I’m going to help her out. The kitchen actually looks better than normal because mom worked on it before she left and there are currently no dishes on the counter.

    I hope I’m not portraying my mom too negatively because I don’t feel that she is a hoarder. I think that term is being used a little too loosely in this situation. I think she can be more of a miser, as she doesn’t like to waste anything.

    Bandicoot, I think you’re right on foregoing the bleach. I will have to try your method it sounds pretty good, although I think I’d just put them on the drying rack instead of using a towel.

    All chemicals are under the sink with baby-proof locks, no worries there.

  • #198172

    mili
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    chacha, what I see here more than a hoarder is a controller – a mother who’s putting the guilt trip on her daughter for being ‘so tired’, and still having the time and money to go on vacation. Presumably, without the toddlers cramping her style. Where are they, I wonder? Is Hayley made to take care of them, free of charge obviously? Have they been left with the father? Which brings me to the question that there does not seem to be another adult there – so, not even the possibility of someone to counterbalance the mother’s excesses.

    I really liked Rosa’s analysis of the whole dishwashing thing, what it means and how it works; she very much expressed my own feelings on the issue. Really, all of what Rosa said above is I think right on the money for what is going on here, including above all what she said about outside forces. I think what we have here is a volatile situation centering around a personality that is either going through a deeply troubled phase, or is altogether toxic.

    Hayley, please think about what Rosa said; make things better for you, first, then when you’ve not only made that progress but also secured it, so it is not always in danger of being reversed as soon as you turn your back, then and only then see what you can do for others. And those others, like Rosa and Shortbird said, should be your siblings – not your mother. THEY are vulnerable – she isn’t. She’s an adult, she’s presumably legally sane, her decisions are her own. You are not her keeper, or the key to her happiness or unhappiness. (Actually, you are young enough that SHE may have enough influence to be yours) I think it might also be worth it to talk to someone you trust outside the household. Your dad may be an option, but a professional would not be a bad idea at this stage, I think. It really sounds like you are living in a very tough situation, and you need support to get through it.

    And stop standing over bleach for even half an hour. let alone a whole hour. It’s unhealthy – there’s a reason your stomach’s roiling, and it’s because it’s telling you to stop fumigating it πŸ™‚ And as Juliska pointed out, dishwasher dishes are just as clean, if not cleaner, so there really is no reason.

    I should really like to have a very serious talk with Hayley’s mother.

    ETA: I cross-posted with Hayley, and now I see there IS another adult present, but I still don’t know to what extent he can counterbalance some of the stranger ideas Hayley’s mother might have.

  • #198173

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hayley, you’ve been given some really good advice here. But even if your mom is a hoarder, there’s no reason why you can’t pitch in to help keep the dirty dishes from getting out of control. You live there, too, it’s your home, too, and as a responsible member of the household you can step up to the plate (no pun intended).

    Go back to bandicoot’s last post. She is absolutely right on about how to do the dishes…
    – Wash all the dirty dishes once a day when your mom isn’t home. Then you’re DONE for the day. Yay!
    – Use plenty of hot soapy water. Don’t use bleach, the fumes are toxic. But you don’t need to tell your mom you’re not using bleach.
    – Wash up in the sequence bandicoot gave you. If rack space is limited, divide the dishes into two or three batches. Let each batch air-dry while you take a little break to walk around and flex your knees. Then use a towel to blot up any drops and put those dishes away. On to the next batch…
    – When you’re all finished, clean the sink, and dry it so it shines.
    – If you use sponges (I do) pop them in the microwave for 3-4 minutes while you shine the sink and put away the last of the dishes.
    – Listen to upbeat energizing music while you work. Then treat yourself with something nice to drink when you’re finished.

    I want to recommend two books for you to check out from the library – the pictures alone are inspirational. Read up on the sections about cleaning the kitchen. No more than two books for now, because we don’t want you to get too caught up in reading without getting any “doing” done. πŸ™‚

    Real Simple Cleaning
    http://www.amazon.com/Real-Simple-Cleaning-Editors-Magazine/dp/1933821396

    Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook
    http://www.amazon.com/Martha-Stewarts-Homekeeping-Handbook-Everything/dp/0517577003

  • #198181

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Another thought…
    If the dirty dishes are being left overnight because your mom is too tired to do them, it creates three problems that make the situation worse:
    – Dried-on food or grease makes the dishes twice as difficult to wash.
    – Dirty dishes are an open invitation to insects and mice.
    – Waking up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes is just about the most depressing, demoralizing way for anybody to start their day.

    Hayley, if it’s possible for YOU to do the dishes at night, please consider it. You’d be amazed at how wonderful it feels to wake up in the morning, walk into the kitchen, and be greeted by a clean shiny sink. That would be a really nice “gift” to give your mom. And it’s a gift for you, too.

