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Vacation Cleanliness

We just got home from a week long vacation and I wanted to get this story down while it was still fresh.

My husband, daughter and I spent a week with his best friend and his family.  In total, there were four adults, two girls just under two years old, and a newborn.  We’ll call the other couple John and Hillary, and their daughters, Katie and Lily.  We were staying at a condo that belongs to someone John and Hillary know.  It was a fun, but exhausting, trip and I’m glad to be back in my own home with just my child to look after.  The kids got along with minimal toddler fights, which was nice.

My problem is with how they looked after Katie.  Every time she was given something to eat, she was essentially unattended. This resulted in food being left practically everywhere.  Half eaten doughnuts, cookies left on the floor, silverware in random places, crackers thrown from the bag, you name it, she probably dropped it somewhere and just left it.  This in itself was irritating me because of how wasteful it was and all the crumbs everywhere.  I don’t let my own daughter wander around with food because who knows where she’ll leave it, and especially not when we’re not in our own home.  However, John and Hillary just let Katie do her thing with no regard to the mess she was creating.  I spent a good portion of the week cleaning up after her because seeing cookies ground up on the rug was driving me crazy.  My own daughter was even picking food up and bringing it to me or my husband  to throw away.  I made a few attempts to comment about it and say things like, “Hey Katie, let’s not throw food on the floor, please,” or, “Is she going to eat this?” to casually point out the mess.  They didn’t get the hint.  I swept the floors a few times and kept tidying up toys and kitchen supplies because I wanted to make at least a small effort to keep the place clean. It made it easier to keep track of belongings so something didn’t get lost.  I watched Katie’s dinner plate the last night to see how long it would take to be cleaned up.  Three hours later, I took care of it myself.  I am by no means a neat freak, my daughter is also a toddler and makes plenty of her own messes.  I just feel like maybe our friends should have shown at least a smidgen of concern for the tornado that is their daughter.  (Though the number of times I threw out THEIR random trash is also alarming.) I’m well aware they have a newborn to also take care of now, but these habits don’t happen overnight.

Am I wrong to be annoyed and frustrated at this?  Should I have just said, “Hey, your kid keeps leaving food on the floor and that’s gross”?  I feel like when you’re staying outside of your own home, you should make an extra effort to be tidy, even if a housekeeper will be coming in behind you.   0918-16


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  • Green123 September 19, 2016, 3:55 am


    I think this is the crux of the issue here; if they were in their own home (or even in a holiday let or hotel with a maid service that is paid to clean up) it would be terrible enough, but to make a mess and not clear up in a home that belongs to your friends is really poor.

    That said, you made a rod for your own back, OP. Once you’d cleaned up after the child once, you were unfortunately sending a message that you’d do it time and again.

  • koolchicken September 19, 2016, 4:04 am

    If what they were doing was bothering you, why didn’t you just speak to them directly? They clearly didn’t care about what their child was doing, despite your subtle hints. So just saying flat out “I can’t stand the mess” would have probably saved you a lot of stress. If it were me it’s exactly what I would have done. I would not have followed their kid around cleaning up after her. If you do it for them, why would they bother to do it themselves?

  • justme September 19, 2016, 4:40 am

    This is probably how they live at home so they didn’t think anything of it. If you decide to go on vacation with this other couple again, make sure that you rent your own condo for the week so that you are not acting as a unpaid maid.

    • NostalgicGal September 19, 2016, 12:24 pm

      This. Exactly. Don’t cohabitate with them again and let them deal with or squat in their own squalor. Also make sure that they don’t come over and spend most of the time at your place….

  • lkb September 19, 2016, 5:16 am

    The OP is not wrong to be annoyed and frustrated. Feelings aren’t wrong or right.


    I’d say this story shows the OP’s family should not vacation with John and Hillary’s family like this anymore. The parenting styles/personalities are too different. Vacations should be relaxing and this one wasn’t for the OP.

    As far as behaviors, I too would have been constantly cleaning up a vacation rental. However, I don’t know if I would have intentionally corrected someone else’s child (that is, not blurting it out in the heat of the moment), especially if the parents were also a bit — shall we say “casual” in their housekeeping and food rules.

    Also, as the OP states, one child was a newborn. Having been in a similar situation (having a newborn with a toddler also), it is exhausting. John and Hillary probably looked on this vacation as a chance to relax also and perhaps catch up on some much needed sleep. I’m not saying it was right for them to let Katie leave her messes, but it is understandable.

    • Michelle September 19, 2016, 8:11 am

      I agree with not vacationing with this couple anymore and they probably are this casual with housekeeping and food rules at home. I would not have been able to stand all that mess and would have done some cleaning. I would have probably asked John and Hilary to “help me clean up Katie’s cookies”.

      I don’t quite understand the last paragraph, particularly the part about catching up on some much needed sleep. Did they think OP and her husband was supposed to watch after the newborn and Katie while they were catching up on sleep?

      I think John and Hilary invited the OP & family along because they knew OP would clean up after Katie and apparently them, since OP had to throw out their trash as well. OP, if your family vacation at the same time as John & Hilary, or even in the same area, you should definitely get your own room/rental.

      • lkb September 19, 2016, 11:02 am

        Sorry for the misunderstanding — maybe I’m short on sleep myself! 😀 😀 😀

        What I meant was, I know that when I had a newborn and a toddler I tended to let things slide on the housekeeping front, life was an endless cycle of sleep, feed/change the newborn, make sure toddler’s needs were met, maybe eat something, back to sleep.

        I also know when I am on vacation, even in a rental, I also tend to let things slide (except for spills of things like red juice etc. that need to be cleaned up quickly) — hey! it’s a vacation, right? Time to rest and regroup.

        In our case, on the last day, we spend a little time tidying up so housekeeping doesn’t have to.

        It seems odd that John and Hillary would purposefully invite another couple along specifically to be their maids. But then, the whole situation seems odd to me — a multifamily vacation rental with a newborn?

        • Michelle September 19, 2016, 3:27 pm

          Ok, that makes sense- letting things slide in favor of resting up. Sorry I was confused! I guess my reading comprehension was off this morning!

      • lakey September 19, 2016, 12:34 pm

        I wouldn’t assume that the other couple invited OP and her husband along because they knew she would clean up. I’ve known people who are like this. They just don’t see the mess, or aren’t bothered by it. I think that the best solution is to not share living quarters.

  • Ant September 19, 2016, 6:30 am

    Everybody has their own standard of cleanliness. To me you seem a bit too monica-esque but I tend to pile up pots and leave any non-staining, non-hazardous mess until 8-9 when the kids in bed. Particularly as you have a <2 year old that seems to be bothered by mess and instinctively tidy up. Most 2 year olds tend to be messy, so I think you must be constantly cleaning /reinforcing the idea of tidiness to have them tidy up without prompting. My father in law seems to be like you, wanting to keep things neat at all times. We went on holiday with the in-laws once and drove him a bit mad as he may as well have had a dustpan and brush holster. Bottom line is: avoid spending too much time in private accommodation with anyone who doesn't match your standards of cleaning.

    BTW did you ever leave a mess long enough to see if they would clean it before bed? Was any of it an actual hazard or just messy?

  • Michelle September 19, 2016, 7:05 am

    I am apparently in the minority here, because I think you were quite rude. The passive aggressive comments to a child you admit is not even two years old were uncalled for. AND, no one asked you to clean up. You took it upon yourself and now want to complain about it. That’s victim playing.

