Author Topic: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag  (Read 5573 times)

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camlan

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2013, 09:41:41 PM »
When my brother married, he moved over 7 hours away, so any visit pretty much requires an overnight stay.

The first time I visited, my SIL showed me around the house. She also pointed out a few family rules. "Here's where we leave our shoes. This fridge has soda; you can help yourself. Here's the recycling bin, and here's where we put food scraps for the compost. We don't use paper towels--this drawer has dish towels if you need them. If you need to use the bathroom during the night, please use this one, not that one, because the water in the pipes wakes the whole house up."

First, this made me feel as if she thought of me as family and not as a guest. Second, it made me feel much more comfortable in their home--I knew the house rules and she set the boundaries on things like could I get a soda myself or would she rather I ask for one, that sort of thing.

Now, as they've added children and the children are growing up, she still does a version of this. "Now that Susie is crawling, we always have a baby gate here. We just step over it, but you can removed this way. Just remember to always put it back." "Sammy had a horrible dentist's visit. None of the kids are getting any candy anymore. They'll probably whine for some. Give 'em an apple." "We have a new TV. Here's the remote. I don't know how to use it to watch Netflix--ask the kids and they'll show you."

I wouldn't do this in a phone call--he'll forget it all by the next visit. Just the next time your brother visits, pick the 3 or 4 things that bug you the most and tell him about them. Ask him nicely to change. I say 3 or 4, because if you overload him with "Do This, not That. Do That, not This," there's a good chance he won't remember any of it. Give him a couple of concrete things to change, and praise him lavishly when he does them correctly. Then the next visit, work on a few more things.
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Danika

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2013, 09:43:43 PM »
This is hard. Especially since you grew up in the same house and you're not like this. It's strange to see that you're both so different, and I definitely relate to your view of things.

I think at the next visit, I would try talking to him in words and tone of voice as if he's an adult, but thinking of him as a child. For example, if we had a bunch of 5-year-olds in our house doing the same things, I would address each thing as it came up "Oh, please, put your shoes upright with the soles down, side by side, on the mat next to the front door, not in the middle of the hallway", "Please, don't put your wallet there. That's the baby's towel and it needs to be kept sanitary. Sometimes wallets aren't so clean", "Actually, I handed you the coaster to go underneath the cup so that you didn't get a water stain on my coffee table", "Please, don't put your feet on our placemats. Dirty feet and sanitary placemats near food that goes in our mouth is a bad combo."

I don't think it's nagging. But I do think it's tiring for you.

If you're going to write/tell him about these before the next time he comes over, maybe you could start with "I might seem like I have high standards for cleanliness, but I need to go over some ground rules because I think it will make our visit more enjoyable."

I'm not sure if it'll be effective though. Some people just don't have the same things on their radar.

We had very good friends who let their unruly children run around like the cartoon Tazmanian Devil with dirty hands at our house and others. I finally stopped inviting them over to our house, but I would still meet them at public places. We happened to be at a mutual friend's house in the fall. MessyFriend let her 1-year-old eat pizza with her hands. No bib, no high chair. Just from a plate. And then the baby's hands and mouth were covered in red sauce. MessyFriend let her 1-year-old climb up a flight of stairs with white carpet with all this red sauce. I turned to MessyFriend with my jaw hanging open because I have absolutely no poker face. I didn't say anything but I'm sure my facial expression did. MessyFriend gave me an angry look and looked at me like I was crazy and just let her daughter get marinara sauce all over the mutual friend's white carpet. I guess people have different standards.

Figgie

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2013, 12:09:17 AM »
Coasters can be difficult for some people to remember, especially if they are moving around with their drink in their hand.  Can koozies can fit around cans, bottles and even glasses and they had the advantage of sliding onto the beverage container and moving with it. :)

Here's a link to different types:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_koozie

The easier you make it for him to have a single place to put things at your house, the more likely he is to do that.  But I agree with prior posters that you really have to tell him and not assume that he should know these things.

kudeebee

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2013, 12:14:32 AM »
How about getting a small basket for the counter for him--or anyone else--to drop their keys, etc in?

Call him out on the others--"bro, put your shoes on the rack please."  "put your drink on the coaster, not on the tabletop, bro."

