Author Topic: Friends coming to help clean - how much 'hosting'? ... :/ Update #19  (Read 15206 times)

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Lynn2000

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To address the issue of "nagging," and what does/doesn't constitute it... To me, nagging implies that one does not respect someone's competence or responsibility, which is often why it's so irritating (and rude). For example, if I ask my kids to have something cleaned up "before dinnertime at 6pm," I think I would be a nag if, every single hour, I interrupted what they were doing to ask when they were going to get it cleaned up. It clearly implies I don't think they're going to do it on time when the deadline hasn't even been reached. (Granted, young kids might need more reminders about new chores.)

To me, nagging is about ambiguity and frustration and lack of follow-through. The Nagger wants something done, and they have both a deadline and consequences if it doesn't happen in mind; but they don't share this with the Naggee, expecting them to just figure it out. So then the Nagger is hopping around, wanting to know when the chore will get done, and the Naggee is thinking they had plenty of time to do it and it's not that big a deal anyway. And if it never gets done, the Nagger often doesn't follow through with consequences or alternatives, they just get more frustrated.

To me, nagging is one person saying, "Do this, do this, do this--argh! You never do this! Never mind." And the other person is going, "What? I didn't realize it was so urgent or important. And now you're not giving me a chance to fix it, so I'm frustrated, too." Or, "Why should I do it? I know if I put up with four reminders from you, you'll just give up and do it yourself, and not punish me."

But to say, "Please clean this up before dinnertime at 6pm, or you won't get dessert," is not nagging. You (general) say it once, then if it's not done by the deadline, the consequence kicks in--no dessert. Then you say, "If that isn't cleaned up by dinnertime at 6pm tomorrow, the toys will be confiscated for a week." Maybe a reminder the next morning or when the kids get home from school. Then, if it's still not done by the deadline, this next consequence kicks in. After dinner, you have your DH scoop up the toys into a cardboard box and put it away in your closet. Or, if you could just tip a box over and push the toys into it with a broom, your DH could just put it in the closet for you. And it stays there for a week.

To me, this isn't nagging, it's stating expectations plus a deadline and consequences, waiting until the deadline to see if the expectation is met, then following through with the consequences if it isn't. If one kind of consequence--no dessert--doesn't work, try another. And the consequence should never be, "Someone else does the thing instead," unless that consequence feels negative somehow--like hiring a person to do X around the house might motivate a spouse to do X instead, if the spouse doesn't like spending extra money or feels like they're a bad partner if a stranger does it.

These are just my initial thoughts on this subject... I hope they're helpful, and that others will have some ideas as well.
~Lynn2000

lowspark

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Probably just the first, yes, unless I had been telling them for 4-5 months how much of a mess my house was.  It really depends on what the OP told them, I think.  I don't think she necessarily put them in that position, though.  They could have just as easily made the decision to ask her what she wanted, but they didn't.  I think that was the wrong decision.

Oh yeah, I agree! It was definitely the wrong decision.
And yes, so much depends on what she actually told them. And how they interpreted it.
She might have said, "my house is a huge mess" which in her mind included trash & toys & silverware on the floor. But they might have heard "my house is a huge mess" and interpreted that to mean that the toilets & tubs hadn't been cleaned in a long time and that the floor was badly in need of mopping, etc.

In addition to that, people always say "my house is a huge mess" when it really isn't that huge of a mess. You know, people exaggerate. So again, how this statement or type of statement was interpreted by the friends could vary greatly.

So unless the OP gave an accurate description of the trash/toys/other stuff on the floor, etc. there's really no way to know what the friends actually did expect.

So again, yes, the friends were definitely in the wrong to throw away all that stuff, as I said in my reply a while back. But the OP was also most likely in the wrong to leave all that stuff out.

Seraphia

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To you* they are different things.  To me, decluttering/picking up/organizing/etc all fall under the word "cleaning".  I could be cleaning out my car and be only getting all of my school books out of there, or I could be cleaning the bathroom and be scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush, or I could be cleaning the spare room and be getting rid of things I haven't used in years, or cleaning my closet and getting rid of old clothes. 

Again, I agree with your last two comments, but I do have a caveat.  When you're in that much that much pain and see your house slipping by beneath you, depression is an easy place to which to go.  Getting emotions to a healthy place is not easy when you're depressed.

*and obviously others here.

Yeah, I can see that. Even though I'm one of the ones who says picking up & cleaning up are two different things, I, too, will say "clean up" often when I mean "pick up". For example, I might say to my husband, "the housekeeper is coming tomorrow, we need to clean up this room" when what I mean is that we need to get it picked up.