    Should they have cleaned up after their daughter? Absolutely. Was this your home? No. It was therefore really none of your business. If you cleaned up because it bothered YOU, that’s fine. But don’t make it their fault.

    • Dippy September 19, 2016, 12:52 pm

      She did have to live there while they were vacationing. I don’t relish stepping in spills and piles of crumbs and sitting on whatever leftover someone’s toddler has strewn on the sofa. The messy family was rude for not keeping common areas clean.

      • Emmy September 20, 2016, 10:17 pm

        I agree, I would feel wrong leaving ground in cookies in the rug and whatever mess behind me, especially if the mess was likely to stain. It would not be fair to the person who owned the house to leave behind a mess – but at the same time I would be annoyed that I would be the one to clean it up when I wasn’t responsible for it. I do think the OP should have been more direct with the parents and told them that food is being left by the child all over the house and to please have the child eat in the kitchen (although I do think most astute people would try to clean up after their child has made a mess – it’s one of those things you shouldn’t have to tell somebody).

    • Anonymous September 19, 2016, 12:56 pm

      Actually, I don’t know that it wasn’t the OP’s business. Perishable food left lying around can sometimes go bad, and make a smell. Any kind of food left lying around can attract vermin. Those things affect everyone who’s living/staying in the house/cottage/condo/hotel room/apartment/vacation rental/whatever.

    • Anon September 19, 2016, 1:26 pm

      It’s the standard, “I felt this was rude but of course I refused to speak up about it at any point whatsoever and now I’m mad about it because they didn’t read my mind.”

    • Rebecca September 19, 2016, 1:32 pm

      I don’t see what’s passive aggressive about telling a child not to chuck food on the floor. The parents weren’t doing it, so somebody had to. And it’s a shared space for that week so it DOES affect the OP, whether or not it’s her own home. I don’t care if it was her child or not. She wasn’t administering discipline; she was just telling a child what was unacceptable in a shared space. When I was a child, adults were perfectly entitled to tell children when certain boundaries were being crossed. What happened? Now everyone gets offended when someone tells their child not to do something that is affecting them., yet they are the first to call out, “wah wah wah, takes a village, help me” when they need free babysitting or housekeeping or any kind of help.

    • Vrinda September 19, 2016, 1:40 pm

      The home wasn’t the child’s parents’ home, either. It belonged to someone else and should have been kept clean. If the child’s parents weren’t going to do it, what do you want the OP to do – leave the garbage everywhere for the owners to find? If someone doesn’t talk to that brat, she’s going to grow up to be a bigger brat like her parents. The OP’s comments to the child were not passive aggressive.

      What is passive aggressive about, “Hey, Katie, let’s not leave food on the floor, please”?

      The parents and the child were rude and the OP cleaning up was for the sake of maintaining someone else’s property, which the child’s parents weren’t doing.

      • Ergala September 25, 2016, 10:35 am

        Name calling a toddler….really?

        • Sophie September 26, 2016, 7:03 pm

          What name was Katie called exactly?

    • clairedelune September 19, 2016, 1:40 pm

      It wasn’t her home, but she was LIVING in it for the time being. I think it’s entirely OK to not want to live in someone else’s filth for a week.

    • iwadasn September 19, 2016, 1:48 pm

      The only comment OP made directly to the child was “Let’s clean up after ourselves, please.” That’s not passive-aggressive at all, and I don’t think it’s rude either.

    • InTheEther September 19, 2016, 6:32 pm

      I’m not entirely certain what’s supposed to be pa about “don’t throw food in the floor.” And while it wasn’t her home, it was the place she was renting. Depending on rental agreements and such, the op could have been charged for the extra mess or if all that food resulted in an ant infestation. And yes, she didn’t have to clean. I’ll agree she should’ve been less nice with just hoping they’d get the hint. But the alternative was having a bunch of half eaten food laying around and grinding crumbs into the carpet. Playing the victim would’ve been if they were offering to help and op said “no, no, I have it”.

    • crebj September 19, 2016, 10:37 pm

      A bit strong, but yes.

  • Ames September 19, 2016, 7:34 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have never had a problem telling a child to clean up after themselves. Even that young I would have said… Let’s take our dishes to the sink, let’s pick up the toys. Etc.
    I’ve spent years going on an annual vacation with my parents, 2 brothers and their families, usually in the same rented house.
    I hate mess, so if I didn’t say it, enforce it, or clean it myself when *I* wanted it clean, I would have gone crazy.

  • Tabitha September 19, 2016, 8:24 am

    It’s the “these habits don’t happen overnight” that bothers me. Newborns happen overnight, and with newborns come an extreme lack of sleep, post partum depression, and hormonal chaos. Add a toddler to the mix and welcome to what was my nightmare, 15 years ago. I knew better than to go on a “vacation” because with a toddler and a newborn, it’s just not possible to get a break no matter where you are. I also had the misfortune of parenting with a man who came from a family that believes child rearing and housekeeping was women’s work. (The men still expected the women to bring in a full time salary, however, so don’t look for logic here).
    There were many times when I visited my ex’s family and was poo pooed because of my messy sleep deprived self and my cranky infant and curious toddler. (Infant had four teeth by the time she was 4 months old, hence the cranky). I was a mess, and I had no help. I had one friend who worked full time who occasionally made me cookies and reassured me an eternally crying infant and my insanity was normal. Thank my lucky stars I had her.
    So, first, OP, although it annoyed the heck out of you, it was charitable and helpful for you to put as much effort in as you did!
    As a tidy and clean person, I can vouch for the fact that toddlers and newborns often rip a tidy persons world apart.
    But if we take the kids and the hubby’s out of the equation and you just vacationed at your friend’s friends condo, and your friend was untidy. I would say, your only responsibility would be to clean up after yourself. If it were your friend’s condo, instead of your vacation buddies condo, than despite the others habits, it would be on you to leave it how your friend would expect. But the condo was your vacation buddies responsibility, so you do what a regular grown up does and tidy up after yourself and don’t worry about the habits of other grown ups.
    As for etiquette, if one person is tidy and one person is messy, each is just as likely to get on each other’s nerves. Unless there is already a pest problem, food can be left over night and cleaned up the next day. And cake ground into the Capet, may have been waiting for a clean up until after the kids went to bed, or maybe wasn’t noticed and needed to be pointed out? Who knows? But, it wouldn’t do your vacation friends any harm if condo owner came home and found the cakey carpet and teamed out their friend. It would also let them know that said friend is not to be trusted.
    Bottom line, you took everything on yourself and then felt resentful. Just be responsible for you and let the cake crumbs fall where they may.

    • NostalgicGal September 19, 2016, 12:33 pm

      Friends of spouse, he wanted 12 kids. He also thought fatherhood ended at conception. She dutifully had four, two years apart, and lived in a sea of toddlers, babies and diapers. Then for some reason she didn’t get pregnant at the magic two year mark and broke the diaper cycle. Then at four years had another. She had her tubes tied over his vehement protests. He now has eight grandchildren and is STILL steamed they only had five. Trust me, the times we’d visit and she would take me shopping just because I’d actually give her a hand with kid wrangling or shopping (usually I’d shop and she’d wrangle) were priceless to her…

      I do agree though, catch the mess before it sits or gets ground in, especially when it’s not your place! I don’t cohabitate on a vacation with others with children s it will drive me.