If you know he is coming, remove the placemats from the table or fold them up and set them to the side.


perpetua

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2013, 04:01:56 AM »
OP, you said he's pretty comfortable at your house, but what I'm not sure is if you've said anything to him about what bugs you other than making a joke. You said "I feel like I should not have to say, "please don't put your wallet where my daughter's clean bottles go".  I feel very much like that should be a common sense thing." but obviously you do have to tell him.


I agree with this. It probably hasn't even occurred to him. I don't have children and while I probably wouldn't put my keys on a tea towel because that's just odd to me, I wouldn't know that the bottles have to be kept away from everything else. He probably doesn't either.

YummyMummy66

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2013, 07:59:12 AM »
I would tell him this is not the Holiday Inn and you are not paying for a hotel room and I am not your maid. Here are the expectations of our house.  Please follow them.   (this is for the shoes, and cleaning up after himself).

As for the keys, etc., get a bowl of some kind and tell him, this is where his items go.  NOt on baby knitt's towel.  This is where her clean bottles go and we do not want germs on that item.  Please, this is a coffee table, not an ottoman.  Your feet do not belong on it period. 

Sophia

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2013, 09:58:53 AM »
I don't know how this would work in this situation, but you will be the best judge so I am throwing it out there.  I wouldn't apply it to a friend, but I would a brother. 

In the more egregious examples, like wiping greasy fingers on his couch, could you make him be the one to make things right?  Like point out the greasy finger marks and tell him he now has to remove the cover and put it in the washer. 

I am curious how he turned out that way.  You don't seem like you were raised by wolves, by he seems to have been.  Did your mother scurry after him with a trash can and cleaning rag?

WillyNilly

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2013, 10:56:09 AM »
While I agree your rules are reasonable, one thing I noticed was a lot of total extreme opposites. Shoes go on the mat/feet don't go on mats and keys go on bare counter/drinks do not go on bare surface; you want the cans and bottles recycled in a special bin, but the paper tissues thrown in the regular trash.

He might not bethinking of the logical explanations behind the rules, simply the last rule you told him. In some situations you are protecting surfaces, in some cases you are are protecting the surface cover. So he might be just simplifying the rules in his head "foot stuff = on mats", "stuff on counters & tales doesn't go on mats" and ending up over simplifying to the point of totally missing the reason behind the rule.

camlan

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2013, 11:12:33 AM »


I am curious how he turned out that way.  You don't seem like you were raised by wolves, by he seems to have been.  Did your mother scurry after him with a trash can and cleaning rag?

I can only speak for my brothers, but as I have 5 of them, it's a decent sized sample.

They all grew up doing chores around the house. They all knew, after they were about 10, how to wash dishes, scrub a floor, vacuum, do laundry, clean their rooms, set a table. My mother did not pick up after us, but made us pick up after ourselves. We knew not to take food outside the kitchen or dining room. We knew that wood furniture needed to be protected from possibly wet glasses, while the Formica kitchen table did not. We knew the difference between the daily Corelle dishes and the fine china that came out on holidays.

Without exception, my brothers moved out of the parental house and became slobs. Dirty dishes left in the sink until there were no more clean dishes. Dirty laundry left until there were no more clean clothes. Didn't own vacuums or dust rags or even many cleaners. The bedroom of one of my brothers was carpeted in clothing. He claimed there was a dirty pile and a clean pile, but I couldn't see any line of demarcation. Food and drink were spilled on sofas and chairs and they simply didn't care. Bathrooms--I tried not to have to use the bathroom at their apartments, they were so gross.

Decor was strictly functional. The bicycle parts were neatly lined up in the hallway. The guitars were carefully put away after each use. The furniture was from the thrift store, so it didn't matter if it was broken, or scratched or got spilled on. Why put clothes away if you are just going to take them out again?

I shared an apartment with one brother for three years and he thought I was nuts because I wanted things to be a little color-coordinated in the kitchen. (Thirty years later, I am still teased about wanting only certain colors for that kitchen.)

Sometimes they'd clean up their acts a little if they had roommates. But it wasn't until either a) they got serious about a woman or b) bought their own place that they started to clean up and take care of how things looked and wanted to take care of their belongings.