But! Here's the nuance that I don't think you addressed. In the situation of the OP, when friends are coming to help her clean, I really don't think that they expected to be involved in the picking up aspect of it. And to use your examples, had the friends been coming to your house, which of these would you actually expect, or even want them to do:

- cleaning the bathroom and be scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush
- cleaning the spare room and be getting rid of things I haven't used in years
- cleaning my closet and getting rid of old clothes

(I copied these phrases directly from your post.)
I'm guessing only the first one. You wouldn't want them making decisions on things in your spare room or your old clothes.

But in effect, that's what the OP did. She put them in a situation where they felt like they needed to make decisions on the things on the floor, and inevitably, they made some wrong decisions.

Probably just the first, yes, unless I had been telling them for 4-5 months how much of a mess my house was.  It really depends on what the OP told them, I think.  I don't think she necessarily put them in that position, though.  They could have just as easily made the decision to ask her what she wanted, but they didn't.  I think that was the wrong decision.

I've been the surprised cleaner/organizer before, and people's definition of "messy" varies so widely, it's practically useless as a descriptor. My Grandma's "messy" is my father's "disaster area." My "messy" is my husband's "looks fine." Most probably the expectation was so different from the reality that everyone got a little overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that needed going through.

I think the problem boils down to miscommunication and having the organizer friend out might still be helpful, since she's probably more accustomed to the sorting than someone who came by to wash windows or some-such.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 10:26:18 PM by Seraphia »
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O'Dell

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But even if there were a miscommunication and the friends weren't expecting the picking up/decluttering aspects, once they got there and saw things, they should have reassessed their plan. I can't imagine decluttering for someone else. Sure I could make a decent stab at it, but I would be sure to be pretty conservative in what I determined was trash. People's ideas of trash v. treasure can vary widely. I think the helpers overstepped when they tried to make decisions about the borderline stuff such as toys and dirty dishes. They should have asked, IMO.

I'm sorry this didn't work out the way it was planned, OP. Your friends had good intentions. I don't know if I could say anything if I were in your place. It is so easy to come off as ungrateful when a favor of this magnitude goes bad. Maybe you can thank them for now, but keep it in mind as something to caution people of if they find themselves in the same situation as you were in.

Good luck to you with implementing new rules with kids and husband. Don't worry about being a nag about it. Cleaning and tidying is a great skill for your kids to have. It's not nagging them, it's parenting. (hugs)
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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Sophia

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The OP said that her children throw their trash on the floor.  how much of this trash were the friends obligated to go through to figure out what was important enough to keep? im sorry but if its mixed in with trash on the floor i would have to assume it was all trash.

Yes, until they saw something that is obviously not trash.  I assume they weren't shoveling trash with a snow shovel.  Usually it is a pickup and toss situation.  Where the cleaners went WAYYYYYYY over the line was when they removed the trash bags.  If they had thrown everything on the floor into trash bags and then left the trash bags against a wall someplace, then I would not have faulted them, and I don't think the OP would have either.  Except in maybe the "Need a hug" manner. 

Instantkarma

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The OP said that her children throw their trash on the floor.  how much of this trash were the friends obligated to go through to figure out what was important enough to keep? im sorry but if its mixed in with trash on the floor i would have to assume it was all trash.

Yes, until they saw something that is obviously not trash.  I assume they weren't shoveling trash with a snow shovel.  Usually it is a pickup and toss situation.  Where the cleaners went WAYYYYYYY over the line was when they removed the trash bags.  If they had thrown everything on the floor into trash bags and then left the trash bags against a wall someplace, then I would not have faulted them, and I don't think the OP would have either.  Except in maybe the "Need a hug" manner.

i figured they took the trash to the dump because they know the op has a bad back and didnt want her to worry about it.

stargazer

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The OP said that her children throw their trash on the floor.  how much of this trash were the friends obligated to go through to figure out what was important enough to keep? im sorry but if its mixed in with trash on the floor i would have to assume it was all trash.

Yes, until they saw something that is obviously not trash.  I assume they weren't shoveling trash with a snow shovel.  Usually it is a pickup and toss situation.  Where the cleaners went WAYYYYYYY over the line was when they removed the trash bags.  If they had thrown everything on the floor into trash bags and then left the trash bags against a wall someplace, then I would not have faulted them, and I don't think the OP would have either.  Except in maybe the "Need a hug" manner.

i figured they took the trash to the dump because they know the op has a bad back and didnt want her to worry about it.