    • Dee September 19, 2016, 1:26 pm

      I, too, thought of the owners of the condo and what they would think of the pigsty. Unfortunately, OP is also responsible for the communal mess, if not in contract then at least in the eyes of the owner. Same as in a rental; all parties are responsible for all things. So, OP might be on the hook if the owners require the condo to be repaired back to original condition. Definitely don’t go on vacation with these people again, OP!

      Katie didn’t have a problem with having food thrown at her at all times so it’s unlikely this is a new habit; I doubt they have her sit down for meals and snacks at home. John and Hillary are welcome to live that way in their own home but they should understand that such habits are going to create conflict in others and they should adjust accordingly when sharing a living space. To not do so was quite rude. I have had friends like this and they are wonderful people but I couldn’t relax in their homes for how filthy they were. I am absolutely no neat freak but the situation OP describes is ridiculous. I’d have had to find my own space on the first day or be pushed to the limit and say something not so very nice.

      • NostalgicGal September 24, 2016, 1:30 pm

        College friend, mother with three daughters and all four had vision problems (tunnel vision etc, legally blind) but. The living room was past description. Firewood, catfood bags ripped open (they had three cats) and the smell…. a potato growing into the carpet in the corner. Trash. Food wrappers. I could NOT stand it and while she left me in the living room to get something I started to clean like no tomorrow. She came out to me well underway and I just asked nicely if she’d help me please? So she did. Two hours, burned some of the paper in the fireplace (mid winter and was careful about how much at once) and it was actually a very nice living room. Her mom said something to the effect of how did I get her to clean… (friend and I were legal age, so not children). A week later other than the smell was less ancient, you couldn’t tell we’d spent those hours powercleaning to the carpet. That was the way they lived. If a social worker ever set foot in that garbage house it would have been interesting… I hit some hard times and she offered I could move into an extra bedroom in the basement in return for cleaning chores. Um, not while I was trying to go to school, I wouldn’t have time to do homework with the way they lived. No.

    • Annie September 20, 2016, 11:56 am

      I agree with OP that those habits don’t happen overnight. My friend has three kids; 4,2, and 1. The younger two have special needs and require even more care than most young children.

      Nonetheless, the 4 year old and 2 year old never leave the table with food. They’ve never been allowed to eat anywhere except at the table. With children this small, habits get put in place quickly. For a parent’s self preservation, it’s best to get good habits put in place so you don’t have to break them of bad ones later. (Maybe much later–I have adult guests who wander around dropping crumbs in my house).

      I am only commenting on the original post, by the way–it sounds like you survived a very difficult situation with a lot of grace!

  • lnelson1218 September 19, 2016, 8:28 am

    The other couple mist believe that there are magic faeries who clean while they are on vacation. After all it isn’t their place. I am not a neat freak either, but crumbs all over the place would drive me nuts, also depending on where you are, you need to be concerned with ants. On some level, the other couple saw that OP was picking up/cleaning and at least unconsciously decided that they were off the hook for any cleaning and had a real vacation.

    Take this as a lesson learned not to go share a place with them while on vacation.

    • padua September 19, 2016, 12:51 pm

      i disagree. i don’t tend to clean up after every single crumb my child drops until bedtime. i certainly don’t expect ‘magic faeries’ to clean up behind me. in fact, i’d probably be annoyed at someone who was constantly cleaning up behind me because hey- i’ll get to it. when you have a newborn, you operate when they’re sleeping. so sometimes you can’t get to things right away. doesn’t mean you think you’re not responsible for yourself.

  • JD September 19, 2016, 8:30 am

    I would have been like the OP — someone is letting us use this place, so we need to take care of it. I also can’t stand the idea of food dropped everywhere, and I’m not a neat freak, either. However, I think OP went as far as she could with trying to police the child without becoming rude herself and telling John and Hillary how to raise their child. The next step would be to talk with the parents about my concerns, but that would have probably made an even more tense week. I’d just chalk this one up as a lesson learned, and avoid sharing a condo with them in the future.
    For what it’s worth, my daughter, who used to be so lax about cleaning that it took a shovel to find the floor of her apartment bedroom, now has a two year old and a six month old. She and her husband do not let the toddler drop food all over the house, and never have. I’m sure they will be just the same when the six month old becomes mobile. Better habits can be learned, and a new baby isn’t an excuse to let a toddler eat unattended. What if the child choked?

    • b-rock September 19, 2016, 3:23 pm

      That bothered me too. Toddlers shouldn’t be just running around unattended eating. They should be sitting down, where they can’t fall and choke on the food, and someone should at least be in the room with them. When they choke for real it is absolutely silent, you’ll never know it’s happened unless you can see them. Mess notwithstanding, it’s just not safe.

  • stacey September 19, 2016, 8:34 am

    This is obviously a case of fighting someone else’s battle! What their daughter did was really no concern of yours and it’s unfortunate that you spent so much of your energy monitoring a situation that really wasn’t under your control. Your etiquette reasoning is impeccable when it comes to how to keep a place clean but it appeared to have failed you in dealing with the other family. Fair or not, the best that you probably could have done would have been to clean up very well prior to leaving and resolve not to vacation with these people in such close Quarters again. When you’re dealing with an irritant that’s unrelenting and also not within your ability to police, about the best that you can do is to mention it once and then let it go. So your hubs could have mentioned it to his friend or you could have, but just once. Realistically, there’s no way whether you know the temperament of their children well enough to determine if they are a walking train wreck because of the arrival of a second baby or for other, more personal reasons. The factor that tips this over just a little bit more into the” Let It Go” camp is that the condo is owned by friends of theirs. Complaints are more likely to be directed at your husband’s friend then otherwise.

  • Chigrrl September 19, 2016, 8:46 am

    If you are good enough friends with people to take a vacation with them and their children, I would hope that you could tell them when something is bothering you. That said, when I read OPs post, I was reminded of all my neatfreak friends who are constantly cleaning up and get filled with anxiety when stuff is not put away in a time period they consider reasonable. Regardless of how the friends live at home, it was a vacation and perhaps they just wanted to relax instead of worrying about sweeping the floor…

  • AthenaC September 19, 2016, 9:28 am

    As lkb said above, “the parenting styles / personalities are too different.” Not a value judgment, since all their kids are alive and thriving, and that’s what’s most important. Different people value cleanliness differently.

    That said, I’m with you, OP – that would drive me CRAZY. I hate to clean, and the way I avoid cleaning more than I have to is with mess mitigation techniques. Food is confined to certain areas of the house, kids are watched while they are eating (and even fed by me if I don’t want to wait for them to make a mess), dishes are rinsed and put in the sink immediately, hands and faces are wiped immediately, trash is thrown away immediately – you get the picture. I am super anal about this and it drives my husband crazy when I pick up after him as well as the kids. And it drives me crazy when my husband doesn’t pick up to the extent I do. But what are you going to do? Kids are alive and healthy under his care and that’s what matters.

    Again – no value judgments on John and Hillary, but I agree that it’s not going to work for you guys to share space on vacation again.

  • Mustard September 19, 2016, 9:39 am

    It may have been less frustrating if you said outright that the mess was getting to you rather than dropping the odd hint. Expecting John and Hilary to develop the skill of mind reading while caring for a newborn is wishful thinking!