  • #198183

    Sky
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    I agree, Ella. I always make sure my kitchen is clean and everything washed and put away before I go to bed. It’s a fresh start in the morning.

    Hayley, you are doing great. Things are not going to be clean and decluttered overnight. It takes time. ATAD (a thing a day) works wonders over time. Is your step-dad doing his part around the house?

  • #198184

    bandicoot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    i reckon the evening is the optimum time to clean up the kitchen, too.
    but if it isn’t possible, given hayley’s work or study commitments, then ANY time is better than not at all.

  • #198185

    Rosa
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    It’s great to hear that she’s okay with another method, as long as they’re done! I hope if you start doing the dishes she is equally appreciative, it’s a really nice thing to notice and do.

  • #198190

    Emilie
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    @ Hayley, I don’t think “laziness” is a useful concept here. Doing chores effectively is a learned skill…I’m only learning them now, in my late 20’s. As a kid, I never learned how to clean anything. Until I got a system in place, chores really seemed overwhelming and almost impossible to get started with. That may not be your same experience, but you don’t sound lazy or selfish to me. That said…dishes seem to be, oddly enough, the #1 source of conflict between my mom and me. I wash them, but in the past, she’s gotten really upset if they weren’t clean enough to her liking. (I feel like she was mad about numerous things, not all of them having to do with me, and the dishes were the “last straw”, but still.) I feel like different people have certain cleanliness “landmines” and for my mom it’s dishes. In other areas, she is much more permissive.

    While your mom may not be a clinical-diagnosis level hoarder, she definitely has some very entrenched beliefs and habits. If you’ve watched hoarding TV shows, the process is fairly pointless unless the person involved wants to change. I’m guessing the same will be true for your mom. It’s totally possible that your mom will have a revelation where she goes, “enough is enough!” but it sounds like she may not be entirely there yet. There are many, many (perhaps too many) books about decluttering. Has your mom seen/read any? A lot of them discuss reasons to declutter, so some of that could be thought-provoking for her.

  • #198249

    snosie
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    I had depression, and someone taught me about mindfulness. The one that worked for me was dishwashing – previously I don’t know if I liked or didn’t like it, but when they talked me through the ‘mindful’ process, I started to love it! (much to others joy). If I have gloves (certain ones I like, not just any manky gloves), and HOT HOT HOT water (gloves protect my hand), and some bubbles, I relish the warmth on my hands. I enjoy seeing shiny clean results. Dishes and glasses – so easy to clean, so nice! Now, I don’t like to wash up, now, when I think about it, unless I have gloves, and hot water with bubbles. So long as I have those three items, I’m yours!

    On the mum dramas – word of warning – I started doing more, so my mum would ‘feel better’ and yell less. But she just did less, and was still stressed out. That kills me… Not to discourage you, just actual experience. (I am moving out before the month is out)

    I love the idea of ‘cleanliness landmines’ – although seeing out kitchen is always clean each night, I’d say my mum’s is ironing! I’ll never iron her stuff (or I’ll pre iron, and leave it in the “to iron” hanging area. Thankfully Dad says I’m good enough (and mum HATES ironing his stuff, cause he never ever will do it)

  • #198252

    bandicoot
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    hayley, i don’t think you are lazy OR snobby.
    like emilie says, learning how to do this stuff is a learned skill.
    nobody is just born automatically knowing what to do.
    i asked those questions because i like to have all the facts, and then i LOVE to find solutions.

  • #198257

    Ella
    Member

    All I Want for Christmas is to Give My Mom a Clean Home. Advise?

    Hi Hayley, how are things going there? Have you figured out how you’re going to manage the dishes daily? You might like to go shopping for some cute dishwashing gloves that don’t have any bothersome odors. Try Whole Foods or Bed Bath & Beyond. I’ve even seen some “glamour” gloves at mainstream supermarkets.

    By now you’ve probably realized that cleaning and decluttering go hand in hand. They’re both processes that require consistent maintenance. So there’s the answer to your question: How to prevent build-up?

    Keeping the kitchen counter clear of dirty dishes is a major step toward clearing off the other counter clutter – papers, coupons, and so on. But first things first – for now, just keep on top of doing the dishes every day. You might even want to post here every day to tell us how it’s going. Accountability is a wonderful motivator, and we are always here to pat you on the back. πŸ™‚

    Don’t worry too much about changing your mom at this point. Just work on yourself. One of the dangers of being a child of a clutterer is the possibility of turning into one yourself. Don’t let that happen to you. Build up some strong daily cleaning and clearing habits, and you’ll be fine.

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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