Exactly.  They figured they were being helpful especially since the OP didn't stop them.

Bibliophile

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The OP said that her children throw their trash on the floor.  how much of this trash were the friends obligated to go through to figure out what was important enough to keep? im sorry but if its mixed in with trash on the floor i would have to assume it was all trash.

Yes, until they saw something that is obviously not trash.  I assume they weren't shoveling trash with a snow shovel.  Usually it is a pickup and toss situation.  Where the cleaners went WAYYYYYYY over the line was when they removed the trash bags.  If they had thrown everything on the floor into trash bags and then left the trash bags against a wall someplace, then I would not have faulted them, and I don't think the OP would have either.  Except in maybe the "Need a hug" manner.

I googled to find out what an amigurumi turtle was & it's a small knitted toy.  Depending on the shape it was in, if it was mixed in with trash I could see how someone would mistake it for something that didn't need to be kept (knitted/stuffed toys sometimes don't wear well with time).  I think they handled it as well as they could have.  Even the lunch portion.  I'd rather pretend I didn't hear an offer for food if I had spent time bagging up trash & clearing dishes off the floors.  I think that making a cleaning schedule and staying on top of of it from this point on and letting go of the trauma of this experience is the best way to move forward.

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Giraffe, Esq

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First of all, OP, I know you didn't ask for them, but {{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}.

It's hard to speak up to "correct" someone who's helping you, isn't it?  There's a fear of appearing ungrateful. 

I think these women were out of line to throw things in the trash the way they did.  They exercised no discernment.  Silverware? Toys?  Clearly-not-broken toys?  That's excessive.  Even if there's trash on the floor.

I do not have children.  My place is constantly a mess.  I have too much stuff and it's not organized well, so I often leave things out instead of putting them away, because frankly, it's easier to find what I need again, when I need it.  I know that I should organize things better and get rid of some of it so that putting away is easier and more efficient, but it's overwhelming -- especially when you've got other stuff going on, which the OP has in spades.

OP has four children, chronic pain, bed rest, pregnancy, and financial troubles.  I just have depression/anxiety.  Now, when I get lazy and don't put away the (generic) tupperware I brought lunch to work in, and it gets moldy and stinky?  Sure, I might toss it rather than wash it -- I can afford that cost at the moment.  But when I was a broke student in law school?  You can bet your bum I'd be washing that thing out!  That's what bleach/dishwashers/really hot water is for.  And these women, presumably, know of OP's financial difficulties. 

I have allergies (grass, pollen, life) and often end up with piles of used kleenex on the floor/coffee table by my chair.  I should get a trash can to keep there.  Yes, I know this.  It's on my list.  Loooowww down on my list, because other things are more urgent.  If some kind helping soul trashed everything there, I'd have lost several important receipts and a gift certificate.  Again, I should have these file better.  But there are other things that have to be dealt with before I can improve my filing and in the meantime, I know exactly where those are on the coffee table, even if they are sometimes covered with coasters and tissues.

I'm just appalled at the idea that someone would go throw things away so haphazardly.  I'm also really sorry you had to have that kind of loss on top of everything else you're dealing with, OP.  {{{hugs}}} again.

MasterofSquirrels

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The OP said that her children throw their trash on the floor.  how much of this trash were the friends obligated to go through to figure out what was important enough to keep? im sorry but if its mixed in with trash on the floor i would have to assume it was all trash.

Yes, until they saw something that is obviously not trash.  I assume they weren't shoveling trash with a snow shovel.  Usually it is a pickup and toss situation.  Where the cleaners went WAYYYYYYY over the line was when they removed the trash bags.  If they had thrown everything on the floor into trash bags and then left the trash bags against a wall someplace, then I would not have faulted them, and I don't think the OP would have either.  Except in maybe the "Need a hug" manner.

I googled to find out what an amigurumi turtle was & it's a small knitted toy.  Depending on the shape it was in, if it was mixed in with trash I could see how someone would mistake it for something that didn't need to be kept (knitted/stuffed toys sometimes don't wear well with time).  I think they handled it as well as they could have.  Even the lunch portion.  I'd rather pretend I didn't hear an offer for food if I had spent time bagging up trash & clearing dishes off the floors.  I think that making a cleaning schedule and staying on top of of it from this point on and letting go of the trauma of this experience is the best way to move forward.