  • M. Win September 19, 2016, 9:48 am

    There are many different vacation styles, and let’s give your friends the benefit of the doubt that they did not intend to be the type that trashes a vacation rental and leaves someone else to clean it up, especially since it was their friends’ place. Let’s assume that you are the type that cleans up as you go along and they are the type that cleans up at the end of the vacation. You clean up as you go along so that the environment is pleasant for everyone the entire vacation and to avoid any irreparable damage to the property that might come from not cleaning up messes immediately. They clean up at the end because with a newborn and a young child, on vacation, they want the choice of not cleaning up immediately as they have to do in their non-vacation lives and presumably they think that the messes are not irreparable (possibly) and that you don’t mind the messes (definitely).

    I’m on your side, although there have been times – like when I had a newborn – that I might have been somewhere in the middle. I always would have cleaned up messes that might have caused permanent damage, I always would have cleaned up as I went along if I were sharing a space with anyone but immediate family, but I might have let things slide a bit if it were just me, my husband, and our horrendously colicky infant – although the idea of going on vacation with said infant is absurd – however, I would have let things slide a bit, just not with others and not if it could cause damage. Presumably, however, your friend was not thinking that Katie’s messes were going to cause permanent damage if not cleaned up immediately, and she a) was under the impression that her messes would not matter to you on vacation, b) the messes did not register because she was so sleep deprived, or c) figured you were good enough friends that you would help with the messes.

    The third option only happens if you are close family or best friends and the two of you openly acknowledge it, lovingly and jokingly, with her thanking you, and if the situation has been reversed before – my best friend flew to my town to help me clean up my house and pack up to move (bad timing) when my mother died and I was juggling a stressful job a young child, and I watched her older child and my child and cooked and cleaned up on a vacation for her when she had a newborn and was overwhelmed – but this was just understood, and it sounds like you do not have this sort of relationship with this friend.

    Yes, I think her behavior was egregious because it did not take into account how her actions affected you. I wonder if perhaps she thinks she has a closer relationship with you than she does – something she should not presume and clearly does not – and even if she did make this mistake, to not verbally acknowledge this with thanks and expressing what a difficult time of life having a newborn is and a promise to pay you back and a token show of helping to clean up – shows selfishness and taking you for granted. Don’t go 0n anymore trips with these people. You have different styles and different understandings of both your relationship and how friendships work.

  • Cat September 19, 2016, 10:06 am

    I have found that the fastest way to lose friends is to go on an extended vacation with them. I don’t know why it is that a week with a group of people with whom you do not normally live eventually becomes like a week of fingernails on a blackboard, but it does.
    I went with just one friend for a week’s holiday. I knew she was addicted to coffee and to cigarettes, but I did not know that we would have to stop constantly for her to have a coffee and a cigarette.
    Once, we just had time to make it back to the car before a cloudburst. We didn’t make it. She had to stop for a coffee and a cigarette first, and it poured for hours. We were soaking wet when we finally got to the car.
    It’s best to vacation only with your family unless you are very patient with how other people live.

  • Becca September 19, 2016, 10:07 am

    I see it as a personalities conflict and that it’s okay to be frustrated with how someone you’re vacationing with treats the property. This doesn’t sound like anything outrageous but something that grinds on a nerve. I would wait until the children are older to try another vacation together at least.

    I have friends on both sides of the spectrum, messier than I am or neater than I am. So I’m sure we’ve all been on one side or the other over the years. You never really know your friend’s habits until you’re living together in that kind of way.

  • Jenn50 September 19, 2016, 10:58 am

    I agree with those who say that you shouldn’t share living quarters with these friends again. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and think they probably planned to do one big clean up at the end or after the kids were in bed, and it’s fair if that causes you too much stress to enjoy your vacation. I don’t fuss about my kids wandering around with food, but I wouldn’t allow the detritus to be left in a communal space, or to be ground into the carpet, especially in someone else’s home. My best friend, on the other hand, insists upon all food being consumed at the table, and picks up every scrap of everything the instant it happens. Neither is wrong, but as much as we love each other, we know better than to stay in the same space when we travel, because we’d like to continue to love each other. Seeing my daughter stroll around munching on a cheese bun would make her so unhappy, and hearing her anxious sighs and having her chase everyone around with a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towel would stress me out and ruin my vacation.

  • Elisabeth September 19, 2016, 11:19 am

    You can’t expect people to conform to your level of cleanliness when you are not living together. My boyfriend is a big slob, so when I visit his house there is inevitably trash lying around that needs to be thrown away, laundry piled up that needs to be done, a dirty floor, and sheets that haven’t been washed since I last took it upon myself to wash them for him. When we lived together, he was cleaner because he knew that mess would bother me, but since circumstances have changed he lives in enough mess that is comfortable with. He will mop and vacuum and do chores occasionally, but not with the frequency that I would do them, because mess does not bother him. And I am okay with that! I’ll throw away a can here or wash a load of laundry there at his house just to maintain my sanity, but I don’t bother him about maintaining my preferred level of cleanliness in his personal space. I have my own apartment to keep as clean as I want.
    Unless this vacation lasted for months, it isn’t fair of you to expect John and Hillary to maintain your higher preferred level of cleanliness. Maybe they figured it was pointless to pick up every mess that Katie made, and planned on cleaning at the end of the vacation or when the messes started to stink or attract insects. As a clean person, I understand that it was frustrating for you to live in a mess of crumbs and bags, but if it was really just a week long, was taking extra steps to maintain your preferred level of cleanliness really that bad?
    Also, in the future, maybe try asking Katie to do a positive action – like throw her chip bag away – and then praise her when she does it. Positive reinforcement will work better with a toddler than just saying don’t, don’t, don’t.

  • Pame September 19, 2016, 11:40 am

    It is within your right to feel annoyed by other’s actions. But you do not have a right to control their behavior either. I also believe that when sharing space everyone should make an effort to keep communal areas inviting and a half eaten doughnut on a coffee table would not be inviting to me. However other people wouldn’t be phased by seeing it.

    Your only options are 1)ignore the behavior, 2) do as you did and clean up behind them to make the space into an environment you like or 3) use your words and address the difference in vacationing style directly. You could have said “It bothers me when food is laying around. Would you guys be ok with us trying to keep the girls in the kitchen during meal times? If so I’ll try to be a little more relaxed about all the dishes being washed before bed.

    I also do not think it’s your right to pass judgement on what you think is wasteful by them.

  • Lisa H. September 19, 2016, 11:46 am

    To me this just seems like differing parenting techniques. In my own humble opinion, I agree with the OP that kids should not be allowed to run around eating food for each meal, but if it’s just a snack or something, that’s just part of having a toddler. However, I do know parents who DO let their kids eat and run around and it’s quite unnerving to watch.

  • Goldie September 19, 2016, 12:11 pm

    My sons are 2.5 years apart. They are best friends now, at 21 and 23. But the first year after the youngest was born was all a blur to me. Based on my own experience, everyone in John and Hillary’s family (including Katie, who just stopped being an only child, has a new sibling who’s taking up all of her mom’s energy, and has zero understanding of what any of this means) is going through the most difficult time in their lives right now. The number and percentage of comments on this thread about how they must be habitual slobs and their daughter has developed a habit of not cleaning up, and about how selfish they are and how they have taken advantage of OP’s kindness, frankly blows my mind. I have nothing else to add, other than going on this vacation at this time in this company was a terrible idea for both families.