I do not wish to stereotype all men. I know several who are clean and neat and tidy and who live alone. But I do think that there is a subset of men who really don't care what their environments look like when there is no one else to see them. Not being of the same mindset, I have no idea what fuels this, but I've seen it in many more men than just my brothers.

And I can see, if they are used to living that way, how they would tend to treat their siblings' homes in the same way.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Thipu1

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2013, 11:37:53 AM »
He's your brother and you sound like you're on good terms with each other.  Talk to him.

The shoe issue wouldn't bother me all that much but people have very different ideas about this sort of thing. At SIL's house, the pile of shoes in the entry resembles a littler of puppies.  Nobody minds.   

  The keys and wallet on the towel would bother me but there's another question.  What is the color of your counter?  We stayed at a hotel where the counter tops were dark.  Mr. Thipu had trouble finding his glasses when he put them down.  We solved the problem by putting a piece of white paper on the counter.  If you don't want to provide a basket, a second towel might solve the problem. It isn't nagging to say, 'This towel is for the baby.  The other towel is for you'.

Feet on the place mats?  Absolutely not. 

Drink not placed on the coaster?  absolutely not.

Wiping greasy hands on the sofa? ABSOLUTELY NOT!


Moray

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2013, 11:50:27 AM »
He's your brother. Just tell him. Silently getting torqued because you "don't feel like you should need to say something" does no one any favors. You stay frustrated, and he has no idea that you consider X, Y, and Z a problem.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, he's not a mind-reader.
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gellchom

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2013, 09:08:07 PM »
He's your brother. Just tell him. Silently getting torqued because you "don't feel like you should need to say something" does no one any favors. You stay frustrated, and he has no idea that you consider X, Y, and Z a problem.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, he's not a mind-reader.

This, exactly.  And please be nice about it.  Otherwise, he'll just get defensive and not hear you.

Iris

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2013, 01:09:03 AM »
Friends often remark how relaxed I am about the 'little things'. Daughter tap dancing on the floorboards? Meh, what's a few sctratches. Constantly having to sweep because of dog hair? Well, he's so cute, I don't mind. Having a kitchen a little less clean than I would like because DD is still learning? It's more important for her to learn responsibility than for my sink to shine perfectly. Shoes not on a mat or keys in the wrong place wouldn't even register for me.

However, I handed my FIL a cup of tea one day and instead of using the saucer he put the hot cup straight on my new lounge. That DID annoy me I will admit - the saucer was right there! I just gave it to him! Did he think I was about to serve him a tiny meal? I did speak up though (pleasantly, I didn't show my annoyance) and he's never done it again. I would do the same for a friend too.

I do have to say though that I don't know *anyone* that would not consider leaving a used tissue lying around a deal-breaker relationship wise. That's really quite disgusting. Ditto for using a lounge as a napkin. Since you are his sister, IF he raises the topic of "Why can't I get a long term gf, I went over to Sally's place and that was it! She never wanted to see me again!" you can give him some gentle guidance. He might genuinely have no problem with these things and not be aware that they are huge deals for other people. Sometimes it takes someone else to point these things out and as they say, that's what friends (and sister friends) are for.
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StarFaerie

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2013, 05:57:07 AM »


I do have to say though that I don't know *anyone* that would not consider leaving a used tissue lying around a deal-breaker relationship wise. That's really quite disgusting.

Hi, I'm StarFaerie. Lovely to meet you. And now you do know someone who wouldn't consider either to be a deal breaker or even an issue. It's only a tissue, easy to put in the bin later whenever I get around to it, and I probably wouldn't even notice the couch thing.


Iris

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2013, 08:05:37 AM »


I do have to say though that I don't know *anyone* that would not consider leaving a used tissue lying around a deal-breaker relationship wise. That's really quite disgusting.

Hi, I'm StarFaerie. Lovely to meet you. And now you do know someone who wouldn't consider either to be a deal breaker or even an issue. It's only a tissue, easy to put in the bin later whenever I get around to it, and I probably wouldn't even notice the couch thing.

I stand corrected. Now I know one. Are you single, because Knitterly may have a guy for you  ;D
"Can't do anything with children, can you?" the woman said.

Poirot thought you could, but forebore to say so.