I agree with Bibliofile.
The fact is, we don't know what condition anything was in. What we do know, is that the OP has issues with keeping her house clean/clutter-free. We know that people were tasked to come in and clean/declutter. We know the OP has older children and a husband, for whatever the reason refuse to help her.

I feel that if certain stuff was so important, it would have been put in a safe place. How are church ladies supposed to know if the stuffed frog on top of a pile of trash is good? How long do you think it would take to clean, if every time someone picked something up they said, "is this good? do we keep this?" From the description the OP gave, they would still be working.

The OP knows there is a problem. She said she had her "wake up call" in 2003. This isn't her first time at this rodeo. It's not that I am unsympathetic to her situation. I just feel like we get excuses. I get the the OP is hurting. I get that she is pregnant, I get that she has a tough situation. What I don't get though, is her lack of expectations. I would hope that she would expect her children to pick up after themselves. I would hope she would expect her husband to pull his weight. She only makes excuses for them.

What happens when the babies arrive? Will dirty diapers be strewn about the house? The time for action was yesterday. "Safety trumps Etiquette" right? People say that all the time here. I see this as an unsafe situation for the kids. A parent is hurt and can't do XXX and the other parent is completely unwilling. If I sound harsh, it's because I don't think the OP is getting it. For whatever reason, I think she is hell-bent on seeing this in the worst possible light.

I just don't think the church ladies overstepped. I don't think they "got" the warnings the OP was giving them. I don't think they knew what to do, so they did what they felt was best. This was all done out of love. I truly believe that. Did you help them OP? you said you hurt yourself, but before that, were you working with them?

Martienne

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Giraffe Esq has the best grasp of things. I've been declining to explain much because I hate when posters do that. I don't want to come across sounding defensive or anything like that, especially since I know exactly how bad things are. This was supposed to make it feel less like shoveling up an avalanche with a teaspoon. Circumstances had been described to the friend I had been talking to, e.g. how we were going to paint the master bedroom one weekend in February and switch to that bedroom, but my husband has been scraping wallpaper every weekend since. Every example I would give would sound like "another excuse". I really would like to know why life has been crapping on us for the last several years and why every move I make to fix things results in going two or more steps backward, but I don't like it when my attempts to improve things are met with judgments about how I should have already improved things.

And again, I'm not going to sit and describe everything we've done trying to retrain the kids' bad habits and so forth, but FWIW we more than doubled the number of trash cans in the house kitchen-size or bigger at tax refund time. Little two-gallon cans are too easy to kick over and fill up far too fast.

I'm kind of getting over Monday, I just wanted to know how to or whether to say anything about it. I think I rescued most of the important things, and any small parts that went out I may have eventually thrown out the whole set out of exasperation at some point anyway. It's happened before.

Dindrane

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I think that all the comments about how the children should be helping more (and how whatever age they are is totally old enough to manage it) and how the husband should be helping more and how the OP should not feel bad about nagging are absolutely right, but also kind of missing the point.

Children can be taught to help clean, but they do have to be taught.  It is unfair to them and to their parents to simply say they should have been helping all along/should be helping now when, clearly, it has not been possible to teach them how to do it.  Cleaning up after oneself is, for the vast majority of the population, a learned skill.  Some learn it more easily than others; some require more guidance than others.  But everyone, at some point, needs to be told what to do and how to do it (and many people need to be required to do it in order for it to stick).

Ditto the husband.  If his mother picked up after him for his entire childhood, it is entirely possible that he actually does not know how to keep a house neat.  Not because he doesn't understand the concept or couldn't learn it.  Not because he is incapable.  But simply because keeping an entire household even reasonably neat is a huge and complicated undertaking.  For someone who is not used to mentally organizing tasks into manageable chunks, it can be overwhelming and impossible and therefore easier to just ignore it entirely.

And while I agree completely that setting and enforcing expectations about help with housework are entirely reasonable activities for Martienne, that doesn't mean it's easy to do it.  It takes time and effort to teach herself what will work within her family and what will not.  We, as strangers on the internet, can tell her a hundred different ways to change her situation, but it won't do her one bit of good until she is able to try it out in her own life and get positive results from it.  Every family dynamic is different, so it takes time to determine what methods will work and what methods will backfire or be ineffective.

Ultimately, I can completely agree that there was obviously some miscommunication around the whole event.  But I also can't even begin to understand how anyone could go into another person's home and throw things irrevocably away without checking to see if those things were actually in need of disposal.  Even on interventionist reality tv shows (Clean Sweep, etc.) that require homeowners to get rid of the bulk of their belongings, the choice is still ultimately in the hands of the homeowners.