    • Sara k September 19, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Thank you. I have two toddlers, 20 months apart. The eldest just turned 3. We just got back a month ago from a beach condo trip with the inlaws. It was pure exhausting hell for me. I just die a little inside when I think back to how I judged parents with multiple kids when I only had one (because adding one more isn’t that hard, RIGHT? ha!). My life is a blur. And, yes, there were moments on that trip when I would turn around and the lunch plates were still on the table a few hours after we’d eaten. I’d take care of them, but needed time. Toddlers in new places with new routines and different schedules from each other is UTTERLY EXHAUSTING. I doubt the friends could see straight enough to even notice crumbs right away.

      Treasure your ability to stay focused, don’t stay with them again, and for all the kindness in your heart please don’t judge them, their habits or their home.

    • Kathryn September 19, 2016, 7:12 pm

      I agree Goldie!

      I found the transition from 1 to 2 children to be quite tough. For my own peace of mind, I learnt to let go of my personal standards of cleanliness and settle for good enough. Chatting with several friends, those with 1 child just don’t get it!

      Secondly, DH and I are still negotiating what holidays look like for us. Since I spend all day cleaning and child rearing, I need a break from that too. It’s my job, I want a holiday (1) NOT in my house and (2) NOT cleaning the entire time. I do not believe that’s an unreasonable request. If I had an infant in tow, well, your cleanliness standards are my lowest priority. I would probably feel quite anxious about your attitude to me and just hole myself up in a room for the entire time.

      If I was holidaying with John and Hillary, I would probably include Katie in my own child’s food times “come sit with us while we eat”, “let’s stay at the table until we finish.” Sometimes I take a friend’s child so she can have a break for an afternoon and that child is just part of the family for a few hours. It’s no extra trouble. I find that visiting children just slot in with whatever and however my children are doing.

      I find the LW quite ungracious.

  • Nina J. Hodgson September 19, 2016, 12:21 pm

    Well, I am a neatfreak, and I can state from experience that waiting for the non-neatfreaks to clean up is an exercise is waiting for hell to freeze over. She (and it is nearly always she) who can’t stand to live in squalor is the one how caves in and cleans. This is the price we pay for NOT living in squalor.

  • Denise September 19, 2016, 12:35 pm

    I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just talk to your friends? If they are good enough friends to invite you along on their vacation to their friends condo, I’m sure their good enough friends to have an adult conversation with regarding your thoughts on toddlers walking around with food.

    Who knows what their plan was? Perhaps they had already planned on hiring (or had hired) someone to clean up after?

    I have friends who own a timeshare in a condo building. Whenever it is used (by them or family/friends) a housekeeping service is included after. Perhaps they figured that on their vacation, their time was better utilized by allowing a housekeeper to do the cleaning?

    Perhaps, they have been more lax with their toddler because that isn’t a battle that is important to them at this point in their lives. Maybe they need a little break from constantly parenting her tidiness. Maybe they are just getting by emotionally and thought an escape with their friends would help.

    And I really don’t understand why you wanted to get the story down when it was fresh? Why dwell on it, why not let it go? Why be so passive aggressive with “hints” instead of just talking to your friends?

    Personally, I do think you’re in the wrong. I think you took any crumbs or mess as a personal insult and dwelled on them instead of enjoying the time together. And, if I were the other couple, I wouldn’t include you on my vacations in the future.

  • abby September 19, 2016, 1:38 pm

    I’m kind of a messy person myself, and don’t always immediately pick up after my kids because they’ll just mess it up so I wait until they go to bed. However, once food is involved, all bets are off. Leaving crumbs on the floor can cause mice or ants. It can cause stains or bad, lingering smells. Food really does need to be picked up immediately, in my opinion. If Katie drops a cracker in the carpet, and then steps on it and then tracks it through the house, it can get really hard to clean up. While as rule I don’t believe in correcting other people’s kids, their lax housekeeping could cause issues for the home owners and I think OP was okay to ask Katie to not throw food on the floor.

    Curious though- have you been to John and Hillary’s house? Do they keep it clean? Was this just an exception due to fatigue and distraction, or are J&H the kind of people who are fine to leave a mess at someone else’s house?

  • Rattus September 19, 2016, 1:49 pm

    I suggest that you chalk it up to experience and not holiday with them again. Personally I would never holiday with another couple, at least not sharing accommodations, because I have no wish to live up to anyone else’s standards, and I have no wish to deal with anyone else’s standard of living.

  • Shoegal September 19, 2016, 2:47 pm

    Don’t blame toddlers – adults and children can be just as messy!!! I vacation with my family. My brothers usually pal around with my nephews and they seem to be up all night playing video games, aerosoft, sports – etc. I remember one evening at midnight I woke up and cleaned up the game room of the vacation rental. The room was deserted but the lights and video game was left on and there were wrappers, bags of chips, cans and bottles etc strewn about, the pole table sticks, balls were everywhere. I threw the garbage away, put the recycling in the container – tidied up the room and went to bed. The next morning I relayed what I did last night and my two sisters and mother had the same exact same tale. My mother tidied up at 9pm, I tidied at midnight, my sister woke up and tidied up at 2am and my other sister got up and cleaned the next morning. They kept messing up and we kept cleaning.

    I’m afraid this is a losing battle – your level of cleanliness won’t always be met and may sometimes be exceeded. You’ll need to either stop vacationing with these friends or learn to accept that you’ll need to do some cleaning to meet your standards. I usually vacation with friends and am fortunate that the main area is usually kept pretty clean but I would get up each morning and do some straightening up so it was pleasant for everyone.

    • NostalgicGal September 20, 2016, 4:21 pm

      I would have left a note and confiscated all the game cartridges and other accessories I could find. When someone checked in with me and I discussed why there weren’t any game stuff out, and if it keeps happening the stuff won’t reappear (the rest of us are not the maids), then I’d hand it back over.

    • any mouse September 25, 2016, 8:19 am

      I’m not sure from this if your sisters are the mothers of your nephews. If they are the mothers why aren’t they getting their kids to clean up instead of all of y’all doing it for them?

      Why should they do anything to clean up when everyone else is doing it for them?

  • PhDeath September 19, 2016, 2:57 pm

    It would have annoyed me, as well. However, I wouldn’t have allowed it to affect my vacation as much as the OP seems to have.

    This line stood out for me: ” I watched Katie’s dinner plate the last night to see how long it would take to be cleaned up.” If I found myself spending my precious vacation time staring at/stewing over a dirty plate, I would take a deep breath and enact one of the two reasonable choices I’d feel I have in this scenario:

    1. Speak frankly, but kindly to the co-vacationers, asking them to be more vigilant about cleaning up.

    2. (The one I’d actually pick, most likely) Recognize that I’m someone who finds it tough to relax in a messy environment, then continue to clean up without spiraling into resentment. Easier said than done, but far better than spending my trip seething.

  • Semperviren September 19, 2016, 3:01 pm

    You are not Vacation Compatible with these people. I wouldn’t want to spend a weekend with people whose habits I found annoying. I wouldn’t want to spend a weekend being judged, either. See them at their home for brief visits, or better yet, outdoors.

  • Lacey September 19, 2016, 3:40 pm

    I can’t believe the number of comments excusing the couple because they have a newborn. They chose to have a baby, they chose to go on vacation with said baby, and they have 2 children, so they have had a baby before and knew exactly what it would entail. No excuse for letting their kid trash someone else’s house or letting their friends take care of and clean up after the kid. OP, you probably should have just told them you wouldn’t be cleaning up after Katie anymore, but these people are self-absorbed (no, having a newborn does not make this ok) and rude.

    • Lacey September 19, 2016, 3:50 pm

      Also, yeah, I know the natural inclination when one has a newborn is to think the world revolves around the baby and your sleep deprivation, etc. Again, they chose to go on vacation with other people. Same amount of sympathy for these people as the people who let their kids run unsupervised around restaurants because “they need a break.”

      • Kathryn September 20, 2016, 3:32 am

        Except these people aren’t in a restaurant with strangers. They’re in a holiday house with friends. It’s completely different. Every child is different and adjusting to a new child and family member takes time.

        The only mistake made was going on holiday with each other. Katie wasn’t “trashing” the house, she was leaving crumbs everywhere that is easily vacuumed up at the end of the day. John and Hillary didn’t “let their friends take care of and clean up after the kid”. They fed Katie and let her play independently. LW CHOSE to clean up after Katie like a neat-freak and micromanage her eating behaviors.

        Can you see how differently this story can be read!? Honestly, I read your comment as displaying a lack of empathy and thinking the worlds revolves around you.

        • Lacey September 20, 2016, 8:47 am

          Nope, my empathy is for the OP. Friends shouldn’t have to pick up parental slack at the expense of their own rest and relaxation on vacation, and you shouldn’t treat your friends as babysitters. Nobody forced the other couple to either have a baby or take it on vacation.

          • Goldie September 21, 2016, 9:07 am

            Excuse me, did you just suggest that the other couple should not have taken their newborn daughter on vacation, at a condo that belonged to someone they knew, to avoid inconveniencing OP’s family? Now I’ve seen it all.

          • Lacey September 23, 2016, 3:30 pm

            I’m not sure if you’re aware, but prefacing your comments with “Um” or “Excuse me” can be taken as pretty rude.

            What I said was that they shouldn’t have expected OP and her family to clean up after them or take any burden of child care. They can take their baby on vacation; it’s just not an excuse not to be considerate of other people in a shared space.

        • Lacey September 20, 2016, 8:54 am

          Also, I saw your comment upthread about just not caring about picking up after yourself or your children on vacation…I guess that pretty much says it all. You have to be somewhat considerate of other people in a shared space, and having children doesn’t give you a pass on that.

          • Kathryn September 20, 2016, 7:01 pm

            Who said I didn’t care? I said I need a break. My husband does roughly 70% of the housework when he’s home in order to let me have a rest too. I don’t like chaos. I like order. I want things to be neat, tidy and clean. But I’m not going to run myself down to the bone to achieve an idealistic standard while my children are both toddlers. I send them outside to eat a bowl of popcorn so they don’t get it into the carpet, but I only vacuum every second or third day because my house doesn’t need to be a showroom.

            The LW chose to go on a holiday with John and Hillary, I would be surprised if she was ignorant of them having a newborn.

          • Lacey September 21, 2016, 9:40 am

            Right…but it’s different if it’s your husband, who is your partner and co-parent, giving you the break. It’s not ok to just expect friends will pick after your child to give you said break, when they presumably need a vacation as well. Knowing the couple has a newborn doesn’t mean knowing they will expect her to do all the housework. There are plenty of people who don’t just degenerate into complete slobs after having multiple children. The issue I’m having with the couple in the story and some of the comments is the sense of entitlement to a break at the expense of other people.

        • stacey September 20, 2016, 12:22 pm

          It really is all about perspective, right? But the whole huffy holier-than-though attitude towards parents who fail to perform is wearing thin. It’s not okay to wreck the world along the faultlines of the social frontier over issues that really are housekeeping. O.P.’s family chose to vacation with this family in close quarters. Their habits and preferences don’t align. Okay, it’s an irritant but not a carastrophe.

        • Dee September 20, 2016, 1:03 pm

          Kathryn – Feeding a toddler on the run so that food is ground into the carpet isn’t “trashing” the place? I’d hate to see what you would consider trashing, if that behaviour is okay with you. OP and her husband and daughter had to live in that space, too, and I can’t imagine anyone other than a pig being okay with sitting and walking in other people’s messes. (I take that back – actual pigs are much cleaner than that.) John and Hillary never fed Katie properly and never cleaned up after her. They can do that in their own home (and then better not be surprised when they never get company) but in a communal space or someone else’s home? That’s entitlement and laziness and piggishness.

          • Kathryn September 20, 2016, 7:05 pm

            “I can’t imagine anyone other than a pig being okay with sitting and walking in other people’s messes.”
            I have plenty of friends with messier homes than myself. But I tolerate those messes for the sake of spending time with my friend, in their homes. I think loving other people in the midst of their messy lives is more important than having a spotless home.

            And I would be happy to go on a holiday with those friends, because there’s no pressure to follow my children around cleaning up after them. But I can also trust we’ll tidy up together after the kids are in bed.

          • Ant September 21, 2016, 2:41 am

            I agree with you Kathryn- it does not sound like trashing the place more neat freak mixing with a very relaxed person. Cookie crumbs and a few crackers are not going to form a trip/ slip hazard nor spoil in a day so it’s fair to say the parents could have cleaned it later. We don’t know what these parents cleaning routine was life but it’s obviously not compatible with OP. As a teen I used to clean a summer lodges, saw a lot and trashing a room to me involves a lot more… some of the things I saw: leaving a milk stain on a carpet to spoil (the carpet smelled rotten- they must have spilt it the day they arrived I don’t really know how they could have coped with that smell after a week though), holes in walls. a lasagne and cracked dish in the kitchen corner (it looked like someone had dropped it but rather than pick it up just swept it to one side- there were “skid” marks), a flour “explosion” (no idea what happened but once walked into a kitchen coated in flour from about head height down, and worst was people missing the bowl (and on one occasion I’m talking number 2 here- don’t ask).

        • NostalgicGal September 20, 2016, 4:23 pm

          But messes involving food can spiral quickly into unreal… and letting a toddler eat without supervision could be deadly. If they choke it can be fatal NOW and if you don’t see it, you won’t find out until after…

      • Goldie September 20, 2016, 8:35 am

        Uh, re “they chose to go on vacation with other people”, the vacation was at the condo that belongs to someone John and Hillary know. So a more accurate way to put it is, OP and OP’s husband chose to go on vacation with them. Not the other way around.

        • Lacey September 20, 2016, 6:01 pm

          Oh, well then my bad, that totally absolves John and Hillary of having to be considerate of either their friends’ condo or the couple they went on vacation with. Glad you cleared that up.

          • Goldie September 21, 2016, 9:04 am

            I’m not going to get into what absolves whom of what, we’re not being judges and assigning punishment here, I would hope. All I’m saying is, OP and her husband *chose* to share a condo during their vacation with four people who were all going through a major life change and who they knew would not be in the right state of mind or have the energy to keep the condo clean for OP and OP’s husband’s standards. Yet they chose to go, passively-aggressively glare at dirty dishes every day for a week, and then complain behind their friends’ backs as soon as they got back home, now why would OP knowingly choose to make martyr of herself on her own vacation? Why go with those people at this time to begin with, you didn’t have to have ESP to see how things would go sharing a space with a family that has a toddler and a newborn? My guess, because like Devin said below, OP and OP’s husband stayed at that condo rent-free. Their choice.