I can understand that they may have taken the trash out to save Martienne's back, but it would have been far better for them to have told her how many trash bags there were and ask if she wanted them to first.  Even though Martienne has a bad back, surely her husband could have handled taking already-bagged trash out.  Even her older children could have.

I also think it would have been far more useful, if they were expecting to clean rather than declutter, to sort like items together and bin, box, or bag them up for Martienne to deal with later.  That allows room for actual cleaning without the risk of throwing things out that shouldn't have been tossed.

I actually think that Martiennes assessment from earlier in the thread may be right -- this may just be a fundamental disconnect in how different people view the world.  I can't speak for anyone else, of course, but I have always lived surrounded by varying degrees of clutter, and I am not naturally a neat person myself.  I have had to learn, in a rather painstaking way, how to maintain my living space so that it doesn't degenerate into a pigsty on a regular basis.  It's easy for people to tell me to "just" do a lot of things (put dishes in the dishwasher, deal with soda cans, file papers, get rid of things I'm not using anymore), but it is far more difficult for me to actually do those things with any degree of consistency.

Add in just one long-term issue that disrupts my normal schedule, and my house would be a mess, too.  It sounds to me as though Martienne has been dealing with more than one long-term issue for quite some time.


Ceallach

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I'm wondering if they intended some of the bags to be a way to collecting items up and not necessarily as trash?  If I were cleaning in a huge mess or even a squalor situation, I would use multiple bags and have one for trash and one for keep.  That way the tidying still happens, but there's a bag for the person to go through at a later time to decide toss/keep.   Of course, that only works if the bags aren't all thrown out with the trash!  But I wonder if that's how it was originally intended and it got mixed up somehow with multiple people involved.  I can see how the priority would be "let's get all this stuff cleaned away so we can actually clean underneath it" without stopping to make a decision about each item.  But actually trashing them? Not cool.
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Joeschmo

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Giraffe Esq has the best grasp of things. I've been declining to explain much because I hate when posters do that. I don't want to come across sounding defensive or anything like that, especially since I know exactly how bad things are. This was supposed to make it feel less like shoveling up an avalanche with a teaspoon. Circumstances had been described to the friend I had been talking to, e.g. how we were going to paint the master bedroom one weekend in February and switch to that bedroom, but my husband has been scraping wallpaper every weekend since. Every example I would give would sound like "another excuse". I really would like to know why life has been crapping on us for the last several years and why every move I make to fix things results in going two or more steps backward, but I don't like it when my attempts to improve things are met with judgments about how I should have already improved things.

And again, I'm not going to sit and describe everything we've done trying to retrain the kids' bad habits and so forth, but FWIW we more than doubled the number of trash cans in the house kitchen-size or bigger at tax refund time. Little two-gallon cans are too easy to kick over and fill up far too fast.

I'm kind of getting over Monday, I just wanted to know how to or whether to say anything about it. I think I rescued most of the important things, and any small parts that went out I may have eventually thrown out the whole set out of exasperation at some point anyway. It's happened before.
Your actions and words aren't matching. You say you know how bad things are and you want to change them but get upset when people came in to help you start the process and threw away numerous bags of what most of us would consider trash.  I'm not sure what's to gain from this situation but it seems there must be something due to your resistance to change.

AustenFan

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I have run a residential cleaning company for years, and there are 2 things I've learned the hard way, over and over again.

1) teenaged girls are waaaay dirtier then teenaged boys. Way way way way way dirtier. Unbelievably dirtier. That has nothing to do with this thread.  ;D

2) people always underestimate how long it's going to take to clean their home because nobody actually sees their own mess. Everyone has a mental filing system for what and where their stuff is, but outsiders coming in just don't have that advantage. To the OP the pile of toys the kids had sorted was a step in the right direction, to the people helping her it was just one more pile of stuff. I have no doubt OP tried to explain how bad the house was, but her friends didn't hear it because their version of unclean, untidy, cluttered, (whatever words the OP used) doesn't include 5 people throwing garbage on the floor.

What I'm trying to (incredibly inarticulately) say is that while I have no doubt OP tried to explain what she needed help with, it was still more than her friends were expecting.

On the issue of throwing useful things away: if I walked into a home to see silverware among piles of trash I would throw it out, too. I would assume that the silverware that was actually used was nowhere near the trash.

I wouldn't say anything about the last round of cleaning, but I would be sure to be present and in command of the next round.