  • Devin September 19, 2016, 3:44 pm

    I noticed the OP didnt state they were renting the condo only sharing it. Since this was potentially a free space to stay in, i dont think the OP has much of a complaint since it appears they were invited guests on a free vacation. If there was a rental agreememt involved those usually have a cleaning fee included. Your friends may have thought since they were paying a cleaning service they didn’t need to worry about the day to day tidying up, or were planning on having the house cleaned at the end of the week. Since the OP never voiced their concern for the mess, how were they to know? It would have been very easy to say, “we dont want our daughter eating floor food, would you please be mindful of the food bits your daughter is leaving behind?”
    Easy solution, rent your own space next year.

  • Ashley September 19, 2016, 4:31 pm

    I would have been cleaning the whole time, lest the couple who owns the house think that I was some kind of unclean person.

    Plus if it hadn’t gotten cleaned up right away, it might have gotten shoved between couch cushions or ground into the rug and started to smell or stain depending on whatever food it was.

    Don’t vacation with them again. That way if they leave a mess, you can’t get blamed for it.

  • doodlemor September 19, 2016, 5:15 pm

    I think that you felt an obligation to the friends of John and Hillary who owned the condo to keep it clean, OP. I suspect that you are a considerate person.

    It seems that your friends have different living standards than you do. I don’t think this was just a vacation thing, because Katie was obviously accustomed to roaming around with food.

    In the future, I’m sure that you won’t want to be in a live-in situation with them again, whether it is your home, a vacation home, or their house. Especially their house – given the amount of food that the child dropped around the vacation home, I would suspect that their home may be infested with some sort of critters.

  • Sarah B. September 19, 2016, 6:19 pm

    I have to agree that this is just normal behavior for John and Hilary, not simply newborn-caused ‘let it go; we’ll get it later, after a nap’ or vacation sloppiness. If it was unusual, I would think one of them, at least once, would have said something like, “Sorry, Katie isn’t usually like this, but she’s acting out a bit due to Lily.” or “Sorry, we usually clean up after her better, but we’ve been letting it go for a while because we’re just so tired and busy with Lily. We’ll get it in the morning/do a big shoveling out on the last day.” Most people tend apologize if they’re not handling something as well as they normally do, whether they actually *need* to or not. And make at least a token effort to do the thing anyway. I’d think if Hilary or Lily had complications or Hilary was perhaps suffering from post partum, that would’ve made it into the post — if there would’ve been a post at all since it would excuse a degree of messiness.

    I helped raise four little stair-steps — only four years between the oldest and youngest of them. Even after my mom almost died having the youngest and had to deal with a newborn, two toddlers, and a preschooler after major surgery, this never would’ve flown in my house. Kids were not allowed to wander around with food and if they spilled, they were to make an age appropriate attempt to clean it up. (Picking up the big pieces, putting a towel over spilled liquids, stacking dishes and silverware on the table, etc.) Kids put away their own toys and helped pick up in an age appropriate way. Even on their worst days, I cannot remember ever having a mess half as bad as is described in this post — with four of them working on it.

    I think the only other options you really had, OP, were to ask John or Hilary directly to pick up after Katie, or to directly ask John and Hilary if you could keep Katie at the table with your daughter and then play some kind of a game or read to them to keep her interested in staying at the table. As the girls got along, it seems perfectly reasonable to have the girls eat together (if you’re feeding one, might as well feed the other, too) and not insulting their parenting skills or choices.

  • Tara September 19, 2016, 6:31 pm

    I’d be horrified if I were the owner of the house and a small child left gross crumbs and cookies in the carpet everywhere. But then again, I would never allow someone with a child to stay in my house. So I really don’t think it was OP’s problem. Maybe the parents are the types who clean up at the end of the day, and OP constantly cleaning up meant she did all the cleaning.

  • Me September 19, 2016, 6:56 pm

    I think that if the Katie’s family wants this style of housekeeping in their own home, or on vacation on their own, it’s up to them.

    But when you’re sharing accommodation with someone, you have to adhere to some basic standards of cleanliness, and not leaving half-eaten food scattered on the floor is a pretty basic standard – I’d class that along with things like cleaning up your own bodily fluids. And if you have someone in your family who is unable to manage this on their own (like a toddler or a pet), then you’re responsible for cleaning up after them in a timely fashion (as in, as soon as it’s noticed, not at the end of the day). Expecting your roommates to constantly clean up after you, or step around half eaten food is not reasonable, even if you have small children and are tired. Leaving dirty dishes sitting on the table for hours is also not acceptable roommate behaviour.

    But I think all the LW can do is not share accommodation with their friends in the future. Either vacation separately, or take separate rentals. Revisit it in a few years, when the kids are older, after observing them in their own home to see how they behave there.

    • Lacey September 20, 2016, 8:59 am

      This exactly.

  • Willynilly September 19, 2016, 9:08 pm

    I have 2.5 year old twins and a 3 month old baby. And husband, kids and I just spent 4 days/nights with another couple in a vacation rental.

    Honestly, I think the issue is just different personalities. Cleaniness, relaxation, and eating habits. Expectations, habits, needs, and preferences need to be communicated, and compromises made.

    I also think, much like how folks without kids don’t quite get what it is to have kids, folks with just one kid don’t understand what having additional kids does to the chaos level.

    I did do A LOT of picking up the last 4 days, way more than I do at home. I went into this vacation knowing it was for my husband and my kids, not for me. Because I know me, in a shared space, and being hosted, I need order to feel calm.

    But even still this morning, I left one consolidated plate of toddler breakfast out the table for 4 hours. On purpose. No I was not trying to drive anyone nuts. Rather, I noticed straight away, in their excitement, my kids were hardly eating. Yet they were certainly expending plenty of energy. I left food out so they could, and hopefully would, graze. I only cleared the plate once linch preparations commensed. I wanted stuff neat and tidy sure, but I was not willing to risk toddler overtired-with-bellyache meltdowns to ensure cleanliness. I had to choose, and I chose calm with a plate left out over crying in a clean condo.

    I think the best bet is to not share vacation space with others if you are particular about how shared spaces are kept, or if you do, simply go into it knowing you might not get a vacation out of the situation.

    • Anonymous September 20, 2016, 3:38 pm

      WillyNilly, what you did was perfectly reasonable. Leaving a plate of breakfast foods out so toddlers can graze, is really no different than leaving a plate of appetizers out for adults and older kids. It’s completely different from allowing food to be thrown on the floor and left there.

      • Willynilly September 20, 2016, 9:32 pm

        But its not different than the OP’s complaint about a dinner plate left out for 3 hours.

        My point is, the toddler has just gone through a major family shift at home and was now in a new space with people she doesn’t normally cohabitate with. John & Hillary might not normally allow the behavior but might have been so concerned about their kid eating anything, that cleaning up food was not their priority. They might have prefered the half eaten donut be left for their child to return to. I know on my trip, night two I was literally coaxing my kids to eat ice cream for dinner just to get some calories and protein in their bellies before bed. They were just so overstimulated by vacation even sweets were a tough sell.

  • Kaykay September 19, 2016, 11:38 pm

    This happened to my husband and I a few years ago. We rented a vacation house at the beach with another couple, my girlfriend and her boyfriend. I only requested that common areas were kept clean.
    Gf and bf had their own room on the second floor, with own bathroom. Our room was on the 1st floor and shared bathroom. Basically, gf/bf had a large area of the house to themselves, totally private.
    I kept finding dirty dishes strewn all over the house by both of them. His dirty laundry was being left on THE KITCHEN FLOOR, including underwear. I became so disgusted I would throw it all up the stairs into their area.
    Bf “did us a favor” and cooked all the food we had purchased…they had purchased only bad inedible dollar store food…cooked it all and left it in a pile on the kitchen table cold and congealed. They expected us to be thankful they had destroyed the food we had purchased for the week!
    Needless to say I would never vacation with them ever again.

    • NostalgicGal September 20, 2016, 4:25 pm

      I’m afraid I would have been out of there a lot earlier and I would have alerted the rental place about the disaster (and taken pictures on the way out) to cut vacation. And never vacationed with them again.

      • Kaykay October 2, 2016, 1:37 pm

        We definitely never will vacation with them again!

  • Mags September 20, 2016, 8:08 am

    I’m a messy person. So some of what the OP mentions I probably wouldn’t even notice. When I clean, I clean, but in the meantime, it totally doesn’t bother me as life’s messes accumulate. If I dealt with every crumb as it happened, I would feel like I was cleaning ALL THE TIME. Whereas I recognize that some people feel the opposite — if they deal with every crumb at the time, then it takes no time at all when it comes time to clean. Think of it like filing — you can file every single paper and receipt as it enters your house, or you can put them all in the to do pile and deal with them all at once on a paperwork day. One is not morally superior to the other — it just what suits your personality and what you find to be more efficient.

    If it were me, I imagine either I’d not have noticed OP’s constant cleaning at all because, as I said, mess doesn’t bother me, or I might have noticed but left it alone thinking that she was a little obsessive compulsive but I loved her anyway so I wouldn’t tease her about it. However, I could also imagine it unfolding in a way that made OP seem annoying or judgemental, and I could see someone getting a little passive aggressive in response (e.g. leaving a dirty dish on the table just to see her squirm). Not that that would be mannerly, but I could see it happening.

    I also note that the condo belonged to John and Hillary’s friends. So to me, this puts John and Hillary in more or less the position of hosts, since presumably they were the ones invited to use the condo and for whatever reason brought OP along. So on the one hand, wonderful of OP to be so conscientious about someone else’s home. On the other hand, seems to me to be a bit overstepping for OP to be judging how J & H are keeping the place that their friends lent them.

    I wonder how it would have gone if OP had spoken to J&H. It bothers me when dishes are left on the table after a meal. Would OP have been able to compromise if J&H had said that ok, we’ll put dishes in the sink so the table is cleared off, and then we will wash them all before we go to bed. Or would OP not have been satisfied unless they completely complied with her cleaning standards?

  • MyWorldtwo September 20, 2016, 9:08 am

    While I think the other couple should have picked up after their child, it was the writer’s choice to make it her problem and do the cleaning and picking up. Her responsibility was solely to her own family.

    That said, being honest, I too probably would not have been able to ignore food all over the place, and would have ended up constantly cleaning and picking up.

    I would chalk it up as a learning experience and if they vacation together again, don’t share a place. Make a simple excuse; maybe saying they find they get better sleep when alone.

  • Just4Kicks September 20, 2016, 10:09 am

    My only sibling I haven’t spoken to in over five years, raises her kids under the banner of “If they want it, then by God, they shall have it!!!”
    My kids don’t sport shining halos, but they are good, well mannered kids…..or else.

    • SebbyGrrl September 21, 2016, 12:29 pm

      I don’t have kids of my own but have been a full time Auntie for … jiminey! 30 years!

      First my sister’s 2 girls (one lived with us during her time in high school for 5 years) and now my bestie has 3 – 15, 13 and 9.

      This is my observation – it seems like a dymanic (oh, that’s funny typo, I’m leaving it) on vacation and then between certain couples – unlike WillyNilly (wise lady) one or both are ‘competing’ over who gets to ‘vacation’.

      Husband who works full time expects to vacation full time in ignorance of what the kids need and expects mom to do it all or for it to happen ‘naturally’ (which NEVER happens). As days progress mom gets more upset and still keeps ‘expecting’ husband to help – he thinks he has because he grilled dinner last night.

      And/or Mom in the same role or they both expect to ‘vacation’ and ignore everything.

      So you have the kids saying “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…” People yer kid is talking either tell them not now or answer – don’t make me listen to it 30 times a day!

      Same with “Dad, Mom WATCH me!” Watch them once, give them your full attention for 10 mins. Then tell them to play on their own, no commentary, they are playing for fun and you are reading or laying by the pool, what have you, that’s fun for you.

      Video games need to be supervised in same way – no fighting or it goes off, no the adults aren’t going to watch (unless they want to) we all want to have fun doing our own thing.

      So now, I know my friends’ style and expectations and I know one hub who will do his own thing for the first 5 hours we get anywhere. That is how he is, their relationship goes vs. what I think should be a different arrival/settling in time.

      So I immediately take the kids to the pool for as long as possible. Let’s mom get herself in the space, helps me not get outraged at dad ignoring being a dad/husband on vacation with his family not himself to only to his own thing. Or I don’t go because I know that’s their style.

      The challenge here sounds like newish friends bonding over kids so felt like no way to politely bring it up.

      I would have felt like OP about keeping someone else’s vacation home tidy and not grinding food/crumbs into carpet.

      I might have tried ‘Divide, decide, conquer’ – Divide what is mine from what is others’-i.e. not taking care of Katie or deciding how to do that to the level I’m comfortable.

      “So it seems like on vacation you guys take more of a let her graze and wander style?” “I think I need your feedback because I feel like we need to keep the place really tidy to honor your friends’ letting us stay. Or do they hire cleaners no matter what?”

      That should have been doable in first 24 hours. Then decide to conquer by knowing you can’t conquer it, so what can you live with? For me, vacation is DOWN time, so I would decide to ignore it because I will be too mad if I try to clean up after them all week.

      I don’t mean to ‘blame’ anyone, I think that the added newborn is prolly the fly in the ointment – they are exhausted, by choice, but you really can’t ‘blame’ them or the behavior that arises from it.

      Bottom line – when I am invited to vacation with others and especially with kids I usually ask up front – “Vacation for me is resting, sleeping, napping, walking on the beach, dinner out one night. I don’t want to do a bunch of go go going – what do you like to do, how to you get to relax?” And I know what I want – and my needs prolly won’t get met, so thanks but no thanks.

      • Just4Kicks September 22, 2016, 10:34 am

        Ah, yes….I’m quite familiar with “I had a two hour meeting today AND “made supper” aka threw hot dogs on the grill.
        Let’s see: I got four kids up and ready for school (3:45am to 8:10), made them a hot breakfast, did countless loads of laundry, emptied all the trash, cleaned toilets/sinks/bathtubs, vacuumed etc….
        So….why the hell am I sitting on my ass at four thirty in the afternoon?!?

        • NostalgicGal September 23, 2016, 11:27 pm

          Thank everything DH has been the housespouse at times and he finally had the epiphany that an hour worked IS an hour worked whether it is fixing fences, doing laundry or writing code. May yours get the clue Just4Kicks…